Sunday, 27 November 2011

On-sight and Redpointing - lessons learnt.

Since my last post i have been trying ( and failing ) to on-sight 7a. I have only tried 3 and got 2 of them 2nd go. The 3rd ( Arabesque ) i only had chance for one try on. I've been having a good hard think about my approach and what is wrong and right with it.

I am never going to on-sight a 7a unless i get on them so that's for the good. But should i be trying the 3* classics before i am ready ? Ah well too late now as i've buggered up 3 of them.

I haven't been giving myself the best chance at them though. I've not spent the time route reading, visualising, or built my base. I was surprised to find out i've not filled out enough 6c and 6c+ on-sights. Something to go at there then.

The biggest problem i still have is being scared of falling. Even when i practiced falling at the wal,l until i was happy enough to take huge lobs, i was still scared to try 100% at on-sights. On Danza Agresiva the other week i ended up taking an accidental practice fall. It was a controlled fall and in the place where i am most likely to fall when i go back for the RP. It wasn't planned but when i got there i knew it was for the best. Now i will feel more comfortable on the RP. Practising a fall is very different to falling 'out of control' un-expectedly. I guess more practise falls are needed until i can convince my brain it's OK to fall on on-sight.

For red-pointing i just need more focus. I have warmed up too much and over cooked it, not warmed up enough, warmed up and then got too cold again but tried anyway, changed my plan on a redpoint burn etc etc etc. I still have a lot to learn about this game but things are improving with experience.

I've been very lazy and tired over the last month or so. Not much climbing and certainly nothing to blog about. I got some good mileage in when Pete and Kate came over but after that i felt strangely lethargic. I am now finally part way through a good training week and seem to have some psyche back after being ill for a few days. I have not been on the scales as i don't need them to tell me i am fat.

I've been back to El Torcalito to get pumped on the traverses there and have made a 40 move 6c/6c+ ish traverse. It has one decent hands on rest in it where i hang off an awesome little mini tufa pinch for a minute max and one easy section that i skip through asap. There is a but of a cruxy start and a definite crux after the rest. I have managed to repeat it 3 times with 3 mins rest in a session after warming up and bouldering about. It's not the most specific but it's the best i can do at the moment. Filming myself on it has shown i have gone very static again so i am concentrating on dynamism at the moment.

Mario is coming over for Xmas and i've got my (our?) eye(s) on some 7a+'s and that elusive 7a on-sight.

Bring it on !

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Strength or fitness - which is most important

Douggie on the start of Poema de Roca

This time last year i was getting ready to go to Kalymnos. I had spent literally hours of my life going round and round in cir
cles doing circuits on a Bendcrete board at Cockermouth and getting to Kendal wall as much as i could. The result was a 7a+ of a long, steep route in the Grande Grotte that i was really chuffed with.

This year before coming to Spain i bouldered almost exclusively with a few trips to Penrith wall - all of 8 metres high. The result was a 7A+ that i was really chuffed with.

I wasn't expecting to have any fitness at all when i got here and when i first went out that was the case. More than anything i was scared to death above a bolt and still in bouldering mode. I was grabbing every hold as hard as i could, through fear and my body being so used to grabbing everything 100%. Un-surprisingly i was pumping out very quickly and sitting on a lot of bolts.

Fast forward a couple of months and i have just climbed Poema de Roca.

Neil on the rest just before the crux

It's route that relies on economic climbing and recovery en-route, with 3 hands off rests and 2 partial shakes. It's notoriously pumpy and i was saving it for an on-sight attempt at the end of the year. Circumstances ended up with me standing at the bottom of it yesterday and giving it a go 2 months early. I wasn't too shocked to find myself dangling off the rope at the 4th bolt on my first go. I was quite shocked to completely cruise it 2nd go. I got to the top feeling fresh and it went like clockwork.

I was pondering what had improved so much to make it go so well. I've come to the conclusion it was a combination of being stronger and lots of volume. The amount of easy climbing i've done in the last couple of months has been greater in total than the last 2 years. I am reading routes well, spotting cruxes and sequences and, most importantly, i now have the move 'library' and strength to pull the moves off.

I think strength endurance, or fitness, is the icing on the cake. Volume of easy climbing and bouldering strength and know how seem to be the most important factors for me anyway.

I am going to carry on with the volume, with on-sighting as a priority, until Xmas and then i am going to redpoint the next few months with an idea of hitting 7b+ ( maybe 7c ) by April ish.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Life is good

A 6a + at Yugoslavia
Easy bimble into a 6B. That was a shock.

Well things finally seem to be coming together. Like buses i was waiting for ages and now two have come along at once. My friends in El Chorro want to climb every Monday and our Spanish friend Sylvia has finally come back from her travels and also wants to climb as much as possible.

A pic of Sylvia for Mario's benefit

So i have been out climbing sport 3 times in the last 10 days and it feels great. One false start at a recently developed crag in Chorro ( think grades at least 1 full grade lower than they really are, long run outs above bolts while you do the crux and a 40 min walk in up a steep hill in the blazing sun). I guess this is often the result of ideas formed in the pub the night before with a hand drawn topo copied from another hand drawn topo.

Besides that it has been just what i came here for: Quality routes, great weather, road side crags, no queues for the starred routes, great people and beautiful places. Awesome.

Cut a long story short 6b+'s are going down easy and i on-sighted a 6c yesterday at Villanueva Del Cauche. It went like a dream with everything feeling how i expected and i got to the top feeling fresh.

Last year in Kalymnos i was wobbling up 6c's and i had spent a lot of time working PE. This year i have done none but am a lot stronger. Every move feels easier and i am not getting pumped. I am also able to attack cruxes more positively as i know i am strong enough to pull them off.

Me dancing on a rock.
I was visualising a route but Sylvia thought it was hilarious.

Although my climbing hasn't been regular since i got here i am in a rhythm with my climbing and am not feeling nervous about going above bolts like i was before. I am hoping it can only get better.

Sophie belayed by Auntie Rachel

I want to on-sight 3 more 6b+'s, 3 more 6c's and RP a 7a this month. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Appearances can be deceptive

I was bouldering at my usual spot beneath Mt Chamoz the other day when i bumped into my chubby stoned friend. He had brought his son along this time, Antonio. Antonio is 13, spotty, skinny and looks like he needs another couple of years growing for his body to catch up with his arms and legs. Gangly youth would be the best description. He proceeded to very quietly take me round some of the most heinous slab problems i have ever had the misfortune to try and get up. Think 7A-7B slopers with tiny, very polished, footholds. His sense of balance, timing and movement were great to watch and learn from. I had an ultimately frustrating time but made sure i burnt him off on a 6C+ overhanging jug fest at the end. Can't have young 'uns getting too cocky now can we ?

Two days later i went back to more familiar territory; thuggy over-hanging stuff at El Torcalito. Whilst there i was watching a guy working a traverse problem on the crimpy wall. It looked good and it must be hard. Why must it be ? Well he was power screaming like a lady tennis player, dripping with sweat and was built like Chris Sharma. I wombled over and he started to show me how it went. I must admit to being a bit surprised ( and secretly smug ) when i flashed it. Not that it was a great display of climbing by me it just wasn't very hard. Turns out he wasn't much of a climber, just looked like he was.

Just goes to show you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. I only found out just how good Antonio was when he took his shoes off at the end of the session. I could see his toes through the bottom of them. I've no idea why he bothered wearing them, there was hardly any rubber left. That lad could do well. I'm taking a couple of pairs of my old shoes next time i go up. If he's the same size he can have them as long as he lets me into the secret of levitation he obviously has.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

New video of old stuff

Finally got round to up loading a vid to vimeo as we've now got proper internet.

It's of my last week in the Lakes and shows Langdale + the Bowderstone.

I've still got another to finish editing from St Bees as well, i need to get my finger out.

Friday, 16 September 2011

High mountain bouldering

Imagine a place with over 600 boulder problems. Now imagine it's set half way up the highest mountain in the area, which is 1800 metres a.s.l. Now imagine there is a car park right in front of it so you don't even have to walk up the mountain to get to it. Now imagine me, there having fun while you are getting rained on in England.

In case you are having trouble imagining here are some pics.

Problem number 1

There are loads of amazing slab problems- including the hands free one on the bottom pic.

I tried this a couple of times but it finishes up the flake i've got my left hand on in the last photo. It's about 5 metres high and i can't scope the top out so i wimped out and will wait for a spotter.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

El Torcalita & Spanish ethics

Is a bouldering area just outside Malaga. It's described as steep and thuggy and it does what it says in the tin. There are 2 small caves, one of which has routes coming out of it, and the other has been dug down to provide more height and steepness.

I was remarking to the guy you can see in the pic above that the one vertical wall was chipped all over the place. He replied it was, some by him, and that it was 'only for training' so it didn't matter. I guess they have that much climbable rock it doesn't matter as much to them.

This is a pic of the dug out cave. The coloured section of the photo shows a newly constructed tufa. It was still wet, as i found out when i stuck my finger in it and got shouted at. How to make new friends eh ?

Lower down there are stuck on pebbles, old wall holds and all sorts of shennanigans going on. Again they see it as a training area so you can always eliminate the fake stuff to make it harder as you progress i guess.

I had a really nice evening climbing with the 3 guys there and got invited back again next week - nice of them as i didn't realise it was their crag ;0) I have to take my harness and do the 7a+ mad steep route in the right cave supposedly.

Showing off my 'farmers tan'. Brown arms and calves, white everywhere else.


No not my van, that's Santiago btw my trusty Spanish banger, but all the turds that were all around the parking spot. FFS why do people do it. I can vouch for the fact that all the Spanish houses i've been in have flushing toilets. There is even a garage with toilets where you come off the main road for this place so why do they crap in the car park ? I find this at a lot of Spanish crags and the worst thing is having to pull shitty toilet paper out of Alfie's mouth as he loves the stuff.

On a happier note i am off on the hunt tomorrow morning to find some other boulders i have been told about. Supposed to be over 600 problems at this spot. Just got to find it. That'll mean i have places to go. Torcalits is awesome for fitness with lots of traverses, up and down probs and good for burl. the other spot should sort out technique and variety. Now i just need to get a partner or 3.

This weekend should bear fruit in that direction as i put a plan in action. Failing that i'll bug the guys at Torcalita.

Friday, 2 September 2011

By 'eck it's hot

With afternoon temps hitting 46 celsius early ( ish ) visits to the crag were in order and even Alfie had to wear his sun hat.

While Mario was over a great time was had visiting a couple of local crags and getting some mileage in. This is my local crag - Villanueva de Cauche, or Sector Yugoslavia. About 50 odd routes all told from 5 to 8b. Plenty to be going at and despite what it says in rock fax even in August it was climbable into the afternoon.

The upper cave shown hereis being developed as a dry tooling area. There doesn't seem to be the same ethic stance here - more of which later actually. However there is an awesome looking 5 pitch HVS/E1 round the corner, but that was too sunny to try this time.

At one point it got so hot Mario had to borrow Alfie's hat.

I started the week in an awful way with no head for roped climbing at all and certainly no route reading ability. A few months of bouldering working hard, steep lines left me very un prepared for on-sighting steep slabs and vertical lines. Quite obvious really but it came as a shock to me how poor i was. I hit rock bottom having to cry take on a 5+ and that gave me the impetus to get my arse in gear. By the end i was much happier above bolts but still very hesitant. I wasn't getting pumped but taking ages to make decisions. Anyway a very quick 6c redpoint ( 1 top rope the day before and then led first time the next day ) gave me some confidence and some 6b+ on-sights followed.

I started to get a bit poorly after that with a chesty cough and feeling weak. Air con is the culprit and it took a week to feel well again.

Still need to find some partners.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

It's time to get back to it

Well i've been in Spain a month now and things are finally settling down. Only one box stands between us and un packing freedom and we finally have a car. The internet is the last thing to sort but at least we have it at home now even if it is via a very expensive dongle - 4 euros a day.

So far 2 companies have said they can get us broadband only to tell us a week later they can't. We need satellite internet as getting a phone line where we are can take months. To pay for this i need to get a spanish bank account. To do this i need a certificate from the police station to say i am who i say i am and that i am resident in Spain. The way that i prove this is to go to the police station and say: " I am living in Spain can i have a certificate to say so." Show them my passport and then 2 weeks later they will give me a piece of paper i could have printed off the computer myself. It'll all come together in time.

Meanwhile in lieu of any climbing related fun here are some pics of the awesome wildlife to see round here.

A Booted Eagle

Loads of these round here in the Montes de Malaga. One day when it was really windy we saw about 20 all circling together. Seems to be the Andalucian equivalent of buzzards - but cooler cos it's an eagle.

A cheeky weasel was spied at Sector Yugoslavia. We scared him off but he came back for a second look - cheeky little fella. I may start seeing if i can get him to take food.

Loads of other birds such as bee eater ( beautiful iridescent green, blue & orange ) and hoopoes which have a cool crest of feathers on their heads.

However the top spot so far has to be....

The Andalucian Funnel Web spider

Andalusian funnel web spider (Macrothele calpeiana)

Loads of these bad boys about. Trying to do my 'Dad' job and show the kids there is nothing to be scared of and i poked the entrance with a piece of grass to entice the friendly little guy out so we could have a look. To my surprise something about 1/2 the size of a tarantula ran out bloody quickly, stood on its back legs and hissed at me. This caused me to fall over from my crouched position and roll away in panic as i envisaged some sort of scene from Arachnaphobia with the spider leaping up at me and attaching itself to my face. After that brave display the kids now know not to go anywhere near them. Job done !!!

One creature i've not found yet is the brown reclusive spider. Hides in your house, comes out at night and is more poisonous than the black widow. Has the strength to penetrate human skin and causes necrosis of the flesh. Often mis-diagnosed and or ignored as the bite is not that painful and often occurs when you're asleep in bed and you touch the spider that is walking over you while you sleep. The other time it gets you is when you're stumbling through the house going to the loo in the middle of the night with nothing on your feet. I didn't sleep properly for 2 nights.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Vivo en Espana

It's been nearly 2 mths since i blogged and some good stuff has happened and some bad stuff has happened. I didn't want the blog sitting on what appears to be a negative post so thought i'd do a quick update.

1) Got a 7A+ but not picnic saracastic
2) Didn't get a 7B
3) Packed house up and moved to Spain
4) Un packed house and built entire contents of Ikea for 3 weeks
5) Finally go to climb but appear to have 2 left feet ( and i'm right footed ) and the bravery of a yellow backed Siberian hamster ( Dangermouse reference if you're wondering ).

Got vids to upload and lots of stuff to say but not much time. Fighting Spanish red tape to get a bank account so we can get a decent internet connection instead of the world's most expensive, and crap, dongle.

Back soon.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Messy climbing

I read a post of Dave Mac's a while ago relating to how atheletes try to keep their lives 'clean' so they can focus on training/competing. The mess is the every day stuff that gets in the way and stops you either getting out for fun or achieveing goals. I've had 2 weeks of mess and have hardly climbed. My planned rest week was going great until it got extended and when i should have been hitting targets at my peak i was drinking beer and having pub lunches. However child free weekends don't come along that often so we grabbed it when Grandma Biscuit made the offer.

When i look at what i have to do to get my climbing time in it's amazing i get out at all. My kids are both adopted, having fostered them previously. They come with a lot of baggage in the form of emotional damage, learning difficulties and behavioural problems (think flooding the school and throwing the entire contents of bedrooms down stairs at regular intervals.) This has led to me home educating our son with daughter soon to follow in September.

My wife had a very time demanding job, until March, when she finally cracked up and has been off work due to the stress work caused her. Doing the work of 2 people couldn't go on for ever. She took 2 weeks leave during which she crumbled and realised she couldn't go back. She is still not back to her old self but is fighting on and getting there with regular counselling sessions. It's horrifying to see a confident professional, who takes such pride in her work, reduced to the stage where some days we have to fight to get her out of bed.

We are moving to Spain on the 2nd of August. That means that right now we are in chaos with boxes everywhere, big decisions to make and feeling excited and scared at the same time.

I also need to fit in work running my outdoor activity business and the associated paperwork that goes with it. Whilst this is bringing in good money it is also seriously eating into my time. It's not fair for me to work all day and then ask Mrs Biscuit to look after the kids in the evening as well so if i work there's no playing out for me.

Then there are all the normal day to day things you have to get done as a house husband with 2 kids and a 4 bedroom house and the other fun stuff aside from climbing.

This post isn't meant to be a whinge just a reminder to myself that if i don't/can't get out climbing it's not the end of the world and i shouldn't beat myself up over it.

Spain is not going to be a magic bullet to fix all this but a lot of mess will be done away with.

Even if i only get out 2ce a week with climbing areas like this to go at:

VIDEO: BD athlete Adam Ondra repeating Chilam Balam (9b) and making the first ascent of La Planta de Shiva (9b) in Spain from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

i should be the happiest climber in the world.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Enough success it's time for some hard work

Mario testing the landing zone

The ticklist has been going well with only one rain interrupted session missed. That meant i didn't get to the Bowderstone to do Crack Superdirect but I went to Kewick wall instead and had a play there. I've never got on with the place really but their board could be worth the entrance fee. I ended up having a session on that as Adam Hocking was in, having also been rained off, and was monkeying around on it.

I managed to repeat a couple of problems he was doing easily - positive wad points :0) Then he did a mad cross through manoeuvre followed by a shoulder press that nearly prolapsed my shoulder girdle, if that's possible. It's brilliant to see someone with such power under such control. He was on a warm down btw and says that though he's route fit at the moment he's not on top bouldering form. At this point i lost all accrued wad points and received a big kick up the arse motivation wise as i realised how far i have to go just to get to 7B.

I managed 2 sessions on the board this week and 4 in all. Most finger intense week i've had for a long time and my fingers feel good Only one session outside, at St Bees, where i ticked Hueco Crack ( Low Start ) 6C+/7A. I also did a line i must have walked past a hundred times and had never noticed. It's not hard but has some nice moves and holds on it and is worth doing. It must have been done before as it is obvious once you 'see' it. Mario modelled the landing for the camera and it's potentially dodgy as the line is the closest to the drop into the sea/rocks below.

It's been great having all this success of late and it's set me off on a positive track that i've been de railed from for quite some time. However i need to get cracking now and be prepared for some hard work. Other than a coaching session this week i am having a few days off and i'm then going to launch an all out attack on the Bowderstone. Crack Superdirect has to go quick and i'd like Statstick in the same session. Then it's time to see how much progress has really been made with a re-match on Picnic.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sing a Rainbow video

Sing a Rainbow from andrew mcvittie on Vimeo.

As it says in the title. A vid i thought i'd lost when deleting stuff from my memory card. Found it last night so stuck it on here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Tick list is going down !

Setting realistic goals is such an important part of improving in any sport. I still think 8a by the end of the year is realistic but trying to get 7c in this country, with my lifestyle here, was not on the cards. Having changed to bouldering goals to improve my strength and, more importantly, work on technique i am feeling much more positive.

It feels good to set a challenge and then get it done. That feeling of achievement and gratification has been sadly lacking.

Another good week has seen me tick Slopey Arete (6C+/7A) and The Rail (6C+). The Rail was a James Pearson style on-sight ;0) I had done the starting 6C that goes straight up before but never took the rising traverse finish. That's why it looks sketchy on the vid and i am sticking with that excuse.
The video is meant to help me look at my technique but i have had a play with i-movie on my wife's laptop and made a little vid. The light was poor and the sun in an awkward place which is why it's not great quality. Something i'm going to do more of though.

Well pleased with Slopey Arete though. I had sat at the bottom of it a couple of months ago and couldn't get off the ground. I had to change Johnny's beta a bit as i couldn't 'strong' the sit start like him. Really nice problem and i over came it with technique.

Looking at getting out once more this week. Going to have a technique session at Bees with a go at cracking off Hueco low start. I am giving myself 1 go to remember the moves then do it 2nd go.

It's all positive.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Defeat from the jaws of victory

Rain stopped play at carrock on Monday night and a comedy of errors ensued. I was as sick as a parrot when we got there and it rained cats and dogs for 10 mins soaking everything. Johnny had left his harness in his car so Penrith was out. A quick trip to Keswick wall ? No, it shuts at 5 on a Monday. We ended up at Cockermouth wall at 8.30 for an hour or so.

I have started filming myself with my compact so i can see where i am going wrong/right and Mario has splashed the cash on an HD action cam thingy. Now that we're over seeing who can moon un-noticed at the camera it's a really good thing to do, though i have to admit i started it - the mooning not the filming. I have picked up so many little things that can make the difference between success and failure.

I had a re match with I Can, I Can't and Sing a Rainbow at Carrock mid week and they felt like totally different problems. I couldn't get the long balancy reach to the high good hold on ICIC but bounced nicely up to it this time sending it 3rd go. VERY sketchy top out though.

Similar story on Sing. I couldn't make the move to the sloper before i tore my pulley. I wasn't hoping for much this time as i certainly haven't been keeping 'strong'. I was therefore a bit shocked to discover i got to it first time and fired up to the arete before cutting loose and swinging off. It suddenly seemed possible and i was psyched, especially as Johnny got it soon after. I went for a big attempt with a new foot placement to help with the swing and before i knew it i was on the arete and had held the swing. En le bolsa !

Unless of course i was to revert to type and start fannying about, get scared because i was a bit high and generally forget any kind of sequence. I then got so tired i couldn't move and fell off. What a knob !

That whacked me out and it was getting dark so i didn't wait long enough to recover. A couple of further goes saw diminishing returns so i sacked it and went to look at a project for Johnny.

Why do i do this to myself ? It's something i am very aware of now ( fluffing top outs ) and will work hard on. I keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and it's got to bloody stop.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Adam Ondra nearly stroked my dog !

He must be really focused to ignore a dog as cute as Alfie !

Well it's been a while and quite a bit has happened really.

I've been mad busy with work, DIY, family and planning for the move to Spain. Mrs Biscuit has been very generous with her time though and let me out to play a good few times.

I even managed a day out in Yorkshire. Ended up at Malham ( predictably ) and had a terrible time there as usual. I couldn't even get up Puddlejumper, Consenting, Another dead end job and Hartley Hare on a top rope. Didn't do any leading ( definite head problem here ) and couldn't put any sequences together. I felt like i was climbing through treacle.

Caff on something 8b hard !
However all was not lost. Much inspiration was garnered from the people who were there. I was climbing with a group including Adam Hocking and James McHaffie, but also present were: Tim Emmet, Dave Pickford, Jordan & Naomi Buys and some bloke called Adam Ondra. It was just sooo good to see these guys performing. Ondra was great to see, but what a focused character he is. When he wasn't climbing he took himself off on his own and brooded. He didn't manage Overshadow that day but got it 2 days later. His physical ability is obviously matched with a laser like mental focus too. A truly special athlete.

My favourite though was Tim Emmet, who laughed his way up Unjustified while working it. He even found 2 hands off rests. He has such enthusiasm and obviously loves what he does.

Tim Emmet 'belaying' Dave Pickford

That day was the final nail in the coffin for my route ambitions in the UK though :0(

Due to work and travelling around to say goodbye to people i have got 1 free weekend day between now and the move. There is not much chance of me getting Comedy done in 1 visit (when i say not much i obviously mean none) so i have to be realistic. Without something to aim at it all feels a bit pointless, so i shall do some routes for fun but concentrate on bouldering.

This will mean i can work on the technique tips i got from John Kettle, monitor my finger a bit better, crack off those classics i want to do, get strong ( and better technique ) and then get fit in Spain for the 8a. I will still have 5 mths to get fit for it and i should be plenty strong enough. So a plan of sorts has come together.

I've finally started to pull hard again on my finger and whilst it remains a bit sore it is certainly not having any negative effects so far. I've been putting my new found enthusiasm for motivation into practice at the Bowderstone and the Crack now feels simple. Familiarity obviously helps, i've done it a few times now, but i am at least feeling brave enough to use momentum when i'm scared rather than reverting back to my standard static antics. It's really making a difference.

I had a dabble at Crack Superdirect and surprised myself by making quick progress. I then got stuck at the last hard move - that'll be the crux then. I was dynoing for the big pocket but was about as accurate as a muck spreader. I came back for a re-match a couple of days later but was still too tired to be honest. I really need to pay attention to recovery. I'm 35 now and don't bounce back like i used to. I keep breaking my promise to myself to get more sleep. It'll go next time and then it's time to start working Picnic again and Statstick.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

John Kettle - Climbing Coach !

That's what it said on his fleece anyway. It's a big statement in the climate prevailing in climbing at the moment - although to be fair he didn't have an ! after it. Big names are charging quite big money and i have spent my hard earned in the past going on a coaching holiday and having sessions with a couple of celebrities - but i didn't sell my story to the NOTW.

These coaches trade off their ( hard earned ) reputation as elite climbers operating in the grades we aspire to. My personal experience is that you get a definite rise in motivation and ability during, and for a short while after, but normal service soon resumes. The coaching holiday seems to be more about coaching you up routes. In fact i flashed my first 7a and got my first 7a+ 4th go. However i was effectively borrowing an elite climbers brain as he shouted:

" Left hand up, no not there higher. Now move your left leg out left and flag with your right. "

etc. all the way up. It got me up and i was dead chuffed but back home i went back to using my climbing brain and it somehow wasn't the same.

I think the message i've got is that coaching needs to be a continual thing. Not everyday but you need to find a coach you can build a relationship with and keep going back to for tune ups and pointers. If only there was someone local, affordable, jolly nice and most importantly bloody good ? Well if you live in the Lakes John Kettle may just be the man.

By his own admission he is not an 'elite' climber, though he does operate at a high level, but this shouldn't matter. Who's the better footballer Sir Alex Ferguson or Hernandez ? Who plays better tennis Nadal or his coach ? Who's hits the ball better Lee Westwood or his coach ? The answer is obvious in each case but they all trust their coaches with the most important aspects of their game. A coach needs to be a good coach not an elite player.

I met John at Kendal wall yesterday for a 2 hr session to make an assessment and start to work on me. First up i was impressed by his obvious passion for coaching technique. It turns out this is because he's been there and done that, all wrong. He got stronger and stronger to overcome bad technique and ending up needing a bolt in his shoulder. So time for a re-think and learn how to climb again - but properly this time.

Secondly i liked the structure of the session and his delivery. Nothing too technical and nice and easy for me to get the message and take away what i need to go and work on. He didn't destroy my confidence, but i get the feeling he could have done if he wanted to list all the faults he could see, but has sent me away to work on a couple of key areas that will see the biggest improvements for me.

I knew momentum was an issue for me but i didn't know i climbed one legged. Yes, that's what i thought as well but he'd already done the maths and you can't argue with stats that showed i drive up off one leg 66.6% of the time. The evidence is there to see in the pics on my last post. I've just looked at them again tonight and i have one leg dangling uselessly like erectile dysfunction at an orgy in all 3 of them. I had used 'The Self Coached Climber' and '9 out of 10 Climbers' and not understood it fully. The difference between someone who knows why it's right showing you for real, and explaining why it's good, and reading a 2D book is huge. How much have i spent on climbing books ? More than a session with John for sure. Doh !

Thirdly it was obvious to me he has an in depth knowledge of the subject and a good coaching style to get the message across. I have a degree in sports coaching so i'd like to think i know a good 'un from a bad 'un and John is certainly the former.

The proof is in the performance though and i went to Reecastle for a couple of hours on my way home. I skipped up Rack Direct, Finger Flake Finish and Gibbet Direct using both of those things on the end of my legs and some momentum at least. They felt so much easier than previously which is always a nice feeling. I know if i work on what John has given me i will be a better climber and i will be back to use him again once i've worked on my momentum for a while.

Pay £500 for a coaching holiday and a short term improvement. Nice.

Pay for a few sessions with John and possibly a life time of better climbing. Priceless.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Honesty is the best policy

Tops off for power at 8.30pm in April, which was nice !

After a couple of weeks of stuttering performance i had a good talk with myself on the way back from Dunnerdale this afternoon - more of which later. Looking at my training diary i can see a pattern of not having enough time to fit exercise/climbing in, getting up early to fit it in before the day starts, failing after a few days because i am knackered, do nothing for a few days and then start again. I've been falling asleep dribbling on myself at 6pm following mainly monosyllabic conversations with my kids and Mrs Biscuit. I think i'm tired. Not just 'i need a good kip and then i'll be fine' tired but REALLY tired.

Twice this week Mrs Biscuit has been good enough to find me some time to get out. Twice i've been sat below a problem thinking that i just can't be arsed pulling hard. At Bees i kidded myself i was having a session concentrating on technique. Not a bad thing, and i certainly need it, but really it was because i didn't have the motivation to do anything worthwhile.

Pretending to do something useful at Carrock

Same story today when i went to look at Greg Chapman's new discovery at Dunnerdale. Lovely location, nice rock ( if you like it rough ) some nice problems but not much mental energy to direct at them. I got one 6C done fairly quick ( Grinder ) but when i couldn't figure a sequence out on another i just gave up. I had driven for an hour to get there with precious time given up by my wife so i should have taken all i could get. Instead i left early because i couldn't be arsed walking to the next section after the Buckstone. This is by no means a reflection on the circuit, which looks like a really nice addition to Lakes bouldering. I'll make the effort to get to the real quality next time.

I think this is telling me i need a break. I'm going to try having a few days of not even thinking about climbing. The last few weeks i have constantly been trying to figure out when/if i can get out, worrying about the time i am losing due to my finger and life and stressing about my goals. Basically it's stopped being fun. I need to face the fact i need a mini break and stop forcing it.

I am determined not to give in to temptation and scrap my goals until after i've got through this period but things are not looking good. I can't find a day in May where i can get to Kilnsey and June is already starting to book up.

The Grinder

Monday, 18 April 2011

AnCap training. WTF ?

Not the problem i was working but another one that looked OK in a photo

Had my first, very, belated session of Anaerobic Capacity training yesterday. I was partnerless due to a party in Borrowdale, snowboarding, Corsica and Yorkshire. Long story. Anyway i headed down to a surprisingly busy Bees ( raised profile from Planet Fear debacle ? ) and had an awesome time playing about on many low grade problems i know well. I realised i was actually running from problem to problem like a small child let loose in a sweet shop. So many problems, so little time. I felt so good. My feet were going just where i wanted them, i could do strong, my timing was there and mantleshelves felt piss - and that doesn't happen often. Climbing is such a happy place to be when it feels good.

I met this guy as well:

who seems a genuinely nice bloke, which counts for a lot in my opinion. Always great to meet people who have a real passion in any field.
I soon got down to business though and started the first of 10 reps on a 10 move (ish) V4 traverse with 5 mins rest. It's a slappy, campussy affair with some footless moves followed by poor slopers with poor feet.

The only word to describe AnCap training is INTENSE. I now know what it's working - power fade. Those times where you're not pumped but you just can't make another move even if it led to fame and glory. I failed on the crux on the 10th rep so i've got the level guessed correctly first time, which was nice.

It felt OK at the time but today my forearms know they were busy yesterday. Bit of a rest and then back to it. At least twice a week i think.

I've also re-jigged my other training. I just haven't got the ability to train after work. I get back, have tea, spend time with the kids, put them to bed, get jobs done and finally settle about 9. If i then said to Emma i am off to do an hours training she'd ( quite rightly ) go nuts. So early mornings are the way ahead. I was up bright and early today and managed a 1/2 hr run with the dog, 240 core movements, 10 ab wheel rolls ( on knees ), 10 front lever extended tucks and 3 sets of the infamous bolton dumbell complexes before the kids got up. What a way to start the day. I think i could actually get into it.

Onwards and upwards !

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Pulley recovery - words of wisdom

Working Hueco Crack (boss start) the day i discovered that taping poorly fingers is BAD

After finally having a good session i am feeling invincible, and with that attitude it can't be long until i get injured again. My finger just didn't seem to be making any decent recovery and i was beginning to get seriously despondent. I remember when i did it that Mat De Val gave me sage words of advice:

" If that was me i'd be down to the offie now and get pissed for 8 weeks 'cos you're not going to be doing any climbing."

Wise words indeed, and gentle mickey taking aside he was pretty spot on. This last week my finger has suddenly improved, after about 6 weeks. It still hurts if i poke it around the pulley area ( note to self: stop poking it around the pulley area, it hurts ) and is too painful to use in the morning for the first 5 minutes. Overnight it seems to go rigid and swollen - yes, i'm still talking about my finger. Once i get going it soon loosens up but i panic everytime i wake up that it's died over night.

So what has caused this sudden change ? I think it was my daughter's pink sponge ball we got to help her with her catching. It fits nicely in an adults hand and has just the right amount of squeeze to it. I stopped the icing and just squeezed all the time for 2 days. Whenever i wasn't using my right hand i was squeezing. Possibly not science and that but it worked for me.

Unfortunately i have left it in the back of Jonny's car and he ran off to Leeds with it. Bugger !

I think the main point though is to try and keep positive, do what you can and be patient.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Triumph - of sorts.

I am happier today than i've been in a while. My poor performance last week seems to have been due to illness. My son had a bug and i thinki got a bit of itl. It was just an underlying feeling of uurgh and it was only when i came out of it i realised i had been ill. Last night we went to Keswick wall. I'd been there earlier in the week working and thought it might be worth another chance. The routes are all fairly similar in style as they are only about 5m tall and seem to involve pulling hard but not much technique. I am not making any comment about why Jonny excelled here on-sighting a 7a+ and flashing a couple of 7a's. I think he just campussed up all the routes without using his feet.

On a more personal note i backed off a couple of 7's but eventually felt brave enough to go for a 7a. The first time i properly cranked down with my right hand i was a strange mix of worried but confident it would be OK. My finger felt fine and i'm sure i would have flashed it were it not for a hold having spun upside down making a positive crimp into a heinous sloper.

It was worth the wait. I'd almost forgotten what a great feeling it was to pull hard on a rope. Today it feels like a different world. I think one of the things that makes climbing so special to many is that it is a lifestyle sport. My holidays are planned round climbing, a lot of my clothes are climbing brands, i go on climbing web sites, most of my friends in Cumbria have been met through climbing. I like climbers, they're generally my kind of people ( as long as there are no Ron Hills, beards or lycra in sight ) and i love climbing. Just not being able to climb as well as i'd like has left me properly grumpy in the rest of my life.

I have some serious thinking to do about my goals, timescales and training time i have available to me now before i go to Spain. Tick lists and goals will have to be reviewed and google docs updated.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Progress ?

Well my initial high spirits soon dwindled. 10 days after i hurt my finger i had a minor op with a predicted 3-7 day recovery. That turned into 3 weeks of misery and sucked the life out of my psyche. I was planning on doing pull ups, core - front lever and ab roll stuff, dumbell complexes etc. but anything that involved me engaging my core was agony. I made a huge mistake of googling complications to do with the op and spending a couple of sleepless nights. Note to self: never google anything health related.

On the plus side we flew to Spain on a house hunting mission and got one first go. Villanueva del Cauche is now my local crag as of 1st August, a whole 6 minutes by car :0) El Chorro is an hour away, Archidona, Loja, El Torcal are all within an hour and there are a few quality local crags not rockfaxed about 15 mins away. Even better is we've found one of our Spanish friends lives in the next village to us - ready made access to partners now too.

All good on that front but i only got back to climbing this last week with a rained off session at St Bees and a very half arsed session at Penrith. I couldn't get up a 7a i got 2nd go a few months ago as i was just too scared to pull hard with my injured finger. Despite keeping up with the ice water treatment it didn't feel too much better after 4 weeks. St Bees was a show of true determination as the heavens opened and it threw it down so we retreated to work the sit start of Hueco Crack. BIG moves but i couldn't get my heel up into the cup from the first move. A problem to do with my static climbing style. I need to take the momentum from the first move and carry it through to help swing the leg up. I'm not going to mention the fact that Jonny got it in a later session 2nd go. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction !

A few weeks off and you lose a lot of climbing ability. Strength, fitness ( what i had left anyway ) and my movement all feel very rusty. I've spent the rest of the week trying to get some AnCap boulder problems sorted for the next few weeks and getting some feel back. I had a session on Dreaming of Red Rocks which left me nearly in tears as i think i am worse on it than i was 2 yrs ago. In some ways it could have been worse as i was supposed to go to Kilnsey and have a look at Comedy. I got a big booking for work i couldn't ignore so it had to be Dreaming instead. I am still aching 2 days later. Drinking until 2 am the night before and then ghyll scrambling until 4pm was not the best way to set myself up for success.

Watching Mario make it look easy was great - for him - and painful for me. He's been on his home board a lot and thinking about it it's perfect for Dreaming and bouldering. He's been doing 10-12 move circuits on it with a decent rest. Sounds like AnCap to me. Dreaming is perfect territory for this. Easy climbing into a roof, a crux on poor slopers and crimps just when you're tired and then all out to the top on steep but good holds. All the climbing is probably about 12 moves. You don't get pumped as such, there isn't enough time, you just get power fade. Inadvertently he has been doing the perfect training. Bastard !

I am writing the week off as a 'getting back into it' week. I now have a google docs schedule set up and a plan to follow. I am hoping more than you can know that it will all come together and this is just a culmination of a lay off and periodisation. I am certainly stronger than i've been previously and seeing Mario improve so much makes me hopeful for what is to come.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Disaster !

The sun shining out of Jonny's arse !

Well all good things must come to an end and mine almost did at the Bowderstone last Saturday. I was feeling good, for the Bowderstone, and quickly repeated Crack direct at 6C+ for a warm up. I only had 2hrs max as I had popped out early before meeting my family in Keswick for a walk so i had to get a move on. Picnic Sarcastic is my target and it felt so different this time; as in i felt like i could actually do it ! I got up to the big flatty by missing out a hold i had to slap pathetically for last year. Moving out last i watched Matt to get some beta and went back on to work the toe hook to stop me barn dooring. I got back to the flatty and was quite comfy hanging around working stuff out when suddenly: " CRUNCH !" came from my right hand middle finger. DISASTER ! I'd torn my pulley.

It hurt and swelled up quite a bit almost straightaway. Taking that as a bad sign i put my tail netween my legs and buggered off. Pete stayed on and managed to dislocate his knee working ' on the rebound'. He manned up ( no he didn't finish the problem ) and popped it back in and drove himself 1 1/2 hrs home. Respect due ! Get well soon Pete.

I did my research that night and decided to not get miserable about it but work on other stuff while i can't climb. My strength phase was about to get seriously interrupted anyway by a minor op on the 16th and going house hunting in Spain in the 23rd for a week. So all is not lost.

I even decided to still go to St Bee's on the Sunday to belay and take piccies. Somehow my shoes, chalk, harness and a rope found their way into my bag - just in case of course.

Mario warming up for the annual gurning competition at Egremont crab fair

I couldn't resist when i got there and stuck to slopey problems i know well. VB turned into V0, into V1, V2 etc. until by the end of the day i had topped out a V6 getting my STG. Not a new V6 but still very happy to have climbed it with 2 fingers strapped together. It was a lovely day out but i am not going to climb again for the next two weeks. All it will take is one wrong pull and i could put myself out for months not weeks.

Jonny claims he forgot he was wearing sunglasses. Too cool for school !

Core, Bolton Dumbell Complexes, hip/shoulder flexibility and a positive attitude will take precedence over the next few weeks. I am looking for a front lever and full ab wheel roll down and up by the end of my rehab - which could be 8 weeks. I will start easy climbing again after March though.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Short term failures = long term success

Badger Attack 7A

If you don't set ambitious targets you won't improve to your potential. If your targets are ambitious you will sometimes fail. Today i failed but this week has had so much learning in it it will stand me in good stead for the future.

Last Thursday i got the 2nd 7a+ i need for my 7b pyramid. I climbed it in such a different way to Johnny it really got me thinking about what we take from the way other climb and what that means for how we climb.

Johnny flew up the route. Fast, decisive and so dynamic it was almost wild. He never stopped.

I climbed it in a very different style. I don't have his strength to dyno those moves, catch them and then move off them. I was quite pleased with my send. I had looked at the way Johnny climbed it and knew i couldn't do it like that, but what if that was 'the way' to climb it ? I got on and tried to do it my way - static. To my surprise the crux moves went OK. Being truly static can be harder with no advantage of momentum but this was smooth and flowed nicely. The route went down next go. HOWEVER i need to get more momentum in my climbing. Not just when i know it's coming, like the dyno at the finish of it, but throughout all my movements.

Round at Pete's last night on his board we ended up discussing relative strengths and weaknesses. I mentioned that as part of my fingerboard warm up i do 3 sets of 10 pull ups. " Blimey ! " said Pete ( yes he really did say blimey we talk like oop North ) i can't even do 10 pull ups. I was a bit surprised to say the least. I know that cranking out 1000 pull ups doesn't mean you will be a good climber but i expected Pete to pull a few more than that off.

I then saw him trying a one arm dead hang. I couldn't do that but we discussed one arming and how to train as going from two arm to one arm is too big a jump. He tried a one arm lock off and couldn't do it. I've always been hampered by my door frame at home so was interested to see if i could. I COULD ! Only for 3 or 4 secs but it was there. I could do it left handed as well. He was saying how core was a weakness for him as well so how come he can hold on when i fly off the board ?

He's bloody good with his feet/body position and has fingers of steel. Simple.

Today i went out with Pete to Carrock fell. Beautiful day, great conditions, no excuses available :0)

We climbed with a friend of his from Uni called Ali. Ali is a keen climber but doesn't really boulder. She was great to watch ( no, not for that reason ) as she was soooo good. She was very static, but it was a strength not a problem. Her footwork was spot on and accurate and she really focused and gave it 100% despite a couple of bad falls. She floated up Boardman's arete, right hand, making up a new sequence in the process, and even more impressively did Rouse's Wall in her effortless static style. I was even more impressed when she got 'I can I can't', a notoriously puzzling problem with a scary feel, really quickly. I can't by the way :0( I bottled it a bit really.

So how can static be so good ? She just seemed to have the awareness of her body positioning to put it into the exact balance position it needed to be to enable the next hold to be reached. Her movement was very economical and graceful too. She seemed to float between holds. There was a definite lack of power screaming and no energy wasted slapping for distant holds or flailing about for foot holds.

So i reckon i need ( in order of importance ) :
  1. Finger strength - to clamp those holds enabling me to use my arm/shoulder strength.
  2. Better footwork - think i will start drills again on warm ups and really work body positions. If i can force them on the board it should carry through to the rest of my climbing.
  3. More dynamism to carry through the hard moves.
  4. Hip flexibility. I was finding high step ups on vertical ground very hard today.
So I have failed to get my 7A target by the end of Feb. I have only had 2 bouldering sessions this year outside and in one of them i didn't even attempt a 7A so i am not too worrried. Sing a rainbow didn't go at all today and feels a long way off. The crux move feels impossible at the moment. Hanging off 2 1/4 pad crimps, one positive and one not, on the underside of a prow, to slap up for a sloper using the poor crimp. As soon as i move i drop off the crimp. FINGERS !

On the plus side the amount i've learnt just in the last week about climbing movement and styles will have me on the road to success if i apply it properly. I also know a 7A that will go - badger attack. I only had literally 10 mins to get on it before i had to go and get my daughter. I gave it 3 good goes in that time and fell off the final mantel. Just need to get to it fresh - it is soft though. It must be as Pete flashed it with a quality mantelshelf finish move.

I reckon he used his knees !

Oh and i got Rouse's Wall as well. Happy with that. That's progress that is.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Rest week ?

After calling a rest week i had a lovely couple of days gorging myself and doing jack shit Tues + Wed. I knew I could squeeze in an hour or so of routes at Penrith before picking my wife up from the station on Thursday. Long story short i cracked off the 7a+ first go that night. 4 goes over all. 1 bolt to bolt, 2 to refine the sequence and then the send.

Felt piss easy once i got down to it. One of those nice flowing climbs where feet go exactly where you want and decision making came easy. Happy days. On a course over the weekend so nothing until Monday.

Already itching to get back to it. The psyche is back and 7b is the next target.

As there are no 7b's at Penrith it may have to be 7b+. Hmm! not sure.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Flexible training plan

Training doesn't always go according to plan. Whilst i am chuffed with the progress i seem to have made in the strength phase i may have over done it. After Carrock Fell and Penrith in a day i finished at the wall with a serious lack of enthusiasm. I reckoned i could do the 7a+ but literally just couldn't be arsed. I followed this up with a very poor session at Pete's where i failed to do either of the two problems i'd done last time and my left brachioradialis flared up out of nowhere.

This week was supposed to be the hardest so far intensity wise. It would be my 4th week on. After this i am running a 3 week on 1 week rest plan with the weeks increasing in intensity. However i had a really easy first week so planned in 4 weeks on for the first cycle. A serious lack of sleep recently has left me a bit jaded though and i think i may have over cooked it. Tonight is supposed to be fingerboarding, dumbell complexes and core. Not a chance. I am going to call it and have a rest week concentrating on quality sleep, diet, stretching and a routes session.

It may even fit better as i am going to have an enforced rest week mid march due to a minor op. resting this week will bring it back into line. I'd hate to push it and end up blowing a finger or elbow. Looking forward to a good stretch, bath and a long sleep tonight.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Playing out

It's amazing what you do when you're desperate. After a good session at Pete's on the Thursday:

i was really keen to see what i could do where it counts - outside. I video myself indoors periodically to see if i can spot faults. I realised i drive with my legs for the first half of a move but when my arms kick in i stop driving. Need to work on that.

I hit on the idea of stopping off at Carrock fell on the way to Penrith. It's only a 10 min diversion and roadside. There was a fairly new pdf on Greg Chapman's great site Lakesbloc:

and it looked like it fitted the bill for a short stop off. The 6C and 6C+ are exactly the type of climb i've never been able to do. A proper test then. The weather out West was nice and it hadn't rained for a couple of days so it was on. Driving down the A66 i rounded the corner to see Bassenthwaite looking really choppy and Skiddaw in low cloud. The further East we went the worse it got. By the time we arrived at Carrock it was really blowing and 2 degrees according to the car. Luckily Johnny had come fully prepared with a t-shirt and shower proof top, no food, no drink and a beanie. At least i'd brought my RAB.

The first top out ended in a splat at the top into a soggy, and very slimy, pile of moss and lichen which nearly resulted in me failing on a V0. The remaining problems on that slab ( none of which can be recommended ) were quickly despatched and we moved onto ' Bishop's Rage'. Where do they get these names ? It started from a hard sit and Johnny quickly pulled on and campused up a slopey lip to a good hold and a heel hook. A good hard pull and he was up 2nd go. I fluffed about once trying to do it his way before i applied technique and skill and did it feet on 2nd go as well.

Things were looking up and the 6C+ target of the day was looming. Clay Machine Gun. Any ideas anyone ? It was a bit disappointing really as it looked like it might be a real 'fridge hugger' but there was only one compression move on it. The landing was a bit iffy and it had a decent hard mantleshelf to finish so i had to commit. Again it went 2nd go, after a first feel about for the holds, and i was well happy. The topo says hard for the grade so the 7A target by the end of the month is looking good.

We still went to Penrith after but i am not so sure this was a good idea. I was still shivering by the time we got there and i just couldn't summon the psyche.

I went on the route i have been avoiding - the blue 7a+ i need to do on my pyramid before i try 7b for the first time. It looked so slappy and powerful when Johnny did it i wasn't sure it was for me. For that reason i decided i had to give it a go and get over myself.

The bottom half is routine, but nice, before it gets into the meat of it with a brick hard rock over up to a sloper. You match on this to clip before going for a very long reach up and left. Johnny was dynoing this and grabbing the poor sidepull powerfully. I found if i swapped my hands over i could outside edge the high foothold and do it without much effort. After that you need to make a long reach right - predictably to a poor side pull. Again Johnny dynoed this but with some foot trickery i could make the reach. The next move was the hardest. Johnny just went again with poor feet and deadpointed it. I tried, but failed. Eventually i figured i could step inside and use my outside edge again and make the reach. After that it's just adjust feet, reach for a crimp and make a huge dyno leap to the top. While it's not quite a feet off jump it's going to be hard. I couldn't summon up the psyche and decided to call it a day. It'll go next time i think. I had been avoiding it as i didn't think i could do it at all so i am well happy i can do all the moves. Still not sure about the dyno finish though :0(

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Keep the faith

I had a shocking start to the strength phase of training. A visit to Kendal saw me being much weaker than everyone else. I could flash everything V2/3 and under but any harder i just couldn't do. Really frustrating.

I think i'd been kidding myself that i was keeping my strength topped up by redpointing at my limit. But pulling off a couple of hard moves on a short 7a+ is never going to be as intense as a bouldering session.

I had started to panic a bit really as i seemed to have gone backwards quite a way. I was alwasy strong ( in the arms at least ) for my route level. However it seems to be coming back together again. Phew !

A session on the bendcrete at Cockermouth was useful as a benchmark. I know the panel really well and i was pulling really hard on it, for me. A session on Pete's board also went much better than last time. I was a bit puzzled as to how i can go from weak to strong(er) in just a week or so.

Looking back at it i think it's a mix of:

Timing - throwing for hard moves and landing them. My timing was certainly out at Kendal

C0-ordination - not just in timing but whole body co-ordination. Trusting the subconscious (proprioception) to look after all the other components ( core, pushing with legs first etc.) while you concentrate on latching the hold. At Kendal i couldn't even do a rock over as i just wasn't getting the movement right.

Recruitment - in this instance i am meaning getting used to pulling with 100% effort. I'm still not there yet. On Thursday i kept coming off the board and thinking afterwards that i should have just pulled harder and stayed on. Simples ! It's not a physical change but just getting your body used to cranking hard again. Reminding it how hard you can pull. I have been giving up recently thinking i can't pull any harder but after i just know i could have done.

I am finishing this post the day after another session on the "Amphitheatre of Death", or the board in Mario's bedroom as it's more commonly known.

I made a 7 move problem up and had to work the 3rd move, 4th move, 5th move and 6th move. After i'd got it done i made the end sick hard, moving to match a poor crimp with the 3 finger dish undercut on the same hold, with only one, low, foot on. It's basically a small jug turned upside down on a 45 degree board. I can almost hold the swing and i am sure it'll go next time. From there i need to use the undercut with feet high and go for the finishing jug of glory.

First really good problem i've set on a board and it feels V6 hard. I am pretty rubbish at grading things, especially my own, so i shall reserve judgement. The aches and pains i am feeling today are telling me i was really pulling as hard as i could this time though.

It is however totally wrong for Picnic Sarcastic as it's all about swinging about on jugs. Pete's board is much more suited to that: 38 degrees and fingers all the way.

Need to get out on rock - story of my life. fingers crossed for this weekend.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


How do you warm up on a cold January day at Malham ? I need to figure this out next time. Most things were sopping wet and so a re-match with Puddlejumper wasn't on the cards. The ever dry Consenting Adults was the pick of the day.

I'd never been on it before so spent some time on a bolt to bolt ( sorry Johnny ). I'm quite happy that the sequence i came up with seemed to be the way to do it. I felt much more comfortable than my first day out last year where my feet seemed to belong to someone else. I felt sharper and more accurate and decided it was going to go down quickly.

I wanted to link to the 1st bulge and then rest before going to the top, just to make sure my sequence was correct. However i buggered up the easy stuff at the bottom and had to rest for longer than i anticipated. Happily I got up the rest of it no problems though.

I then lowered back down to the 2nd bolt and did the whole thing again on top rope. Now surely if i am fit enough to climb it 1 1/2 times i can do it next go, can't I ?

I waited too long though and got cold. The next 2 goes saw me flailing, failing and falling attempting to get over the bulge. I forced myself to rest a decent amount of time and gave it another go. It was all groovy right up until getting to the hold for the 4th clip. That move, which had felt hard, now felt impossible. Another fall taken and major disappointment.

Some extra beta later ( from watching Simon lap it 5 times ) and i could see a much easier way to do the move with a sneaky left foot placement.

Away we went again. I got to the same point and couldn't for the life of me find where Simon was putting his foot. He was sticking it like it was a jug but where the f*&k was it ? I climbed up, down, around and everywhere before reverting to plan A and trying it the hard way. Not a chance. This time the fall was made a bit more spicy as i had let the rope go round the back of my leg. School boy error and i really should know better. A decent fall ended up with me inverting and hitting the wall with my hip. Once the adrenalin wore off it really hurt. The journey home was agony.

I tried pretending to my wife i hadn't hurt myself but fell over trying to get into bed and cried on the floor like a baby. Did i get sympathy ? Did i chuff.

Anyway enjoy the vid. It has some bad editing where i rested, and some bad climbing. I'm going to take the positives; I am in a much better position than i was last year, my fear of falling seems to have been ground down and I only failed due to beta/tactics not fitness. That's a bonus as i haven't done any fitness work for a couple of months.

Next week sees the start of getting strong. My rough weekly plan is:

  • Performance pyramid boulder session - preferably outdoors. To top out at 7a+ (V7)
  • 2 sessions on a board - got 2 to visit. One set by a 6ft+ friend and one set by a 5ft4in friend so should provide variety
  • Roped fitness session to keep that ticking over and lead head intact
  • Fingerboard session(s) once i am into the swing of it
  • Campus boarding ? Not sure yet.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

7a + dans le sac

Been trying a 7a+ at Penrith for the last couple of sessions. 1st bolt to bolt felt way out of my league. One hold i couldn't even grip and the sequence seemed way too hard. I had another look and got the sequence for the 1st crux in my head - though it still felt hard. I had a burn on it aiming to get through the first sequence and surprised myself by sticking the hold i couldn't use and getting through to the 2nd crux. The added performance benefits of being on the sharp end i guess.

The 2nd crux ( getting over a small lip using 2 poor undercits to a shockingly insecure slopey crimp and going again to a jug ) seemed even harder but once i got to the jug it'd be all over so surely i could push through ? I got to the jug next go. After that it seemed quite simple to the top, if i hadn't been boxed out of my mind. AARRGH ! So that's what a redpoint crux is :0) Fairly easy moves but so tired by the time you get to them you can't pull them off. 10 o clock came and we got chucked out so it'd have to be next time.

It was definitely getting in the way of my 'training' as all i wanted to do was get it done so throwing volume to the wind i warmed up and had one more bolt to bolt to refresh the moves. Properly psyched up now i powered through the 1st and second crux and found myself at the redpoint crux. Panic set in and i changed the sequence, going for a foot hold i'd tried on the bolt to bolt but discounted. I wanted to put my foot on a nice big plastic blob instead of the smear on the opposite wall i knew was required. I made the move, which was sooo much harder than it should have been, JUST clipped ( there was a really decent fall waiting if i didn't ) but couldn't get any further.

STUPID ! Stick to the plan FFS.

To add insult to injury Johnny jumped on it after watching me and got it 3rd go. He's not climbed for 6 weeks and had a raging hangover. The difference is as a boulderer he's strong and powerful, focusses really well and gives it 100% to the plan without getting distracted. He never pauses or rests just goes one move after the other, and keeps going until he gets to the top. By his own admission i am a 'better' climber, better technique and fitness, but his extra strength and commitment are his winning cards on short routes like this. It's what i need to get better at. Zeroing in on the target and going for it.

The good news is that due to feeling so annoyed at Johnny doing it i cracked it off next go. One of those nice redpoints where i got to the top and didn't even feel pumped - though i was tired.

Another grade done and with 2 bolt to bolts, 2 links and 2 'proper' goes at it it went fairly quickly.

Hoping for Malham next weekend. A nice confidence booster.