Tuesday, 1 December 2009

9th day on and counting!

The weather has been poor, to say the least and Paxti is a massive beast so I thought I would try training lots and lots, and lots and lots; obviously not to the same intensity as Paxti. It seems to be going quite well and I am enjoying the hard work, my body seems to be realising that my mind is not going to relent and actually climbing quite well! I feel strong and I am hoping that fitness will improve just because my body is not getting much rest!

The past 9 days have involved a mixture of board climbing, fingerboarding, campussing, weights, core, general climbing and shock horror even a few times on the grit!! As long as you keep changing up what your doing the body seems to be able to cope. If the fingers feel tired then weights and core give them a rest etc.

My other inspiration at the moment is Malc, I watched his Pro Tips the other day (yes the one with the subtitles) and since then I have been trying to climb as open and basic as possible. My style is naturally quite flick and jump orientated, so big locks and no gay legs is hard but I am seeing a definite improvement.

I managed a sneaky hour at Almscliff on Saturday before the sun went down. I haven't been there for ages and wanted to see if I still had all the old problems on lock down. The circuit consisted of the Bulb (V10), the Keel (V8), Matts Roof (V9), Dolphin Belly Slap (V6) and Demon Wall Roof (V7). The last two were climbed in the dark and it felt nice to still be able to complete these boulders with some ease.

I also witnessed Tom Peckitt (the boy is a beast) make the 5th ascent of Cherry Falls, a very hard 8a+ put up by Clifford aeons ago. The Problem is very cool and basic for grit but it revolves around a very sharp crimp, I would like to put some time into it but not sure my skin will agree or my wallet (petrol what a bitch)!

Yesterday I awoke to blue skies and sun. Although I wanted to train I headed out for a session at Burbage North. I am quite content to just get out on the grit at the moment and tick through some things I should have done. Also the main focus is on training for Font in January and climbing on the grit will keep up my attempt at technique. With this in mind I headed out to try Blind Fig, unfortunately this would have involved some deep water soloing! Not to be discouraged I went over to try Striker. A hard V10 that has seen very few ascents (Moon, Pearson and Adams?). I suppose it would be described as a dyno but its a funky one. Pulling on with a block undercut and a crimp, you smear your feet high up the wall and go to a 5mm index finger shot hole. By crimping the shot hole you raise your body and then go again for a slopey break, as you catch this only your left hand stays in contact with the rock! After ripping a vertical split over an inch long in my finger, I taped it up and managed to send the problem!! Very pleased, a brilliant couple of moves and one off my to-do list.

I then headed inside for a board session, my skin hurt and so I concentrated on big lockie moves between good holds, staying open at all times of course. Weights and core today, with team training in Newcastle at the weekend, sure Earl with have some nasty things instore for us!

Friday, 6 November 2009


Big Wall (its actual name)

Terminator. 8a

The Hulk. Old Skool 7c/+

The Frankenjura

This place is magical, it has a similar feeling to Fontainbleau. Limestone escarpments peak (no pun intended) out between the trees and moss coversed boulders lie forgotten about in the depths of the forests. Not many people come here solely to boulder and I can see why, you really do need someone in the know how to show you around. Feurzange. 8a+

Luckily we did, Fabian, Mona and Seb made us feel right home; showing us a huge number of problems and also where all the good watering holes were! That is definately a plus point of the place- the beer is excellent!

The climbing is also brilliant, although there are not so many majestic lines, the quality of the rock and movement involved make up for that. It also a place that you thoroughly get shut down, no holiday grades here! However that did not stop us from getting things done, although the weather and injurues definately tried to halt us in our tracks. That is a downside of the place; it has weather like England. We suffered a great deal of rain and lots of condensation on the rock when it was a bit warmer.

A brief run through of some of the high- and low-lights of the trip:

Back 2 Varian went out with a bad finger, however it did get better (and then got worse again) maybe something to do with the brutal crimping on Omega Man, a classic 8a/+ that he crushed.

Crimping Thompson managed a few good ticks in his two weeks with us including knockenmuhle, a cool, steep powerful 8a.

He was replaced by Lee 'dense loner' Anderson who brought with him dark humour, sarcasm and rain! He also invented new words in scrabble (foy can mean anything you desire) and schooled us all at monopoly.

Ned came out of retirement for a few days and crushed a bunch of 8a's and above including violation and Feurzange both 8a + and both on the same day! Grrrr the pale ghost is back!

Of the Aussie contingent Andy unfortunately had to go home after his finger (previously injured) flared up again big time and he couldnt take the pain of watching Benjamin Cossey climbing whilst he could only belay! Ben crushed routes and boulders whlist all the time putting his real efforts into Action Direct. He did Sea of Green and 8a+ bloc and Plan B and 8b route.

As for myself I managed to do a few 7c's and some good 8's also-
Knockenmuhle 8a
Billiard 8a
Lucky Punch 8a
V2 8a
Evergreen Terrace 8a+
Terminator 8a Evergreen Terrace. 8a+

In summary I had an ace trip, stayed in a real nice house (where Dai stays when he crushes the place), met some quality people who will no doubt be friends for life and the climbing wasnt half bad either!


A nice starting picture for this post of Ned, Keith and I freezing our bollocks off after a swin under Dolby Digital in the Zillertal!

Me and Ned headed to Innsbruck at the end of September to see Keith. I will keep it brief but Innsbruck is a sweet place to reside! Keith and James apartment is PIMP, the city seems lively and there is lots of good climbing and skiing close by. Perfect! We spent 5 days there mainly eating pizza and sampling some fine ice cream but squeezed in a bit of climbing to at Zillertal and Silvretta.

At zillertal we met up with my friend Emi who had just returned from South Africa. We warmed up and then got straight onto the main event, Incubator. This is an old Jerry project which unfortaunately if often wet. However we lucked out and although it was warm a cool breeze was blowing right by, drying the holds out to a holdable state! I quickly sussed the moves and started some attempts from the bottom, the first move is the hardest move in my opinion but it relies on timing rather than brutal strength. After a few attempts I stuck the move and proceeded to climb the bloc to the top. A very occasion for me to not be a punt and drop the top, although I nearly did as I hadnt been on it!! Very pleased indeed as it was a climb I had always wanted to do.
Incubator, 8B.
Taken by Emi Moosburger

Our next climbing was a day trip to Silvretta, a very beautiful alpine bouldering venue at about 2000 metres. The rock quality here though is not so good, it is sharp and leaves you in tears. However I had one of my best days out climbing, we met up with Stew Watson, Luki and Elias. I managed to climb 3 problems that were graded 8a (one was even a flash) but realistically British Airways and Niviuk are 7c/+ and the Shining more like 7c+/8a. I was made up though especially as the Shining is sooooooo crimpy! We saw Memento and had a brief play but my skin was burning, Stew went back the week after and sent it packing, good effort!! Just as we were packing up the clouds that had started to look menacing decided to unload hale all over us! Nevermind back to Innsbruck for Pizza ans ice cream!
Ned on the Shining, 8A.
Taken by Elias Holzkencht

It was now off to the Frankenjura for Ned and I and back into late night editing mode for Keith.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Anstonia and Training

I have been heading to Anston Stones (near worksop) recently, the limestone here is magnesium based rather than the more typical calcium based rock that is found in white peak area. The rock is softer but creates much better features and lines than the calcium based stuff.

At the weekend I managed to get the 2nd ascent of an amazing Mike Adams problem called Warriors Peril (8a). This is one of the finest problems that I have ever climbed, it is the full package! About 14 moves in length it involves compression, undercuts, pockets and crimps; bicycles, smears, toe and heel hooks. There is even a bit of spice thrown in at the end just when your really pumped for that added challenge. Earlier in the week I had worked out the moves and had a few burns from the start but fading light meant that I had to return on Sunday. After a brief warm up I decided to try to link the problem as the rest day had not left me feeling rested at all!

My first go I managed to get through to the last move only to catch the final crimp wrong, instead of adjusting it I carried on but not feeling comfortable after the foot movement I dropped off, what an idiot! My next go I got to the same move, feeling much better I knew that I was in, only my heel to rip! As I was holding the cut loose my right hand greased off the crimp leading to a scary fall (cheers Andy for the spot).

Third time lucky I thought or was it to turn into a last moveitis problem, which is the norm for me. I took a long rest, ate some cashews and dispatched with ease (I think) on my next go!! I was relieved but also so pleased to have done such a high quality problem. During the climb I hit all the holds right and had that feeling, that I dont get often enough, I knew if I just concentrated that I would be in.

This was one of last things I wanted to do before heading to the Jura at the end of September and with the others all being a few hours drive away I will mainly be training and working in the upcoming weeks. Yesterday I came up with my own mini Gaskins project on the board at the Works. I am sure he could do it in his sleep but for me each move is close to my crimp and core limit! Very psyched to try and get it done before I go, it always amazes me how chunks of wood can entertain and motivate so much in our sport!!

Hopefully some pictures or even footage to follow if I manage to head back out that way in this tropical weather!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Mutton Busting

Taken by Ben Pritchard

Outdoors and Getting Stronger

So as the title says I have been trying to juggle the two. How successfully I am doing this who knows, I do feel quite strong and I am managing to get up some things. Had a brilliant time up in northumberland and the lakes with Ned, Dan, Tom and Katy. We visited some fine, fine sandstone, took a trip to the seaside and pulled hard on the giant Bowder pebble. The trip was very laid back with hot weather and huge amounts of food consumed!! Definately heading back up there at some point before we depart for the Jura.

So the Jura is getting closer, only 6 weeks. I am trying to earn as much money as possible while training hard. I have mainly been using the board at the works- trying projects and then getting in some mileage on more familar problems. I love the board, how hard you have to try to scrape your way to the top and how completely fatigued you feel by the end of a session!!

Today I decided to go on the campus board. Now this is something that I do very rarely. Dont ask me why but campusing is a form of training that I have never really participated in. So it was to my great surprise when I managed to float up 1-5-8 on both sides and get close(ish) to 1-5-9 when leading with my right arm!! I then did some power endurance which was my real reason for going on the campus board. I remember Andy Earl once showing us a routine he used to do. I set my sights on this and got shut down, excellent, something to really get my teeth into. Basically it involves doing 1-4-6 on both arms followed straight away by 1-4-7 and then 1-5-8!! I did this 3 times and could barely get past 5 at the end!!

Everytime I campus I remember how much I love the feeling and motion of it. I will definately be doing some more before we head off but the board is the real focus, I feel this can yield the biggest gains in shortest amount of time.

I have recently been thinking about lifetime climbing goals, here is what I have come up with:
  • Climb Hubble (I tried this in the blazing heat last week. More strength is definately needed and this is a winter aim with the idea of completing this next summer).
  • 1-5-9 on both arms.
  • Climb consistently hard problems wherever I go and on varying rock types
  • Stand on the podium at a world cup round
  • Climb 8B+ boulder
I feel all these are very achievable, perhaps with exception to the last one. Unfortunately as much as I love competition climbing I am not sure I have the mental toughness for it, but this in turn is why I want to achieve this goal so much.

We will see what the future holds, for now its back to the juggling...