Thursday, 31 January 2008
Monday, 28 January 2008
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Having not really done too much here before i was keen to test myself on a V7 i last tried probably two years ago and it felt Nails! Proper desperate and right at my limit (probably slightly beyond it actually!). Nothing too technical, just very steep and powerful with two cross overs and some small holds - basically theres nowhere to hide on these problems if you're weak. Reach, technique or balls wont get you out of having to be able to crank!
To my surprise, i flashed the problem first go, comfortably hanging the crux holds and even cutting loose to hang one-handed from the hold at the end of the crux sequence - it didn't feel right! i could pause on the hardest move to try different ways of holding the crux 3-tip-pocket before deciding the openhand it and reach left for the inverted letterbox pinch. Very weird and very good! something must be paying off!
Slightly lost (i had planned on spending quite some time and energy working this problem) i repeated the sequence a couple of times to make sure it wasn't fluke and went to examine some of the more beefy lines. 3 major problems begin out of a kinda big hole in the roof and all rely on a crucial pocket to gain the lip of the roof before splitting off their separate ways. The crucial hold seems to be a drainage point and was soaking - nothing my pink flowery rag couldn't sort out though! so after drying the hold and chalking up i had swiftly notched another V7 onto my belt by hanging the swing on the lip then campusing 3 moves to match the finishing hold on "Pantys down". Excellent! I now had a choice between what i know are going to be project worthy lines... the sit start to Be Ruthless at a powerful V10 or the foot free campus spectacle that is Thug Mentality V9, possibly leading into Mental extension, a V9 in it's own right resulting in Thug Mental V10/11! (check out http://www.northwalesbouldering.com/newsitem.asp?nsid=158 for some history on the grades and how they're settling). If you've watched the video of the mutant known as Sam Cattell arms only-ing through these problems you might get the impression that they're full of jugs - they're not! The first Big campus cross-over is actually to a sloper and i spent the remainder of my session working this trying a variety of sequences, some involving feet, some not - all powerful - I'm home!
Friday, 11 January 2008
Well Nige and Neal have put their heads together and come up with something special. I like to think of that magical moment of conception they experienced as the scene from Tenacious D when KG and JB have the Butt baby – only the lads made a website and it’s actually gonna be useful and have a purpose and not just be a misshapen doll covered in fake excrement and blood. You with me? Good!
They’re trying to instil some motivation and direction into Irish climbing and offer people the golden opportunity to bypass all the mistakes they’ve made or heard about and learn from their experiences and shortcut their way to becoming a better climber. I know theres no real shortcuts but by avoiding what doesn’t work and focusing on a direction and aim suggested by someone who has learnt through experience I believe people can make great advances much more quickly. Their fledgling site is up and running and makes for some interesting reading – lectures, seminars, masterclasses, tuition, training advice, injury, nutrition, mental tactics… they really can offer quite a bit! And trust me they’ve been through it! Theres not much I can add to their growing site other than show my support and maybe add my 2 cents in about their respective bio’s. If you take the time to find and read about the lads you’ll get two very distinct, possibly contrasting pictures of the guys (especially if you don’t know them). Well heres what I have come to expect from them. Nige’s bio reads very focused, proud, logical and factual. He states what he’s done both academically and in climbing circles and reinforces all this with a career CV that backs it up. Just like him, he’ll not just send a route or problem he’ll crush it! (and probably pause to grin before topping out!). Straight away you know this guy knows his stuff and is passionate about climbing. He’s not all bouldering and sports science though – he has racked up like the rest of us and has had his fair share of epic days out on multipitch routes and seacliffs! Great craic, honest and wealth of information on all things body and climbing related. Like all people who’s advice you want to trust, he takes it himself and is never without a list of current targets he’s working towards achieving by a certain date... And also like everyone else he responds just as well as anybody to some well timed and sincere motivation or encouragement to fight through the last few crucial seconds of pump in order to latch the good hold above a crux section!
Neal? Haa! Neals bio paints the picture of some mysteriously funded hippy, climbing, snowboarding, travelling bum thing! And although a lot of that can apply, theres a calculating mind at work behind it all. He’s had to graft hard to fund his trips away and earn his experience and has never lost his motivation to improve and sample harder and harder climbing around the world. He loves to train …. Only slightly less than he loves to climb and as a result he’s been trying and researching different approaches and routines to climbing training on himself and any easily motivated bystanders for as long as I’ve known him (which is quiet a while considering he sold me my first ever harness and rock shoes for my 16th birthday!! Jeeze!!).
Long story short, the lads know their stuff and have always been nuts about rock and the movement over it (…and how to move over blanker and smoother pieces of it through training!). Plus they are optimistic (or insightful) enough to try things their peers would consider too hard or demanding and as a result of which they have achieved grades in multiple disciplines that could be considered top-end. I can see that it’s the same motivation and optimism that has fuelled this venture and I think any medium that acts as a vehicle to expose more irish climbers to these lad’s infectious lust for the sport and need for improvement is a great addition to the web’s climbing resources. If they can get me up a couple of 8a’s just imagine what they could do for someone with some ability!?!
Good stuff lads I’ll be expecting the cheque in the post, right?
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Saying all that, I visited Andy’s wall over Christmas and felt decidedly weak in comparison to everyone back home. I think it just shows the positive effects of regular bouldering sessions both in and outdoors. That seems to be all the Irish climbers are up to – bouldering. Glendalough, Portrane, DCU, UCD. Wherever they do it it’s giving them a sharpness they need to crank through short cruxes. Having not bouldered in yonks I feel that I have the tools at hand to do the problems (finger strength, shoulders, core, technique) but the process of squeezing everything out of each muscle group in order to send a boulder problem felt a bit rusty. I think you forget how to crank! So now I know I need to get out on rock more and apply the training in a more sport specific way – sounds good to me!
The ferry! We missed the cruise sailing due to car troubles and ended up on the dreaded swift (also known as the vomit commet!). the ship had to take a substantial dogleg north to combat the prevailing winds and then turn south to Dublin once under some shelter from the irish coastline. It was comic! Like some sort of scene from an early Monthy Pythons film. The Scene looked something like this…. Imaging you’re sitting in an old cinema seat. The screen is a large plasma only 10 feet infront and there are about 30 similar seats arranged around you. Behind you is the café stroke bar thingey and the side walls are windows looking out to see and it’s dark outside. The background noise is a low mechanical hum or whirr…. Either way it’s completely surrounding you and dampening every noise. Santa Claus 3 is on the screen but the volume is not loud enough to hear it clearly so you have to concentrate on engaging your hearing to make it out. It’s the evening before Christmas eve and the ferry is nicely busy. Now then, the rocking and swaying begins to build and before long the ship is listing and bouncing around like a good thing. People take the hint and before long everyone is seated and pensive… then the puking begins… only a little at first, the odd muffled barff into a well positioned sick bag … but just like the rocking, this builds too… before long outrageously loud hurling can be heard coming from children and hardened, well-fed truckers alike! The occasional splash as someone cant be bothered to find another bag and just involuntarily purges themselves all over their table or across the floor. The crew go round passing out tonnes of bags as the captain announces the shops and bar areas are closed. The puking continues as does the sound of crockery and merchandise clattering in their storage. Eventually the circus subsided into some sort of exhausted normality but just when you think it’s over, the ship changes direction to make the southward leg to Dublin and with that it erupts again with extra gusto – the change in the ships motion obviously having dire consequences for the suffering punters! It was interesting…. And no – me no heave!
Christmas was great, I love Christmas – I now realise how fortunate I’ve been to make it to 25 and still really, really look forward to meeting up with my family and friends. I read somewhere that in order to truly appreciate and understand your own culture you have to be extracted from it and submersed into another. Well I feel that now when I come home. I feel familiar and comfortable enough in my surroundings but also critical enough to really take in the changes both for the better and worse that are happening around my hometown in my absence. Mostly I find I just really appreciate what can be found on my doorstep at home in Dublin! The places, the parks, the people, views… the atmosphere. I loved the morning runs down to the coast and back before the city began to wake up. The TV and radio. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was my lack of time to meet up with people I really wanted to. I barely made contact with anyone outside my immediate family all trip but I suppose that’s alright every once in a while. There are some people that I’ve seen Far to little of and I really do need to sort that out!
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
More to come!