Tuesday, 23 March 2010

1 Weekend: 2 comps and some real rock!

Imagine a giant climbers playground buzzing with good tunes and psyched people. Now set 30 problems covering a huge variety of styles and strengths. Now imagine the problems are harder than you first thought. Give it an IBL style scoring format and informality and bingo! You have the qualifing round of the CWIF 2010.
Theres always a few extroverts! Tom and Ryan stand firm for equality and the re-introduction of bright lycra into the world of climbing - respect!
The Semi's
The finals...
My favourite problem of the comp - i wouldn't of tried it if Neal hadn't suggested it. A few things i picked up from the day. I'm just at the point where i can step onto the climbing continium - i havn't even begun to get good or even understand what "good" is! Style is everything - climbing style that is. Generally the problems felt like wrestling giant lego blocks. Pinches on aretes, twisting and clamping with footholds clearly out of fashion. Brilliant, physical bouldering! But a very definate style - never a case of just pulling (bone-ing) down on small edges - everything felt relatively ergonomic. Interesting. Plus gains were seen - there were at least 3 problems i thought i'd never get that i flashed! a definate sign that i don't do enough (any) indoor bouldering... i mean i've lost touch with whats feasable for me. Also, realising that all our training has been directed towards being able to hold on for longer kinda helps to put things into perspective - if i trained for this kind of thing i'm sure i'd see improvements.
Anyway - big thanks to Smacks, Neal and Naomi for entering us, climbing with us and making us tea!
Sunday - Plas Power had another comp! Jaysus! Another epic feeling 30 problems, this time with much more emphasis on just pulling. the harder the problem the steeper the board and smaller the hold - easy! Caroline finished 2nd in the open senior catagory and was happy enough with that. On the way home from the comp we stopped off at compact wall and squeezed in 3 leads up to 6c before the rain just to get into gear for Siurana!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Statement of Intent

Sat we took the first steps towards climbing outdoors with ropes 2010. LPT - home of mega classics like I've been a bad bad boy, Statement of Youth and Liquid amber.
Everything was wet and it was cold... after a warm up I bit the bullet and got on Statement. No surprise - Its Hard. Evern harder when wet... but it's spell is broken for me now and i'm keen for more.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Surprise 7C!

On Sunday we took another trip out to Llanberis Pass. This would be our 3rd day on of bouldering and I was feeling abused. Caroline took the sensible option and used the opportunity to take her little sis up Snowdon for the first time (not without incident I might add… two girls in trainers and a Rocky on a snow and ice covered mountain do attract a lot of attention from the crampon wearing gear freak type). I decided to let the girls have some catch up time and hit the rocks again with Sergeant Tom.

Sunday the pass was packed! 3 drives up and down searching for a parking space and eventually we just double parked down by Jerry’s. The place was fully mat’ed! With our 3 pads it brought the total to over 10. I don’t really like a big crowd when I’m climbing but needing to stay within view of the car and wanting to project something I just had to join the gang. Everyone was sound. Don’t know why it keeps surprising me really…. I mean we’re all like minded people there for the rock. A nice group of lads finishing up their weekend away from Birmingham Uni and a local couple. All in all there were 2 people seriously working Jerry’s and 2 or 3 other blokes playing on some holds but not really doing much. Tom’s agenda was Jerry’s – he wants it bad and set to work on the starting moves leading to the crack. This was his second session on the problem and he was making some progress but conditions weren’t helping… believe it or not it was quite hot!
I felt rubbish but got started on Bus Stop, a powerful V9 to the right of Jerry’s. With only 7 hand movements (in contrast to Jerry’s 20 odd, depending on the sequence used) and at the same grade and on the same lump of beautiful rock I was expecting something harder – I got it. Luckily there were plenty of people around to offer beta and different sequences (some of which not too obvious) and armed with that knowledge I got stuck in. The first move has two potential methods – one method using a sidepull for the left hand to reach for the right hand edge, feels easier than the other. The alternative involves starting right hand on an undercut and left hand on an openhanded pinch – but this, harder method puts you in a much better position for the crux which involves a very precise heelhook on the left sidepull and a shouldery lock with the right arm, reaching for a crimp in the roof before a crucial foot move and a pop with the left hand to an open pinch. After that a tricky top out around the lip sees you on the slab and happy out! I could nail the first move every time using both methods but the crux kept me busy for hours. My heelhook kept coming out during the pop to the high pinch. 5 hours of playing on the one problem left me with a durable sequence and completely shattered! I was wasted.
Tuesday evening, Caroline suggested we go for a night bouldering session so we packed pads and lantern and hit the road, after a warm up on the roadside classics I pulled onto the problem and climbed straight through to the lip – and fell off. But I was soo close! Excited, I jumped back on only to fluff up the first move and not land the flat edge correctly. Noooo…. Had I blown my chance first go? A quick brush of the holds, shuffle of the pads, spit n’squeak of the shoes (especially the left heel) – pulled on and topped out! Feckin eh!! Chuffed!
What next?...

The thought that i had done every move bar one on a famous V12 hadn't crossed my mind (honest!)....


Well things have been plodding along nicely… with training I’m accepting that no incidents are good incidents. I’m still trying not to go overboard and just keep things at a nice level that let me keep training without getting injured. So far so good, thank God! Last night at the end of an easy fingerboard session I tried the weekly test of pull-up power by trying to lift myself off the floor one-armed. This time the scales were reading 5 kg. Right! For some reason I felt (having never managed a one-armer before) sort of out of balance… the disengaged arm didn’t know what to do or where to be… one leg is raised in an almost crunch position the other keeping a toe on the scales. I tried putting my resting hand on my neck and gave it another go, kind of like a self half-hug. And it made the difference – my first one-armed pullup! And a controlled lower back down! Whey hey!! I then tried it on the left and again, it worked! I don’t know why it worked but it did. Its still not feeling easy though and I’m going to revise my target…. I want to be able to do 3 of them in a row on each arm with my disengaged arm across my core, instead of on my neck.

Regarding the details of what I’ve been playing with in order to achieve this – off set pull-ups, high hand on a sloper, lower hand on the smallest edge (openhanded) roughly 6 inches lower. 10 reps, 6 sets, alternating which hand is highest. I’ve also been going sets of 3 reps with a 20kg weight hanging off my waist. Only 4 sets of these making sure to lower very slowly and trying to let the higher arm do most of the work.

This morning I clocked in at just under the 78kg mark and psych levels are tip top! The weekend trips to Snowdonia bouldering are helping no end! This is why I’m doing it (the training). It’s all for the rock and I’m seeing huge progress on problems I really struggled with in the past. I’m keeping an open mind now regarding projects – I want to work something hard, something beautiful, a new level for me – no firm candidates as yet but I’d love to try a V10 or V11. I’m just going to have to try a lot of problems and see what feels worthy of investing a lot of time into :o)

Spending spree

Wear and tear around the tie-in loop

Well 7 years on I’ve bought a new harness. Yep, I’ve retired my tonne-weight Syncro and bought a super light Petzel something or other… 260g of bright green comfort that’s built for speed. I love it. I’ve also put a voucher for Go Outdoors to good use this week and bought a 60m Topgun II before the Siurana trip… Whoop, whoop, whoop!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Project Fun

On the road to our playground... Snowdonia!
Still psyched from last weekends bouldering and with the pressure on us to collect a friend from the Airport in Manchester on Sat afternoon - we opted for a Friday night, lamp-light, bouldering session on the cromlech. Awesome! Cold, dark but very Awesome! Caroline spent a good deal of time working her sequence on the backside traverse but the lack of light kept her from sending. I took my turn on Jerry's Roof - I hadn't tried it since i managed to fluke my way to it's top over a year ago after applying siege tactics to it. Friday evening by lamp light i pulled on my shoes and pulled on (no warm up) just to try and get some blood pumping and warm up - i hoped to make it through the start and maybe repeat this a few times before going for it - but it felt so good that i just kept going on the warm up! i eventually dropped off the top-out on the lip due to darkness and wet holds! Shocked! But this was my ultimate problem a few months ago! and now i could afford to be sloppy on it - forget foot holds and sequences, cut loose etc... and still hang on - Sweet! Viva la Training!!
Driving home later that night we were both psyched - Caroline wanted to finish her first V7 (7a+) and i wanted to try and find something hard to project. So Saterday morning we get up and go back for the dispatch. Caroline warms up on the finish of the traverse while i try drying the wet holds - Towel, chalk, brush, chalk. She pulls on and despite the damp holds and tired arms from the nights bouldering she cruises through the sequence to the top out. Her first V7 and a sure sign that the training is paying off.
The problem istelf takes a long (9/10 m) sustained line across the lip of a huge roof behind the Cromlech roadside face. Grades for the problem vairy from V6 to V8+ depending on which problem you choose to exit up - it's a real test of pump resistance especially after the fairly tricky sequence of crimps and slopers at the start.
It was a really good experience to see Caroline go through the process of working something she found hard. Seeing the change as an assortment of holds, that on first aquaintance don't offer a path through them, begin to be linked by altering minute aspects of foot placements or hand sequences. And it was clear Caroline was loving it! She really had to put some thought into her sequence - mainly because the thing was so long and pumpy and any wasted energy at the start would mean the finishing steepness would prove too much for lactic infused arms.
Having worked on this problem during 3 visits to the pass Carolines frustration, eagerness and doubt as to if the climb was actually within her was obvious. On her first go today she was silent as she traversed through the technical crux moves along the lip, no easy to make mistakes, arriving at the large slopers with the potential heel-toe lock, she knew that she had climbed the start as well as she ever could and the send was on the cards. It was obvious as she left the slopers that she was giving it everything - crossing over to the holds in sequence instead of matching - breathing hard and gasping as she lurched between the spaced finishing holds. On landing the top of the boulder she let out a excited scream - chuffed! She really didn't think she had it in herself - i love that feeling. Lets hope theres lots more of this to come in the future...
With that success and with the clock ticking i just jumped on the classic thug fest - The Cromlech Roof Crack, V7. I had no love for this problem - it needs control and arms - plus plety of core tension. Well keeping with current trends - it went fairly handily! Score!!!!