Boulderbar Boulder Jam 2017

Coming back from Kalymnos was a bit of a shock. The temperatures have dropped and the days have become considerably shorter. But, the good news is that conditions are great as long as it’s not raining.

I’ve had a few days climbing at Karlstein, but most of the time has been spent at Boulderbar recently. I even chose to climb indoors on a Saturday when the weather was nice. Why would I do this? It was the first Boulderbar Boulder Jam and it was a lot of fun. Stephanie and Rene picked me up and we drove through to the boulderbar, it was a promising day and there ended up being 145 participants.

The qualifiers were 40 boulders ranging between 4A and 8A with up to 4 hours to climb them. I met up with Karo Sinnhuber and we had a bunch of fun. I managed 38 of the problems comfortably within 1 hour 30 minutes. The last two I found really tough and chose not to spend too much energy on. As luck would have it, Stephanie, Karo and I made it through to the final 7. Karo topped 39 of the 40 problems, really strong and impressive! I’m glad to see that she is back in form!

 

When it came to the finals, Adam Ondra set two of the problems.

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Adam setting Women’s #3

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Demo’ing his problem: Men’s #3

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Isolation. Not so much fun but definitely a necessity.

The finals turned out to be fun, but hard. After a long day, I did not have much skin or energy left but I gave it my all. Problem number 1 went down easily enough, but unfortunately, I did not flash it and this cost me a podium in the end.

 

Stephanie seemed to have a lot of fun in the finals. She kicked ass!

Karo topped all three problems and took the victory! Very inspiring. Always fun to hang out with her and feel the psych.

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Thank you Boulderbar for such a great event! Looking forward to the next ones!

Training and Traveling

Full psyche ahead is about putting your heart and your soul into a goal. I need a climbing goal to keep me going. Sometimes it is a small goal, one that I can do quickly — like climbing a few hard boulders in one evening a the gym. Sometimes it is a big one, like my first 8A boulder.

At the beginning of the year I chose to set 3 big goals:

Boulder 8A

Onsight 8a

Redpoint 8c

I was able to do my first 8A boulder in Felbertal after two sessions on Sunshowers.

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I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish my second big goal while on my trip to Kalymnos. I onsighted Fun De Chichunne in the Grande Grotta. It was quite a journey, somewhere around an hour in a really steep roof, without a doubt one of my proudest climbing moments. It was great to be there with Roger Schaeli, he gave me a really patient, long belay and was the first one to shout out when I sent.

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Brian and Roger.PNGA quick selfie with Roger after the onsight of Fun de Chichunne

So, how did I find myself on Kalymnos onsighting a bunch of hard routes? I was motivated and psyched, I focused on power training and climbing a steep project. For a few sessions, I went to the Drachenwand with friends to work Hijacker Low Start, a 15m 8c that is really powerful with a lot of drop knees and a sneaky, core-intensive kneebar.

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Finding the sneaky kneebar on Highjacker Low Start (8c).

Highjacker in not exactly a 40m monster like Fun De Chichunne, but it is so much harder and taught me a great deal about core and body positioning for these types of routes. How else did I train for Kalymnos? Bouldering. Lots of bouldering.

 

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I focused on doing as many boulders in a day as possible, including hard problems

 

To some, this might be a little counterintuitive, but to me, this makes more sense than anything else. I’m essentially a weak climber, power is not my strength and I do not have that much power endurance. I know that Kalymnos is littered with tuffas and I know better than most how to use my knees. I LOVE KNEEBARS! Anyone who knows me can tell you this.

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The tuffas are so big in Grande Grotta! I felt like I was on another planet

The trip was long enough to have a lot of fun…

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The sunset from Aegean Travelers on our first evening

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Riding around on our scooter! Whoop whoop

And then, of course, there is all the time in the sun, on the beach!

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We even made some time to explore the caves… Claudia took some amazing pics!

 

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Making our way downwards — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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In the heart of the cave — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

 

 

Claudia was a little unlucky, well, REALLY unlucky. She slipped on the second day we were there and hurt her shoulder. This put her out of action for most of the trip, not exactly what we were hoping for.

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Overall, it was the most successful trip I’ve ever had. I onsighted my first 7c+ and my first 8a. List of onsights harder than 7b+:

  • Fun De Chichunne (8a)
  • Kaly Diva (7c+)
  • Adam (7c+)
  • Zawinul Syndicate (7c+)
  • Sirene (7c)
  • Priapus (7c)
  • Aegialis (7c)
  • Diralanda (7b+)
  • Chin Juane (7b+)
  • L’insoutenable legerete de l’etre (7b+)

 

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Doing the climbing dance! Scoping out a route in Sikati Cave

 

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Getting ready for a long onsight attempt on Super Lolita at Sikati Cave. Unfortunately, the finish holds were completely sandy. I was devastated. Thank you DMM and La Sportiva for giving my the tools to have so much fun!

 

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What an amazing setting: hanging off the end of a tuffa, watching the sun go down behind Telendos

And of course, thank you to Roger Schaeli for the good company and long belays!

And finally, thank you Claudia Ziegler Photography, nothing would be as fun if you weren’t by my side!

There’s always a first time

An amazing delivery from Friction Labs! Thanks Karo and Friction Labs

A few weeks ago I spent some time in Felbertal bouldering with Karo Sinnhuber. It was really great to see her cruise her project, Sunshowers (8A). Karo has had an unlucky year so far with a string of injuries so it was fantastic to see her back in form! 

Karo Sinnhuber nailing the final sequence on Sunshowers photo by Claudia Ziegler Photography 

I first met Karo last year in Rocklands. It was great fun to watch her climb, completely destroying everything she touched despite her split tips. She flashed two 7C boulders back to back and made it look effortless! 

She climbed an 8B called Fragile Steps on that trip, a tough low ball roof on small holds. Really tricky looking. 

Night time shoot in Rocklands last year. Karo climbed The Hatchling numerous times, flying down to the pads in the darkness after the camera flash. Photos appearing in Gime Kraft Air

by Claudia Ziegler Photography 

I tried Sunshowers as well and fell off the last tough move during my first session.  I spent a few weeks doing some bouldering and hangboarding to build some more power. It guess it worked out pretty well. 

Core training… Always important

Working on that lock off strength for the boulder

A few weeks later, I went back on my own and took it down… Solo mission with two pads. I warmed up on the slabs outside, which were wet. After that, I went in and dried the left side of the bloc, which was totally wet. After a few minutes I tried the upper half of the boulder and it felt good. 

Hard compression moves to setup for the crux. 

Photo by Claudia Ziegler Photography 

The final move…  

photo by Claudia Ziegler Photography 

I had one false start, slipping from the second hold but then I crushed it. Felt amazing. Luckily I caught the send in video! 

It was a really special feeling to be able to walk up to this boulder and just know it was going down. I’ve spent many years yearning to climb my first 8A boulder but had been limited due to the distance I needed to drive to find an 8A. I was never in quite good enough shape to just walk up to one and do it. I was always either injured or just didn’t have enough time to be able to dedicate myself to the send. It had been a goal to boulder 8A for the last three years and I finally achieved my goal

A Brand New World

Change is hard. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to changes but sometimes I can be a bit resistant. When the change required quitting my job and moving from South Africa to Austria, I expected it to be challenging. I also knew that it would be an adventure that I would never regret.

I landed in Austria on the 13th of March and I have been adapting quite well. It was great to be able to keep on working for my old company in South Africa as a contractor, very helpful in relieving the stress of not having a job. It gave me plenty of time to acclimate to the new country, while giving me the flexibility to have fun at the same time.

The language has been a bit challenging at times but I’m definitely learning and enjoying speaking German, granted I speak mainly English at home. At the crags and while I’m travelling, it’s often a mix of the two languages but I’m feeling like I can at least express myself well enough to get by.

My Travels in Europe

So far, so good. The people here are brilliant and the countries surrounding me are beautiful. Claudia and I have been climbing in Arco, Germany and Austria. We have been to Vienna for a walk around the parliament buildings and gardens, which are beautiful! I even managed to catch concert in München!

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Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

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Parkway Drive performing in München

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Catching up on rest in Verona

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A short hike ended up a 11km, 5 hour 1600 vertical meter journey. What an amazing day out with Claudia!

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It’s important to relax

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Catching a tan at the Taugl, a nearby river

Photo shoots with Claudia

I had the pleasure of assisting Claudia on some photo jobs this year. I helped build a training area in the barn for La Sportiva’s summer clothing. Was fantastic to meet Stefano Gisolfi and Sylvio Reffo, along with their two lovely ladies! Matteo Pavana was also on the shoot to make a training film for La Sportiva.

 

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Matteo, Stefano, Sara, Sylvio and Fransesca chilling on our couch. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

One such job took us to Gröden for a shoot with Leki where I even got to be in a few of the pictures. It really caught me off guard when I saw the photos on the wall at the Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen!

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Sunrise in the mountains… Big hike in the dark to start off the day

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Relaxing in the sunset

New Sponsors

One of the most important events that I’ve attended so far was the Outdoor Trade Show. It was there that I met with DMM and La Sportiva, which brings me to some great news. I have been offered a sponsorship deal for equipment from DMM and a clothing / shoe deal with La Sportiva for 2018. I am beyond excited to be able to continue to work with the two brands from Austria after having parted ways upon leaving South Africa.

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La Sportiva shared a great selection of clothing with me. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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I’m so happy to be able to work with these two brands.

 

Training and Climbing

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to train! I have been keeping very fit since I’ve been here. Running, climbing, hangboarding, the works and I’m in pretty much the best shape of my life. I feel strong, I feel fit and I am healthy.

 

It’s been a godsend that I have a hangboard in my bedroom, though I have not had to use it that much this summer. Why hangboard when you can climb till 9:30 at night?

 

Arco has some fantastic climbing! That’s for sure. Admittedly, the ice cream is to die for!! Every day we were there we had to have ice cream!! and sometimes pizza too.

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The Koloseum at Maltatal! So much fun!

Without a doubt, my favourite area so far is the Barmstein. I have spent more time there than anywhere else, and for good reason! The routes are long and sustained, making them so much fun because it is really easy to progress on them.

I climbed the Elefant Trio (as I like to call them): an 8a+, 8b and 8b+. All are 45m long and completely amazing climbing! Here are two pics from Stenofant (8b) that Claudia took on a sunrise shoot.

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The author on Stenofant (8b) Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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Spot the climber… Sunrise at the Barmstein Photo by Claudia Ziegler

After I climbed Elefantenspatziergang (8b+) Claudia and I went back for a second photo shoot. What came out of it was really quite special. Thank you La Sportiva for the clothing for the shoot!

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Setting off in the dark

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Focused on the slopers

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Keeping the core

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Power through the crimps

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Hold the cut

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Take a deep breath

 

My Fortress of Solitude 

 

Life, love, the universe. So many distractions to pull me around. Sometimes, I need to find a way to channel my focus; I need an incentive to drive me toward. I returned from an amazing two weeks in Austria with Claudia primarily being there for the holidays with her but also having climbed some superb routes. 7b+ onsight, near 7c+ flash. Great fun.

Sharing a day on the ledge at Wilhelmswand

Approach to Wilhelmswand

-5C in the shade, belaying out of the snow. BRILLIANT

Walking around in Salzburg, Claudia saw this. I guess you could say the writing is on the wall (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

My time in South Africa is coming to an end, I’m leaving for Austria on the 13th of March. It left me thinking about what I still want to achieve in the time here. My biggest goal is Shear Force and it will be my first 8c. It’s been the hardest line I’ve worked and been an absolute pleasure to climb. But it is seriously hard. I’ve watched Andrew, my mentor and friend, fall off the crux move repeatedly. I’ve seen him struggle and even get hurt by the line.

How am I supposed to climb a line that Andrew couldn’t?

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Andrew setting up for the last move in the crux — Photo by Zele Angelides

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c) — Photo by Zele Angelides

Well, I guess you could say I have to walk my own path. My time is precious and limited. I work all day and I have 2.5 hours of lectures for German on Mondays and Wednesdays. I also want to have a Skype date with Claudia at least once a week for a few hours in the evening.

So what do I need to do?

I chose to compete in the National Boulder League on a Monday. Normally,  competitors have two hours but I can only arrive at 9 and the gym closes at 10. So, I need to race through the problems, 12 in an hour. Perfect quiet day after two days in rock over the weekend (holds up sarcasm sign).

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Focusing on the tricky balance problem during the NBL (Photo by Allister Fenton)

Tuesday became my big day. 30 minutes bouldering to warm up, 30 minutes campus training, about 2 hours on the Beastmaker 2000 then 45 minutes core and legs. This is my definition of a hard training session.

My hangboard sessions include two major exercises at the moment. Beastmaker has an amazing training app, I use the 7B program as a benchmark. I struggled severely to complete the 7A at first. This cycle I was able to start at 7B.

A month later, I’m doing the 7B with 9 repeats of 7 on 3 rest with 4 kg extra weight followed by the 7C+ program shortly after. This focuses on power endurance and fiber strength.

If my fingers aren’t too sore afterwards, I do the Chris Webb Parsons program which one discussed in detail previously. This focuses on lock off strength while building crimp strength.

Wednesday I have class again so I either get in a quick session with 15 minutes bouldering for warmup, then 45 minutes on the hangboard and campus board. This session is normally designed to be a bit easier than the past few days so that I can move freely on the wall or work slightly different muscles than the previous day’s training.

Thursday became either a really light session or a fantastic, long Skype session. I’ve been preferring to take 2 days of rest before the weekend to let the body fully recover before the project.

Friday is rest. Saturday and Sunday of on rock, hitting Shear Force. Every weekend has been a high point. It’s been four weeks of close calls and I think it could go any try. I held the hold for about a second on Sunday before my core crumpled and that was the end of Brian.

Hmm. Reading this makes me think about how crazy this schedule actually is. But this is actually only half of the story.

The other half is how I’ve changed my habits. I haven’t had any alcohol or meat since I’ve been back. I really enjoy my wine and I usually would have a portion of meat at least once a day, so this is really a big deal. This means passing up that burger and beer after training, or the glass of wine I’m offered, and trading it for a bit more rest and some sleep.

Between my training schedule and my diet, I’ve dropped a few kgs and I feel lighter and stronger than I’ve felt in the last two years. I’m finally feeling like I’ve moved away from being injured back to feeling like I’m peaking.

The view I’m going to have from home soon – – thanks for the reminder Claudia

I find myself walking my path, alone. There is no one pushing me, or pulling me forward. I have my goal, I have a time limit and I feel like this route is one of the biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself. I find myself in my own personal Fortress of Solitud where the connections to my past are structuring my goals and my future.
Will I do my first 8c? Time will tell.

The author on Shear Force (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

Well, it really doesn't get much closer than that… Final boulder crux of Shear Force (8c)

A post shared by Brian Weaver (@brianmweaver) on

Life… So Unpredictable

It’s been 20 years since I chose to dedicate myself to the pursuit of perfection. I started my sporting career with shooting; won a bronze metal in the Pan Africa games and won the Namibian overall championships at 14. I learned what it meant to be mentally focused and how to visualize my goals through shooting.

Cycling was next. I won the Namibian Downhill Championships and was in the top 3 in Cross Country. My real passion was freestyle. I was always at the cutting edge. When there was a new jump, I was there going first. Life quickly became a game of how fast, how high and how far. I always needed to be the best.

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Riding off the roof of my house

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And again for good measure

Moving to South Africa was no different. Learning how to do back flips,  wanting to be the best. I was one of the best freestyle mountain bikers in the country. When I let that go, it was a tough call. I had just found climbing and I sucked. What I did have was dedication.

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Superman Seatgrab, just another day at the office

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Heel Clicker, in the clouds

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Backflip Pancake

 

When I was cycling I weighed 84kgs with 10% body fat. After I started climbing, I dropped 15 kgs in a year and trained 6 days a week. Everyone knows that I am a bit of a masochist when it comes to training. I guess that’s why it only took me three years to become a sponsored climber.

It’s been 10 years since I started. Since then, I’ve been through a lot of life changes. I’ve dedicated myself to climbing. I’ve climbed 8a on trad, 8b+ on sport and 7C+ boulder. I’ve adopted some pretty serious routines to allow me to get here. It has taken me down a very different path than I predicted.

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Setting up for the crux of Fear and Loathing (7c+ trad) — Photo by Ockert Joubert

I’ve had some major changes in my personal life. I was with Yvette for 8 years. I spent so much time away from home that I was just not in it anymore. Between work, training and travelling, we grew apart. I was so used to being away that I did not really notice. Time apart was the norm and time together was scarce.

Meeting Claudia was completely life changing. I never imagined that I could ever meet someone like her, so when it happened, it threw me for a loop. We are so alike that it felt like magnetism. Sharing the same drive to be outdoors, go climbing and be in nature at every chance is really special.

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Claudia is brilliant. She has published an amazing book with some of the most amazing photos you’ll ever see. She spent time with some of the most incredible up-and-coming climbers in the world, including Adam Ondra and Alex Megos. She was there to learn about who they are as people, not what they are climbing. Her book “The Young Savages” sheds light on what the world’s best climbers do when they are not climbing. I was amazed by the work that she put into the book; constantly travelling, living on the road and reaching out to the top climbers. Sounds like a dream come true.

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This was so intriguing to me. I was, and still am completely inspired by her vision and dedication. Her ability to visualize a goal and bring it to life completely stunned me. This really comes out in her photography where she has an innate ability to look at a climb and photograph it in a way that is completely unique and unexpected.

When Claudia came to South Africa, our trip began in Boven. She found ways to capture unique and wonderful moments from a perspective that no one else has seen. Her work is captivating and I was starstruck.

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The night sky from Tranquilitas in Boven

While we were in Boven, Claudia managed to capture Chris Cosser climbing one of my routes in the gully by Baboon Buttress, Raptophilia 8a+.  This route was a nemesis of mine. I’ve never been great at short routes. It is an amazing line because it’s a mini route,  not a boulder problem. I’ve seen very strong climbers spit off of it so I was really really impressed with Chris!

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Chris doing his thing on Raptophilia (8a+)

Adam was also working the line at the same time and he got painfully close!

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Adam Finlday going for the finish jug on Raptophilia (8a+). I fell on this move on red point while placing draws before I opened it. Thought it was in the bag but it took me another couple days to get back to this jug.

Andrew was there for the weekend trying his project: Return of The Overlord (8c?). It is the plum line starting directly under the Beast going straight up the God No Wall. The psych was contagious and Claudia jumped on a rope to grab a few pics of him too!

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The deadpoint crux… A massive launch to a one pad crimp 25m into the route. HARD

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The last few hard moves after the crux… Not a giveaway

We caught a few pics on Sheer Force (8c) a little later in the day! Was great to be able to see what I look like on that line!

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Fighting my way into the final rest before the upper crux on Sheer Force (8c)

The next day, I fought insanely hard on my onsight attempt of Clinton Marteningo’s Sweet Child O’ Mine (7c). I made it to the second last bolt before I realized that I could not take my hands off the rock to place the draw and I also could not skip it for fear of the ledge.

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The very exposed and scary, Sweet Child O’ Mine (7c). Watch out for that ledge! Too bad about the one bolt’s location.

After we were done in Boven, we made our way down to the Cape. It was quite a drive, 17 hours non-stop.

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Driving through the Karoo is intense 🙂 Especially when w’re laughing so hard

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We needed a break during the 17 hour drive and Claudia stretched out on the N1

When we got there it was pouring with rain but somehow it cleared up the next day.

Cape Town was awesome, we had such an amazing view from the apartment in the city. We needed a few days in the city before feeling like we were ready to go again.

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This was the view from the balcony of our place in Cape Town, not bad!

Met up with Rob to have some Mexican food and tequila!

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Amazing Mexican food and tequila, right in front of our place!

We even got in some time by the beach.

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When we finally made it to Rocklands, Claudia was stunned by the vastness of the place!

We met up with David for a photo shoot during the day up on the plateau

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Almost sticking the dyno on Black Velvet (8A). Too bad he dabbed

Jumped on Minki (7B) after David was done. I did it years ago and it was still fun now! Such a gorgeous line.

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I almost flashed a highball 7B+ called Zanzibar. So badly overgraded, I thought it was actually 7A/+. But it was so beautiful I did it twice.

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It’s pretty high. Great fun.

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Getting started the second time

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Cruising… Not 7B+

In the evening we met up with Karo Sinnhuber for an evening session. Claudia’s pics of her ended up in the new training manual from Cafe Kraft called Gimme Kraft Air. She climbed The Hatchling (8A) and it was so cool to watch her cruise up to just before the crux and hang there. We would then turn off all the lights, use the flash and then listen for her to fall. Definitely a scary prospect from that height!

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I climbed Poison Dwarf (7B) on the plateau later in the evening. Believe it or not, it was freezing!

Overall, the trip was really amazing. Claudia’s pics have been featured across several magazines, books and ads. Above is an awesome pic of Andrew sitting in the Man Trap, getting ready to move into the Return of the Overlord.

Thank you Rob and Outward Ventures for sponsoring the trip and making it all possible! Going around the country in two weeks is not easy without some really good support!

 

It’s actually been pretty hard to write over the last months, so now I’m really happy to actually type something.

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Taking a step back and enjoying the view from the top of Sheer Force — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

I’ve been struggling a bit with motivation recently due to the amount of work I have as well as not really knowing where I was going. The result was a distinct lack of training. When I finally found some motivation, I started hitting the gym 4 days a week again. Hangboard on Monday and Wednesday, bouldering/lead Tuesday and Thursday. I felt strong again.

Ended up at Fernkloof thinking I would try Aqualung again. I could cruise all the moves apart from the undercling match. My leg was a bit to weak. James Barnes suggested some pistol squats, so I did pistol squat box jumps! And guess what, it worked.

Went to Fern, wamed up on Faberge (7c), tried Stormwatch Direct (8b) twice, cruised it to the chains apart from one move at the second bolt. Then went up to Aqualung. It started to rain and I was a little stressed, but it was so nice and cool that when I pulled on it was just perfect. Not a single moment when I felt nervous. I cruised the crux, right to the chains.

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Up into the terrible undercling

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Deep flat on a bad smear

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Finally managed to wrap up a few lines at Fernkloof. Double 8b with with Aqualung and Stormwatch Direct

Ticking the Projects

Sometimes it takes a long time to do something you expect to be easy. I’ve experienced this on a few lines over the years but one that stands out heavily is Stormwatch in Fernkloof. When I climbed the original line, it took me ages! But I did it in a season and was happy.

It took me considerably longer to climb the direct version. There were some other factors that played a role in this, such as psych and injuries, but all in all, it took me a really long time.  I remember the day that everything started to go pear-shaped, it was last March. I warmed up on Stormwatch Direct and fell a move from the chains, above the last hard move. That was the first time I really dorked a project. Grivin sent the original version after that. He and I went up to Aqualung, where I fell above the crux — Griv sent. STRONG!

After that day, my confidence seemed to disappear and life got in the way. I had to watch all my friends tick it Direct before me. First was Ivan

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Photo by Zele Angelides

Then it was Ebert

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Photo by Eraine van Schalkwyk

 

Then Grivin

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Grivin on Hoodlum (7b+). Photo by Leslie McNicol

Then James

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All these guys started working the route after I did and all of them ticked it before me. It was awesome to see the progression happening around me but a bit hard at the same time. I’d lose my psych and then it would come back, then it would be gone again.

In the end, I just needed a bit of focus and a lot of strength. What finally did it for me was walking away so I could put in a few weekends on Sheer Force in Boven. I was getting to the last move. It motivated me to train hard and eat right, well, maybe eat a little less at least.

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Taking a step back and enjoying the view from the top of Sheer Force — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

I had not been on Stormwatch in months and when I wen to Fernkloof for a day trip with James, I did not have any expectations. James sent and it was glorious!! And that was when I dorked it, again. I made it through the pinch moves I struggle with so severely and fell off with my hand wrapped around the jug underneath the first roof. I felt really stupid but was sure it would go next try. But it didn’t.

I came back the next weekend with James and fell in the same spot on the Saturday. I woke up the Sunday morning feeling sick. I trudged into the kloof and felt weak on my first try, didn’t even manage Faberge (7c) — my standard warm up. My second try I slipped. But then, in the midst of the weird euphoria, and slightly dissociative state from being sick, I pulled myself together and made to the rest. I could hear James cheering me on from below! The psych was contagious! I sat in the kneebar for a few moments before cruising up to the chains without a pump.

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Setting up for some of the hard moves on Stormwatch Direct (8b) Photo by Michelle van Aswegen

It’s funny sometimes how ticking one route can put you into the right state of mind… I found focus again, trained hard and stayed psyched. Went on an amazing trip around the country (more on that next time). Even dusted off the trad rack for a climb or two.

Alex

Alex Bester opening Fear and Loathing (7c+) Photo by Michelle van Aswegen

I’d been psyched to do Fear and Loathing (7c+) in Mhlabatini for a long time. In fact, it was the first route I tried after my knee op! Granted, I tried it on top rope with Andrew and Ebert, but I made me excited. The second time I tried it, I was with Ebert. We got OWNED! Neither of us could make it to the chains. Embarrassingly, we had to cheat out way up, using a long stick and a nut taped to it. Not a proud moment.

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Setting up for the crux — Photo by Ockert Joubert

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Thankfully, Andrew got a hold of me a few weeks back and was keen to try it with me. We made our way through the icy water and found ourselves at the base of the climb.I went up first and found some simpler gear placements but still couldn’t get to the top. Good thing Andrew was there, he figured it out in no time at all. This got me thinking that I needed to climb the route my own way, rather than relying on Alex and Andrew’s jumping sequence.

So I shook things up, I found the kneebar that I pointed out the second I saw the route for the first time. It took a bit of effort to work it out without a pad, but it went easily enough for sure. Didn’t mean that the route was easy. It took me 4 tries the next weekend before it finally went and the send was pretty desperate. Pretty solid at the grade 7c+, that’s for sure.

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Fear and Loathing (7+) It’s pretty steep!

The next week, I went back to get some footage. Was pretty cool to be there with Alex

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Alex and me — checking out my placements and looking at the project that will go up the face right of Fear and Loathing

All in all, I really loved the line… We shot a pretty cool sequence. Hope you like it!