New Countries, New Sends

I guess you could say that the training that I have been doing for the past months certainly paid off. It was a lot of time doing my own thing, before work and after work, many days a week.

I had never been to Switzerland before, but I had been dreaming about it for years. It did not disappoint! Chironico was amazing and Magic Wood was, well, MAGIC!

Chironico’s weather was a little less than perfect though. As soon as I got really close to sending some 8A projects, it started to rain, a lot. It just means that I need to go back for more. I managed to send a really cool technical boulder called Fat Boy (7C+) in a session, first 7C+ in a session! Kneebars for the win!!

Fat Boy (7C+)

Magic Wood was really fun too! In a day, I managed to do two 7C, a 7B+ and a 7A. Not bad at all!

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On the send of Supernova (7C) in Magic Wood

The bouldering was not the only highlight of the trip. It was amazing to spend time with great people! There was never a shortage of psych or laughs. Tobi made a fantastic movie about our time there, in between sending 3 8A boulders in a week.

Some very cool highlights of our time in Switzerland

After being rained out in Swizz, we made a quick stop back in Austria. I managed to tick off a side project of mine Die Rose Der Zeit (8b) at the Geisterschmiedwand.

Morocco

Sitting in the airport… I wonder where we are going now!

The next part of the journey found us in Morocco. This was absolutely incredible. The team was a really good mix. Said Belhaj, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll, Inbal Katznelson, Mehdi Allam and of course Claudia Ziegler.

The following section has photos from Claudia Ziegler Photography

The culture in Morocco was really special. Said, being a very talented musician, took us to a private performance of some incredible artists. I was thoroughly impressed and well-fed! We had home-made couscous from a tagine and it was incredible!

The crack climbing in Tafraout is really good. I would certainly recommend it. Just do not forget to take the really big cams if you want to feel safe.

This route was the highlight of my trip, we had to wake up before 5am in Tafraout in order to catch the good temps, it went into the sun around 7 so it was a tight schedule. Said did the first ascent followed by Sean and eventually me. Very proud of this one.

In the end, we drove through to Agadir and spent two nights at the coast. We even did some surfing and I figured out how to ride the waves! It was certainly a very good trip overall.

The team! Group photo!

You get out what you put in

Since winter I have been training exceptionally hard. I’ve had 5 or 6 days in rock this year and done an 8a+ and 8b.

Persona Non Grata (8b)

Suit up!

Hiking in to Achleiten! Is it winter or summer? My body is confused

What made the difference? Motivation? No. Rest! For the last 10 years I’ve been climbing non-stop, sometimes 40 days in a row. I always got stronger but it quickly faded.

For the first time ever, I voluntarily took 3 weeks off and it changed everything. I did a lot of skiing, ate healthily, lost weight and stayed fit. It was not being latent, but being active with another goal in mind. I did 18 days in the snow, most of which were in my own and not relaxing but rather long and intense.

I love to ski, but it is not climbing.

I have spent on average 10 hours a week in the gym doing very specific training and another 4 hours at home before work (weekdays), trying to improve. I’m fighting tooth and nail to be the best version of myself.

Progress is best seen when measured. I measure progress daily. Forward and backwards, always hard but always important.

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My training program from @mescht_klinger has been paying off. Between the intense hangboard sessions and desperate bouldering sessions, I'm certainly seeing an improvement. Had a great little onsight of Powerplay (7b) this weekend at Achleiten and had a great working session on an 8a+ there. Unfortunately, it had one brutally hard move on it that I could not stick otherwise I think it would have gone down in that session. Forcing myself to rest is always the hardest part. I guess I'll go running today instead ūüėõ @lasportivagram @frictionlabs #alwayspsyched #training #fingerstrength #power #powerendurance #slopers #crimping #notrainnogame #lasportiva #weareclimbers #frictionlabs #chalkmatters #uselessdomore

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If you want to see my schedule or my results, contact me here on my website.

Winter is fun!

The winter started off with a trip to Croatia. Admittedly, it didn’t go quite the way I planned. I thought I was really strong and for, turned out I was a bit burned out after a long year which made it increasingly difficult to perform.

Failing repeatedly on Nairobi (8a) was not what I planned

Gerhard H√∂rhager bolting an extension to Export – Import in ńĆiriteŇĺ

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Enjoying the sunset in ńĆiriteŇĺ

Rest day fun

I very often attach the quality of a trip to the successes that I have on it. I onsighted a few hard routes and did an 8a+, but that was really not enough for me for two weeks. I kept falling on the same sequence on an 8b and then it got worse when I fell on the same move of an 8a for the days.

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Life is all about perspective. Looking through the lens of belay glasses is pretty normal for sport climbers

The scenery was brilliant and getting to know Geri was cool too. The most awesome part was Christmas with Claudia and New Year’s Eve afterwards.

Me and Claudia having some fun on Christmas

Pull yourself together Brian!

We’ve had another good year of snow which allowed me to take a much needed break from climbing. I really needed the three weeks off to clear my mind.

So far, I’ve had about 14 days on snow this season, including my first taste of deeper snow, and I must say: I love it. Bought two pairs of skis so that I could get the most out of my time and really have fun. I feel grateful to have this opportunity in front of me. I never knew what I was missing living in an area with no snow.

At -18 degrees, it was certainly an adventure

It’s great to know that when the weather is bad I can just grab my skis and head out for a few hours. Even when the weather is great…

Catching a bit of powder in Westendorf

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!

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 M√ľnchen!

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Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

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Parkway Drive performing in M√ľnchen

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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)

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!