Ups and downs, lots of downs, but ups too!

The past months have been interesting to say the least. I went from a state of absolute power, to feeling really unhappy about my climbing and then back to a state of complete elation. It’s hard to describe the reasons behind this large swing, in fact, I’m really not sure what caused it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I went through something. I was finding it very difficult to find motivation to train, to eat healthy or even to wake up in the mornings. Good news is that it has passed and I’ve renewed my psych!

Andrew getting ready to approach the crux of Fear and Loathing

Trying to keep the ropes dry isn't that easy

Why aren’t the ropes on the tarp???

The initial trips to rock started off pretty awesome, went trad climbing actually. Andrew, Ebert and myself went to try to do Alex’s Fear and Loathing (7c+) in Mhlabatini. Very fun. The line is really classy, takes good gear and is quite bouldery on sloping holds. Now as one could imagine, sloping holds in Magaliesberg are not pleasant, more like slippery and polished. Here’s bit of Andrew trying it out…

 

 

I guess it all started after my trip to the Wow Prow in April. Everything seemed to be going great. The previous weekend I was really close to doing both Stormwatch Direct (8b) and Aqualung (8b) on the same day. Aqualung was opened by Paul Brouard ages ago and had been unrepeated until recently. It’s seen an onslaught of ascents starting with Grivin, then Andrew and Dylan. I’m finally back in good enough shape to head back there an capitalize on it. Also back at a fighting weight of 69kgs instead of 72kgs (massive difference on power endurance).

 

 

Here’s a great example of how not to send an 8b. MAJOR FAIL!

 

From this point on, things just didn’t really get that much better… Went to the Wow Prow to try to finish off Future Life (8b) but got shut down. Got a high point on it over my previous year, but still didn’t quite work out the way I had planned. Got to stay in an awesome cottage down there with Grasshopper and his family.

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Grasshopper (aka Grivin Roering) went on a sending spree shortly after this trip and proceeded to do Stormwatch and Aqualung on the same day! Very impressive feat indeed. We can see the Grasshopper having a “not so good” day at Choss where fell off his onsight attempt of Gollum and crawled into a cave to hide from the harsh reality that he fell at the second bolt.

A Grasshopper in hiding

A Grasshopper in hiding

 

Yvette has recently gone through a knee surgery of her own. Luckily it was only the PCL that was done, but still unpleasant for sure. As any good husband would do, I dropped as much as I could so that I could take care of her, even over the long weekends.

 

Definitely tough to juggle work, training and caretaking but it was short-lived and now Yvette is well on her way to recovery and I’m back on my path to beasthood.

I guess you could say that I’m in a performance phase at the moment. I’ve been training with bouldering sessions twice a week focusing on power endurance and finishing with 4x4s or long add-on problems. It paid off for the Origin festival!

Down in Umgeni I went on an onsight rampage!

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My onsight of Hyper Diamond (7c)

Setting off on my onsight of Thunderstrike (7b+)

Finishing off Thunderstrike

Finishing off Thunderstrike — photo by Roger Nattrass

I fell off of this one and then went directly to the chains… FAIL!

Haibo (7b+) photo by Adrian Sanders

 

What a great bunch of people to spend time with. Illona put in such an amazing effort organising the event. I’m really looking forward to next year. The UIAA was there this year with cash prizes for the comp. Pretty much unheard of in South Africa. We hope the support is there next year but even if it isn’t, I’ll certainly be climbing in the next festival!

 

Paul! What a legend!

Paul! What a legend! He just sent Blue Horizon (8b)

The tales of the wall discovered!

The tales of the wall discovered!

Dinner time

Dinner time

Secret Ninja, with the not-so-secret ninja in front

Secret Ninja, with the not-so-secret ninja in front

Our pad! before the monkeys covered it in polenta

Our pad! before the monkeys covered it in polenta

Andrew Pedley working Blue Horizon (8b)

Andrew Pedley working Blue Horizon (8b)

Awesome group!

Awesome group!

Second place isn’t half bad!

 

So where does that leave me now??? In really good shape…. I’ve been hanging out in Boven the past few weeks getting really close to nabbing my ascent of Overlord. Hopefully, will be able to finish it off this coming weekend!!!

2014: a year of what?

This has been a weird year for me in terms of climbing. The year started off with a pull injury, progressed to a broken finger / ligament tear and then ended with a major knee surgery. So are the negative events of the year. Good thing there are more positives than negatives.

Trying to get my foot into my Solutions. Photo by Jono Joseph

Trying to get my foot into my Solutions. Photo by Jono Joseph

After a few weeks off at the beginning of the year to allow for some healing to take place, I made a trip to the Cape where I climbed a sick 7b multipitch in that place we all know but we’re not allowed to write about. After that I managed to get in some sick bouldering with the Outward Ventures team.

Working my way up Lonely Boy (7B+) with the spotting arms of Sheldon and Sqeaky. Photo by Jono Joseph.

Working my way up Lonely Boy (7B+) with the spotting arms of Sheldon and Sqeaky. Photo by Jono Joseph.

Working Mintberry Crunch (8A) in Echo Valley. Photo by Jono Joseph

Working Mintberry Crunch (8A) in Echo Valley. Photo by Jono Joseph

Trying to hit the crux hold / finish hold on Mintberry. Photo by Jono Joseph.

Trying to hit the crux hold / finish hold on Mintberry. I never quite got to hold on to it. Kept cutting loose right here!   Photo by Jono Joseph.

Lunch on TM after a hard morning on Triple Jeopardy (8a+ trad). Photo by Jono Joseph.

Lunch on TM after a hard morning on Triple Jeopardy (8a+ trad). Photo by Jono Joseph.

We spent time up on Table Mountain, where I got totally spanked by Triple Jeopardy (to be expected, I was really unfit and not really that strong either). So I still need a rematch, maybe late 2015 I’ll be up for it. TM has some of the best trad climbing in SA. I really need to spend some more time there!!!

Squeaky getting bendy on Jeopardy (7c+ trad)! Photo by Jono Joseph

Squeaky getting bendy on Jeopardy (7c+ trad)! Photo by Jono Joseph

Shortly after this was the Rory Lowther Memorial Comp in Swinburne, where I got to test out my brand new Roca Dominator 9.2mm rope. Still loving it by the way! It’s gotten some good mileage this year in the likes of the Free State and Waterval Boven.

Debbie offering me a token of appreciation for my MC skills :)

Debbie offering me a token of appreciation for my MC skills 🙂

The Trophies at the RLMC

The Trophies at the RLMC

Tristan at Chosspile

Tristan at Chosspile

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Yvette and I hanging out at the Rory… Feel the love!!!

SOOOO PRETTY!

SOOOO PRETTY!

My next big destination was the Wow Prow where Andrew and I laid siege to Future Life. We both had a great time on it and Andrew eventually came away with the send.

Ivan on Rage Against the Machine (7c)

Ivan on Rage Against the Machine (7c)

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

In this vid, Andrew falls off on the last hard move. He should have sent this time!

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin

And the other hand too!

And the other hand too!

The rest of the year was spent trying to make sense of things. My finger on my left hand never fully recovered during the winter season, so I had a lot of trouble with climbing at Chosspile. I think I only tried Shadowfax once this entire season and it was miserable. I ticked Andrew’s new line Cock or Bollock (8a). Was great fun. I spent a lot of time trying Violent Streak (8b) but it didn’t quite happen before the temps went up.

I did spend a bunch of time in Boven! I loved it. Overlord (8b+) and Shear Force (8c) were my main goals… The below pics are from Zele Angelides who has agreed to be m photographer for Outward Ventures in Gauteng. Awesome!

Shear Force! WOW

Shear Force! WOW — My photo from my phone 🙂

Resting up before the crux of Shear Force (8c)

Resting up before the crux of Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

An amazing move on Shear Force (8c)

An amazing move on Shear Force (8c)

Negotiating the last moves on the face..

Negotiating the last moves on the face of Overlord

HARD STUFF!

HARD STUFF!

Setting up for the crux move

Setting up for the crux move on Overlord…

A midst the chaos of Overlord and Shear Force was a little known gem: Joy Division (8a). Absolutely tiny holds, very sustained! Lots of fun.

Joy Division (8a)

Joy Division (8a)

Ed, Sam and Jose!

Ed, Sam and Jose!

Ed pulling hard

Ed pulling hard

Met up with the Hamer Bros and Jose in Boven. Ed and Sam and Wild Country UK athletes and damn strong!!!

What a dance, very private

What a dance, very private

Posing on the Triumph!

Posing on the Triumph!

Husband and Wife

Husband and Wife

Well, that just about brings me to the knee injury and my wedding… Two very different emotions right there. There is a bit of the progress with my leg… It’s feeling a lot better, been going to the gym and training again! I must admit, it is really amazing to be doing some exercise.

Bad things happen in 3s

Bad things happen in 3s

My leg at its worse

My leg at its worse

The first milestone of recovery, 90 degrees

The first milestone of recovery, 90 degrees

Looking better

Looking better

healing nicely

healing nicely

just a few marks

just a few marks

The Deutsches Museum

The Deutsches Museum

Our honeymoon was great!!!! We flew to Germany and then hung out in Munich for a week.

It was amazing to see the sights and go to museums and huge stores.

Bought so much clothing and enjoyed the sights so very much!

The view from the roof of the Deutsches Museum

The view from the roof of the Deutsches Museum

Dinner!!! Salmon with Camembert!! Yum!

Dinner!!! Salmon with Camembert!! Yum!

Look at us!

Look at us!

My gorgeous wife

My gorgeous wife

Getting ready to head to Austria

Getting ready to head to Austria

Austria was even better than Germany. We spend 6 nights in a 4 star hotel with a lot of bonus benefits, like €400 of spa treatments, €200 Euro of minibar, a car rental! It was great.

6 course dinners, Austrian beers, plus we brought some of our own wine.

Yvette learned how to snowboard, it was the first time that she’d ever seen snow! Was great. She even managed to nail me with a snowball right in the ear. There was literally snow in my ear that we had to dig out.

First night in Austria, look what was waiting for us

First night in Austria, look what was waiting for us

Taking a walk on one crutch...

Taking a walk on one crutch…

Yvette getting ready for her first snowboarding lesson

Yvette getting ready for her first snowboarding lesson

Excited?

Excited?

All alone in the cable car, heading down...

All alone in the cable car, heading down…

The bottom of the cableway

The bottom of the cableway

Incoming snowball!!!

Incoming snowball!!!

A fancy wine for after dinner!

A fancy wine for after dinner!

The view from the hotel

The view from the hotel

My new Moon Hangboard and pulley system!

My new Moon Hangboard and pulley system!

I added to my training wall at home now. This badass board is really cool. It has some extremely small crimps on it that I can barely hang on to! I got into a program that was written up by Kris Hampton, owner of the Power Company Climbing website. He has a really simple program:

Half crimp grip.  Each rep lasts 8 seconds or until failure.  10 seconds rest between reps.  1-2 minute rest between sets (grips).  F3 denotes front 3 fingers.  R3 denotes rear three fingers.  M2 are middle 2 fingers.  If no finger count is specified, it is with all 4 fingers.  I started on each rung with bodyweight.  Upon finishing a set of 3 reps with bodyweight, I add weight on a belt or vest with 4 fingers, and begin trying it with only 3 fingers.  Once I’ve completed a set with that weight, I add more.  I add weight until I reach 20 lbs, which is where I draw the line.  I just feel that the added weight beyond that point is less valuable than time spent on smaller holds or with fewer fingers.  I continue doing the 20 lb. hang in the workout as a means of warming up to weighted fewer finger hangs (which is denoted below).  When no weight is listed, it’s because the weight grows from session to session in 2-6 lb. increments until it reaches the 20 lb limit.

 

Warm up with 1 set of 3 reps of bodyweight hangs from top and middle rungs.  

Top rung.  20 lbs.  3 reps.

Middle rung.  20 lbs.  3 reps.

Top rung.  F3. 20 lbs.  3 reps.

Middle rung.  F3.  20 lbs.  3 reps. 

Top rung.  R3.  3 reps.

Middle rung.  R3.  3 reps.

Bottom rung.  3 reps.

Bottom rung.  F3.  3 reps.

Bottom rung.  R3.  3 reps.

Top rung.  M2.  3 reps.

Middle rung.  M2.  3 reps.

I’ve also been using this one, it’s a great program if you’re looking for about 15 minutes on the hangboard. It’s an old one and a favourite… Quick clarification of terms:

Drops: pull up releasing one hand and latching a hold 20cm up / throw hand 20cm or more in the air and drop back to the hold on the board. Then switch to the other hand. A set of 5 is 5 with each hand.

Negs: Pull up and lower off for 10 seconds, then quickly pull up and repeat.

Min Type of hold Exercise Sec/Rep
1 Jug Drops 5 rep
2 Medium Edge Drops 2 rep
3 Small Edge Negs 5 rep
4 Pocket Pull-upp 5 rep
5 Medium Edge Hanging 20 sec
6 Jug Pull-up 10 rep
7 Medium Edge Hanging 20 sec
8 Small Edge Hanging 20 sec
9 Medium Edge Pull-up 5 rep
10 Jug Hanging 40 sec
11 Medium Edge Hanging 25 sec
12 Medium Edge Hanging 25 sec
13 Small Edge Pull-up 5 rep
14 Small Edge Hanging 20 sec
15 Jug Hanging 1 min

Here’s the big brother!! Try it if you’re feeling brave!!!

Min Type of hold Exercise Sec/Rep
1 Jug Drops 5 rep
2 Medium Drops 3 rep
3 Small Pulls 5 rep
4 Medium Negs 5 rep
5 Pocket Pulls 5 rep
6 Medium Drops 2 rep
7 Jug Hang 30 sec
8 Jug Pulls 10 rep
9 Medium Pulls 5 rep
10 Small Hang 15 sec
11 Medium Hang 20 sec
12 Jug Drops 5 rep
13 Small Hang 15 sec
14 Jug Hang 40 sec
15 Medium Hang 20 sec
16 Medium Pulls 5 rep
17 Small Hang 15 sec
18 Medium Hang 20 sec
19 Small Hang 15 sec
20 Small Hang 15 sec
21 Medium Hang 20 sec
22 Jug Pulls 10 rep
23 Medium Hang 20 sec
24 Small Hang 15 sec
25 Medium Pulls 5 rep
26 Jug Hang 40 sec
27 Medium Hang 20 sec
28 Medium Hang 20 sec
29 Small Hang 15 sec
30 Jug Hang 1 min

Frustration

This year certainly hasn’t been an easy one… Out of the 5 months so far this year I’ve been injury free for only a few weeks. On December 28, 2013, I ruptured a pulley in my right ring finger. It healed well and I was just getting back in the swing of things when I had an unfortunate accident while I was out bouldering in Swinburne. I was mantling on a tricky top out, my heel hook slipped and I fell, missing the pads. I sprained my finger in the process. I haven’t had any newsworthy sends this year 😥

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

Last week I found out that I may have torn a ligament in my middle finger on my left hand during that fall and I’ve had it taped up for additional support since. So far it’s looking a lot better than it has for a while. It’s been about 5 weeks now and I think it’s finally starting to get better.

Other than having a stupid accident, what else have I been up to? I’ve been trying to keep fit, but it’s been a bit tough as I’m feeling really frustrated about not being able to climb daily. I’ve started running a little and I’m hoping to build my way up to 10km in the near future. Right now I’m comfortably running 4-5km in 20-25 min, which is pretty slow but it’ll improve with some effort. I’ve also been trying to get to the gym but have been pretty busy at work and working remotely that it makes it tough to actually get to the gym.

Other than that, I’ve been working on Shadowfax (8b+) and it’s been a lot of fun again. I’m getting the subtleties back and it’s coming together but it’ll feel a lot better when my finger isn’t sore 🙂

But the biggest highlight of the past few months has definitely been my time at the Wow Prow with Andrew. That was pure madness! SOOO MUCH FUN. I think that the best way to describe the quality of the routes there would be to say that they take a star off of everything else you’ve ever climbed, and this says a lot seeing as I’ve climbed a lot of the top lines in the country.

So while we were there I took a couple of time lapses to try to share the routes with everyone… So below are some videos, one where Andrew on an attempt where he falls off right at the end of the upper crux and one of me warming up on one of our days there. It was cold!

 

This is Andrew on Future Life (8b) he sent it the next attempt after this and was pretty damn happy

It was really cold down there!! The wind was pumping!

 

 

The Wow Prow from the side, it might look small but it packs a punch with quality

The Wow Prow from the side, it might look small but it packs a punch with quality

The campsite at Ben Nevis

The campsite at Ben Nevis

What a Place

What a Place

Douw and I in the back of the Bovenator

Douw and I in the back of the Bovenator

It's a beautiful day

It’s a beautiful day

Ivan on Rage Against the Machine (7c) 20140426_113746

Future Life

Future Life

Future life

Future life

And the other hand too!

And the other hand too!

Alex Bester on Digital Warfare

Alex Bester on Digital Warfare

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin

Training, Coaching and Success

Very often I sit around wondering what factors help a person to succeed. Success in life like success in climbing requires preparation. For me, this often results in many hours spent isolated in my spare room doing dead hangs, pull ups, repeaters and encores, not to mention campus problems.

I was asked to be the MC at the RLMC and got to lead the proceedings on both of the evenings. On the Friday night, Andrew Pedley gave a fantastic presentation about his life in climbing. He’s been climbing for 25 years so far and has been bolting lines for the last 10 years. I have been lucky enough to climb with him for the last 5 or so years and in doing so I belayed him on two of his hardest first ascents: Rodan (2010) and Double Dragon (2014). Listening to his presentation was a lot of fun for me and everyone else in the room.

Debbie offering me a token of appreciation for my MC skills :)

Debbie offering me a token of appreciation for my MC skills 🙂

The St Peter's Team

The St Peter’s Team

Seeing others succeed is absolutely vital for me too. When I was presented with the opportunity to coach Tristan and Alistair in preparation for the final RLMC, I was psyched. We climbed together at Bronkies and at Choss where I saw them both flash a 22 and work a 24. That was nothing though compared to the day of the actual comp.

Tristan at Chosspile

Tristan at Chosspile

Tristan setting off on Shelob (24)

Tristan setting off on Shelob (24)

Tristan and me at Choss

Tristan and me at Choss

Between the two of them they flashed or onsighted something like five 20s. We hiked over 5.5km to a wide variety of locations on the day. It was fantastic. They earned the greatest number of hiking points of anyone in the comp which is an impressive feat for two u13 climbers. Both of them trusted me to guide them and they tried hard on every route. Alistair even onsighted a 19 slab down at the Long Tonk boulders that was quite serious, particularly for someone of his height.

The boys at their first climb of the day, Platypus (17)

The boys at their first climb of the day, Platypus (17)

Building a rapport with the two of them took some time during the training days but what impressed me more than anything was their belief in their abilities. They trusted me to guide them through the day and I pushed them hard. They believed in me as much as I believed in them; almost a symbiosis in some regards. Neither of them ever said no, they couldn’t do it or they wouldn’t try. I am so impressed with them.

Being able to announce them as the winners of their age group was fantastic, I completely expected this. What I didn’t expect was their overall 8th place finish, which would have allowed them a 1st in u15 and 2nd in u17s.  SERIOUSLY?? WOW. I’m looking forward to working with them in the future and seeing where they go. My bet is they are heading for 8a very soon and far beyond…

The Trophies at the RLMC

The Trophies at the RLMC

Eric and Gary

Eric and Gary

They have been inspiring to me; I’ve been working hard to get back into shape since my injury in December. One of the results of this is the hard training regime I’ve been putting myself through. I’ve been trying to training 7 days a week with my rest days being on the hangboard doing about 45 minutes of light training. Some days I’ve been training before work in the morning and then again in the evening. I’ve been burning major calories trying to get the psych back and the strength back into the fingers. I feel like I’m getting there but I’m not quite at the top of my game.

There have been four primary exercises I’ve been working on to get stronger:

  • Weighted Repeaters — I choose a grip and hang for 7 seconds, then rest for 3 and repeat 7 times then rest for 1 min 50 seconds before moving to the next grip. I rotate through about 10 sets of holds in a session. I’ve been doing this with about 12kgs of weight so that I’m emphasising maximum finger strength and coupling it with power endurance. I find that this is a very good way to make large gains fast but also an easy way to get hurt so be careful.
  • Encore repeaters in 4 minute sets. Paul Brouard recommended this and I find it exhausting. Choose 6 holds, mine are a Jug, a sloper, 2 finger pocket, crimp, 2 finger pocket (again), medium sloper. Again this one is done 7 on, 3 off. For the first minute, straight arms. Without resting repeat the sequence with arms at 90 degrees. In the 3rd minute repeat the sequence at full lock. In the 4th minute you need to do 10 pull ups on the smallest crimp you have. Now you can rest for 10 minutes. A successful session is when you perform 5 sets. Best advice I can give is to record your exercise and if you fail on a grip type use that time to rest for the next one. You’ll be able to see increases in your performance through recording your outcomes. When you are scoring 100%, add weight or choose new holds that are harder to use.
  • 1 arm repeaters — same as the repeaters but with only 1 arm and maybe one finger to aid you in staying on.
  • Campus routes. Here’s the video.

Other than this, I’ve been bouldering with an emphasis on maximum power. At the end of my bouldering sessions I try to do an add on with my training partners to get up to a 30 move problem. Great fun when you’re already tired.

My outdoors climbing has been going well recently but nothing eventful. Been working the boulder problem that injured me in Swinburne, Dunce on Fire (7C+). Got close but no cigar. This weekend coming weekend will have my sights focused on it again. Along with Andrew’s project Tempest (31/32?) This is a route that has a very big move to a mono hold, pretty rough.

Also been working Violent Streak (8b) at Chosspile but it’s a bit warm still. When I was with Andrew this last weekend I sorted out all the beta for a project there called Bass Hunter (32?) which was the first time I’ve ever linked all the sequences 🙂 I can’t wait to get back on all these lines!!!! Fun times!

Violent Streak (8b)

Violent Streak (8b)

Violent Streak (8b)

Violent Streak (8b)

Coaching from the tree @ Chosspile

Coaching from the tree @ Chosspile

Violent Streak (8b)

Violent Streak (8b)

Here is a new toy!! Outward Ventures sent me a brand new 80m Roca Dominator 9.2mm!!! Look how pretty it is!!!

 

20140323_145958

My pretty lady lounging around in the hammock.

My pretty lady lounging around in the hammock.

SOOOO PRETTY!

SOOOO PRETTY!

The Tempest Project (8a+/b) in Swinburne

The Tempest Project (8a+/b) in Swinburne