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)

A Question of Ethics

It’s been almost exactly 1 year since my knee op. It was the 2nd of October last year when I went under the knife. I have been training hard and going through loads of rehab to get back to my former self. I hit quite a high point with my send of Rolihlahla, but since then I’ve been fighting quite an uphill battle. Been spending a great deal of time at Chosspile, working on finalizing Shadowfax (8b+) but due to the early onset of summer, I abandoned it for the season.

As a result, I started heading through to Boven a bunch. Jumped on Backcountry Butcher (8b) and was getting really close to the send when I broke the key hold. The result of this was that I had to abandon the climb for the weekend. It did inspire me to get back on Rodan and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

I did head back there and fix the hold at least. Now this is where the ethic issue, should I have fixed it or left it as it became?

The broken hold

The broken hold

The absent hold

The absent hold

The tiny gaston that was revealed

The tiny gaston that was revealed. It feels much worse than it looks and it looks small and slopey

I tried the move a few times and it felt pretty impossible to me. As it is, the boulder problem is in the vicinity of 7B+/7C and that is with the butcher’s hook in place. The butcher’s hook is a sharp, nasty little pocket that is pretty tough to hold on to and left me with a huge blood blister last time I was on it.

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My poor finger tip

So this was the result. I had the hold in my hand and I was asked by the first ascentionist to glue it back.

The back of the hold

The back of the hold

A little bit of sica and a lot of of effort later, the hold was back in place pretty much as close to perfect as I could get it.

The fixed hold

The fixed hold

The tiny butcher's hook

The tiny butcher’s hook

Last weekend I was able to capitalize on my effort. I got the third ascent. The thing feels seriously hard still and I really can’t imagine doing to climb without the hold. My conscience is clear, but the peanut gallery sure has a lot to say… A group of guys who have never tried the climb or shown any interest in the climb, until I’m fixing it.

Oh well, what’s done is done.

On to the next big thing!

David Wade snapped a few shots of my on my current obsession. Just need one good day on it and I should be able to wrap up my long-term nemesis: Rodan (8b+).

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The awkward gaston cross

A little snatch

A little snatch

The butterknife crimp

The butterknife crimp

Crossed over

Crossed over

Snatching the intermediate

Snatching the intermediate

Ready to launch for the final hold

Ready to launch for the final hold–I just need to get here!!!

On a side note, got to hang out with DMM UK athletes Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and Katy Whittaker. The two of them are in Boven and then heading to Wow Prow. Mina climbed Monster, flashed Lotter’s and then flashed Snapdragon on the same day. Not bad for a boulder! She’s pretty damn awesome. Hoping to get back there this weekend and hear how she did on Godzilla! The psych with the British team was unbelievable!

Mina on Monster (7c+) photo by Nick Brown

Mina on Monster (7c+) photo by Nick Brown

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

Ticking the an 8a a weekend is good for the heart

Over the last three weeks I’ve been having a great time! Repeated Jack of All Trades (8a) at the end of a tiring weekend on Shear Force (8c). I was feeling so beat down by Shear Force but somehow I found the psych to jump on Jack and walked up it. Felt good to repeat it after more than a year of not having been on it.

Spent the week after that training pretty hard at home and at the boulder cave. Lots of power problems concluding the evening with add on up to 30 moves.

After the week’s training, I was able to do the second ascent of Andrew’s new line Cock or Bollock (8a) at Chosspile. I got shut down on Violent Streak (8b) due to the warm and muggy temps but it was pretty cool to send a new line in a weekend. Should have done it in a session but I didn’t have the best sequence so I kept slipping. Irene gave me a little present! Check these out!

Mopani worms! Sending food!

Mopani worms! Sending food!

 

Shear Force! WOW

Shear Force! WOW

This past weekend I was back in Boven with Andrew. I nabbed a quick ascent of Joy Division in Boven, another 8a that almost no one climbs. So much fun! The wall is an almost blank, dead vertical face with a really technical crux. I did it first red point attempt; the other two I was placing draws and figuring out the movement.

I also got two new high points on Shear Force (8c) linking up into the crux moves on my last try of the weekend. I also figured out how to really dial down the crux through a series of toe hooks. I feel like I’m about two weeks behind Andrew, who fell off the last hold in the crux on Sunday!

Joy Division (8a)

Joy Division (8a)

But why's the rum gone?!? Gustav shared some rum from Reunion with me for my 30th

But why’s the rum gone?!? Gustav shared some rum from Reunion with me for my 30th

Boven with the Hamer Bros and Jose!

So I’ve spent the last couple of weekends hanging out in Boven with Wild Country UK athletes Sam and Ed Hamer along with their strong Spanish buddy Jose! They went on a rampage in Boven and pretty much did everything there that was 8a+ or less in just a few tries (if not flash or onsight).

Ed, Sam and Jose!

Ed, Sam and Jose!

Some highlights of the tick list are:

flash of Hypertension 8a by Sam and Ed

Jose flashed Jack of All Trades 8a

Ed did Welcome to Ovamboland 8a+ second try

Jose did Godzilla and Rolihlahla 8b

Sam onsighted Snapdragon 7c+, then Ed and Jose flashed it.

Monster was flashed by most of them too.

Ed flashed Beast 8a+

Sam ticked Tokolosie 8a

Ed did Vorpal Sword 8a+ in two or three tries.

 

Overall, they did the majority of routes in the God No and Superbowl areas. Can we say hardcore? I think so!

Perfectly normal winter behaviour

Perfectly normal winter behaviour

Ed pulling hard

Ed pulling hard

A highlight from the past few weeks was meeting up with Zele Angelides. Zele was kind enough to dangle off of a rope and take some pics of Andrew Pedley and myself on Shear Force (8c). Shear Force is the newest line in Boven and was opened by Kilian Fischuber. The route starts off with a very hard first move off the deck off of a very small and sharp left hand. From there you get a bit of a rest before pushing on into some fun climbing. Eventually you work your way into a sharp corner and into a hands free kneebar (pictured below).

 

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

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

This is the last rest before you move into the crux, a 15 move boulder problem that culminates in a really tough deadpoint to a tiny edge.

An amazing move on Shear Force (8c)

An amazing move on Shear Force (8c) in the middle of the crux.

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c) setting up for the crux moves.

Andrew setting up for the last move in the crux

Andrew setting up for the last move in the crux, he has his right hand on the crux crimp that is the end of the deadpoint move

 

Overlord (8b/+)

I’ve also been putting in some effort on Overlord / Rolihlahla (8b/+). It was definitely 8b but then Greg broke off a crucial hold at the start of the crux. It makes it a bit tougher for sure and has a knock on effect for the rest of the climbing. I stuck the crux move on my highpoint before the hold broke but haven’t been able to link it from the ground since. Definitely pisses me off! Temps have gotten a bit warmer recently so last trip I gave it a miss to let my skin recover.

Setting up for the crux move

Setting up for the crux move on Overlord (8b/+)

HARD STUFF!

HARD STUFF at the end of the crux

Negotiating the last moves on the face..

Negotiating the last moves on the face..

Training Hard…

 

I’ve been training very hard recently, spending a lot of time focusing on crimp strength and hangboard programs. One of the programs that I’ve been using quite a bit has been a FINGER PYRAMIDS PROGRAM.

Start off on a 35′ sloper,

5,7,9,11,9,7,5

Rest for 10 seconds between each attempt and rest two minutes at the end of the set.

Next middle two, then front 2, then back 2 then crimp.

Rest 10 minutes when the set is complete and repeat two more times.

 

Another really good program is an ENCORE PROGRAM:

Use the same order of holds as above but this time you are hanging for 7 seconds and then resting for 3.

Start the first hang at 45′, then 90′, then full lock, then 90′, then 45′ and finish on straight arms. Rest two minutes.

Again, the order is Slopers, Middle 2, Front 2, Back 2 and then Crimp. Then Rest 10 minutes. Do 3 sets total.

 

I’ve also been bouldering a bit indoors. Mixing up my sessions with some 4x4s and weight vest climbing.

For 4x4s, set a problem 2 or 3 grades beneath your onsight limit. Climb it continuously (to the top, then drop down) for 4 minutes. Rest 4 minutes and set another problem. Climb it for 4 minutes.

4 problems x 4 minutes each. Comprehend? Not rocket science, but you will feel like you got hit by a bus! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If this isn’t tough enough you can do 4x5s. But it’s also a balance as you rest longer so it’s up to you.

Personally, I like 4x4s, with a 10kg vest on a 45′ wall. It kills me, just a little.

 

I’ve been trying to mix in yoga sessions twice a week in between training sessions. I’ve noticed big gains in core strength, as well as massive gains in flexibility. I can definitely suggest that this be used to complement your climbing!!

 

New Toys

Wild Country UK was kind enough to send out some of their clothing range for me, two pairs of pants Balance Pants, a pair of Motion Jeans, an Enduro hoody, and a Team Tank. Thanks so much for sending this gear out to me with the Hamers! I’m extremely grateful!

Outward Ventures sent me some new toys from DMM Climbing! The new Vector Trad pack, a classic rope bag and  Trad Chalkbag. Great stuff! Very psyched!

New Gear! I love my new gear! The jeans are AMAZING!

New Gear! I love my new gear! The jeans are AMAZING! I’ve got quite a beard going on!

I love the new pack and rope bag! They are fantastic. The rope bag is HUGE! You can fit an 80m in there with shoes and harness and draws! No shit! The 45L pack is big enough for the rope bag holding an 80m, two pairs of shoes, 30 draws, a down jacket, lunch and a bit more space. The pack comes with a really convenient carry bag that fits perfectly inside, which is large enough for a trad rack! WIN WIN WIN!

It’s worth the investment. It’s also really comfortable and fits brilliantly.

Well! That’s all for now! Off to Chosspile in the morning to try to wrap up Violent Streak (8b).

Ending off the Year with a Bang

So! 2013 is almost finished and it’s been a very strange year for the most part. It’s been a year of change: new job, new sponsors, new projects and new friends. At my last count I spent 112 days on rock so far this year. The year came to an end for me on the 27th when I heard a pretty loud pop and my A2 pulley on my right ring finger popped. I’m hoping it’s a partial tear and not a complete rupture.

The year started off with a stage of (f)unemployment with about a month of solid climbing. I used the time to work out how to climb Boa Rodeo in Boven which has remained elusive for the remainder of the year. It’s been a tough one because it is very seasonal and is wet in summer for 5 days after rain but in winter it is in the sun by 8 and goes out of the sun at 5 as the sun is setting. Note to self and anyone else who wants to work the line — either climb this in April or in October so that you can optimize conditions.

Exiting the rest on Boa Rodeo (8a trad)

Exiting the rest on Boa Rodeo (8a trad)

Then I started my new job on 18 February and that was great. I started earning more money than last year and was able to do more with my time. Work has been great this whole year, even when I’ve been really busy I’ve been happy to work rather than feeling like it’s been a drain for me. I feel as though I’m able to work hard, give a great deal of my time to my job and still have enough time to climb and train. It is a bit of a balancing act and occasionally I have been going through periods of “forced rest” when I have deadlines but it’s probably the only way that I would ever rest voluntarily. It’s all been a bit of a balancing act at times, kinda like walking the line…

Slack lining in Boven -- Photo by James Barnes

Slack lining in Boven — Photo by James Barnes

The biggest change that happened for me this year (in my climbing life) was in May this year when I  made the transition from Edelrid and Vaude over to La Sportiva, DMM, Wild Country and Roca. It was not an easy decision to make but the time had come when it was necessary.

My Bling

My Bling (not Roca ropes though)

I had some fun in the Black Diamond Tradathon earlier this year where I climbed Twilight Floozie and a few other cool lines. Was a great day and Brendon Salzer was there to snap some pics.

In Bed with Madonna - Photo by Brendon Salzer

In Bed with Madonna – Photo by Brendon Salzer

This year has been a year of power gains. I wrapped up the majority of the lines in Wigwam this year (most of them on the same day actually). I’ve been focusing on shorter lines that have required a great deal of effort and less endurance. I think that the main reason for this is that I’ve always been weak with a lot of endurance 🙂 As a result I’ve taken this year to build my power with ascents like Frazzle (8b+) which was a second ascent, Axewound (8b), Death by Chocolate (8a+ in a day), Pit Fighter (8a+), Betamax (8a/+) and Twighlight Floozy (8a). I spent a lot of time projecting Shadowfax and Frack It at Chosspile but ran out of time as the summer conditions arrived. I have a feeling both of them will go down quickly next Autumn. I met this really cool photographer who has tonnes of talent! She made a plan to join me for the day at Chosspile and took some sick photos of my on Shadowfax. Zelé Angelides. She is fantastic and psyched.

Setting up for the crux of Shadowfax - Photo by Zele Angelides

Setting up for the crux of Shadowfax – Photo by Zele Angelides

Composing myself before the crux on Shadowfax -Photo by Zele Angelides

Composing myself before the crux on Shadowfax -Photo by Zele Angelides

The crux move on Shadowfax -- Photo by Zele Angelides

The crux move on Shadowfax — Photo by Zele Angelides

My major project at the moment has been Aqualung. Aqualung was opened by Paul Brouard at 8b in 2000 and it is currently unrepeated. I have been working this few a few sessions (3-4) and I’ve been psyched for the pure power of the line. Andrew Pedley got on the line with me on Saturday and eliminated 4 moves off of my beta resulting in me linking all the sections and doing the route in two parts!!! Very psyched to get back there when it is not dripping wet and my finger has healed. Below is video of me attempting Aqualung.

Working session on Aqualung

Training this year has been going through an evolution. At the beginning of the year things started off being really structured and I put in a lot of time into planning my periodicity; but as the year progressed I found that I was putting in less “training” and more “climbing”. I think it was in August when I had enough of it and realized that I needed to make a change and I joined the Virgin Active. Since then I’ve been splitting my time more wisely and I’ve been feeling some serious gains. I feel that the complementary training that I have been doing at the gym allows me to punish my body a little bit (yeah yeah masochist). I bought a heart rate monitor so that I could track my fitness levels and see exactly what impact climbing and training have on my heart rate. I’ve had some really interesting training sessions where I’ve been able to track my calorie consumption vs my  calorie burns and it’s been really good for understanding my energy levels and also where my weaknesses lie.

I’ve been using a High Intensity Interval Training program recently (for about the last month) which has been fantastic! Basically it is doing 800 reps in about 35 minutes with a total of 6 minutes rest in 45 second periods. I’ve noticed a remarkable improvement in my general fitness, my recovery times, my core strength and my burl. I have been able to execute far more hard moves in sequence than I was able to in the past. This coupled with with some maximum power bouldering has been part of my ongoing 8 weeks of power training.

Till I’m recovered from my finger injury I’ll keep myself nice and fit at the gym and slowly get myself back into climbing for my trip to Milner at the end of February (I hope). Oh well. Out with the old and in with the new.