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

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!!!

The Road Back

I’ve been putting off this post, waiting to have something great to write about. However, it seems the longer I wait, the more projects I have to work on, which is great! It just means that I have to find some sort of focus in between. The big ticks for me this winter need to be at least two or three of my winter projects. Each of them has a story to tell and each of them is special. The problem is that the winter season is almost halfway finished and I’m just getting back my form.

Violent Streak (8b) Andrew opened this line at the Man Cave at Chosspile two years ago. I’ve given it a bit of effort here and there but last time I was on it I fell on the last hard move in the crux. Basically one move from the send. I have a movie in progress for this guy!

Shadowfax (8b+) Another Andrew Pedley line. Last season I unlocked my beta just two weeks before it got too warm to climb. It’s very bouldery and powerful and requires massive core tension. I think that my yoga sessions will be great for this! Was just one move away from it last season, but I’m not nearly as close this year due to the number of injuries I’ve had.

Rolihlahla (8b) What a beautiful line. Scares the shit out of me every time. Perhaps some of you remember that clip of Sasha falling upside down into the column. That wasn’t bad belaying, it was simply bad luck and it’s quite a swing on the traverse. I’ve given this line 4 tries this year and one was a good effort, I fell off on on the crux move before  the traverse. The sting in the tail is a big fear for me but I think I’ll be able to man up and do it once I get through. I managed to stick the crux move from the ground this weekend 🙂 Great fun! I’ve linked a great deal of the route. I think I have a really good chance the next time I’m on it with fresh skin!!!

Sticking the crux move

Sticking the crux move

Climbing the crux

Climbing the crux

Fun times

Fun times

 

Future Life (8b) The most insane movement and beauty of any of the lines. Fell off one move before the good holds and the 7c+ portion of the route. I know that Andrew has a vendetta with Digital Warfare (8b+) so I’ll tag along and finish off this beauty!

I’ve been training seriously hard recently! Boulder problems on the hangboards, campusing, weighted hangs, yoga. It’s been fantastic!

Here is an account of my day last Tuesday from Facebook:

An hour of weight vest (10kg) circuit training on the 45 at Mimosa. Playing add on by myself up to 30 moves. The objective was to start a minute after my feet hit the ground (had to rest up to 2 minutes for my last two sets)
Came home and did an hour of finger pyramids on the Beastmaker. Slopers, middle 2, front, back 2, crimps. Each for 5,7,9,11,9,7,5 seconds with 1 minute rest in between grip positions. 10 minutes between sets. 3 sets.
Then the Chris Webb Parson training session week 4: 10 seconds per hand on the outer (good) slots on the Beastmaker with a rope to assist. Limited aid was required for some of the attempts
To conclude, an hour of power yoga which involved some serious shaking limbs and now pure exhaustion and fatigue.

 

 

Boulder training on the boards. I was trying something interesting, cutting my feet loose after each move.

 

 

The Futura of Climbing!

Two months ago when I opened the box containing my news shoes I was quite intrigued and very excited by these blue shoes. The first thing I noticed was that the closure system is exactly the same as that of the Solutions. This means one very important thing: the shoes are going to fit like a glove.  Futura2

The closure system is pretty high tech as a single piece of Velcro is able to secure the shoe yet tensions the shoe at three points simultaneously allowing for one of the best fits possible from a shoe without laces. One of the implications of this is that you can heel hook till your heart’s content and you’ll never have to worry that your heel will slip out of the shoe.

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The next piece of tech that the shoe is renowned for is the No-Edge technology. This might tech might not be great for everyone but I’ve come to a few important realizations:

1. The shoes feel like they are worn in right out of the box and have a consistent feel throughout their lifespan. I’ve had the Futuras for two months now and I’ve worn them on every type of terrain around me: steep routes, face climbs and plastic. Guess what, they are showing very minimal signs of wear after climbing in them every weekend and most nights of the week in the gym. Let me put this into perspective for you: I’m tough on my shoes. The normal lifespan of a pair of shoes on my feet is somewhere around 6 weeks of constant wear. The only way that I maximize the lifespan of my shoes is rotating between warmup shoes, training shoes and project shoes with specific shoes for specific projects. I might be a little obsessive about getting the most out of my shoes…

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2. These shoes will teach you how to use your feet better: Beginner climbers might struggle with these shoes initially because you have to be pretty precise with your footwork but once you understand how the shoe work you’ll actually have a hard time turning back. I’m NOT going recommend using these guys on a slab because the shoes are really soft but when it comes to overhanging terrain or competition climbing indoors there is not much that will beat them. I have been able to stand on some of the worst holds on the largest variety of routes with my Futuras.

There is a specific hold on Rodan in Boven that makes my cringe every time I stand on it, regardless of what shoes I’m wearing. When I tried the Futuras on it I found that they are so soft and then that I could feel the texture of the hold under my toe and smear the edge instead of seeing my rubber roll around it. The image below helps to explain this whole thing. To be honest, when I first read about this I though it was just a gimmick but it’s not. It works.

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3. I can’t shut up about them. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t rave about these shoes. I can’t emphasize enough what that actually means. I love them so much that I climb in them daily. I don’t ever do that! I have 4 pairs of shoes that I rotate and yet I find myself at the crag choosing only to use these guys.

I do have one major gripe about the Futuras that I’d really like to see fixed. These are intended for high end indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering; they have the same fastening system as the Solutions but what’s with the lack of rubber on the toes? The Pythons have it, the Solutions have it, why don’t the Futuras? I actually prefer the heel cup of the Futuras as it molds to your heel instead of being a large molded rubber cup (which is awesome for a lot of heel hooking needs). But the lack of rubber on the toe box is quite an issue to me. There is enough there for most toe hooks but when the crux of the route is a toe hook that requires every bit of friction possible (like on Shadowfax), then this is where I feel like I need to don my Pythons instead.

Good times!

Since the car accident in August things have been a little abnormal. I’ve certainly had some interesting stuff happening. Yvette and I got engaged! That has been the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me.

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Yvette and I also bought new cars! Sick! Yvette bought a beast! The new Focus ST! Wow!

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I bought an excellent new car too! It’s a beauty! The Fiesta Turbo Diesel! So great! 806 km on 38L! Amazing!

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Well, that’s the personal life… Now for a climbing update  🙂

Apart from getting engaged, I’ve been working really long hours, I’ve been sick and I haven’t been able to train nearly as much as I would like to. What I have been doing in terms of training has been continuing to link my gym training session with weights into bouldering training sessions finger board sessions. I’ve been seeing really positive results even with a minimal amount of time available for training. The cross training that I’ve been doing has been run 8 km when I have a chance. I’ve been training with a heart rate monitor so that I can maximize my efforts to train at peak effectiveness for short periods. I have been pushing my heart rate to maximum levels for about an hour to raise the bar of my cardio fitness. This is a lot harder when you are actually on a wall for training because you tend to get pumped (particularly when you’re training on a 40 degree overhang) and fall off before you achieve maximum heart rate. So what I can recommend is a 15-20 move boulder circuit, at just about at your onsight limit, finishing on a jug where you can lower your heart rate back to a lower HR zone and this allows you to fully recover. Then you repeat the circuit and the rest. Do this three to four times as one set. Then rest 10 minutes and repeat another 2 times. If you can do this, you’re really fit.

I’ve been suffering on all my projects! Been getting owned! Rodan kicked my ass, I fell off the last move of Shadowfax or 6 times, I keep falling at the chains of a new 8a at fern, I fell on the last move of Frack It! I’m getting owned! My plan for this weekend is to head back to Fernkloof and keep on working on some new stuff.

I have a new project at Fern that is going to be 8b+, it’s not so much a new line as it is an eliminate of Stormwatch. I’m climbing a direct start to Stormwatch (7B+) then into Stormwatch’s crux (7C) and then into a right hand finish at the top using almost none of the holds on the original line (8a?). I’m calling my version Brainwash. ha ha ha. It’ll be a really hard training route, perfect for building finger strength and power endurance. The top is sick, massive compression climbing and dynamic movement!!! Keeps right of the bolts instead of heading out left on to Faberge, it touches NONE of the Faberge holds.

Crazy times!

I did have one pretty cool day in Boven… Sent Pit Fighter (8a+) and Stitch It (7c+) in consecutive attempts.

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Here’s Frankie sticking the crux on Stitch It. Crush it dude!!!

Pit Fighter action

Pit Fighter action (8a+) Photo by Jonathan Joseph

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Pit Fighter (8a+) Photo by Paige Claassen

I recently was able to participate in James Blay’s bouldering master class that was held at WonderWall Gym in Johannesburg. It was great to meet James who is one of the top guys at Wild Country in the UK, a brand that is supporting my climbing endeavors. The evening was focused on working technical boulder problems and increasing technical ability and route reading. The whole idea what to teach climbers how to really think ahead, not just see the holds but to actually visualize the movements and the fine details such as the direction of your toe on a hold. All this before you touched the wall.

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Delivering some words of wisdom (or something at least!) to two of our strong climbers. (photo by Jono)1000008_600611763318297_470667349_n

James Blay (on the left) and myself at the Wonder Wall Gym in Johannesburg. (Photo by Jono)