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

Terrible Things Happen in Three? Really? Why?!! — Updated

UPDATED: I’ve uploaded a new training program if anyone is interested. It’s pretty hardcore, even if I have to say so for myself. I’ve used a combination of authors to aid me in my search for the ultimate form of torture for my dungeon. I’ve made use of advice from Paul Brouard, Eric Horst, Steve McClure and a few of my own ideas.

I’ve set it up for 3 days on and 1 day of rest. I’ve completed the first two days and so far I’m wasted… I think it is a good balance of pure power and strength. Its in the BOX section to the right and it’s called Brian’s Training Program for Power. Try it. Let me know if you need any more information or advice.

It’s the middle of the week and I’m having a great session. I’m working out all the moves and I’m feeling strong. What I didn’t plan on was the really unbearable, loud popping sound which is the later collateral ligament in my left knee deciding that it can’t do it. Shit. I’m on the ground, I’m in a lot of pain, I’m really unhappy. The first thing I think is this: “at least it’s not my finger again!”

Bad things happen in 3s

Bad things happen in 3s

How’s that for optimism?

I was genuinely happy that I hurt my knee and not my finger. Well, let me tell you why; with a knee injury I can still get really strong. I can still train hard; I can still campus; I can still boulder with one leg (after I’ve recovered a little more). So, all in all, I think I’m going to come back from this more psyched than ever.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in bed, trying to recover a little but today I had to be out and about. Good news is that I can drive and I can walk pretty much normally. Sitting in a chair isn’t a pleasant experience so I’m probably going to have to ask to work remotely for a while. I am seeing the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. Hopefully it won’t be that bad and I might not need surgery, but I won’t hold my breath.

I’ve already started my new training program.

My Torture Chamber

My Torture Chamber

Today I did a combination of programs:

1. 20 minutes of pull-ups. 6 pull-ups every minute on the minute focusing on being explosive on the way up and controlled on the way down.

2. Offset Pulls – 5 pull up either side with the upper hand on the jug on my Metolius board and my lower hand in the good slot on my Beastmaker. 1 minute rest between each set.

3. The Chris Webb Parson program: I’m still using the good slot on the Beastmaker but I’ve added a pinch block for the other hand, rather than a sling. I’m not sure if this is better but it is different. I couldn’t hold the full locks today.

4. Pull-up/Pushup pyramid: 10 pulls, 10 push, then 9, 8, 7, etc down to 1. The emphasis is control. I tried to rest as little as possible but focused on control. I used the upper right edges for 4 fingers on the Metolius board. Nice and wide.

5. Pinch training: using my wooden pinch blocks, I would try to pinch the sides of the blocks, keeping my fingers away from the top, so that I could maximise effort. The objective is to hold a 90 degree lock for 5 seconds at a time. I find this really difficult, but I’m going to try to extend it to 10 and the longer as I grow accustomed to it. Pinch strength is a weakness for me, thus I bought the blocks.

I measured my heart rate throughout.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/594028901

So, I’ll track all the training that I do during my recovery time. I’m going to keep a log in Excel so I can see how things change in the coming weeks. Till next time!

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.

 

 

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

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.

Futura

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…

Futura3

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.

la-sportiva-futura-technology

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)

Sends and New Arrivals

I’ve had a really exciting weekend, again! Andrew and I headed off to Boven with the intention of doing Boa Rodeo, an 8a+ trad line. Both of us tried it for three days but had no sends. We discovered how hard it is actually is to place the gear! Wow. We ended up finding a good nut placement backed up by a Wild Country Z3 cam to protect the crux… Basically, for anyone who isn’t familiar with WC Zeros, this is a black Alien cam — it’s small and we’re falling on to this gear with from a pretty descent run out above it.

All pics are by Jahne Theron — Thanks bud!

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The gear is all great but I think that both of our heads weren’t quite in the head space they needed to be in.

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Two much cooler things happened this weekend… I finally made time to climb with Andrew on his Shear Force Project down in the Right Wing and holy 5h!tb@lls, it’s amazing! We are guessing it will weigh in around 8c/+. On the first day on it Andrew and I managed to piece together a sequence that seems to work; on the second day we both did some great links on it. The route is sick! It overhangs by about 8m, it’s 28m long, but it zigzags so get ready for about 35m of climbing all-in-all. The best part: the holds are not too bad on the skin and the rock will never polish. Photos and video are going to be shot when Jono from Outward Ventures makes his way up here early July for an awesome chance to take some pics and vid of La Sportiva Ambassadors Paige Claassen and Jon Glassberg. I met them at the airport today and they are psyched to be here! Enjoy your trip you two! See you in Boven!

Andrew demonstrating how he is going to kung fu Boa Rodeo

I had the opportunity, or stubbornness, to get back on Frazzle this trip. Now admittedly, I’ve been working this in (not so) secret by building a simulator problem at the gym and making the holds worse and worse. On Saturday by the time I got on the climb I was tired and couldn’t even hold on to the holds to start the crux. Not a good sign, but at least I had a chance to put the draws up and climb to the anchors (VERY LUCKILY).

Monday afternoon came around, Andrew put in a massive effort on Shear Force and I was totally psyched to climb it, but I really wanted a good shot at Frazzle, although I felt like I was miles from the send. I set off from the ground and had forgotten that I removed the first bolt so I needed to do some funny business to safely get to the second bolt before coming back down to remove the biner I used on the first. Not a smooth start, hmmm, maybe I’ll go to the shake and just sit there for a few minutes, brush holds etc. Well, I got to the rest, not in a particularly efficient manner but I’m here. May as well try the crux before I brush the holds.

I reach up to the sloping crimp and it feels amazing; my skin is just locked on to the hold. I mantle to get my foot high and then lock off to the horrid intermediate….I stabilize for a split second, and snatch to the crux crimp! WTF?!? I’m still on! FOCUS BRIAN! Hold it! I reach my right hand up to a good hold and scream! Andrew is cheering at the bottom! Now I’m starting to panic! I have only been to the chains once or twice and there is a bunch of tough climbing ahead, nothing hard but definitely tricky enough that I could blow it… I compose myself, chatting with Andrew for some psyche, and then set off. I almost come off at the next bolt but refuse to let go. I do a few more moves and I’m on a monster jug. I think I shook out for about 5 or 6 minutes, could have been longer, it felt like forever to be honest. But I was pretty confident from this point that I could get to the chains.

The rest of the route went down smoothly enough. I climbed to the last bolt before I started screaming again. I was psyched. Frazzle 8b+, second ascent. I know that Paul opened it at 8a+ more than a decade ago but it is the hardest thing I’ve climbed by far. I guess that’s where a personal grade has to come in. I know a bunch of strong guys who have tried this line and none have had success on it.  Whatever grade it is, it’s hard, fingery and a hell of a bouldery crux!

The only pair of shoes I used all weekend were my Pythons. Now, this was a big surprise to me. I did not expect them to work on a vertical wall. I figured they’d work in the cracks on Boa Rodeo and the steepness at Choss, and therefore the Shear Force line too, but on Frazzle?? That was confusing. Maybe they’ll surprise me on Rodan too (doubtful).

Now…. Off on a completely different tangent, I did the weirdest thing last week. I joined a gym. I’ve decided that bouldering just isn’t enough anymore, so I’ve started a training regime at the gym.

Yesterday was pretty tough:

  1. 20 min run @ 11 km / h at 3% gradient on the treadmill to start
  2. 12 min rowing
  3. About 10 one arms L & R
  4. 5 x 6 pull ups with 20kgs load
  5. 1 lap of the “super circuit” –> weight training with stepping intervals. Generally 30 reps of moderate weight.

The whole point of the exercise is to push my comfort zone a little further than what I’m currently used to. I feel like I can climb 6 days a week and not be making massive progress. So maybe I need to climb indoors 2-3 days a week, gym 2-3 days a week and climb on rock 2 days a week on a set program. Currently I’m busy with a 4 week power cycle at the wall; I’ve been working shorter, powerful routes at Chosspile and even in Boven. The idea is to raise the bar so that when my power-endurance cycle starts Rodan will go down. I have a date with Rodan from 6-14 July! Can’t wait. Hope to share the experience with a bunch of my buds!

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