Long weekend in the Frankenjura

DMM Wales was hosted a weekend for the team in the Frankenjura with a great a gear demo and some great times at the Eichler Campsite.

It was a real treat to be able to connect with the team and also to test some gear. I had a few older pieces of webbing that were a bit worn. As a result, they failed at less than half the rated load. A good lesson for me to learn : don’t take chances with your old gear, especially the fabric.

Metal gear is generally really durable. My 5 year old carabiner failed at almost its rated level.

Putting the gear to the test!

On the Sunday, the DMM crew hung out at Martinswand.

I managed to climb a few easier lines and did a 7c rally quickly. Great fun. Tried a really fun 8a+ a few times but needed a bit more energy than what I had available.

Die Apokalyptische Reiter 7c

Forcing my way through the dihedral

It was fantastic!

On the Monday, I was able to give Slimline (8a+) a few tries. It felt so good! Must go back for it! One of the best short routes ever.

Even gave Action Direct (9a) a try, just to feel the holds!

That about sums up how I felt on Action Direct

It was great to catch up with Said Belhaj as well. He and his friend Erik Massih were in the Frankenjura and got the chance to hang out with them. Really fun, light hearted guys! And crushers… Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Outdoor Trade Show in June!

Get your train on!

 

Coming back from injury is rarely a pleasant undertaking but it does certainly have some perk, such as renewed psych and focus — not to mention a devout level of masochism.

For the last weeks,  I have been dedicating my time to following a training program set up by Kris Peters for Trainingbeta.com: 6 Week Power Endurance Training Program. I have been finding it a bit tough to do all the exercises precisely as set out as the gyms tend to be really busy when I am training, but I am making the best of it. Doing the 4x4s and circuit training is tricky. I never really enjoy running, but hey, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and do it. Even if it’s below freezing outside…

I have made a few tweaks to it so that I can have a morning hangboard session 4 days a week as well. I have been using a combination of Chris Webb Parsons‘ program and Kris Hampton’s program.

I made a tweak to the CWP program by exchanging a fixed sling for a counterweight on a pulley. The first week I needed to use a 10kg counterweight but was down to 5kg on the second week.

With the Kris Hampton program, I was able to make massive gains by the 3rd week where I actually hit some personal bests on the Beastmaker.

The results have been really positive so far; my finger strength is really good, my fitness is improving and my gym climbing is getting better than it usually is. I don’t think I have fallen off of anything under 7a+ in the gym and flashed a 7b+ during my second week back, so that’s something at least.

Let’s see how it translates to rock as I progress.

I did manage to set a few personal bests on my Beastmaker:

  • 3 x 8 seconds on the Beastmaker 2000 crimps with +20kg
  • 3 x 8 seconds on the Beastmaker Micro 10mm with +10kg
  • 8 seconds on the Beastmaker Micro 8mm with +10kg

There were two days that really stood out to me last month, they were on a weekend where the weather was not so good and we spent the time indoors.

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I have been using the Beastmaker app as a warmup for my hangboard sessions. I start with anything between 6C and 7B as the warmup and try to spend some time on the 45-degree slopers as well.

 

I found myself frequently tired when I would hangboard in the morning and then go to the gym in the afternoon. It was no different when Claudia and I met our friends as the Kletterhalle Salzburg. Still had a great time there and enjoyed the route setting. I managed 6c+, 7a+, 3 7b flashes, 1-hang on 7b and 7b+, tried two 8a routes but was too tired to lock off effectively after a CWP session in the morning.

18 March –> Boulderwelt OST

I enjoyed some normal bouldering in the gym, exploring some of the problems from their Big Fat Boulder Session. Over the course of two days, I managed to do about 32 problems, but some of them were just way beyond me.

It was a really quick session on the day and I found myself racing around the gym trying to climb efficiently with a high level of focus.

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Tried Orgasmatron (8A) and found it inspiring but hard… Will be back

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Wrestling with an Alligator (8B)… Inpiring!

 

The time I’ve spent outdoors recently has been great. I was in Maltatal recently for a bit of bouldering, that was great fun.

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Alligator Corner (7C) was fun to try but had way too little skin

 

Claudia and I had some fun back in Salzburg recently and I was able to put in some time on an old project Nachtschicht. Here’s a quick video from the day:

We spent some time in Arco as part of the Arco Rock Stars photo competition. It was a cool weekend, well, not cool, REALLY warm weekend.

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Claudia hiking to the crag in Arco

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Claudia capturing the moment with Sofie

 

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Life… So Unpredictable

It’s been 20 years since I chose to dedicate myself to the pursuit of perfection. I started my sporting career with shooting; won a bronze metal in the Pan Africa games and won the Namibian overall championships at 14. I learned what it meant to be mentally focused and how to visualize my goals through shooting.

Cycling was next. I won the Namibian Downhill Championships and was in the top 3 in Cross Country. My real passion was freestyle. I was always at the cutting edge. When there was a new jump, I was there going first. Life quickly became a game of how fast, how high and how far. I always needed to be the best.

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Riding off the roof of my house

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And again for good measure

Moving to South Africa was no different. Learning how to do back flips,  wanting to be the best. I was one of the best freestyle mountain bikers in the country. When I let that go, it was a tough call. I had just found climbing and I sucked. What I did have was dedication.

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Superman Seatgrab, just another day at the office

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Heel Clicker, in the clouds

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Backflip Pancake

 

When I was cycling I weighed 84kgs with 10% body fat. After I started climbing, I dropped 15 kgs in a year and trained 6 days a week. Everyone knows that I am a bit of a masochist when it comes to training. I guess that’s why it only took me three years to become a sponsored climber.

It’s been 10 years since I started. Since then, I’ve been through a lot of life changes. I’ve dedicated myself to climbing. I’ve climbed 8a on trad, 8b+ on sport and 7C+ boulder. I’ve adopted some pretty serious routines to allow me to get here. It has taken me down a very different path than I predicted.

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Setting up for the crux of Fear and Loathing (7c+ trad) — Photo by Ockert Joubert

I’ve had some major changes in my personal life. I was with Yvette for 8 years. I spent so much time away from home that I was just not in it anymore. Between work, training and travelling, we grew apart. I was so used to being away that I did not really notice. Time apart was the norm and time together was scarce.

Meeting Claudia was completely life changing. I never imagined that I could ever meet someone like her, so when it happened, it threw me for a loop. We are so alike that it felt like magnetism. Sharing the same drive to be outdoors, go climbing and be in nature at every chance is really special.

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Claudia is brilliant. She has published an amazing book with some of the most amazing photos you’ll ever see. She spent time with some of the most incredible up-and-coming climbers in the world, including Adam Ondra and Alex Megos. She was there to learn about who they are as people, not what they are climbing. Her book “The Young Savages” sheds light on what the world’s best climbers do when they are not climbing. I was amazed by the work that she put into the book; constantly travelling, living on the road and reaching out to the top climbers. Sounds like a dream come true.

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This was so intriguing to me. I was, and still am completely inspired by her vision and dedication. Her ability to visualize a goal and bring it to life completely stunned me. This really comes out in her photography where she has an innate ability to look at a climb and photograph it in a way that is completely unique and unexpected.

When Claudia came to South Africa, our trip began in Boven. She found ways to capture unique and wonderful moments from a perspective that no one else has seen. Her work is captivating and I was starstruck.

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The night sky from Tranquilitas in Boven

While we were in Boven, Claudia managed to capture Chris Cosser climbing one of my routes in the gully by Baboon Buttress, Raptophilia 8a+.  This route was a nemesis of mine. I’ve never been great at short routes. It is an amazing line because it’s a mini route,  not a boulder problem. I’ve seen very strong climbers spit off of it so I was really really impressed with Chris!

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Chris doing his thing on Raptophilia (8a+)

Adam was also working the line at the same time and he got painfully close!

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Adam Finlday going for the finish jug on Raptophilia (8a+). I fell on this move on red point while placing draws before I opened it. Thought it was in the bag but it took me another couple days to get back to this jug.

Andrew was there for the weekend trying his project: Return of The Overlord (8c?). It is the plum line starting directly under the Beast going straight up the God No Wall. The psych was contagious and Claudia jumped on a rope to grab a few pics of him too!

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The deadpoint crux… A massive launch to a one pad crimp 25m into the route. HARD

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The last few hard moves after the crux… Not a giveaway

We caught a few pics on Sheer Force (8c) a little later in the day! Was great to be able to see what I look like on that line!

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Fighting my way into the final rest before the upper crux on Sheer Force (8c)

The next day, I fought insanely hard on my onsight attempt of Clinton Marteningo’s Sweet Child O’ Mine (7c). I made it to the second last bolt before I realized that I could not take my hands off the rock to place the draw and I also could not skip it for fear of the ledge.

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The very exposed and scary, Sweet Child O’ Mine (7c). Watch out for that ledge! Too bad about the one bolt’s location.

After we were done in Boven, we made our way down to the Cape. It was quite a drive, 17 hours non-stop.

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Driving through the Karoo is intense 🙂 Especially when w’re laughing so hard

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We needed a break during the 17 hour drive and Claudia stretched out on the N1

When we got there it was pouring with rain but somehow it cleared up the next day.

Cape Town was awesome, we had such an amazing view from the apartment in the city. We needed a few days in the city before feeling like we were ready to go again.

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This was the view from the balcony of our place in Cape Town, not bad!

Met up with Rob to have some Mexican food and tequila!

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Amazing Mexican food and tequila, right in front of our place!

We even got in some time by the beach.

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When we finally made it to Rocklands, Claudia was stunned by the vastness of the place!

We met up with David for a photo shoot during the day up on the plateau

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Almost sticking the dyno on Black Velvet (8A). Too bad he dabbed

Jumped on Minki (7B) after David was done. I did it years ago and it was still fun now! Such a gorgeous line.

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I almost flashed a highball 7B+ called Zanzibar. So badly overgraded, I thought it was actually 7A/+. But it was so beautiful I did it twice.

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It’s pretty high. Great fun.

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Getting started the second time

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Cruising… Not 7B+

In the evening we met up with Karo Sinnhuber for an evening session. Claudia’s pics of her ended up in the new training manual from Cafe Kraft called Gimme Kraft Air. She climbed The Hatchling (8A) and it was so cool to watch her cruise up to just before the crux and hang there. We would then turn off all the lights, use the flash and then listen for her to fall. Definitely a scary prospect from that height!

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I climbed Poison Dwarf (7B) on the plateau later in the evening. Believe it or not, it was freezing!

Overall, the trip was really amazing. Claudia’s pics have been featured across several magazines, books and ads. Above is an awesome pic of Andrew sitting in the Man Trap, getting ready to move into the Return of the Overlord.

Thank you Rob and Outward Ventures for sponsoring the trip and making it all possible! Going around the country in two weeks is not easy without some really good support!

 

It’s actually been pretty hard to write over the last months, so now I’m really happy to actually type something.

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Taking a step back and enjoying the view from the top of Sheer Force — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

I’ve been struggling a bit with motivation recently due to the amount of work I have as well as not really knowing where I was going. The result was a distinct lack of training. When I finally found some motivation, I started hitting the gym 4 days a week again. Hangboard on Monday and Wednesday, bouldering/lead Tuesday and Thursday. I felt strong again.

Ended up at Fernkloof thinking I would try Aqualung again. I could cruise all the moves apart from the undercling match. My leg was a bit to weak. James Barnes suggested some pistol squats, so I did pistol squat box jumps! And guess what, it worked.

Went to Fern, wamed up on Faberge (7c), tried Stormwatch Direct (8b) twice, cruised it to the chains apart from one move at the second bolt. Then went up to Aqualung. It started to rain and I was a little stressed, but it was so nice and cool that when I pulled on it was just perfect. Not a single moment when I felt nervous. I cruised the crux, right to the chains.

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Up into the terrible undercling

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Deep flat on a bad smear

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Finally managed to wrap up a few lines at Fernkloof. Double 8b with with Aqualung and Stormwatch Direct

Aches and Pains

When it all comes down to it, the last few months have been really tough. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the last two years with injuries and psych as a result. I’ve had two pretty major injuries in the last few months. The worst part is that I have been climbing at just about my peak before each of the injuries. The first injury happened during the fifth round of the NBLs at CityROCK in Johannesburg.

I was just hitting peak form again and was really psyched. I was at the gym 4 days a week and really focusing on my strength. I really felt like I was unstoppable.

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Training at CityROCK

When I hurt my hamstring was really upset. I remember the sound. It reminded me so much of the day I tore my knee! It really scared me, I felt completely faint and the more that I was asked if I was ok, the more I knew I was not. I remember lying on the floor at CityROCK for what felt like hours. Eventually I conceded and called Yvette to come and get me.

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Sucks to be hurt. Grade 2 tear hurts a lot!

For the next two weeks I could barely walk. I could really not sit for more than a few minutes without being in terrible pain. The only saving grace was that I could have physio twice a week and start to feel human again. I got quite upset with everything around me and was cursing my luck.

Injuries never come at a good time. At least this one was not so bad, 5 weeks off wasn’t terrible. Got some time to focus on work and to play with some of my photography skills.

 

I traveled to a few places while I was still sore, including Blyde River and Boven. I had a lot of fun trying out some long exposures on my camera and it was a decent distraction. South Africa keeps reminding me that it is really an amazing place to live, at least in the terms of the natural beauty around us.

Once I could think about climbing again, you would think I took it nice and slow right? Wrong. First thing I tried on rock was Shear Force (8c). At least I took it easy and didn’t push myself too hard. The idea was to be there for Andrew more than anything. He’s hitting the very last hard move on the route before coming off, so I wanted to be there to help with the psych.

Since then I’ve been back in the groove of things. Got in some trad climbing on an amazing project that will be 7c or so, about 50m+ in length. Could maybe do it as a single pitch but will be damn hard. Need so much gear to make it to the top.

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Hanging around on the proj! 7c?

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We had such an interesting approach to get to the climb but at least it was out of the sun.

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Managed to onsight a sketch 6c+(R) the same day. The was fun, I guess. Normally I’m not too happy about a 6c+ onsight, but when you’re scared shitless on the way up and you control it to the top, it’s worth writing home about.

I managed to recover pretty much completely from my hamstring injury. So since then I’ve been getting focused.

From April Choss season wass open again. I’ve been on Shadowfax (8b+) a few times again, already linked to the crux move on my second day on it. Have done the crux to the chains and I think I’m in with a chance in the near future. Going to make sure I get it done this year! Here are some pics from Zele Angelides from a few years back. I fell off last week at the point in the last pic.

The crux move on Shadowfax

The crux move on Shadowfax with the elicit toe hook — Photo by Zele Angelides

 

I even got some beautiful new clothing from Outward Ventures! Thanks so much guys, I can’t wait to actually get some good photos for you with me in the new stuff from Wild Country and DMM. Big thanks for the helmet and new shoes as well! Been amazing.

The good news is that I’ve really been able to get myself back into a great training regime. Over the last few weeks I’ve been averaging 3 hangboard sessions and 4 climbing sessions during the week and then both days on rock!

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My small crimp! 6.2mm sloping. Ouch

As a result, I got a high point on Sheer Force (8c) in Boven. I’m linking up to the last move in the crux at the top. Unfortunately, that move is extremely hard on its own which means I have a lot of work to do before I’m going to tick it! But I’m so excited and motivated I’m sure I’m in with a chance.

After all of this positivity, I was climbing at CityRock JHB and I twisted my knee. I’ll tell you what. After the latest injuries, I’ve become hypersensitive towards injury. When I heard my knee pop (twice) and I my face turn pale and white, I knew something went wrong. I was really worried that I tore my ligaments, now in my other knee!

I was bleak. IMMEDIATELY. The thought of losing another 9 months when I was just about to do my first 8c was devastating. For a few days, I was struggling to get out of bed. I made an appointment with my surgeon and found out that it was probably a meniscus tear. He was pretty surprised when I was celebrating. But, the timeline for a meniscus is a few weeks versus a few months for a ligament. Big win.

I had an MRI as few days later and within two weeks, I found out that I had a grade 2 sprain of the popliteus tendon. It was such a rare injury that it was barely visible. I asked what the next step was and the surgeon told me, “Don’t do anything that hurts. If you re-injure yourself, I’ll take your photo off the wall.” We had a bit of a laugh, especially after I suggested I could give him a second photo. BUT! The point is, I’m ok. No time off, other than the two weeks between the injury and the diagnosis.

Up next for me is a new level of psych and travel. This weekend I’m in Fernkloof, trying to wrap up some old projects. Next week, is Wow Prow to try to finalize Future Life (8b). Then Boven for a few days and Rocklands, Montagu and Oudtshoorn after that.  A friend of mine from Austria is coming to South Africa to join me on the trip. Her name is Claudia Ziegler, author of The Young Savages. She is a world-class photographer with cover shots from Rock and Ice. Claudia has spent time with some of the best climbers in the world and shared their stories with the world.

I’m excited to have the privilege of showing her around South Africa at the end of June!

When Life Gets in the Way

Work has been pretty mad recently… Unfortunately it has made it pretty hard to do any good climbing. I’ve been getting out and having a bit of fun but definitely not climbing at the peak levels that I am used to.

What I have been thoroughly enjoying is the new CityRock gym in JHB. The routes have been phenomenal and the bouldering at least as good. It’s become my home away from home, that’s for sure!

I recently did a slide show about mental preparation for climbing. It was fun to be able to share my knowledge with a group of people who really wanted to hear it. It was a group of about 40 people from the MCSA and admittedly it ran a bit longer than I anticipated.

I really enjoyed the experience so I’ll try to share it with you…

I started it off by giving a bit of history of my life, starting out with the mental preparation that I was able to achieve through shooting.

Shooting

 

I had to develop focus so that I could clear my mind an visualize the outcome. This came in handy when I started doing this!

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This level of mental focus has been so important for climbing. Knowing that is it possible to achieve a goal, know that if you’re dedicated you will succeed.

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When I started to get serious about pushing myself past grade 30/ 8a I needed some help!

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I asked Paul Brouard, one of SA’s top climbers, to give me a hand… When I got his training program, this is how I reacted!

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His training was intense, really intense.

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He trained almost every day, scheduling rest days when life got in the way. The trick that he recommended was to schedule a heavy training day followed by a light training day, these would focus on different aspects of training.

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I’ve met a lot of cool people along the way!

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Alex and Ebert

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I’m usually very structured in my approach to climbing…

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I’ve spent a lot of time in my room on my own and in the gym to make the big progressions. One of the best ways to track progress is to RECORD IT! When you see that you’re hanging for a longer time on smaller holds with more weight, it’s a great feeling! Know how you’ve progressed is great!

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This year has been tough for me, I had to recover from a major knee injury and it took a lot of patience, patience I didn’t know I have. One thing I can recommend is to listen to your phyio and biokineticist so that you can come back stronger than ever.

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Use the tools of that are available to you. Right now I’ve got a bit of Golfer’s Elbow and I’m simply using a hammer, a theraband and some awesome finger training tools called POWER FINGERS. They are available from Vertical World and have been very useful in helping with recovery.

 

Well, that was an abridged version of my talk.

I’m off to Spain for a month over Dec/Jan. Can’t wait to tell you all about it.