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!!!

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).

Frustration

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

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

Me representing on Future Life (8b)

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

The campsite at Ben Nevis

The campsite at Ben Nevis

What a Place

What a Place

Douw and I in the back of the Bovenator

Douw and I in the back of the Bovenator

It's a beautiful day

It’s a beautiful day

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

Future Life

Future Life

Future life

Future life

And the other hand too!

And the other hand too!

Alex Bester on Digital Warfare

Alex Bester on Digital Warfare

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

The Wow Prow in all its Glory

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin

My poor injured finger and my wasted skin