Time off for Recovery

The year has been off to a really interesting start. Moved to a new county and into a great new house. Unfortunately, just before moving into our new home, I got a little wooden splinter in my finger. We moved into the house on Saturday and on Sunday I needed to visit the hospital where they did this:

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Unfortunately, this did not make as big of a difference as we hoped. In fact, they thought that the splinter was still in the wound (spoiler alert, it wasn’t) and by the middle of the night, it was so sore that I needed to go back to the hospital. The doctor took out the stitch that was in there and told me to come back in the morning to see the hand surgeon (never a good sign).

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Long story short, the finger was infected and developing compartment syndrome had started to develop in my thumb which put it at real risk. A few hours later, I was under the knife. The result was not pretty.

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The whole ordeal was really unpleasant and very painful. The doctor said I should be good again in 2-4 weeks. Well, it’s been 7 weeks and still definitely not healed. Frustrating would be the understatement of the year.

I started climbing again two weeks ago and started with a stringent training program. I think it has already made a big difference as I am focusing on Power Endurance training with complementary hangboard sessions in the mornings. I’ll give an update on this in my next post.

A few things that helped to cheer me up recently at least. I’ve been skiing a bunch, 11 days so far this season. And that has definitely helped to displace some of the frustration that I’ve been feeling. Spending some time in the snow on my own has had a calming effect on me overall.

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The 70% slope in Wilder Kaiser is probably one of my favourite runs so far. Love the speed and the agility I feel on it.

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Another really cool event was the Winter ISPO, which was a few weeks ago, gave me a chance to catch up with DMM and La Sportiva. They have been kind enough to send me a batch of wonderful toys, which I am loving!

DMM send me the Highball Crash Pad, sadly, unused so far apart from my training in my house, which is a love/hate relationship with my Beastmaker and extra weights. I am very excited that I’m slowly becoming strong enough to enjoy it outside.

La Sportiva sent me so many items of clothing and shoes that I was simply overjoyed and felt like I should roll in them or something. I don’t think I had ever seen so much La Sportiva clothing outside of a La Sportiva store.

I am really impressed with the jackets in particular, the Quazar GTX and Quake Primaloft make for an amazing combination that blocks out the freezing temps and weather! I can highly recommend them. They kept me warm outdoors when it was -7°C and windy. Will write a bit more detail about the gear once I have used it a bit longer.

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I am really excited to have a few long weekends coming up where I can actually use the gear! This coming weekend, I have 4 days off to enjoy some rock. It’ll be the first time I’ve climbed outside in almost 3 months due to winter weather and the finger surgery (more the surgery than anything else).

 

Boulderbar Boulder Jam 2017

Coming back from Kalymnos was a bit of a shock. The temperatures have dropped and the days have become considerably shorter. But, the good news is that conditions are great as long as it’s not raining.

I’ve had a few days climbing at Karlstein, but most of the time has been spent at Boulderbar recently. I even chose to climb indoors on a Saturday when the weather was nice. Why would I do this? It was the first Boulderbar Boulder Jam and it was a lot of fun. Stephanie and Rene picked me up and we drove through to the boulderbar, it was a promising day and there ended up being 145 participants.

The qualifiers were 40 boulders ranging between 4A and 8A with up to 4 hours to climb them. I met up with Karo Sinnhuber and we had a bunch of fun. I managed 38 of the problems comfortably within 1 hour 30 minutes. The last two I found really tough and chose not to spend too much energy on. As luck would have it, Stephanie, Karo and I made it through to the final 7. Karo topped 39 of the 40 problems, really strong and impressive! I’m glad to see that she is back in form!

 

When it came to the finals, Adam Ondra set two of the problems.

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Adam setting Women’s #3

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Demo’ing his problem: Men’s #3

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Isolation. Not so much fun but definitely a necessity.

The finals turned out to be fun, but hard. After a long day, I did not have much skin or energy left but I gave it my all. Problem number 1 went down easily enough, but unfortunately, I did not flash it and this cost me a podium in the end.

 

Stephanie seemed to have a lot of fun in the finals. She kicked ass!

Karo topped all three problems and took the victory! Very inspiring. Always fun to hang out with her and feel the psych.

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Thank you Boulderbar for such a great event! Looking forward to the next ones!

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

A Brand New World

Change is hard. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to changes but sometimes I can be a bit resistant. When the change required quitting my job and moving from South Africa to Austria, I expected it to be challenging. I also knew that it would be an adventure that I would never regret.

I landed in Austria on the 13th of March and I have been adapting quite well. It was great to be able to keep on working for my old company in South Africa as a contractor, very helpful in relieving the stress of not having a job. It gave me plenty of time to acclimate to the new country, while giving me the flexibility to have fun at the same time.

The language has been a bit challenging at times but I’m definitely learning and enjoying speaking German, granted I speak mainly English at home. At the crags and while I’m travelling, it’s often a mix of the two languages but I’m feeling like I can at least express myself well enough to get by.

My Travels in Europe

So far, so good. The people here are brilliant and the countries surrounding me are beautiful. Claudia and I have been climbing in Arco, Germany and Austria. We have been to Vienna for a walk around the parliament buildings and gardens, which are beautiful! I even managed to catch concert in München!

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Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

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Parkway Drive performing in München

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Catching up on rest in Verona

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A short hike ended up a 11km, 5 hour 1600 vertical meter journey. What an amazing day out with Claudia!

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It’s important to relax

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Catching a tan at the Taugl, a nearby river

Photo shoots with Claudia

I had the pleasure of assisting Claudia on some photo jobs this year. I helped build a training area in the barn for La Sportiva’s summer clothing. Was fantastic to meet Stefano Gisolfi and Sylvio Reffo, along with their two lovely ladies! Matteo Pavana was also on the shoot to make a training film for La Sportiva.

 

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Matteo, Stefano, Sara, Sylvio and Fransesca chilling on our couch. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

One such job took us to Gröden for a shoot with Leki where I even got to be in a few of the pictures. It really caught me off guard when I saw the photos on the wall at the Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen!

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Sunrise in the mountains… Big hike in the dark to start off the day

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Relaxing in the sunset

New Sponsors

One of the most important events that I’ve attended so far was the Outdoor Trade Show. It was there that I met with DMM and La Sportiva, which brings me to some great news. I have been offered a sponsorship deal for equipment from DMM and a clothing / shoe deal with La Sportiva for 2018. I am beyond excited to be able to continue to work with the two brands from Austria after having parted ways upon leaving South Africa.

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La Sportiva shared a great selection of clothing with me. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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I’m so happy to be able to work with these two brands.

 

Training and Climbing

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to train! I have been keeping very fit since I’ve been here. Running, climbing, hangboarding, the works and I’m in pretty much the best shape of my life. I feel strong, I feel fit and I am healthy.

 

It’s been a godsend that I have a hangboard in my bedroom, though I have not had to use it that much this summer. Why hangboard when you can climb till 9:30 at night?

 

Arco has some fantastic climbing! That’s for sure. Admittedly, the ice cream is to die for!! Every day we were there we had to have ice cream!! and sometimes pizza too.

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The Koloseum at Maltatal! So much fun!

Without a doubt, my favourite area so far is the Barmstein. I have spent more time there than anywhere else, and for good reason! The routes are long and sustained, making them so much fun because it is really easy to progress on them.

I climbed the Elefant Trio (as I like to call them): an 8a+, 8b and 8b+. All are 45m long and completely amazing climbing! Here are two pics from Stenofant (8b) that Claudia took on a sunrise shoot.

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The author on Stenofant (8b) Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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Spot the climber… Sunrise at the Barmstein Photo by Claudia Ziegler

After I climbed Elefantenspatziergang (8b+) Claudia and I went back for a second photo shoot. What came out of it was really quite special. Thank you La Sportiva for the clothing for the shoot!

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Setting off in the dark

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Focused on the slopers

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Keeping the core

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Power through the crimps

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Hold the cut

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Take a deep breath

 

My Fortress of Solitude 

 

Life, love, the universe. So many distractions to pull me around. Sometimes, I need to find a way to channel my focus; I need an incentive to drive me toward. I returned from an amazing two weeks in Austria with Claudia primarily being there for the holidays with her but also having climbed some superb routes. 7b+ onsight, near 7c+ flash. Great fun.

Sharing a day on the ledge at Wilhelmswand

Approach to Wilhelmswand

-5C in the shade, belaying out of the snow. BRILLIANT

Walking around in Salzburg, Claudia saw this. I guess you could say the writing is on the wall (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

My time in South Africa is coming to an end, I’m leaving for Austria on the 13th of March. It left me thinking about what I still want to achieve in the time here. My biggest goal is Shear Force and it will be my first 8c. It’s been the hardest line I’ve worked and been an absolute pleasure to climb. But it is seriously hard. I’ve watched Andrew, my mentor and friend, fall off the crux move repeatedly. I’ve seen him struggle and even get hurt by the line.

How am I supposed to climb a line that Andrew couldn’t?

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Andrew setting up for the last move in the crux — Photo by Zele Angelides

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c) — Photo by Zele Angelides

Well, I guess you could say I have to walk my own path. My time is precious and limited. I work all day and I have 2.5 hours of lectures for German on Mondays and Wednesdays. I also want to have a Skype date with Claudia at least once a week for a few hours in the evening.

So what do I need to do?

I chose to compete in the National Boulder League on a Monday. Normally,  competitors have two hours but I can only arrive at 9 and the gym closes at 10. So, I need to race through the problems, 12 in an hour. Perfect quiet day after two days in rock over the weekend (holds up sarcasm sign).

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Focusing on the tricky balance problem during the NBL (Photo by Allister Fenton)

Tuesday became my big day. 30 minutes bouldering to warm up, 30 minutes campus training, about 2 hours on the Beastmaker 2000 then 45 minutes core and legs. This is my definition of a hard training session.

My hangboard sessions include two major exercises at the moment. Beastmaker has an amazing training app, I use the 7B program as a benchmark. I struggled severely to complete the 7A at first. This cycle I was able to start at 7B.

A month later, I’m doing the 7B with 9 repeats of 7 on 3 rest with 4 kg extra weight followed by the 7C+ program shortly after. This focuses on power endurance and fiber strength.

If my fingers aren’t too sore afterwards, I do the Chris Webb Parsons program which one discussed in detail previously. This focuses on lock off strength while building crimp strength.

Wednesday I have class again so I either get in a quick session with 15 minutes bouldering for warmup, then 45 minutes on the hangboard and campus board. This session is normally designed to be a bit easier than the past few days so that I can move freely on the wall or work slightly different muscles than the previous day’s training.

Thursday became either a really light session or a fantastic, long Skype session. I’ve been preferring to take 2 days of rest before the weekend to let the body fully recover before the project.

Friday is rest. Saturday and Sunday of on rock, hitting Shear Force. Every weekend has been a high point. It’s been four weeks of close calls and I think it could go any try. I held the hold for about a second on Sunday before my core crumpled and that was the end of Brian.

Hmm. Reading this makes me think about how crazy this schedule actually is. But this is actually only half of the story.

The other half is how I’ve changed my habits. I haven’t had any alcohol or meat since I’ve been back. I really enjoy my wine and I usually would have a portion of meat at least once a day, so this is really a big deal. This means passing up that burger and beer after training, or the glass of wine I’m offered, and trading it for a bit more rest and some sleep.

Between my training schedule and my diet, I’ve dropped a few kgs and I feel lighter and stronger than I’ve felt in the last two years. I’m finally feeling like I’ve moved away from being injured back to feeling like I’m peaking.

The view I’m going to have from home soon – – thanks for the reminder Claudia

I find myself walking my path, alone. There is no one pushing me, or pulling me forward. I have my goal, I have a time limit and I feel like this route is one of the biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself. I find myself in my own personal Fortress of Solitud where the connections to my past are structuring my goals and my future.
Will I do my first 8c? Time will tell.

The author on Shear Force (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

It’s All Uphill…

Last time I was punching my keyboard for this site I was really upset because of my A2 pulley rupture… Well, it’s been 12 weeks since then and the finger is recovered. A lot has happened since then. The worst part of the time involved a 5 week break doing NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING. No running, no gym; just computer games and parties. It was a really weird break from climbing. In the last 12 years, I have not had this much time off. So, the result: I gained 4 kgs and went through a considerable number of hang overs XD

BUT at the end of that all, I started working out again. I started coaching a little and I getting back in the swing of things. It all started off in Durban with a day at Kirk Falls with Illona and Candice. Was a lot of fun For my first day back I didn’t do so bad: 6c+, 7a and 7a+ all onsight. That was great fun!!! By the way, Kirk Falls is a gem! Get down there and climb!

The week following this I found myself climbing in Waterval Boven trying hard to regain some of my form. I had some fun in the process. I climbed a few lines and tried to climb Big Butterfly (7c) only to be foiled by wet cracks in the crux. I did have a lot of fun climbing some lines in Super Bowl that I haven’t been on in quite a while, like Karfoefeling (7b).

Climbing Karfoefeling in Boven. Photo by Gustav!

Climbing Karfoefeling in Boven. Photo by Gustav!

I received quite a big box of gear from Outward Ventures  which included my new Roca Dominator 9.2mm 80m rope and La Sportiva Solutions!!! Amongst gear were a couple dinner packs from Back Country Cuisine! I can tell you right now, the Cottage Pie is amazing! If you need something that is light weight and quick to prepare while you’re on a camping trip you can’t possibly go wrong. Most of the packs involve adding about a cup of water (more or less depending on the meal) and waiting 10 minutes until you have a fantastic meal. They also have some new dehydrated fruit snacks that are FANTASTIC. Make sure you grab some for your hikes or climbs.

The view from Arjan's place! Breath taking!!!

The view from Arjan’s place! Breath taking!!! He was kind enough to give me a place to stay on the way into and out of Cape Town.

Making the trip possible

Making the trip possible

Good stuff!!!

Good stuff!!!

The climbing I had been doing was all preparation for my trip to the Western Cape to climb sport lines in a place that everyone knows about but no one may write about (no comment). Really cool climbing in this place but unfortunately I can’t post any pics for anyone else to look at except maybe the hike in.

Hiking into you know where to do you know what

Hiking into you know where, to do you know what…

By the time I actually got to Cape Town I was ready to do some bouldering, but not before going for Sushi with Beth, JT, Sean, Colin, Jen and Jono at Harry’s! Unbelievable sushi! The Yellow Tail Sashimi was so fresh it was fantastic. It was Beth’s birthday so we had to celebrate.

Yellow Fin Tuna Sashimi at Harry's! Best Ever!

Yellow Fin Tuna Sashimi at Harry’s! Best Ever!

The next morning I drove through to Outward Ventures to see where I was going to be staying. I was sleeping in the store room on the floor and it was great 🙂 I was really happy to be there and nothing would make me unhappy at this point. After a short greeting session with Rob and Geoff, Jono and I departed for Echo Valley so that we could meet up with Steve Bradshaw to get in some bouldering. I didn’t realize how tired my body was from the weekend until we started the walk up to Echo…

Initially when we got to the boulders Steve and I were really disappointed because of the weather and the fact that they were actually dripping wet. Surprisingly enough, the wind changed and in less that an hour Steve was trying Skobbejak (8B) and having fun. When his skin was done we headed down to Mintberry Crunch (8A) for me to figure out what I needed to do.

Arriving in Echo Valley. Photo by Jono Joseph

Arriving in Echo Valley. Photo by Jono Joseph

It was not easy for an out of shape Brian. The crux for me is getting my right heel locked into place. I tried it for three sessions and on the final session fell dabbed the rock underneath my ass. I also slipped out of the heel at least 6 times. So the final result was a lot of fun but not success!!! Damn.

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. Photo by Jono Joseph.

I met up with Marijus, Rowan and Maciek while I was in Cape Town. Maciek and Rowan were working the stand of Cthulhu when I got there. Rowan walked all over it and started working on the 8A+ sit. On our last day when the weather set in, Arjan was doing laps on Mintberry Crunch, which he flashed when he first tried it.

Cthulhu (8A+)

Cthulhu (8A+)

When Squeaky and Sheldon arrived we tried a 7B+ called Lonely Boy. It is a really cool problem though conditions were inhibiting me from topping out due to the wet / damp undercling slots at the top of Los Muisenbergers (8A).

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.

The next day we headed up to TM where we had a really cool day at the JIMBO WALL! I’ll be honest, I was scared shitless trying to work out Tripple Jeopardy (8a+ trad) ground up. My skin was slippery and I hadn’t climbed trad in quite a while, maybe 5 months or so, and climbing that sketchy 7a+ start was a bit more than scary, particularly when I had to take the wingers off of tiny Wild Country Z3 and Z4 cams. SMALL anyone?

This trip was really amazing for me. I just wish that I hadn’t just recovered from a 5 week break. I felt like I was weak for a lot of it. But that’s alright, I’m more psyched than ever. Since I’ve been back in JHB I haven’t had a rest day. So that is somewhere along the lines of 15 days, sometimes with two training sessions a day.

I’ve also been coaching Tristan and Alistair in their preparations for the U13 Comp at the Rory Lowther Memorial Competition. I was going to compete when I heard about the difficulty competition which was 4 routes, however, upon discovering that the difficulty was linked to the Saturday’s proceedings I couldn’t participate. I don’t mind. It’s going to be a great weekend.

My next installment happen much sooner as I discuss the Rory as well as the training program that I’ve set out for myself. Till then, here are some pics from Table Mountain.

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.

Squeaky getting bendy on Jeopardy (7c+ trad)! Photo by Jono Joseph

Squeaky getting bendy on Jeopardy (7c+ trad)! Photo by Jono Joseph

The view from TM with Jono in the corner :)

The view from TM with Jono in the corner 🙂

Jono offering the dassie a cigarette... That little guy had not fear (I'm talking about the dassie, the rest of us were a bit worried).

Jono offering the dassie a cigarette… That little guy had not fear (I’m talking about the dassie, the rest of us were a bit worried it would eat our food).

The Jimbo Wall on TM with the Jeopardy routes!

The Jimbo Wall on TM with the Jeopardy routes!

Looking out at Lion's Head

Looking out at Lion’s Head