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

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).

Ending off the Year with a Bang

So! 2013 is almost finished and it’s been a very strange year for the most part. It’s been a year of change: new job, new sponsors, new projects and new friends. At my last count I spent 112 days on rock so far this year. The year came to an end for me on the 27th when I heard a pretty loud pop and my A2 pulley on my right ring finger popped. I’m hoping it’s a partial tear and not a complete rupture.

The year started off with a stage of (f)unemployment with about a month of solid climbing. I used the time to work out how to climb Boa Rodeo in Boven which has remained elusive for the remainder of the year. It’s been a tough one because it is very seasonal and is wet in summer for 5 days after rain but in winter it is in the sun by 8 and goes out of the sun at 5 as the sun is setting. Note to self and anyone else who wants to work the line — either climb this in April or in October so that you can optimize conditions.

Exiting the rest on Boa Rodeo (8a trad)

Exiting the rest on Boa Rodeo (8a trad)

Then I started my new job on 18 February and that was great. I started earning more money than last year and was able to do more with my time. Work has been great this whole year, even when I’ve been really busy I’ve been happy to work rather than feeling like it’s been a drain for me. I feel as though I’m able to work hard, give a great deal of my time to my job and still have enough time to climb and train. It is a bit of a balancing act and occasionally I have been going through periods of “forced rest” when I have deadlines but it’s probably the only way that I would ever rest voluntarily. It’s all been a bit of a balancing act at times, kinda like walking the line…

Slack lining in Boven -- Photo by James Barnes

Slack lining in Boven — Photo by James Barnes

The biggest change that happened for me this year (in my climbing life) was in May this year when I  made the transition from Edelrid and Vaude over to La Sportiva, DMM, Wild Country and Roca. It was not an easy decision to make but the time had come when it was necessary.

My Bling

My Bling (not Roca ropes though)

I had some fun in the Black Diamond Tradathon earlier this year where I climbed Twilight Floozie and a few other cool lines. Was a great day and Brendon Salzer was there to snap some pics.

In Bed with Madonna - Photo by Brendon Salzer

In Bed with Madonna – Photo by Brendon Salzer

This year has been a year of power gains. I wrapped up the majority of the lines in Wigwam this year (most of them on the same day actually). I’ve been focusing on shorter lines that have required a great deal of effort and less endurance. I think that the main reason for this is that I’ve always been weak with a lot of endurance 🙂 As a result I’ve taken this year to build my power with ascents like Frazzle (8b+) which was a second ascent, Axewound (8b), Death by Chocolate (8a+ in a day), Pit Fighter (8a+), Betamax (8a/+) and Twighlight Floozy (8a). I spent a lot of time projecting Shadowfax and Frack It at Chosspile but ran out of time as the summer conditions arrived. I have a feeling both of them will go down quickly next Autumn. I met this really cool photographer who has tonnes of talent! She made a plan to join me for the day at Chosspile and took some sick photos of my on Shadowfax. Zelé Angelides. She is fantastic and psyched.

Setting up for the crux of Shadowfax - Photo by Zele Angelides

Setting up for the crux of Shadowfax – Photo by Zele Angelides

Composing myself before the crux on Shadowfax -Photo by Zele Angelides

Composing myself before the crux on Shadowfax -Photo by Zele Angelides

The crux move on Shadowfax -- Photo by Zele Angelides

The crux move on Shadowfax — Photo by Zele Angelides

My major project at the moment has been Aqualung. Aqualung was opened by Paul Brouard at 8b in 2000 and it is currently unrepeated. I have been working this few a few sessions (3-4) and I’ve been psyched for the pure power of the line. Andrew Pedley got on the line with me on Saturday and eliminated 4 moves off of my beta resulting in me linking all the sections and doing the route in two parts!!! Very psyched to get back there when it is not dripping wet and my finger has healed. Below is video of me attempting Aqualung.

Working session on Aqualung

Training this year has been going through an evolution. At the beginning of the year things started off being really structured and I put in a lot of time into planning my periodicity; but as the year progressed I found that I was putting in less “training” and more “climbing”. I think it was in August when I had enough of it and realized that I needed to make a change and I joined the Virgin Active. Since then I’ve been splitting my time more wisely and I’ve been feeling some serious gains. I feel that the complementary training that I have been doing at the gym allows me to punish my body a little bit (yeah yeah masochist). I bought a heart rate monitor so that I could track my fitness levels and see exactly what impact climbing and training have on my heart rate. I’ve had some really interesting training sessions where I’ve been able to track my calorie consumption vs my  calorie burns and it’s been really good for understanding my energy levels and also where my weaknesses lie.

I’ve been using a High Intensity Interval Training program recently (for about the last month) which has been fantastic! Basically it is doing 800 reps in about 35 minutes with a total of 6 minutes rest in 45 second periods. I’ve noticed a remarkable improvement in my general fitness, my recovery times, my core strength and my burl. I have been able to execute far more hard moves in sequence than I was able to in the past. This coupled with with some maximum power bouldering has been part of my ongoing 8 weeks of power training.

Till I’m recovered from my finger injury I’ll keep myself nice and fit at the gym and slowly get myself back into climbing for my trip to Milner at the end of February (I hope). Oh well. Out with the old and in with the new.