Archive for January, 2012

29 Jan 2012

Hard day at the office

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Yesterday we all headed out on tour to East Mountain, I felt rested and I was looking forward to trying new boulders. As I said in my last post i feel it is time to up my game and with this in mind I had my sights set on Slashface.

This is the best V13 in the park and probably one of the most iconic climbs in North America / World. We warmed up nearby at the cleverly named “Warm up roof”. It was the first day since we have been here that it has been cold and warming up was hard to say the least. The rock was freezing ans the desert wind was blowing a gale.

After traversing on some jugs it was time to get the fingers warm so James and I set about trying Liane, V11. This is a great problem on small crimps on a relatively steep wall. The crux is getting you toe hook to stick allowing you to release your left hand to a small edge. I managed to do the problem quickly and my confidence was buoyed, I could not wait to try Slashface.

After a quick break while the rest of the group tried a traverse I climbed on my last trip called Sunshine, we headed down to Slashface. A perfect 40 degree wall with one line across it, there is only one way to climb it. I knew that this was not something I could  justwalk up to and do so i set about working out the moves in sections. After some time I could do every move apart from the crux.

This move to me is going to be my everest. From a bad left heal / toe cam and small razor left hand crimp you stab to a small intermediate and then dead point again with your right hand into a sharp finger slot crimp thing. Whilst I was disappointed not to be able to do this move on the link I am confident that the one time I do manage to stick it I will take it to the top.

Having played on Slashface I joined the rest of the group who were attempting Mojo one of the classic V10’s on East. I had managed to flash this on my last trip and really wanted to do the sit start traverse extension. It bumps the grade to V11 and really completes the boulder.

I had some good burns but was feeling powered out and failing to even get to the jug which is the start of the 10. After several goes I figured out what I was doing wrong and had a couple of burns falling at the the last hold. I was totally livid but I was tired the others had been patient waiting for me to try but it was time to move on.

We headed to the mega classic Full service area and I watched the team. I was filled with what I can only describe as rage, I was livid at myself and could not stop thinking about my failure. So with our guide calling time for the day I requested a quick stop on the way back to the car. I knew I was capable of doing the boulder and just needed on more go….Anyway check out the video to see what happened next.

Off to North today, I really hope Grant & Will get their projects.

27 Jan 2012

Hueco – Wolf Pack

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I awoke with unsurprisingly no miracle cure for my sore fingers and resided myself to a nice day out guiding the others and checking out problems for another day. This all went to plan for the first few hours until a climbers best friend / worst enemy on a rest day showed up – PSYCH.

I had taken Grant down to a classic V7 at the base of North called Roughage, it is an awesome overhanging boulder with powerful hand movements needing to be linked by a series of big egyptians on poor feet. The landing for the boulder should be described as ‘bad’ and after the main bulk of the boulder is a finish over a big rock that makes certain male anatomy shrink.

I had done the boulder on my first trip but after watching Grant try I was keen to redo it, after some serious flapping I managed to complete it with Will giving awesome spotting encouragement. Particular favourites included- “Oh god Jon please don’t fall”, “Oh  shit Grant he is dead”, “Just remember who you are…oh god Jon”…..

So after that I was warm and although my skin was in bad shape I was really wanting to climb. We headed down to El Techo de Los Tres. This is a relatively new problem and was featured on one of the Dosage Videos and was originally graded 8b. It has since now had a breakage and the grade has settled at V11, 8a.

I keep banging on about the quality of movement and how this is “one of the best boulders I have done” but this place has some seriously good climbing. El Techo Starts at the back of a horizontal roof and basically busts out to the lip and up a slab. The first half  via a series of crimps using seriusly bad feet and opposing toe hooks, after that its big holds with a series of toe and heel hooks.

I’m sure that there are a number of different ways to complete the problem but after figuring out a sequence that seemed to work for me I set about trying to link it. I had a few attempts falling at the end due to my heel slipping out at the crucial moment but after a quick shoe substitution I found myself at the jugs rocking up onto the slab.

Check out the video to get a better idea of the moves. As the positive comments keep flooding in over my video soundtracks they will continue, damn the 90’s were the best.

I really feel that my flow is starting to comeback and managing to do this boulder in quick time has helped my head loads.

After El Techo Grant & Will were up for a session on Choir Boys so we headed there, en route we finally bumped into Chirs, Alex, Shauna and James. They had arrived the day before and due to there being no phone reception and the fact that they are staying in the park we had not managed to hook up. It felt awesome getting us all together and I watched the team try Chablanke and Choir Boys. Our wolf pack has now more than doubled and as has my psych.

We are heading out on tour tomorrow to East Mountain and I’m excited to go to a new area. As for today the plan is threefold:

  1. Get as much Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour cream onto my hands as possible.
  2. Frequent another new American eatery – Popeys’s has been proposed and seconded.
  3. Do as little as possible.
26 Jan 2012

Hueco – Team Effort

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This problem is in my opinion one of the best in Hueco. It is a proud boulder which is perched directly into the side of the North Mountain and visible from anywhere on that side. It is right next to the main summit trail and you have to walk past it to gain access to the other higher areas. Since doing the indirect version back in ’07 I have wanted to climb it.

I had tried it in ’10 and briefly earlier in this trip, in all honesty both of these sessions were disappointing and I made little progress. Yesterday however was a different story and I managed to climb it.

The problem involves power, body tension and compression; three things which previously I have considered as weaknesses of mine. The session yesterday went perfectly and right from the start I had move by move progression getting higher each go. One of the things I also like about this problem is that you cannot ‘work’ any of the moves and it must be climbed ground up and is what I consider the purest style to be.

I have felt that on this trip so far I have been lacking flow through movements and again I think this is a bi-product of all my power and strength training, having done this bloc I feel that its starting to come back and I am more hopeful for other projects.

The only negative from the day was the amount of skin that was put down and my left ring finger in particular is in a pretty fragile condition. I’m going to chill for most of the day today and get my guiding / beta skills on to watch Grant and will crush.

Speaking of which it was an awesome team effort yesterday with both the other guys stepping up their games. Grant made quick work of Adjust your attitude, Fern Roof and Loaded with Power. You can check his ascents out here. Will had a session flash of the classic Babyface and has made good links on his new aptly named long term project ‘Free Willy’.

25 Jan 2012

Hueco – Rest Day

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Today was a much needed rest day and consisted of combining my other favourite past times; eating, sleeping and movies.

We headed out to IHOP (International House of Pancakes) for a late lunch and I was privileged to watch Grant & Will destroy Main meal and pancakes with the kind of execution that Navy Seal Team Six would be proud of.

After that we headed further into town and caught a showing of the new Underworld film ‘Awakening’. One of my best friends has a lead role in it so I was psyched out of my mind to finally get to see it.

I was a big fan of the Underworld franchise before I heard he was going to be in it. Kate Beckensale always looks hot and while it is difficult to create anything groundbreaking with these types of films I thought the new story was a solid, entertaining effort.

It was as a truly surreal experience sitting there in an American theatre in the middle of the desert watching one of my best mates kill a load of lycans on the big screen, but i was well proud.

We followed this up with a showing of Mark Wahlberg’s new film ‘Contraband’, fairly good story (albeit it with some dodgy moments) but had some good action and cast.

To keep my blog themes of interest I saved a video from a problem I managed to flash yesterday at the end of our tour to the East Spur. Again I feel I have excelled myself in terms of song choice…..Off to climb some more rocks in a minute. I have to say while this climbing trip lifestyle is unsustainable it is totally addictive.

24 Jan 2012

Hueco Tanks – Day 3

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So today was our third climbing day and we took a guided tour out onto the East Spur area with our guide Kate. She was pretty chilled and strong which worked out well for us.

We warmed up at a new area I had not been to and I flashed an awesome problem on sloping pinches called Uncut Yogi. Very cool moves on good heel hooks.

Whilst warming up a work group of prison inmates (jump suits galore) walked past with their  guard, this is the first time I have seen something like this. They were working maintaining the tracks and were actually pretty friendly, it made me think two things;

  1. How lucky I am to have not to have made any really bad life choices.
  2. How lucky they were to get to come out of jail and work in this breathtaking place.
After warming up we headed into the maze, Grant & Will were psyched on the classic ‘Better eat your Wheeties’ and i wanted to try the extension ‘Crown of Aragon’. Grant almost did Wheeties but missed some crucial foot beta on the last hard move. He will do it next time for sure.

I had a similar story and failed to link the problem together. There is a very distinct crux involving a sideways pounce to a sidepull off too poor crimps and a toe hook. I think the main thing I have not yet got totally right is the timing of the move, it is very specific. By the end of the session I could do the problem in two overlapping sections but on the link this move is shooting me down. It is also extremely sharp and although I had a good first session on it the main barrier to me trying it further was skin preservation.

So from the maze we headed up into higher ground and the guys did two ultra classic problems; Fight or flight and New Religion. Both totally amazing blocs with good purity of line, holds, position and exposure!  You can check out his thoughts and vids on the trip here:

I had a good rest while the guys despatched the blocs and after went to have a play on the ultra classic ‘Full Monty’. It has a very similar crux move to crown involving: awkward toe hooks and pounce to bad hold…. It should therefore be no surprise that again it was the same story…..Good link but no send.

Of all of the hard blocs I have tried this trip it has been pretty much the same story and I need to up my game and focus to have a chance of completing them. It seems at the moment pure strength and tension are the areas I need to improve.

With this in mind I spent the last hour or so of the trip trying new problems I have not done before. ‘Bush League’ is a new boulder put up since my last visit and is an amazing roof climb which is a total game of two halves (oi oi back of the net golden goal).The first half is big moves on good holds and the second hard compression on crimps. Check out the video I knocked to save me rambling on.

23 Jan 2012

Hueco Tanks – Day 2

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I am still feeling fairly jet lagged and my body clock is totally out of sync, having said that today was another full days climbing on North mountain and we toured several of the main areas.

Unlike all my previous trips, my focus and desire this time is to try problems at my limit. This is a total change of attitude for me as I have always spent the majority of my time working through the grades ensuring that i undertake my ‘apprenticeship’ of an area learning to climb the rock type and style.

However having been to Hueco twice before and being in a specific power phase of training for the comps i feel it is important for me to push myself.

With this in mind I am having to be extremely careful of my skin and fatigue levels to ensure that i give myself the best possible chance of success. Today was a good example of how i see this going, in the morning I chilled out and guided Grant & Will around giving them the beta to try and flash the classics.

After lunch I started to feel the itch to climb and set about warming up. I joined the guys on some classics; King Cobra and Lobster Claw and from their we pushed on to the Loaded with Power boulder. Grant was psyched for the V9 and I had my sites on the direct version.

I had tried it briefly on the last trip with little success and I was keen to see if I had made improvements through my training. After a slow start failing to get the hand a body positions right I managed to make a good link dropping the crux move. It is an incredible problem with poor holds in awkward positions linked by a series of difficult foot stabs involving lots of body tension with the crux being a jump into a poor sloper.

So having had a good session figuring out all the subtle nuances I retired with skin intact and headed to a problem I had not done before called Dirty Martini. I managed to do the problem on my second go having dabbed the mat on the flash due to a severe leg swing.

Here’s a short vid I have knocked up showing the problem with another killer soundtrack….

22 Jan 2012

Hueco Tanks – Day 1

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So after pretty much 24 hours on the go yesterday we found ourselves finally sitting at the gates of the park (in our ridiculous hire car / truck).

Psyche levels were high and I was filled with the standard pre trip anticipation nerves.  We checked in at the ranger station and then went through the park orientation video and briefing.

After that it was time to climb. We set off and headed straight out to check out the North Mountain classics. First up we went to try the ultra classic Daily Dick Dose and Babyface. I managed to retro flash them which was good and I felt so much stronger than last time I was here.

Grant and Will both sent Daily Dick Dose in a few tries after finding some different beta I had not used. Grant also smashed Babyface which new Beta and Will came close. I spent the rest of the day revisiting more classics and showing the guys all the different sectors.

I managed to also retro flash Power of Silence and then did a problem I had not done before called Black Mamba. It is quite an esoteric little problem in a small cave with unusual slopey pinches and crimps. Its basically three moves with bad feet and very gritstoney in style.

Anyway here’s a quick vid of me doing the problem, got to run as we are off for Day 2’s adventure. Enjoy.