Archive for February, 2012

07 Feb 2012

Back to the slush

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So my two week trip to Hueco has come to an end and from sitting in the warmth of the Texas Desert it feels very strange coming back to the snow in the UK.

I arrived back in the UK at 6.45am yesterday morning. By 9am as I was back at my desk at work feeling totally battered and jet lagged. Given the problems at Heathrow we were super lucky not to be delayed.

I have not really had time to fully digest the the trip yet, but it in overall I would say that it was amazing and I had a really fun time. I spent time with some great firends, met new people and enjoyed my break from work.

Being able to climb everyday (that skin and injuries permit) is a real bonus when compared to our native climate. As I have been showing through my videos it is also obvious that the climbing and location are still world class and even though it was my third time visiting there are still many blocs I want to go back for.

My main goal for the trip was to climb 8b and while I climbed many new amazing  problems and completed previous projects I am filled with a an underlying feeling of failure.

I know that there were several factors limiting my success which I have highlighted below and but at the end of the day I feel like they are just excuses!! Either way I will hold onto them over the next few months of training before the world cups.

  • Skin – I love climbing and although I tried hard to limit myself to only trying harder stuff, its a long way to go to sit under one boulder and i did end up getting side tracked. This destroyed my skin.
  • Elbow problem – As previously blogged I picked up a random elbow problem which lost me a few days.
  • Problems only at tour locations – All the problems at the 8b grade I wanted to climb are at guided tour locations so you need a guide and group to go with. This limits the amount of time at each boulder and financially costs more to visit each time. With the exception of Crown I only had a 20 min session on each of the other problems. This is simply not enough time.
  • Climbing multiple days – I climbed too many consecutive days on before each rest day. Had I adopted a 1 on 1 off system i think i would have had better success. However as I mentioned above in such an amazing place not climbing when you can seems mental.
  • Two week trip – At your limit with the points above it is not enough time.

I will be putting together a full combined video in the near future of the trip but in the mean time here is the last climb of the trip I managed to do – Free Willy, V10.

There is some confusion over where the problem actually starts and on my first trip it appears that I actually started in the wrong place. Having watched Grant send the line earlier in the trip I felt I had to go back and do it properly.

02 Feb 2012

Lost the battle.

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First of all before I once again delve into the abyss of self deprecation I just wanted to state for the record that today was one of the funnest and fullest days out climbing I have ever had. I hung out with friends new and old, laughed, sung, felt the elation of personal and group success and worked on resolving my UK vitamin D deficiency.

We were out on tour to East Spur and Grant, Will and I were joined by Chris, Alex, Shauna, James, Katarina Saurwein (Austrian Team), Jorg Verhoeven (Dutch Team) and their friend Felix from Germany. It was fair to say that this was not a shit team and a few of them are fairly handy at rock climbing….

We headed over to the East Spur Maze and quickly set about trying projects new and old. Grant was in for ‘Better Eat Your Wheeties’ and sent it with what is becoming standard ease. Shauna, James & Jorg also crushed this. Chris had seen a direct sit start to Wheeties and set about despatching it, naming it ‘Better eat your Wheatabix’ and looks to be a fairly solid 12 .

I was keen to put down some more skin trying ‘Crown of Aragon’ but unfortunately made no progress from my first session. The weather was hot and with my thin skin the crux move revolving hanging and jumping sideways off two slopey small crimps it was just not possible. James & Chris confirmed it was not just me being a punter so we packed up and moved on.

This was one of the problems I had set my sights on doing this trip and with it being our last trip to this area before we leave I was disappointed to say the least. I know I am capable of doing this bloc but when you are at your current physical limit the slightest thing can be the difference between success and failure. With poor skin, hot weather and little time I was shit out of luck. I feel like while I may have lost the battle today I will however win the war.

From Crown we headed over to join the rest of the group round the corner and James and I spied the hiball line of ‘Rules of Chaos’. This is a stunning problem going straight up an impressive 25-30 degree overhanging wall on small incut crimps for about 7 metres with a fairly bad landing and committing final move.

I had seen this before and always dismissed it due to lack of pads and spotters. Today was a different situation and James and I got psyched. I was excited but nervous and I think James was too, we used the obligatory paper, scissors, stone best of 3 rule to decide who should go first. This turned out to be a little unnecessary as the first moves were tricky and we both fell early on during the flash. Subsequent attempts put us both at the penultimate move but we bailed out.

After some beta deliberations we were both ready for another go and James stepped up first and crushed it, I followed suit with a sketchy (but I like to think crowd pleasing…) snatch to the top. An amazing experience and the perfect remedy to erase the ‘Crown of Aragon’ debacle.

We then headed off to find new blocs and having over gripped and thrutched my way through Chaos and Crown I was feeling tired and sore. I tried ‘Nagual’ and ‘The Hand’ which was good but again with thin skin and hot temps I was fighting a losing battle. The day ended for me with one too many goes on ‘The Hand’ resulting in a small split tip. Not ideal but as it pretty much always happens on trips away I’m glad it is in the final few days and not the first! We are resting tomorrow so I will attempt to graft some skin.

The rest of the day I was a resident voyeur and I enjoyed watching the girls and Chris crush ‘The Hand’ with ease, Jorg doing full Monty and almost Nagual and Grant making short work of Purple Flowers.

I’ve put together a short video of the ‘Rules of Chaos’ boulder. I’ll admit its not my finest effort as it was a difficult one to film but hopefully it gives you a good idea of how cool the line is.

01 Feb 2012

Swings & Roundabouts

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Climbing and sport in general play havoc with your mind. The past 48 hours have been difficult, I have gone from a feeling strong and confident to having debilitating pains in my elbow making me want to vomit back to the euphoria of standing on top of a problem I have aways wanted to do.

Today I managed to climb Diaphanous Sea, it is one of the classic North Mountain test pieces and again one that I have wanted to climb since my first trip.

It is a basic bloc which any strong board climber would have a good chance at flashing. General overview; 4 moves on good incut half pad crimps through a 50 degree wall lead to a relatively large diagonal flick / jump to a good sidepull. From here you finish up a crimpy V5 with good feet.

I tried the line on Sunday and had a really good flash go dropping the jump to the good hold. As soon as I dropped off the bloc I felt a strange pain in my left elbow but thought nothing of it. I continued to try the problem but regressed with each attempt. Within 5 mins I was panting away grasping my elbow in serious pain. I have never felt anything like it and I can only describe it as the worst dead arm you have got with sharp shooting pains. As I mentioned at the start of this blog it made me want to vomit.

I genuinely thought I had done some serious damage and spent the rest of the day dosed up on ibuprofen and feeling sorry for myself. I figured I had had a good trip so far so c’est la vie.

With this in mind we rested the following day frequenting an awesome thrift store, watching a film ‘Man on a ledge’ – it’s actually pretty good and has a new bird for my laptop desktop / screensaver. We may have also had some Taco Bell comfort food…

I awoke this morning feeling fresh and with pretty much no pain so headed out with climbing gear in tow. I spent the first bit of the day watching Grant try and subsequently despatch one of his projects ‘Choir Boys’. This got me totally psyched so I warmed up a little.

I felt some discomfort but decided I had trained too much and flown too far that there was only one thing to do (probably against every Physio’s advice) and went back to try Diaphanous. I brushed the holds pulled on a did it first try. It felt amazing and the pain seems to have now almost gone away; back of the net.

Having knocked off my only outstanding project on North mountain I set about finding a new one – ‘Bleeding Brothers’. This problem is certainly not basic, has totally mental moves and feels like another level. I made good progress sorting the first half out but need some rest, more skin, better knowledge, cloud cover and cool temps to stand a better chance.

Tomorrow we are heading back out on a guided tour to East Spur. Pretty much the last chance to get my projects done in this area before we leave; no pressure….off to bed.

Finally in a change of theme for music to my videos, it turns out rap music and climbing go quite well together, who knew….