Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Girls only want guys with great skills

Will make amends to talk less about inane fingerboard movements now the new beastly macbook pro is through and post some multimedia. Not used to this level of computational efficiency.

Spent ages trying to get blogspot video upload thing to work but it's not playing ball and saying my tags aren't closed. I have no idea what to do to remedy this so if you know the score feel free to let me know. Pointless putting a lot of things on youtube.

Some small rung assists with bungee. Feel ten times stronger since the board has gone up doing this simple basic exercise in conjunction with overload sessions. Donnelly's coming over tonight to play. That should be fun.

I also wish I was this man who looks like something out of Napoleon Dynamite. And wears weird gloves.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Rock boulderising

Determined to escape the sole confines of the garage and touch rock, I've managed to hit three venues of altogether different rock types and climbing styles. The week before last was Burbage, the week past Kentmere and on Saturday past it was Rubicon.
Amazingly non of these venues feel like polished wooden crimps and they make huge demands of me such as that of using my feet to propel myself up or across a rock face. The fingerboard makes less demands and asks only that I contract my digits as hard as possible for a pre-determined period of time. He gives me wonderous gains and quick recourse to the in situ Gaskins action shots prevents any potential premature ejection from the rungs. Quite apparently however, he does not gift me in any way shape or form with the mandatory motor memories needed to ascend the rock.

Two days spent at Kentmere permitted a full tour of the venue without needing to thrash about before heading back down the M6. Conditions were less than ideal in the blazing sun but it really didn't matter on many of the wonderful easy problems. Quite simply it was nice to be on rock and in the most beautiful of surroundings. I warmed up on Badger Arete and then the more satisfying Badger Arete SDS. It's a sublime problem and I'd say is quite representative of the techniques that start to become requisite in climbing mid grade problems and includes a joyous pinch on the arete in the most perfect of positions. The Hole was a very basic and Swiss style pit problem involving some long pulls and satisfying moves. It was also thankfully very well shaded and the conditions in the pit were very reminiscent of the micro climates in Magic Wood. Naturally I made some non climbing friends that had come for the ride witness the sheer brutality of Shadow Play. They seemed about 15% in awe and the situation was likened to the journeys they used to go on with their mother to Roman forts and Wattle and Daub museums. Irrespectively, I took a minute out to imagine G on the send locking hideous micro flat pinches and edges doubtless without emitting a single sound. Truly mindblowing.

Saturday past, Matt and I awoke at 5.45 to head to Rubicon. I was approaching the route scene with an open mind and no expectations but Matt wanted to crush Zeke once more. He's been training hard and it's a real pleasure to watch someone who hasn't been on this route in over a decade take to it as if it was a trade route. Of course he had to familiarise himself with the holds and a very specific sequence and it was probably only a wrong hand movement that stood between him and the crush.
In the cold temps of the early morning it was a little difficult to awaken the body for both of us and it probably wasn't ideal that the warmup consisted of some brief jug pulling before hopping onto an 8b. After Matt had spent time ascertaining what he needed to do next session, I felt I should get a taste for what I would be in for should I commit to sport climbing.
To me, Peak limestone is a little like looking at a TV screen of that visually caustic white noise once found on 80s televisions. I can't differentiate one hold from the next let alone decide where I should put my body. From such little outdoor climbing of late my skin was horrendous on the sharp edges and incuts that feature on some of the holds but I still dogged through sections of the route and slowly began to see where I needed to be to link certain moves. It was perhaps slightly foolish for me to jump on this route but currently my fingers are at their strongest ever and no hold felt in any way bad apart from the most knacky pinch/crimp hold at half height. I walked away from the morning feeling a strong urge to rack up the route hours and work hard on improving the elementary skills required for hard redpointing. It's perhaps slightly foolish to have jumped in at the deep end grade wise but it really does feel like a simple matter of accruing a lot more rock hours and listening to Matt's voice of reason who clearly believes in my capabilities and is keen for me to succeed.

And so the campaign to reinvigorate my regimes, rock types and motor memory has begun. Rather than returning week after week to the same old venues, it's clear that the way forward is in seeking out all that is new and listening closely to the feedback from talented peers (as is ever the case).

Yesterday I acquired my new MacBook Pro and it's very alien to be able to interact so comprehensively with the internet and architectural applications. The unexpected death of the ibook G4 has been a blessing in disguise and gone are the days of waiting an hour for a pdf to open. Expect to see much more video and imagery here from now on.

Happy crushing to you all.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


I walked away from writing the last post and felt something was missing.

I set this blog up purely as a cathartic means of voicing my aspirations, concerns, and priorities. I'm fairly sure the former and the latter are catered for and only until they become manifest will they readjust. But what of my concerns? Since I left a relationship which was just shy of 7 years, I've found it increasingly difficult to sustain climbing motivation in a consistent sense. Perhaps the stability and regularity of everything facilitated a 'schedule', I'm not too sure.

When I consider my climbing peers, where we were all at and what we wanted to achieve two years ago, many significant developments have occured for them. Around this time, the gulf between myself and an esteemed friend and climbing partner was not vast. As my motivation levels have undergone fits and starts, inevitably I have inflicted a sort of dual effect upon myself whereby because of this inconsistency I've left myself a giant hole to dig myself out of and I have become aware that the time that has elapsed will now delay some of the aspirations that I would have been seeing lately.

Thankfully, a recent month and a half of unerring dedication to the beastmaker propelled me past something of a plateau but again, I veered from the path of consistency to one of hedonism. That's not to say that this is a bad thing but I must realise that the one constant that's always been in my life has been that of climbing. Even despite a lengthy hiatus in my first undergraduate degree I still ventured out on occassion to the Yorkshire crags. The hiatus was in many ways very neccessary for me to focus upon my supreme goal at that time - to gain a first classification in my study. I acheived this and I immersed myself wholeheartedly in doing so but at the expense of acheiving any climbing goals. I stand by the priority I accorded here.

If I am to attempt a self critique, I can say that although outwardly I am confident, I've become aware over the past couple of years that inwardly, I can lack self-confidence in my ability and potential ability. It's sometimes too easy to say that ''I've left it too late'' or rather more simply "I'm not good at this and can't see myself becoming good". Whilst nothing I hear from anybody be it close climbing friends or a new acquaintance can shape my personal goal setting agendas, it's horrible to hear people say about a climber that "I don't think he's actually that good, he just trains a lot". What aural detritus! I should come to appreciate that the type of person that would make this comment will never fully satisfy what potential they might have. It is a comment that is simply too foolish to reflect even briefly upon.

So to vocalise to myself how I will (and I desperately want to) sustain my motivation for climbing whilst stood at the door of an imminent intense two years of academic study; I'll continue making and acheiving micro goals in the home setting away for the majority of time from the climbing wall. Unlike the public realm, I dictate the atmosphere that I wish to operate within and I control my session away from the external influences of children wandering freely underneath falling climbers. Here, I free myself from distractions and commuting times. I'm also freed from the pressures oft felt at the climbing wall by the gaze of others. I'd not be freely exposing to myself my concerns if I didn't include this particular issue.

In summary I hope that the hermitic (of course not totally) decision I've made rewards me with some goals that I now know can be acheived. I won't apologise as perhaps I ordinarily might for you reading this and know that the peers I value will be able to succintly translate what I am saying.

It's good to talk. To yourself.

Getting all Zanussi

After two days on training at home last Thurs/Fri, I gave the weekend over to socialising and a catchup with Donners. He's been training pretty hard of late and suggested we hit Rubicon up on sunday past. Alas conditions conspired against us and instead of a long haul futile journey, we spent the day relaxing and reclining at his gaff.

Had the third garage session yesterday and despite feeling a tiny bit rundown got through it ok; trying to focus on ironing out some of the inconsistencies with the left arm. Added a 4mm edge this morning and plan to incorporate this into an adapted training routine. Much like repeaters simulate the application of contact/pressure on a problem or route, I've figured out a useful means of training for some of the shorter harder sport routes I'd like to give a bash. The idea being a hang of 8 secs on the main rung, 3 secs rest, 8 secs 5mm rung, 3 secs rest.....
It should prove useful in quantifying gains throughout the month and when I can do this for a considerable period will start to introduce the 4mm edge into the equation.

Off out to the Lake District tomorrow to give a few new (to me) areas a go with Paul. Haven't been to Cumbria in a long time so am looking forward to it. Some pictures to follow.

Friday, 4 September 2009


Perhaps an American style term for "getting your life organised". Had my fill of constant partying now and it's time to focus on making some gains; be it reading new books, devoted evenings of training or actual boulder problems. After some time spent mounting the new board in the garage I took to it for it's inaugural session last night. Am sort of amazed how I can possibly be this ecstatic over a few pieces of wood and incisions into a piece of plywood but there we are. As much as I miss access to the Beastmaker, I've the added bonus of having a beam to suspend a bungee rig from at home and it's pleasing to see that two one armers on the top rung required only a smidgen of a first joint index assistance. It wasn't sadly the case for my left arm where I needed almost every finger to haul myself up. Good to have identified a weakspot but sad to have lost a lot. In any case, it seems like the pullup bar work is helping a lot.

Format for session one went thus:

- Three sets of warmup pulls and finger stretching
- 1 set of repeaters on big rung to get blood flowing
- Small rung hangs (6 x 8 secs)
- Assisted one arm deadhang on small individual edge (x 3 each arm)
- Assisted one armers on top rung (x 2 reps at good quality x 5 sets each arm)
- 3 sets warm down pulls (x 8)

Added a couple of symmetrical wooden pinches afterwards that are a bit more generous than the current 'bounty' pinches. Speaking of the bounty system; I've put two very thin 70 degree-angled pinches at each side of the board next to two very shallow monos routed into the ply. To hang off solely pinches or solely monos results in buying an MPC. The idea being I would like an Akai MPC so badly that I'll be forced to squeeze them into the next side of tomorrow. Sort of an inverted, more appealing version of the seminal glacial swim system Keith and James have been pioneering in Osterreich (braver men than I!). In the meantime the little bastards serve as useful assists on focussing the deadhang load through the other hand.

Going to venture out to a crag at random shortly. Bring the noise!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

All I ever wanted, all I ever needed

Was a means to train my fingers at home in the safe isolated sanctuary of the Wirral peninsula. As the only Beastmaker I have access to is some distance away in Liverpool, I was glad to see senor Doyle link to a picture of a simple solution for mobile training without needing to make any incisions in the parent's prized door jambs. A quick rummage in T Mills snr's workshop led me to all the materials one could need to make a simple similar fingerboard. Just need to stick these Gaskins photos above the big rung and I'll be back two bustin til the break of dawn.

Thanks Christoph.