Friday, 10 December 2010

Weekly report W/E 12/12/10

Not a bad week. Been left with bronchitis, that seems to be on its way out since i nicked my wife's asthma inhaler. I can't recommend it obviously but it did seem to work. Last year i kept getting worse and worse until i got pneumonia. I was a bit worried this year but fingers crossed. Still getting a bit breathless and coughing but i feel fine.

Down the wall this week at Penrith having a 'performance' session. 2 6c+'s cracked off the pyramid in quick style and 1 more will go next time. Also got my eye on one on the really steep wall. I expect to get both next visit really. That would mean half my base done, 2 weeks early, with routes in very different styles: bouldery/fingery, hard lay backing, steep jug pulling and bridging/pressing. Got to be pleased with that - when i've done it of course.

Much respect to the route setters at Penrith as well. They consistently set quality routes, with accurate grading, in s small space and they are all volunteers.

Tried out the SCC stuff this week and surprised myself. With 4x4's i tried V1,1,2,1 which is the level for 7a/+. As i didn't even break sweat i had a quick break and then cracked on with a V2,2,2,1. That also went quite easily and supposedly means i should have the str end for short 7b already.

Next day came CIR. Had been dreading this as it was supposed to take 2 days to recover from. Started off on V2's, which is 7a+ standard, but it was too easy. I had a breather and started again on V3's. Got those done and felt pretty fine really. Bit tired in the arms the day after but nothing to write home about. V3 puts me in the 7b+ camp ? Taking it with a pinch of salt. Grades may have been out, i may be doing it wrong etc. so i will tweak it next week.

This was backed up with laps on routes at 6b+ tonight. 6 repeats and it was quite easy. Nice surprise. Hardest session was constant climbing at 6a for 20 mins. I got a pump but it didn't get any worse, or better, it just kind of stayed and felt un-comfortable. Weak link in the chain to work on.

It's lead me to think what is holding me back ? Technique, fluid movement on rock and the killer instinct to finish a route off through the pump. These are coming though and i am certainly feeling motivated.

Got a broken week next week with family visits, school plays and a long planned weekend away with Mrs Biscuit sans kids. Going to be tough to get 4 sessions in.

Link to UKC fit club so i'm not repeating myself too much:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=437490&new=6163353#x6163353

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Amateur psychology

Had 2 moments of amateur psychology ths week.

I bolt to bolted a route last week but didn't have the energy to do it. I decided to b2b it again this week and then lead it. I set off, forgot the crux sequence to the first clip, climbed down 2 of the hardest moves, did them again and then made the clip. Still feeling OK i went for the next clip to put a link together, then the next clip and to the hard to clip clip etc. Before i knew it i was clipping the chain.

I'm sure it was because there was no pressure as i was only going to work it not lead it - allegedly. The route had been playing on my mind as i was gutted i didn't get it done last week. It's a great tactic but now i am aware of it how do i fool myself next time ? I may never be able to do it again as i will be aware i am trying to trick myself :0(

Later i felt like my foot was slipping off as i was making a big reach up. There was a huge jug in front of me from another route and i grabbed it instead of falling. I got back on and finished it off but didn't have time for another go. Jonny said to me at the bottom:

" You quit before you failed. "

I didn't get what he meant at the time but it was true. I made it my choice to grab the jug instead of trying 100% and maybe making the move despite the foot slip. I chose to quit on my terms rather than have the route beat me. That way i could think i hadn't been beaten i was still in control.

The route did beat me in a different, and worse, way. Got to watch out for that in future. Jonny may be an amateur psychologist but he was right - this time.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The hard work starts here

Frustrating couple of weeks since i got back from Kaly. Every year when the heating goes on i get a virus. Something to do with the drying out of my mucus membranes due to the dry air caused by the heating. Normally i'm over it in a few days but this time i got proper man flu. I was on the sofa for 4 days and have felt so washed out since i haven't had the energy to do anything.

I'm still coughing up little aliens and streams of thick green goo are constantly flowing from my nose but i managed to get out on Sat to Kendal wall. Not too bad a session considering. Just to get going again. Lots of volume bouldering and some routes. Tried a strong, short, 6c+ but it felt a long way away.

I've spent the time on the sofa constructively looking at how to put a training plan together.
This thread was particularly helpful:

http://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,16421.0.html

I was trying to decide between periodisation and progression as promoted in Self Coached Climber. Again UKB came to the rescue with lots of info for me to make an informed choice:

http://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,16435.0.html

My target is Comedy (7c) at Kilnsey before we go to Spain next October. My plan is mix periodisation and progression, and hopefully get the best of both worlds. I am going to train for strength and short routes through the Winter and then hit the fitness work for 3-4 months in the run up to Comedy.

Below is my basic outline:

STG

4 sessions a week. 3 training + 1 performance.
3 x core + 3 x antagonists each week.
Routes are short. Mix of technical/vertical + strong/steep.

December

1 x 6c+ a week
CIR boulder @ V2
Cont climb 6a
4x4 - V2121
Body fat - 13% end of Dec

January

1 x 6c+ a week
VIR boulder @ V3
Cont climbing 6a+
4x4 - V3021
boulder session
Body fat - 11% end of Jan

February

1 x 7a a week
1 x Threshold boulder per week
4x4 - V2021
boulder session ( woody )
Body fat - 10% end of Feb

March

2 x 7a+
1 x campus a week
boulder session ( woody )
boulder - longer probs
4x4 - V1121


MTG

April

7b - hopefully outdoors ( Malham ? )

training wise not sure yet will see what i am lacking when i get nearer


LTG

Comedy 7c before Oct 2011
Lourdes 8a before 2012

As someone pointed out on UKC the most important thing isn't which system you choose but getting at least 200 quality training sessions in over the next year. Having the discipline and motivation is what's going to get me to 8a.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Return of the Mc







Kalymnos tufa fun

There's nothing like a great trip to get your motivation flowing again. Kalymnos had been my focus for the year and i wanted to get a 7b. I haven't posted since May after failing to get going with my climbing. Starting up a new business and a lack of motivation ( i was sulking about puddlejumper ) meant that i didn't climb outside again until July. A few hours bouldering here and there but nothing to speak of. The day out in July was to Chapel Head where true to form i fell of Tufa King Hard a few times whilst trying to clip the chains.

With Kalymnos getting nearer i got a bit more focused with lots of trips to my local wall to do some long circuits with partial rests. Once a week i got to Kendal to train on long, steep stuff. Would it pay off as i still hadn't been on rock much ? After a nightmare trip to Kalymnos involving a night in Athens airport i arrived on Sat afternoon. Totally wasted, but too excited to sleep, i went up to the Grotte where attempts to strike up friendly conversation with some French climbers ended with me being ignored. I guess stereotypes exist because there is often some truth in them. I met the rest of the group, and Gaz Parry, who was running the week, that night and got a good nights kip.


My first ever tufa

The first 3 days were on-sighting. Lots of easy volume was the order of the day, and what i had been badly missing all year. Day 1 saw about 10 on sights up to 6a+ and a go on our first ever tufa route at 6b. I fell off pumped to hell, before being shown how to do it by Gaz, and then getting up it 2nd go but this time with 3 hands off rests.

Day 2 followed the same process but i bottled out of 2 6c on-sight attempts as i wasn't feeling 'the flow' at all. My serious lack of climbing this year was showing. I did flash them both getting the cruxes where Frederick fell so i gained the confidence i was after from that. 6c tomorrow then ? When it came to deciding which route to go for Gaz ( who is a pretty tough task master ) gave me the 'options' of a very blan
k looking vertical horror show or a 30 metre overhanging route with a section on twin tufas. Both filled me with dread but the tufa route was what i was here for so i chose that.


Los Amazones 6c

Sat with my back to it while someone else climbed it i got properly nervous. I felt a lot calmer when i finally tied on and started climbing. That lasted about 10 seconds and panic set in as the 'soapy stone ' mentioned in the guidebook translated to polished slopers for the first 10 metres. I didn't expect to make it to the tufa section so just ploughed on and was pleasantly surprised when i found myself facing them. Throwing caution ( and technique ) to the wind i gave a forte display of tufa wrestling. Grabbing one tufa in each hand and going up them face on probably wasn't the best idea ;0)but i somehow got through it and gained a decent rest.

Thinking it must all be over now soon proved to be false hope. I was faced with a crack above me and two heavily chalked lines, one either side of it. One could have been a line of holds on the adjacent route, but it looked better for the crack, and the other i couldn't see. After a couple of aborted attempts to clip and take a look i picked the right hand line and went for it. Even jug pulling feels hard when you're as whacked as i was. Finally i made it and was well chuffed to have got a 6c on-sight on a route style totally alien to me. I learnt a lot about on-sighting from the mistakes I made just on that one route. Moves in the bank as Gaz says.


My elbow, which had been giving me grief during circuits, was now really sore after a lot of volume and then the on-sight. Frederick had done his 6c and went on to do another in good style. I decided against any more as even taking my shoes off hurt my elbow and picking my sack up wrecked. I was worried it could spoil the red point days but luck was on my side. Frederick, my room mate and climbing partner, was also known as Dr Stoehr and brought with him a collection of tablets a pharmacist would be proud of. After necking some pills he gave me it felt remarkably better remarkably quickly.



DNA (7a) flash

Day 5 was redpointing but i was feeling a bit greedy. After warming up i decided i wanted to flash DNA not RP it. With PLENTY of beta from Gaz and taping on my arm from the resident Dr. i gave it 100% and got the bloody thing. What a route ! 4 hands off rests ( including the double knee bar at the top of the page ), amazing position, amazing moves, and amazing location. Doesn't get much better really.


The arm was holding out so after another couple of routes i had a bolt to bolt go on Ivi, a 7a+ next door to DNA. Similar climbing but with less/poorer rests. the definition of pumpy. I got nervous trying to get to the 5th bolt which was a long sequence going out right, up and then back left involving a big fall if you fumbled the clip. That stopped me really but i was determined it wouldn't tomorrow. Next day i warmed up and bolt to bolted again and this time went for it. I fluffed the move, took a decent fall and banged my heel. Now i'd done the fall, and with a bit of beta for the move, i got back on and did the clip and bolt to bolted the 2nd half. I was expecting to do some links before going for the RP but Gaz told me to man up and get to it.

I was feeling very apprehensive. I'd only done the crux
once, and that was after a rest on the bolt and hadn't got the finish in my head at all. Nothing to lose i guess so off i went and had one of the best climbing experiences ever. It felt fairly easy as i confidently committed to the crux. Once i'd done that i was NOT going to fall off the easier, but pumpy, ground to the chain. The knee bars, that had caused tears in my eyes whilst trying them previously, felt painless this time though i've still got the bruises on my knees to prove they weren't. Whacking the last knee bar in to make the clip felt great and i couldn't believe it was over so quick.I felt i had climbed quickly, in control and made the right decisions. Gaz still said i climbed like a snail on valium but for me it was a massive improvement.


A massive thunderstorm, that even soaked the Grotte and cut off the electricity on 3 of the islands, kind of cut the day short.I had one try on Aphrodite ( 7a+) but was on it too soon after Ivi and didn't have the energy left.

Hand (off) relief provided by Ivi.

So i wanted a 7b this year and got a 7a+. But it was a 7a+ that used to be a 7b+ and i got it 1st redpoint after minimal working so that's got to be positive. Well happy to have flashed 7a too - which used to be a 7b. Gaz says there is no reason why i shouldn't get a 7c next year and then we move to El Chorro in October. That gives me 3 months to tick Lourdes (8a) ideally on Xmas day morning :0)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Pre-emptive strike

Not done this before but i thought i'd post my thoughts and feelings prior to a big day out.

I'm back off to Malham on Sunday and this week was supposed to go as follows:

Mon - rest after big day out climbing
Tue - circuits
Wed - routes session at St Bees
Thur - circuits
Fri - circuits
Sat - rest

What has actually happened/is going to happen is:

Mon - didn't go out Sunday as my wife got volcanoed in Spain
Tue - Got the lurgy
Wed - really got the lurgy. Sleept on sofa most of the day
Thur - going to have another day off
Fri - May try for a routes session in the evening.
Sat - Rest

Not exactly amazing preparation. This has followed a disappointing few weeks in general, other than the 7A the other week, i've not had the volume or time on the sharp end of late.

I noticed that many good climbers are still hitting the wall at this time of year and tried myself out on my old circuit. It went really badly hence the idea of getting a quick blast in before attacking puddlejumper again.

I'm now veering from thinking i'm strong enough to pull through it anyway if i just go for it as i've got the sequence nailed and worrying it's going to be another wasted journey - especially if i don't get well enough in time.

I just want the bloody thing done. E1 was a big mental barrier to me ages ago and i think 7a is proving to be the same. I think (hope) once i've got one in the bag others will follow quickly and i have a secret hope that i may be able to crack Rose Coronary off on the same day.

Not so secret now so the pressure's on.

Friday, 30 April 2010

St Bees - 3 andy - 1




Me and a friend on a V3 arete. I couldn't get my lardy arse off the ground last Summer. Crushed it first go this time :0)


St Bees is definitely winning at the moment. After dropping my camera in a rock pool there a couple of weeks ago ( 1-0) i actually dropped my rockshoes in the sea the other day ( 2-0) after slipping on the slimy stuff whilst carrying my kit round a boulder near the edge. Glad it wasn't me that went over and that it was my old comfy shoes. I was trying to fish one back from where it had fallen tantalisingly close on a ledge until i saw my other one bobbing past in the sea. I now have a new camera and was able to take a photo to commemorate my stupidity.

If anyone finds a left anasazi verde on the Isle of Man it's mine

So that was 2-0 and 3-0 soon followed when i was trying the 7A arete at Fisherman's steps. It's supposed to be 'very morpho' and i don't have the morph for it obviously. All sorts of contortions ended with me coming up with a dyno solution. I reckon if you can't use the small holds in between miss them out. I must have been into nearly 3 figures of jumps and still with no success so i scuttled off back home feeling pissed off i wasn't going to get my goal of a 7A and a 7a before the end of April. I am going to get it though. Core and finger strength are needed in abundance.

The weather looked as though it was just holding the next day and although i was feeling a bit sore from the previous days exertions a couple of texts revealed that Chris was going down that evening to do some bolting. He offered to belay me on Dreaming of Red Rocks after he'd finished - very nice of him i thought.

When i got down there i planned on bouldering for a while to warm up then hit the route. However i spied a 7A i laughingly tried last year. I could only do it with a cheating rest half way round and even then it was the pumpiest traverse i'd ever seen. I played on it for a few minutes and this time round it felt possible. Less than an hour later it was in the bag. My new HD video camera let me down big time by hitting a technical glitch and failing to record my glory. Attempting to do it again were useless as i gave it all on the send. No matter, the point was at least i'd got it done. It felt so different to last year. I found 2 rests on it this time that i couldn't use last year and the crux moves were hard but the pumpy traverse that followed felt pedestrian.

3 - 1 !

I'm glad i've come out with something this month as it's been a bit crap to say the least. After being poorly i don't seem to have got a routine back and my diet has gone to pot. Got El Chorro to focus on in 6 weeks though so back to it now with no more excuses.

I want to do Poema De Roca:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=103380

which is the pumpiest 7a in the world ( possibly ) so training for Dreaming, which is a 7a+ pump fest won't do any harm. I'm not sure where this willingness to do pumpy routes has come from, i used to hate them. If i can RP Dreaming before El Chorro i'll be laughing.

Dieting ( again), finger boarding ( once my fingers are better ), core work and circuits are going to come into play. Be interesting to see this time round what i've learnt training wise from my previous mistakes.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Yes - I'm ill !

A strange sentiment to be expressing but it gives me a possible reason as to my horrendous performance yesterday, but more of that later.

The Easter holidays saw me abandoned by my professor boffin wife and left with the kids for a week while she went to Oxford to boffin with other boffins; yes, boffin is a noun and a verb.

I got pretty much nil done other than an experiment. Not quite Dr Jekyll testing things on himself but i did want to see what the results of really dieting could be. I soon found out when i dropped to 1500 cals a day from a usual of around 2750. Two 10k runs on consecutive days in the mix led to.........complete depletion of glycogen stores and a distinct lack of energy. What a surprise. I feel a right goon reading what i've just written. Talk about obvious, but i was so wrapped up in the losing weight issue it got a bit scary there for a while. 3 days of eating everything in sight saw me with a full tank again and a lesson learned.

I've learned a lot about nutrition over the last few weeks and now know without writing everything down what's in and what's not, so it's back to long-term sensible weight loss.

Malham was looming and I'd only been climbing once in 2 weeks, a poor ARC session at the wall. I headed to Bees on Tuesday for a few hours of easy bouldering to get the groove back. It was frustratingly bad. Flailing about on V1+2's that i know. No flow, no fluidity, no ability to read/remember a sequence.

My eye caught a V5 i had tried last year and got nowhere on. I don't know why i tried it. As a 4 move V5 it had some hard moves on it - including 2 of my weaknesses, sit starts and a pinch. Well i cracked it off in 4 or 5 goes. I even looked down when i latched the crimp to see if my foot had come off and gone on the floor without me noticing. No one was more surprised than me when i topped it.

Feeling a bit over excited i scoped out the moves on a V4 lip traverse and did it first go. It wasn't pretty, in fact it got a bit ugly for a while, but a flash at that level was new to me so i finished the session happier than when i started - apart from dropping my camera in a rock pool, no photos for a while :0(

The next day I woke feeling battered and empty. Elbows were grumbling, left hand middle two were certainly sore and i felt very empty again. I didn't get to eat until 9pm the night before and had broken my promise of not doing anything over V2. Was i going to regret it ? The clue is in the title of the post really. I had to take 2 rests on a 6a+ warm up. Getting the clips in on Puddlejumper felt like it was Raindogs. My feet appeared to belong to someone else, and that someone else had never climbed before, holds that were bomber last time felt sketchy. Pete kindly remarked i appeared to have all the climbing ability of a goldfish and i binned it for the day. Taking the clips out in a huff Pete persuaded me to leave the rope in - thanks Pete.

I settled down to belay duties and watched Pete despatch a 7a+ after a quick trip up to put the clips in and then a 7b after 1 top rope. Sterling stuff.

After this break, and a lot of food, i started to feel a bit more like it. I had another go and it felt good again. WTF ? Got a new sequence sorted and the scary move now feels in the bag. I was sure that a lead would have been too much on the day, especially for my fingers, but at least i didn't leave with my tail between my legs.

3rd time lucky ? Who knows. A lot of things went wrong yesterday:

Not enough climbing in the weeks leading up to it for a proper performance day
Bouldered way too hard the day before
Didn't eat properly the day before to aid recovery
It was a hot day and my already probably too tight shoes became crippling as my feet swelled
Worrying about my left middle two; rightly it would seem as they are not right ( and not just because they are on the left )
Elbows that stopped grumbling and started shouting
The lurgy

Not excuses as they are all my fault - apart from the lurgy i got that from the kid's school.

I may have to wait a while before a rematch so time for a rethink. Work + partners being away means at least i will have time to recover and come back stronger.

I've a couple of ideas of what to do but that's for another post.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Stickability !

Not referring to the ability to latch a hold but to stick with a process when you think all is lost.

Sat here tapping away it's hard to remember just how pissed off i was a couple of weeks ago. Reading my last post really helps put me back there, and makes me realise what a whinging waster i can be at times :0)

I felt there was a locked door in front of me, with what i wanted behind it, and i couldn't open it.

Things have clicked since and an inspiring day at Malham and strong session at St Bee's have convinced me i was right. I didn't get my 7a, fear of falling kicked in again, but a clean top-rope lets me know it's in the bag next time. A 1 1/2 hr session at Bees North saw me feeling light and strong. An old foe was quickly defeated and 2 V4's i'd got nowhere on before were ticked off. Who'd have thought my old teachers were right. Hard work does bring it's own reward.

The routes session at Penrith did turn out to be the turning point. After a couple of weeks of feeling seriously tired in my arms i was ready to pack up my plans and try something new. I've realised how easy it is to give up when you're not seeing quick results. You convince yourself you're not giving up by bringing in change. This makes you feel you're doing something positive, but actually you're running away.

However, how do you know when you genuinely are banging your head against the proverbial ?

Answers on a postcard please if anyone figures that out. It's especially hard for self coached climbers to stay objective.

When you doubt your training take a good look at it. Then look again. Why that phase ? Why do that way? What goal is it helping you towards ? Does it fit your goal ? What info is it based on and how good is that info ? etc.

Keep on questioning while you stick with it. Once you've reached the point of doubt keep on until you reach a moment of clarity, either for or against. It must be objective clarity, not fogged by your emotions.

Don't try something new and give up before you've had chance to effectively assess it. You never know it might just be the key you've been looking for.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Distractions


Dove Crag Buttermere


Well it's been a while. Some good reasons for that: work, big party to organise, enjoy and then recover from and i was a naughty boy and got distracted by Winter.


On the downside i certainly lost a bit of psyche and have had sore elbows. I had reached my boredom threshold with circuits at Cockermouth but rather than cracking on with the strength phase i couldn't seem to get started.

Me on 1st pitch

Winter lost me 2 days training last week but good, hard, walk ins and my obligatory run from Great End summit to Seathwaite in 4 season boots + full kit helped the fat loss. Down to 17.4% last week ( edit:now up to 19% again ?????). A great day out helping a mate with his Winter skills before his ML(W) assessment on a positively Alpine feeling day out and Dove Crag Gully in the bag were worth it i reckon.

What an awesome route and i have to say it was worth missing a bouldering session for. The first pitch was mad with a brutal wake up call of overhanging ice. Relief comes in the form of the other gully wall which enables you to bridge out so your feet are on the ice and back on the rock. You can then climb at your leisure to the crux chockstone. The big ice pitch was, well, big and icy i guess. I learnt not to undo your shoelaces with a crampon point causing your boot to nearly fall off on this pitch. Luckily i was seconding :0)





Gav on 2nd pitch



Is the place to go for common complaints in this dept. The exercises have sorted the niggles out super quick - but i have also been avoiding the woody as that seemed to aggravate it.

The weather and work are not letting me get on rock at the moment. I really feel as though i'm not firing and i think i need to get on rock to bring everything together. Neil Gresham has written something about getting it together at the start of a season. I'll have a search and post it if i find it. I feel as if i am on empty all the time. I've been tired of late and that combined with changing from str end work to hypertrophy and trying to diet may have been too much. I was considering giving up and changing tactics but a quick re-read of Dave Mac's book says not to give up on things quick before you give them a proper try.

I felt the same all week - a poor ARC session and a poor boulder session at Keswick only added to my misery but i managed to get out to Penrith wall last night. I wasn't expecting much as i was still feeling tired and i had my kids in tow. It started badly as i couldn't get any kind of flow on the warm up routes. I didn't fail on any of them but i was constantly wrong handed and swapping feet. On the plus side my weakness used to be steep routes. I creamed a 6a+, 6b+ and a 6c towards the end of the night. I even helped my daughter with some numeracy work, she was trying to work out what two bottles of ribena would cost if one was £1.40, while climbing; much to everyone's amusement.

Who says men can't multi task.

I am hoping i have now blasted through the transition period and i can crack on this week. I certainly feel recovered this morning. However the weather and working all weekend mean it will probably be another week on plastic.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A measure of progress


The Ring of Fire

Decided after yesterdays washout that due to incredibly good weather i should reward myself with a sneaked couple of hours at Eskdale bouders instead of DIY. Decision made i grabbed my kit and was in the car in minutes. I then turned round after a few minutes as i had no shoes - or mat. More haste...

I've not been since 21st of Jan so i was keen to see how i was going to get on. I was actually a bit nervous as to whether those few weeks of grind have been worth it.

I started badly with a few warm up problems, not much oomph in the arms it would seem, but cracked them all off in the end. I also did the traverse of the diamond starting from the bottom left. No real difficulties on it (5) but a really nice 'just highball enough' problem. If that sequence was to be found half way up a crag it'd be a 3* route.

The main point of the session was to see how my fitness was on a pumpy traverse called the Lipster. It goes at V4 and when i did it in Jan it took a few goes and had me pumped out to the max. With a quick check of the sequence i dropped into the sit start and ploughed through it in one. I got to the end and could have gone round again. No pump but a little struggle pulling through the crux move round the corner.

Good news: Real progress has been made in my strength endurance

Bad news: I haven't managed my strength well enough and have definitely lost some

Good news: I've got a strength phase starting next week

It's almost as if i have a plan.

I picked up a new project for the medium to long term. The Ring of Fire an awesome 7A traverse ( but feels WAY harder to me ) all the way round a block. It's strong, technical, pumpy and i am no-where near doing it. I reckon if i can get fit/strong enough to do that then 7b routes will start falling - he says before he's even done a 7a.

Decided on The Arete at Bees as my other project - 7A too but much more of a pure strength and finger test.

Bring it on. The psyche is back !

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Time and tide wait for no man....

...especially if he can't read a tide timetable.

Nipped down to St Bee's South again for a re-rematch ( no not a typo ) with Bottomless arete and Red Whale extension - 6B+ and 6C. I'd clocked a tide timetable the day before whilst out and about in Whitehaven. High tide 7.30 ish it said. Sounds good i said. Still looks a bit high to me i said at 10. Must be on it's way out though i said. Is it bollocks i said at 11.15 and got bloody wet getting out.


I'd only spent 15 mins on Bottomless Arete after warming up on the nearby easier problems on the wall. In that time the tide wooshed in and nearly cut me off - i had to go in up to my knees in roaring foam standing on a rock platform covered in green slime with a boulder mat and sack on my back.



The exit rope !

Anyway i got BA after that 15 mins and i was getting madder and madder with it. You'd never normally find me losing my rag with a piece of rock ( or beating one with a rag ) and certainly not shouting when i'm the only one there, but maybe i need to. Felt easy when i finally got it.

video

Hardest V3 in the world ?

Red Whale boulder was floating off towards the IOM so it was back up the big rope and home with my tail between my legs.

Anyway one STG ticked off.

As for the most important goal of the moment, fat loss, i've lost 3% body fat this week. How ? You may ask. By checking my stats inputted and realising my conversion skills from imperial to metric are about as good as my tide timetable reading skills. This resulted in an extra 5cm in height and a new body fat of 19%. Sometimes life is good :0)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Fat is not just a feminist issue



Pete at Giggleswick North

Finally got out on Friday after a bit of a bum week. Got elbow pain after working out a new 35 move circuit on Tuesday so took 2 days off.

Went to Giggleswick North. It was: cold, damp, short, hard and fun.

Felt great to be out on rock again.What didn't feel great was having the climbing ability of a donkey on roller skates. I failed on 2 warm up routes, a 6a and a 6b, due to poor route reading, failing to commit and shocking footwork when the holds aren't plastic, luminous pink and tagged.

I then decided to RP the next route, a 6c, to avoid further depression.

Two goes on a top rope, a slight interruption ( more of which later ) and it went first RP attempt. Felt easier on the lead than on top rope and i still hadn't got a sequence sorted for the top section when i set off. Being on lead focussed the climbing brain and it all clicked and went quite easily really. Bodes well for the future.

More should have been on the cards but Kate was so shocked by my display of awesome climbing ability she forgot she was stood on a slippy rock, above a rubble strewn steep slope, and promptly fell off in sheer awe. A bad bang to the head, various cuts and bruises and a nasty looking puncture to her calf meant an end to the day's entertainment - but not until she let me have the lead. Thanks Kate.

On the down side i'm still not shifting the fat.

Climbing 4 times a week, running once, cut out just about all crap and it's still not shifting. I am fairly hungry too so i'm not cutting down on grub. Time to up the running i think.

Simon Lee ( the lord and master of UKBouldering ) mailed me today with more depressing news. If you take my % decrease in fat and inc in muscle i have actually relatively lost muscle. BOLLOCKS !

It's the old GCSE question. Reducing something by 70% is different then reducing it by 50% then 20% as the 20% reduction is applied to a smaller number than the original 100%. So my actual weight of muscle now is relatively less as I weigh less

I always did hate maths.

However i went to Keswick wall for a solo boulder session on Sunday as i couldn't find anyone to play with. I've only been once before and really struggled. Cruised loads of problems this time up to 6B, got a couple of 6B+'s and 2 6C's 3rd go. Not bad at all. Elbow reminded me it's still a bit delicate at that point so i packed in. It's got to be the weight loss 'cos i sure haven't done any strength work.

So more positives than negatives. Got my first outdoor session done and blew some cobwebs away by the end of it, feeling strong and i am lighter than i was in Jan.

Need to crack on with the endurance work. Busy next 2 weekends so train, train, train until i can get out again mid March.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

YYFY !

For a clue as to what the title means take a look on the newly commercialised www.UKBouldering.com for the thread of the same title.

The last couple of weeks have been all about putting effort in. In order to get a positive feedback loop going i needed to have something positive - and quick before i lose 'it'.

Today was going to be the big test. Texts were sent, weather sites checked and St Bees looked good, as did the weather. I wanted to give 100% on an onsight attempt of a 6c and to see where i am up to on my main goal of Dreaming of Red Rocks. There was also some un-finished business with a couple of routes i hadn't been able to commit too last year through fear of falling.

The scene was set, the psyche was turned up to 11 ...and it rained overnight and was drizzly in the morning. BASTARD !

Quick re-scheduling and an understanding wife on Valentine's Day led to a trip to Kendal wall with Mario. We'd both cleanly top roped a 7a there last week so maybe something good could still be salvaged.

After warming up and some falling practice ( i still can't stop making involuntary loud noises as i let go ) i was feeling good so decided to go for an onsight of a 6b+ up the main wall. Cracked it off good style with a bit left in the bag. Tactics went a bit out of the window for a while when i abandoned my planned smooth drop knees for wild flailing. However a couple of weeks back i wouldn't have gone dynamic and would have probably shouted "Take !" Anyway it's a new level for my main weakness so i won't pick too many faults.

Suitably happy i went for a 6c onsight on the really steep lead wall. Didn't get it but took a surprisingly non-scary lead fall. It didn't phase me at all. Back down and climbed to a new high point but called it quits. I didn't want to get too pumped as the 7a was lurking. It'll go next time i'm sure.

Long story short: clips in, top rope, Mario led it, i led it. Another new level reached.

The long story has extra info in about an awesome hands off rest i found and how a shocking adrenalin boost through the crux move proves that fear of falling is still dragging me down at the worst of times.

So positivity points gained, though strangely i feel happier about the 6b+ and 6c attempt.

It's proving the grind does produce results, so the grind continues and more results are expected.

As a reward i have allowed myself a pint and a single malt - oh and some pork scratchings and a pickled egg. Proper post training recovery food.

Back to it tomorrow. Need to get out on real rock and away from plastic.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Power of the mind

I listened to a program on the radio last week about a guy in a coma. He was dying ( white tunnel and all that ) and believed he had to make a choice whether to die or live. He chose to fight and live and woke up from his coma shortly after. He remains convinced that his life was in his own hands and he had to make the decision. He had been through a lot of suffering and giving up may have been the easier option for him, as he knew he was going back to that suffering. But that suffering would also bring him what he wanted - for him time with his family.

I raved about Dave Mac's book in my last post and this book continues to inspire. It's a book that works on your mind. If you want to get what you want it is going to involve sacrifice + hard work (suffering). How much you are prepared to suffer depends on how much you want your goals.

Looking back I used to use any excuse not to train again. Feeling a bit tired, bit sore or just not up for it, rest is very important etc. I needed to make the decision and accept i was going to have to make changes if i wanted to improve. That felt a bit scary but the reality hasn't been half as bad as i imagined. Organising my time a little better has meant i can fit the training in without imposing on family time. Result.

Actually doing the training is a different matter.What i have discovered is the difference between being a bit tired + sore and being unfit to train for real. It's amazing how little niggles disappear once you get warmed up. Putting that extra little bit of effort in soon adds up and makes a difference. One extra session a week that you would otherwise not have done is 52 sessions a year. That could be a grade breaker.

But what about the real suffering ? The pain, the discipline, the effort - the grind.

I have certainly been more tired but early to bed soon sorts that out. I'm psyched enough at the minute to be almost enjoying the grind.

However dieting and forcing myself to fall off on lead are a different matter to be discussed next time :0(

Monday, 1 February 2010

Knowledge is power - as long as it's not the wrong knowledge !


View from the top of Brown Cove Crags

Quite a good week has just been and gone. Climbed 4 times - 1 boulder sesh at St Bees South, Stamina at the wall, a routes session at Kendal and a morning Winter soloing grade 3 routes. I even went for a run as well. The end of the week was not quite so good training wise with a weekend away ending in massive ale consumption and puddings. I wasn't too badly behaved - i could definitely have been worse - but i could have been better. It was our first weekend away sans kids for nearly 3 yrs though so i wasn't ever going to be monk like.

Upon my return there was an amazon package waiting for me. Dave Mac's little blue book on climbing training - 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes.

Going completly against his advice of getting lots of sleep i started reading that night and didn't finish until 1.30 am. No, I'm not a slow reader I read the whole thing in a oner it was 'un-putdownable'. Like he says at the start he aims to tell it straight. Page after page of simple guidance and revelations. Loads of info but no technical stuff or references. You just have to trust he knows his stuff and go with him.

Due to the style of writing ( a lot of it is adapted from his blog i think ) it feels like he's talking to YOU and makes you listen. I swear he called me fatty in there somewhere. Some parts just leaped out at me - falling issues, being a chubber - and re-enforced how important it is to my climbing to sort those out.

Other issues are more subtly dealt with and give you have the confidence to make the right decisions for your climbing lifestyle.

Straightaway i realised i'd cocked up. I've a degree in sports coaching and had made a basic error. I am trying to lose weight. What's the best way to do that ? Aerobic exerercise i thought.

What i should have asked is what's the best way to lose weight to improve my climbing ?

Answer - climbing.

Bugger ! I was going to drop a climbing session this week to up my running. What i need to do is drop the running and up the climbing. Anaerobic work burns shed loads of calories during the session and in recovery. The rest times/easy climbing increase your capillary function thus also improving your climbing fitness. He compares it to fartlek in running.

So lose weight + get better at climbing at the same time or go running, get better at running, get tired and lose some weight which should have a knock on effect on my climbing.

Which would you choose ?

Choose climbing not running, make the choice with knowledge, choose this book. Simple but i'd missed it by a mile and i should know better.

Get a copy now. It will help you + help Dave by putting money in his pocket. This means he has to work less + can get on with writing the next 2 ideas he has which will again help all of us get better. It's a win win situation :0)

I was thinking of a period of strength endurance anyway as i am now happy that i am well again and can take training without becoming ill. Got some sport trips lined up if the weather stays fair towards the end of Feb. My strength is OK for where i want to be but i'm never going to get up a route without some fitness. So bring it on.

He tells you how to do this as well of course but if you want to know buy the book.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Managing disappointment


Calico Jack St Bee's South Head


This blog and my ambitions are all about the journey; getting from where i am to the mythical heights of Fr8a - though apparently 8b is this years 8a but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

It's not all going to be positive progress and when you seem to be heading in the wrong direction you need to look at the map and not just listen to the sat nav everyone else is following.

One thing that does help is writing things down. It makes you think about what you're doing right and wrong and to spot trends. I had a crap session at Kendal on Sunday. Picked 3 new targets: 7a slab, short overhanging 7a and a 6c+ on the big wall, but nothing of note happened. I got close on the two 7a's and they should go soon, which feels good, but my arms felt empty on the day. I could crimp on the slabs but any steep ground just pumped me out.

Same has happened today. A bit of a hopeful trip to St Bee's South saw damp conditions and a lack of zip put paid to my aspirations of the V4 extension to Red Whale, a V3 dyno ( Bottomless arete ) and Godzilla, an awesome highball V4 arete.

I did lots of lower grade problems, and on-sighted a fantastic V2, Calico Jack, so the day wasn't a waste by any means but i felt so much stronger and more precise last week at Eskdale. Any kind of longer problems really made me fight the burn.


video


Definitely more me than the conditions to blame - i could even mention my really thin skin from last week as an excuse, but i won't. A good think on the way back to the car led to the revelation that climbing 3 times a week, running 3 times a week and a fat loss diet at the same time isn't a good combo. Time for a look at my map.

Fat loss is still the major priority so the diet + running stay. Guess I need to head for quality not quantity in the climbing. But fitness or strength, or somewhere in between ?

Just ordered Dave Mac's new training book so maybe he will have the answers. I think i know what i need to do but i'm going to ponder over the next few days.

On a happier note the big fat loss plan is going OK. I've got leaner but heavier. Body fat is down from 24.9% to 23.5% in a week with a corresponding increase in muscle. Result ! I am however 1/2 kg heavier. Go figure. Not too fussed about the weight but as long as the lard is being stripped I'm happy.

Got a weekend away from home and the kids coming up. Booked in a hotel with full fry up breakfasts and 3 course dinner already paid for. Am i going to get my money's worth and try to eat my own weight in sausage + bacon like i normally would ? Can i partake in a pub lunch without a real ale or 4 ? Am i going to take a pair of trainers for a quick morning jog or will the planned excess intake of port destroy my resolve ?

This could be the first big test of how much i want that 8a.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Lard of the pies !

Nice day out today with Rob aka Jeff from UKB. After a failed meet earlier in the week we finally got together before the predicted bad weather tomorrow. Rob's up here for his 'baby moon'. A new concept to me but it's basically have a little holiday before the baby arrives and ruins your life for the forseeable future.

Rob had got out a few times during the week while his heavily pregnant non climbing wife was abandoned in various strange towns ( even Whitehaven poor girl ) to look round or stayed at the hotel. I think i know who's had the most fun on their babymoon.

Went to Eskdale granite at Fisherground. I'd forgotten how rough that stuff is. Lasted about 3 hrs before my skin gave up and the rain started coming in down the valley.


Nice flapper on my pinkie, which is going to take some time to heal, and my fingertips were seeping blood through the skin.

Had a great time though and did some classics:




video


as well as problems up to V4. Quite pleasing really and got them 2nd or 3rd go. I also on-sighted a V3 and got a couple of pumpy lip traverses done:



video





What have i learnt from today ?

I'm not climbing 'pretty'
I need to heel hook more - and better
I can still do slappy problems
I still can't do fingery problems
I am still crap at sit starts


Biggest lesson of the day is that it is possible to drive past Gosforth pie shop without stopping off for a chicken and mushroom with a scotch egg for pudding. It was close though ;0)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Analyze that !

When you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses you hope to find something you can work on to make a big improvement. I wanted to look at my climbing + body this week and see what my baselines are.

Inspired by talk of power/weight ratios and the recommendation of a particular brand of body fat scales i bought some to look at the damage i've done during my lay off + Xmas.

Did i find what i hoped for ?

Oh yes - and no.

I am officially a chubster with 25.5 % body fat. I don't look/feel that fat but another reading shows i hold my chub around my organs rather than under my skin. This may explain why i've always been quite 'square' in shape and my stomach has always stuck out a bit. I always thought it was my over developed abs pushing out ;0)

On the plus side in the last two weeks i've lost over 2 kgs just from dieting, yes i was even fatter, and since the thaw i can now start running again. Dieting is driving me nuts so i can now relax that, a bit, and get pounding the trails again.

I also got some one to film me climbing at Kendal. It was my warm down climb and either a 6a or 6a+, despite what the commentator says, and it is weird to watch myself like that. I was really conscious of being filmed and the pressure of trying to get everything perfect meant i probably made more mistakes than normal - but not that many more.

Anyway here it is in all it's glory:


video



So many mistakes i wasn't aware of. I was trying to take my time but my god it's slow. 4 minutes !I am missing footholds, flagging/twisting the wrong way, clipping in the wrong places and not looking at my clipping. I'd worked on that last one as well but i seem to have forgotten it again. Serious thought needs to go into steep wall technique. If you don't know Kendal wall it gets steeper the higher it gets and the top half is probably about 25 degrees overhanging.

So in summary my analysis has revealed a bit too much ( literally regarding the weight) but i know the basics i need to correct now.

Going to film myself on a climb that's at my on-sight limit next time and see the horrors that reveals.

The truth hurts sometimes i guess but some good work + discipline over the next few weeks should have massive effects.

For posterity my baselines are:

Big wall on-sight - Fr6b
12 mtr wall on-sight - Fr 6c
Outdoor boulder on-sight - V2
Weight: 73.6 kgs
Body fat: 25.5%
BMI: 26.1
Muscle: 36.5%

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sweet & Sour

These excellent Winter conditions everyone has been harping on about have so far eluded me. Banned from having any fun over the Xmas hols by Mrs Biscuit and then kids off school due to the weather. Bah !

Finally got the chance today. I fancied a nice easy solo to start the year and was considering Trough Gully, Newlands Hause or something on Brown Cove Crags. As it turned out i went to Buttermere Sourmilk Ghyll after a tip off it was in mint condition. I've never done it before, it's easy, bloody long and 3*. Result. The tiny walk in meant i coud fit it in and do some DIY to get more brownie points :0)

Crampons on almost as soon as i got out of the car ( I'm sure i saw DR Hilary Jones practising on it ) had my hopes up. But was the noise i could hear the wind or the Ghyll ? Both as it turned out. Winds gusting about 50 mph on the tops and take a look at the 'mint' conditions:



Doesn't look too bad from there does it ? Have a look here then:



On Saturday that ice met in the middle and was fatter than - well me at the moment i guess.

Not sure if i made the right decision but i ploughed on anyway. I'm still here so i guess it wasn't a bad decision. Good practice was had at pecking thin ice, clearing poor ice and delicately dancing my way up rotten ice. Lots of good soft plastic ice around though if you could find it. I soon stopped banging and hacking away and started thinking about what i was doing. I even got a little mixed in higher up. In fact conditions got worse higher up and the walk down was a nightmare of powder and spindrift.

Think i'll wait until the next freeze before i venture out again.

Better than doing the wallpapering though and it'll have burnt off a bit more podge so not all bad.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

The perfect day ?





What makes the perfect climbing day ? Bouldering with mates in the sun, but with perfect friction? Quality new problems you've never tried before ? Looking out over the sea at a snow covered Isle of Man and Scotland. Performing like a donkey on roller skates but not really caring 'cos you're back doing what you love and you realise just how much you miss it when you can't ? For me it's all of that and being back touching real rock for the first time in months - and getting a bacon and egg butty on the way back to the car to top it off.

I didn't believe my ( eternally optimistic ) mate who told me at the wall on Thursday that St Bee's was 'awesome' at the moment. -7, according to my car, doesn't sound awesome to me. But the seed had been planted. The planned trip to kendal wall was cancelled and the result was ....awesome !

Decided to check out the 'new' South head problems - wrapped up like Michelin man. The walk in wasn't promising. St Bee's slippy green stuff with ice is not a good combo. Took us ages to get there.

We walked past Sectors A-C without knowing it. This may be due to me forgetting the topo, us staring at our feet for fear of falling over or because there isn't much there. We got to Sector D and were impressed to be honest.





The problems that I could do were really good fun. Short 1 move dynos, pumpy traverses, technical aretes. Everything in one little spot. It had a slightly different character to St Bee's North - more open. The harder problems really do look amazing. Some superb improbable lines, really striking aretes and lip problems. Need to get strong - quick !





















We ( or rather Mario ) added an extension to Red Whale ( a 2* V2 ) coming in from the right as far as possible. Heel hooking, swinging and flagging galore. I may be biased but i reckon 3*. It's an obvious extension so i would be surprised if it's not been done before.



video









Even better it gets the sun early at this time of year. The layers soon came off and we were roasting. In the end we left as the problems in the sun got a bit greasy.







It's well worth checking out and remember to stop off for a butty at Hartley's caff on the way back for the perfect end to the perfect day.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

We're supposed to have 60,000 thoughts a day....

but why are they all about food?

Totally un-able to do any cardio outside due to snow and cold so am trying to lose weight through diet. Being stuck in the house all day surrounded by food is causing my day to appear like a montage from a  channel 5 special - 'Fattest man in world may die if he ever eats again.'
I constantly pick up of tasty grub only to sigh loudly and put it back - most of the time anyway. Food is everywhere.

I'm going for small portions spread through the day and have knocked booze on the head since New Year's Eve. Not missing that too much at all but i can't stop thinking about food. I reckon i must be a secret fatty. I'm not craving bad food but my portion control has always been way off - my Dad was a feeder what can i say :0) 

Was supposed to go to the wall during the day for an easy climb around to get back into it. Cue school closing due to weather and a distinct smell of piss emanating from my chips. Food on the brain again ! Would i eat a portion of piss covered chips ? Won't be opening until next week and weekend is taken up with a DIY project.

Looks like i'll have to stay in staring at food for a while longer.  Big respect to the man Stevie Haston.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Back to it - kind of

My life of late has looked like this:

Chest infection
Swine flu
Chest infection
Pneumonia
Worst case of the galloping trots anyone has ever had - EVER
Sinusitis - doesn't sound much but it was agony
Xmas

I've not climbed productively since September. I finally got back to it yesterday with a 2 hr session at Penrith. Predictable results were a lack of fitness and timing/fluidity. Less predictable was that my arm + body strength seemed OK but i had lost a lot of finger strength. This has always been a weakness and those hours spent dangling off my Beastmaker in the utility room seem to have been frittered away through inactivity.

Fitness was shocking and i failed on a 6b and a 6a+ at the end when i just gave up. A very steep 6a felt, well, very steep and it used to be my first steep warm up route.

Forgetting all that it was just a huge relief to be back climbing with no set backs and i loved it. I've had 2 false starts in the last couple of months so i'm going to take it easy. Felt fine today so fingers crossed.

Going to work out my 'baseline' over the next week or two and take it from there.

One baseline assessment i'm not happy with is my in-ability to fit into my jeans. They look like mine, they're in my wardrobe so they must be mine, but they don't fit like mine. My harness had also been adjusted during my absence.

Goal number one is weight down from 76 to 73 kg by end of the month. Running outside is too cold at the minute and makes my old man's lungs seem to want to lurch out of my body. In order to get some exercise in i tried this idea from Tommy Caldwell. Circuit Training.

I didn't fancy the intensity of just 3 exercises today so i did:

press ups 10
back raises 10
pull ups 5
dips 5
crunches 10
pistol squats 3 each leg

10 minutes gave me 4 run throughs and i certainly felt it.

I then had a mince pie with brandy cream. FFS Andy FOCUS

8a or die ?




A thread on UKClimbing has changed my life ! It's not often you can say that.

One of many on the same subject - Can anyone climb sport 8a ?

In particular one reply from Adrian Berry:

"If someone is reading this and fancies taking it on, this is how you do it:
... focus your training on one route - forget everything else. When you've done this, add a grade and pick another - train the weaknesses that are stopping you - redpoint it and add a grade etc. Keep going until you do an 8a. Starting at 6c - I would estimate about 3yrs. Stay focussed and it's inevitable."

It cuts through the bullshit really doesn't it ? I'd always had excuses to keep the nagging voices at bay. If the voices become too loud I drown them out with talk of how i am just about to commit to start seriously thinking about figuring out a training plan to get me up that 7a/E3 if only I wasn't so busy.

I've always wanted to climb harder than i do - E1 and Fr6b, the odd golden moments on E2's and 6b+ - but not many.


2009 had been the usual trot along in my comfort zone apart from one or two notable events. First I increased my bouldering grade from near poo inducing effort to tick the odd V3 to doing my first V5 and V6 in the same session 2 weeks after my first ever V4. How ? Getting in with a motivated group of good climbers who showed me how to really try and dig deep. Seeing the massive extra return you get from giving that little bit extra was eye opening - as were the grades.

Second I had a coaching session with Gaz Parry whilst on holiday in Spain and ended up on-sighting Fr6c. I had a sudden realisation that i did have the tools to climb hard(er), i just needed to get them out of the box. I think the tools were hidden in the bottom of the box and the box was at the back of the shed under all that crap that's in there just in case you need it one day.

Back home i cracked on with my usual plan of action - carry on as normal, expect special things to happen, then make an excuse when they don't.

Being on the UKClimbing.com fit club thread for the last 2 years has shown me the difference between those who hit goals and those who don't. Less time talking and more time 'manning it up' and actually doing.

So why haven't i been doing ? It's taken me a lot of effort to figure this one out, but it's basically as follows:

1) Scared of failure
2) Scared of success
3) Scared on the end of a rope

Phew that feels better off my chest. Thanks for listening ! Seriously though i do have issues with success and failure which i've only realised in the last year whilst taking our recently adopted children to therapy. It's been good for me as well as them :0)

I think it's the thought of taking those 3 issues on and winning that is what has clicked inside me.

I can't get the time on rock to improve my trad grade for the foreseeable future. Sport climbing can be improved without needing so much time on rock and i've really enjoyed the red-pointing i've done. The whole process appeals to me here and now, and is achievable, so that's what i've decided to focus on.

Adrian's post just hit home at the right time. I've had the worst run of illness ever in my life and haven't climbed properly since the end of September. I have missed climbing massively and i want to be better than average.

I want that 8a and all it will open up for me - which will probably just be 8a+ ;0)

Maybe it's shallow but my life my rules and it's what i want! It may end up being like plastic surgery. You think it will make everything better but when you get it done things are still the same but you've just got a bigger penis. I'm just hoping the journey will be a bit more enjoyable than that - and won't involve surgery on my privates.