Sunday, 23 October 2011

Strength or fitness - which is most important

Douggie on the start of Poema de Roca

This time last year i was getting ready to go to Kalymnos. I had spent literally hours of my life going round and round in cir
cles doing circuits on a Bendcrete board at Cockermouth and getting to Kendal wall as much as i could. The result was a 7a+ of a long, steep route in the Grande Grotte that i was really chuffed with.

This year before coming to Spain i bouldered almost exclusively with a few trips to Penrith wall - all of 8 metres high. The result was a 7A+ that i was really chuffed with.

I wasn't expecting to have any fitness at all when i got here and when i first went out that was the case. More than anything i was scared to death above a bolt and still in bouldering mode. I was grabbing every hold as hard as i could, through fear and my body being so used to grabbing everything 100%. Un-surprisingly i was pumping out very quickly and sitting on a lot of bolts.

Fast forward a couple of months and i have just climbed Poema de Roca.

Neil on the rest just before the crux

It's route that relies on economic climbing and recovery en-route, with 3 hands off rests and 2 partial shakes. It's notoriously pumpy and i was saving it for an on-sight attempt at the end of the year. Circumstances ended up with me standing at the bottom of it yesterday and giving it a go 2 months early. I wasn't too shocked to find myself dangling off the rope at the 4th bolt on my first go. I was quite shocked to completely cruise it 2nd go. I got to the top feeling fresh and it went like clockwork.

I was pondering what had improved so much to make it go so well. I've come to the conclusion it was a combination of being stronger and lots of volume. The amount of easy climbing i've done in the last couple of months has been greater in total than the last 2 years. I am reading routes well, spotting cruxes and sequences and, most importantly, i now have the move 'library' and strength to pull the moves off.

I think strength endurance, or fitness, is the icing on the cake. Volume of easy climbing and bouldering strength and know how seem to be the most important factors for me anyway.

I am going to carry on with the volume, with on-sighting as a priority, until Xmas and then i am going to redpoint the next few months with an idea of hitting 7b+ ( maybe 7c ) by April ish.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Life is good

A 6a + at Yugoslavia
Easy bimble into a 6B. That was a shock.

Well things finally seem to be coming together. Like buses i was waiting for ages and now two have come along at once. My friends in El Chorro want to climb every Monday and our Spanish friend Sylvia has finally come back from her travels and also wants to climb as much as possible.

A pic of Sylvia for Mario's benefit

So i have been out climbing sport 3 times in the last 10 days and it feels great. One false start at a recently developed crag in Chorro ( think grades at least 1 full grade lower than they really are, long run outs above bolts while you do the crux and a 40 min walk in up a steep hill in the blazing sun). I guess this is often the result of ideas formed in the pub the night before with a hand drawn topo copied from another hand drawn topo.

Besides that it has been just what i came here for: Quality routes, great weather, road side crags, no queues for the starred routes, great people and beautiful places. Awesome.

Cut a long story short 6b+'s are going down easy and i on-sighted a 6c yesterday at Villanueva Del Cauche. It went like a dream with everything feeling how i expected and i got to the top feeling fresh.

Last year in Kalymnos i was wobbling up 6c's and i had spent a lot of time working PE. This year i have done none but am a lot stronger. Every move feels easier and i am not getting pumped. I am also able to attack cruxes more positively as i know i am strong enough to pull them off.

Me dancing on a rock.
I was visualising a route but Sylvia thought it was hilarious.

Although my climbing hasn't been regular since i got here i am in a rhythm with my climbing and am not feeling nervous about going above bolts like i was before. I am hoping it can only get better.

Sophie belayed by Auntie Rachel

I want to on-sight 3 more 6b+'s, 3 more 6c's and RP a 7a this month. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Appearances can be deceptive

I was bouldering at my usual spot beneath Mt Chamoz the other day when i bumped into my chubby stoned friend. He had brought his son along this time, Antonio. Antonio is 13, spotty, skinny and looks like he needs another couple of years growing for his body to catch up with his arms and legs. Gangly youth would be the best description. He proceeded to very quietly take me round some of the most heinous slab problems i have ever had the misfortune to try and get up. Think 7A-7B slopers with tiny, very polished, footholds. His sense of balance, timing and movement were great to watch and learn from. I had an ultimately frustrating time but made sure i burnt him off on a 6C+ overhanging jug fest at the end. Can't have young 'uns getting too cocky now can we ?

Two days later i went back to more familiar territory; thuggy over-hanging stuff at El Torcalito. Whilst there i was watching a guy working a traverse problem on the crimpy wall. It looked good and it must be hard. Why must it be ? Well he was power screaming like a lady tennis player, dripping with sweat and was built like Chris Sharma. I wombled over and he started to show me how it went. I must admit to being a bit surprised ( and secretly smug ) when i flashed it. Not that it was a great display of climbing by me it just wasn't very hard. Turns out he wasn't much of a climber, just looked like he was.

Just goes to show you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. I only found out just how good Antonio was when he took his shoes off at the end of the session. I could see his toes through the bottom of them. I've no idea why he bothered wearing them, there was hardly any rubber left. That lad could do well. I'm taking a couple of pairs of my old shoes next time i go up. If he's the same size he can have them as long as he lets me into the secret of levitation he obviously has.