Friday, 29 July 2011

So close ...

So this week I had another coaching session with Nik Jennings, but this time we spent the day on real rock. We visited the quality venue known as horseshoe quarry (to give you an idea of the quality it’s nickname is Horseshit quarry). This was a day to work on techniques involved in the redpoint process.
I am not very good at the redpoint process as I approach sports climbing with a bit of a trad mentality. i.e. its all about the onsight, I need to be able to do the moves from the ground first time.
With sports climbing this is not the case especially when you are climbing something hard.
I warmed up by onsighting a slabby 6a arĂȘte. The climbing was straight forward with a couple of nice balancey moves. As I lowered off Nik got me to strip one draw to practice clip sticking up and jugging up the rope.
A clip stick is a device that allows you to clip into a draw from below which obviously is very useful when the moves are hard. Jugging up the rope is a fancy name for grabbing the rope heading down to the belayer and pulling your way up it. It sounds straight forward enough and it is, however it is always good to learn a skill before you need to do it in anger.
After the route we had a little chat and he gave me some tips one was to clean my boots, they were covered in sand. He then told me he was going to stick me on some thing hard. He then said we would look at some 7a’s. What the hell??? I thought we would be looking at about 6c or maybe 6c+ at a push.
We went for a walk around the quarry and looked at several routes at the grade of 7a. There were two on the main face, these routes were both slightly overhanging and looked to have some large holds at around 25m in length. We kept on looking around went up to the upper tier there was face climb that eased to a slab and finished up a small overhang it was probably about 12m long. It looked a bit dirty and unloved.
When sports climbing often the length of the route effects the difficulty of moves. Sports climbing routes are graded by the difficulty of the best sequence to climb the route. So a long route could be fairly steady moves but it just takes a lot of stamina to do the route so it gets a hard grade. A shorter route tends to be harder moves packed into a shorter space.
I decided to give the slab a go I started by clip sticking my way up and trying a few moves. The wall just looked blank! I set up the top rope and lowered off and had a rest.
The next time up I tried the start but I was clueless how to do it. I jugged up past the second bolt and linked a couple of moves but no real progress. I lowered off again. Nik then gave the route a go and was surprised how poor the feet are at the start. He talk me through how he would redpoint it while he climbed the route. Doing individual moves brushing the hold repeating the moves to get them wired and slowly making his way to the top.
The he marked up the holds and talked me through the sequence. I gave it another go on top rope and the moves were nails. The crux was the start moving past the first bolt. The sequence Nik used was completely nails. I again jugged past the start and worked the move past the first bolt. I managed to do all the moves from here to the top. Linking up all the moves from above the second bolt to the top. I lowered off, rested ad had another go at the start trying something different. This felt a bit easier but still nails.
Nik went up a third time and found a sequence that works. I then went up and did the start moves. I then worked the moves between bolt one and two then lowered off.
After this I pulled the rope and had a nice long rest and I went for the red point. The moves up past the first bolt are the crux and I fell on this move about 5 times on lead. This sequence on its own would be worth hard 6c+ according to Nik.
On my 6th redpoint I managed to get the good hold and move up to the second bolt and get this clipped. There is one more hard move then a couple of less hard moves but not something I would fall off from there to the top. I rested at the good hold below the second bolt. Then I went for it. High smear with my right left out right to a good hold then a big move to a little knobbing I got the hold but my right slipped off and I fell. Gutted!!
I worked the move to refine it then lowered and had a nice long rest. After the rest I went again through the crux no issue then I clipped the second bolt pulling as hard as I could absolutely knackered I Went for the move but I missed my left foot placement and off I came again. I then did the move straight away on the next attempt and lowered off. ARRGHHH!! So close!
I rested for a long time again at this point my fingers aches and were red raw. My toes were killing from wearing tight climbing shoes and standing on minute edges all day.
I set off on my 8/9th red point attempt still not having linked all the moves with out falling not even on top rope. I pulled as hard as I could but realized I did not have enough left. I grabbed the draw mid crux and called it time on the route. Not wanting to injure myself. Feeling completely gutted.
I was so close. The difference between doing the route and not was moving my hips a couple of centimeters. That’s all it would of taken to keep me balanced.
I lowered off and Nik lead the route making the moves look easy. He cleaned the draws and we moved on.
I ended the day with a onsight attempt at a 6b+ which went badly due to fatigue. I did all the moves but very much dogged my way up. I was too tired to tray and put it together for a redpoint so called it a day and stripped the draws as I lowered off.

Its amazing how close I got to redpointing a 7a only 4 days after my first 6b+ redpoint. I am hoping to get back to the route in the near future if I can find a belayer.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Wales part the second

Ok here is part two.
Sunday morning I woke up guessing it was about half 5 feeling tired after another poor nights sleep. I turned my phone on to check the time. To my surprise it was 6.30 (not much better). I then got a text from the night before from Matthias saying ring me urgently when I got the text.
So I gave him a call. He said “there is some damp appearing in the living room under the bath and the shower is leaking”. I felt slightly disheartened feeling my empty wallet getting even lighter. I called my Dad and let him know so he could sort something out later, theirs not a lot I can do from a field in North Wales with poor reception.
I went back to sleep and got about another 20 mins and woke up Vicky about 7.30 to get ourselves up and ready for the arrival of Haydn.
We got a call off of Haydn around 8.15 saying he had made good time just needed some fuel and was checking where to meet us. We were just cooking some bacon sandwiches. We had run out of time so we rushed through breakfast and packed everything up chucking most of it in the back of the car.
The weather was perfect a very light breeze at the campsite and the sun was rising fast and the temperature was rising. Haydn arrived so we moved all the climbing gear into his car and left Vicky’s at the camp site for the day. Setting off up the road we decided to head towards the nose on Dinas Mot. The plan was to get on a multi-pitch HVS or two. We started with a fast ascent of The direct route *** (VS 5b) I took the first lead linking pitch one and two together to a nice slabby, bold(ish) 47m VS 4b pitch. I dispatched this with no real drama. Nice climbing in a great position. Haydn and Vix simo-climbed seconding me to save time. Next Vicky lead a short VS 4c pitch around 15m. It was nice climbing in a fantastic position with a hand traverse with 55m of air below your feet on an exposed bulge (there is a great guide book photo). To avoid issues when swapping leads we made an effort to flake the ropes after every pitch. So after me and haydn followed Vicky up I flaked out the yellow rope and Vix sorted the blue, while Haydn geared up for the final and crux pitch.
After making the mistake of not fully tightening up one of my screw gates on the belay anchor then clipping into the second anchor in the wrong place. The banter started obviously Haydn was in full flow. I Had sorted the yellow rope then laid it out the wrong way up so I was belaying from the bottom of the pile.
Haydn set off on the crux pitch which has a boulder problem start. A weird hard 5b bridging moves lead to a jug then good climbing on a massive flake leads to a short crack. It’s a great bit of climbing in a corner right on top of the nose. Haydn topped out with not too many issues except not enjoying the foot jams at the top crack. After setting up his anchor he started to pull up both ropes. At which point I realised I had managed to tangle the yellow rope. Haydn respond in his usual way. “Luke you’re fucking up again, That’s it one more fuck up and I will kick the shit out of you.” With a rye smile I continued to untangle the rope only to here a few seconds later coming from above shouts of below. I look up to see a small blue belay device bouncing down the flake and past me at speed. I also then shouted below as there was a few people at the based of the crag. Trying not to laugh I shouted up to Haydn “Take it you will be belaying off a Italian hitch then?” I followed him up after looking slightly bewildered at the move off the ledge I set off and got the move straight away. I then got to Haydn’s next bit a gear, a small cam that had walk up and became over cammed. I gave it a good go but failed to get it out. I finished the pitch with no real issue. Vicky came up next no issues with the climbing for her either. She also had a go at the cam and failed to get it out, so Haydn got lowered off and got it out pretty quickly realising what had happened with the placement. We abbed off down the east gully and headed back to our bags.
It was around lunch time so we had a snack and planned our next route. We were keen to give West rib a go so we got ready and Vix racked up for the first pitch. Sadly when we got there we found that there was already two groups on a three pitch route and not been arse to follow up the groups we carried on.
We spotted a route called Jubilee Climb ** HVS 5b so we thought we would go have a look. The first pitch looked ok so we gate it ago. Vicky lead linking pitched one and too. This probably deserved around VS 4b and a star on its own. Nice climbing in a cool position. Me and Haydn followed simo-climbing we then got to the top of the pitch and looked at the next one. The pitch was a one star HVS/E1 5b. This involves climbing into a cave spinning out onto a face finishing up a set of steep cracks. After eyeing up the harrowing next pitch I asked Haydn if he would take this one. Thankfully he obliged. He lead the pitch with style finesse and power giving it everything he had, until he ran out of steam on the last move before pulling over the top. So close. It was an awesome effort and a shame he did not get it clean. He rested on the rope then worked out the move. He continues up the next pitch a short severe 4a pitch until the rope drag became unbearable and set up an anchor. I followed first fighting to stay on and came close but fell after trying to grab a hold that did not exist. I got over the top after a rest on the rope and continued up the slab to meet H at the belay. Vicky followed and took one fall on the crux then made it over the top.
Now it was my turn to lead the final pitch. Haydn had stopped half way up the next pitch which I think turned out to be just at the crux move but it was only 4a so after a little be wilderment I got up to the end of that pitch and moved onto the final and top pitch. The guide was not clear about the line so I had an idea of the line but I was not sure. When I got to the base there with a thin seam/crack line moving up and left to a wider crack so that was it. The pitch weighed in at around HVS 5a but this was definitely a three star pitch. Looking a little bemused I glance down at Haydn who shouted up to me. “I have never seen anyone so un psyched about to climb” half laughing. I was very deep in thought so I do not reply I placed a nut in a crack below a finger lock. The placement was bomber. I just had to pull onto the slab. I worked out a way felt about 5a and set off. I followed the thin crack with smears for feet to a good break. I placed some gear and moved off left to where the crack got wider. At this point I was gripped the route is in a fantastic position but this is completely overshadowed by the fact the climbing is amazing. I moved up the wider crack on finger locks, hand jams smears rock over’s. The route had every thing! I got to a large undercut finger jug and got a bit bewildered. I had a fantastic cam at head height but the smears were not great. I work out the move which was a brilliant high rock over to another undercut finger jug then it eased to the top.
The pitch was the best pitch of climbing of the day. It was truly one of the best pitches I have ever climbed. Haydn followed my up with no real issue and confirmed the quality of the climbing. Stating the only issue was the pitch was only 25m long wishing it continued. Vicky followed with no real issue.
We headed down jammed boulder gully which was a bit interesting to say the least and headed back to the gear. We decided to call it a day and head to the pub for a swift one before the drive home.
I then managed to embarrass myself in front of a barmaid by having to borrow money to buy my drink only for the barmaid to tell me I did not need to and give me the money back. FAIL!!! Good chat in the pub then we headed home feeling content and knackered after a long weekend.

On the way home I thought I would look at the graded list to see where Jubilee climb came. It was the top of the HVS graded list so this made me feel a bit better. I may have fallen but at least it was on the hardest pitch of the hardest HVS in the pass.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Wales - The Saturday bit

Last weekend was spent in North Wales. Here is Saturday!
My weekend started with a trip to Vicky’s dads where we crashed on Friday night. After a poor night sleep I got up around 8 and after a shower got fed a full fry up and a big bowl of cereal. Awesome.
Both Vicky and I started the day with some unfinished business. Last year we visited Penmaen Head and tried flow stone shuffle a 12m long overhanging pump fest with a constant flow of power sapping moves. I had previously spent quite some time on this route over a year before. Vicky had been on it briefly on a couple of occasions
I warmed up by onsighting a 5 and a 5+ then I went for it. I thought I would climb it bolt to bolt to remind myself of the sequence. I got the first bolt clipped which is just before the crux (for me). I went for the crux in what I thought was my sequence I worked out last year, but my foot slipped. Slightly disappointed I sat on the rope and worked out the move. I spotted a foothold high off to my right and decided to try that I also changed my starting right hand hold and I got it. I then climbed the rest of the route setting the draws with out a fall. As I was lowering off I marked a few holds to remind me for on my red point. I had a nice long rest while I de-pumped and took on some sugar.
About 15-20mins later I went for it. I clipped the first bolt. Stepped down to the half rest before the crux and went for it. Grabbed the hold out right, high left foot, really high right rocked my weight over it. I moved my right hand in to a poor side pull crimp and a big reach and slap far out left. I hit the hold right and stood up at the half rest and clipped the second bolt. Then I went for it moving back right left hand over right onto a sloper right on to the crimp then slapped for the jug … Missed it forgot to sort my feet and I was off. Gutted I lowered off but I still felt fresh So I pulled the roped and went again.
I got the crux no problem second bolt clipped onto the sloper and sorted my feet into jug then the strenuous pumpy sequence really hits. I had refined my sequence for this when I set the draws. I also changed my clipping position to be much lower of a side pull.
I hit the side pull find turned my hip right in and leaned back to be set in positon. I then clipped the rope and fired through the next 4 moves.
RH crimp, Left hand sloper intermediate then straight into the undercut, match it sort feet slap for side pull out left.
Yes through all the hard moves then I moved my left had to the jug first.
WHAT THE FUCK are you doing!
Completely out of balance I start to panic trying to reset my feet pumped to all hell. I manage to get set and slap my left back down then get my right in the jug. Matched the jug, LH in the pocket then to the big flatties. Move across the flatties to the under cut in the roof and clip the chain and relax. GET IN! I was so close to fluffing it. A one year burden was lifted.
Then It was Vicky’s she went for a flash on the day after I got it. She fired through the crux no issue but then fluffed the third clip with a harder sequence. Hanging off the bolt I talked her through my sequence which was probably less powerful and more efficient. She went for it but realised she did not have the reach to clip from the same position as me. But the sequence was much easier and she got to the top for the first time in her three trips. She then swapped out some draws for longer ones and had a rest.
Then came her next redpoint attempt. She got it the strenuous third clip was fine the sequence worked and she thought off the pump and clipped the chain. NICE!
I then onsighted a 6a and we went for a lunch break.
Saturday after noon we headed to castle inn quarry. It was vickys lead but all the 6a’s/5+’s were taken so with no available warm up we decided to try a slabby 6b+. I offered to go up and set the draws. I was going to clip stick up but Vicky told me to go for the onsight. I went for it, it was a sharp, crimpy slab route consisting of thin moved to a very thin slabby boulder crux above the forth bolt moving to the fifth bolt. It took me a while to commit to the hard move but eventually I went for it.
Poor smear to crap tiny edge off of tiny crimps to a slopey pinch. I then crossed through to a small sloper for my left hand with awful feet. Completely out of balance I managed to clip the bolt with my left hand crossing over my right. I was fighting with everything I had to stay on. Clip got it spotted a thing crimp out left and carried on. To a steep finally with a mantel type move on a slopey hold at the very top. I clipped the chain. YYFY! 6b+ onsight after such a fight to tick my first 6b+ earlier that morning.
Vicky then go on it and managed to onsight it also.
We finished the day by onsighting two fantastic easier routes (5+ and 6a). Then packed up and headed toward the Pass where we were camping for the night. We had originally planed to head to Tremadog but after a call from Haydn we decided to climb in the pass instead.
After such a good day we treated our selves to a few pints of ale and a nice steak at the pub in nont peris which is usefully opposite the campsite.
Good day ended with good beer good food and good company (and a new guide book I could not afford)

Friday, 22 July 2011

North Wales - Here I come

Off to north wales for the weekend completely psyched out of my mind!!
Starting off with some sports climbing along the A55, continuing with soem multipitch trad. Maybe even a plod down the beach at colwyn bay or a dip in the sea.
Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!

My first target is flowstone shuffle a fantastic 6b+ that escaped me on the last trip. If I can fire that out with no real drama I will go for either another 6b+ or a 6c. I think I will also try and onsight/flash a 6b. to try and push my grade.

Sunday the destination is to be confirmed as we are waiting to see if anyone is coming to meet us.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Inspired to train and by training

Last week on my way to check out buckstones I hit a pot hole at national speed limit. Long story short buckled alloy new tire needed. I did however enjoy myself on the boulders and I am looking forward to a return trip.

I have been having a few core sessions here and there to try and improve my core strength and stability. I am noticing some benefits. I am sure the gains will become more clear over time.

I have been keeping regular visits to the climbing wall in my climbing lately for a few reasons.
  1. I feel I benefit more from a structured(ish) session indoors than I do in a day at the crag.
  2. I am thinking about my trip in November to El chorro now. When I get there I want to be strong confident and ready to krank harder than I have every kranked before.
  3. Rokt climbing gym is fun, inspiring and challenging.
  4. Where else can I run laps on routes meaning I am not just climbing 12m or 16m or 20m. I am climbing 42m with out a rest or I am climbing 50m without a rest. I am flashing routes climbing up then I am flashing a different route while down climbing.
  5. I am getting better at reading moves while tired. When you are trying to flash a route you are 37m into a route and you have to work out how to down climb a boulder problem its a lot harder to work out than looking up at a few bright coloured blobs.
  6. I am totally psyched for El Chorro! Completely.
  7. I want to climb hard there. It's been suggested I should climb a 7a out there. This would be a major achievement. To do this I need to be stronger fitter and a better climber than I have ever been before.
My theory is if I put the effort in now I will be ready by the time the trip comes. I can get stronger I can work my arse off to prepare I will be ready.
In all aspects of life I find preparation is key. In work I always plan a meeting or presentation fully before I go. If not you look like a tit.
If I am in an exam I prepare by revising I look up everything and relearn every thing I can. I am crap at exams but I usually came out with good results.
Before football I warm up. Before climbing hard I warm up.
From now until November I am warming up for the real challenge. 7 days to climb as hard and as many routes as possible.

 I am completely inspired by Rokt. The length of the routes are amazing it means you have to be fit just to cope with the height. The top rope silos are 16.5m tall and the lead wall is 21.5m.
I am used to climbing at hudds wall which goes up to 9m tall. So the laps on there are nothing compare to this. The pump you get on the hudds wall was nothing compare to Rokt.

All in all I am psyched. The indoor climbing is showing big gains. The more I train the more I enjoy training. The more laps I climb the more laps I want to climb. Now I just need to grab a guide book plan a tick list and test myself on some real rock.


Monday, 11 July 2011

3 days on time for a day off

Rokt - 4.5 hours. I spent the first 10 mins warming up. Next I repeated the red slab problem and did some easy steep problems.
I decided to work my weaknesses next so steep crimpy problems and pulled hard on small holds for 20 mins or so.
I had a short rest and then worked the traverses in the warm up room and flashed most of them. I got the black second try and I did not try the pink. The comp wall was shut for re-setting so I was a littel limited as I hate roof problems.
Andy turned up so I ask him if he would give me a belay on the lead wall. He was keen but wanted to warm up first so I worked some green traverses.
Once Andy was warmed we hit the lead wall. I climbed up and down a 6a to get going. Next I flashed a 6b on lead and down climbed a 5. I then got on the steep wall and managed to do all the moves on the 6b+. I took two rests and the rope but no falls. I bit more PE and I will get it.
Finished myself off by playing on the comp wall.

Started the day by reading in bed then headed to get breakfast. quietly not to wake Matthias. As I walked into the living room to my surprise there was Matthias as sleep on the sofa. I walked past quitely a bit confused and into the kitchen to make my breakfast.
Grabbed my food and went to sit on my chair and watch tv. Matthias was woken by the smell of bacon and asked me "Why am I sleeping on the sofa?".
Any way I headed out with Vicky to climb at froggatt. We arrived there to a bit of drizzle. Vix got on Sunset Crack HS and as she was getting to half height the sun came out. Next I got vix on Trapese direct which she did with a bit of psyching up. We played on Joes slab for a little bit. The friction was appauling never the less Vix got it on her second try. I repeated it once I remembered the move. We ended the froggatt trip with convincing Vix to lead Chequers Buttress HVS. She lead the route with no real issue. The temperature was getting really hot which is nice to bath in but the friction was appauling so we decide to move on.
We headed to Rubicon I repeated several problems that I had done the week before and got Vix to do the 6A+ knackered and feeble we headed back home.
We ended the day with a curry at memsahib. Excellent day all round!

Again climbing with Vix we headed out early. This time we headed north to Caley. I had never been to Caley so was rather psyched for a new venue. I warmed by leading central route VS 5a. I also High balled Sucker's Rib (font 5+) and Sucker's Wall (Font 4+) both onsight/flash. I was getting psyched for Angel wall (Font 5) which is HVS in old money and a worse landing.
The weather came in heavily and we had to leave.
We hit the Depot so I warmed up on the slab then I flashed the entire black ciruit (20 problems V1-V3). I then tried the ciruit board but quickly realised I was far too tired after 2.5 days of hard climbing. So I spent some time working harder problems and flashing some as well. I was tired but still managed 2.5hours so another good session.

Awesome weekend but absolutely spanked having a nice relaxing eveing in front of the TV.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A change of focus

Is it a time for a change of focus? The hot weather and the midges are coming in and after having the worst grit season since I started climbing trad is it time for a refocus? Grit is easy as it is local and there is lots of it. Lime is a bit harder due to the drive and the trad is either polished, not very good or a bit of a drive. The lakes is a weekend job and so is North Wales.
I am hoping to get down bristol way in august to see Tom Hobbs. It will be nice for some limestone trad but its a long way 4-5 hours each way plus dealing with the M6!!!!
Pembroke looks amawing but that is a long weekend job minimum! The times I wanted to go fell through due to lack of interest and an issue on dates.
I have been enjoying sports climbing this year more and more. So that is another area to look into.
Hopefully I will be inspired this weekend.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Training and coaching - Inspiration

I have been going through a lull in my inspiration of late and I felt I need to change some thing in my climbing to be back on it. So I booked a coaching session with Nik Jennings. I thought this would be a good opportunity to be told my weaknesses by someone else and get advice how to improve.

So on Thursday night I went to Rokt and had a session with the triple 8'er himself. He went through a warm up with me. Then told me to warm up on watch my movement and foot work. Once the blood was flowing he stuck me on a problem. Dint say anything just told me to try it. I failed epically. He went through some tactics with me then I had another go. This time much better. After a few more tries I could do every move and just need to link it.
The problem was graded Font 7A ... awesome!
We then moved on to steeper ground to the slightly overhanging wall he stuck me on another 7A. I got spanked. He explained what I was doing wrong. I worked it and could do a couple of moves but not strong enough for the problem also not locking in my flags properly.
Finally he stuck me on a hard problem on the comp wall again I was getting spanked. Again he spotted the issue and I could get one move further.

So after a while bouldering we had a break and he explained my issues. He reckons my core is weak and I do not engage it properly and I have poor finger strength. Also I do not commit to my Egyptians properly.

This was good I have been told my weaknesses and I have something to work on.

He then stuck me on the lead wall. He set me at a vertical 6b+. It was a fight but I flashed the route. After that I had a go on a 6c+/7a. I managed to work all the moves to the crux and a couple after finishing at about three quarters of the way up the wall.
A successful session I thought I have been advised my weakness's and I know what I need to do to improve.

So today I decided to try something different. I went bouldering on limestone. This was a first but not the only first of the day. I went to Rubicon as the guides showed it having a few problems in my grade to go at. I warmed up on the long juggy traverse then started working a 6A but I was getting know where so I worked a 5+ I got it after a bit of work. I then saw two guys doing a 6A+ I wanted to work. I saw one guy do the moves. Then his mate.
Psyched I asked if I could grab a spot and if they could go through the moves. Thinking I knew the way I set off. Steep jug hauling on a long path. I did it my first 6A+ flash ... AWESOME!!!!
The guys then showed me the sequence for the 6A I was doing it wrong. Got it second go with the new beta just failing do to a greasy hold and fingers popping. Next I also flashed a font 5.
The guys then showed me a Font 6A/+ eliminate which I worked for a while. Took a countless number of tries and 4/5 different sets of beta but eventually it went. Awesome.
I also worked a couple of 6B's, a 6B+ and a dyno. Could not complete them so something to go back for.
All in all a good day out. My Psyche is back!
I am not saying that I would not of got the flas without Nik's coaching session but the only reason I did the crux move was due to a Stronger eyghtian then I ever did before my training session. So the answer is not I probably would not of flashed it with out him.

Tomorrow is a training session with Martin at Rokt ... My fingers feel sore already ... Bring on the pain!!!