Friday, 26 November 2010

Little bit of krushing at Loch Katrine.

Taking advantage of the OMG-snow-end-of-the-world-winter-apocalypse-/-awesome-bouldering-conditions weather, I've had a wee visit to the Loch Katrine boulders. This is rather long overdue - not least because they are GOOD. Good lines, great scenery, superb rock. Nothing like the usual flakey bollox, but a delightfully rough and butchly clean-cut schist. The walk-in is potentially a bit tedious but I drove down the private road and waved my "On Warfarin due to bilateral DVTs" medical card and politely asked to park there to save my poor wee legs, which worked and was the first part of a very fine session. The second part was seeing the inspiring lines and scenery. Third part, chalking my hands and touching the rock and oh my god the friction. Possibly the best conditions I've ever bouldered in, I felt I could just mollusc my way up things. Not much different to my usual climbing style then ;).

The fourth and conclusive part was climbing pretty well, flashing a few good problems and effectively flashing another (note to self: read guidebook properly and aim for the true and easier line not some harder version). The only disappointment was not managing the classic butch sloper problem "Fight Club". Curiously I was wondering if I was doing so well earlier on solely because of the conditions, but FC is totally conditions dependent and still felt nails. So as usual the grades are nonsense. But the climbing is good and probably the best bouldering session I've had since spring 2009.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

On The Merits Of Being Shit.

At the moment, I am shit.

My fitness is shit - I feel physically sluggish in general, I am a tigger without a bounce. I've slacked off on the CV training and with my leg issues I can't afford to do that.

My climbing fitness is shit - I get pumped and tired so much quicker than normal. Not just on routes, even on boulder problems, I get out of breath.

My weight is shit - I'm the heaviest I've ever been, more than a stone heavier than 3 years ago. And not all of that is pure beefy muscle :(

My strength is shit - Probably due to the weight issue, but I really can't seem to haul my lardy arse in an upwards direction. I dread to think how few pullups I can do.

My skin is shit - but that's normal heh.

My attitude is shit - I still think I can climb as well as I have during the better points of this year....deluded, I go into each session kidding myself I'm better than I currently am. I'm not adjusting to my new physical needs, I'm not dedicated enough to training in various ways.

My technique....isn't any more shit than usual - I do feel I'm moving okay on rock and in touch with what balance and footwork I usually have.

My finger strength....isn't as shit as the rest - I do feel that I can hang on smallish holds, just can't pull very far on them.

My inspiration....isn't shit - I do feel happy that I've got so inspired by bouldering over winter, AND I'm getting syked and getting ideas for next spring too. Definitely "true to self".


As Duncan Disorderly is fond of saying, "You can't have fun when you're weak". I could never really identify with that. But now, for the first time ever, I might even be weaker than Dunc. That is a dirty, sordid feeling with an unwholesome air of inherent wrongness.

Basically I have to wake up and put some fucking effort in. The good thing about being weak is you can get strong, the merits of being shit are that you can improve, progress, and learn. What I need to learn is to get into good habits of overall physical activity and training - not just climbing, but general training that will crucially benefit my health and undoubtably benefit my climbing too. IF I can learn to that, that will be very good. If I can't, I will just have to keep trying and battling with my bad habits.

I think my climbing desires are in touch with the season.

I think my climbing needs are also in touch with the season.

I now need to address those needs so I can meet those desires.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Terrific Torridon, Righteous Reiff.

Had a fun long weekend on my own exploring bouldering in the mighty North West. Was due to meet a guy to do some routes with but he had to pull out so I just kept bouldering. Staying in a nice hostel (well, pretty crude hostel but attached to a rather swish hotel which I was allowed to lurk in....sitting in front of a roaring fire, supping in a cask strength 20yr old Jura under the stern gaze of several stag heads, pretty nice ;)), driving many miles around, enjoying great weather, beautiful scenery and the probably the best bouldering in Scotland.

Not much more to say. It's cool. I'll be back.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Romping about at the Restil Boulders.

I quite like the Restil Boulders. Although there are very few of them, the lines are good, the rock is a good schist, more compact and square-cut rather than contorted and flakey, the walk-in although revoltingly tussocky is suitably short and the surrounding views are pretty dramatic.

They're also good in winter as those same surrounding views transform into heavily snowcapped peaks, the sometimes boggy ground freezes into manageability, and the boulders stay fairly clean and sunny....if you're there when the sun is still on them. I wasn't so I had to make do with shade - and correspondingly good friction :) - but it was still a good, if brief session. If only there was a bit more there...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

County account...

...has been opened. For bouldering at least - I've done a few routes there before. One of my favourite self-indulgent stunts is waiting for people to ask me, an outsider, if I've ever climbed in Northumberland. "A little bit....only Back Bowden, Berryhill, Bowden, Callerhues, Corby's, Crag Lough, Curtis Crag, Drakestone, East Woodburn, Goat's Crag, Great Wanney, Jack Rock, Kyloe In, Kyloe Out, Peel Crag, Raven's Crag, Ravensheugh, Rothley, Sandy Crag, Selby's Cove, Simonside and South Yardhope" I answer with a poker face but without modesty. I still want to add Howlerhirst and Linshields to my list.

I've also done a few boulder problems there before, mostly at Kyloe In (when recovering from golfer's elbow) and Hepburn Out (when recovering - or thinking I was recovering - from DVTs). Both really rather good. Of course there is so much more than that, indeed a whole guidebook full of hugely innaccurate grades and "not to scale" maps etc etc, and to optimise winter climbing I've realised I need to explore the County a lot more. I've started with a visit to Dove Holes (the bouldering venue, not the Dove Dale caves nor the village near Buxton), despite a deluge overnight it was sunny and idyllic and indeed a bit warm for bouldering as shown in the video below, but pretty good fun. Alas I ran out of daylight / courage for the better and higher problems but I'll be back for sure.

In a generally very fine afternoon, one disappointment was my renewed punterness. This time I didn't need stamina of course, but did notice that I seemed to get tired and out of breath even on boulder problems. Partly due to the penis-grinding mantle top-outs, and probably partly due to not breathing well enough, but it is still rather odd. Particularly since I went to the gym on Thu night and had my best recumbent cycling / rowing fitness session so far. So why do I get so tired on 1 minute of strenuous bouldering?? Maybe this is the same issue as getting so tired in Arco?? Anyone got any thoughts??

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


I'm back from a long autumn sun bolt-clipping weekend in the Italian sport climbing mecca of Arco. There were many cool things over this mini-trip... Exploring a whole new area, the gorgeous scenery around the top of Lake Garda, 3 days of warm sunshine, hooning around in my tiny Fiat Scroto hire car (dropping it down into 2nd at 70kph to overtake being quite ineffectual fun, as well as trying to slide on mountain hairpin bends), eating ace pizza and other Italian delicacies, hanging out with my old mates and their wee monkey boy (e.g. after knocking over ice cream dish in a face-pulling contest: L: "Daddy are we BOTH idiots??"... D: "Yes....yes we are.") in a tiny little cabin, endless choadly banter and a fair bit of chilling out.

Note that something is missing from that list...the climbing?? Yes, the climbing. There was some. Not as much as I would have liked, and I was rubbish at it. I did a few routes, tackled a few challenges, and most of what I did was pretty good. Most of what I failed on was pretty good too, and there was more of that than I would have liked. D wasn't on form either, and so aptly put it "punters in crime" ! There were some general issues - the consensus was the grades were stiff, some areas were fairly polished and ludicrously overchalked, with their clientele having a particular bad habit of chalking every shite undulation on the rock EXCEPT the best holds, and climbing in the warm sun didn't help. Despite this I felt I was climbing technically fine, and with a fair amount of conviction (albeit the usual fear of falling even on sport routes). But I just seemed to get very pumped and rather tired pretty quickly, and I'm not really sure why.

Even before I left I was rubbish at Ratho and at other training. It seems odd that after a reasonable summer climbing I'm *less* climbing fit than before. The only possible suggestion was that I might just need a wee break. Maybe this is right although with my fucked up body it's really hard to tell what's best for my fitness. However....I'm doing that for now and will see what happens.