Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Tweaky Wrist Tweaklist...

Some ideas for recuperative cragging during the early spring, in rough order of preference:

Mull - Kintyre, Erraid - I've been before but the new guide has shown so much more, loads of little granite crags and sweet looking slabs.

Mid-Wales - Rhinnogs - Off piste for many climbers but a genuinely wonderful place with perfect exploratory cragging on great rock.

Glutton Crag, Ullapool - The latest and currently fashionable bolted Torridonian sandstone crag and looks spot-on for plentiful F5-6c mileage. - done :)

Tynrich Slab, Inverness - Just a neat slab in the tranquil Ruthven valley. A good mid-grade choice and I've heard good reports from an ex-local. - done :)

Glen Shian Slab, Glenfinnan -  Just a slab en-route to Mallaig, with a typically rapidly-downgraded Dave Mac E10 of course. Slightly harder route choice but a lovely bit of rock.

Beinn Ceanabeinne, North Coast - A great sounding slab that has been heartily recommended by a local. Throw in some good options at the Skerrary sea-cliffs and apparently there is a classic Simon Nadin bolted F6c slab up here too. Intrigued?

Callerhues, Northumberland - A bit burly but plenty of choice to go at. 

All Doire Beith, Glen Coe - One of the roadside crags in the Glen, an accessible slabby wall.

Yorkshire gritstone - Rylstone etc - some good slabby trad here.

Yorkshire limestone - Giggleswick etc - some good slabby trad here too.

Canna - Another gem in the new guide, looks perfect for mid-grade cracks and grooves, all in an idyllic location.

Aberdeen sea-cliffs - Rob's Butt, Perdonlie Inlet, Seal's Caves - still some places I haven't been to that I can hopefully sneak in before the birds come back.

Cumbria - various crags - A reasonable choice at varied and accessible locations like Armathwaite, Carrock, Bramcrag, South Lakes Limestone etc.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that most of these have good mid-grades slabby stuff, and/or are pretty accessible, and/or are sunny and amenable - for good reason. I don't have the fitness, confidence nor moral fortitude to be thrashing around at Creag Dubh nor Earnsheugh nor The Leaning Block nor Super-Crag etc....I need areas with plenty of easier choice and a welcoming "get on with it" feel. I'm interested in similar ideas / crags, I think I'm aware of most of them in Scotland but I might have missed something?? And of course I'm always interested in more people who are keen to explore with me in such places....

A potter here, a potter there.

I've decided that a good rule of thumb while I am doing recovery mileage is to only go to crags that are new to me, or that I haven't been to in a decade. This narrows the choice of crags considerably, but ensure when I find the right crags, it gives a good choice of routes to potter around on. I've put this into action recently:

Drab Crag in Aberdeen, which I'd never been to, although I had been working down the coast south of Newtonhill in that direction: Dykes Cliff, then Boltsheugh, the Johnsheugh, then Brown Crag. I got plenty of mileage there and even got pumped a bit, which was nice.

Then it was down to Cumbria to King's Meaburn, which I'd been to a decade ago, and Coudy Rocks, the trendy new sport crag which hadn't even been climbed a decade ago - although Simmy, who I went to KM with, had spotted it and was telling me about these blank sandstone walls he wanted to develop. Well the bolters got there and with good reason as it's pretty much a sport only venue, of course that means all the numpties flock there to get their convenience McTicks and so King's Meaburn seems a bit neglected despite it being obviously the better craglet - although to be fair, the climbing at Coudy is genuinely fun for short quarried sandstone, less reachy and cranky and more technical than the Angus quarry morpho lankfest horrors. I did a few routes at each crag and actually started cranking a bit harder than usual which was a bit more satisfying, a bit more reassuring, and definitely more fun.

I also got to The Mighty R for an afternoon, and found that despite being so despairingly obese I was struggling to get my harness on (like my fucking legs need any more constrictions to the blood "flow"), I was climbing considerably better this time, and getting within 1-1½ grades of my usual limit. Again both reassuring and fun. My wrist is coping okay, it tends to be generally and consistently tender after climbing and/or in cold damp weather (woohoo!), BUT is definitely less tweaky, less sharp pains, and feels stronger. I haven't yet tested it swirling a wok around though....

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Revisitations, and reverting to punterdom...

I had a bit of an escape to the grit recently, well timed with perfectly dry and far too warm weather. I previous week I'd got back into training with 3 indoor wall sessions and 2 gym sessions, most of which had gone okay once I'd learnt my limits with my wrist. This trip I put that into action by being fairly crap on everything but easy slabs, although thankfully there were enough of those for it to be fun overall. This trip was mostly about Yorkshire Grit, which I used to visit regularly when I first moved up to Sheffield, in a contrary bid to avoid the Peaks. Thus I went to a lot of crags a dozen years ago, and mostly explored at a fairly punterly standard. This time....I mostly explored at a fairly punterly standard...

A few months ago I'd have hopefully taken advantage of good crisp friction and played around on Walkover, before using Hovis as a mere warm-up for it's direct variants of Wholemeal and Mighty White and hopefully even Small Brown.

This time it was boiling hot and I was restricted to strictly mid-grade bumbling:
Walker's Wall - pleasant enough.
Winter Traverse - quite scary with an odd escape finish.
Premium White - soft-touch eliminate.
Family Matters - very good value with two top end cruxes.
Hovis - quite okay in the end but only possible at dusk when it had cooled down.

Hovis was a bit of a perculiar one, as recent discussion has shown that even usually sensible and intelligent friends have the ability to talk complete cobblers about their local crags with a plethora of lines, variations, and eliminates. Hovis you step off a flake around onto a face and into a groove. There's also a direct start off the ground, a direct variation linking that, and a super direct with it's own extra looping variation. One could say the line is not obvious, except using common sense it is obvious: It was done by Joe Brown over half a century ago and you can damn well bet he was climbing the natural line of least resistance around into the groove rather than pissing around with "if I start a metre lower will I get the tick". I will eventually come back to piss around on other versions, but on the day there was only enough time at dusk to do the actual route.


A few months ago I'd have definitely been up for giving Wellington Crack (gruesome pumpfest but I was trad fit last year) a go, after a retro-flash of Tufted Crack (failed on this 12 years ago) of course.

This time such shenanigans were clearly out of the question, so it was a mixed pottering session:
 Bald Pate - top end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary.
Old Spice - bottom end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary.
Short Circuit - good cranking low down but quite dangerous higher up.
Sinister Rib - bottom end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary, this was actually really enjoyable and I romped up it in a couple of minutes.

I also attempted Nordwand - this is a rather cool route but the type of E2 5b that involves a tricky 5c sequence with an irreversible foothop into a hard all out 5c slap for a ledge with the gear distinctly beneath your feet, uh HUH. After a lot of faffing and garment-shedding to combat the warmth even in the shade, I did 95% of that crux, the 5% I didn't do was the one more inch required to get my fingers over the ledge. 6m lower and I'd added some good falling practise into the mix and am still cultivating a massive bruise on my thigh. Strangely I'm not that pissed off as I'd actually done the committing bit (eventually!) and a proper trad fall is perhaps as valuable as actually doing the route.

Running Hill Pits...
A few months ago I'd have been warming up on a retro-correct-line-onsight of Spanner Wall (failed to do the much more serious left hand entry 8 years ago), hopefully then adding Harvest Moon into the mix before moving on to Mangled Digit if dry and hopefully Calamity Crack (again truly horrific pumpfests but a standard angle for Scottish Climbing).

This time I was too weak for even vertical stuff so it was all about slabs, which are thankfully rather good fun there:
Content - fun but entirely morpho, a grade harder for me as I could only just get my tips on.
Weaver's Wall - not a soft touch, even with the plentiful gear in the slot, the upper reachy crux is pretty damn committing.
Windbreaker - does exactly what it promises, very steady and very bold.
Cochybondhu - quite sketchy! but at least with the option of falling rightwards and thus only the length of the route rather than the extra 4m...

Windbreaker I'd actually wanted to do in recent years because I never got around to it when I was there and said hovis-eliminate-pedant-but-otherwise-sound-bloke friend had it as his Shitbook profile picture for ages. It sort of nagged me in a "look, this has crimps and stuff and even though you're a fat weak and fucking injured punter, you could still crawl up it". So I did. It was interesting to compare this to Weaver's Wall, the other classic bold slab around this grade. W is much more serious, it has +4m fall potential before you even start and is a pure solo. WW is often soloed but has good micro-cams in a break and a shorter fall overall. So why is WW graded harder? Errrr....because it is. W is very easy 5b with the trickiest moves off the ledge and everything is in control. WW is very hard 5b with a committing and reachy crux to a distant off-balance hold and I suspect if you have enough rope out to do the move you have enough out to hit the ground. So although it's apples and oranges, it makes a harmonious and tasty fruit salad overall.


Despite being hampered a bit by my wrist and a huge amount by my weakness and thus lack of any physical confidence, I did okay and my wrist seemed to cope with almost everything apart from tugging nuts too hard and pulling up the rope in a funny way. It stiffened up after I returned but this trip showed promise that I can start pottering around again...

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Wanky Weeks 1 - 4.

No updates because nothing to update about. But I thought I'd just post something so that the 3 friends who read this have some idea what is going on...

And what is going on is that my wrist seems to be healing okay....really really fucking slowly.

I rested it completely for one week, then tried some gentle wrist curls as the physio suggested. I used 7 kg instead of my default 12kg which I regularly use for pain-free anti-golfer's-elbow eccentric wrist curls. I did a few sets of those and it bloody hurt.

So I rested it completely for another week. It still a bit hurt to do wok-shaking during stir-frying, brushing cups during washing up, even turning keys in locks.

So I rested it completely for another week, then went for a gentle session at the wall. Well, sort of gentle session. I met a friend there and got encouraged onto some slightly harder problems than I should be on....maybe even V2 or V3, bletch. I managed to drop off most problems that felt at all tweaky, but even some easier ones on side-pull pockets and jugs felt bad....anything that started my wrist moving or rotating on holds. Small holds, tiny crimps, and straight pulling felt okay. To that end, I had a hunch and went on the Beastmaker for a bit....I could hang the 30' slopers and smallest crimps very comfortably - i.e. NO pain at all. I couldn't do the slightest pull-up on the slopers as my wrist started moving, but could do pull-ups including an equal PB of 4 on the smallest crimps. Hmmm. Maybe this was not the best plan? It was a bit tender for a couple of days after and is slightly better now but still feels stiff and prone to random tweaking. I can do the washing up mostly pain-free, woooot fuck my life.

So I've rested it completely for yet another week. I am now really fucking bored of resting it- and really fucking depressed with trying to motivate myself to go running (fucking awful and depressing experience....just reminds me I'm crippled), swimming (boring and wet although I did do a mile for the first time the other week), and going to the gym (which I haven't done as I just feel weak and unconfident with an injured wrist). I've managed to do just about enough exercise to survive but not nearly enough to feel fit or healthy. So I need to kick myself up the arse.....or in an ideal world have friends and companions around to kick me and do it with me (pipe dreams!), and get more focused on general training. Hopefully some more strictly light / non-tweaky wall sessions soon can give me the momentum to do so....