Saturday was a big day for me in terms of climbing as I repeated the new Stevie Haston route Bam, Bam on Craig Dorys on the Lleyn Peninsula (UKC News Item).
The Big Question:
How have I managed what, on paper at least, is the lead of my life when I am not fully in shape, have been injured all summer and have taken to a bit of partying instead of training?
Quiet at the back you lot saying that it must be E4!
Interestingly, I have been training, and I have been training hard, but perhaps not as many people would imagine training.
Here I quote the uncompromising ethical stalwart and general good bloke, Adam Long:
“My lodger spends his evenings in our cellar hanging off a piece of carved wood he calls a ‘beastmaker’, he claims this is training for rock climbing. Bizarre.”
I haven’t been able to train on any sort of board or go bouldering all summer, and have only in the last 2 weeks felt able to go route climbing indoors (which I did once and thought “ooh this is nails!”). This has been due to a finger injury I sustained while indoor training for Mission Impossible. The most hilarious part of this is; I was very close to ticking the route, but instead of persevering, I thought I’d do a couple of weeks of indoor bouldering training, then go and crush it. It seemed like the thing all the top climbers do, this training and then ‘crushing’, so I thought it might work for me. Wrong!
I have managed to keep the fitness up to a reasonable level by climbing cracks. I also did do a little bit of sport climbing both in the UK and Europe, including flashing a few routes of 7c and 7c+. But the big thing is I switched my ‘training’ focus.
I have ramped up my mental training and my skill training.
Mental: Over the last 2 months I have soloed around 50 routes, up to E5, many of them onsight. I have also kept up the trad climbing, with trips to Cornwall/Devon and The Peak. This has been my mental training. I haven’t gone totally ‘mental’ or crazy, for instance; I backed off leading a bold E5 the other week as it was a bit greasy and didn’t feel right. Instead of knocking my confidence, this increased it, as my awareness of my abilities and skill level felt very well honed.
Skill: Whilst trad climbing I have been focussing on moving very quickly between rests (almost as fast as Pete Robins!), and also focussing hard on gear placements, cam sizes, that sort of thing. It may sound trivial, and after so many years of climbing it isn’t something I lose particularly, but this all felt razor sharp too. I made very fast first time placement choices in very extreme positions on Bam, Bam and I climbed fairly quickly through the steepest sections (although I was on the route for over 2 hours, I was on the hard, steep roof sections a matter of minutes).
Choss Skill: I have also been focussing on the choss. This was primarily because choss usually means big holds (the holds are big on Bam, Bam) but I soon realised I had actually improved my choss technique and skill level. Mentally I also felt more at home on the loose stuff than ever before, so this crossed over in to that training focus too.
My guess at a break down of the three aspects of climbing:
So, what’s next? A big walling trip to the Black Canyon of Gunnison to try some extreme big wall choss. Cool! If there is anything as loose as Bam Bam I’ll eat my portaledge!
I would also like to thank Beyond Hope, DMM and Marmot for the gear they have given and loaned for the Black Canyon trip. Cheers guys!
Email: Jack.geldard ( at) gmail.com