Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sending Spree

Well, well, well... It has been a while since I've written here. I guess it's been because I've driven somewhere around 4000km in the last two weeks and climbed 11 of the past 15 days. It all started with a massive training session to sort out my head for the trip to Montagu. My finger tips were still completely shot after climbing at Fernkloof on the 9th so I had a great wad of tape wrapped around my left middle finger and my right index finger. Didn't stop me from hitting my hang board, hard!

I warmed up with the 15 minute program which I often use scoring full on the routine:

Afterward, I did programs A, B and D from Paul's training program. A is for finger strength, B is for stamina and D is for burl or body tension. Doing all three of these in a day is a tall order but I was feeling psyched and ready to go flat out!

Wednesday morning at 4 am: Alex, Ebert, Illona and I piled into my car and made our way down the N1 to Montagu.

I want to thank TRISTAN FIRMAN @ VERTIGO GEAR for making the trip to Montagu possible. Without you as a friend and a sponsore I would never be able to climb as hard as I do...

It wasn't too long of a drive lasting 14 hours with 3 stops included. When we arrived, Matt Bush was already there and so was Paul Brouard. After chatting to Matt around the fire and to Paul for a little while, and meeting his beautiful girlfriend, I knew it was off to bed for me. The next day would need to be a good one.

Thursday saw me being very unproductive from a sending point of view but what I did manage to do was reclimb a few routes that I had done previously in order to refresh the beta for the rock rally on Saturday. What was really fun was walking around Montagu and seeing what the venue really was like. The rock and road trip funneled me into climbing specific routes that would be beneficial for the competition but this was not very helpful for actually gaining a feel to what Montagu is all about.

At lunch time we went back to the campsite and late afternoon we headed out to the penultimate route in Montagu: Mazawattee (35). I watched Paul on it and then he shouted beta up to me as I dogged my way up it. There were only 3 moves that were beyond me. It is quite an interesting route. The interesting thing about Maz is that you rest the whole way up. There are deep kneebars along the entire length of the line making it possible to get your heart rate back to normal and chill out. They are very core intensive though. The way I see it is this: it is a 32 route into an 8A+ boulder problem at the top. Brilliant line. I could see myself making it to the rest before the boulder problem in a week but it would take a very long time to have the endurance and strength to be able to stick the crux moves when fresh, let alone after having done the 30 meters of climbing to that point...

Friday was a really relaxed day, well half day. In the morning I practised the moves on the Activist (30) and figured out Strange Days (31) and redpointed Cyberpunk (24). The palace must be my favourite destination at Montagu currently, well maybe Fireworld, or is it Waterstarter, damn it, it's WATERWORLD. I had a terrible slip of the tongue the whole week in Montagu and don't have any reason for it. One way or the other it was really funny.

Ah the big day has arrived! The rock rally. I must say, this was a very different vibe to the Boven rock rally, quite a bit more chilled which promoted some very hard sending. Personally, I warmed up with a redpoint of the Activist (30), then an onsight of Keep on Going (26 soft). I tried Strange Days three times and then moved on to Waterworld. Here I crushed Firestarter (29) and Simply Irresistible (27). Supertubes was next: I onsighted Leap Tide (27). Illona and I then made our way down to the Scoop. I tried to onsight Monkey Pump (29) which turned out to be quite comical in the state of exhaustion I was in. The Optimist (27) was next in line but I was a bit optimistic about the line and was crushed repeatedly, 6 times I think, trying to move off the crux hold. So while I was resting Illona jump on Archeopteryx (26) to put up the draws and figure out the moves: she totally saved my ass on this one! I managed to flash it as a result. THANKS A LOT! I was then psyched again, though exhausted, until the 23 next door booted me solidly on my onsight and second go, it felt more like a 25 at this point. Either some holds had come off (which is possible, the route is a bit chossy) or I was really tired (which is highly likely). I did manage to crush the 22, onsight.

These routes combined with the fact I had Illona along for a day a great moral support and wicked belaying (THANK YOU SO MUCH!!) landed me in 3rd place for the competition, narrowly behind Jimbo in second. If you were to take all the routes Jimbo and I did and combine them, we would have fallen about 1000 points short of Matt's score. Matt is an amazing athlete and a very philosophical person. I really enjoyed the conversations we had over the course of the trip to Montagu. Looking forward to more time around him in the future, that is for certain.

Paul managed to CRUSH Mazawattee while we were all running around at the rock rally. CONGRATULATIONS!

The party was anything but tame: the tequila body shot competition and the makeshift pole dancing from the loser of the bet (Ant) was, ummm, well, memorable and fun. Illona, I still can't believe you were still on your feet at the end of your 13 body shots plus 5/6 other drinks. Good for you. Good way to cut loose ;)

Sunday was a necessary rest day. There was no chance I could climb anything. Matt on the other hand had to retrieve all his draws from all the lines he climbed during the rally. Strong. Alan Hills arrived Sunday night. Was great to see him again.

Monday: Strange Days in the morning and the Scoop in the afternoon, with a snack at Waterworld in between, did two attempts on My Route By The River (31) -- very fun, will certainly go back for it. Cool Like That (29) was the objective. I wanted to flash it but came off bouncing for the upper sloper in the bottom crux. I went from the rail above the sloper to the chains without resting. But alas, I was spent and did not manage to point the line.

Tuesday: Strange Days was feeling much better. I managed to stick the dynamic move in it twice quite easily but came off afterward. I think that the rally really took it all out of me. I need more time off. Didn't climb during the afternoon.

Wednesday was a write off basically, cleaned Strange Days and we packed up. Climbed into the car at 3pm, short one person as Illona was on her way to Cape Town so she could catch a ride to the NBL finals which she would win!!!! GO TEAM!!!! :-D We finally arrived back in PTA at 4:30am on Thursday, I crawled into bed with the love of my life, and cuddled -- gotta love them cuddles!!! Slept till 10 then was up. Sat around for a while waiting for Yvette to come back from her test, then Yvette and I enjoyed ourselves by laying in bed till almost the evening. In the evening we went out and had Flaming Lamborghini's, ouch. Stayed in bed, all of the next day -- had food delivered and all!

Saturday afternoon we arrived in Boven, placed draws on a wet project and damp Jabberwocky. Was a bit irritated but still pretty relaxed. Yvette crushed Lucy (17) first go (would have been onsight but she had already climbed the first half for another route).

Sunday was great, we went to Hallucinogen and Yvette crushed Sand Glod and Aussie Rules (17). I debated with myself if I wanted to climb Panty Slapped (28). The final tipping point was that I had been trying to wear in my Edelrid Hurricanes for a little while now and I thought that a little slab might do the trick. It did. All the moves were effortless and managed to crush it second go. This line and I had a long history of me thinking it would be a good idea and then after 3 bolts there would normally be a lot of cursing and a promise that I would never try it again. Ha ha. Yvette then climbed Captain Hook (18) but she was too tired from her hard work previously, so I soloed it to clean it. Such a great line. If you can jam, it feels effortless to climb! If you can't, well, you're missing out!

AH, the main event. This is what I came to Boven to climb: my project. I stand beneath it look at the holds thinking to myself: hmmm. Honestly, I didn't think I had a chance. I wasn't feeling at the top of my game. But I have my lucky belayer (yes, Yvette is amazing). This is what the inner monologue sounded like: I pull off the foot...right hand to the gaston, left foot up effortlessly, keep on moving don't lose concentration...snatch the crimp...clip...shake...move move move...oh no wrong foot...fixed it...oh shit, I just needed my lucky's not over yet....concentrate....WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO it's finally DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was psyched. There was nothing more I could want at that moment. I named the route Raptophilia and graded it 32. We went back to the lodge and went to the braai at Alex and Gustav's. Gus told me he could hear from from the far end of Tranquilitas crag. :D what a brilliant way to end the day. Such amazing friends we have in Waterval Boven.... Thanks to Gustav for these brilliant pictures of me.


Jabberwocky was next on the list. I had been on it 5 times till now. 6th go found me falling off with my right hand on the crux hold, my feet high in the crux and my left hand being rejected by a small slot. 7th go was just mileage to the chains.

After my rest day I tried again. Yvette crushed Captain Hook and was working the 21 on Disciple Wall. I feel off half way through the undercling section of Jabbs! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! So frustrating. 9th attempt I was rejected by the slot again but went on to the chains skipping half the draws to figure out how to make the route really easy.

Such a brilliant week in Boven, such an amazing two week.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Storming the Bergs

This last week has been quite exceptional. Admittedly, it started on a seriously low point with me slicing my finger wide open with a bread knife and buckets of rain the next day but after that things definitely just kept getting better and better. The cut didn't stop me from climbing or training, it just meant that I had to mummify my finger tip with lots of tape, several times a day.

On Sunday evening last week I received a message from Ansie that Adam was in Pretoria and was keen on going somewhere to climb or boulder. After the epic training session I had just finished I was feeling very skeptical about climbing but after an hour or two of the idea marinading in my mind I couldn't help but suggest we go bouldering at Bobbejaan's Berg. Turn out that this was a really good idea. Adam and I arrived there with Ansie and Mathys to find some interesting formations lower down but nothing really exceptional. However, the further we went the more boulders there were. We warmed up on some interesting traverses and a really cool dyno...

But the real catch of the day would only be found a little further up the mountain. I spotted these two really interesting holds that would make an interesting traverse. We decided to try starting from them and moving inwards. I couldn't quite lift off the ground. So we moved to the left and tried to figure out where the problem would end. We then discovered a small undercling that the left hand could start on if the right started on the original hold. It was still incredibly hard to get off the ground!

Blindside Arete
The original start
The official start
Slapping for the sloper
Catching the sloper

Trying to control the swing
Catching the finish dyno

Adam was strong enough to open the problem on that Monday. He was looking so strong, what an awesome day. We decided to call it Blindside Arete and graded it 7C+. It might be a little on the soft side but both of us agreed that it was harder than anything else we have ever done by far. I came back on Thursday with PW and was able to send it, PW too, and open another line that is arguably harder than Blindside Arete. It is a highball with a crux about 4m up which is a desperate lunge to a sloping crimper! I thought it deserved the name Acrophobia (fear of heights) and I graded it 7C+. It left me screaming like a girl, twice when I couldn't figure out the move the first two times I reached the move and had to take the fall on to a small platform bordering a 5m drop behind us.
Acrophobia 7C+

The future project!!

Not sure of the grade, but definitely in the 8A/B range

So that was my Monday and Thursday. My Tuesday and Saturday were spent at Fernkloof. Tuesday I was there with Adam, Ansie, Illona and James. We had a fun day, particularly Adam who nabbed Faberge second go. I on the other hand was very frustrated about the dripping water coming from the holds on Stormwatch. No matter how hard I tried to dry them and stuff toilet paper in the cracks, I could not hold back the seeping water and I would slip off every time.

Saturday was more of the same, falling off at the second pinch, the finger lock not wanting to work. After 5 attempts (or more) I was tired and frustrated. I was intending to take off the draws from the route but figured I would give it a good effort. Got to the finger lock and clipped effortlessly, then it was the right hand pinch slow and static, I repositioned my left hand in the slot and reached for the second pinch with the left hand. I had it! I moved my feet and then the right hand so I could clip the 4th draw. This was very much a high point! But now I was feeling desperate as could be! I moved my feet and set up for the move into the roof, I hit the hold with my left hand and almost came off but DIDN'T! I moved my feet and placed my knee into the kneebar. I HAD IT! I knew I would not come off higher up like everyone else. My fitness is too good and the kneebar was solid for me. I shook out for about a minute and breezed through to the chains which I clipped and then topped out cheering the whole time!

The sneaky kneebar

This route was such a fight for me, definitely 8b in my books. I've done a lot of 8a+ routes and this is not 8a+. It was opened at 31/8b/5.13d by Roger Nattrass but as the grading changed from Aussie to SA 31 became 32 but this route did not change in grade. It is the first 32 in the country opened in 1990.