Saturday, July 23, 2011

The First Week in Rocklands

Rocklands! Such a beautiful place. I've never seen so much potential for hard bouldering as I see here. The problems here are often very sharp or at least very coarse on the skin. This first week has been such a hard adjustment to me. I'm used to walking up to 7C and crushing in a few hours. In the first week I haven't been able to achieve a single send above 7B. I think that it is possible that I tried to walk up to the boulders and push too hard too fast. As a result my skin started to suffer from the first day and I've been playing catch up ever since.

A small panorama of the campsite

The drive was an epic. We drove along the N12 until the Google Gods told us to turn. James and I quickly remarked at how cool the drive was and the road was in such great condition. 30km later we found out why: they had just laid the road and we were all out of luck. We had only 500km left to drive but the next 130km would be on dirt, with no cell reception. I quietly panicked in my head thinking, "Oh shit! Oh shit!" We hadn't seen a road sign in an hour and I was thinking we were out all this way on a dirt road and were going to have to back track. Fortunately we had just filled the tank in the last town so fuel wouldn't be an issue. We plodded on and eventually discovered we were actually on the right road, according to Google. At the next town we found a tarred road, cell signal and the GPS was back online. After debating at a crossroad for a few minutes we figured it out and were back on track. We drove on for another two hours before hitting the turnoff to Clanwilliam. I was excited. Only 140km left. 100km of which turned out to be dirt and relatively slow. It all paid off when I saw the De Pak Huis sign. The steak dinner in town was well earned for my 16 hours of driving.

Our campsite with Matt and Rachelle

The first day was really awesome. We headed up to the Fortress with Benji. Warmed up with a quick send of an project of mine (from 3 years ago when I was still a little boy), Colin the Librarian which is quite a tough 7A. After that I fell flat on my face trying the 8A extension: Fat Eagles Can't Fly. Benj told me not to worry, it's really hard and he hadn't been able to figure it out either. Up next was Stargate (7C+). I struggled with a crossover so found different beta to avoid it. This made me happy, but left me suffering on the next moves. I think I was really tired still from the epic drive. I was psyched to try Stretched and Pressed (7C+). I did the finish move really easily, first try so I thought that the problem would go down really quickly. I was wrong. The Rack (7B) had a really tough sequence for me that I couldn't wrap my body around for the better part of and hour-and-a-half. First time I made it through the move I made it to the top out move but I was too tired now and couldn't manage the mantle, a skill which I would soon realize to be quite good at...

Me sending The Rack (7B)

Day two spent trying Cedar Spine (7C), Last Day in Paradise (7C) and Ulan Batar (7B+) with no success on any. By the way: Last day in Paradise is razors in a roof: tape or perish. I completely dorked the beta on Cedar Spine and was really tired by the time I got to Ulan Batar. All in all, it was a learning experience. I did manage to fight my way up a 6C called Demi Loon though.

James on Last Day In Paradise

Day three: rest! A trip to town for shopping was in order. Jonathan, Robbie, Matt, Rachelle, James and myself all climbed into my car and went to town. The nightmare came to light when we tried to pack everyone into the car with groceries afterward! I was very happy to be driving.

Day four: Champsite and Riverside. Matt and Benji did Kingdom in the Sky (7C) at Champsite very quickly. It is an awesome problem with decent crimps for fingers and horrible footholds. My skin was still not happy even after the rest day. I managed to flash a 6C+ slab called Lisa. This was fun. At Riverside I jumped on Au Bord De L'eau (8A) with Benji. Very cool problem that revolves around two monos in a nearly flat roof. I love it! The holds are very coarse so I'll need to go back when I have some more skin. White Mazda Clan (7C+) was the last thing I tried. I could do most of the moves and I think I did it pretty much in overlapping sections except for the final move which I didn't manage till later.

Me, Rachelle and Benji on Kingdom in the Sky (7C)

Day five: Plateau. I woke up early and went up to the Plateau. I did a bunch of easier boulders for warmup, onsighting a bunch of 6B+. I was on my own so I only had 2 pads with me and no spotter. It was kinda nice though, I missed being up early in the morning and being psyched. No one else in the campsite is really a morning person. I moved over to Minki (7B), worked out the beta and sent it. Went back to Poison Dwarf (7B) and worked out the moves. Couldn't send it in the morning session though as the finish was in the sun. Got it really quickly in the afternoon session though.

Day six: Back to the Champsite and Riverside for some sending action well, other people's sending action. I managed a 7A which had a really tough mantle to start off the day, then Rach sent Kingdom in the Sky. Benji crushed Au Bord De L'eau! I was psyched. I got back on White Mazda and did all the moves this time and got in some good links but it wasn't gonna happen on my third day on.

Day seven: Rest. I went for a 5km run in the morning to go visit Benji at the Hen House and then went into town again to do a grocery shop. Matt and Rach left this morning for Cape Town with Arjan so the campsite is feeling a little empty. It was great having them there. Matt and Rachelle are such great people, so psyched and so much fun to be around...

Day eight: Fields of Joy! I love them! So awesome! Warmed up on a 5C/6A slab which was fantastic. Then did Panic Room Direct (7B) second go. Worked on Macho King (7C+) with Paulo and Michele Caminati, the super strong Italian we've all seen in CORE. We all spent about two hours working out beta and getting it dialed in. Michele then sent the problem and they headed down the mountain. I tried to flash Barracuda Rail (7B) but failed on the last move. Oh well, moved down to No Late Tenders (7C+) where I met an awesome American couple. Mike managed to send in a while and Becky worked on Dirty Lies (7A+) which is really fun too. I fell off the finish jugs on my flash when my foot slipped. DUMB ASS! Oh well.

Today: I got my ass kicked on Who The Fuck is Minki (7C) couldn't get my heel to stick on the inside sloper. Gave up and then tried Throw Yourself Away (7C+). I was psyched to be able to do all the moves in 5 minutes and do overlapping links right off the bat. I might hit it for a late afternoon session if the pads are back by then. Benji nearly flashed it and Joe Mohle crushed it first try today. GOOD FUN. Well, wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cranking into Number 1, Boven part II

We ended up going out for Pizza on Friday night. Was great. There was a lot of pizza, 25 of them to be exact. Good evening.

Joey and I getting our butts kicked

Dylan tying in to climb the Beast 8a+

Saturday saw me back at the God No! Wall with Joey. Was a really cool day. Warmed up on Burning Spear and go so flash pumped that I couldn't do the last move! Irritating. But it's all good. Afterward I did two massive links on Rodan. First link found me falling off half way through the second major boulder problem which was an amazing feat for me seeing as I had never caught the dynamic move from the ground. So I added about 8m to my previous highpoint here. Joey took a burn for warmup and did the sequences so he had them solid in mind.

Second burn got me even higher, I managed to make the next clip and fall off moving for the "butter knife crimp." I am really psyched about it. After this, Joey cruised Rodan. He looked really solid until the very last move, which he almost fell off of. But he held it and in 5 attempts the route was done, 8c it remains.

We headed over to Raptophilia (8b) to watch Paul working on it. I also gave it a burn and Brendon Salzer took some good photos (still to come). I then watched Joey waltz right up it, 4th go over two days. Good work! Second ascent. At the end of the day I did Burning Spear (7c) guess that would have been 4th go.

Sunday was a rest day for me. I watched a bunch of people climbing routes all over Wonderland. I saw James crush Stitch It (7c+) and Dylan fight hard on Pit Fighter (8a+). It is good to see everyone cranking so hard, it also made me glad I left my shoes up in the car, no temptations. James and I had a celebratory meal and then went to the lodge and sat there quietly for the rest of the day, I think it was kind of necessary to have a moment of calm during a rest day after so many days of cranking.

MONDAY! The main event for me. I woke up and made breakfast for James and myself and then we headed out to Superbowl. I put the draws on Lotters for James and brushed holds. He almost got it on his warmup, just had to figure out exactly what to do with his feet. I jumped on Strata and made it through the crux effortlessly. I however realized that the foot sequence I had to get to the chains wouldn't work while I was tired so I quickly hung out there and found a new one. Then James crushed Lotters and it was time to play the waiting game. I knew that I wanted to wait 45 minutes. It took James 10 to climb and clean Lotters so I had another 35 minutes to sit around and wait.

I was pretty excited and a little nervous. There was more to this climb than it being a hard 32/8b. I knew that if I sent this one it would propel me into first place on the ranking game for the sport category in South Africa. So when I busted through the crux the second time and got my feet up on those little smears and then into the big slot I knew it was mine for the taking. I guess all I needed to do to get the number 1 spot was work my ass off and send Andrew Pedley off to Brazil. Ha Ha Ha! I can't wait to climb with him again, I miss the psyche that he brought to the crag every day we climbed together. Watching him climb Rodan was an awe-inspiring feat of mental courage. He just would not give up. Again and again he fell at the same spot and yet he persevered and climbed it in the end.

After I did Strata I was so amped that I wanted to do something else as well, so I walked up to Hypertension (8a), tied in and sent it placing draws. It felt great to feel so fit. I hadn't even been on the ground for 5 minutes after sending Strata. I guess you could say that I achieved a bit of a personal goal this weekend, all the hours of hard training and torture paid off. The next trip is about to begin in the morning: 6 weeks in Rocklands. I can't wait. I have some good goals and a bit ticklist in the making. Time will tell if the boulder power is there for me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Witness the BOVEN fitness!

Thursday: Boven is always great. Whether the weather sucks or it is brilliant, I always manage to have a great time. Sure there are days that are better than others, but I can tell that this trip is going to be exceptional. After arriving, Illona and I missioned down to the Superbowl and put up some draws on Snapdragon and Strata. On my second go I managed to get two moves higher in the crux than my previous high point. If I get two more moves then it'll be all over. Illona crushed every sequence on Snapdragon, her endurance is just lacking a little after all the bouldering and time away from these loooooong routes here. At the end of the day we walked past God No! and Illona managed to on sight Little Red Riding Hood (25), GOOD JOB! I got on Monster and red pointed it for training. Such a fun line. The evening was awesome, hung out with Joey and Colette some; watched some of their time lapse sequences of clouds and stars. Really brilliant to see. I wish my camera could do that. Video editing looks to be quite time consuming, but the results certainly justify the time.

Friday: I just had a pretty short day at the crag but quite eventful. Today saw Joey Kinder on Rodan for the first time. Within a few minutes he had done all the moves and was having a lot of fun. His presence was quite inspirational. After my warmup on Big Bad Wolf (I still love that dyno) and placing draws on Burning Spear (28), Illona and I realized that we weren't going to be able to make it through to the Superbowl for us to continue Snapdragon and Strata respectively. As a result I ended up on Rodan. I did all the moves really well. I was gonna say easily, but then I'd be lying. It is still bolt-to-bolt at this stage but my aim for the weekend is to manage to link from the ground till the bolt before the undercling pinch. Looks like we're all going for pizza tonight at the Stone Circle. I'm looking forward to it quite a bit. I can't believe I forgot my camera! STOOPiD

More updates to come... Hopefully with some pics

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good Times and New Hype!

The last two weeks haven't been particularly exciting. I did manage to take Yvette to eZemvelo last Sunday for the first time, we loved it. The day was for shooting some photos and videos of the boulder problems I have done recently. I am really psyched about the whole idea of making a movie as a promo for myself and Vertigo. I spoke to Kyle about doing the soundtrack for the film and he is psyched, will be great for his music to get out there to the world too.

I shot this movie of Total Reflection

Healing Power 7C+

During the week I spend a bunch of time at Chosspile. It was the first time I'd been there since it reopened. The path is in really good shape and will increase one's fitness level, that's for sure. I started working an open project of Wesley's. Really good climbing. It starts just left of Fossil Fuel and ends on the same anchors. Neither Paul nor I could manage it but when we went back, Joey Kinder climbed it and crushed it second go, after he did Fossil Fuel second go. KICK ASS!

Joey and Colette are fantastic! Joey is so psyched, so excited about climbing. Colette gives off the same vibe! We had some very interesting discussions in the car relating to life in South Africa. It can be quite an eye-opener to someone used to being in the United States or Europe. They went on a tour of Soweto the previous day, saw the apartheid museum and listened to real intense stories. We spoke about it in the car (while I got us lost on both ends of the trip).

Afterward, back at Monte Casino, Joey met up with the primary school kids. They seemed so excited to meet him and he was fantastic with them. Colette snapped some awesome pics! We had more time to chat at dinner, Chinese food is always good. I was quite curious about what life is like as a professional climber and being the girlfriend of a professional climber. They told me some of their stories and I was impressed about the stress involved with constantly being on the move, not really staying in one place for more than a season or two. Joey is also a very keen film maker, having shot multiple short films for himself and others. At the slideshow that evening he showed us the new adds he shot for Sterling Ropes in Europe recently.

I'm really looking forward to spending some more time with Joey in Boven and then Rocklands later this month! He is psyched for Nutsa and Black Shadow. I'm psyched to do Nutsa and wouldn't mind trying Black Shadow to try it out. Would be fun.

Saturday I was back at Chosspile. I mangled my finger on the crux of Shadowfax! Wasn't pleasant, but managed to do some really tough links on the route. I think I'll be pretty close to sending it in a short time. I shot some video of myself on one of the attempts. Once I'm done editing it, I'll put it up!

As far as training goes over the past two weeks, I've been taking it very easy, a bit of a down period before the long road trip begins. I've been making grips for the new Edelrid Brian Weaver Signature Series, very excited to see how they turn out.

I'm about to get my hands on the new Mad Rock Conflicts, look out for a review after a few weeks in Rocklands...