Monday, January 23, 2012

The New Year is off to a BANG!

Attempting Monster (29) on gear

 I guess it’s been a while…

Well, well, well. The new year is here. The closing ceremony of last year was fantastic. Christmas was great with the families; Boven was spectacular as always with a realization that I am really weak after my December. What is in store for me this year? As far as I can tell, a lot of hard work at my new 8-5 job at Ask Africa. If the job is 8-5, then the second one starts at 5:30 at the Barn or the University to train hard and ensure that I do my first 33 this year. I want to push hard on gear too. It is important to keep fit and mentally strong. The only way to do that will be to dedicate myself to both my job and my climbing. It will be a challenge considering that there is a master’s dissertation in there somewhere too. My prediction for the year is this: a little less time on rock and a little more time on plastic and in front of desks.
Let’s back up a little first.

Here are some photos from Christmas.

I was in Boven after Christmas; it was a little wet but a lot of fun. My goal was to figure out Monster on gear and I’m happy to announce that it is possible. It takes 8 pieces of gear, 5 cams and 3 nuts (1 is optional). That makes the route a little on the spicy side considering it normally runs on 16 bolts. I did test each of the pieces, taking up to 10m falls during the crux; a brilliant yet terrifying feeling that first time. It felt pretty weird to be wearing a helmet in Boven.
I also got on Lab Rat again but realized that all my power and fitness had left me. Looks like I need to train some and get back into my normally dietary regime instead of eating my massive holiday portions. Lab Rat is one of my goals for the first half of the year, my other major goal is Boa Rodeo which is an unrepeated trad line opened at 31 by Jens Richter from Germany. It was on my tick list for last year but I never had gear or a partner to work it with. Now at least I have gear thanks to DMM/Wild Country and Outward Ventures. I will be reviewing the DMM Dragon Cams as well as the Wild Country Zeros over the course of the next few months. Look out for photos from Monster as well as Beast 

My mom, climbing for the first time

Having a lot of fun

Yvette crushing a wet 18
I managed to make it back to Boven from Friday the 6th till Sunday the 8th. Was a cool weekend but I discovered that I was in fact not very fit. I pumped out on Monster on both the Friday and the Saturday which was really disconcerting. As a result I decided to work on The Beast with Alex some over the weekend to get back some of that long lost endurance. It was really disturbing how unfit I felt though trying to maneuver through the lower crux and falling off. It felt really horrible but when I climbed the Beast with just one short rest on Sunday, I felt a lot better. 
Monday was meant to be a rest day, but in the end it wasn’t. I decided to make it a 5 day climbing week and pushed my way out to the Barn. I did a basic warm up flashing all the boulder problems in the upper area, including the 20 move problem using foot tracking even though it was meant to be open feet. I set a few new problems which are test pieces for me: big dynamic moves which involve cutting loose and campusing, neither of which are my normal style. 
After the bouldering for 1.5hrs I moved downstairs to the campus board but I was already a bit too tired to use it effectively. I elected to try something a little different.
I did finger pull ups, first on the medium rungs and then on the small rungs.
Start in a closed crimp, release your thumbs so your fingers can straighten into an open-hand grip, then pull back to a closed crimp. 
For a set I did five repetitions, which I intend to increase to ten as soon as my body will let me.
I also did some rope laddering, skipping rungs on the way up and down; the idea being to move as slowly as possible. Again I was feeling pretty worn out from the last week so I wasn’t able to do so well. I only managed to move up twice with each hand before being unable to hold the lock-off. When lowering off I would start as a full lock on one hand and release slowly till my arm is ¾ straight, only then would I grip the next rung.
My goal with this training is to do a one arm pull up this year.
On a further note… Warren has inspired me with his 100 days on rock. Seeing as I am now employed full-time with only 15 days of leave a year I intend to make the most of my time off and work to achieve the mythical 100 days. I’ve managed 3 already and have 3 more lined up for this week. Let’s see if I can do it!
On Wednesday, I made my way to Neil’s place at St Peter’s for some training. It had been quite a long day as I had to drive all over after work. Yvette and I are moving to Midrand so she can be closer to her job. It means I’m further away but I can take it. I’d rather be the one driving a bit further so that I know she won’t be on the road after a 30 hour call. I did some weighted bouldering and then some onsight routes involving long moves. It was fun.
Thursday was a rest day in preparation for Boven over the weekend. It was also a day spent in Soweto working with the field department at my new job. It was also an 11 hour day between travel and work. 

Friday wasn’t too bad, I was quite busy on a project in the office so it took up 4 of my 5 working hours and then I was off to Boven with Brendon Salzer, Tiffany and Alex. But only after I got a new shipment of Wild Country Helium and Zero cams and DMM micro nuts from Outward Ventures, thank your Rob. Look out for the review in a few months. 

It started off being a very promising weekend with a warm up burn on the Beast for Alex and me. When we got to the lodge at Roc and Rope we chatted with Andrew and Dylan about the new project Andrew had bolted which might be 8c. The rain that night was incredible.
Saturday morning Andrew, Dylan, Alex and I made our way up to the Superbowl to try out Andrew’s new line. I was stunned. It is beautiful. But it is a little sharp. After two burns on it I had sliced and diced my left index finger and was not happy. The moves are all brutal and back to back. The hand holds aren’t too bad, but the feet are heinous.  This is going to be a good one! It will be much easier if you are a bit taller though. 

Sussing it out on A Life In Orange Project (33/34) Photo by Andrew Pedley

Me on A Life In Orange Project (33/34) Photo by Andrew Pedley

Me on A Life In Orange Project (33/34) Photo by Andrew Pedley

The crux move... Photo by Andrew Pedley

We also tried out a project of Dewald’s that climbs through a major roof to the right of Hack and Slay; it will be great in the winter if the holds are dry. Alex was on Hypertension (30) and was looking pretty good. He couldn’t quite figure out the crux traverse but conditions weren’t ideal either. In the late afternoon I made an addition to the Go No! Wall. It is a direct finish to the Beast and significantly harder, I think. At this point I haven’t been able to figure out the moves but I was quite tired when I was working them out. The Mutant Beast Project is going to be awesome. It break left right at the start of the crux of Beast and heads straight up a crack system and then into some interesting moves at the top.  After the climbing was finished for the day, we headed down to have dinner with Alex. The evening was wonderful.
Sunday morning I was broken in pieces but the weather was great so Brendon and I were able to get a photo shoot on Monster with me climbing it on trad. One of these is going to be used as part of the Edelrid advertising campaign in South Africa… I can’t wait to see it.                  
The next week was a taxing one at the office and training at the barn.
On Monday I hit the barn hard, setting some new boulder problems. 
I started off the evening by doing rope ladder training, 5 sets in total. First set was single rungs, the next 4 were skipping rungs. NOTE TO SELF AND OTHERS: if you do this when you’re not really warmed up or used to it, your biceps will burn for the next week.
Tuesday was a much needed rest day.
Wednesday was power work, 4-5 move boulder problems at the top of my ability. Basically I was working the projects I had created for myself over the past two weeks. I worked them back to back with minimal rest for about 3 hours. I was pretty tired at the end. I think I need to be a little more systematic in my approach, a little less focused on sending problems that are so difficult and a little more focused on doing more problems back to back. I focused on open hand and pinch problems so that I can increase my overall hand strength.
Thursday was a very light day of bouldering. I worked a few problems, but I knew that the weekend held a lot in store for me. For the session I focused on big moves from small hold to small hold with a cutloose in the process. I find that the contact strength  I require for doing the hardest moves on boulder problems or routes tends to be lacking and I will be putting a great deal of emphasis on this in the next few months.
Friday night we left for Harrismith. We arrived and the chalet was amazing; 8 beds, plus an attic for the unlucky buggers who were late to commit to the trip. I got to meet the mythical Dario that I had heard so much about. He is quite a psyched Italian that is full of controversial conversations whose energy is unsurpassed. The vibe in the car was pure psyche between Jono, Dario, Andrew and I. We were ready to go forth and conquer all! We bumped into Colin at a garage just outside of Harrismith. Seeing as there were only 3 people in his car, I jumped ship and opted for some comfort for all of us. The vibe was quite different in his car; 80s rock resonated over the speakers, a little Santana, a little Van Halen, a lot of good guitar. Fun times.
Saturday we made our way over to Alternative Rock. I was instantly impressed with the rock. Although parts of the rock are a bit soft, most of it is solid and strong. I warmed up onighting a 23 and a 21, then got spanked severely on the 26 extension though (looks like a massive hold came off). Dario went up Cosmic Girl (28) and placed draws for me, chalking holds along the way. I set off for my flash attempt and came off at the last tough move (nearly had it though). I was missing a crucial piece of micro beta… After that I slipped off the first crux twice and then sent. Took about an hour and was awesome fun; seriously awesome, bouldery route.
We made our way up to Swiss Cheese (29) after lunch where I set off for a flash attempt. I slipped off reasonably low and sorted out my beta doing all the moves very easily. I got halfway up the route to the big rest before the pocket crux and all of the sudden my mind started to wonder, would it be possible? Next thing I knew I was spinning myself upside down, hooking my toes into the jug with my hands pointing straight down. Conversation at the bottom of the crag ceased as I started to giggle gleefully! 
My second go was the biggest dorkage of my climbing career. After I stuck the upper crux I forgot about the massive foothold and tried to campus the upper moves only to slip off one hold before the massive rest. I was crushed. Andrew opened his project Free State of Mind (29) on his second try of the day. Now there are three five star pocket hauls side-by-side in Harrismith, make sure you climb them!!! Dario cruised Andrew’s line second go.
The next morning we warmed up on Bird Brain (25), I dorked the finish and Dario flashed. I went up Swiss Cheese and cleaned holds so I could show Dario the moves. I talked him up Swiss Cheese resulting in a phenomenal flash! 
I sent next go. I went up Andrew’s line afterwards. It is great. Massive moves the whole way. It is a little discontinuous though; there are fantastic rests for the majority of the line with hard boulder problems in between. Loved it! I did Bird Brain shortly after I came down, crushing it this time. I actually did it in two ways to check if there was a cooler way to finish it; and yes, there was a direct dyno J The drive home wasn’t too bad, we made great time and managed to find the elusive shortcut that shaves off a great deal of time outside of Harrismith. NICE. 

Eagle Mountain

Dario and Andrew under Cosmic Girl (28)

Sitting beneath Alternative Rock

Andrew getting ready to do battle on Free State of Mind

Taking in the view...

Colin in the cave by Swiss Cheese
Dario on In A Free State (29). Photo by Andrew Pedley

Andrew Pedley on In A Free State (29). Photo by Colin Crabtree