My mother always says these things are sent to try us, I’m not sure why they are and I’d rather they weren’t, but I think it’s important to learn from every experience and the latest thing sent to try me has helped focus my mind on climbing more than ever.
Over the winter I’ve climbed indoors more than previous years and managed the odd outdoor tick (Goose Creature E3, Mynd am Aur 7a, Heading the Shot 7a+) and this always feels like a little victory against the weather at this time of year, I’ve even got a couple of good boulder problems done (Edge Problem at the Cromlech, Font 6c and the Flake Start to Left Wall Traverse, Font 6c in Parisella’s Cave), as well as all the walking days I’ve been doing in Scotland.
Over the last few weeks I’ve really started training properly for climbing, instead of just going to the wall and getting some climbing done I’ve tried to add some structure to it and for the first time in my climbing career I’m super psyched by bouldering, even more surprising than that I’ve bought a smoothie maker to make my breakfast times healthier!
Bouldering was always a bit of an enigma to me, I never really got it before if I’m honest. Trad climbing is usually about being really in control of your movements and a bit of a battle with your head, bouldering is very different – short and sharp, all about the moves and the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you have to try really hard, I mean really hard! This has been a bit of a revelation for me, it’s helped me realise that I need to dig at least an extra ten percent deep sometimes to succeed on the bouldering problems and sometimes just go for it with a dynamic slap for a hold. Without any real training, just a little bit of mileage and a change in mindset I’m now able to send Font 7a indoors (not hard by a lot of peoples standards especially living in North Wales, but it was a big deal for me) and I’ve got a list of a few outdoor problems to get on when the weather and time off coincide. When I sent a problem outdoors last week that had take a couple of sessions, the buzz was as big as any trad route I’ve ever done and the strength gains directly translate to route climbing too. Last night I messed up the sequence on a route and where as before I would have given up, I powered on and got the route done, that’s satisfying. For the first time ever I’ve also bought some bouldering specific rock shoes (that’s the seventh pair of Five Tens I own..!)
Having made a conscious decision to boulder more because 1. I really enjoy and 2. It improves my route climbing, I’ve now decided to train more. At home this has meant three core work outs a week, I’m kind of addicted to Ab Ripper X which is work out available on Vimeo where the really annoying American guy motivates me through his offers to rest if you want (no way!) and also his tag line “Ab Ripper X, I hate it but I love it”. Check it out at tyhe bottom of the blog! At the wall this has meant focusing on bouldering more, without neglecting routes completely, but also downloading the Beastmaker app. A Beastmaker is a brand of finger board, which combined with routines such as those on the app will improve your finger strength, an area I have highlighted as a weakness of mine. The routines are hard, like super hard, but similarly to Ab Ripper, the pain feels so good! This means lots of time hanging around in the training room at the Beacon, which again has take a shift in attitude but already feels so worth it.
At the beginning of the year I made a wishlist of routes, it has a few harder additions now, to help focus my mind and I’m psyched not only by bouldering and training, but for that warm dry rock to return!
There’s lots of info on training on the net and I’m far from an expert on this side of climbing, but you have climbing goals, they’re not going to achieve themselves…. Happy climbing.
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