Monday, 30 March 2009

"Move Along........Nothing to See Here" or "Bouldering in Scotland"

On Saturday I went to have a look at a boulder that I had first visited sveral years ago. I didn't take my stuff for two reasons. Firstly, the weather wasn't meant to be that good and Secondly I had completely forgotten how good it looked.

South FaceThis is the first time that I have ever been excited about bouldering in Scotland. Even though it is highly likely that this bloc has been fully bouldered out, I'm still going to go back as soon as possible for a proper session.

Here is a wee tour of the boulder

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Backing Off

I've been thinking a lot about the various routes that have led to injury whilst I've been training and bouldering indoors.

I have obviously hurt myself when I've not warmed up properly, when I've overdone it during re-hab from previous injury, when I've had way too many shots at the same move and when I've been too tired or ill.

However, these days I always injure myself when I'm having a great session. I don't just mean an ordinary great session, I mean the kind of session where it feels like you could rip the holds off the wall by merely twitching your back muscles. I'm slowly learning to recognise this feeling as early on in a session as possible and then I can shorten the length of the session so that I stop training or climbing right at the point when I am feeling at my strongest.

This is easier said than done. It means potentially sacrificing my only opportunity to tick a lot of my indoor projects, but should mean that I can come back and have a great uninjured session next time. Quite a few folk who write on training for climbing and other sports talk about finishing your session when you feel strong, but they are usually referring to not training to exhaustion.

You just have to be aware that if you are having one of these extraordinary sessions, it generally means that you are managing to load parts of your body in ways that they are not accustomed to yet. It's purely a case of learning when you need to back off. Most of my climbing friends (myself included) do not always recognise this and tend to injure fingers when finally getting back to full strength after a layoff.

When training for most things, you train cyclicly rather than linearly and should always have a phase of high mileage in order for your body to get accustomed to this new level of exertion. The same obviously applies to fingers, they do not get stronger in a linear fashion for very long, so when they feel at their very best, the best they have for years maybe, don't injure them by asking too much too soon. You should expect that you now have to put in a good amount of mileage (ie several weeks worth) in order to allow your fingers to get used to this before you start snatching for progressively worse and worse holds.

The reason I'm writing about this now, is that I'm finally back from injury and almost at the level I was at a year and a half ago and I'm desperate not to repeat this cycle of injury-rehab-injury.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Forest

Last year we only managed one trip to Font, which was over the Easter weekend and was a complete failure with the exception of one thing. This thing was that we realised that it was possible to drive to Font and back for a long weekend, thus saving a whole lot of money on flights, car-hire etc.

As it had been almost a year since we last visited we checked the weather forecast for the weekend, asked for a couple of days off work and set off down the A1. I'm not going to pretend that it isn't just the tiniest bit epic to undertake this journey for just a weekend, but it is well worth making the effort.

We arrived at the campsite on Thursday evening a more than a little road-weary, but were glad to get the tent sent up, listen to the magpies bicker and enjoy a cold French beer before turning in for the night.

Friday (the 13th) was one of the most enjoyable days I think I've ever had in the Forest and we ended up climbing for almost seven solid hours. Bas Cuvier was first, as it has always been my favourite venue. I managed to repeat Biceps Mou for the first time since 2002, managed Carnage first shot and just had a great time trying lots and lots of classic problems. Anna managed to lose a hell of a lot of skin on Cortomaltese, which is becoming the theme for all of our visits to Font. Hopefully she'll put that one to bed next visit.

Haute plains was next on the Agenda as Anna really wanted to do Solitaire after trying it back in 2007. Footage below

Job done, we immediately left Haute Plains in favour of Cuisiniere, so that Anna could do Bizzare Bizzare. This took a little more work, but was still dispatched very quickly and we then finished off the day trying Sanguine I had flashed this back in 2007, but couldn't touch it last Easter and it took a few attempts this time round. Anna is going to have to work on Hip/Hamstring flexibility to get the high heel in like I use in the video below.

Saturday we woke up broken from the ridiculously long session the day before, but Anna was keen to get on some more sevens. We tried a little problem up at a new area of Coquibis, but it had a disgusting top out so we went to Roche aux Sabots. Needless to say it was ridiculously busy given the good weather and the fact that it was the weekend. Thankfully no-one was under le Jeu du Toit so I quickly set about finding an efficient sequence (for a change) for the crux. Anna has made a very short film of this, which is below.

Shortly after this it started to drizzle, so we went off to got some provisions and set about having a look at my project. I photographed some of the holds so that I could remember how to train for it before we go back.

By Sunday we were fully exhausted, but went to 95.2 for a play and then finished off the trip by going to Isatis. For the first time in seven years I got a row for using magnesie by a guy climbing with a pof-bag round his waist. He also told us that a soft brush was bad for the rock, but it was somehow ok for me to whip the chalk off the rock with my heavyweight whack. With that, we decided we were better off calling it a day and returned to camp.

It was fantastic to have a last-minute trip to Fontainebleau and remarkably I was even relatively coherant at work on Tuesday.

The only downside of a trip like this, is that we have missed two campus sessions.