Saturday, 21 August 2010

Strong-ISH at Strathyre.

Had a pleasant day out today with Phil and Mr 6a to 8a in 180 days. I am currently trying to be Mr 7a to 7a in 360 days (it will make sense soon...) and today was a successful day. I warmed up the grey cells trying to navigate to the crag, warmed up the fucked legs walking the 5 steep minutes to it, and warmed up the arms on a short steep pokey 6b and thence a shorter, steeper, and pokier 6c (which defied belief how an 8m route covered in big holds could be so pumpy, but it was, so it served it's purpose). Over-warming up by dogging a 7b was cut short - quite literally - by the biggest reach to the worst hold I've encountered in a very long time. Thus it was onto the main meat of the semi-classic Electrodynamics, which in a radical break from the crag tradition was....errr....very short and very steep. But it had a cool line i.e. an arete. Gave it a blast, got involved with the steepness, found a sneaky handjam, and it was in the bag. Tried an adjacent 6c+ up a radical hanging, leaning, and perplexing micro-groove - the Quarryman of Strathyre crag - but after a series of improbable contortions all of which I was sure I was falling off, I didn't quite make it. Still it was all good training....which will hopefully pay off soon...

Monday, 16 August 2010

Ticking over but not ticking.

Another week of doing a lot yet doing little. With some inspiration to get bigger and stronger, I have been training a fair bit and pottering on sport climbs a fair bit. The latter being good training in itself, both physically and more importantly psychologically, the main benefit being doing sketchy moves on lead. I haven't actually climbed anything BUT I am feeling a bit leaner and meaner, okay the latter might just be my latent misanthropy (probably reactivated by my continual bewilderment and incomprehension of the Scottish climbing scene). This is a good thing and may feed back into short term results and long term Easy Trad desires too.

One notable aspect of climbing has been GOING TO THE GYM. In particular to do CV exercise - something I've always rightly disdained, the ludicrosity of paying to trot along on a running (or cycling) machine inside when there is, well, the entirety of Planet Earth's landmass to run (or cycle) on outside, for free. However now I am....minorly disabled....there are some important benefits, for someone in my situation at least...

The other week I went to see a top vascular surgeon in London. No news is not really good news and he confirmed what the other specialists have said - leg veins are now blocked too, any blood return will have to be done via minor surrounding veins, these will develop over time but (in my estimation) this could be a very slow process - decades rather than years. BUT one useful issue was discussed, as regards to how crippled I am fitness-wise for walking uphill and running. The surgeon highlighted the importance of leg orientation for improving or inhibiting blood return, in particular the difference between vertical exercises and prone exercises (fnaaarrrr).

This apparently was a beneficial aspect of swimming that I hadn't considered, and could be applicable to other exercises. Thus I have been trying rowing and recumbent cycling at the gym. And, hurrah!! Both of these exercises I can do a lot better than running and walking uphill. At first I thought this might be because they were too easy....but then I realised I was dripping with sweat in an air conditioned room. So I must have been doing something right. Combining this sort of exercise with a bit of weights and some prior fingery climbing training seems to give a nice rounded feeling and avoids errr having too much of a nice rounded feeling ;)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Lethargic haze at Loudon Hill.

[insert obligatory moaning about stupid fucking showery weather here]

A very mixed day yesterday. Not mixed as in the weather (which is still mixed over the damn country overall), which was generally very nice. Hot in the sun, cool in the shade and breeze. But mixed in the climbing I did and the syke I felt. This is often the case for me with local climbing - generally it is less inspiring and the "always there" doorstep accessibility makes it harder to feel the urge to get things done unless I have a specific desire.

At Loudon I did have a couple of specific desires - see what the harder routes looked like, get Epitaph Bloody Variation done (backed off it before), and err that's it I guess. The harder routes looked green but good. I pottered around seconding for a while, then tried Epitaph Sodding Variation in the baking sun and backed off again. I still don't like it. Following this I got in a lethargic haze and lounged in the sun until I got pins and needles in my arm and realised I only wanted to do Epitaph Fucking Variation to warm up and to get it ticked. Not the best motivations. Nor indeed the best state of mind to get on something harder, but inspiration + determination >>> ticking. Also, fresh cool breeze + shade >>> hot sun. So I stood beneath Lunge, realised although I felt a bit wobbly I really had to engage with it, did so, did the route, and enjoyed both the climbing and getting to grips with a decent challenge. So that was nice. Not a particularly energetic day out though so I need to do some more training now and get fitter and stronger.

More lethargic hazing at the end of the day, being invaded by sheeps whilst waiting for other members of the party to finish the splendid Edge:

Sunday, 1 August 2010

There is a Plan B.

The waiting game continues - the weather still too rubbish and unreliable in the all-important North West and Isles - sunshine and sodding showers, glorious dry days alternating with torrentially wet ones, preventing the multi-day trips that such inspiring yet remote venues require. Although expected from a Scottish summer, and an all too familiar bane of the syked trad explorer, this still sucks festering goat arse. Thus something is needed to alleviate the tedium of the waiting and "keeping one's hand in" game.

That Plan B is coming in the form of inspiration to push myself more physically. There are other reasons for this (I will explain later), but also taking advantage of local crags, sport crags, wet-weather crags, venues that are considerably less interesting but much more reliable. Finding some solace in the joys of movement and the thrill of intense challenge and the dark art of redpointing. For me this is all a side-line but it is an interesting and rewarding one....and one which will hopefully feedback into my trad climbing, firstly as valuable physical (and sometimes mental) training but also too keep my trad syke undersatiated and unjaded.

Time to stop being weak, I think.