Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Training and mileage.

^^^ This track is included solely because it is awesome and sometimes the path to awesomeness has to be paved with training.

The gayflu abated enough for me to go back down to TCA. I was hoping to finish off a couple of comp wall problems before they get reset this weekend. But after warming up (always so tedious in a cold wall!) and giving it a go I was just feeling weak and tired. Hmmmm. But didn't I just have a good week's mileage and then a nice rest weekend?? Oh, no, wait, was it fuck a rest weekend. An ill weekend and a recovering weekend. So I sacked it off and did almost all the new reds before they tweak them to make an easier circuit. I haven't actually had a hard training session for a few weeks, I definitely want to get back on that style of training, but I have to easy myself back into it via mileage.

One good thing though: I have had a lot of bollox training sessions because of how screwy my body (and sometimes mind!) is, and it's often been fairly demoralising with only brief glimpses of progression. But this last trip did reassure me that despite all the bollox and demoralisation, the training does seem to be doing something - slowly clawing my way back towards a previous physical level, or at the very least halting the decline! And at the end of the day, that's what matters - the training is for SOMETHING, awesome experiences on the rock, so if I feel I'm touching on that then I'm inclined to battle through.

On a related subject of fitness and progress and the ups and downs of the physical side of climbing, I was chatting to Alan C down at TCA after reading about his struggles in the last year, and in terms of fitness he highlighted the difference between training days / bouldering days, and full days out on rock and on routes. This is something I've noticed - full days out with lots of routes, even if they are not very hard, is simply better EXERCISE than training sessions or bouldering. So far, so obvious. But in terms of bouldering days - a sensible choice in winter - I have been avoiding mileage in favour of projects. Projects are rewarding and train some areas of climbing, but skin and muscle tends to give way before energy and fitness does. Thus not good exercise! So I think it will be a good idea to mix it up and be flexible in my bouldering trips - if a project isn't going well that day, just getting plenty of mileage in will do me good overall. The same with the wall too...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Gibbage summary.

Still got the gayflu. It's normal OMG-I'm-going-to-die-this-is-so-epicly-gay manflu. So if I survive it should be over soon. I wanted to go training today but it's enforced rest time so a good time to reflect on the purpose of training i.e. cool little (or preferably a lot bigger!) trips away like the recent one.

Okay, San Bartolo. Not a major destination but what it lacks in sport climbing spectacularness, it makes up for in nice sandstone rock and good varied routes especially in the lower & middle grades - it lived up to people describing it suchlike, and worked nicely for us. Well worth a look for a long weekend or short week. Fly into Malaga, stop off at Mijas, stay in Tarifa or Algeciras, get the guide from the wee shop in Tarifa, errr that's it really. Ask if you want more info.

My climbing....went better than expected this trip! Quite a nice surprise, given how the odds have been stacked against me, and my bare minimum of training was two sessions at Ratho - although since the sandstone is more technical / powerful than sustained, I guess the TCA sessions have helped. I hoped, as always, for a good trip tackling some good challenges, but also prepared myself for inescapable punterism and was happily resigned to lots of nice mileage climbs as easing towards the routes season, if it had to come to that. But it didn't really. I got some nice mileage, but also tackled some good challenges, and most of the puntering was a cautious necessity to let skin and muscles recover to avoid spoiling those challenges.

Things that went well or I did well:
+ Good tactics with warming up / climbing / resting / skin care.
+ Strength seems fine.
+ Technique and route reading okay, probably from T'County trips.
+ Stamina better than expected, shows potential.
+ Fairly confident committing to moves with bolt near.
+ Aches and niggles (fingers and elbows) felt a lot better after more climbing in the sun!

Things that sucked or I need to improve:
- Still fat, will be a hard fucking battle to improve.
- Legs still fucked, will be a hard/impossible fucking battle to improve.
- Big coward above bolts, need to work on falling practise soon.
- Not enough foot power through small footholds, need to focus on that.
- A bit casual with a couple of harder climbs, need to be more focused.

Overall I think I am the right track and have potential to climb at least decently this year....I just have to keep climbing, keep active, and keep training.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Gibbage 6.

The final day in a tidying up loose ends and finishing stuff off sort of way. The forecast was for cloud, it was glorious again, despite storm clouds over the hills providing a scenic backdrop. I still felt like utter shit with my gayflu. Bored of that. But there was plenty to get on with. We "warmed up" sliding off heinous micro-slabs: F6c and F7b that were more like that in British tech grades. The rock was cool but the sun was warm and needless to say our toll in skin and rubber was not repaid.

Thence it was on to the shady side, requiring a retreat and re-stomp to the opposite sector of the hillside. I'm noticing that after several days doing short uphill walk-ins and plenty of other exercise, my legs are still completely and utterly fucked and as usual I feel no progress in fitness at all. Cocktwats. Anyway the shady sector was shady although kinda sweaty. Managed a couple of routes including a pretty challenging one. Finally it was over to a different sandstone crag, El Bujeo, for a breezy and scenic evening, and a few more good and varied routes and a slightly frustrating "slip-off-the-first" move attempt of a stiffer proposition. A pretty good day despite feeling rougher than an East End Glaswegian's face.

This brings things to 34 routes I think. Not bad for a short week :). Plenty of fun on the sandstone, a few good challenges tackled (better than I thought!) and a few near misses to learn from. Tomorrow we fly back to dismal Scotland where I plan to hibernate for a while...

Africa in the morning.

Horses in the afternoon.

Gibraltar in the evening.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Gibbage 5.

Aka the day that was forecast for cloud and was glorious sunshine instead. But first, what the fuck is up with me: I come away to get some good climbing action and escape the endless sodden damp of Glasgow and the persist rundownness I've been feeling this winter. So I'm out here - plenty of activity, plenty of rest, loads of fresh air each day (sea air no less), loads of sleep each night, lots of mandarins and pears (when I can stop Tris feeding them to horses). And what do I get?? A mouthful of ulcers, glands like a second bawbag, and now a proper sodding cold!! What the fucking fuck?? IT MAKE NO SENSE!!

Anyway I can't complain too much because today rocked: We headed back to mmmMosaico to enjoy plenty of cooling shade from the forecast clouds, of which there was none. So it was climbing in the (minor) heat before lunch on some rather good routes, and climbing in the dusk after a somewhat snotty siesta on some just as good routes, and then climbing in the dark on some cool wee slabs that rounded things off nicely. The highlight of the day was my hardest route of the trip when I sent Senda Del Tiempo on the main Mosaico wall. This took all the tactics and waning stamina I had, and was satisfying partly due to the challenge and getting in the zone where I really had to deal with it, but mostly because it was an objectively great route: sustained, consistent, well-balanced, some respite that the most improbable points, and a delicate finish. Which was nice ;).

A slight misnomer today - for a change!

I tried to clean this bossly beetle, but he just squeaked furiously at me.

Guess who is having their rump firmly scratched...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Gibbage 4.

Today was a semi-rest day. Rest day = bollox day. Well this one was. Just how it went really. Drove back to San Bartolo to collect my missing downie (doh!). Then back in the opposite direction, initially the plan was to burn up the peage back to Mijas for a small bit of convenience ticking on limestone pockets whilst letting the fingertips relax a bit. But we decided to explore inland....to just explore. A bit of mountain scenery, a bit of sunshine, a bit of limestone. A fucking LOT of endless hairpin mountain roads, the real thrill coming when the petrol light came on with 30km to go till the next town and the hairpins kept going on and on. By a combination of pootling uphill in 5th and freewheeling round blind bends, we made it to the crag and collapsed into much needed lunch.

A few routes were a suitable agenda for the evening, but by the time I warmed up badly and mooched around, I managed to fail on my main desired route of the day. Sure bad bolting was the main issue but even without that I was struggling a bit. Okay it's supposed to be a rest day but even rest days can still have climbing radness, whether it's easy adventures or diverse exploration or just a couple of tricky routes in a generally chilled out day. The 5 hours of driving was anything but chilled out though, so tomorrow it's less miles and more Mosaico ;).

Load of cock.

Tris gave this horse a pear, and it gave us an enthusiastic blast of pear breath after it had chorfled it down.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gibbage 3.

Today was pretty cool. We got hold of the local guide and went back to San Bartolo to climb on the shady side. Naturally it stayed cloudy all day. The shady side is infinitely less popular than Sector Mosaico and the nearby Sector 2-Bolt Bumblebollox, but probably better overall - more variety of rock and climbing styles and plentiful interesting routes, albeit lacking the showcase funk of Mosaico itself. We explored around and both got a fair bit done throughout the sectors, this time to the sound of chainsaws not cowbells. As much as I like extreme noise I think I prefer the cowbells as a climbing soundtrack.

My fingers were a getting a bit tender from the sandstone but I had some inspirations to follow so warmed up steadily on nice easy routes, and eventually, after a "Power Manchego" lunch, got to tackle my main goal for the day, this pretty cool bouldery wee route. I hadn't watched the video, just skipped to see if the wall looked decent, so it was a nice flash with a clearly defined sequence (pretty different to the video of course, not least because a flake has come off before the span rightwards, leaving a harder and cooler sideways drop move). I enjoyed that and still had enough beans to tackle a couple more uphill routes, before being tired enough to fall off easy slabs to finish ;)

Tomorrow might be back on the lime to give our fingertips a rest. It's all good.

An exceptionally fine braided curler.

A local wench trying to seduce us en-route back to our car.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gibbage 1 & 2.

Gibbage because we are climbing near Gibraltar. Not on Gibraltar, it's full of monkeys and probably tourists too. According to the woman in the hostel we're staying in, we should be tourists too, day-tripping to Morocco, visiting quaint towns in the mountai......FUCK THAT SHIT WE'RE HERE TO CLIMB.

Yesterday was travelling day. Up at 5 to get an early flight to Malaga. Really that should have demanded an early night but I stayed up playing Skyrim (level 64 h2h/magic Orc, 530,000 gold, 186 dungeons cleared, I hope no-one cares about that) and then faffing around printing out info for crags near Malaga to get something done before heading to Algeciras base camp in the evening. The latter turned out to be useful as Mijas was an idea stop-off: 10 mins off the motorway, roadside cragging, sun and shade and a good variety of the usual Euro-lime bollox. 5 leads each certainly made good use of the afternoon. However the lack of sleep and food hit me like a ton of turd and I ended up feeling exhausted to the point of feverish. Add in an extra 1 hour 20 minute nightmare just trying to find the hostel, and epic faffage with parking and organisation and I was so relieved to pass out into sleep.

That sleep worked and I was ressurrected this morning feeling pretty perky. So it was on with the main mission, exploring the sandstone crags of San Bartolo, starting with the distinctly funky Sector Mosaico - a clean sheer wall of prehistoric scales that looks desperate but has several amenable lines starting at F6a+. We started on a F6a+ and it rocked, lovely juggy edgy sandstone. And thusly I continued to lead 6 routes in total, nothing hugely challenging yet (just getting warmed up ;)), via some fun dog action, a nice chorizo sandwich, a surprising power-nap, and enough sun (and maybe sunburn) to recharge the solar cells nicely. Tonight I do NOT feel like death, but the bed is still oh-so-appealing ;)

A fun dog.

An insolent oaf.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Random Bollox.

Not much has been happening recently.

There was a brief period of great weather which I completely missed because I was busy with stuff. Suckage.

I had a good session at Ratho where I did okay despite not having done routes for ages - although I was demoralised that I'm now such a hideous bloater I struggled to fit into my indoor harness :(.

I had a good session at TCA where I polished off several good and mis-graded problems on the comp wall. Curiously my progress over the previous session was more due to technique rather than strength, but I found I was able to keep cranking over a long-ish session, which was nice :).

I then had most of a week off climbing and exercise. Terrible. I can't afford to do that AT ALL. Came back to a session at the revamped and average-but-considerably-less-terrible-than-before GCC, and was weak, tired, and cross. Gym the next day helped a bit. I HAVE to keep moving.

Thankfully there is some movement planned: On Saturday morning Tris and I are flying to Malaga to go climbing at San Bartolo, funky looking sandstone near Gibraltar. Not a major destination but it looks nice for a few days and I really need to get away!! I need inspiration, activity, climbing mileage, and hopefully some dry fucking weather!! So, yay.

Oh and I got a cool new breakage drum'n'bass CD recently:

Nice variety of chopped up beats on this. I wasn't so taken at first, but have been playing it a lot. Ruff!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Misanthrope Mission #5

I keep trying to not go to Shaftoe. As good as it is for bouldering - I think the best pure bouldering in the County, Bowden being fragile and limited, and Kyloe lacking in a variety of lines and mostly popular because of it's rain shelter - I do want to keep exploring. But somehow I end up back there again. This time the forecast was wind and the plan was Rothley, as although it's mostly exposed, there are some more sheltered bits and the NW-facing crag would probably benefit from some fresh air. The weather from Glasgow improved all the way down until Otterburn whereupon it turned into horizontal sleet. Nice. Thankfully a bit further it seemed to be more intermittent, but a quick drive past Rothley (almost ending up off the road scoping the crag), confirmed it had copped most of that weather. So back to sunny Shaftoe...

I worked South to Central and in the grand tradition of things ticked an entire problem. Yes, a whole one, all by myself (well, it IS a Misanthrope Mission...). Well. A whole problem if you're following the true line of least resistance and natural starting holds, as per the video above. Apparently some people start it a move lower and climb into the good starting holds for a V6 eliminate, but balls to that. Of more interest is a left-hand finish climbing the arete, this looks rather appealing but without any details of difficulties, I didn't want to waste skin trying it, yet. Instead I stomped over to Central and wasted skin trying Smooth Wall again. This time I know all the numbers AND the conditions are suitable baltic, but a slight dampness on the upper holds and a general seizing up of my body in the arctic breeze has me snatching defeat from the jaws of truce. A quick look at Western Edges problems and it is far too cold even by my standards so the long drive home again, thank fuck for awesome drum and bass and metal CDs :).

Monday, 2 January 2012

Radical Changes.

Or, radical reversion to what is right.

In the latter part of 2011 I realised my life has gone off track. See over to the left where it says "Aiming to live a lifestyle of climbing and travelling"?? A matter of necessity as well as inspiration - I think it's pretty good and harmonious that necessity and inspiration align. But I have partly been working indirectly to that path, partly tried to stick to it in difficult circumstances, and partly strayed from it. So I need to realign those straying parts to that path, for my own sanity as well as pleasure. To this aim, I have some Scottish plans...

1. Steadily up my levels of general activity and fitness training until they become habitual.

2. Keep in touch with partners and keep organised AND try to be part of an active positive scene, not just climbing but general fitness.

3. Get to somewhere interesting in late Jan (Morocco? Gibraltar?) and early April (Pfalz? Annot?).

4. Week long trip to Lewis, several days sea-cliffing in Skye, long weekend in Ardnamurchan.

5. Explore more bouldering over winter, esp: Glen Nevis, Torridon/Reiff, Skye, Carrock Fell, Queen's Crag, Shaftoe, Rothley, Simonside

6. Climb a few E5s and maybe a few F7a+s if I get my fitness back

7. Keep fit at gym, pool, and wall.

8. Lose 1 stone via the above.

...and the same general climbing lifestyle guidelines as last year...

1. Keep in touch with climbing partners regularly, promptly, and positively.

2. Prioritise plans for the most inspiring areas with like-minded partners.

3. Plan more proactively but flexibly in advance rather and last minute.

4. Get started on days out earlier to make best use of time.

5. Keep fitness training and make it a regular habit.

6. Keep eating a decent diet with small portions, less junk, more water.

7. Train stamina, finger strength, finger power, dynamism and endurance at walls.

8. Falling practise, falling practise, falling practise, falling practise.

9. Work on route reading and gear placing outdoors.

10. Stack odds in my favour with suitable weather conditions.

...the main but slight change being focusing on habits and lifestyle as much as specific factors / plans. I have a path, I need to follow it.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Tunes of 2011.

...available on good old physical media at your chosen outlet.

Origin - Evolution Of Extinction (Entity CD)

Track of the year from album of the year by metal band of the year - the epitomy of their precise, complex, well-crafted and utterly brutal style.

Cern, Dose, & Teknik - Huntsville (Commercial Suicide Compilation CD)

Drum and bass - music that keeps on giving....and keeps spreading in ever-more diverse areas. Sticking with straight up modern techstep, this track was a real eye-opener for it's unbelievably filthy sound. Less future funk and more steampunk funk.

Donny - Something Terrible (Riot & Revolt CD)

The harder side of DnB has diversified too with the hardcore/breakcore/idm/dnb crossover being increasingly fertile ground. It often gets too mashed up for me, but when the artists blend the toughness with a straight up dnb groove, you get properly good tracks like this one.

All Shall Perish - The Past Will Haunt Us Both (This Is Where It Ends CD)

A return to form for All Shall Perish and a beautiful death metal love ballad. Which vile twats say heavy music can't have any soul or emotion??

Gridlok - Enemies Of The State (Commercial Suicide Compilation CD)

I'm not the biggest fan of the choppy offbeat steppy style of DNB, not of Gridlok's overly-bleepy production. But sometimes two wrongs make an irrefutable right in this brilliant epic industrial dnb soundtrack.

Eye-D & DJ Hidden - Battlefield (Peer-2-Peer Pressure CD)

A great, refined and interesting CD by perhaps the foremost purveyors of the gabber/dnb crossover. They bring dnb influences into awesome hardcore tracks like Hell's Basement, and hardcore influences into this very well-named piece of headbanging dnb artillery.

Fuck it, can't resist including one more...
Seba - It Ain't The Weather (Commercial Suicide Compilation CD)

As diverse and and as interesting as DNB gets, sometimes you just can't beat a straight up deep dark roller. And this is a great one from the usually mellow and choppy man Seba.

In case anyone was wondering, albums of the year 2011:
Ray Keith & Bladerunner - Dub Dread 4
Origin - Entity
Eye-D & DJ Hidden - Peer 2 Peer Pressure
All Shall Perish - This Is Where It Ends
DJ Asmatik - Homicide Voltaire
Dyprax & Unexist - Disorder In Italy
DJ Distance - Dubstep All Stars 8
Torsten Kanzler & Sven Wittekind - Basstech 1
Raiden - Beton Arme
Ill Skillz - Nectar And Ambrosia
Any DJ mix by S.P.Y.

Go forth and sate your ears' need for awesomeness!