Friday, 30 November 2012

Getting Cold at Glen Clova

Not much to add to this - just a nice afternoon out in excellent winter conditions. Some cool stuff in the Hollow Boulders, although it took a lot of lichen-brushing and head-scratching to make sense of the actual problems. In the end I just climbed the lines instead of the listed problems, which seems fairly common with Scottish bouldering.

My finger is still fucked, but my elbows and shoulders seem to be responding okay to theraputic exercises. Clova was okay as none of the problems needed left hand crimps. I also spent a while trying the Mouton roof which is hard and excellent and only hurt my finger a bit because the lip hold was digging in. I've added that to my hitlist which means unfortunately it is getting longer rather than shorter!

Revised bouldering hitlist:

Razorback, Romancing The Stone, various - Reiff -

Big Lebowski, The Dude - Ruthven Boulder

Brin Done Before - Brin Rock

Gale Force, various - Laggan 2

Le Col Du Toit De Mouton, Lady Sam - Glen Clova

Pyramid Lip - Glen Ogle

The Chop (7a eliminate version) - Weem

The Bottler - Loch Lomond

Nameless Pimp Toy - Stronlachlar

??? - Loch Sloy

Abracadabra, Craigmaddie

Suck My Woolie, Snow White - Garheugh

Various - Farr Boulder

Various - Cammachmore  

Various - Arran Corrie Boulders

Various - Moray Boulders

Various - Narnairn Boulders

Hopefully my injuries will be able to cope with some of these, there is enough variety there to hopefully avoid stressing whatever is currently the worst (e.g. I won't be touching The Chop for a long time but Pyramid Lip could be fine...). I'm quite inspired ...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Scottish Injury Season begins!!

Or continues. Or increases.

Okay so my elbow has been fucked all year. Fine for trad, okay for sport, bad for bouldering and indoor training.

No problem - for winter training and bouldering I'll do some gnarly pressy pushy gastony stuff.

Okay so now my right shoulder is some theraband.....okay that's clearing.....reach under a desk and dislodge my left THAT is tweaked.

No problem - for winter training and bouldering I'll do thin fingery crimpy technical stuff.

Okay so now my left hand ring finger A2 pulley is tweaked....tender to touch....tender to crimp.

No problem - I'll just chill out and ease off any training.

Okay except I'm going to Siurana in 4 weeks and unlike the more exploratory trips to San Bartolo and Ariege/Cavallers, I'd like to be climbing fit enough to push myself a bit.

No problem - I'll do lots of fitness training and general exercise. yeah like I can fucking do that :S

Okay so what can I do??

The elbow is manageable by taping, massage, stretching, warmth, eccentrics. The shoulders are manageable by theraband exercises and massage. The finger is manageable by as much rest as I can tolerate, hot/cold treatment, massage, stretching, careful taping. All of them are manageable by taking care and avoiding specific climbing that aggravates them.

The fitness problem is unavoidable except by continuously banging my head against the demoralising brick wall of absolutely physical limitations, and by some nimbly outwitting at the gym (I think swimming is out due to shoulders).

What else??

Weights - I am quite syked for weights at the moment. After all it's got lots of NUMBERS to aim for and just like climbing that's the only point of it, what more motivation do you need huh?? It's a way to push myself physically without damaging the tweaky bits and possibly even benefit them by training antagonistic and surrounding muscles. Obviously it is nowhere near as good climbing training as climbing training, but it can work the core and be a good prep for CV work, and if it's the exercise I'm doing that's a fuck of a lot better than not doing it.

Falling practise - still a huge deal for me, and still something I definitely need to train and am currently doing so a bit - a few falls each session at the wall, and I can definitely ramp that up. Okay so I've got to choose the right non-aggravating route to get to the fall zone, but the more I can do of this the better. If I get physically weaker but mentally stronger that would probably be better than the other way around.

Stretching - god I get so fucking bored by stretching, I'd rather do 2 2 hour gym sessions a week which I bloody hate, than 10 mins stretching each day. MUST TRY HARDER.

And of course the usual gentle climbing stuff - outdoors preferably, indoors stamina only. Keep moving but keep diligent and monitoring my tweaks at all time.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Scottish Winter Season begins!

Well in a moment of madness and perverse determination, I am sticking around Scotland for a while longer, partly in the hope of ekeing out more trad radness in the spring, which means I have to weather another winter. Brrrr my old bones are wondering whether this is a good idea, but then again the weather this weekend shows some promise - it is glorious in the North West. With a minimal response for possible climbing partners, it is time for another Misanthrope Mission to kick off the season's bouldering. So I'm digging out last year's universal failure of a bouldering ticklist and trying to get some of these final mental blocs done. I've done a few, removed a few, added a few:

Pump Up The Jam, various - Skye - yes, romped along it in a heatwave :)

Razorback, Romancing The Stone, various - Reiff -

Various - Reiff In The Woods - yes, done Haven which is enough.

The Ship Boulder - Torridon - yes, done Squelch & Swamp Monster which is enough

Long Winning Streak (+SS?) - Inchbae - yes, done the normal problem, SS looks good but might not go back.

Blankety Blank - Torridon - too hard and skin-trashing

Various - Cammachmore

Big Lebowski, The Dude - Ruthven Boulder

Brin Done Before - Brin Rock

Deep Breath Arete, Hamish, various - Glen Nevis - nope, DBA was uninspiring lip traverse with bad landing, Hamish looked stupidly sandbaggy, did lots on the other side of river.

Pyramid Lip - Glen Ogle

White Matter - St Bride's Wall - yes, surprise ascent on a showery summer's day.

??? - Loch Sloy

Swap Meet, Ace Of Spades, various - Glen Croe - nope, probably too hard with a fucked elbow.

The Bottler - Loch Lomond

Nameless Pimp Toy - Stronlachlar

The Chop (7a eliminate version) - Weem

Various Corrie Boulders - Arran

Suck My Woolie, Snow White - Garheugh

Gale Force, various - Laggan 2

Abracadabra, Craigmaddie

Probably enough to get on with ;)


On to the weekend, and maybe winter isn't all that bad... A car with a view.

Firstly I got to the ever-reliable Torridon, where the rock was mostly crisp and dry, and the ground was mostly sodden and sub-aqueous. I'd forgotten just how fundamental BOG is to Scottish climbing! The Torridon sandstone is brilliant and makes me wish I lived locally in winter as well as summer - this overall area no doubt has many harder lines that would inspire me over many sessions, but on a flying visit it is harder to push my limits. I did try with Blankety Blank but couldn't even remember how to do the start let alone shred my fingers on the crux above. So I stuck to the classic Ship boulder and it's plethora of shallow bog highballing classics. Never has such a soft flat landing felt so intimidating, partly because some lines stray over the few harsh boulders, and partly because some classic lines go so far OUT through the steepness, mat positioning is an obtuse guessing game - especially with my flaccid old Pods. Swamp Monster and Squelch were aptly-named reward enough.

Snowy mountains might be utter bollox for climbing, but they provide a nice backdrop... A boulder with a view.

Secondly I got on with some unfinished business. Since the forecast was glorious the whole weekend, it obviously rained a lot overnight. No need for an Alpine start despite the Alpine backdrop around Assynt. Reiff In The Woods was touch and go, especially in the haven that shelters Haven. Not wanting to waste the epic round trip, I resorted to abseiling to clean holds (there's no issue with "damp sandstone" as there are no flakes crozzles or nubbins, just solid rounded edges and a solid arete). This worked and I blasted past last time's high point. Brilliant problem.

Finally it was onto the underrated Inchbae and it's plethoric scattering of proper blocks, unfortunately only a few of these are big enough for proper blocs, but those few are really very good, fine rock in a fine situation. I'd nearly done A Long Winning Streak last time, but ran out of daylight on the unlisted sitter. This time I made sure I got on with the original problem, which was well worth it, one of the best technical wall problems in Scotland. Crucial multi-use inverted thumb-sprag? Yes please. And that was enough for now.


Since I started writing this in the Forest Way bunkhouse, I'd like to give a shout out to the following fine establishments:

Old Gairloch Inn - good food, good beer, and have been very helpful with late diners.

Mountain Coffee Company - good coffee, hippy vibes, and cakes so large they have their own gravitational field.

Sail Mhor Hostel - good value and nice simple relaxed vibe.

Forest Way Bunkhouse - small but perfectly formed.

The Ceilidh Place - good food, good beer, good breakfasts, and a useful if pricey bunkhouse.

Kinlochewe Hotel - friendly bar that compensates for a cattle-herd bunkhouse.

Torridon Campsite - toilets showers and the best value in Scotland: FREE. Much respect.

Making Wester Ross climbing all the more enjoyable and logistically feasible :).