Archive for June, 2010

Gorgeous Sunday Redux

Saturday saw me acquire a pair of new climbing shoes. La Sportiva Katana. More aggressive, precise and painful to wear. Also got some liquid chalk that I was recommended here.

Another early start for us, getting ready at Hauktjern around 8-8.15. It was already 15 degrees, and pretty hot on the rock, and we were pretty sweaty from the hike up there. A nice break to cool down, and then it was time to test the new shoes on some easy stuff.

New shoes on, and it was immediately clear that it was going to be a painful day. My big toes were far from happy, but like the man said, no pain, no gain. Up I went. “Nøkkens Rike”, at 5.6 was easy, but really painful. I ripped the shoes off the second I hit the deck again. Gorm had a laugh fest pretty much all day about my pain. The bastard. Part of the story that my Cliff 5s have pretty much been like a comfortable pair of old sneakers since day 2, and Gorm has struggled a bit before breaking in his shoes. I might have been less that completely understanding about his pain before, and now it is time for some well deserved payback…

Next off were 2 routes that are not in the topo (topo is pretty old, from 2003 I think). I estimate them to be around 5.8-5.9, but it may just have been all the sand and other crap on all the holds. So maybe just another two 5.6s then. Who knows, who cares. Either way, über painful, and I pulled out my Cliff’s for the rest of the day. In retrospect I probably should have used my Cliff’s for the warmup, and broken in my new Katanas on the harder stuff to come. But despite the pain, it was obvious that the new shoes are very, very good. I am really looking forward to the day when they no longer hurt my feet, and I can crank some hard stuff with them. I really think they will add something to my climbing.

After a break we moved on to try a 5.10d. “Maestro Chupa Chopas”. It is a cool little route with some jugs in the start, then some sidepull slopers and really technical climbing before it ends with jugs again. I worked it in two rounds and made it to the anchors. First time for a 5.10d, and I was really pleased. And pretty sure I would send it when I tried ground up again. However, this horrible pump had snuck up on me, and we were pretty lucky to get our quickdraws back. I was unable to do the first difficult move. At first I thought it was because I couldn’t remember the sequence, but when I tried the next hard move (after hoisting myself past on the rope) my fingers just wouldn’t pull. I managed to get to the anchors with the help of the rope and slings (it is a very well protected route) and we got our draws back.

At first I was really upset to have “f-ed up” my first 5.10d send. I felt I should have been able to do it. But after some food, rest, and the hike back to the car (we called it a day…) I was just happy to have been able to do all the moves. My fingers were just a few moves from bleeding from the rough rock anyway, so it was a good time to quit. It actually hurts to type this… The route has the three hardest moves I have ever done, and I am very pleased that I was able to get through them, even if it was just once, and even if I am not yet strong enough to link them all together for the send.

My confidence is higher now than it was before today’s trip, and I am really looking forward to trying it again. There are 4 10d’s and one 11a on that section of the wall. So there are potential to solidify a new level there when I just get a little bit stronger. It is so close I can smell it. 5.11 is very close.

The plan now is to work my fingers on Muffin Man once a week, and try to get as many 5.10 sends as possible the other days. Tuesday looks like one 5.10 and then Muffin Man work out. Might try to go to Drammen on friday. Maybe a crag called Bera. We will see.


Turn around

Dentist yesterday. They scare me to death. So today I was still struggling with the aftermath of the experience. Woke up nauseous with a headache. Popped a couple of pills, got a little more sleep and struggled through a tough day at work. Didn’t think I would be fit to climb, but I got better and better as the day went on, and Gorm and I decided to give it a go. Since neither one of us were in top condition (Gorm had spent the last to evenings laying tiles at his parents), we went to Hvalsberget to just try to do as many easy routes as we could. No pressure, but still climbing.

A few hours later we had cruised 7 routes from 5.6 to 5.10b, and it had turned into a great day at the crag.

Odd how some days just completely turn around, and surprise you with their awesomeness!

The coolest thing about today was how we both cruised the two 5.10s we tried. I botched an early sequence on one, but got through it and cruised the rest, and Gorm looked like he was climbing 5.6s all day. Hauktjern again on Sunday to climb more 5.10s, but hopefully a little longer this time, as we’re headed for the main section this time.

Then I just need to red point a 5.10d/5.11a. And then I’m doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well. Sing it with me. Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well.

The bad with the good

Waste of time going to the crag today. I was completely off. Nothing in the tank, arms heavy and fingers refusing to grip.

2 warmup burns on 5.8 and 5.9 then I tried toproping a 5.10c/d. I could see the sequence pretty clearly, but I just didn’t have anything to give it. Fell off on the first try, then just gave up on the second. Packed up and went home. Now it is time for bed.

Gorm and his sister was along, and at least they got to have some fun toproping my warm ups while I was sitting on a rock, sulking… Gorm who was in much better shape than me almost got through the crux of “Hacky Sack” (I think that’s what it is called). I know I can blow through it on a good day, so I just hope 2 days of rest will get me there. Would love to do it on friday.

In retrospect, it was just one of those days better spent at home watching the World Cup. But I doubt I will ever be able to make that call…

Gorgeous Sunday

Up at 5 am to get ready for a day at Hauktjern. Dante got some air, and I packed my gear and some food and off I went to pick up Gorm. We were both a little tired, but the brisk walk from the parking lot to the crag woke us up properly. My pack felt heavy, but that only meant I was nice and warm and ready to go by the time we arrived at a section called Veslefeltet.

First thing is first, so we did “Inn i granskogen” at 5.5. New rock, really hard on the hands, but got used to it pretty quickly, and after that we went ahead with the plan: Crush as many 5.10’s as possible. I felt good when we went on ” Hauktussa” (5.10a), but the holds had obviously seen a fair amount of hands, and some of them were worn pretty smooth. So it was actually hard to get friction. But it got done, and I was ready for the next one.

“Skrabanek” also 5.10a was next. A pretty good run out after the first bolt had me a little nervy, but it turned out to be just one slightly tricky move in that section and it went well. But after clipping I stalled out, trying to figure out how to move on. After a little while, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t figure it out, because I couldn’t see any decent holds to pull up with, so I took a hang on the rope to relax, and refocus. I decided to wing it with a really cool balancy move that surprised me when it worked. With almost nothing to hold on to, I felt great relief as I reached some jugs below the anchors. Thinking I was done, I was dissapointed to find no footholds, and no proper holds after the jugs. Took me a long time to get up the guts to just put my foot way up and just pull up hard and rock over for the top out. Cool moves, and upsetting to have blown the onsight by 2 hangs that were never really necessary. Either way I got down, and after Gorm had his day, I went back on and crushed it properly.

Next on the list was “Fingra fra kanten”, another 5.10a. This one was pretty cool, with some burly moves that I really liked after the first part of delicate slab. Feelgood onsight.

I still had some gas in the tank, so we went to work on “Troll i ord” (5.10b). I struggled to get a decent position for the first clip, and after that it was this really (again, for me) desperate move on two tiny and sharp crimps. Surprised myself again by nailing it. After that I got a decent hold, and the route turned into a kind of ladder of holds, where I did a move trusting the hold would come, and it always did. A little crimpy move to the anchors and it was done. But I had a hang on the first bolt, so it was clear I would have to do it again.

Rest, chocolate and some sunshine. Ready again. Or so I thought. I struggled mightily figuring out the sequence again, and had to go through several moves with hangs in between to figure it out. When I got on to give it a serious go, I somehow got my arm under the rope as I grabbed this tiny, razor-sharp crimper (after several hard routes on rough rock, it felt like my fingers had been sanded down). I was in position to do the move, but had to get off again to get my arm over the rope as it should be. The next time I tried to pull these crimps, my fingers just wouldn’t do as commanded. It hurt like hell, I was pumped, dead tired all over, still sore from the work on “Muffin Man” this friday, and I was suddenly ready to call it a day.

My goal was 5-6 5.10’s this sunday. I only did 3 (but I did every move on the fourth and know I can do it when I am fresh). Still, new crag, new rock, new moves, new feel. So I am very pleased. I am certain about my ability to crush 5.10’s now, with onsights, and near onsights on every route I tried. Looking forward to the next time we go up. Perhaps we will try some longer routes on the main section.

I did take a look at “Venstre” the 5.11a that was recommended in a comment here. It looks nice, although the 3 routes there are so close it is a little confusing. No go left to get on it today, but it is on my to-do list.

Early start was great today. We got perfect climbing conditions throughout our session, and warm sunny weather for the trek back to the car. Also we were able to pick and chose the routes we wanted to do (when you’re alone you can do that). By the time we were leaving, it was getting really crowded. Another point for good planning. Most of the day left to do other stuff as well, but I was so tired and lazy I just hung out.

Now I just hope my fingers are healed up by Tuesday, because they really took a beating today.


Peachy day at work, bailed at 12:30 and headed out to Hvitebjørnsåsen to work on Muffin Man (5.11b).

Weather was nice, but as we approached the crag the roads were wet, and dark clouds threatened above. No worries though. Muffin Man is overhanging, and bone dry even when it rains.

I got on my gear and ran up to hook up the toprope and lowered down. Because it was raining, we warmed up on the wall below the start of Muffin Man. There is no route there, but good holds and a variety of options so really good for warmup. We also did some drops to get used to the rope swinging out a good bit when we drop off the route.

Then I got on the route. It was really hard from the first move, and really overhanging (for me at least). I got three moves in before dropping off a sloper. It felt good to swing on the rope, and to be able to fall without worrying about hitting anything. A few more tries, but the sequence I chose obviously wasn’t working, and I was getting pumped, so I switched with Gorm. He promptly made a new, much more effective sequence, and he was able to move on quite a bit on the traverse. Towards the end he hit some problems, and fell off. Tried a couple more burns on it, but could not get past his best burn.

My turn, and Gorm’s sequence worked like a charm for me as well. I got a move further, and along the traverse, but dropped off again where Gorm stopped. The next burn I discovered a great sloper that I was able to match on, and from there I made a big move towards what I thought was a decent hold. But my heart wasn’t in it, and as my fingers closed on it, and it revealed itself as a bomber, my body was already peeling off and I went swinging on the rope, cursing myself! I have never been so upset about missing a hold before. Awesome!

Gorm and I both did a few more burns after that, and we both managed to get a little further along the traverse before wer were too pumped to pull on our socks. 😉

When we walked back to the car we noticed that it was raining still. Neat.

So I am happy because:

A: I made 7 super hard moves in a row. I have never done anything that hard before, not even while bouldering.

B: We now have a place to climb even when it is raining! Absolutely brilliant.

C: This route is a huge challenge, but it does not feel impossible. I think we will get there with a few more sessions.

D: Awesome workout for me. Climbing like this will build the strength I need. And in just the 7 moves I did there were crimpers, slopers, open-handed holds and a sharp jug. Variety. Hard. Perfect.

E: Climbing again on Sunday. Even if it is raining!

I guess you could say it has been a pretty good day!

A struggle

Gorm and I decided to give a 5.11d at Hvalsberget (gridlock on the way south, so we opted out of Hvitebjørnsåsen) another try today. Last time I couldn’t get past the first crux, and I struggled up the slab in the first part of the route.

Today I went up and rapelled down and set up a toprope for us. It was a little iffy to get to the anchors, and I was a wee bit nervous about the task, but finished it in style. Lowered down, and then I was ready to give it a go.

The slab was still difficult, but I got through it. The first crux proved too hard for me, as I couldn’t work out a sequence that worked with my strength (or lack there of). Lowered down and Gorm got on. The slab gave him a lot of trouble, but when he got on the crux he tried a couple of holds before crushing it. The slab had taken a toll on his reserves and he lowered down to give me another burn. This time the slab went smoothly, and after a little fiddling about with holds, I found a sequence I was ready to try. First time I fell off, but the second time I managed to get through it. I took a good look at the second crux, and decided it was way out of my league at the moment. It will be a good benchmark of progress though, and I look forward to getting on it every month or so.

Totally pumped I lowered down and watched Gorm crush the first crux again before lowering down. He is so strong and good in steep terrain. I would not mind trading my slab mojo for his power. But that won’t happen. Instead I will create some mojo for steep stuff as well. Just a matter of time.

Wanting to finish something I got on a 5.10a, but I was so totally pumped I kept falling off it because my fingers refused to cooperate in a proper manner. I managed to press past and clip the anchors after an epic battle with exhaustion and fear. But of course, not a proper send after 5 or 6 falls.

Great workout, and it is always nice to know what you need to master to make the next level. Or in this case, the level after that.

I used to hate thursdays…

More volume and weight to schlep around. Longer hours in the schedule so no extra pay. Earlier start. Get off later. Rush hour traffic. Less energy for training. Lots of good reasons to hate Thursdays.

But this Thursday was different. Gorm and I did a speed circuit and managed to get off an hour early. Went straight to the crag at Hvalsberget because we were meeting up with his sister and brother-in-law. They were late, so we got to do our thing for a while.

Warmed up on a 5.6, then jumped straight on a 5.10b (Måsadotten) we had overlooked previously. It is this long (30 meters) slab route with a really sweet technical start. Tiny, and I mean tiny ledges and minimal handholds for 3-4 moves. I thought I had it when I got to a nice sloper, but I got sloppy and lost my focus and slipped off. Got back on and did the move effortlessly with proper focus. Went through the rest of the route, and in the end the biggest problem after that was my tired legs. Still bitter at myself for dropping the onsight in such a sloppy manner, but you live and learn. After a break and watching Gorm cruise it on toprope, I went back on and crushed it for the redpoint. I wish I was half as good in steep terrain as I am on slabs. I frigging rule on slabs. Yet have a lot to learn on steeper stuff.

After that, I had a good break belaying for Gorm’s brother-in-law before toproping a 5.6, then toproping the first part of the 5.10b because we forgot to bring down a quickdraw, then toproping the 5.6 again because of a stuck rope before leading a 5.8 to set up a toprope for the other guys in quick succession. It was the most sustained (relatively) climbing I have ever done, and even though it was pretty easy stuff I was totally nackered after. The last route was in the sun as well, and I had sweat dripping from me on the way up. A really awesome workout for my endurance and confidence.

In the end, it was the best climbing day of the season, and the best day of 2010 all in all. Really swell stuff!

I have also decided to make 5.10b/c the bottom grade in my pyramid. 5.10b/c-5.10c/d-5.10d/5.11a-5.11a/b. A day or two at hauktjern should put me in good stead to advance a letter grade or two on my pyramid.

Norwegian Wood music festival this weekend, then it is hardcore training until a week before my alpine climbing course. Dropping weight, getting stronger, and climbing at every turn. I can’t wait!