Archive for the 'Climbing' Category

Thailand

I have been getting requests for “CR” from Thailand. Don’t know what “CR” stands for but I can hazard a guess. Seems like the longer I postponed writing this post the harder it got to actually do it. Mostly because I know the people requesting “CR”s will be bitterly disappointed…

 

I spent three weeks in Thailand. One week in the Bangkok/Pattaya region. I wanted to see tigers. But made a bad call about drinking water and paid the price. I got sick. Did see some bits of Bangkok and Pattaya that I wish I hadn’t. Actually I don’t really wish I hadn’t, but I did find what I saw to be deeply disturbing. If you don’t know what I am talking about, it is the rampant sex tourism that goes on in Pattaya and some areas of Bangkok. I thought it would be cool to see Walking Street in Pattaya but I could not stomach it. So I was relieved to leave the area behind and go to Railay.

Super stoked to be climbing in amazing surroundings, but the heat beat me up too severely to even consider climbing during the first couple of days. Good news was that the beach was great!

When I finally felt like I could do anything in the heat, I hired a guide, because my partner had never climbed before. I did mention I met a girl right? Anyway, the guide put up the topropes, instructed Wi in the art of belaying while I was climbing and I tried to control the feeling of panic as my hands got sweatier and slicker with every move.

Because we had a guide, I didn’t bother with the topo. Just asked him to give us some easy stuff. As it turned out, Wi is an absolutely stunning natural climber, and absolutely crushed the 5’s we started on. Moving on to 6’s she did not get shut down until 6b/c. I couldn’t do it clean either, but managed all the moves at least. But doing hard moves without being able to chalk up, and feeling every hold slipping under your fingers was very discomforting. But there were some cool routes and cool moves, and since I just toproped, it was pretty chill. Oh, I forgot to say we stayed at Railay Phutavan resort, where we could watch people climb at Diamond Cave Wall as we ate breakfast. So this all went down at Diamond Cave wall. Climbing ended when the mosquitoes started ganging up on us. Did not want malaria, and there seemed to be enough of them to actually cause significant blood loss. Reminded me of a distant holiday in Finnmark, except I was not wearing shorts and t-shirt back then…
I do apologize for the fact that I cannot say with certainty what I climbed. But all toprope, so it doesn’t count anyway, yea?

 

After that it rained for many days. It seemed I just hit the last bit of the rainy season. Because it was wet. A lot. But I enjoyed my time regardless, saw some sights, went in to Krabi town and swam. And drank beer. Good times. Then it stopped raining and we went to the beach. Bought a beach volleyball and played around with that. I was pretty decent when I was 17 so I found it hard to adapt to the way I sucked. So I tried to make up for lack of technique with a never say die attitude, diving like a madman for every ball. On one such occasion I did not land too well. A stabbing pain in my chest followed. It hurt a lot. All the time. It hurt to take a shower, not to mention trying to use a towel after the shower, it even hurt to breathe. So I thought I had cracked a rib. In retrospect, silly conclusion, but in my defense, I have never actually broken any limbs in my lifetime. Either way, it took me several days to realize that the fact that it always hurt more in the night and the morning, and less in the afternoons and evenings pointed to a muscular bruise. Anyways. Rain, heat and broken rib syndrome took away about 10 climbing days out of 14.

 

Day before we were going to leave I felt decent in my chest area, and the weather played nice. So we climbed again. Same procedure and location as the first time, but a couple of new routes. And I managed to climb a 6b clean, but it was still toprope. I was just not feeling any desire to lead. The ragged slings around thin bits of stone scared the crap out of me, and the thought of slippery hands at the wrong moment was not too comforting either. So, to use Nigels word, I was pussified. Even so, I had a lot of fun on the wall, and fully expect to return in the future.

 

Now, looking at the topo from the comfort of my own home, I will go ahead and list the routes I think we toproped.

 

Khay-Khad 5

Run-a-Way 6a

Mr. No Name 5

Chok Dee 6a

Mod Deng 5c

Keep the Jamman 6a

Nuliaktion 6a

Diamonds are Forever 6b

Tacktit 6b+

I repeat, everything was toproped, and Diamonds are Forever did not go clean. But Tacktit did, and I was well pleased with that. If I had led it, it would have been a new personal best. But yea, clipping would have made it harder…

 

I do apologize for the wait, and the rubbish and utterly disappointing content.

If it is any consolation, I am now trying to get a job, and if that goes well I will soon be unable to make these kind of trips whenever I damn well please. That would help, no?

 

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Almost there

A few worried people has been in touch wondering how I am doing (ok so it is just my parents) so here goes.

 

This week has been a little weird. Monday was good, Tuesday I went to the chiropractor, and she knocked me out for the rest of Tuesday and pretty much all of Wednesday. And boy did she find problems with me…

 

My hamstrings are too tight, so they put pressure on my hips and lower back, aiding and abetting my lower back problems. Also the front of my left thigh was extremely tight, a reaction from the body to protect my knee. So she put me through hell trying to untie the knots. Thursday was good again, and then Friday I went to see her again. I was better, but it was still pretty damn uncomfortable, and I have been pretty out of it today.

 

Good news is that my body felt much better yesterday, and with a little stretching of the hamstrings and giving the knee some time off from steep hills (it will just have to accept the climbing) I should be right as rain in no time.

The bad news is that Hell Weeks 2 and 3 have been cancelled, and a weight loss of 3,5 kilos is pretty far short of my aim. But again, it is better than nothing, and all in all I can’t complain.

 

But now I am super STOKED to go to Thailand and climb! Tomorrow I take off, and after a few days in Bangkok ( There is a Tiger place there) I will head down to Railay to find my groove back. Yes, it feels just about right just about now.

Hell Week half gone

I said yesterday that I had found my groove. This was not entirely true. Not that I lied. I would never lie to you. At least not about his. No. Surely not?

Turns out that as long as I am home, or ambling along on my walks I am fine. Or as fine as you can be when it feels like you are on a hunger strike to free Palestine or a similar worthy cause. But when I set foot in the shops, strange things happen. Today I went to get more juice supplies, and as soon as I walked through the doors candy bars started floating around in my head, and coke commercials started running in front of my eyes. And as I walked past the shelf with Guinness and Kilkenny I could swear I hard a voice with a Brit accent say: “Two pints of bitter and a packet of crisps, please”.

In the end I stayed mostly strong and ended up with only a small flask of banana, passionfruit and mango smoothie in addition to my planned supplies. At 120 calories, I would not count that as a major disaster. But it was not terribly good either, which might make my next visit even harder…

I also got a comment saying I should eat and boulder instead of this fasting crap. I had hoped to explain it well enough, but maybe I have taken a shortcut or two in that department? Or maybe I just assume everyone will see the wisdom of my choice and agree with me? Upon thinking about it I realize that even though I feel I have sound arguments for doing what I am doing, there still might be people who disagree with it. And that is certainly fine. In fact, I invite it.

In case I have not thoroughly explained the situation, the basis of my decision, and the rationale behind the process I will explain it here as well as I can.

I am currently somewhere between 10-15 kilo overweight. It is hard to say exactly, because I started gaining weight (aka getting fat) when I was 20. At that time I weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 kilo. I have obviously matured, and it is probable that my body (sans fat) is now closer to 70 kilo. But I am still a skinny little bastard underneath the fat so I really doubt my “normal” weight is above 70 kilo. And so it stands to reason that at my current weight of about 82 kilo, I am ca 12 kilo overweight. Anyone climbing will know that such a burden makes it hard to scale steep terrain.

All my experiences show that when I go through a period of not climbing, but dropping weight, I climb harder grades upon my return to climbing, than I did when I left off (typically an off season process). It is also generally accepted in training circles that if you are overweight, the single quickest way to increase strength relative to your body weight (as in ability to do push ups, pull ups, etc) is to lose weight because it is a much quicker process than increasing muscle mass and strength.

Now, prolonged dieting will reduce muscle mass as the body uses the protein in the muscles for fuel. This is why I have generally stuck to the “one kilo per week” approach. It is considered to be healthy, and has allowed me to train hard at the same time, both cardio and strength. For various reasons, I have not followed my traditional regimen this spring (post trip depression and what have you), and so I am behind schedule. There is also a trip to Thailand coming up in 2,5 weeks. This has made me decide to jump-start the process of achieving “match weight”. Originally planned for completion around christmas, with a standard “one kilo per week” schedule. The goal is still to get there by christmas, but I am attempting to increase my relative strength as much as possible before my trip.

One week of fasting will, according to the literature I have read, not compromise my muscles in any significant way, while I can reduce my body weight significantly. The only worry in this set up, is that only one week between the fasting will not be enough to reverse the “famine response” and make the body store most of the energy I consume that week as new fat, and continue to work with a low metabolism during my second week of fasting. I will monitor this closely, of course, and if it proves to be the case I will reduce energy intake in the second week, and abort the next fasting cycle.

Of course my knee trouble greatly affects the benefits of my fasting week, and will limit my ability to train as hard as required in the following cycle. It remains to see how this affects the net result, but I am still hoping for a significant reduction in body fat.

I will also put it to you, that if you are thin, and has always been thin, you are not really in a position to understand my situation. A situation where my use of good technique is limited because I simply do not have the strength to hold on while flagging, performing a drop knee, etc. And yes, regular bouldering would increase my strength. I do not at all dispute this. My point is simply, in terms of speed and “value for money”, reducing my body weight will give me greater gains than any other approach to this issue. In addition, I will be certain to avoid any tendon issues arising from a sudden burst of intense bouldering before the trip. I will be healthy and able to climb, which is also an important consideration, as I have bad experiences with sudden hard bouts of bouldering. One 3 week period resulted in me being not only out of climbing for 6 months, but also unable to do my job for a number of weeks.

All in all, this approach is, in my mind, the best choice for me. I do not recommend it to anyone else, especially not if your level of body fat is within a range which is considered healthy in the first place (mine is not).

And you will all see a tremendous shift in focus on my part when I reach a body weight where excess baggage is no longer an issue. At that point, I will surrender completely to the wisdom that “the best training for climbing, is climbing”.

Grefsen climbing

I hit up Grefsenkollen crag with Gorm yesterday evening. It is convenient, but not much to chose from, and with 3 other parties up there our options were severely limited. But we got in some steep moves (for us that is still around vertical…) and a great pump going. I made a mistake leading my fav route up there and couldn’t find the key hold which botched the send, but it was easier than last time, even with 6 months off. I think perhaps my technique is slightly improved.

With season warm up over and done with, Hauktjern on friday will be a good test of where I actually stand compared to last season. The goal is to send Bolt Junkie clean, and give Hekseskudd some work to see how far I am from breaking into the 7’s. Hopefully it won’t be too far…

Stoked about this season now!

Dry and sexy rock

@ Hauktjern crag!

The rock was dry, a little cold in the shade, but in the sun around 1-2ish in the afternoon should be just about perfect. I am stoked! Now I just need to find someone to schlep up there to climb with me.

And I got the topos for Lofoten and Stetind, and thumbing through those did nothing to reduce the growing excitement. Simply cannot wait to go climbing again!!

Mt Lemon and Queen Creek

A bit of shifty weather and the the terrible road up to The Homestead made us consider moving along. A friend of ours had told me about Mt Lemon. It was all hearsay tho, friends of his enjoying it. I didn’t ask many questions, just registered that it was granite sportsclimbing. Seemed right up my alley, so I convinced Nigel and we set off for Tuscon.

Camping was good at Molino Basin Campground, and the weather was great. First day we drove around exploring a little bit, checking out the spot we had a mini topo for, called Windy Point. There were really cool formations, but I was not too stoked, as it looked a lot like Joshua Tree…

Second day we went to check out a place called The Hairpin. At the parking lot we met a grizzled old veteran climber. He could tell us that The Hairpin offered the worst rock on Mt Lemon. We decided to brave it anyway. Got on what we thought were a 5.7 and a 5.8. A couple of local climbers came by and told us these routes were not even in the topo. But at least the routes felt like the grades we thought they were. Then we went and climbed the 5.8 we thought we already climbed. Around the corner there were supposed to be a few climbs in the 5.8 to 5.10a range. But the topo turned out to be absolutely useless. No pictures of the climbs, no descriptions, and tons of routes on the wall not in the topo. So it turned out to be impossible to determine which climbs where which. Either way I got on a steep and thin route that looked interesting. But I stalled out and couldn’t make it up from the 2nd bolt. Managed to get the draws off and bail without leaving gear. Just too thin and too hard for me. Nigel not stoked about the climbing here so he left it alone and we called  it a day.

Windy Point turned out to be a huge disappointment. While the rock looks cool, it seemed like an area suited more for stronger climbers than me, and none of the routes we looked at inspired us. I got on a 5.9 and couldn’t get passed the first bolt. Nothing I could use. Nigel managed to get through it with one hang.

A little more looking around and feeling the stoke diminish from moment to moment, we got the hell out of there. Packed up our stuff and drove off Mt Lemon. We stopped at Coffee X Change and checked weather. It was disheartening news. Cold and rain and snow everywhere we checked. I proposed we try to get a couple of days in at Queen Creek and holing up in a motel in Phoenix for a few days if the forecast was correct. My proposal was approved and we hit the road.

Dinner at In N Out burger turned out to be a marvelous discovery. Best fast food burger ever, by a good margin. Free camping at Oak Flats outside of Superior was good too.

We didn’t have the highest expectations for Queen Creek. The rock is Tuff, and I was not stoked on Smith Tuff, but thought we might give  it a try. And it turned out to be excellent. Not like Smith at all. More pure rock, no pebbles sticking out. Just patterns, ledges, pockets, etc in the reddish rock.

I got on a 5.6 called Fat boy goes to the pond. I felt it was a fitting first route. It was easy, but good. Very enjoyable. Nigel did short work of  it before I surprised myself by getting on a steep 5.8. I thought I was going to fall every move until the third bolt when the angle eased off. I was pumped out of my mind, but because of the runouts I had no choice but to continue to the next bolt. And in the end I just kept going to the chains. Apart from The Homestead, this was the best climbing experience since way back. Absolutely stellar for a 5.8. And just the kind of route I need to be climbing. Steep and pumpy. Good for strength and footwork.

Nigel cruised it and we both climbed an unknown route next to it, really hard bouldery start fro me, but chill after that. Probably 5.8ish.

Then for the main event. A gloriously steep 5.10a. Bouldery overhanging start followed by a long vertical plus section, before an overhanging bulge before the top slab. All pockets, all pumpy as hell. It is called “Pocket Puzzle” and it is aptly named. Pockets everywhere, but just a select few are useful.

Nigel roped up and went for it. Climbing quickly and efficiently he got through it. Great climbing, good footwork, good use of rests and the will to push through the pump. It was really cool to see.

After a rest he gave me a catch on TR, and I flailed away and eventually managed to pull the moves on the bouldery start. Already pumped out of my mind I surprised myself by linking a few moves between hangs on the vertical plus part. A lot of hangs (some of them really long) later I reached the chains. So pumped I had trouble tying out of the rope. But pretty damn happy. Working through a route like this is just what I want. Something that is within my abilities, but requires me to work it to get the sequences down to send.

Pumped out, we decided to call it a great day of climbing after the disappointments of Mt Lemon.

Forecast looked menacing so we headed into Mesa near Phoenix and got a motel, where we are holed up now waiting for the forecast to improve. Tomorrow looks promising so it will probably mean heading back to Queen Creek. Jacks Canyon was on our list, but it sems to be covered in snow and unavailable for a good long while. Too bad…

 

Bliss at The Homestead

Arrived at The Homestead yesterday morning, and we tried 2 times to get Misty the Magic MPV up the dirt road with no success. Fortunately we met Kim, Craig and Tom with a good truck, and they gave us a ride up to the crag.

Limestone cliffs all over the place, and I tied in at the Welcome Wall. Onsight of a 5.7, 2 5.8’s and a 5.10b. Felt pretty damn good. One hang one one 5.10 and a fall on another means I have to come back and clean them up, but got through all the moves so that should be part of a good warm up before we head to another cliff to get Nigel on some 11’s.

Nigel did all the routes I did, plus another 10a and another 10b. Both where way to overhanging and crimpy for me, and I burned myself out completely trying to get through the crux of the 10b and skipped the last 10a entirely. But Nigel crushed!

It made me so damn happy to be able to push on at the limit of my ability on 3 of the routes I got on. And pulling awesome moves on this solid limestone. Super stoked. Rain last night and a low cloud cover made us roll out to Phoenix where we will catch a NHL hockey game tonight. Nigel is super stoked to see his Canucks play the Coyotes for only 21 bucks. In Vancouver tickets are around 200 dollars, so this is a treat we could not pass up.

Hopefully the weather around Globe will improve and we can work on getting Misty up to the crag and spend a few days ticking off all the moderates around, and get Nigel on something that will really challenge him. And who knows, maybe there are some more 10 onsights for me as well.

Things sure are looking up!