Archive for the 'Zen' 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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Ramblings

I’m just going to warn you right off the bat. This post is not about climbing, training, or anything like that. Furthermore it is not really for you, but for me. If you still decide to read on, be warned, it will probably make little sense… Now I will write about my trip to Thailand, and in fact I have lots of notes ready, but I will not write much about it now. There are other things I need to get out of my head urgently.

 

I feel like I am going to explode, or implode, don’t know which. There are so many things I want, to happen, to do, to see, to experience. But it seems all things chosen means losing something else that is important to me. I want my cake, and eat it too. But I hear life is not arranged that way. And it certainly feels that way. So instead of cultivating an attitude of abundance, I feel this tremendous sorrow for all the things I will inevitably have to set aside through priorities. And this sorrow leads to an overload, and I am unable to make any choices, indeed unable to do anything productive towards creating a positive future for myself.

 

My trip to Thailand changed my life completely. Mainly I met a wonderful girl, and fell completely, utterly, out of my mind, in love with her. And now my priorities are completely different. But the overwhelming challenge of balancing this relationship, with a career and climbing leaves me with a feeling akin to being repeatedly pounded in the gut with a sledgehammer. Now this post is probably all ready terrifying my parents, so I am writing a little yellow note to myself to call home when I publish this post.

 

I spent the time in Thailand avoiding all thoughts about “real life”, maintaining an attitude that it was not a temporary dream, but an actual reality. Then I come home and I am hit by the stomach virus from hell, laying me low for 5 days, and only now, after 6 days, did I feel more or less normal again. Weak, but normal. Well, normal and normal. Still being pounded in the gut with an emotional sledgehammer, but what can you do? Either way, this has given me a lot of time to think, and too much time to think, and no opportunity to do is never a good thing. Especially not if you have my particular history and disposition. You think too much, she says. And she is always right…

 

I walked for 2 hours today, thinking about everything, and I just can’t make sense of it all. I need some help. Monday I am going to a personal coach, and hopefully she will help me make heads from tails of things, and allow me to reach a decision. Then go all in, and all out. That is what I want. A target and direction. So I can stop thinking and just do. I am at my best when I just go all out and create results.

Life is about making hard choices. And everything has a cost. This is true for everyone. Even the most privileged of us must make choices. Why it paralyzes me that it is this way for me is completely beyond me. It is not like it comes as a surprise… The problem is like I said earlier. I don’t want to choose. I want my cake and I want to eat it too. But the sledgehammer in my gut is me contemplating the costs of the different choices. Hurts too much, makes it hard to breathe, and I just don’t know what to do. I can’t sit still because I feel like exploding or imploding, and when I get out and walk it feels better for a while, but I can’t walk all the time, and when I get back the sledgehammer goes back to work and the feeling returns. I am desperate now. Desperate.

This is probably way too much, and I doubt anyone following this blog wants to read this. But like I said, I needed to get it out of my head and out there. Even if no one makes it to this sentence, I needed to get here. I feel slightly lighter, but more importantly, I have put down my thoughts on something resembling paper, and I can come back to it later. Maybe it will give me slight respite from the thinking too. At least while I was writing this I thought about writing this, and not about the sledgehammer in my gut and the feeling of impending detonation. And that is worth a lot right now.

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.

Computer says nao…

Or rather, body says nao. My knee says no biking, my hips say no running and my lower back says no body weight strength training… So what else is there?
In other words, Hell Week 2 was hell, but not as intended. Most of my time has been spent sitting around feeling sorry for myself. It was pretty damn bad.

But today commences Hell Week 3. And with fasting, walking and preparing for the trip, it should get me to the neighborhood of where I wanted to go…

I hope all the stuff that needs to be got, fixed and made ready, time will pass more quickly than it did during the original Hell Week. Also the itch in my left knee suggests that the healing is continuing, and I hope it will not interfere with my climbing. But if it does, I will make damn sure I enjoy my time in  warm and bright land as darkness descends upon the home country.

Which brings me to my last point of the day. I have been feeling the effects of the traditional autumn funk slowly creeping in all ready. I am determined to avoid the big slump this year, but I realize it will be hard. I think a 20 day “pick me up” in Thailand will help a lot, but I will have to remain strong when I return. So I have made arrangements to start seeing a personal coach when I get back. I hope that together we can keep my eye on the ball and maintain good form through the winter. But it all remains to be seen.

So here it is

I am going to assume that you have all ready guessed what my decision is. Naturally I don’t want do let my devoted fans down, and so I will from here on out go to great lengths to describe my trivial and mundane life, sans climbing.

Today is a brief account of the amazing climbing festival held in Tønsberg this past weekend. I think it is fair to say that the focus was probably slightly more on festival, than climbing. We did however get introduced to a nice neighborhood crag.

At said crag, I climbed no less than 5 pitches. And before I am bumrushed by naysayers claiming the clear improbability of this amazing feat of climbing endurance, I will concede that 4 of these pitches were a little on the short side. Still, it was a lot of fun, good solid rock, a few nice jams, and most of all, hanging out and actually climbing. A supremely rare thing this summer. And watching highly skilled climbers do their thing is always inspirational.

I was paired up with a rather elderly gentleman, who claimed to be retired. Not sure what he had retired from, but when I say he was old, I mean old. Metuselah-esque, in fact. But did he ever know how to climb. He flowed up these Tønsberg rocks with grace, poise and power. I was awestruck by the sheer beauty of this perfect relationship between man and rock. Perhaps one day I too will be able to dance up the near verticals in this fashion. A man can dream…

As for my own performance, I think the less said the better. A little on the toprope heavy side, I must say. I did have fun even if I stayed on the side of caution both in terms of style (or lack of) and choice of routes to climb.

As for the festivities, I will not say too much. It was a festival to remember for a few of us, I suspect the rest will only vaguely sense that they had a good time. Unless they measure the joy of the previous night by the hangover of the next day. Either way, a grand success. I think what impressed me the most was how including this group of people were, and even being severely introverted, I felt welcome and taken care of for the duration. I will aim a huge big “thank you!” in their general direction and hope for the best. I will add that I cannot think of a single occasion in my life where I have met such a delightfully eccentric group of supremely affable, amiable, benevolent, congenial, good-natured, good-hearted, gracious and just plain sociable people. And yes, I consulted Google on this one.

Now I think all that remains to be said about this weekend is that all names and images have been withheld to protect the (mostly) innocent from potential domestic retribution. Nuff said.

Climbing Festival

As most of my regular readers know (because they were there almost to a man) I have spent the weekend at a grand and exclusive, invitation by merit only, climbing festival in Tønsberg. As I was invited, I am not entirely sure what merits the invitations were based upon, and I certainly did not ask…

 
But I was severely chastised by several persons about not updating my blog at satisfactory intervals. It is now my ambition to avoid the significant personal embarrassment that this negligence on my part resulted in this weekend.  As such, there seems to be two possible approaches to ensuring I never experience this again. Mainly ensuring that I never again come face to face with anyone who has visited my blog more than once or maybe twice (as long as there is significant time elapsed between the first and second visit), or actually making sure my blog is in fact a work in continual progress.

I have now spent a few hours pondering this conundrum at length, and reached a decision. As I am completely spent from the strain of climbing no less than a whopping 5 pitches on Saturday, and fraternizing continually for many hours with complete and utter strangers, I do not have the energy to reveal said decision at this time.
But do stay tuned for the exciting conclusion that will emerge in the second installment of this two part post. And in order to maintain the suspense, I will not even reveal when I intend to (or indeed if I ever will) publish said second installment.

Time flies by

Summer is coming to a close. I have barely been out climbing at all. I think I can count my climbing days on one hand. Severe regression. Withdrawal pains.
I am weaker, heavier, and less fit than I was a year ago. The only thing that is up is experience and trad skills (as in placing gear), all thanks to the Cranking Bull Tour. This has been making me a little sad.
But from the pain of dissatisfaction comes resolve. And of course being inspired by people like Chuck Odette, who just put up a new 5.14b at the age of 56. To me that signalled that I have 20 years of climbing improvement ahead of me. I have also read research that shows you can increase muscle mass and max strength into your 60’s (as long as you have not reached your potential at a younger age, of course, but that is not an issue for me…). So basically there is no rush.

That said I have returned to my original resolve. I really do want to become as strong a climber as it is possible for me to become. I am also convinced that my potential is well clear of weekend warrior averages. So I have read up on the science of athletics, training, nutrition, recovery and flexibility. And I am now in the process of creating a program that will take me through this next year. It also means I have decided to fight tooth and nail to avoid my autumn slump. A “first 7 months of the year” slump is enough for 2012.

This week I have done a 20 kilometer bike ride before breakfast every day, and I have started with a diet program that will slowly (over 5-6 weeks) tweak my metabolism to burn a significantly higher percentage of fat. Both at rest and during moderate training intensities. This will increase my endurance for the long trad days that I hope my future holds, in addition to helping me shed the weight once and for all (when I say once and for all I say it “knowing” that I will continue to train hard in the future, and weight management will therefore not be a huge concern outside of peak performance periods).

3 weeks into this period I will start my first strength training mesocycle. I will be using methods from gymnastics to increase my relative strength as much as possible. All bodyweight exercises, with the possible exception of the deadlift to strengthen my legs and lower back. The literature I have been reading on this approach to strength training has been a revelation, and is significantly different from standard strength training. Emphasis on making the muscles stronger, not bigger. So fewer reps, and much longer rest periods between sets (3-5 minutes) compared to the standard 1-2 minutes. The program starts out with basics, then there is a progression all the way to a one-armed chin up (couple of years down the road at least) Looking forward to this with anticipation.

As for flexibility, this seems to be the most challenging part, as it is so insanely boring. I will just have to grit my teeth and get through it for a period to see if any gains will motivate me. I hope it will.
Also, a big deal for me has been the understanding that I have let Gorms schedule determine whether I climb or not. I am a pretty serious introvert, so hooking up with new people is pretty hard for me. But since I want to get better, and getting better means climbing a lot, I have to get over it and get out there and make new climbing friends. I will let you know how that goes. Maybe postpone it until next season… 😉

So now you know why I have not been blogging. Nothing happening. Nothing to write about. It changes now.