Posts Tagged 'rock climbing'

I’m over it

Joshua Tree has been hard on me. Or maybe it isn’t Joshua Tree, but I don’t want to think too much about that just yet.

A couple of days where I have led a few routes, a 5.7, a 5.6 and a 5.4 slab sport, a 5.2, 5.3 an 2 5.4 trad routes have left me tired and a little sad. The lines that look good inspire me mostly with fear, and the routes that don’t have been pretty indifferent. It feels like I want to climb brilliant lines, but not be challenged. Not likely to happen much, and so The Bong (5.4) has been the only good lead of the trip.

I am tired of feeling bad for not enjoying my leads, and for not mustering up the stoke or courage for harder leads. I am tired of being blue and letting Nigel down. I have been a pretty crappy partner for our time in Joshua Tree, and for that I am sorry.

So like our good friend Matt would have said: Joshua Tree, I’m over it.

Tomorrow we’re headed out. Not sure where yet, but probably Arizona, or Red Rocks. And if our next destination doesn’t do it, I’m going to call it. Fingers crossed.

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Leaving Squamish and a funny thing happening

Nigel and I left Squamish yesterday. The weather was not bad after raining the day before, but my elbows were troubling me, and I decided to give them a weeks rest before we head to Smith Rock. Better safe than sorry. So my resting, and the bleak forecast convinced us to head back to Salt Spring Island for a few days.

It was pretty hard to leave though. Squamish has given me unbelievable gifts I did not fully expect to receive, especially after the humbling first few days. The best climbing of my life, my first real gear falls, the satisfaction of knowing that I had pushed myself to my absolute limit and still not given up. My falls came as a result of me going all out to go up. It is a great feeling to know there was nothing more I could have done in the moment to achieve a different outcome (obviously better footwork would have helped, but in the moment my feet did what they could).

The hardest thing though, and this surprised me quite a bit, was leaving the people I had met, and leaving the chance to meet more people. I know, I will meet more people at Smith Rock and every other destination we go to, but for me it was the first time in a social setting that was more or less exclusively made up of climbers. And what great people we climbers are. Sharing food, coffee, shelter and hundreds of dollars worth of cams and other equipment with complete strangers. These strangers soon turned into good friends and climbing partners, but the leap of faith involved in lending out big cams and big bros to people you have never met before still surprises me. But I love that! In addition to the food and the gear we have also shared success and failure, amazing experiences, funny stories and an unbending passion for what we do.

But here I am, on Salt Spring Island, belly full, warm and comfortable, eagerly awaiting our departure for Smith Rock. I have a list of 50 routes I would like to do, ranging from 5.7 to 5.11b (that is the hopeful side of me writing down the latter), but almost as much as the climbing I am looking forward to immersing myself in this incredible culture yet again. It is truly extraordinary.

And now for something completely different.

I noticed that the views on my blog exploded yesterday, going from between 30-60 per day, to a whopping 400+. A little research revealed 114 users referred from UK Climbing forums. Which is surprising, since I have not posted there, and I have not mentioned anything about UK climbing (that might make someone stumble across my blog through a search engine). So I checked it out, and it turns out one person there has somehow stumbled across my blog and posted a link to it. Some of the responses were, well, not entirely supportive, while others seemed to grasp what I am trying to do and convey. Anyways I registered on the forums, initially just to ask the guy where he came across my blog, but I ended up posting a long-winded reply justifying my blog. surprised me a little, but what can you do? We all want people to like us, right? Curious to see if it gets any attention.

Today my blog is back to normal, so that is good as well. Not sure I enjoy the pressure of trying to keep hundreds of people entertained on a regular basis. But once in a while it is a lot of fun.

A link to the thread on UK Climbing.

Intro to trad climbing in Squamish

Monday morning came quickly enough, and we had some good coffee, leisurely rack up, and set out for the Smoke Bluffs crag.

We wound our way along nice forest paths, up through the Smoke Bluffs, passing amazing lines on amazing rock every few meters, often just standing in awe, looking at them. So much to do! Our destination was a part of the Smoke Bluffs called Octopuses Garden. A crag with a good selection of easy routes around 5.7-5-9.

We got there, and had a look around. Things didn’t seem too hard but we decided to start up with a 5.7 crack called Edible Panties. Nigel took the lead, and struggled. Over a year since his last trad lead, and only conglomerate climbing in between, the crack, and the granite were both alien to him. But he got through it. I got on, and barely made it through as second. Thanked the powers that be for not having to lead it!

After a nice rest Nigel racked up and got on Octopuses Garden, a 5.8 crack starting on a gorgeous flake. Still struggling, but feeling better. I still flailed while seconding, but made it up.

Another long rest, and Nigel hit Call Any Vegetable, another 5.8 crack. Still struggling on the lead, as was I while seconding. But like the other two, it was a really nice line.

So a pretty harsh reality check for us, but we still managed to laugh about it, and joked about the day with the guys at the camp. “We did some wicked hard 5.8” was my line. Adam had done some “wicked hard 5.9s” so he had us beat there, but not by that much…

The rock was great, the lines gorgeous, and I learned a ton about crack climbing! A day full of WIN!

In the zone!

I started my day at the gym today. I have booked 6 sessions with a personal trainer to get some high intensity workouts in before the trip. The idea is to tighten up and add some explosive power to my repertoire.

And my trainer took his job seriously and almost killed me. Seriously, I thought I was going to pass out! Gotta love that! Amazing workout, that left me feeling like it was the first workout in a long, long time. Sore all over. But after a while it just felt good.

The hike from the parking lot and up to Hauktjern felt good, and  I was ready to pull some rock!

Warmup was a 5.10a called Skrabanek. It was always a fun route, but this time it felt really easy. I mean I totally crushed it in record time. The last few times I have climbed it, it has felt pretty easy after the slightly tricky first part, but this time I felt no tricky part. Really good omen for the harder stuff, I thought. Also nice to be able to do 5.10 as warmup, and have it feel like a warmup.

So we hauled our gear a little bit along the wall and I got ready to send “Hit og Dit”, a 5.10b I have been able to do all the moves on, but not yet sent on lead.  If started nice, I felt in control, and passed the crux with confidence. Then I dropped the beta for some reason and took a fall. And another. Took me 3 tries to get it right. Then Gorm crushed it on toprope before I set out again on lead. And botched it. I was getting pissed off, but tried to stay cool, even though each time I lowered down to start over again bothered me quite a bit. After a few frustrating tries, I finally nailed it and went all the way. Felt great! Such a tough send, struggle all the way, and I was proud that I had seen it through for the send.

I sent Gorm up again on toprope, and had him set up a toprope on the neighboring route, a 5.10d called” Ingen Heksekunst” (No witchcraft), to work it a little before we headed down again. As it turned out, the crux was the first 3-5 moves off the deck, and I struggled a long time with the delicate balancy moves which included a high step rock over with virtually nothing to hold on to. When I finally made it, the rest was pretty straightforward.

Gorm gave it a good go as well, but couldn’t quite nail the first moves, but when he pulled above them, he crushed the rest.

Then I pulled down the rope and prepared to give it a few goes on lead. Pre clipped the first bolt to avoid what I thought was an inevitable series of ground falls from the crux. surprisingly I just cruised past it first try, and crushed the rest pretty quickly. And that was my first 5.10d send! And it went second try! Oh how sweet it is. Next on the list (hopefully next week is a 5.11a called “Under tregrensa” (below the forest line, probably because it is next to a tree…). Looks doable from the ground, and my confidence is high. Really looking forward to working it.

Another kick-ass day at the crag. It just keeps getting better and better!

Back to Hvitebjørnsåsen crag

Today Gorm and I decided to go to Hvitebjørnsåsen and tick off some unfinished business. Two 5.10d’s that I did not stand a chance against last year. I have felt light years ahead this season, so it was time to test my enthusiasm against a grade I have yet to break through.

In all our excitement we (when I say we, I mean I as in me) forgot all about a pretty little thing called warm-up. So I burned out bad on the first choice. Felt sluggish, shit, upset, depressed, angry and got nowhere near completing the crux. So I left a quickdraw and bailed. Sat sulking for a while before Gorm gave it a go. He returned empty handed as well, and by then I had realized my mistake, so I was feeling better. Time to just pull down the rope and let it rip on the neighbour. So I did.

It was a struggle from the first bolt and to the top. But as you  can tell from that, I did make it all the way. Sadly not without incident. Took a few hangs before I nailed the first crux. Then a couple more at the second one.After a rest I tried to do it all in one go on top-rope, but had to hang once because I forgot to focus on my feet (at the last crux), and I fell off. Funny thing happened, though it is only funny in retrospect. At the time I had trouble seeing the humor in it.

So I went for the first crux with gusto on top-rope. Thought I had it dialed, but fell off. Thought it was because I messed up my feet placements. Tried it again, this time I took extra care to place my feet perfectly, and then I felt, and saw the damn tight rope blocking my arm as I reached for the final hold in the sequence. Screamed in fury, let go, and when I tried it with my hand on the other side of the rope from the start of the sequence I crushed it. Funny how some things just completely pass you by. I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice it the first time. But there it was. Shut down by the rope. I really must say, and I have told Gorm many times before for similar reasons, I hate climbing on toprope. Wouldn’t ever do it if it wasn’t for the time saved in getting back to the crux when redpointing.

Anywho, I have done all the moves, and the verdict is: Not really difficult, but has about 7-8 meters of very hard (for me) climbing. Fortunately it has ample rests, and the next time I am there, it will be sent. None of the moves are really that difficult, but because of the overhangs on both cruxes, it requires a bit of strength that I didn’t have before, but I have now.

So the climbing day started shit, got better and better, and in the end, I was super stoked because  I am so much stronger (relative to my weight at least) than last year, and it brings opportunities with it. So I am now enjoying a lite beer in celebration. And I got another reminder that warm ups are pretty neat.

 

All in all, another great vertical day.

 

 

Grefsen crag in July

Just over a week ago I was climbing at grefsen with Gorm, and it was the best climbing I had ever had. Sweet route, awesome possibilities to experiment on toprope, and I felt stronger and better than ever. So after dropping 4 kilo, I was ready to try it again today.

Same place, same route, same partner. Was a little shaky up the route on lead, but it went well even though I botched a sequence and spent much more time messing around than I would have liked. After an energy bar I started feeling better. And then it started. The magic. I was lost for words last time, this time I still have no words, but the feeling is 10x stronger this time.

While experimenting with different moves and sequences on vertical and overhanging parts of the wall, I suddenly realized I was not just pulling, but actually climbing on holds that I would not even have considered for the purpose last year. I felt like nothing was impossible, and hung on to slopers, pulled moves off 2 finger crimpers, put my weight on sidepulls at odd angles. It never ended. I mean, I took some falls, but only because I wanted to see how small and hard I could go, and even then I felt upset when I slipped off.

2 hours later and I am sitting at my computer, feeling like giggling like a little girl who just got her fully furnished barbie house delivered by Santa.

This climbing pretty much confirms my theory that dropping weight would be the single most important factor in improving my climbing. If you can’t pull moves, there is nothing technique can do for you, for instance. My confidence is soaring, and it feels great. Before the season I thought my only chance of breaking 5.11 before the trip would be redpointing a slab. Now I feel I can do a vertical one with a little work, and I can’t wait to work Muffin Man again.

I just want to pull hard and steep now. What a great feeling!

 

Wicked climbing at Grefsen

Yesterday Gorm and I went up to Grefsen crag to get burly. The weather these days have been pretty crazy but we lucked out with just a few mm of precipitation early in the day. Psyched to pull we scrambled to the rock and racked up.

I got on the wall to finish what I started on Tuesday. Climbed around both “this is never 5.7” parts, skipped a bolt and topped out in style. It felt really good. I was pretty pumped, but plenty left in the tank. A nice burly vertical tick for me. Gorm rocked it on toprope right after. Fun to look at this boy pull hard. So much power I’m jealous, but a lot of work on the technique side of things. But we’re gonna work on that.

Second burn I did an alternative start on toprope. I psyched myself up to hang on for dear life, and commit to every hold, before I went up. It was a great experience, I hit slopers but hung on, impossible sidepulls suddenly worked, and I climbed through the second “this is never 5.7” part (that turned out to be pretty close to 5.7…). Then I worked myself into the neighbouring route, and went up pretty hard onsight territory with confidence. Really good ascent!

Third and last burn I repeated the alternative start from the last climb, felt harder this time, but I got through. Ledge and up I went left instead of right, up the dihedral and out to the left. Had some rope help, and some rope hindrance that probably cancelled each other out (Gorm kept the rope a little too tight, and the rope drag held me back even after I yelled for slack), but I got through the alternative ending somehow. Got 6 cuts in my left hand in the process of hanging on for dear life on the jagged and sharp holds. But yeah, the bloodshed was all worth it.

I have never done so much steep (fuck it, vertical is steep for me, dammit) sustained climbing before, and I did three different versions of it. I felt stronger than ever, technique much improved, and endurance, well, let’s just say now I have some… Best climbing of the season, and I belive it will be a while before I top it. I am having trouble putting into words how freaking stoked I am about this climbing day. So much awesome pulling!

Tomorrow it is Grefsen again. I can’t wait!