New Set of Radials

Just had to sack second training session in past fortnight due to pain across top of my left forearm. I’ve had pain like this before believing it to be spragged muscle fibers. Given the location near to the bone and far away from the forearm muscle groups I decided it was time to engage that steller brain of mine (aka Google) as to the problem.

I came across Radial nerve impingement, pain, burning, numbness – all sounds about right. The problem is that I wouldn’t have said I was particularly cold, or was rushing my warm-up when this happened. The second time I was defiantly aware of the twang as I held a JUG! Really annoying as I need two days rest for recovery.

I guess the next step is some research into muscle balance and stretching again…

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Spain 2012

Got over to Spain for first trip in 3-4 years to climb three 8cs’s at least. I pissed them all then OS’d the 9b and warmed down on everyone’s projects solo, barefoot, naked and drunk………

Well Spain was yet another slap in the face to how deluded my climbing is in my world of dreams. I could barely bolt to bolt the 8c’s I wanted in Santa Linya, and didn’t even get to the top of others. It’s still not soaking in that I really need to train and rest properly. In the end I worked out Fabelita but couldn’t do the mono move. It can get to fuck! Rollito could also nearly get to fuck until I finally managed to do the 5 8″ span/jump on the last day. Obrint Pas and the Digital thing to left seemed pretty good but I didn’t do any moves. The 8b+ thing right of Pegue Nocturno was a jug haul to the 3 move boulder problem off two small crimps and a mono. Worth working out for the extension at 8b+/c!

New sectors we found at Glen Ogle.

So what I did do was a few routes, 3 8a’s, 2 7c’s, lots 7a-bs. So money well spent. And that what climbing comes down to in the UK, spending lots and lots of money. Projects can be expensive. If your not climbing your projects you better have a spare few K’s a year for the petrol and not feel sore about it. Time to embrace the teenage self hate again…

Yan showing how it should be done on Rollito Sharma F8b+

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Wales 2012 – Part 1

Back in Wales a little later than planned due to work and injuries. Hitting the ground running wasn’t going to happen. As confirmed on the first day the cave delt me a welcome back slap in the face. Especially hard as there were 30 people in there and a few beasts ticking my projects easily within a session! Ended up escaping the crowds round at pill box struggling up the V6s round there. The next few days I trucked on, there didn’t seem to be much of a point in resting.
On Sunday I didn’t do much but headed down to LPT and did Under the Board Walk F6c! This was a struggle. At least I didn’t fall off. Note to self. Get some decent bloody shoes!!! Monday was back in the cave. At least it was now quiet. I made the mistake of blasting out Left Wall then making a determined effort to work out Left Wall High. After this I was tired and failed to do Rock Atrocity. Still I ground out my training links on Pilgrim from the back wall and from the start.

On Tuesday I headed down to LPT with Tommy. This gave me the chance to stick the clips up Bad Bad Boy again. Despite having a headache and it being a Nemisis for me I sucked up the pain and got it ticked first try. I brilliant surprise since I first tried the route on my first visit to LPT and struggled then and over the next 15 years. Just a mixture of old school lime and a little bit reachy. In the end its fine now. In Wed it was back to the cave. Surprisingly I was feeling good fifth day on. After a few warm ups I got distracted and decided to try Beaver Cleaver again. This was another Nemisis since I kept jaring my back coming off it. I reckoned £500 of mattage later there were no excuses. It still took 4 goes to top it out via the cross through method but not to bad. Never V9, I think it settles at V7 these days. On a roll I got stuck into the pilgrim links. It still felt grim. On my second go I fell off the last move. The third go was a fuck up and my arm hurt across the front surface. Pist off I just relaxed and threw myself at one more go this time getting the link scratching out the last moves. I threw myself at the start and managed to link up to touching the RA flake. That was nearly as good as my links in December so a great end to the day.

On Thursday I got back down to LPT with Tommy. This time I tried the feisty little Martha. Working it out on the rope took some time, dog and warm. Even with the sloper out right it felt grim, especially the final pop slightly above the clip. I went for it next go and everything seemed fine until the pop. I found myself staring at the hold with too little power for the move. Queue the ride down slamming into the crozzel below. Luckily no damage. This happened another two times as I managed to inch higher on poor crimps but still not latch the hold. Oh well failure has a bitter taste at least on Thursdays! On Friday I was back in the cave. It was rather warm 15Deg for late March and muggy so I delayed as long as possible. It felt cool round at the cave but soon felt too warm after a warm up. Warming up was along process managing various aches earned from the week past but I seemed to loosen off. After doing RA again I sat it out for another 30min to let the temps dip. After that I managed the link on Pilgrim second go which was encouraging, maybe first if my foot didn’t slip. I still found I was building up too much heat. Luckily I’d packed some shorts. After getting aligned it was time for a go from the back. Knowing the first go is normal rubbish I just relaxed. I was some what surprised go right through the RA crux no problem only to drop getting my right into the pocket. Minus three moves! I definitely felt I could finish it! I changed my sequence to the heel method and checked it four times to dial it in – could it make the difference? After 15mins walking about to rest it was time for another go. I came through the start clean and positive. Quick shake on the jugs then into RA. As before I hit the ramp this time walking the heel around and pulled like fuck to the next sloper, booted my left foot in for tension and hit that last slot! Pilgrim ticked!

Whats more impressive for me is it was 7th day on… I think it confirms may things. Seven days ago I was struggling on the moves, it took 3 days to tune back in. Climbing a little on the rest days hasn’t done any harm. Climbing for 3hrs a day, not maxing out, resting and eating well has worked. Jury is out if the Whey protein and 5g Creatine a day has helped – probably.
Owen was up for some climbing over the weekend. Just as well as the temperatures bumped up to 19deg! We spent most of Saturday sat in the sun doing the odd route. I did Excursion Direct 6c+ that had a ridiculous run out at the top. Next was Quicksilver F7a that was recently unbanned. Both very good. In the afternoon we got down to LPT and I had a chance to finish Martha. This took another 3 RPs till dark! A real skin of the teeth effort. 6RP in total – very hard for 7c! On Sunday we did a couple of routes in the Evening. I did The Bloods F7a+ and managed to pull of the onsight of Blood Sports F7b, that’s as pumped as I can possibly get I think. Not bad as I wanted to do these routes for ages at at last it seemed like the perfect time to do them.

Monday was Cave time again. With temps still too high for bouldering 19C in March, I waited till the last two hours of light to climb. This time In Life was on the cards. The moves felt much better fresh and it didn’t take long to get redpointing. Three goes down I dropped it from the back wall. Arms melted. Tuesday gave me two more goes, enough to reach the back wall proper but arms were seriously failing me. My shoulders were in pain again – the first time in a couple of years so I sacked it. It’d have to wait. Just as well as I quite fancied following it up with In Heaven. Wednesday was day 12 climbing – so why not try another 8a. This time it was Simon Says that I’d worked out back in Dec. Shoulders hurt from working it. Never under estimate the brutality of working steep sideways routes, climbing is often easier. I had a couple of goes before I had to leave. The second got me to the final crux before arms disappointingly melted again. At least I had the Stones for sympathy on 5hr drive home with Can’t Get No Satisfaction and You Can’t Always Get What You Want belted out loud!

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Bear Hugs All Round

Got down to Bowden for a couple of days, my usual late start got me down for 3pm! Just as well as it was too windy! Must remember to bring tent pegs. Ended up slaving it out on The Crack/Craic something that I’d never really tried before. After listening to Ben Moon do it in Stick It you really wouldn’t want to would you. I was surprised that the sandiness had improved a little. I remember hearing it had been resined up to protect the stone. The erosion seemed to have be caught after a couple of years (same as Staggered). Definitely visible footholds when nothing much before, but not as bad as the rest of the crag. Look no further that Vienna, Childs Play for what 30 years erosion leads to!

With my dogging rope I tried to work out the mid crux crucifix. I managed to get here a few times from the deck. After swinging on and laybacking up off the good wee foothold you end up with the sloper in the RH and crack for LH. Now with foot out left on a smear lift RF into lower crack and rock up to arete pockmarks with RH. The crux now appears to be getting LF to stick to something!!! Then lifting RF on to the second handhold and laybacking to a positive two finger pocket. From here its easy LH pocket, get feet up the ramp, RH dish, LH 2F dink and palm down. However, the ball bearing sandstone is out to get you! My foot skidded on one link and I flew half way down attached to the rope. Still didn’t manage to link the top, find the bear hug sapping and everything slowly slides off! Funny one to grade, if it had good feet it would be easy. If your good with slopers – easy, tall/big hands/strong – easy. I didn’t find it easy. Its maybe not 8a but I’ll be taking 7c+ for it if I get it over the next few months.

Stayed down overnight hoping for a ticking day on Sat but although a beautiful blue sky day the wind was was easily 40mph and mats wouldn’t stay down. Ended up checking out Northern Territory but also thwarted by the wind. Bummer.

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I Need the Serum for Shorties

Been trying the start of Serum for a few sessions over the last three years without getting anywhere. Watching the Gutbuster video on vimeo the other night really shocked me as Malc breezes the Font 8a+ start where I can’t even pull on. The holds are good – but my arms are short like a T-Rex :( Weighting the holds spanned makes my fingers feel like they will pull out of my hands! While I could do one armers off the holds, probably! Physical forces beyond 120 deg are never friendly I’ve been spending hours working out another sequence off small finger slopers rather than jugs – fuck this is Sabotage all over again. Where is Will when I need him!

I did some calculations using force equation on page 6 here. Assuming a standard climber weighs 80kg and standard arms are long enough to create a 140deg span angle (between holds in question) vs. shorties with a 170 deg span angle, so F=W*(cos @/sin 2@) gets us 116 vs. 458!!! newtons(?). So with a short span in a crucifix move you are in FACT inserting nearly five times the pressure of a standard span! Please prove me wrong with the maths… ?


Gutbuster wth Malcolm Smith from peter murray on Vimeo.

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Varian Levels of Power

The Deep Breath Egyptian Move. Photo: Stone Country

I was quite shocked when Dave M suggested my Glen Nevis Nemesis Deep Breath is down to 7c/+! Especially since I’ve thought for years it was more like 8a+. Then I found the video below of Beastmaker Dan Varian pissing it! On my best effort on the crux I can barely pull in to that bastard off balance position off a poor crimp and shit feet. OK I’ve not tried it that much (4-5 sessions) and not done many 8a’s or even done an 8a+, but I have tried lots of them with more positive feedback than DB. Stuff like Fata Morgana and Verdict in Font, or Manchester Dogs and Diesel Power seem a grade easier for sure. It does make it hard to get motivated to go back for £80 fuel money to try a problem I probably can’t do. Far easier to head south for some Cave ego massage on the Font 8a+ circuit down that way. I know that grades come down to a load of factors in the end. I’m guessing there stacked against me for that 7c+ tick in this case.

Behind The Iron-Bru Curtain from on Vimeo.

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Yorkshire Grit

Got down to Yorkshire with Stu eventually once we spotted a clear spell in the weather after New Year. The drive down the A/M1 was however a very long car wash, difficult motivationally that it would improve but it did. It was too windy for Almscliff so we found some shelter round at Caley. Here we tried Block Buster 7b+, this provided a good battle. I ended up doing the standing start and hanging the first pish sloper as I’m crap at jumping. Anyway maybe a 7c tick for that. On Fri the wind improved and we got to Almscliff. Here we did The Keel 7b+/c. I didn’t think I could do it until someone showed me the LF lock then it was on! Keen to get back here for Jess’s Roof and the Keel variations. Still it was a bit disappointing. Grit boulder lines are fairly sparse. To finish on Sat we had a trek up to Jason’s Roof aka the finest grit roof in the UK. It didn’t disappoint, but was fairly reachy for me. Still I think I can do it at some point. On the way back we checked out Woodwell. Anastasia looked interesting but most of the other lines looked too eliminate to justify the petrol money there nowadays. Its cheaper to head down the wall.

Given we got so little done for our time, looks like future trips are off for a while. Combined with a motivational crash on my part, tough times ahead!

Jess’s Roof
Stu’s Roof
Zoo York
Ben’s Groove
Banana Republic
Real Keel
The Bulb
Keel haul
Pedestal Arete
Jason’s Roof

PS. Jason’s roof video’s below, doesn’t do it justice – Its actually 70-80 Deg overhanging!

Jasons Roof – Crookrise 23/10/11 from Matthew Wong on Vimeo.

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The First!

View from the Pad today

Got back to Bowden today for my traditional new years day climb. The sun was out but it was a little too cold in the wind. I motored on however with around 2 dozen others. My plan was to hit V-Crimps and Sprung both Font 7c. After a bad warm up I was getting shut down on V-Crimps so switched focus to Sprung. All but the crux moves came together on this but it took over an hour of tries and several walks until I hit the crux. It seemed to confuse the brain putting my feet the wrong way around on a crimp move but it finally worked just as the sun went down. Pressure now on it looked unlikely I’d finish it. In the dusk the wind suddenly dropped and conditions felt perfect. I rearranged my layers again and started trying it from the bottom. The first try I got high but wasted time swinging my feet. Lesson learned – to chuck them on and trust them. Next go I dropped the crux. Time for another walk. I got back in the ‘this with take ages, stop thinking that and do it now’ mindset from Wales. What do you know – drifted right up the thing aggressively and hit everything perfect! A good day. I milled about on V-Crimps to finish. Joe Newman had some great beta for me using a RF heel toe all the way to match the crimps. Good if only I was tall enough. I couldn’t quite get it to work but the next section was fine walking the feet out right if the crimps were matched. Needs another visit I think. Here’s a video from Dave Carnegie showing a decent sequence on V-Crimps and Sprung. My low LF RF toe hook felt pretty hard.

Winter at Bowden from Dave Carnegie on Vimeo.

Really surprised recently as I’ve ignored Northumberland for nearly a decade! Now suddenly there seems to be tones to try, a short ticklist for the future new years…

Born Lippy
The Crack SS
Working Class
Vienna SS
Barbarian SS
Underdog Trav
Pockets Trav
Black Triage
Cubbys Jocks link
Cubbys Yorkshireman link

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Thirty Three

I struggled to wind down work into December so it looked like I’d missed my window for good conditions for North Wales bouldering. With my birthday approaching I decided a push was as good as a shove so got the van packed up and headed south through the snow.

Keith was nice enough on the Wednesday to come out despite the bad conditions for routes. We had a go at Simon Says F8a but it was too cold to link any more that a few moves. I ended up later eating birthday cake in Costas reading my new Bio on Steve Jobs so in all not a bad way to spend your birthday.

I got stuck into projects over the next week but felt broken in the cave. Still given enough visits I started to regain my cave strength. In the Pass I was back on Diesel Power 8a, that I’d tried for a couple of days in 2009 and got close. I was back but got shutdown unable to do one of the moves. I came back though and cracked the move I was stuck on. It still felt too hard for this trip.

Down to my last few days I too a shot in the dark and headed to the Pass again for a final try before heading back. The weather was rubbish and I got rained off just as I started to dry the dripping wet exit lip. Since I was there I though I decided to go with it for the afternoon. You never know… I spent a couple of hours working the moves again. The lip was still soaking but in my head I though – just in case… Using my dirty laundry from the van and loads of chalk I set about drying it off for 15min and tested it out. I went back to the van for a sit down. 15 min later I was under the lip thinking to myself If I come back in six weeks I can train and do it. I was pissed off at my mentality of always feeding the days efforts into a future event and never focusing on the present. However, it was so unlikely to happen. Then I thought what if I just do it now…

I chalked up the wet holds one more time and got ready. I though I should start the camera but then though whats the point and it was distracting from the current moment. I had stripped off most of my layers by that point. Removed the finger tape and got really psyched! I pulled on slipping on the starting holds slightly and got the crimp badly. This time I adjusted and clamped down good. I got the heel on and pulled through easily. My hand slipped but I pumped it in again and set my feet for the crux… Bang I hit it perfect. In my head I though oh well I hit the mat in a second, but to my surprise I hit the next crux perfect (prev only 1 in 3). I locked through an finished it unsure of what just happened. I had just pissed it? Sketching about on the wet boulder I finally traversed off and let out a war cry – FUCK! Against all odds I’d just done Diesel Power. After taking some video it was off to try Mr Fantastic till dark. Best day since I did Hurley 3 years ago I think.

It’s surprising to dispatch on the first proper try. When struggling to do individual moves in isolation the link seems a dream. But something special seems to happen in that 20 sec from the start. Somewhere in the psyche a channel through the black and white of success or failure appears. Working the grey area in between you just seem to float like watching yourself in the background, movements hardwired, pre-executed almost – a very special place.

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Smeg Monkey’s

Playing The Waiting Game F8a (Pic: Tommy Chammings)

It was Diamond season again and time for my annual trip to North Wales. The forecast was rubbish for cold, windy drizzle. The only good part although a strong wind was probably the best possible thing to dry out the Diamond grease. On Monday we got down to try Jon’s new route for last year The Waiting Game F8a. On first inspection this seemed ok and we expected a quick tick. However, redpointing proved difficult and into Tuesday afternoon we were still dropping the crux move. Even though the route is short it packs in nearly 30 moves. Every try we felt good up to the undercut move before hitting the PE wall head on. We managed to unlock a slightly better sequence with a heel out right but energy was spent for te day. Our initial plan to try the Brute and tick at least three routes now seemed a fantasy.

Diamond project gallows!

Rejected we headed to the slate on Wednesday for a rest day. After fueling up at Pete’s Eats we headed into Dinorwig area to see what was dry. Rain was forecast past lunchtime. We decided to try Mau Mau E4 6a in the end. I drew the short straw to lead it. I hadn’t done any trad in a couple of years so was immediately nervous. Nearly hour later I was off on the final crack. I hadn’t felt happy with the risk I’d taken. After topping it out I was left in the position deciding whether or not to finish it. After Stu had a try and stripped the gear for me I took a walk. Finally I decided to go for it. What better oppertunity did I have knowing all the moves, gear and it still hadn’t rained. Leading it went fine although I was still very nervous about the gear. Silly I know! By the final crack I was perfectly happy to fall but didn’t and it was done. On the way out it finally pissed it down around dinner time so we had gotten a good run at the weather.

Thursday was Diamond day again. On arrival we were disapointed to find conditions were the worst yet with beads of water dripping off the crag. However determination is a powerful thing. We each took turns drying out every hand and foothold and finally got it in a climbable state. I was happy with my sequence from last time and managed to get it first try at a push. Stu dispatched also. In the end that was sixth redpoint in three day a hard soft 8a! To finish I started working out Wall of Evening Light but was beaten by the smeg. The entire crag was taking water out the air as the temperature increased. I managed P1 at 7a+ at least but had to bail 3m later as it got hard and the tide was at our feet. Next year I need a full day on this!

Unfinished business for 2012!

On Friday we got down to Pigeon’s Cave to try Stiff Upper Lip 7c+/8a with our towels and chalk. It was very damp but not wet. However bodies were broken and we didn’t managed to link very much off it. I tried Cat Amoungt the Pigeon’s F7c as well but this had a tricky boulder problem out left I couldn’t see myself doing. We resigned ourselves to African Headcharge F7a+ and String of Perls F6b+! to finish the trip.

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