Spring shock to start the sport season, or not!
Each spring I start to think about getting fit and returning to rope climbing. I never find this easy though, the simplicity of bouldering keeps drawing me back. Which means despite to good intentions of the odd day out in March/April it is usually July time until I start to abandon the pads for a rope. I hoped this year would be different, having completed most my boulder goals I thought it could be easier to focus on what I want to achieve on a rope. I even changed my fingerboard routine from max hangs and general messing around to a little more focus on PE repeaters/encores. As I said I find the transfer hard, but to help with motivation I managed a few early season sends off this year’s tick list. First was Zulu Wall, an amazing 8a on the Gower in South Wales. It was so good that it made up for the £6.20! toll bridge charges. In fact, I think finding a better 8a in the UK would be hard going indeed! It’s steep and follows a stunning flake line with a brilliant crux sequence at 2/3 height and is hidden away in your own private zawn. This was followed up with a couple visits to Cheddar, where I began to work through the more popular mid and higher graded routes on the north side of the gorge. Lion Rock, Remnant and Wave areas were my preferred crags and although not the UK’s finest rock it provided an enjoyable way to get some fitness back and get used to going for it on a rope again. For me this is the easiest and best way to get my fitness back up again getting in milage on routes that you can redpoint in a couple goes. That way they are hard enough to push you but generally you dont have them dialled so end up fighting at the top and you can still get several routes done in a day.
Despite this push to get back on a rope, as with every year, the lure of bouldering has kept me dabbling. So whilst in the area, I jumped on the Bristol bouldering band waggon and visited a few of the areas, in vogue, bouldering spots. The highlights were a quick tick of fellow team member, Ben West’s 7C classic - Tombstone (Mossatrocity the grit problem at Grindleford’s limestone counterpart) and a skin of my teeth flash of The Prow 7C at Sand Point. Both are cool steep compression problems and I thoroughly recommend combing them when doing routes in the area. I also reaped the benefits of the clock change, now making it out more regularly for after work sessions. Unfortunately, Lynmouth is the only place that is doable but I have been able to add a few new problems to the circuit (sometimes after a cheeky surf when its working). These have mainly been traverses so I guess that’s sort of sticking to the plan of improving my power endurance. The best and hardest of which is Behind Enemy Lines 7C+ the full R – L traverse of the bum Cheeks boulder. This had been on my to do list for a while as it was an obvious challenge. However, my initial efforts were from L to R which didn’t climb well and was very awkward. The idea to go the other way popped into my head when driving to work one day and after a session figuring out a line I returned to dispatch one sunny evening.
However, the best of the new problems I have put up recently was back at Hartland. The left hand line through ‘The End is Nigh’ cave had always been in the back of my mind. But, after completing The End is Nigh the thought of the ½ mile walk in and fact you need 6+ pads had always meant I’d put it off. Until last week, after giving Dan Turner the tour, and him clearing up in quick time, I showed him the project. Still I lack the enthusiasm to open my account with the new line. Dan on the other hand was psyched and quickly set to work figuring out most the moves. I soon started to get keen. It was a great process, as being two completely different body sizes and having different climbing styles we worked out different beta for nearly every move. Before long I had done it from 1/3 of the way in to the top. After getting wacky with the start few moves it was on. I had four or five good burns getting through to move 9 of 12, but fatigue was setting in. After 4 hours of working the moves I lacked the fitness to pull it out the bag at the end of the day. I left the crag and psyche was high. Now I just had the crux task of talking someone back to help hall the numerous pads down the coast path again. The next day I was super psyched, so much so that I went down on my own carrying 5 pads down the coast path, down the fisherman’s rope and across the pain in the ass rocky beach. A quick warm up and a few laps on the finishing moves and I was feeling good. 1st go I got all hesitant due to being on my own and scared, I semi dropped off taking the ride down the pad slide. 2nd go I manned up and went all out to establish ‘The revolution is Coming’ 8A, another north coast classic. When I showed some fellas from the peak around they said that in the peak this roof would have about 15 lines and links through it. So I guess I will be back here at some point to climb another line, but think I’ll take a break from lugging pads past confused walkers. After, I took a walk along the northern beach hoping that something else would pop up, and managed a funky new 7C roof. Not the best problem by any means, but a cracking finish to the day.
Finally, good effort to the Barn Crew who have done a great job revamping the boulder, the comp circuit was fun and another win was nice despite feeling totally burnt out when I rocked up in the morning.