Sunday, 4 August 2013

Between a Rock & a Hard Place By Jen Wilby

"Bouldering no doubt contains schizophrenic tendencies, the bitter-sweetness of needing the very thing (cash) you despise".

Firstly, apologies for my last blog, which was rather uninteresting due to time going by so quick. I wrote a few words about picking a goal and making a plan to achieve that goal, as so many of us feel like we are stuck doing the same thing day in day out. This month has been no different for me. I have been spending my time commuting into London whilst trying to keep up with my training. The only word to describe it is MENTAL!!! Doing 12 hour shifts means it is very difficult to psyche myself up to go and train. Well, I do have the psyche in there somewhere, I'm just mentally and physically exhausted. Therefore the last few weeks I've been exhausted to breaking point. Spending my evenings snoozing ready to wake back up and do it all again.

I'm currently ready "The Boulder - A Philosophy for Bouldering" by Francis Sanzaro. There is a fantastic paragraph I read the other day, ironically on the Tube:

"Gullich does not deny the importance of performance in climbing, only that it differs from mainstream sports in the alternative, counter-cultural lifestyle it encourages. It is a means of self determination, self realisation and expression, in contrast to careerism and corporatism, two elements that define the West in the 21st Century....It is a means of escape, a remedy. It would seem ludicrous for a young professional to quit their job to travel abroad to play soccer in foreign fields, without the hope of becoming a professional, just to " kick the ball about". Yet this is precisely what climbers do. Sport and life are hard to separate in this discipline."

Climbing, as far as I am concerned, is my life. There is just that little time inbetween that gives me the means by which to go climbing, but, how much do we need? They say "the more you earn the more you spend". Do we really need everything we have? 

Believe me, looking around my house I have so much "stuff". Since climbing started for me, I have evolved as a person and am a very different person to the one 8 years ago. I used to buy all that "stuff". Which I know now, I do not need and I have learnt the difference between want and need. Over the next two years I plan to move up North, be closer to the climbing in the UK, and de-clutter my life, make my needs less and less...all for a bigger goal. 

For now - its all about keeping motivated. My friend, Lanch Green is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at my brother's gym and she is currently doing some motivational shoots. This is her first installment - and please note - this is not photo shopped - this is Lanch. I would love to train with this girl 24 x 7!

Lanch doing what Lanch does best
Going back to my earlier point about climbing and corporatism, it's been very hard at work. During working hours I am a totally different person, I'm living a lie during this time, but it pays the bills...right? I do like my job, I like helping people, but it does go deeper. It's hard to describe to people that climbing is not just my hobby, it is my life and asking me to give that up - is like taking away my life. I'm chasing my dragon, I'm chasing the mood that climbing gives me. 

People often ask me, or rather tell me, that training is boring, that I don't have a life, however to me it is the total opposite. I love it. Why else would I do it? What would be the point? Being a competitive swimmer set the precedence I guess, in the pool for 6am & 5pm every day for 12 years. Insane, possibly. However I wouldn't change it for anything. I guess we all have obsessive disorders, and most climbers is climbing. I had to quit swimming due to the shoulder issues and I was gutted. I went through a very dark time. For 2 years I was without focus, plodding along doing what most 20 year olds do. Then climbing came along and literally saved my life. So yes - I want to do it and I love it. So stop asking! 

Managing my work and training has been helped by my better half building a campus board in my back garden. After few sessions thinking we had all of sudden become very very weak, we realised it is harder than the normal board we train on due to the angle of it. Ours is much flatter, so far more pull required. It's been a breath of fresh air during these hot weeks to sit in the garden, campus and play with the pooch!

Using the Metolius Middle rungs
Warming up on the "large" rungs (a lot smaller than your average ones!)

Podey saying hello inbetween sets

If anyone would like to know how we went about building this, let me know and I will try and bug my better half for info. 

A few weeks ago we ventured to Leicester Forest Rocks, which has a small slate outcrop which has some bouldering on it. WOW! It was like learning to climb all over again. The whole block is leaning the same way, so its no pulling up and down, it requires some biceps! The moves were strong, however it got very very hot there, despite it being in the shade, so we retreated to a beer garden! One for next time!

Marco using his knees - literally
The following weekend we thought we would check out the Garden Party at the Castle Climbing Centre. It was a fantastic afternoon which saw the launch of their new outdoor boulders, which you can even top out. I can't believe how much this place is expanding! We normally do full day sessions there on a weekend - its going to take much longer than a day to get around this place now.

Outdoor boulders

People chillin in the garden
One of the high lights was the High Line which was set up between the two towers. It was impressive to watch these guys slack line that high up. I would not have the guts for this (that and I struggle to slackline!). 

The guys on the high line

Me attempting to slack line
Another highlight of the day was the annual dyno competition. For those who don't know, a dyno is an explosive movement, requiring power and timing to jump between two sets of holds. This year they held it on their new outdoor boulders and with the DJ in full swing, Gaz and JP on the mic, I had to be coaxed / bullied :) into taking part. You know how I feel about Dyno's and crowds, nevermind the two put together! However, I really enjoyed it and after winning the female category, I wanted to carry on to see how far I could go. It just goes to show what a relaxed and fun environment it was and always is at the Castle. I will certainly go again. 

DJ was awesome

Ben Grubb was filming throughout the day and I am looking forward to seeing the footage. Here are some stills from the dyno comp for those doubters out there:

Most folk were going right handed to avoid this match

Think this was the first height
Last weekend we headed to the Limestone bouldering venue of Anston Stones Wood. I was sceptical but with high temps, I just wanted to be outside climbing. The parking is next to a noisy road, however when you enter the woods, it becomes very peaceful and the walk through to the bouldering is very pleasant. There are a number of different areas, but we headed to Dukes Wal & Apprentice Wall and I was surprised. The looked good and climbed good! Although none of the problems top out - the moves the rock provided were really challenging and fun to climb. 

Start of an awesome 6c on Apprentice Wall

Heading up to the pinch, strong fingers required for this crag

Making the move to the final hold
I will certainly be going back before the Grit season starts!

Starting moves on a 7a at Dukes Wall
This felt odd
Up to the jug
Holds started to get smaller as the wall flattened out
Matching a hold a few moves from the top - Marco had to run and spot me at this point!
This weekend was a no climbing zone, due to some very good friends getting engaged and celebrating! It was good to sit and chat with folk outside of a climbing wall, its amazing how little we know about people we spent a lot of time with. Find out how much you know next time you climb with your "clan". Today is spent recovering with the doggie before another manic day at work, however it is a 4 day week as Thursday night will see us driving back up North for an ass whoopin at Malham Cove and if my performance on the circuit board at the Arch Climbing is anything to go by I am in a for a world of pain! 

5 weeks til Switzerland!!!!

Until then - Happy Climbing! 

Jen x


  1. Great post and good luck with the training. I love this quote, "Bouldering no doubt contains schizophrenic tendencies, the bitter sweetness of needing the very thing you despise." Where is that from?

  2. Hi

    Thanks for the feedback. The quote is from the book "The Philosophy of Bouldering" its a good little read.