Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The 're-warm-up'

One thing I've noticed recently is just how many climbers don't do any form of getting warmed up again after resting between harder routes. Maybe I'm weird, but for me it's vital to do a short 're-warm-up' before trying any hard redpoint or onsight, and I know many climbers who feel the same. The rest between attempts might be anything from belaying your friend for 30 minutes to taking half a day off before another big burn on a long route, and the optimum length of any re-warm-up will usually be proportional to the rest. This re-warm-up serves to get the fingers and arms ready for hard moves again, to help avoid injuring yourself by trying hard moves from cold and to get some blood flowing to avoid getting flash-pumped - all the same things your inital warm-up is there to achieve.

If it's been an hour or more, I'll usually start with a short walk or jog to wake my body up, especially if it's a cold day. Ideally the crag will have an area where you can do a bit of traversing and a few boulder problems, if possible on the style of hold that your route involves. Unfortunately most crags wont be as perfect as this (unless you spend a lot of time at raven tor or rubicon!), but you can usually find some holds to hang and do chin-ups on, as if you were warming-up on a fingerboard. If this doesn't work, branches in trees can provide a good alternative, and you can always drop a finger or two off on small branches to replicate pockets. Alternatively, climbing the first couple of bolts worth of your chosen route can work well too, presuming they aren't the crux of the route or on tweaky holds.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Onwards Pilgrim (or 'Why Marigolds make you more of a man')

I've been suffering a bit  from a bout of lastmoveitis recently - first Ingravids Extension, then Halfway House in Parisella's, and last Sunday I managed to blow the top of Mecca Extension at Raven tor. I guess for every time you sketch up a route when you deserve to fall off you have to have a time when you blow a route feeling like you should have done it. I sometimes wonder whether the likes of Ondra have this too, or whether part of their skill is always having that killer instinct to seal the deal? Certainly it's something some are better at than others, and I'm hoping my recent last move failures are just down to not being so sharp early in the routes season.

5 days seems like a long time when you're waiting to get back to a route you feel you're close to doing, so when I arrived back at the tor on Friday I was really excited to get back on it. I'd had a good evening at Anston the day before, knocking off a soft 7C+ quickly (though I still can't do Ebola - 7C my ass) so I was feeling good. Going up putting the clips in the conditions felt pretty poor and I wasn't that hopeful about the chances of a successful redpoint, however setting off things seemed to have improved. Mecca went smoothly, as did most of the harder section of the extension, and before long I found myself at the point where I'd blown it the weekend before - an easy move in isolation but a bit harder when you've climbed 8c to get there! This time I knew what I had to do - don't panic and pull hard. It's amazing how just knowing that you need to try hard on an 'easy' move can be the difference between success and failure. Dealing with these unknown and surprising feelings on a redpoint is definitely something I feel I can improve at, though I'm not sure exactly how to train it other than simply redpointing more. Mawson and Pete Whittaker both dispatched Mecca later that day too - the send train was well and truly in the station!

Never content and always looking for the next route to try it was time to move my clips onto Kaabah, McClure's 8c+ direct version of the extension. This version means a worse rest and a new hard section to deal with compared to Mecca Extension, but heading back there today I made good progress and some encouraging links. The only problem is that my sequence, which climbs slightly left of the sequence used on the 3 ascents to date, is notably easier. Steve says he didn't envision it as being an eliminate, but it'll probably end up either having to have rules or needing a downgrade... we'll see. It's just a pity there are so few inspiring 8c+s in the peak, if only we had a Santa Linya or a Ceuse close by!

On a vaguely related note, these Raven Tor routes often have sharp crimps requiring good skin, and high quality skin care can be vital for sending your project. It's thus with great pleasure that I can announce that I am the newest member of 'Team Marigold's Xtreme Athletes and Manliest Men'. Look out for my signature range coming soon:

For those who didn't understand my comment for Mecca Extension: