Friday 28 September 2012

Pessimism, Optimism, Self Worth

So I started reading Lore's Blog yesterday and I am psyched on writing again.

I'm psyched on training again.

I just read my last post, about having crappy sessions on the fingerboard and giving up and going for a run.

And I thought to myself - 'that is fucking depressing'
 Which is how I was feeling when that happened.

I think Lore gets the same sort of experiences, but looks at them, and approaches them in a different way.
 Feeling down and bummed out is a weakness in itself, and it is something that can be beaten and worked out of the body and mind.

I think I have been pussying out of acually improving for a while now, and while the gains have been coming, they could becoming much faster.
I am going to sit down and work out exactly what I want to achieve by winter, how I intend to achieve it, and then set about doing that.

Thanks Lore.

Yesterday evening was a prime example of how I should improve.
I competed in the opening round of the Craggy winter boulder league.

I climbed alrightish, I flashed 10 boulders and did another 2 second attempt, but I was pumped and weak by the last ones. I think this is in equal measure a case of comeptition technique, competition training and just getting stronger.

I could definitely have won, but I didn't. I even gave up before the end of the comp because I wanted to mooch around and talk with friends.

About 10 minutes from the end though, I realised I still had the chance to win and it really put the fire back under my arse. I ran to get my shoes, brushed one problem that I had failed to do first time and given up on, then flashed it with ease.

I was then 4 points behind with one feasible problem to go.

I had already failed on it once before, so I had 7 points available, then 4.

If I climbed it second attempt, I would win.
If I climbed it third attempt, I would draw.

I failed to climb it.

I was too pumped and weak to do it, even though I knew I could.

I hate that.
I really hate that.

This afternoon, I am heading down to the fingerboard to do pullups.

On small rungs.

I'll write again when I work out my training goals and plan.

Tuesday 25 September 2012


Just ran a 22.XX.XXX 5km and I think I can go faster with a little work and a warmup/stretching

I had a crappy session earlier on the wall and on the fingerboard.
My skin feels rubbish.


Competition at Sutton on Thursday, so tomorrow is a rest day in preparation (might do some core)

Sunday 23 September 2012

U25 Fives Nationals

This weekend was the Under 25s Fives Nationals, held at Highgate school in North London, and I was present!

I applied as a free agent of sorts and was paired up on the day with another player.

Fortunately, I was to play with a pretty good player called Joe Marks. Joe used to be a top player at Highgate school, and was fairly similar in standard to myself. This is important in fives, as a weaker player can definitely be taken advantage of in a competitive game.

This effect was actually observed in one of our group fixtures, where we faced off against one of the best players in the uk, paired with a good (but significantly less talented) player. By working on this weakness, we came out on top with some good play. Eventually winning our group.

I had been playing some fives earlier in the week (actually quite a lot  due to school training and then match practice with the brigands) and my shoulder was still in a bad way by the time I turned up on saturday morning. After the group stage, it was definitely starting to protest the continued usage.
Undeterred, I went to get lunch. While we were out, I picked up some painkillers and by the time we started again, they had begun to kick in. Unfortunately, I wasnt cutting with my usual power and spin, so we were rather less effective than usual when defending points.
I feel as though we would have done better if that was not the case, but we did fairly well given the circumstances.
The first game after the group stages were against some Welsh players, who were pretty decent players. Fortunately, they made more mistakes than us over the course of the game, and we accelerated away from them towards the end when we worked out how to best win points.

This put us through to the Semi Finals against a couple of my friends - the Bhattacharya brothers.
I have lost to Abs and Aroop before, but we were playing pretty well throughout the day, and despite my shoulder frustrations, I thought we had a good chance of making it to the final.
We lost the first game 12-9 due to some poor shot selection at the end of the game, but felt that we could win the following two if we put our minds to it.
The next game went much better, with a quick win 12-7.
Unfortunately it all went a bit pear shaped in the final game, with a lot of time spent swapping serves at 8-8. Finally Abs and Aroop won out with some quick points, to pull ahead and win the final set and proceed to the final.

I dont think it would have made a great deal of difference who would have made it to the final, as Laurie Brock and AJ were imperious in their tournament victory, winning easily in 3 games.

I expected my shoulder to feel horrendous this morning, but I think I must have looked after it well after I took the pain killers, because it actually feels less stiff now than it did on Saturday.

On an unrelated note
My hand still feels a bit crap after a climbing session at the start of next week, I havent climbed since about tuesday, so hopefully itll heal up soonish so I can get back to doing some training.

Cheers all.

Friday 21 September 2012

The Rocklands Post

Rocklands 2012 writeup,
It has been a while coming, and that is due in large part to most of my time being spent either at work, climbing, training or editing the photos and video from the trip.
Naturally this means that I have a lot of media from the trip, some of which I consider to be quite good, some of which less so.

Now to start this off I’ll begin by saying that the area we were based in is absolutely stunning in terms of scenery, not to mention the quality of the climbing. However, it is only natural to encounter some small (and large) problems when engaging in a long trip (especially to a place as large and sparse as South Africa), but we’ll come to those in a moment.

I didn’t really do a great deal of research into the areas and the climbs that were out there, except for a slight perception of soft grades from quite a few people who have gone already (as you may have seen Michelle Caminati is one of the chief proponents of this point of view, and if you look at his scorecard, you will see this in action)

Anyway, I went out with the intention of doing only 3 specific climbs, two of which were at my current grade cap and the other was well beyond. Fortunately, after a huge amount of effort, I managed to do all three of them before the end of the trip. Which has left me a bit mentally drained for these last few weeks.

The list consisted of:

Pinotage (7B+)
The Rhino (7B+)
And Caroline (7C+)

Everything else was just a bonus after that, although I did manage to find some real gems while I was climbing with the rest of the group.

I don’t really know how to go about writing up the trip, and I perhaps should have tried to write some blog posts while I was actually out there instead of trying to write an overview right now. But now I have a great deal to write about, and I don’t want it all to get too long and boring.

So instead, I will let some of my photos along with captions and the trip videos do the talking.

My first picture is actually of a climb I failed to complete, but I think it does a really nice job of summing up our day to day activity out in SA. We would wake up, dirtbag it out to the crag at whatever time, and climb up way above the plain to climb in the shadows and sit in the sun.
And that is what we did for about 4 weeks.

Another fine example of the scenery that we climbed with every day, the rock has this incredible orange colour to it that just looks super inspiring when you are searching for new problems. The friction on the holds is generally pretty good considering the heat, this is because they tend to be quite incut, which makes for quite indoorsy problems with many sequences.

One day when it was bitterly cold and windy in the pass, we made our way down to 'The Rhino' for a few attempts before heading home. I got some perfect beta from a couple of cool sheffielders, shared some pads and I actually climbed it second attempt!

This was an incredible 7B+ arete called Zanzibar that I did fairly quickly (Caminati called it a 6C but hey probably was a bit easy) After I did it, I got into photo mode and got shooting. Just before the sun went over the hill on the other side of the valley, I managed to take this picture.

Sassies climbing area is a 45 minute hike up a sandy hill, but when you get up there you are greeted by some of the best problems in the Rocklands. One of them was this one - Pinotage.
I had to spend 3 sessions on this in the end, the first was with the strong German troupe of climbers with Julianne Wurm and Jan Hojer. Naturally they both pissed it and I was left flailing around as the sun crept round the arete.
The second session was a bit shorter still, as we had one of those problems I mentioned in the opening paragraphs. One of the larger types...largely involving Doug and an epic trip to the hospital.

Doug fell from quite high, maybe 6 or 7 meters, onto a distinct lack of padding and an unfortunate spotter. After a 4 hour rescue operation (remember the 45 minute hike uphill?) during which Doug was put at ease with a whole one ibuprofen and one paracetamol. When he reached the hospital (after a 2 hour 4x4 ride down the hike. Followed by a half hour ride in the back of an ambulance aka. converted van) he was given some of the worst pain killers known to mankind.
The upshot of this experience is that I have learnt not to break my leg when I am halfway up a South African hill.

Finally, Caroline. This was a huge step up for me, and it took a huge effort to achieve it.
Over about 6 or 7 sessions, I worked out beta, reworked beta, gave up permanently, tried it again, found new beta, reconciled beta with existing beta, made some links, made some attempts, caught the penultimate hold, got a giant split on my tip.

Gave up,



Drove 3 hours,
Warmed up,

I was so happy, I felt like there was an overarching story to the trip that was at risk of going unfinished, and after falling so close to the end - a week earlier - and getting the split that I thought was going to end my trip, I was starting to get a little vexed.

I wasnt sure whether the call to get up early, and drive for 3 hours to potentially fail again was a good idea. But when I caught the top hold and scrambled over the top, any thought of the drive in, or drive back or petrol costs, or time invested were instantly replaced with a combination of happiness and relief at having finally clawed my way up a piece of South African rock.

After this, my psyche left.
All gone.

I had drained myself of mental energy, and I didn't even know it could happen.

The next few days seemed to fly past, I wasnt really climbing much, just mooching and occasionally pawing ineffectually at the rock. On the last day of the trip we drove the 3 hour trip to Rocklands one last time to say goodbye and pick up a friend.

I managed to find a bit of last day psyche inspired by Dave Graham's incredible energy and did a bunch of classics before attempting the highball 7C arete - 'Tomorrow I will be gone'.
Unfortunately it was too hot for it, and I didnt have enough pads, or spotters and the psyche wasnt quite right. But next time we go, I am heading straight to that boulder because it is a beaut.

As you may be able to tell from the previous sentence, I thoroughly intend to return in the future.

The climbing was incredible, the people were not completely unbearable, and the scenery and food were superb.

I'd be interested in going elsewhere as well, but Rocklands is definitely towards the top of my list.

Anthony - we should have a chat about that bigwall idea of yours.

Rocklands 2012 from Archie CB on Vimeo.

Finally, this is the video I put together for the trip.
Some people have said nice things about it, some people have said that they dont like the typeface and that a couple of sequences are a bit long. I dont know because I have seen it all too many times now. If you have any comments, please do tell me, because I would love to make a better film in the future.

Cheers everyone!