Archive for January, 2012


Posted in Climbing, culture with tags on January 27, 2012 by bridbeast

Re-reading my last post, it is obvious that I need to Man the Fuck Up. And how better than an inspirational video? I think I have found just the thing (even if us goray are the badies).

However I don’t think I’ll be incorporating the “catch a chicken” exercise into my training plans just yet.



Training is boring.

Posted in Climbing with tags , on January 26, 2012 by bridbeast

Every single public space in London at the moment is full of Olympics adverts featuring sculpted athletes exhorting the populace to run faster, jump higher, train harder. Honestly, it’s like some Communists have decided to decorate the place, only with better graphic designers.

What the posters don’t give away is just how bloody boring athletic training is.

The last few weeks I’ve spent a good proportion of my spare time at the climbing wall, slogging away at improving my fitness, doing loads of laps on routes which is very dull. Afterwards I feel spent and tired, come home and eat, sleep for eight hours and then look forward to doing it the next day. And this is only training for my very modest amateur efforts, not the Olympian heights of 9a+ sports climbs.

I don’t mind bouldering sessions, in fact I really enjoy them, but then they are mostly resting between problems. However I want the stamina this year, so I have to work for it.

Sunday was the first day out climbing for 2012. We went to Dancing Ledge at Swanage, that superbly reliable winter venue. Typically we were down to t-shirts at one point, which seems to happen on nearly every winter visit I make there. I came very close to flashing a F6c, albeit one I top-roped a year ago, and got it easily second time around, despite feeling tired. So hopefully on track for some of my sports climbing goals and generally feeling reasonably fit for January.

But… I’m at the fourth week of the training regime for the new year and already it’s time for a rest! I’d planned this out, it should have been the fifth week but that didn’t work with the time I’ve got, so three weeks on, one off it is.

It feels like a good thing. My hands were beginning to get really stiff in the mornings and I could feel my tendons straining a little, but that’s disappeared. I think I’ve been a little too lazy – must go for a run tomorrow and do some proper stretching – but overall it’s been good. I’m ready for the next bout.

That means more stamina training and some strength stuff, but hopefully also starting learning some big wall techniques. I’ve bought a “how to” book by John Long and John Middendorf. They’ve plenty of experience and a way with vivid images which cements ideas in your mind. Keep your shoes clipped in at night:

“Drop your only shoes, kiss your feet goodbye. It’s happened, and the survivors walk with a cane to this day.”



Goals for 2012

Posted in Climbing, ramblings with tags , , , , on January 10, 2012 by bridbeast

It’s that time of year again – putting down in writing a few of the things I hope to achieve this year.

I’m planning a year of two halves. For the first six months, it’s time to get as good at cragging as possible. Pretty much like last year, really, and some of the aims remain the same, ie I didn’t tick them last year:

Sort out niggling shoulder problem.

Get my onsight level up to F6c. I’ve done this a couple of times last year, now I want to be able to do this regularly.

Redpoint lots of F7a (say five to ten routes at this level), mainly at Portland or Cheddar. Try a 7a+ or possibly 7b.

I’m going to the Verdon at Easter, target routes include: Riviere d’argent, Debiloff, Durandal and Le Demande. Given the tough grading, spaced bolting, massive scale and overall in-your-face scariness of the Gorge, I’d be very pleased to get any one of these routes ticked.

Continue to improve at British trad climbing. Climb some classic Pembroke E2s such as Deranged or Silver Shadow, if I get really fit then I’d like to get on one of the E3s there, Pleasure Dome or Space Cadet. On the grit I’d like to do the likes of Billy Whiz or Insanity before attempting a solid E3 crack such as Gates of Mordor, Sentinel Crack or Emerald Crack.

That in itself seems quite a lot. Obviously I don’t think I’ll get it all done but that’s the sort of thing I’m aiming for. Then in July/August I want to go on a road trip to the US. The rough plan at the moment is to climb in the high-up areas during the summer: Rocky Mountain National Park, the Needles, Tuolumne, Lake Tahoe and the High Sierras, working on my crack climbing and getting fitter for long routes, before hitting Yosemite Valley.

In the Valley I want to do some long free routes and beginner walls, such as Leaning Tower, culminating in an ascent of El Cap. I’m flexible over which route: the Nose, Salathe, Zodiac or Tangerine Trip are the main ones I’d be interested in.

So, some big ambitions. Lifetime stuff in fact. I’m not sure how much of this is outside my ability or will be done with some hard work and scary moments. In addition, I want to see if it’s possible to mix an athletic life with a writing one. In 2012 I want to read some of the classics I’ve never got around to, Dickens, George Elliot and so on, and to start work on some of my own stories. That’s a bit vague because I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, and unlike my climbing plans, I feel a need to keep my writing ideas to myself for the moment. They’re too fragile for the scrutiny of the wider world right now! In the meantime, here’s a few photos of El Cap.


Headwall of the Salathe

Salathe headwall © Duncan Critchley


Climbing on Tangerine Trip

Tangerine Trip, El Capitan © chrisbevins