Tag Archives: resting

Tumultuity: Part One

It’s been a weird few months in my climbing life, but that’s nothing that i’m not accustomed to. There have actually been plenty of noteworthy occasions, although little to justify a post in of itself. Then suddenly, you look back at it all and realise everything that’s been going on and go, “Shit! Have i done that much?!”

Perhaps not quite as drastic as that, as my Instagram profile will attest but even so, considering my online silence of late, there’s certainly been much more going on than meets the eye.

Big News

It’s always best to start where you last left off, ignoring the recent journalistic post on climbing becoming an Olympic sport, and that takes us all the way back to early July, with Tess still enjoying the France’s Northern coastline. Needless to say, she got back fine and all quickly things returned back to normal.

Well, not really. We hadn’t been back very long before Em decided to try and find out what had been causing the lethargy and illness she’d been suffering with recently. And so it came to pass that i came home from work one day and was told, “I’m pregnant”.

From there it’s been a period of adjustment, excitement, secrecy and announcement. The initial overwhelming nature of such news has worn off and we are both very excited about what now lies in wait for us come February and beyond.

From my (slightly selfish) point of view, things look very good indeed: Em has assured me that this won’t stop me from climbing and i’ve gone from trawling the internet for the best bouldering spots in Europe to best ways to go bouldering with a baby and it’s things like this that show me i’ve found someone truly wonderful. It’s going to be a huge change to both our lives and one we can’t wait to start with.

Summer of Discontent

Maybe it was the huge news or perhaps some seasonal heat sapping out the psyche but since then, i’ve not really been able to get going again. My grade has dropped from working and ticking 7c+ back in March to the mid- or even low-sevens now and this has had knock on effects.

I’m not on form so struggling to find psyche, which pushes down the grade. This means that most of the list is currently infeasible; something which is in itself demoralising. This drops the psyche still further and means even less of the list is attainable and so the spiral continues. It’s a bit of a catch-22: i’m lacking psyche to get on projects and lacking attainable projects to build psyche.

There have been a few isolated days over the summer and a recent week away but never enough to build the momentum needed to come back to full strength. That’s not to say they haven’t been worthwhile though!

With everyone else occupied on Saturday night, it was a case of finally. I finally got my first session on #welshrock since getting back from my trip and I finally got to #climb with Alex from work! We headed to #rhiwgoch with this in my mind: #nazgulstraverse 7c. Considering how out of shape I am, it was a bit optimistic: heading from this first move, bound for the exit moves to the left of shot. Turns out i got to the same spot as last time, failing at the same place. It's here i need to give a shout out to @fredrikfa88. While i was in Gävle. He watched me climb and asked why I was moving as I was. It suddenly dawned on me i was no longer thinking when I fail; merely trying the same thing over and over until it relented. I need to be more clever about what I'm doing and i stood on the floor, going through the moves and had a epiphany: in pointing my toe at the crucial moment! Suddenly i realised what I needed to do to get this. Now I just need to figure out how to do it. Photo credit to Alex Battery #worldclasswales #northwales #snowdonia #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbing_photos_of_instagram #meclimbing

A post shared by Chez de la Bloc (@edwards.pete) on

First Welsh session since our return was one i’d actually forgotten about with Alex Battery from work – a man i’d long since said about climbing with but until now actually hadn’t. The venue: Rhiw Goch for an optimistic punt on Nazgul’s Traverse 7c. In truth, it went much better than i’d expected and i began to put some much needed thought back into my climbing. Nevertheless, it wasn’t really followed up with anything until a couple of days in mid-August.

Every year, Plas y Brenin is blessed (maybe an overstatement…) with a new intake of eight Centre Assistants and it’s only a matter of time normally before i drag some of them out for a bit of a boulder. In this case, it was them dragging me out, with Jack, Isaac and Alex offering me an evening at my old favourite, Caseg Fraith.

It was a decent session, much better for the lads than for me as i failed to repeat Boneyard V8 and thought much better than trying to even look at the outstanding project line there – an ambitious 8a. Still, again, always good to climb with new people!

And it was the day after as well. I’d been keen to spend some more time with Em’s family; not least her brother, James so when he got in touch to go for a boulder, it seemed ideal.

Not wanting to plump for the obvious, i mistakenly neglected a trip to Sheep Pen to take us instead to Elephantitus cave. In hindsight, with James never actually having been to Sheep Pen, and the distinct lack of problems to go at, it was possibly poor judgement and one that led to neither of us tasting any success. Nevertheless, James did remarkably well and will almost certainly tick it next time.

And so, other than a brief time killing session on a boulder in Bryn Engan one evening after work, takes us right up to last week’s trip to Scotland.

It was a funny few weeks, only half intended to be a bit of a break and not replaced by any other exercise. It’s cost me a lot of fitness, form and strength and the story isn’t done yet…

Part Two coming soon

Advertisements

Lulls and The Battle Against Sweat

I’d been meaning on writing a moaning piece; a wingeing, complaining feel-sorry-for-me diatribe on roasting heat, failing standards and an inability to do what i wanted.

Then i finished work on Tuesday night and left for home. Not thirty seconds out of the drive, i took in the view – one i see daily but rarely stop to appreciate. I saw the green of the grass, the still water of the lake, the crags on the hill above me, even the rust on the barbed wire of the fence that often fails to pen the sheep successfully and thought next week, this will be Sweden. Then just as suddenly, and? What’s wrong with this?

Now Thursday, and i’m a bit lost as to what to write about!

The Negative

I can’t deny that my standards have dropped significantly recently – not three months ago, i ticked my first V10 and now struggle on 7b+ – and, with climbing being my underlying reason for being, have been a little down of late. The problem with all your eggs in one basket is when that basket gets a whole, you’ve lost all your eggs.

Part of the issue is evidently in my head. I’m lacking psyche and commitment; something i alluded to in my last post. This hasn’t changed since then, although i am now a lot more aware of it.

And while i’m not normally one for blaming conditions for poor performance, it has been so ludicrously hot lately that even sitting around at work means bathing in clothes soaked with your own sweat! When even walking in to the crag is a feat of human endeavour, it’s not really a surprise i’m not climbing at my peak lately!

This has also led to a drop in strength and if i’m honest, the idea of mid-summer training in the wall is almost soul destroying. I don’t remember the last time it rained, i should be outside! Making the most of it! Which then leads to feelings of guilt. And this has led me on to a mild epiphany.

The Positive

Truth be told, i took a few weeks off climbing. At first, this was due to a weird niggle in my right arm but then developed into not particularly wanting to go out! And do you know what? The world didn’t end, i didn’t spontaneously combust, nothing happened! In fact, i just found myself enjoying being alive in weather that wasn’t soaking me from above on a daily basis.

I spent more time with Emily, just living (and moving her into the house, progressively) and walking the dog, teaching her to swim. I’ve detached myself so much from climbing these past few weeks, i voluntarily gave up a spare evening alone to faff around the house and take Tess down to the lagoons for some swimming. And it felt great!

Not that i’ve stopped entirely, with two notable sessions. An old friend, Glyn, got in touch to see if i was keen for a blast on Corridors of Power 7c+/8a. With it now being on the list, i thought i’d give it a blast, scout it out, see what it’s like. It was also nice to support a friend on a project.

It went well, although i’m still not strong or confident. Maybe that’s the key for now – find out the beta on climbs while i’m struggling? Or perhaps sticking to focusing on a few is a better idea? Not sure. I do know we had a great evening before being chased away by midge – another issue with summer bouldering in North Wales.

The other excellent session was with Emily. We’d talked about doing more with ourselves and it occurred that a prolonged dry spell like this opens up the mountain crag, Cwm Dyli. It’s not so much the rock that needs to dry out, it’s the approach and as we romped across the hillside, I reveled in the fact the ground was bone dry.

I didn’t actually get much done, and nothing new – the intended V8 being a lot harder to fathom than i’d expected. Far more importantly though was the success Em enjoyed! She flashed her first V1 with relative ease, after some demo and beta from me and then, just as importantly, tried something harder and experimented with different positions and grips. What’s crucial is after failing, she got back up and tried it again.

If you asked her, Emily would say she’s not much of a climber but she does get out there and try things, and is willing to give it a blast every now and again. We’ve only climbed a couple of times together a couple of times but i have been taken by how technically good she is – honestly. I’ve seen much more dedicated climbers struggle to grasp concepts she just does naturally. On our little session, I was very impressed and proud of her and thrilled she’s coming out and joining me at the crag. Even more importantly, she wants to join in and that makes all the difference.

Most importantly of all, i’ve learned over the last few weeks that when the weather is nice, it’s good to be alive. It doesn’t matter that i’m not climbing hard things, it’s just pleasant being here. This is why we live here after all! So that when the weather is nice like this, we’re already here. Going back to our opening sentence, why would you want to be anywhere else?

Upcoming

Not that any of this recent zest for life in North Wales has quelled any of my longstanding wanderlust. My ferry is now booked for Monday morning, 00:50 and from there the adventure begins. It’s a tale of foreign friends and familiar faces, of miles of driving and bouldering all over Southern Sweden.

I’m past the point of nervousness now and am itching to get going. Granted, i have a long and lonesome first stage – driving to Kobnhavn alone to meet Simon – but from there, i shouldn’t be alone much.

There’s a host of venues i’m hoping to hit, for at least a day or two: Kjugekull, Vastervik, Gavle, Stockholm, Hono, it’s gonna be a proper little road trip! But with standards being what they are, and my annual goal of a foreign 7c being done and dusted, i’m going to put a cap on projects for this one at 7b+ to try and stop me wasting time on things i’m unlikely to succeed on. If i can get a brace of 7b, it’ll push my annual average up as it is, and a few 7b+ will push that still further.

But that isn’t the goal for this one. It’s a fact finding tour, a chance to experience some new and cool places, to see some old friends and to generally chill out, recover a bit and have a good time. That starts Sunday night. In the meantime, just rest it out i guess. Oh and pack at some point…

Distractions

Well that was a quiet start to the New Year! And an unexpected one if i’m honest! Writing that last post, and with various trips penned and in the pipeline for year ahead, i thought i’d be chomping at the bit to get out and get climbing but, what with injuries and other distractions, i seemed to lose psyche for a week or two there.

Sometimes psyche and enthusiasm do take a bit of a hit – you simply can’t maintain a constant level of desperation to get out forever (or i can’t anyway). So i’ve not really done much in the last few weeks, as shown on my instagram feed and a series of old photos replacing anything new and exciting.

There are a couple of exceptional sessions though; mainly on Diesel Power 8a at the Cromlech Boulders, once in daylight on the way home and the other Tuesday gone. Neither were particularly anything to write home about – hence the lack of writing – merely to point out how hard this project is going to be.

It’s a unique problem really: the crimp handholds being reasonable, especially for the grade of climb! The crux seems to be entirely in the feet and keeping them on the smoothly polished holds using intense body tension that i seem to be lacking. Far too often, when trying to move anything at all, or even sometimes when simply trying to hold the position i find myself in, my feet will inexplicably part company with the rock, bringing me down to the pad with a thud.

Meanwhile, under the near-horizontal roof sits another bloc – one trodden by many thousands of feet to walk around and stand atop this roadside boulder; tourists wanting to summit something and get a feeling for the outdoors. The problem is that this rock underneath you is quite close behind and until you are reaching the exit moves, there is zero chance of cutting loose. It crossed my mind that if that boulder didn’t lie so close beneath you, this classic would probably be a full grade easier.

So you set up on any of the hard moves and pull on only to find your feet sliding off and you returning back to sit on the pad (assuming your pad hasn’t moved down the slope but thankfully, this seems fairly rare). It is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating and annoying problems i’ve ever encountered and one that will take some intense training, i fear.

Not to mention multiple sessions but the important bit of that is they need to be productive sessions and these last two really didn’t fit into that category. The daytime session taught me nothing i didn’t already know other than i’m still quite a way off from this project and that i was not in condition to be getting on something at the limit of my abilities. Such is the nature of roadside boulders though – they’re very tempting when you’ve not got much time… or inclination for that matter.

Such was the situation Pablo found himself in this week when he finished work late and headed into the Pass for a quick blast. Completely dark with cloud cover clouding any moon or star light, i noticed his lamp under Jerry’s Roof from quite a way away, slowing to see who was keen on my way past. When i noticed my good friend, i had to stop.

I watched as he tried Bus Stop 7b+ several times, this time making the first moves with relative ease before struggling after the crux, he moved onto Bus Stop RH 7c and i joined him before we both headed up to Diesel Power. To be fair though, while i struggled to make any gains, seeing how much Pablo struggled with any move at all did make me realise i’m a lot closer than recent sessions had led me to believe.

Considering my recent unintentional abstinence from climbing, partially to rest the two hip injuries i’d sustained in recent weeks, perhaps i’m being a bit hard on myself. With a Font trip looming, it had occurred that i might be out of shape when i get to the forest too and so, the smallest amount of rain convincing me that i was justified not going outside, i took a trip to the Indy on Sunday gone, with the express intention of seeing how well i’d do in a session.

Turns out it was quite well, and better than i was expecting! A flash on a 7b (albeit one that suited but it certainly didn’t feel hard!) and very close on a 7c filled me with enthusiasm. I had another session the following evening when i found myself there for some coaching that felt like i had no energy at all, granted but even then, said 7c still fell. Perhaps my hard ticklist for the forest may not be that ambitious after all?

So now, local projects have taken a back seat. A major back seat – imagine sticking them upstairs at the back of a double decker bus. Focus is now entirely making sure i’m in the best possible shape for the end of next week when i make the familiar drive through two of Europe’s busiest cities overnight. I’m so excited, especially to be climbing there with one of the few friends who would make the invite-to-my-wedding list [an imaginary list to distinguish my closest friends] who is also ticking around the same grade as myself.

It’s impossible to know how a trip is going to turn out but you always get a bit of an inkling and this one feels pretty good. The politics and troubles setting up have been and gone and now the path looks clear and my mind is just waiting to be there now. This, along with the other trips of the year, seem to have encompassed every ounce of thought in my head lately – to the extent that, to my eternal shame, i forgot my parent’s wedding anniversary this week. I feel terrible about it and hope that they can forgive me, being the ones that instilled the wanderlust that drives me so much of the year. Maybe one year, i’ll get to take them too; not so much for climbing but just to experience an area of the world so beautiful and magical. I hope so, as they took me to experience so many places in my life, it would be an honour to repay such kindness one day.

They have a lot to answer for in this aspect of my life, my parents. And i will forever be grateful for that.

Admitted

Sometimes, the hardest part about injuries is admitting you’re injured. I mean, most of the time it’s not – you’re in pain and you can feel it but every now and again, it’s subtle enough that denial can overwhelm the issue and you carry on regardless.

After last week’s nasty fall, i ended up having a few days off (thanks to working, to be fair) before heading out again on Friday night. To be true, it felt fine, almost entirely healed and i was scratching at the door to get out of work and climb something. Diesel Power was the obvious aim but when i found out Em was heading in the opposite direction to help out a friend, i opted to follow and stop off to try the modern classic Roof of a Baby Buddha 7c+ instead.

In the woods near #betwsycoed is a lone #boulder with a problem of such majesty, it cannot be ignored. #roofofababybuddha is it's name, 7c+ it's grade, around ten moves that are simply stunning. What's odd is that only today I was looking at @shaunacoxsey on instagram and thinking I'd like to see more outdoor pics (then I realised it's comp season and I was being stupid). Then, when searching online for video beta, I found a vid of her on this very same #climb. Strangely, sat here while it gets slowly darker, feel a bit honoured to be getting on the same problems as one of Britain's best. Might have to watch it again to try and nail the sequence… #worldclasswales #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbing_is_my_passion #meclimbing

A post shared by Chez de la Bloc (@edwards.pete) on

It’s one of the few remaining from the original list (one of four in fact) but a touch more conditions dependent, being hidden away in the forest and being quite porous rock. Found by local beast and super nice guy Dave Noden while out for a walk with his son and subsequently one of North Wales best grade 7 lines. It’s been on my radar since i first saw it a couple of years ago.

So, with everything falling into place, i sprinted from work, drove up the forest track to drop off the large pile of stuff, then back down to leave the car at the bottom of the hill. There was a touch of a contentious issue about parking here for a little while so i would strongly emplore people to park at the bottom of the hill and walk up. It might seem odd, with plenty of suitable parking spots along that track but this is what has been requested by the locals so please abide the requests and don’t jeopardise access for this stunning boulder. Besides, you’d be surprised how much traffic i saw drive past while i was there.

So, warmed up by running back up the hill, i quickly blasted through the “standing start” (there isn’t a separate climb as a standing start, just so you know) following lots of video beta. Then it was on to the business end of getting the tough moves through the roof wired.

The night’s are still creeping in too early at the moment so i armed myself with my new lantern right from the off, getting a bit more light in the shady roof straight away. It was a good session, getting most of the moves wired and feeling good with just the awkward foot swap to negotiate. And what’s more is that it didn’t hurt me at all.

But the next day was a different matter. All day, i felt stiff and achy and was torn with indecision whether to get out or not. Even as i began the descent down the road from Pen y Pass, i still couldn’t make up my mind so when i reached the Cromlech boulders and saw two lads finishing off the Edge Problem i opted to stop and have a chat.

It wasn’t long before i realised i wouldn’t make any progress on Diesel Power. While it might sound shallow, it kinda meant i didn’t want to bother climbing. I never like repeating climbs i’ve done before and at the Cromlech, there’s not much that’s easy and workable left. Still, the two lads i met were keen so i offered to show them the Cromlech Roof Crack V6/7 around the back, and maybe have a play on Sleep Deprivation V8.

I don’t regret the decision to try Buddha Roof on Friday but my choice to stop at the Cromlech was a poor one; driven by excessive keenness that clouded my judgement. It meant a regression in my recovery which was, in hindsight, idiotic – especially given i knew it was a bad idea at the time and did it anyway.

Sunday compounded the issue. I’ve spent the weekend not technically working but on a Development Coach Training course at work. While it was a good course, and much more relevant to the sessions i’m currently running than the Foundation Coach Training from last year, there was quite a lot of time in the climbing wall and at one point, i was asked to perform a drop knee as part of an exercise. As i did, my face screwed up in pain and i started making silly noises. It was so obvious that Dave Rudkin even came up to me afterwards and asked if i was okay, given i “looked in a lot of pain”.

That was the point i announced to myself that i am now injured; something that was far from easy to admit. I’ve always been pretty good at injuries, stopping as soon as i get any sort of tweak at all but this time, i feel i’ve pushed my luck a little. Even the belt of my trousers is making me feel sore. So, i’ve filled my evenings this week with other stuff, and am sacking off everything (even tonight’s coaching session) until Sunday. Even then, i’ll be playing it by ear and potentially just resorting to a beastmaker/campus session. In the mean time, i’ll be praying that’s enough.

The Road to Recovery is Currently Under Water

The path to getting those pesky V9s and the elusive V10 is back on track, with indoor training sessions reigning supreme at the moment.  But the roads running like rivers, even the prospect of running my fingers over rock at the moment seems wildly optimistic to the point of pathetic.

Where, over the summer, The List proved perfect for motivation and inspiration, yesterday on my sole day off this week, i found myself cooking breakfast staring intently at the stove, refusing to even let my eyes glance in it’s direction for fear that it would be too depressing. The fact that there are very few of the lower grade problems left and that everything on there will doubtless take multiple sessions makes it even worse – a vast storm currently engulfs the UK with North Wales doing it’s bit at taking the brunt.

Not that this is unusual for this area of the world in November. Just a small weather window is often unlikely and, as i mentioned previously, i’m left thinking Fredrik and Tobias were lucky to get here just at the end of the good weather. What it does mean is that, after a fortnight resetting the body and avoiding a serious injury, now is the time to train and train hard, ready for that next dry spell, whenever it might well be.

With access to a local training facility now, time constraints are less of an issue than they have been previously. In the last week or so, i’ve clocked up a session in the wall at work, a brief sling-trainer and press up session, an Indy session and, best of all, an after work training session… after i finished work at 9pm.

It all adds to the fact this this winter could be a heavy one. The problem now is to work out the best way of organising myself. More on that one next time!

On The Up

Fed up of being fed up, Tuesday night i opted to kick the total-rest into touch after an offer of a football match over Colwyn Bay way. It was a good game with a great bunch of lads and when i came to work yesterday without hobbling, i reasoned that perhaps i was rested enough and should probably try climbing again for the first time since Fredrik and Tobias’ departure.

It wasn’t anything major, just a quick after work session on the wall at work at Plas y Brenin. I’ll be honest it’s not a great wall, being very limited by the availability of places for holds, but it’s serves a purpose. It also means I don’t tend to get carried away with jumping on the hard climbs too early as there really aren’t any!

Nervous about my hand, i taped up and found it hurting after about twenty minutes. So i took the tape off. It worked perfectly, just going to show that often, taping isn’t the best idea. That’s not to say you should never tape up to support pulleys in your fingers – it’s a judgment call that you need to make each time you climb.

While i tired very quickly, this isn’t really a surprise and it was a good session. Crucially, it proved that i’m now well rested and ready to get back on it. With a hectic work schedule at the moment, it means it’ll be slow progress but with psyche building, it means i’ll hopefully be climbing strong once more.

https://www.instagram.com/p/98ZTOOl9RE/?taken-by=edwards.pete

Bored!

Resting sucks. You may have noticed the blog has gone particularly cold lately, with not a lot going on and, put frankly, that’s because there’s not a lot going on! I’ve opted to take a fortnight off following Fredrik’s visit, to rest everything out from the end of season and hopefully let my left hand recover a touch. Problem is that doing nothing is so undeniably fucking boring!

The week has dragged something chronic and any chance of human contact has been snapped up but a couple of trips to the pub and people coming for dinner once or twice doesn’t eat up enough time. I honestly don’t know what “normal people” do with their spare time!

It hasn’t helped that the weather has been utterly atrocious since he left, with relentless rainfall making everyone around here almost house-bound. The rivers are enormous, the roads have become streams and just stepping out of the house has the potential to soak you. An optimistic me would say it’s too wet to climb anyway, another side of me looks out the window and lifts one half of a lip thinking “man, it’s fucking horrible out there. Again.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/94ZON-F9ce/?taken-by=edwards.pete

With not a lot to do (i’m resting from ALL exercise, not just climbing) i’ve resorted to a little work on the house. The last two days have been spent sanding and varnishing the bathroom floor. My house has always been a work in progress, for six years now, and finding time to actually get jobs done can be tricky. It’s the one bonus that now, the bathroom is beginning to look very stush indeed. Just the ceiling to do (again, sand and varnish) and i will finally have one room entirely completed!

It’ll give me something to do in the evenings this week. I’m working two evenings later in the week – something that is normally incredibly irritating but now, has become a blessing. Meanwhile, it’s a case of casing new venues, new countries, and watching lots of videos online. There really is fuck all else to do.