Monday, 11 February 2013

Masson Lees Revisited

When faced with the option of having a lie in bed, leisurely breakfast and heading down the wall in the afternoon or getting up early and driving through the snow, shouting at pensioners who cant drive and hanging around in a minging cave, which option do you chose?

Hanging around in a minging cave of course!

And so it was, off to Masson Lees I headed to meet Mr Pritchard. The permanently psyched dry tooler from Stoke-on-Stench with a love affair for all things Masson.

The Masson Ming.
If truth be told it was a pretty miserable day really, driving through the snow past Buxton my psyche was slowly dwindling. Not because I dont like snow, I love it as much as the next winter climber but Masson Lees is a pretty dismal place on the best of summer days never mind in February when its 2 degrees above freezing and rocks are trundling down the gullys and over your head.
Not wanting to let Matt down on I pushed, overtaking the sunday drivers and soon meeting Matt at the parking. The walk-in didnt improve the mood given the sleet and wind lashing against my face but things did feel better once camped inside the cave. Even the temperature seemed to warm-up a little.

Matt prepping for a blast on Sub Rosa (M10).
After getting on with some much needed jogging around and pull-ups to get warmed up we got on with some climbing. The day turned into a session of running laps on things in search of some much needed fitness increases. I also took time to try and work out a new way of climbing The Tenuous Link (M7) which has seen quite a bit of rock falling off it recently and should probably now be called The Impossible Link since after managing to use a micro edge placement to make upward progress to the only decent placement on the lower section I then went and ripped that hold off as well. Matt will probably drill a placement to make it do able again.

Also worth a mention is that the final placement before you turn the first lip on Sub Rosa is pretty much blown out so also needs re-drilling. Meanwhile the line that I put up a few years ago on the far right of the cave, just to the right of Sick Boy has been seeing a bit of action from visitors recently. I never put this on the topo as after bolting, drilling placements and climbing it, the route kind of just felt awkward and not really what I was aiming to create so I left it as a work in progress. Anyway after feedback from a few people who had been on it they thought it was ok so the line has now become 'Heavens Above' M7+.

I'll update the topo soon but in the meantime its the line to the right of Sick Boy, just out of shot on the topo in this previous post.

Used Petzl's Ergo axe today, quite impressed, will write more about them soon.
I managed to balance my camera on a rock and got some footage of Matt on Sub Rosa, here is a very quick edit, speeded up and with bits chopped out where he was shaking out for far too long.....

Matt on Sub Rosa from Tom B on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Rabenstein World Cup & Stuff!

The 3rd round of the Ice Climbing World Cup took place at the weekend, once again, Andy and Simon travelled out there hoping to climb hard and in Simon's case, "impress the ladies".

The comp was won by Angelika Rainer and Maxim Tomilov with brother Alexey finishing 3rd leaving just enough room on the podium for the short guy of competition ice climbing, Park Heeyong, to squeeze in for 2nd. Both Maxim and Park topped out on the finals route, Maxim climbing 8 seconds faster than Park to secure top spot. The legend that is Markus Bendler, retired from competition climbing after finishing 4th in Rabenstein.

Andy and Simon both climbed well on a very steep board with "shit placements" but unfortuntately missed out on semi-final qualification. Next stop, Romania.

Full results can be found on the UIAA website.

Markus Bendler @ Rabenstein. Copyright UIAA.

Meanwhile once the boys got back to Blighty it was off to The Works for a spot of training, or in my case, remembering how to climb. First session on tools in 8 weeks and it was as bad as I expected it to be. I decided that if failure was going to be the order of the day I may as well fail on something hard and therefore decided it was time to open an account with Guardian of the Underworld (M12). One of Andys creations it takes an overhanging arete to start with big, powerful moves from the world go before tackling the roof of the cave through the biggest section.
In the end I completely ran out of steam just working out the bottom section. Chevis had a few redpoint attempts and Andy was lapping First Blood (M9+).

A quick video I put together of the days fun.......

A Day at The Works from Tom B on Vimeo.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Saas Fee World Cup

Russian domination continued in Saas Fee, even more so now that Markus Bendler has decided to call it quits. The top 8 consisted of 6 Russians, 1 Ukranian and 1 Korean! Maybe its time to place a cap on the number of representatives each country can have? Otherwise each round will just be the Russian national championships.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Simon Chevis, Andy Turner, Stevie Johnstone and Scott Grosdanoff were in there for the UK. The boys were climbing strong after plenty of prep at The Works and Masson so despite the talk of "i'll enjoy it once i've fallen off" they were keen to climb well and show the pesky Russians whos boss, not to mention the Frenchies.

All climbed well but unfortunately Simons axe popped when he looked to be cruising and Andy got knocked back two clips by the judges after he had apparently used an illegal heel hook (never spotted it when I was watching), he would have made the semi finals were it not for this. Scott Grosdanoff struggled with one particularly big move and eventually popped off whilst taking the axe placement/angle a little too far.

You can watch all the action from the mens and womens semi finals and finals here on the Swiss Sport website. Full results for the comp are here on the Saas Fee site.

Some screen shots of the action......

Park Heeyong in qualifying. The one bloke not from a former communist state who made it into the top 8.
Andy, just before his axe popped from the stein he is moving into.
Simon, seconds before his placement blew out. No chalk bag Si?

I'm sure Andy will be giving all the details regarding the big sends that occured at Ueschinen the week before the comp sometime soon on his blog.

Rabenstein this coming weekend is the next comp, you can check out the enormity of the climbing structure in this rather cool video the organisers have put together......

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Men at Work or Boys at Play?

The chaps are away in Switzerland at the moment. Kandersteg to be precise. Very jealous but after my first session down the wall on Sunday after 5 weeks off i'm kind of glad i'm not there!

Simon ticked Pink Panther (M9) yesterday, then set straight to work on Twin Towers (M10), sure it wont be long before its nailed. Andy got quickly into the swing of things with quick ascents of Twin Towers and Matador (M11). Fine work chaps.

Simon finishing off Pink Panther. The Hero shot.

Their out there until Friday and will then be moving off to Saas Fee to represent Queen and country at Round 2 of the Ice Climbing World Cup.
We can all have the pleasure of watching them climb on the day thanks to those clever swiss people and there live

This is what the boys will be up against, no pressure.......

Ice Climbing World Cup 2011 - Saas Fee Highlights from Matt Pycroft on Vimeo.

Anyway, i'm off down the gym to try and regain some strength.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Joy of Training

It has to be done.

If you want to climb something hard whether it be a DT, mixed or ice route, you have to train. There's not much point turning up at the bottom of an overhanging beast of a bolted mixed route having climbed slabby or vertical trad routes all summer, the only thing you will get out of that is.... your arse handed to you.
Specificity is definitely the key if your keen to improve at a particular element within climbing or have a  certain route that you want to climb.

Theres a huge amount of training info out there on the internet and deciphering what the best way to train for your ultimate goal is always the most difficult bit.

For myself and the chaps I climb and train with were lucky to have some quality training venues and crags all pretty close. The guys at Rock Over let us set our own circuits on the steep boards on offer at the wall.

The 50 deg board @ Rock Over

Most of the training we do consists of laps of steep circuits, either max efforts with long rests to replicate the effort of hard redpoints at the crag or maybe a session aimed at endurance such as a lap of the 45 deg board with 2 mins rest repeated 6 times.
A good session I do occasionally which teaches the body to flush out the lactate and allow it to recover is to complete a max effort on the 50deg board (climb as long as you can) then jump straight onto a vertical traverse wall and aim to complete two laps (about a min per lap). Hopefully you find that despite the max effort on the 50deg wall when you then jump straight onto the vertical wall it suddenly feels pretty easy and you can recover whilst still climbing.
Climbing in rock boots helps with your ability to climb longer simply because you can use heel hooks, keep better body tension and stand on smaller footholds. For the ultimate pump though and to really get the core used, trainers are a good option. Its hard work but stick with it and you will reap the benefits.

Andy & Si Training @ RockOver from Tom B on Vimeo.

Swinging around on axes down the local wall or crag isnt always a practical option for some due to work commitments, a rubbish local wall etc. The best option i've found for when not being able to train on the axes is quite simple......

The Dowls of Pain.

Two wooden dowls with a hole drilled through the top and a piece of rope threaded can then be hooked over a pull up bar or something similar. They work a lot better than doing pull ups on a bar or on ice axes because they work your grip strength which is usually the first thing that fails when climbing steep stuff. You can do various workouts on these from simple pull-ups, lock offs and even just deadhangs. When you start to get real tired just put one foot on a chair in front of you to allow you to carry on for a bit longer.

As Derek would say "He who dares Rodney, he who dares....".

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Gardening @ The Works

In a bid to offer some easier sport at The Works we gave Simon a shovel and saw the other day and left him to have some fun excavating the slab just to the left of the main cave at The Works.
He did a fine job clearing a huge amount of moss, loose rock and small trees and once one of us gets round to bolting it should offer about 3 lines somewhere between M3 and M5.

Garden Wall....soon to be bolted.

Paddy finished bolting his new line recently, just to the left of the start of Guardian it begins up the slab before attacking the crack line through the roof to join into the last few moves of First Blood.
After some fine redpoint attempts Paddy kindly offered a go on the the sharp end to Andy who dispatched it in fine style and confirmed the excellent nature of the climbing. "Quick Release" goes at about M10+ and is a powerful little number with some big moves and slightly disturbing axe releases. Good work Paddy on getting the line bolted and cleaned.

Paddy Cave redpoint attempt on Quick Release.

Winter has certainly arrived now, a lot of snow on the fells as of late and routes getting done on the Ben and in the Corries. Hopefully it will be a good winter and all the training that people have been putting in at the cave will see some hard routes ticked. Winter doesnt really start for me until the new year, axes will be the last thing on my mind whilst in Dubai!

Keep up the training!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Battles Continue...

Great session down at the cave on Sunday.

There was a huge amount of psyche bouncing off the slate with a big team present from all corners of the country. People were trying personal projects old and new, bolting new lines was taking place and generally it was just a great atmosphere helped along with some good tunes from Mr Boswell's iPod.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Andy has bolted a new line from the very back of the cave to link into Guardian somewhere around its crux (?!), the route is going to be jaw-droppingly long. Andy could be in for a lot of suffering once redpoint attempts begin!

Greg was trying to get the 2nd ascent of Guardian and pay homage at the same time to those euro crazies by doing it in a "sans yaniro" aka no fig4/fig9 fashion. How that affects the grade god only knows.

Got to say thanks again to the guys at Petzl/Lyon for all their help with the draws for the routes, we had 50 full quickdraws/maillons a couple of months ago and now they are all hanging down from new routes at either Masson or The Works. Thats a lot of bolting!

Some great shots of Greg attempting Guardian of the Underworld (M12) courtesy of Andy Rutherford.........