Sunday, 23 December 2012

Busy times

It's been quite a busy couple of weeks with work.  It's a pleasure to live and spend time in a place where you can offer a wide variety of adventures to your clients.  With that in mind, I've spent the last few days moving between guiding a couple of students on the Camino, swapping leads on a couple of the longer multi-pitch with Peter and spent five days with Gareth on a general sports climbing course.

Peter on Amptrax
Peter had attempted Amptrax a few years ago with his son but had to bail off due to the heat.  The route leads you up  one of the highest point of the Frontales area and has recently been bolted to the top allowing for, those inclined to do so, to top it out.  Alternatively, you can abseil back down the wall (4 x 35m abseil), after the eighth pitch.
With many years of climbing experience, Peter was happy to swap leads to the top and we celebrated with a cold drink in the station bar after our successful tick.
Peter had intended to attempt Zeppelin on our second day together but we decided on an extension to Nitti, in sector Austria as a more appropriate grade.
The extension has been recently bolted to the top and offers six pitches of varied climbing up to 6b.  The crux pitch has a slabby, technical section and the climbing remains interesting to the top.  Another great day and two excellent routes ticked.
Gareth knee-baring

I spent five days with Gareth working on a general sports climbing intro.  Gareth organises climbing trips for the students at his school and therefore came with a good foundation of knowledge and experience.  As the focus has always been on his students on these trips, he wanted the opportunity to focus on his own development.  An excellent opportunity to cover a lot of ground over the five days.
We spent the time at a variety of crags to allow the opportunity to look at movement and climbing on different route types, from slabby to steep and some overhanging cruxes.
Multi-pitches offered us the opportunity to cover slick change overs, tying off the belay device, multi-pitch ropework and multiple abseil descent.
We looked at red-point tactics to tick some harder leads with a strong focus on breaking down the route to take advantage of the rests (knee-bars - good ledges), and pushing through the harder sections.
An excellent five days for both of us as I got the chance to cover so much with one client it was great to see the development and progression throughout the course.

I now have a few days off to celebrate the holidays and then on to a learn to lead course before focusing the remainder of my time on sending Ace Ventura and hang out with various friends that are coming out to play.  Good times ahead!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Overheating & Overhanging

So with four days of work done I felt that my fingertips and skin had recovered enough to go have another play on Ace Ventura with my motivational guru Andy Tapper (the most psyched climber I've ever met).  Over-enthusiasm had us heading to Ace on one of the hottest days of the week which made the tiny crimps, smears and edges feel ridiculously hard and sore. But we persevered to improve the sequences and sort out where and when to clip.
We thought we'd have to skip a few clips which started to look like a bit of a monster fall if the crux moves didn't go.  Luckily, just a wee bit of balance and some extended draws keeps the falls to just a normal screamer.
Although it was too hot to go for the lead we did get some strategy sorted, even to the point to see what time it's in the shade (4pm for those who are keen).  With the sun off it we had a couple more goes and the difference was immense.  Future trips will be on cold days or after 4pm.

Via de Rudolf

With destroyed fingers and a lack of skin we decided the best option would be to try one of the extension coming out poema cave.  Andy had done the right hand extension to Veiejo Amigo on his previous trip so we started our onslaught on the left hand extension - Via de Rudolf.  To the first chain it's a nice 7a+ and then leads on through the huge overhang on some amazing hanging tuffas, to give a fantastic 7c+/8a endurance route.
It's a true burl fest and far from what suits me.  

Andy finding a kneebar rest
The exposure as you're climbing up through the roof adds to the excitement and fun of the route as your swinging off big pockets, tuffa pinches and seeking out any rest to give the arms a wee bit of respite.
I don't have the guns for this route at the minute so will focus on Ace over the remainder of the trip  but with such fun climbing it's definitely one to come back to.  In the meantime it'll be great working it with Andy until I get the strength to give it a Redpoint attempt.

exhaustion after getting to the top

I'm now going into eight days of work so will have strong, rested fingers and skin to give Ace a good attempt at the end of it.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Sweat is fat crying

I've spent the last few days working with the lovely Ulrike focusing on single pitch climbing.  Ulrike had just spent the last two weeks on a bootcamp, living on 1,000 calories/day while being beasted for 6hrs/day - including, boxercise, 10km runs, circuits, hill walks....  The bootcamp included motivational phrases such as "sweat is fat crying".  Sounds horrible and amusing in equal measures.
With this in mind I was expecting a beasting but was very glad when she told me she wanted a chilled week of nice climbing.
On top of Escalare Arabe pillar

Having spent a week with Silvia Fitzpatrick in January, Ulrike already had a lot of the basic skills, so it was a case of a refresher on skills already learned and moving on from there.
Throughout the week we looked at movement on various rock from slabs, vertical and overhanging  routes; clipping quickdraws efficiently and correctly; re-threading anchors and eventually moved on to leading routes.

top roping at La Gaita
As it was a chilled week we also spent the days enjoying other distractions.  I was introduced to Carajillo - a coffee and brandy for breakfast, rumored to have been drank by troops for courage,  which set up the day nicely for some courageous climbing.

escalare arabe
We also were introduced to Silvi's puppies, Ratita and Osita.  The breaks between climbs were definitely often and long as the puppies were great to play with.  So we focused on the importance of rest between climbs as Ulrike got her first ever leads in that day.  Relaxing mentally and physically is an important part of the day and the puppies provided a fantastic distraction.

puppy power

Sunday, 9 December 2012


I've spent the last couple of weeks just climbing at various venues looking for a route that I'd like to spend some time working and belaying a friend on their project.  A good mate of mine, Darren, was playing on Talibania last year and wanted to finish it on this trip.
The weather didn't really help for the first couple of weeks of his trip so we just made sure we got mileage at the right grade and climbing style.  The route itself starts up a very overhanging groove on large holds to a good rest before you make technical/hard moves into a vertical groove and then continue up into a hard compression crux.  This takes you to the first chain and then you continue up to the second chain on less difficult ground but dealing with tiredness.  A great climb and very, very exposed.
Even with all the beta from Darren and being able to do the moves I never felt the love for the climb.  It would mean jumping up a grade for me and entering the world of 8a, which is something I really want to achieve but for me the route just did not enthuse me and I feel the amount of time I will have to spend on such a project I must love the climbing.  So for me, I moved on, for Darren it was time to learn, refine and understand.
Darren resting before the send
Warm up properly and rest.  So to get the arms working we progressed through the grades and then went onto an overhaning into vertical technical 7a+.  Basically the perfect warm up as it offered similar climbing and got the arms working hard.  Followed by a rest/snooze and then what seemed like an effortless send.  First 8a for Darren and lots of celebrating followed.

Andy getting ready for a TRON

I find I get inspired and motivated by my friends successes and have found myself a hard project that enthuses me.  I'd been wanting to try a climb called Ace Ventura since I arrived this year.  It's a vertical, technical, crimp fest which a friend of mine sent earlier this year.  I first saw this line on my first trip to chorro 7yrs ago and at the time thought it was something I would never ever be able to climb.  It looked so blank and impossible that I did not have the imagination or belief that I could get to that stage of climbing.
Over the years I have become more and more enthused by this style as I find that it throws a puzzle at you with tiny moves and nuances of movement and small adjustments to sequences being the secret solution to progressing to a successful ascent.

Andy and Patrick on their projects
So, we had our first play on it yesterday in the sun and heat, (not ideal conditions).  Within three top rope attempts Andy and I have worked out sequences that should get us to the top.  Having a mate joining you had definitely helped and other people with beta is starting to make this route very achievable.  
If it goes it will be my hardest sport route ever and a route that I feel very inspired to complete, as much for the grade, as for the fantastic climbing it offers.  
Now just need to regrow the skin and hope for colder temperatures!!