A little piece from current TV about Kev Shields and his climbs, made by the Hot Aches team.
Thursday, 29 May 2008
A little piece from current TV about Kev Shields and his climbs, made by the Hot Aches team.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Echo Wall - the arête dry at last after the demise of the snowpatch of truth
In my last post I talked about taking one step back to make two forward. Climbing hard new routes is like this – a rollercoaster of progress and setbacks. You never know how things will turn out when you get to the next stage.
Yesterday I feel like I made three steps forward (superb!) but one large step back (doh!). This time Claire belayed me on the route on a massive top rope (100 metre rope) so I could begin making some big links now that I’ve had a good few sessions sussing the moves. The result was better than I expected with a link of the route with one hang (at the roof). Up to the roof does indeed feel like 8a+ (a scary E9 for a lead) and after the roof is 8b in itself, just to climb without placing the gear. But the problem is that it will be sick hard to stop and place the protection in the roof, especially the most crucial two wires. So overall linking plus placing the gear is looking physically harder than Rhapsody (8c or 8c+ish).
Unfortunately though, it gets worse. On my second attempt to link the wall above the roof, I fell at the final crux. A fall that would mean certain death on the lead. Oh dear.
I wasn’t sure if a shake out before this would allow good recovery so I could be confident I could get through the death crux every go. It seems not. So the route overall will be a bit like doing Rhapsody but the equivalent fall from the last move would be terminal.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – The up side is that my sequence is good and I feel strong enough for the route. All I need now is a vast improvement in endurance and to carry on with the constant mental preparations in the background.
Separate from the climbing, we are also finding out that filming this climb is very far from easy. Much thought remains on adjusting our logistics…somehow??
It was almost a relief to see the return of the long lost Scottish rain, not seen in about a month! I have a couple of days work now before me next opportunity to do battle. Today was time for sheltering from the rain at the natural umbrella of Sky Pilot, trying to extend Cubby’s famous V9 traverse Beatle Back. Many days on this type of terrain are what is required now.
Monday, 26 May 2008
You could see in my last post I was attempting to make myself feel a little less beaten with a bit of positive talk. Thanks for your comments on the post. It’s hard to explain, but feeling really beaten and slapped by a project is actually a great and essential thing to happen. It’s a strange feeling to be depressed from retrograde progress on the route, but pleased about this happening, all at the same time.
I guess the best way to describe it is to think of it as taking one step back to make two forward. Psychologically, it’s the real, in your face symptoms and prospect of failure, fatigue and pain that are the strongest calls to action. They make you get up and fight back like nothing else. That’s the mental aspect – so everything is good there. After a rest day, the ‘fire’ is back. That sounds cheesy, but that’s the best way to describe the return of a burning, impatient drive to run back up the mountain and rejoin the battle.
Physically, things are a bit different. I have to wait for my body to catch up. Because I am training properly for a single goal again, short term performance is removed from the priority list. Many climbers at a medium level fail to see off their ‘career best’ project because of this issue. Climbers want to their bodies to perform at their personal best level, every session, all year long. At an amateur level this is fine, but when the demands get heavier, some short term sacrifices have to be made.
To make real progress in physical training, you have to really work yourself. If you have been training long enough to handle it, this means daily work and feeling pretty wasted all the time. Feeling a little down in the dumps is totally normal during this time. When the time draws close to cash in on all this heavy work, we do something called ‘tapering’. Basically this means just going easy on yourself for a few weeks and allowing your body to fully recover and refuel from the effort. If you get all of this just right, the result is that you feel utterly bionic and destroy performance goals that were unimaginable before.
The really interesting stuff for me is to judge the intensity just right over the months of heavy work. Too little and it won’t be enough to do the route. Too much and I get injured. It’s a pretty fine line to walk and the messages from the body that inform you of which side you are veering on are not so easy to measure.
Tapering time for me begins whenever I can link Echo Wall on a toprope. If that happens some time this summer, things will get exciting. Until then, it’s time to go and put in some more hours at Sky Pilot.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
I'm finding that it's too much for me to train hard to be in rock climbing shape to climb Echo Wall, and walk into the Ben several days a week to work on the route. Right now my body feels pretty worn out. Perhaps after a rest day, it'll all feel different? I guess thats all part of the experience of climbing and training hard. I've had that before too, and I'm looking forward to having the pring return to my step after 36 hours rest.
That I need to remind myself of here is that running into this type of 'wall' is what I'm here for. If I was looking for a route to nail in a couple of days, I could go do some more E9s or repeat some more routes in the Lakes like I did before. But I've done those things - I'm in this to get really worked. So, when it happens I should react well.
Reacting well may involve sleeping... now... goodnight.
PS: for my rest day I'm working at the new Go Outdoors store in Coatbridge Glasgow (Sunday), coaching youngsters and chatting to folk about gear, climbing etc. Maybe see you there?
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Elsewhere on the internet I read that Sonnie Trotter came close to repeating my climb Rhapsody tonight. I hope the fall was not too nasty. I'm sure it'll go down shortly. I wish him good friction for his impending send - gaun yersel!
Monday, 19 May 2008
Climbing as much as I do in Scotland then creates a funny situation. Basically It demands a daily routine of forecast checking, for which I receive a frequent ribbing from my (non-climbing) friends and family. At least with the climbers I know it’s different (instead they ask me what the forecast was and where would be the best spot for today’s climbing).
Yesterday I checked in at the Skeleton boulder and sussed the beta for the big traverse. It might be a V11 or 12 if the winds of send get going and give a really cold day. After came down at 8.30pm, I wondered if it might be a good time to go home for my tea. But the training plan for Echo Wall involves spending super long days out. My default approach has got to be to just go for it at any opportunity right now. No holding back – the more work for the body, the better. So I trekked up to another buttress and spent some more hours cleaning a lovely route until darkness and the thought of the chicken in my fridge were too much.
Today I headed for Sky Pilot and checked out another monster traverse project. I started off thinking I’d made a good call with numb fingers. But later, things got warm and the dreaded midge sent me packing for the first time this season. It’s so easy to forget how fierce they are after a long spring of their absence. So the conds have dictated that the Nevis daily pilgrimage starts again in the morning. Some snow showers are forecast. But if so, the spade is still up there!
Labels: Echo Wall
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
I could do the moves quickly. YEEEEESSSSS! One thing I forgot was how amazing the rock is. It’s quite simply the best piece of rock I’ve ever touched.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to get into the flow of working on these moves over the next few months. I feel that I have got to the basic level of fitness required to begin working on this route now. The approach is taking less effort, I am dealing better with the daily routine of expending a lot of energy, and I am in the flow of the logistics of managing the work.
But now it’s time for a short break. Tomorrow I go to Argyll with Claire to watch my friend get married.
Last light this evening in Coire Leis.
When it comes down to it, getting stuff done is often about getting out and getting amonst it, again and again...
Monday, 12 May 2008
blogging from my phone sms so must be brief. Today was a good day, got up, passed my driving test (first time). Then carried more load up the ben and put in another five hours with the spade on the snowpatch of truth. I think after tomorrows session the battle may be mine and I can quit labouring and start climbing on this thing. Today I had my digging method much more sussed, cutting nice igloo blocks and lobbing them fiercely into the void along with the other impressive bits of ice and rock hurtling down from melting ice routes every few minutes. I bet I'm gonna be in pain in the morning but the fingerboard should wake me up for another jog up tower ridge. Dig for victory, n' aw that.
Labels: Echo Wall
Sunday, 11 May 2008
The best spring in Scotland in my lifetime rolls on. Every day, the sun keeps shining - what has happened to normal Scotland??? The only problem is, a badass massive snowpatch is still going strong soaking my project. Yesterday I got up trained and then beasted up the Ben again with a shovel and spent the rest of the day digging snow until I could lift my arms no more. I reckon I shifted a good few tonnes, but I laughed at the pitiful dent I had made in it by 9pm! I reckon I got about a tenth of it shifted. The things you have to do...
Friday, 9 May 2008
Well, when I say ‘the punishment begins’ it’s all relative. It has been the most gorgeous week in the Scottish mountains, but legs and arms are in pain today. As soon as I saw the forecast I knew it was time to make an early start on the Ben season. A tad to early perhaps…
The Echo Wall project, still a bit wintery right now despite the warm sunshine! Note Smith’s Route and Indicator Wall still hanging in there to the bitter end.
Sadly, it was not to be – a long bank of snow is still melting slowly straight over the top of the wall. It looks like it will be there for some weeks to come, although there are options (more later) to accelerate things.
Instead we looked at some other new lines to come back to (also being melted onto at present) and generally tired ourselves out carrying big loads all over the mountain.
For an easy day the following day, Michael and I went to check out Yosemite Wall in Glen Coe – a Malham like overhanging wall of overlapping undercuts, except nae bolts here!
Michael cleaned up Cubby’s route Rocklord E7 6b while I inspected a serious looking new line through a big roof. The crux looked like a rather amusing large dyno blindly around the roof to a very distant edge, followed by some more nastiness on the headwall.
Michael cleaning untouched rock, Ben Nevis
A return raid was deemed necessary and the next morning we both dispatched. Michael reckoned it was the scariest lead he’d held my ropes on. Maybe I should do more training? Claire didn’t seem so phased by filming my jumping around without any useful runners. But perhaps the consecutive days on the Ben and the Coe were a bigger deal. Sublime E8 6c was a lovely way to spend time waiting for snow to melt…or preferably vaporise.
Go away!!!! Large bank of snow I wish would melt faster...
Sunday, 4 May 2008
I know this because I’ve had loads of emails from folk asking where you can buy them! ME have been giving them out to their sponsored athletes for years, but never made a commercially available version.
Well, now they have. I asked ME if they would make a production run for me to make available from my webshop, and they agreed! So now you can get hold of what has got to be one of the more accomplished climbing T-shirts around, having done E11, 9a, V13 and soloed 8c.
It’s available exclusively from my webshop for £15 and my standard £1.50 postage wherever you are in the world. We’ve gone for it’s most famous colour; red, and made it from organic cotton in male and female size ranges.
Thanks to everyone who got in touch to ask about these over the years.
Labels: new stuff
Friday, 2 May 2008
Labels: Fort William wall