Monday, 28 February 2011

Review: The Players DVD

Been meaning to post this for a while...

The Players is as you might have guessed a classic American sport/bouldering flick - hard climbers, lovely places and lovely climbs. And that’s it. Cool - so what’s it like? Well there aren’t any groundbreaking first ascents on a world scale, but obviously a LOT of impressive climbing from Sharma, Graham, and Woods and Rands. The real highlight is that we get to see a few more characters that we in the UK don’t see much of in climbing DVDs.
Alex Puccio and Emily Harrington are two very contrasting but inspirational female climbers. It was great to see them included as there is still not so much footage of the living end of the female climbing elite. It was interesting to see footage of Joe Kinder on his repeats of the Tommy Caldwell 9a testpieces at the Fortress of Solitude. I was always intrigued by these routes as we haven't heard much about them outside the US, except that they sound hard. They looked hard too! Chris Linder deep water soloing in Vietnam and the machine that is Ethan Pringle walking up 5.14 trad headpoints are both entertaining. 
The shooting is not quite as grand as the Big Up blockbusters it will inevitably be compared to, but I felt I got to know the characters a little better without the larger than life sheen. I enjoyed watching a few times as I stretched out tight muscles before sessions on the board!

If you're keen for a copy, it's in the shop here.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Video: Climbing with Emmett in Pembroke by BD

Nice little video from Black Diamond of myself and Tim Emmett climbing in Pembroke last autumn. I just finished writing a little story about the trip which will be up on BD’s site here later.

Dave MacLeod & Tim Emmett climbing sea cliffs in Pembroke, UK from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Saturday, 26 February 2011


It’s funny when you are feeling wasted how the little hole you’re in seems much deeper than it actually is. Since Freida arrived last week, my non-climbing life has been fantastic. The best it’s ever been, despite the adjustments and sleep deprivation. But the importance of my climbing life doesn’t just go away. It doesn’t change at all, in fact.
I used to think it was psychologically dangerous to be dependent on my lifelong habits of the outdoors, exercise and training I do through my climbing. As time went on I realised this was silly. I think eventually it becomes a part of of you that is hardwired. And thats fine. It is amazing it takes 30 odd years to realise it’s ok to be yourself!
Naturally, I’ve put a lot of thought, work and planning into how to balance my climbing and non-climbing life. I’m certainly not perfect at it let me tell you. But I have been doing this all my adult life and it’s worked out well so far. Some of this is really practical basic stuff - having a top-notch climbing wall next door to the nursery, living in the heart of the places I want to climb and having a flexible work schedule to take advantage of good conditions. These are the key ingredients for sure, and maybe the hardest to secure - over a decade of hard work for me. The others are more subtle.
Yet despite the planning, I did get the fear last week after having several absolutely crap training sessions in a row. Sure, they were performed in a haze of sleepiness, but was tiredness really all it was? And even if so, is that it for the foreseeable? I could see, for about a nano second, while falling off a ridiculously easy circuit the other night, how someone could give in to tiredness and permanently lower their expectations in order to avoid such disappointment. I thought previous experiences might insulate me from this weakness. But it’s amazing how being knackered lowers your guard.
All very gloomy. Until it wasn’t... All that was needed was a little extra sleep. It’s being grabbed an hour here, an hour there. But add it up to a critical level and lo and behold, the performance returns. This week maybe I’m getting to grips with the new routine of snatched naps. And all of a sudden tonight the power returned to my arms like magic and I clawed my way up a couple of my hardest creations on the wall. I forgot how well the body adapts and bounces back to change. What a lift!
Yes Yes I know how silly this post might read to someone who doesn’t share the same addiction to training. And I know the challenges for me are nothing compared to Claire right now. But everyone has to have something to keep them keen. And for me it’s this. I’d rather go without food for a week than training. Since this is primarily a climber’s blog, I’m just going through the little ups and downs that go on while in the bubble of the climbing session. But once it’s done, I take off my rockshoes and go back to the important stuff - Claire and Freida!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Freida MacLeod arrives

On Tuesday, our daughter Freida MacLeod was born. Claire and I are over the moon. Last night, we came home from hospital after a rough week for Claire and all MacLeods promptly passed out for a much needed sleep, not that it lasted.
A healthy chubster at 8lb, 3 ounces, I wonder what adventures are coming her way in life, with a mum who jumps out of planes for fun and a dad who climbs cliffs and generally lives life in the elemental outdoors and mountains. I’m certainly happy that we’ve been able to get to where we are in time for her arrival - a house that is surrounded by nature to grow up in. It’s really lucky, for all of us. 
An extra cup of tea was certainly in order before the days training session today. But I don’t think I’ll ever suffer from lack of focus to fire off a bleary eyed training session. The highs of watching a new life arrive certainly reawaken the sense of need to get the most out it. Baby bouncer bolts are placed in the roof of the climbing wall for a bit of bouncing and swinging when Freida is ready for it.

Asgard Jamming review

While on a rest day on a trip recently I watched the Asgard Jamming DVD and liked it so much I’ve been meaning ever since to get some copies in from the Favresse bros for the webshop. I got round to it!
I think even if you have no intention of ever climbing a big wall never mind walking 600km in a single trip just to get to Mount Asgard, you’ll find this film very entertaining. It’s certainly the best piece of big wall filming I’ve seen. It follows Nico and Oliver Favresse, together with Sean Villanueva, Stephane Hanssens and Silvia Vidal on a brilliant adventure to Baffin Island and after their epic approach, 11 days of fine looking climbing on the wall.
It totally reminds you why you go climbing, how much fun it can be and how exciting things can get when you really go for it. Nico’s looong whipper that you see the first half of in the trailer is great viewing. When not entertaining us with hardcore granite pitches, the mandolin toting Belgians are showing us how to have a party on a big wall in style and generally make a massive big wall look like 11 days cragging, except with a drop of justice underneath. Great stuff!
It’s in the shop here.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Training diary

Training was going damn great until today. A finger is hurting so hence I am writing instead of training today. In the last week I’ve been starting to experiment with having two sessions a day for the first time in over a year. I’ll need to introduce them gently!
My routine at the moment is a good couple of hours of shoulder and hip flexibility and end-range holding work to kick things off, then my usual injury rehab exercises (various), then get on the board. I’ve not managed to reproduce 100% of my best ever form about two months ago, but then I’ve been going at it quite hard with little rest, so I wouldn’t expect to anyway.
After a full boulder session it’s onto the circuits but I’m still in the early stages of these and not really had any gains to speak of. In six weeks time it should be different!
I’ve had a couple of days off training here and there, going winter climbing and going to some classes (more on that soon).
It’s been interesting last week to try pull-ups again this week. I’ve not really done a complete pull-up in over two years since I injured my elbow. But now they are almost completely better I thought it was safe to see how I was. WEAK! I can still do one complete one-arm on either arm, but well down on my PB of 5 before I got injured. It just shows that it’s not important for rock climbing, but I know I’m certainly weak on ice axes.
My short term priority is to improve my full crimp strength for my boulder project in Glen Nevis. My thumbs have always been really weak. I’ve got another 6 weeks or so until the boulder will be likely to be in condition. Ideally that means 30 sessions of hard crimping on the board between now and then. But things are never ideal as today has proved. I’ve just been writing about the messiness of ‘real life’ training on my training blog here.
I’m not expecting success on the boulder when the spring comes. It’s so hard for me that any progress will be brilliant. But although I’m not expecting success, I’m sure aiming for it! After that I’ll try and ramp up the endurance work to try a sport project I have - hard 9a. I’ve done the moves. F8c+ into a Font 8a/8a+. Maybe too hard? Let’s find out.
All I know is if I get a good run at these projects, the trad lines for summer will finally fall. The key to all this is maintaining that good base of uninterrupted training right now. Roll on tomorrows session..