Tuesday 9 August 2016

Summer monsoon training

During July I was mostly to be found here in my wall, running many a lap.

After a successful couple of days in Early June visiting the lake and climbing Return of the King (E9), I returned for another quick trip of three days. On the first day I made the most of the uninspiring weather and repeated The Keswickian (E8 7a) in a couple of hours work. Unfortunately I was rained off the other two days.

I decided not to go on an alpine big wall trip this summer and instead stay in Scotland to try and climb some of the great mountain trad projects I have here, especially on Ben Nevis, where I have not climbed on in summer since I did Echo Wall way back in 2008!

Unfortunately, I have picked the wrong summer, and my gamble has not paid off. The last part of June and all of July has been very wet and poor and I’ve not been able to get on the projects in the west. Never mind - I’m used to being adaptable and trying to make the best of the situation to get ahead for the next goal.

On my horizon is the sport climbing season in the late autumn. I always like to set myself various all-rounds challenges that are fun to try and focus my energies. After last winter’s successful focus on bouldering, I wondered if I could climb an 8C boulder, 9a sport route and a really hard Scottish mixed route in one year. I’m not at all confident I can do it (no climber ever has, to my knowledge), which is the point - I want to push well out of my comfort zone. With the 8C boulder ticked, next up I would like to climb a long endurance 9a, probably in Spain, if I can turn myself into an endurance climber quickly enough. 

I know I’ll have to train in a very organised way to manage this, so I have written myself a very detailed training program. Although I’ve done this many times for other climbers, I’ve generally trained myself on a flexible basis because I’ve focused on going outside climbing whenever the weather is good as my first priority, and just fitted in training whenever it rains. This can work well up to a certain level and is a good option if you are able to keep a good working record of your training load and priorities. Not many people can/do.

Perhaps the awful weather in July has galvanised me to take a more long term view focused on the trip. Not to mention the success I had with doing my winter goal of climbing an 8C boulder with this approach. During July itself, I trained most days on my board, building a base of endurance and general conditioning, on which to build upon during September and October.

Full stretch on the reach crux of Nuclear Nightmare 8a+ on Creag Nan Cadhag near Gairloch.

I’ve snatched the rare dry days in the west of Scotland to tick off some of the harder sport routes in the north west. First, Remember to Roll (8b) and Stalks 8a+ Creag nan Luch. In the past week I had a couple of days at Creag nan Cadhag and ticked off Game Over (8a+) and Nuclear Nightmare (8a+) as well as flashes of the other 7cs on the wall. All great routes and great to be able to just turn up and climb sport routes in Scotland without having to equip and clean them first! Kudos to the equippers.

I can definitely feel my month of base training has done something and I have made some progress already. Looking at my training program is slightly terrifying though. I’ll just have to see if I have judged the training and recovery correctly. Already I am running into some issues; my right brachioradialis is complaining a little. I do get some aches here on and off, maybe every couple of years, and usually it passes if I take my recovery seriously and make sure I complete my antagonist workouts. Ongoing monitoring and adjustment is essential for any training program, since life never works out as planned.

I’ve planned the training as far as my sport climbing trip in November, and have a first crack at some hard routes then. If I get on well, I’ll switch straight onto tool training for the mixed season. It seems so far away, but it’s not. On with the training!

Climbing Stalks 8a+ on Creag nan Luch. I also climbed Remember to Roll 8b just to the right, back in June. Both fantastic routes which can be climbed in the rain.

Blair Fyffe on Whip and Ride, 7c, on Creag Nan Luch. I managed to get the flash of this great route shortly afterwards.

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