Saturday 21 January 2017

Time to focus

Good Drying, 8A+, Arisaig Cave from Dave MacLeod on Vimeo.

As ever I’ve found recovering from being broken and stuck on crutches a long road without many shortcuts. I’d definitely lost sight of light at the end of the tunnel for a while. But since Christmas, things have begun to look up quite a bit.

My gait has normalised, I have much less pain, I feel a bit more agility coming back. But most importantly, I completed another phase of my long running diet experiments, a phase which definitely didn’t work. It had caused me to put on quite a bit of fat. After the experiment I switched back and even after one week started to get leaner again, and feel like I can climb!

I’d put a bit of effort into training for winter climbing. But winter does not seem to be coming this year. So on with the boulder projects. Readers of this blog will know that last winter I did a straight-up 8B in the Arisaig Cave called 4th Wave. Its an absolutely brilliant piece of climbing, and so it was a shame the journey was over when I completed it. But the obvious thing in my mind ever since I fist visited the cave was to do the big link from the cave entrance and finish up 4th Wave. I felt pretty sure this was Font 8C territory and a great project to work on (skin friendly, nearly always dry, perfect in the middle of winter and in condition nearly 6 months of the year).

But it did seem rather too hard. So I was a bit scared of trying it. However, over the past week I have made a great start. Re-working all of the 50-odd moves. The first half, to a kneebar rest before 4th Wave is around 8A. There is another straight-up 7C that starts from the kneebar, so I figured I could finish up this also as a kind of 8A+ ‘warm-up’. It would also serve as a good link to do laps on when I was too tired to have more redpoints on the proper finish.

Yesterday, I climbed the 8A+ link, on my first redpoint attempt. My foot also slipped off mid-crux on the exit problem, and I still managed to stay on and finish it. Quite a good sign. 

It makes total sense at this point for me to get serious on this project now. I have three months of good conditions ahead, a great start already done, and I’m really motivated to work on it. I still don’t think it will go. But that is the point of a hard project!

There are several stages for the prep. First is just to repeat 4th Wave, and work up to being able to do it a few times in a session. Second is to drop 3/4kgs back to my fighting weight. Third is to go beyond just knowing the moves of the first half, to being able to climb them with much greater speed and efficiency - putting the hours in, in other words. Lastly, I need to work a bit on my specific body strength to be able to hold the strenuous kneebar rest position for twice as long as I currently can. 

The great thing about climbing in the cave is how powerful the climbing is, you walk back to the car with every muscle in your upper body ‘singing’ with fatigue. And if you need a break, you just watch the otters and sea eagles dotting about the bay for a moment.

 View from my house this morning (Jan 21st) of Aonach Mor. Basically no winter yet.


  1. Good to see you are back in action :)

  2. What happened to Lucky Man part 2?!!

  3. good to see you and your ankle are back on track; as "funny" as your stories are; fighting back after (several) injuries is not easy at all, but focus helps for sure! your boulder-project looks amazing! really great climbing! keep that focus!!!