Where's Lee?

After an enjoyable honeymoon climbing trip to Kalymnos and El Chorro, I'm now in Whistler snowboarding. This will allow me to depump before I return to the heat of QLD.

The climbing was fantastic - I love limestone. I managed to onsight a couple of 26's (my PB onsight grade) as well as bank a nice 27 and 29 within a handful of tries.

In El Chorro I had a huge final day! The famous six pitch route we did was hard and sustained up a huge overhanging orange limestone wall with pitches of 24/25, 22, 24, 26, 24 and 21. And the crux 7b+ pitch was a...a... slab - argh! Luckily I wasn't leading that one! I led pitches one and five and only fell on pitch 1 (tough warm-up!). I climbed the rest of the route cleanly including the crux which was pretty awesome. The weather only just held back the whole way and through parts (like the crux), it was raining lightly or misting. The fifth 7a+ pitch I got was absolutely nails! Through a triple overhang and onto a Verdon-esque slab. I was on it for a looong time and was stoked to onsight it. Jonathan, an Israli-born Malaga local, was a great guy; very similar ability to me sport climbing (he's primarily an alpinist) and we laughed, joked, and sweated (yes, in 12° temperatures) our way up the climb. The route was so steep that to descend, the first rappeller had to re-clip the draws to make it back to the belays and the second guy would unclip them and get pulled in. It was by far the most full-on sport multipitch I've done. A great finale to the climbing for the trip.

I'll be back in Brisbane in about a week.

Upskill: Outdoor coaching benefits

I recieved the following feedback to a 1-on-1 outdoor coaching session I conducted this week.

"From an overall skill perspective I got these key things:

An approach to succeeding on a project route through paying more attention to a) nailing a sequence and b) remembering the sequences. In comparison to what I have been doing what we did has amped up my projecting tactics quite a few notches. I notice a significant difference to what I can remember of the route (specific and visual) compared to what I can normally remember (vague and kinesthetic)."

If you're interested in doing an outdoor coaching session (a full day out on the rock), check out upskillclimbing.com and get in touch!

Upskill: Susy ticks her hardest

Upskill coached climber Susy G ticked her hardest route to date on the weekend, dispatching the classic Madder (25) on Slider Wall. We've been working on a whole lot of power endurance recently, so Sus had the endurance to keep pulling powerful moves all the way to the anchors. Very cool!

No it's not Susy, but is is Madder (25). Grant Edser climbing. (c) L Cujes

Smirky

I'm up to day 5 on the project and progress is encouraging. I'm now getting it in pretty much two sections. And I think because I am thrashing less, I'm not having as many skin issues as previously. Although it would be nice to start having four good shots on it per day rather than three. Anyway, it's all good fun.

New definitions

  1. Smirky: warm and/or non-frictional conditions of any kind or severity. Possibly of New Zealand origin, brought to prominence by Coolum local Mat Eaton.
  2. Perky: the opposite of smirky i.e. good, cool, frictional conditions.
  3. Slurky: a conjunction proposed by Llewellin describing 'lurking slipperiness' i.e. when conditions seem good until you start climbing.

Working the project. This is move #10 of the crux sequence. (c) D Steel 2007

Self flagellation

It's been a big week of climbing for me. Wednesday at Slider (volume), Friday at the Pulpit (projecting and destroying skin) and then Saturday at Coolum (finishing off any remaining skin). Managed to somehow get away with the send of Gareth's Wholly Calamity 27. It's a jug haul the whole way, but being 12m overhung, it's an exercise in simply hanging on endlessly. For JJ, it appears to be an exercise in getting from one kneebar to the next.

After that I was feeling exhausted beyond belief, but I reckon sometimes you have to give yourself a good thrashing. A couple of days rest after a thorough whipping usually leaves me feeling fit and strong. A good remedy for general malaise?

I did grab a few decent snaps of Paul and JJ and they're up on my flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brucelee/tags/mtcoolum/

Lost Boys - cancelled for 2007

Very sad. Based on the extreme temperatures and possible wet weather, we made the decision to cancel the attempt on Lost Boys for this year.

The Lost Boys - weather conspiring...

Look at it now! Saturday was the proposed ascent day. We are screwed.

Friday Slight chance of a late shower or storm   Max 27
Saturday Slight chance of a late shower or storm Max 28
Sunday Chance of a late shower or storm Max 30

Lost Boys - Pray for sun/Curse the sun

The weather is NOT looking good for another attempt. Sure it looks dry, but it's hideously hot. We could boil alive on those endless black slabs.

Tuesday       Fine              Max 27
Wednesday Fine Max 29
Thursday Fine Max 29

The show must go on

We've talked. We've discussed it. We can't let it go without a fight. It's all weather dependent, but if the weather Gods decide to smile on us, another attempt will be made. And soon.

Wet Warning trip pics


Check out that for an earthworm! Pic: Phil.

Lee, Shaun, Duncan and JJ on the walk-in. Pic: Phil

Wall in primo conditions for climbing. Pic: Phil


During the walk in the rain got so heavy we had to pull out the tarp. Duncan, me, Shaun, Phil. Pic: JJ.

Phil spent the night huddled in a hollowed out tree. Pic: JJ.

Me waking up to see the fantastic conditions the new day brought. Bring on the climbing!!! Pic: JJ

Mission video

video

Mission failure due to weather

Well, after one of the most harrowing nights I've ever spent huddled under a tarp, we called off the mission. The schedule would have seen us begin climbing at about 4:30am, and even at 7:30am, the wall was completely wet. It rained all night, until the early hours of the morning.

Even though we walked in in the rain, we thought it was slowing and would stop, giving the wall time to dry enough for an attempt. At about 6pm last night in drizzling rain we thought we had camp fairly well sorted; and then all hell broke loose. The rain started bucketing down and our position next to the base of the wall put us directly in the path of what turned very quickly into a waterfall. Suddenly, four inches of water was gushing through camp. I have this on video.

Of the five of us, Phil had the best spot, curled in the foetal position inside a hollowed out tree. He looked like a big ugly possum. Shaun got the award for most hardcore - sitting on a rock in shorts and not in a sleeping bag until sometime past 1am. Duncan was the water magnet, and attempted to sleep on a sodden thermorest in a two inch deep river. JJ was the most appreciated, boiling up tea for everyone at 1am, and checking everyone was still alive periodically. And me; well I probably got the most sleep (a few hours) due to having a ridgerest (foam) and a semi water-repelling sleeping bag. Though, in the morning, I was wet from the waist down.

We are yet to decide if another attempt will be made; everything depends on the weather. The Aboriginal name for Mt Warning means Cloud Catcher. Now we know why.

Expedition Update #1

Sitting in base camp in full-on downpour. If it stops we may be ok, if not, the ascent attempt is screwed. Waterfalls down the face!

T minus 2 hours - new team member

Just got word that Shaun Palmer has joined the team. We've got a crew!

"Team Warning" are T minus 15 hours until expedition go

Just received word that chef extrordinaire and all around climbing machine and nice guy JJ O'Brien has signed on to Team Warning. JJ and Phil are going to be a superb support team and film crew.
 
I picked up a digital audio recorder today, and all of the audio from the ascent (i.e. swearing and arguing and wimpering) will be recorded. We can then use this in the film we plan to make of the ascent.
 
Using the marvels of technology, Sam (in Base Camp) is going to keep the blog updated as we progress. Expect at least nightly updates!
 
Time to go - gotta keep packing.

Training presentation - wrap up

Thanks to everyone who rocked up to last night's presentation on training at Pinnacle Sports. We had somewhere in the order of 30-40 people attend and I think (hope!) that everyone picked up a few things that they could take away and apply to their own training and climbing. And for those that didn't care about the training stuff - we had a climbing slideshow too, so that was nice!

Please feel free to ask questions either here on the blog, or via email. I'm keen to hear what's working, and what's not.

If there is interest, I can post up the PowerPoint presentation on the website.

"Training For Climbing" presentation tonight

Just a reminder that my presentation at Pinnacle Sports is on tonight from 7:00pm.

Scroll down for address and more details.

The Lost Boys - 3 days to go

Weather looking a bit dodgy on the walk-in day. We might want to think about some wet weather gear.

Ascent day (Sunday) is still good.

Saturday      Afternoon shower or thunderstorm.    Max 24
Sunday Mostly fine. Max 22

The Lost Boys - 4 days to go

The weather is cooling down for the weekend - perfect!


Gold Coast/Tweed Heads
Thursday      Very warm, windy.                  Max 28
Friday Fine, cooler. Max 23
Saturday Fine walk-in Max 23
Sunday Fine ascent day Max 22

The Lost Boys Part 2 - Recon Day

Sunday was a hell day. It went something like this:

  • drive to mt warning (2 hours)
  • walk in to cliff with heavy packs (2.5 hours) - dump gear
  • walk to top of cliff (2 hours)
  • find top of route
  • fix 200m of static down to halfway ledge for video/photos (1 hour)
  • rap remaining distance to ground (1 hour)
  • avoid giant python
  • walk out (1.5 hours)
  • drive home (2 hours)
The wall is amazing. Standing at the base, you can only see half of it. It is huge. What I saw of the route included long pitches, much slabbing (bring on the calf pain) and big runouts.

With cooler temperatures and hopefully a breeze, the schedule has been moved up.

D-Day is this coming Sunday! 5 days to go...

The Lost Boys in a day - part 1

Duncan and I have decided that we are going to attempt the third ascent of the largest technical rockclimb in Australia. The route is The Lost Boys (24 M1) on Mt Warning. 576m, 15 pitches, with half of the pitches grade 23 or harder. Runouts of 10m are common. The crux pitch features crumbly, crystalline rock.

The first ascent was done by Tim Balla and Malcolm Matheson (HB). "A minimum bolting ethic was adhered to...98 bolts adorn the route, 31 of which are belay anchors. On average, one can expect a runner every five to seven metres, resulting in exciting leads on every pitch. Yahoo!"

Duncan did the second ascent with Julian Bell back in the 90s. A stiff wind blew up while they were climbing and microwave sized blocks rained down on them from above, exploding like bombs on the slabs around them. Both these ascents took two days.

To put a twist on it, we're going to try to do it in a day, and have the ascent filmed. We're going to be going fast and light, with no gear to bivvy or retreat if things go pear shaped. We've stripped all our climbing gear down to the bare essentials, and Pinnacle Sports are sponsoring our ascent, supplying us with all the latest, lightest gear. Not that a superlight foam dome is going to do much if I get hit by a falling microwave!

This Sunday is our first recon trip into the cliff to drop off gear and rig ropes from above for the Phil Box Film Crew. It'll be my first time to Mount Warning and the 400m high, north-facing Wollumbin Shield that hosts the route.

I'm excited and nervous!

Training presentation on Thursday

I'm doing a presentation on training for climbing at Pinnacle Sports' promo night on Thursday evening (20 September). Come along and learn some stuff, and hit me up with questions.

There will be a slideshow, and my quasi-coherent verbiage of training related stuff.

Entry is free as far as I know. I think they will have some bargains in store as well. And I hear they are serving nibblies - noice!

Pinnacle Sports
Shop 3/160 Musgrave Road
Red Hill, Brisbane
Queensland 4059

Start time: 7:00pm

Climbing report - new project

Oww - my tips are so sore. Red raw after only a couple of shots on the new project I bolted last weekend at the Pulpit. It starts up Mugwump then moves right onto a 25 degree overhung wall for another three bolts. Last weekend I couldn't do any of the moves, but this time with good psyche (and wearing the new Scarpa Mago's for the first time) I was able to do all the moves, so that is super exciting. Lots of sketchy underclings and sidepulls. And of course, the tip-destroying little crimps. I need to grow some tough skin.


Other good things from today included Duncan's best link of the upper section of his project (which is next door to mine) and our creation of another quality step to control erosion and stabilise the ground. That makes 10 steps we've built this year.

Today's Beta Tip: Sight your deadpoints right up till you grab them. Don't loose focus and take your eyes off the hold.

upskillclimbing.com goes live!

Today I uploaded the new Upskill Climbing Coaching website and registered the www.upskillclimbing.com domain. Pretty excited about that. My vision is that the site will become a store of useful resources on training for climbing, as well as promoting Upskill's offerings.

Taipan Wall: No Rain, No Gain

(An old trip report I've saved to my blog for posterity. June 2007 -- Lee)

I haven't done a trip report in ages. But this was a nice trip and I'm psyched.

So - the Taipan trip in one word - wet! What is it with this bad weather I seem to be attracting every time I go on a climbing trip? In our two week trip we only woke up to sun on the first and last day. Every other morning was either drizzling rain or thick mist.

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The crew enjoy the typical morning conditions. © L Cujes

Typically we'd do a late start and trudge up to the wall to find it running with water. All the black streaks were waterfalls. This limited route selection somewhat.

The first day I gave Duncan a tour of the wall (his first trip to Taipan), and we warmed up on The Seventh Banana 23 before he went and casually onsighted The Invisible Fist 26. Climbing well after a 1830km drive! I then had a crack at Mirage 27 with its 2m dyno finishing move. After extending all the trad gear (eight double length slings!) on the way to the dyno to reduce rope drag, I ended up getting there pretty stuffed with my feet numb from the slabbing. But I dynoed and actually overshot the jump, my fingers hitting above the jug and rebounding off the wall sending me on a ride. Second shot there was no mistake and I latched it and topped out. Cleaning the diagonal line was a mission - I had to climb the route again.

image
Just so you can see what it's like - the dyno on Mirage. Will Monks flying. © M Boniwell

The second day I did the second ascent of Neil new route Rattlesnake Shake 26. I managed to hold on for the onsight which is my first at that grade. The route is so named because of a sketchy slab section on which you gibber and shake your way through. As Duncan began work on Venom 28, I decided to give its direct, Tourniquet 30 a try and got baffled and spanked. No such issue for Canadian Mike Doyle who fired it off second shot later in the trip. I guess he's ranked #24 in the world for a reason.

Over the next few days the weather closed in to a hideous cloying mist which made the normally glorious motherstone turn into a bar of soap. Spurt Wall on Taipan's right side was the only semi-sane option. I'd never climbed anything on it before and I chose the route that looked the driest - Tyranny 29. It's only 13m high but really packs it in. Big throws and a hard dyno off bad holds to a big sloping bowl, topped off with a technical slabby top out notorious for spitting off pumped crankers. I put in 11 attempts over three days to tick this, and was despairing that I would ever do it, falling slightly higher most times I'd try it. One time I'd done the hard section and was mantling out on to the slab when my foot popped out of the biggest pocket you've ever seen and I swooped through a tree (yep, it's runout; only three bolts). And the time before I did it, I fell TWO HOLDS from clipping the anchors. It was mentally difficult to stay motivated, especially when the weather fined up enough for JC and JJ to start working Serpentine 29 - my goal of the trip and really, my ultimate goal as a climber. When I clipped the Tyranny anchors on my second try of the third day, it was a relief more than anything and I didn't climb for the rest of the day.

image
Just to show you what it looks like. Pete on his redpoint attempt on Tyranny (29), Spurt Wall. © Phil Neville

The next day JC and JJ were still working Serpentine and it looked as though I wouldn't be able to get on the route this trip. Each shot on the route would take about an hour so it's not a good climb for three people to work. Bummed out. So I went up on Cardigan Street p2 28 with Ado (aka Borat). Awesome line - a 35m classic Taipan groove - and maybe the second best pitch on the wall? I just gave it one attempt and only barely managed to dog my way through the big runouts. This was going to be my project, but then the unthinkable, JC ticked Serpentine and my number was called.

image
Ado attempting Cardigan Street p2 28 © J Jefferson

JC was still buzzing with adrenaline (probably from his 20m airtime off the summit jugs) and offered to give me a belay, so up I went on "ze best pitch in ze world". True to its name, Serpentine weaves its way up the highest and most central part of the wall; by far the proudest line. Most routes can be classified as either bouldery (fall off because the move is hard) or endurancy (fall off because you're pumped silly). Serpentine defies this classification. I've never climbed a route that is so ... sectional. Climb a hard bit to a bridging rest, then a hard bit to a jug rest, then a hard bit to a hand jam rest etc. Each time the rests aren't good enough to get it all back, but maybe just enough to be able to do the next section. It's so tactical. There are two distinct cruxes. The first is crimpy with a punchy dyno to a horizontal break. The second relies on a vertical slot and if you've got thick fingers, you're going to struggle to use it. Those who have seen HB's pork sausage fingers might understand why it took him four days to overcome this section back in 1988. Forty two metres of brilliant climbing. So much to remember. Maybe too much? Only four days left of the trip!

image
This shows the first third of Serpentine. I am reaching from the horizontal break after the first crimpy crux. © N Monteith

The next day was pouring rain. I needed rest anyway but that's one less day on Serpentine. Out to VD Land with Neil and Keith. Neil managed to fire off his project Velvet Goldmine 27 despite two mini-waterfalls he had to climb through in the upper section. Old man endurance! I sat in a cave and used my reusable heat packs to stay alive. This was the coldest day of the trip and with wind chill, would have been in low single digits for much of the day.

image
You wouldn't think it by looking at this picture, but we were getting four seasons every 15 minutes. Neil sending Velvet Goldmine 27 © L Cujes

Third last day. Average weather. Damn cold. JJ was still chomping at Serpentine and I put my hand up for belay duties. JJ was climbing in a T shirt, and I was belaying in four layers including a huge down jacket with Everest hood and gloves. It must have been the bitter cold that motivated him to get it done because he sent in fine style and was ready to give me a catch. I put in a shot wearing thermal & thick jumper, but the crimpy first crux put spots on my fingers. Owwww! The second shot I climbed with a full rack so that I could remove Justin's gear and place my own. Anyone who doubts the grade of 31 for the onsight should go and try it. A 42m pitch takes a LOT of gear and it's so much harder with that amount of weight on your harness.

image
Neil racks up for Serpentine's first pitch with Zac and me ready to provide encouragement. © J Jefferson

Second last day. Find a belayer. "Come on Neil, come up on Serpentine!" I fell yet again on the first crux, but then managed to go all the way to the top cleanly. I'm very happy with that effort. Theoretically, if I managed to get through the first crux somehow, I could do the route. I belayed Neil on it, who proceeded to take some sweeping falls on the first bolt and kick the crap out of me on the semi-hanging belay. If I was barefoot it would have broken my toe. I was tired. My fingers were sore and tips trashed. Not going to happen today, so I might as well rest. Rapped off, and sat back and watched Duncan tick Venom 28 and Mr Joshua, the best 25 on earth. I figured I needed all the help I could get so that night I had a double dose of Glucosamine, a serve of Muscle Eze, and lathered my fingers in Hand Jam and ClimbOn bar and then put them in gloves. I tossed and turned all night thinking about the route and didn't sleep more than a few hours.

Last day. All or nothing. Woke up to sunshine - amazing. Had forgotten what it looked like. The boys saw the sun and were keen as mustard. They blitzed from the campsite at top speed while I was still having breakfast. I took it easy and had an extra serving before sauntering up to the cliff to search out a belayer. After a while the man himself Malcolm Matheson (HB) showed up and was keen to get back up to have a play on the route he established 19 years earlier. It was my third day on and I should have been exhausted, but I was energised at the prospect of being able to work the route with Malcolm.

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Me and HB. File footage. © J Jefferson

First things first; the morning ritual of the warm-up bouldering traverse. This traverse at the left end of Spurt Wall is the secret of champions. You can get just the right amount of pump before going and trying your project. It's bloody good climbing too actually. The problem was I didn't want to destroy my overnight skin growage on the warm up. So I taped up my tips using various different taping methods as an experiment. One seemed the best, so after the warm up, I taped all my tips this way for my attempt on Serpentine.

On my first shot I was feeling good and climbed into the crux crimps at the 15m mark. I heard a tearing sound as I bore down on the crimps, and pitched off on the dyno. I learnt my lesson. Don't tape fingertips unless absolutely necessary! The tape didn't provide adequate friction on the crimps and ultimately tore, caused me to slide off the crimps. Rather than wasting energy, I lowered back to the belay to give Malcolm a catch, ripping the tape off as I went. Malcolm had some really interesting sequences I hadn't considered, and we marvelled at the difference in our footwork (I climb predominately front on, while he backsteps everything! Okay okay, he has great footwork and mine is crap!). Afterwards, Mike Doyle, who had been lurking in the bushes asked if he could have a run on the route and use my gear. I said he could so long as he didn't weight the rope. He said he couldn't promise anything, but true to form, he casually flashed the route. He did however weight the rope while being lowered off, so I was understandably annoyed.

Second shot, I was feeling tired, but I cruised up the turret to the jug below the first crux and sat there for what felt like about five minutes alternating hands, shaking out. Then I moved up into the crimps. They felt so much better without tape on. I took the right hand sidepull, slapped for the left, hit it, stepping up to deadpoint at the sloping half pad edge for the left hand. Held it, moved my feet into classic Edlinger frog position, and windmilled up with my right hand for the horizontal break. Held it! YES! For the first time I'd done the first crux from the beginning. @#%$, now what? Oh yeah traverse, hand jam, reach, crank through and out to the arĂȘte, back and into the second crux, DID IT! (@#%$ I'm going to do this!), up through tricky section to good incut hold and then the heelhook section I figured out. Only seven metres from the top now. Put up the left heel, bum sags out from the wall, hands opening ... OFF! Nooooooooooooo!

I'm absolutely spent. Too tired to even cry, although I want to. I yell down "well, maybe next trip!". I'm a second shot climber and I know I don't have the juice to do the route today. Regardless, I get back on and spend 10 minutes figuring out a front-on method to do the bit I fell on, rather than my stupid heelhook idea. I climb that section five times and lower off to belay Malcolm. Afterwards, I rap off, drink water, sit in the sun and gorge myself on what food remains in my pack.

We're leaving tonight - back in the car bound for Brisbane. Duncan says he's going back to camp to start packing up. My gear is still up on the route. I have to go and retrieve it. I envisage a brutal, exhausted dogging session. Duncan tells me to forget about sending the route now, just go up and have as much fun as possible. The sun is edging towards the horizon as I'm tying in and Malcolm is preparing the belay. I cast off out the roof.

I feel tired doing my patented cross through and I have to slap to get the jug. I climb the turret to the jug and hang there for several minutes as usual, thinking "Am I getting more fresh, or less, as I wait here?" Stuff it I think, time for the crux. Up into the crimps, high step, dyno and latch the horizontal. Hang on, what? I just did the crux? I laugh and call down "That wasn't supposed to happen!" Okay okay, game on now. My thumb is bleeding. I wipe the blood on my pants. I climb each section and feel trashed, but I milk each of the rests enough to somehow pull through. My eyes involuntarily close at the strain of pulling through the second crux and as I traverse to the break with the red Link Cam in it, I am thoroughly torched. I'm hanging from an incut horizontal break and yet I can feel my fingers opening. Nooo! I'm 10m from the top at this stage. I've never rested here before but I'm in no condition to try to continue. The break is too shallow to take a hand jam, I've tried before. Nothing else left to do but to try again. After about a minute I manage to wrangle a weird sideways partial jam. Off this thank-god semi-rest, I gain enough to continue up to the section I'd previously fallen on. Attacked it front on as I'd practiced and I was now past my highpoint. But, I was stuffed.

Hands opening, I manage to put two fingers together, and place them in a curvy crack like a wire placement. At this point I'm hanging off the finger bones being crushed together, but at least my other fingers get some recovery. Thinking I'm going to fall any second, I freak out and climb almost too fast and blast up to the huge horizontal four metres from the top. Can't believe it. Double arm bars gouging into my flesh never felt so good. Camp out ... camp out. Traversed out a few metres to clip the final bolt and then scampered back to the arm bars. I look out at the view. It's unbelievable. The sun is only minutes away from sinking completely beneath the horizon. Okay, time to go. Traverse out, big move to pocket, match. Big right hand throw to ear of rock. Now the final move - a backstep move, argh, not my style. Left hip against the wall, throw for the summit jugs. As I'm throwing, my left hand smashes the rock on the way through and I only barely latch the final jug as my right foot cuts. Oh my god. The peanut gallery are cheering. I mantle and stand on the top of the wall. The sun has just gone and there's now just an afterglow. As Malcolm is reeling out the sendage slack on his stitch plate I stand tip-toe on the edge, take a breath and ... JUMP! A 180 degree spin in the air faces me back towards the wall as I whiz down about 12m or so for the ride. Scarily awesome. Then I have to climb the whole final portion again to get to the final bolt so I can lower off.

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My victory jump from the summit © N Monteith

I make it back to the belay and Malcolm greets me with a huge smile and a crushing handshake. "Brilliant mate, absolutely brilliant". I'm beaming. I pull the mobile out of my pack and ring Sam. "Guess what?" "You didn't!" "I did!"

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Best wall on earth. Zac on Naja 30 © J Jefferson

How to build a climbing wall - and use it properly!

Home walls can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make them, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to discuss the ways in which you can use a simple two-panel wall (see diagram). This is the cheapest and easiest home wall to build. There are plenty of ways to train on these, but I’m going to tell you what worked for me. If you don’t have a home wall you can adapt this program to the local gym.

The setup

If you've only got a small two panel wall, 40 to 45 degrees should be the angle you’re working at. If you’re climbing routes, go for 40. If you’re mostly into bouldering, go for 45. Get as many holds as you can cheaply. Don’t be afraid to make some out of wood, and drill holes through river rocks too. Variety is key. No need for an overabundance of super jugs, just enough to warm up. This wall is small, so it should be difficult to climb on. Be careful of holds that have sharp angles and hurt to hold – avoid these!


Adjustable two panel wall. By "panel" we mean a 2400x1200mm sheet of 17mm plywood.

A warm-up circuit

Develop a problem that starts in a sit on the edge of the board, climbs up, traverses, down and back to the starting position. Nothing too tweaky. It should be reasonably difficult to climb and take a few goes to get the first time you try it. It should be roughly 12-15 moves. Once you’re happy with the moves and providing it flows well, mark it with coloured tape. That’s now your warm-up problem and once you’ve done it a few more times, you won’t fall off it. In future sessions, you’ll warm up by doing some skipping/jogging plus some push-ups and pull-ups prior to climbing, so you’ll already be pretty warm before getting on this problem. Down the track, you’ll aim to do two laps of the problem, then three etc. Remember to warm up gradually each session. Avoid a debilitating flash pump by taking rest when you feel that burning pump start to develop. By increasing difficulty gradually through the session you’ll be able to climb better, for longer.

Developing problems

After you’re warmed up, work by yourself or with a partner to develop problems. These will usually be between three and eight moves. Anything that you get within a try or two is probably too easy and need not be recorded, but if you have to work pretty hard for a problem, mark it up with coloured stickers or tape, and add it to your problem list. I use a spreadsheet. Give it an arbitrary number as a grade, and then you can compare this to future problems you do, and also easily sort the list based on difficulty. Once the quality of your climbing (your strength on moves) decreases, it’s time to rest or finish up with some stretching.


Future sessions

As you continue developing problems, your list will grow. Once you’ve got around 15-20 problems, you can alter your session structure slightly. What you can now aim to do is session your existing problems. Sort the problem list based on difficulty, and work your way through your problems which will gradually get more difficult. It’s amazing how your body learns how to do a given problem, and something that once took you 20 goes may go first or second try. You’re not only developing power, you’re also developing technique and knowledge of body positions. Once again, stop climbing before you start to thrash. Quality over quantity.

What some people don’t realise is that random climbing on a wall like this isn’t really training. To train effectively, you need to have benchmarks. A list of problems you can work against will allow you to chart your progress.

Good luck – and remember to keep it fun!