Vietnam 2009: THE FACE!!

Please excuse a bit of reminiscing...

This is one of the most unique walls in Ha Long Bay and we were cruising past with the sun beginning to set, and the boat captain very anxious to get the vessel back into the harbour. We pleaded for a shot and managed to race across in the basket boat for "one last climb".

While the onsight was foiled, none of us cared - we'd had the most awesome experience on this wall amongst the birds and setting sun.

Killer shots © C Glastonbury 2009

Vietnam 2009: Trip Video - VietBLAM!

If a picture tells 1,000 words then this video should tell about half a million.

Upskill Climbing VietBLAM 2009 (Climbing in Vietnam) from Upskill Climbing on Vimeo.

Keywords: vietnam climbing, slopony, vietnam dws, deep water soloing, dws

Vietnam 2009: My Way or the Railway 8a

This is a short clip of the hardest route I did in Vietnam. Happily, it was a first ascent. About three days of work went into the prepping, cleaning, bolting, working and sending.

The route is currently the second hardest sport route in Vietnam. It's about 30m long and is absolute primo quality. Grade 8a (29) but it might actually be harder as I relied heavily on locking down right gastons, which is one of my freak strengths at the moment due to the use of this grip on hard projects this year. I was super duper psyched about it!

Lee Cujes - My Way or the Railway - 8a first ascent - Vietnam from Upskill Climbing on Vimeo.

More Vietnam video to come.

Video: Dave MacLeod training on his home wall

Here's a recent video of training guru Dave MacLeod training on his home wall. Dave says "1 hour on my board equals about 2 in a climbing wall and 4 outdoors." He also notes that with the volume he's doing (i.e. every day) he's treading a fine line between training hard and getting injured.

Vietnam 2009 doses

Sorry for being slack. Between the sketchy wifi, climbing until after dark, boat trips, mad motorbike journeys, bolting and restaurants, I haven't had time to keep the doses coming. It's been all I can manage to keep pulling everyone's photos down each night (we have more than 2,000 now) and throwing the odd status update on Facebook. So, there is more to come and I'll get them up in the coming week or two.

Vietnam 2009: Dose 1

I write this from a restaurant on Cat Ba Island, the largest island off the coast of Northern Vietnam. The world heritage listed Ha Long Bay is here, and with its thousand plus limestone towers, this is a special place for climbers.

With the arrival of Chris Glastonbury, Steve Ionnonu and Chris Beric (the Townsville boys), it's been an eventful couple of days. The boys flew into Hanoi and were so overwhelmed by the noise, traffic, chaos and potential for being scammed that they went for the safe option. The Hanoi Hilton! Yes, the real one :) While we had paid $30 for our quite deluxe accommodations, the boys fronted $260 for their room. Both included a buffet breakfast. Living it up in Hanoi.

The first night for the guys in Cat Ba was memorable, and resulted in sore stomachs all round from laughter. At dinner, Chris was enjoying the $0.45 Tiger beers, and decided he needed to go and make room for more. He disappeared for 15 minutes and came back looking disturbed. Instead of walking all the way back to the hotel, an 'abandoned' building site seemed like a likely spot. As he entered, a tarp was pulled aside and he was ushered in to a back room filled with Vietnamese men and smoke. They urged him to sit down and partake with them. It was all looking a bit concerning, so he said he had to go and get a drink, and beat a hasty retreat.

Within minutes of returning to the table, he was being massaged at the table by the local masseuse, Mr Vu. Mr Vu did good business that night with Beric and Sam each putting their 50,000 in for a massage. After dinner we headed home and said our goodnights. While the oldies thought that was that, the boys headed back out to the Blue Note Bar where a contingent of Irish girls on a tour were already well established. In the meantime, our hotel locked its doors for the night. At midnight when the guys returned, there was no way in. Except for climbers. I'm thinking it's probably not a first ascent, but I'm told getting onto floor two is about grade 18.

In stark contrast to somewhere like Thailand, climbing is just getting started here in Vietnam. The most well developed crag here is Lien Minh. Lien Minh, or Butterfly Valley has been solely discovered and developed by the SloPony guys (two ex-pats who have made their home on Cat Ba). They have had to purchase the lease on the cliff, so it pays to support them as much as possible by buying guidebooks and such. This cliff offers the most modern and well equipped climbing in Vietnam. There's currently 30 routes to do here and nearly all are super high quality.

Crag walk in to Lien Minh © L Cujes 2009

Our first two days at the cliff gave us the flavour. The crag rocks! Crazy motorbike action to get there sets the pace of the day. Sam did her hardest onsight (20), Glenn did his hardest flash (22) which Sheree promptly seconded cleanly. The route in question - Elephant Man - was mega - four stars! I've managed to onsight everything up to about 26 so far and came off the last hold of a 28 and did it second shot. Super soft though! Haven't done a bad climb so far.

Lee sending Flight Of The Bumblebee (28, but maybe more like 26/7?) © S Cujes 2009

Sam's hardest onsight © L Cujes 2009

Yesterday being the first day for the Townsville boys saw lots of 'firsts'. First 23 flash (Chris), first 24 flash (Steve), first bout of repeated falls above the bolt (Beric), first climbing a sport route composed primarily of a tree (Sam), first dinner costing more than one MILLION Dong. And the phrase "this is the best route I've ever done!" got used more than once.

Steve's first route of the trip, a lovely 18 © L Cujes 2009

Glenn cruxing on a bouldery 23/4, Miyagi Box Maker © L Cujes 2009

Beric on You Enjoy Myself (20). He's been to Coolum once, and is now hooked on kneepads © L Cujes 2009

In true travelling celebrity climber fashion, Sam and I have both picked up colds, so we're having a rest day today in order to send them packing. Thinking "this is tropical Asia" we didn't pack much in the way of warm clothes, and have since discovered our average top daily temp is about 18 degrees. I assumed that was a mistake when I was researching the trip :)

More to come...

Vietnam countdown: 1 day

About to fly out to Vietnam to check out the sport climbing and DWS that we've heard so much about.

The idea with this trip is to sample all the delights, sort all the logistics, and scope the area as a potential Upskill training camp location for a trip in 2010.

Looking forward to it. Trip updates to come!

(Keep an eye out for mini-updates from Upskill Climbing on Facebook, scroll down for the blue box on the right)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Paul crushes

A couple of weeks ago Paul Devine had one grade 25/7b route as his best tick. The week after the first session in his Upskill Improvement Pack, he went on to send both XXXX 25 at Kangaroo Point, and Madder 25 at Slider Wall. Now that's what I call a good week!

Do what Paul did and use my Pyramid Template to chart your own progress and identify any gaps that need to be addressed. Is your pyramid broad (indicating a plateau or a need to try harder things) or narrow (indicating a need to backfill lower grades and consolidate)?

It can be quite an enlightening exercise.

Vid: Rich Simpson's 'Obsession' with Action Direct 9a

Grab a coffee, sit down for 26 minutes and enjoy this. If you're into training and hard sport climbing, this won't fail to get you psyched.

Obsession from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

Grampians 2009 Trip Report

I'm now back from two weeks in the Grampians. Known as the home of Hollow Mountain Cave bouldering and Taipan Wall (the two primary attractions for visiting Euros), the Grampians host some of the nicest rock in Australia.

The first week was spent at Muline Cave and Millenium Caves (both are super steep red caves) which I hadn't visited before. Highlights were Desert Rose 27 at Muline and Tunnel to Caracus 28 at Millenium. I sent my trad gear down in a box ahead of time, and I ended up placing two wires on Desert Rose. That was my trad climbing for the trip. Glad I was prepared. Lowlight was falling just shy of the anchors on the amazing roof climb Eye Of The Tiger 29. Technological highlight was getting stumped on the Desert Rose crux, and using the iPhone to email Neil from the crag, requesting beta. He emailed me back a photo sequence and I sent. Ingenious. Belaying highlight was watching Nigel absolutely crush Demon Flower 30, not to mention Path Of Yin 30. Tick tick.

Muline Cave. #10 is Desert Rose and #11 is Demon Flower

Millenium - Main Cave.

Second week we moved camp from Buandik to Stapylton and saw other climbers for the first time! I'd previously done quite a bit of climbing on Taipan Wall, so this time, primarily on the agenda was Spurt Wall. I did the 'warm up' Menstrual As Anything DS 25 with its hard start, Dial-A-Lama 24 with its hard finish, and enjoyed a quick send of Spurt Girl 28 which felt a bit like a campus board, and a more drawn-out six shot send of Not Too Bad 28 which in the end wasn't. And just to be sure we touched Taipan at least once, "G-Man" Graham Fairbairn and I had fun up on Sidewinder 27, which climbs up and out of Serpentine, both climbing it second try.

Inspiring were some of the other climbers around madly sinking their fangs into their respective projects. Jake Bresnehan is pitting his tips against the second ascent (I think?) of the Groovy extension, Groove Train 33 which goes right to the top of the wall. Lee Cossey is also working hard to climb from the ground to the top of the Taipan in one giant sustained pitch on Nether, which may go free at somewhere around 33/4. Nige Campbell blitzed Lifestyling 31 and locked horns with the Tyranny extension, Who's A Naughty Boy? 32. Graham Fairbairn jumped for glory on Spurt Girl 28. Josh Grose overcame a series of brain explosions to hike Acedemia 31, and Jorg the German (I probably don't have to add 'the German') proudly sent Serpentine 29 after a multi-week siege. After falling on the last move of Dial-A-Lama 24 many times in a row, Omar Cortez-Manzo sent in fine form, only to rupture a finger pulley on Weak Boy 26 to finish his season. Paul Murtaugh (name undoubtedly misspelt) dispatched Eye Of The Tiger 29 and joins the growing list of people tipping their hat to Esther for the use of her gear on the route. On the ropeless front, Sam Edwards breezed in from Tasmania for a couple of days of fingertip destruction on his new project next to Zeus V13 on Lower Taipan Wall. Given Zeus took him 21 days of effort, this new project promises to be even more serious. If you're a strong boulderer reading this (or having it read to you ;) go and repeat Zeus now!

Sam Edwards giving Graham Fairbairn the rundown on Zeus V13.

Cheers and shout-outs to all the cool people I met for the first time, or caught up with again after so long. You're all welcome to come up and take the QLD tour, I'll host you, but...better wait till winter.

Trip Gallery

Grampians update

Hi all, just a quick one to say I'm approaching the tail end of my Grampians climbing trip. We've spent time at Muline, Millenium Cave and of course Taipan Wall. I'll have a trip report to come, but you can also follow Upskill Climbing on Facebook for the regular updates.

Interview with Rodney Polkinghorne

Rodney Polkinghorne is a SEQ based climber who has over the last year or so done what many climbers find impossible to do: bust through the plateau and take his climbing to the next level. How you ask? Well, that's what we're going to find out.

Rodney on Screaming Insanity (26), Mt Coolum, Queensland, Australia. © E Laliberte 2009

Lee: "So Rod, congrats on a great season. Tell us what kind of climbing you were doing a year or two ago, and what you've been doing this season."

"Thanks Lee. I was stuck at grade 21 from 2002 until 2006, but since then I've progressed faster each year. At the end of 2007 I sent Brisbane Bitter, Blackheathen and Jacqueline Hyde, all 24, and Hung Like a Fruit Bat, which is a straightforward 25. The only tick that stands out from 2008 is Child in Time, the classic 22 at Frog, which was a messy send after many attempts. This year, I climbed Worrying Heights (24) at Frog, and I passed the entrance exam for Mt Coolum, Screaming Insanity (26)."

Lee: "Can you put your finger on what it was that was holding you back? Was it mental or physical?"

"My limits were mental. I was always a hesitant climber - I'd do a move, and stop to psyche myself up. Then a bunch of my friends got hurt. By early 2008, five had been seriously injured while climbing, and two had died in other outdoor pursuits. I stopped trusting myself, because I'd trusted some of those people completely. I placed quickdraws then climbed down and jumped off, because I expected to slip while clipping them. I spent minutes worrying about each piece of protection. When I couldn't see anything wrong, I expected something weird to happen. I couldn't let go of the consequences and focus on climbing, which you must do to push your limit on lead."

Lee: "The more I coach the more I see headspace and mental limitations being the primary thing holding climbers back. So were you consciously aware of this as a limiting factor at the time? What allowed you move beyond this? Was it a breakthrough moment like turning on a light switch, or a long incremental grind?"

"I was a bold and committed leader when I started, in 2001 and 2002. I climbed grade 21 at Frog and Moonarie when I'd been climbing for a year and a half. So I knew how I wanted to climb, and how far I was from it.

"One thing that turned me around was Arno Ilgner's book (The Rock Warrior’s Way). His message is that being afraid and wimping out are just habits, and so are commitment and focus, so you can train to be bold and determined. Ilgner gives some exercises for that, which are the best part of the book.

"The UQ climbing club helped a great deal, too. They kept telling me that I could climb much harder if I pushed myself, and eventually I believed it.

"I've had both long grinds and moments of enlightenment. To stop being distracted by thoughts of falling, I had to climb above gear and let go of dozens of times. My progress wasn't so much incremental as stationary - each time, I just didn't want to do it. Then one day I started up my warm-up route, didn't think about falling at all, and it stopped being a problem. The breakthroughs come in their own time, but they only came after a lot of frustrating practice."

Lee: "So if you had to give some advice to climber who was in the same position as you (held back by their fear on the sharp end), what would you say?"

"Go out with bolder climbers. The more you see people fall without hurting themselves, or pull through easy but run out climbing, the less you believe those things are impossibly dangerous. You start wondering how you can do them, not whether you can do them.

"Keep reminding yourself why you want to climb well. Often, you know that you could go for it and fall off safely, but you don't want to. It helps to remind yourself that one day you're going to pull the lip of Kachoong, you want to be relaxed enough to enjoy it, and pushing yourself now will contribute to that - or something along those lines. Once you start to push yourself, your lead head will improve."

Lee: What does the future hold for Rodney's climbing?

"Right now, I'm ready to go long and wild in Girraween and the Warrumbungles. Changes of focus keep me keen. I still have dreams of climbing real mountains, but I'm having too much fun rockclimbing to pursue them. There are so many classics to do at grades 25 and 26!"

Watch Tommy train. And talk about stuff.

Everyone knows Tommy Caldwell. He chopped a bit of his finger off (for weight saving?) but climbs like a man possessed. He seems to do everything well (bouldering, sport climbing, trad, bigwall), and because of this and his seemingly neverending supply of motivation, he is the man at the forefront of freeing massive routes on El Cap. Here, thanks to Cedar Wright we get a glimpse into some of the training he does.

A Day in The Life of Tommy Caldwell from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

Below The Belt

I posted a couple of months back about a new endurance project I was working on.

"The project in question was originally proposed by Mr Campbell in 2008, and set up by Mr Steel. It links the 15m Beastly Behaviour 8a/29 into the top 20m of One Hit To The Body 8a+/30, via a 13 move traverse to create a left tending line of epic proportions."

I'd done both routes individually a couple of years ago, but linking them together without a decent rest seemed insane. Beastly is one of the more bouldery and strength-intensive routes on the cliff, and One Hit is a cumulative fatigue route with a dynamic hit-or-miss crux up high.

I almost did it cleanly five sessions prior, falling three moves from the top. Since then, I never managed to get that high again. I was starting to dispair and really doubt myself and my approach. It also didn't help that the hot weather was moving in with a vengeance (32°C days). I'd planned to head to the Grampians in one week, therefore Sunday was my final chance to try the route before I left and it would be too hot once I returned, hence the final chance for the year.

Pressure on.

But no. The thing that had hurt me previously was my expectations around when I was going to do it. I knew if I was going to have any chance to do it, I would have to let all of that go, forget the outcome and just climb. And I did. After nearly three months of working the project and with no expectations, I clipped the anchors yesterday.

Below The Belt 30m 31/8b
  • 29 attempts (+6 on Beastly in 2007, +10 on One Hit in 2007)
  • 21 clean ascents of Beastly in the quest for the link
  • Crap conditions: 29°C and minimal breeze
  • 12 days of work over the ~3 months
The thing I'm learning is that I enjoy the struggle. The harder I have to work, the more it smacks me down and the longer it takes, the sweeter the reward.

One happy camper. Love this stuff. © S Cujes 2009

A Big Day Out (BDO)

Sometimes you can get into a bit of a rut of going out and doing three or four climbs for the day and that's it. Glenn wanted to challenge his perceptions of the possible when it came to volume of climbing in a day. So we decided to have a big day out. Our self-imposed arbitrary challenge was 'Celestial in a day'. Celestial Wall is a sector of multipitch sport climbing on Mt Tibrogargan in the Glasshouse Mountains.

At the leisurely time of 10:12am, we blasted off.

© L Cujes 2009

1. Heliosphere 14, 35 m
2. Vernal Equinox 22, 28 m
3. Zenith 24, 25 m
4. Latitudes 21, 35m

Time check: 1:23pm. Hmm, getting late already!

5. Aphelion p1 / Voyager p1 16, 35 m
6. Voyager p2 22, 12 m
7. Voyager p3 23, 20 m
8. Voyager p4 17, 30 m
9. Aphelion p2 21, 12 m
10. Aphelion p3 22, 30 m
11. Aphelion p4 / Rubicon p3 22, 10 m
12. Rubicon p2 22, 30 m

Time check: 5:23pm. Hmm, not much light left. Grab the headtorches.

13. Rubicon p1 18, 45 m

Time check: 6:06pm. It's pitch black man! The mozzies are feasting!

14. Troposphere p1 15, 30 m
15. Troposphere p2 17, 10 m
16. Troposphere p3 18, 15 m
17. Troposphere p4 15, 25 m
18. Troposphere p5 16, 30 m

Time check: 7:49pm. Stumble back to the car.

9hr 36mins after blasting off, Glenn's still smiling © L Cujes 2009

So, 18 pitches, 318 points, and 457m of climbing. A big day out! For us at least. Doing things like this give you an appreciation of the massive efforts of the likes of Tommy Caldwell linking Half Dome and El Cap in 24 hours. Crazy!

We weren't speed climbing and we didn't rush. We started late and ate lunch. The key was to simply keep moving upwards and try to minimise any downtime where nobody was moving up.

Fun stuff. Go set your own arbitrary challenge!

Protein after climbing for muscular recovery

I think this is my first post on nutrition. It's an important topic, and one I'll do a bit more on in the future.

Ever had a training session so intense that your muscles felt beat up the next day? Well, our Upskill sessions typically are this intense. So, what can we do to improve our recovery, and increase our strength gains?

The idea is to consume a protein serve (especially with branched chain amino acids [BCAA]) within 15 minutes of the session ending. This can be in powder, bar or tablet form. At the moment, I'm using a protein powder which is marketed for 'recovery'. Go to your health food store and ask for some options around a muscular recovery supplement. Try (in vain?) not to get overwhelmed with the options. Avoid anything marketed for weight gain or bulking!

Our training is intense, and muscles will naturally want to catabolize (rupture and tear). This protein hit directly following the session helps to prevent this and will improve your muscular recovery (you'll feel better the next day). I actually take along my protein serve to the cliff and have it after my last hard route of the day. Helps keep the hunger at bay too, until I can make it to the shop at Kalbar for icecream healthy snacks.

Let me know (in the comments) what you find, or if you already have a favourite recovery supplement.

What about Carbohydrates?

Protein is important, but you also need to replenish carbohydrate stores, and here are some example of suitable post-workout food...
Male Climber
(Target 60-80 g carbohydrate)
Female Climber
(Target 40-50 g carbohydrate)

  • *200 g fruit yoghurt + jam sandwich
  • *200 g fruit yoghurt + cereal bar + 250 ml juice
  • *200 ml liquid meal supplement + 1 large banana
  • *sports bar + 500 ml sports drink
  • *200 ml flavoured milk + cereal bar + banana
  • 750-1000 ml sports drink

  • *200 g fruit yoghurt + cereal bar
  • *200 g fruit yoghurt + banana
  • *200 ml liquid meal supplement
  • *sports bar
  • *200 ml flavoured milk + cereal bar
  • 750 ml sports drink
  • *indicates a valuable source of protein, vitamins and minerals in addition to carbohydrate. Additional fluid such as water, sports drink, juice, cordial or soft drink will also be necessary.

    Other resources:
    General nutrition post by Kris Hampton, Power Climbing Company

    Poll: What you like?

    Kiwi girl Mayan ticks 33!

    Amazing stuff. Strong Kiwi chick Mayan Smith-Gobat has just climbed L’arcademicien in Ceuse in France at the whopping grade of 8c or 33. It was the first female ascent of the route, and the first 33 for a Kiwi woman. In fact, there would only be a couple of Kiwi men who have climbed this grade.

    The 30 year old full-time climber has been in Ceuse for some time now, ticking her way through a host of routes in the 29-32 bracket, building a base for this, her finest achievement to date.

    This is a world class achievement, but even more so for a climber from the southern hemisphere.

    As Mayan hasn't got comments enabled on her blog (come on, let us leave comments Mayan!) let me just say - well done Mayan, thanks for the inspiration!

    Mayan on L'arcademicien 8c
    © Smith-Gobat collection

    The four things you need to train and aren't

    After running a number of Weakness Assessments and Improvement Packs with different people, I find it fascinating to help people dissect their climbing and discover what they should be working on.

    Here's four areas I bet need some of your attention:
    1. Head games
      How often do you fall off? I believe three out of four climbers are not where they want to be with their 'leading head'. Symptoms are excessive nervousness before climbing, constant shying away from goal routes, uncontrollable shaking while climbing, excessive sweating, holding breath etc. No-one is perfect in this area, it's a sliding scale. The first thing to do is simply acknowledge the issue! Recognise that this is something that is limiting your potential, and commit to working on it. How to do this? Well, discuss it with your climbing partner. Make the decision to attack this together. Read my fear of falling article and put its suggestions into practice. Falling is crucial to improving as a climber.
    2. Core strength
      It doesn't matter how strong you are (or think you are!) in the core, you can always be stronger. Watch some circus videos on youtube and realise how weak we 'strong climbers' actually are and how far climbing has to go in this area. I train people every week who are now incredibly strong in the core, and yet when we push their climbing to the limit, it's very noticeable that the area that often gives out first is actually the core and not the fingers or forearms. Being incredibly strong in the midsection will allow you to unleash your power, and will allow you to endure for longer. Decide to do some core training every week.
    3. The opposite of what you train
      Most people train the same way repetitively.
      "A night in the gym doing laps and then a day at the crag where we do five or so routes."
      "And how long have you been doing this?"
      "Years I guess!"

      Well snap out of it! It's time to train differently for a while and shock your body with some different training stimulus. If you do the above, it's time for some bouldering sessions at the gym. If you climb trad, go and do some sport climbing. If you've been redpointing/projecting non stop, it's time for some hard bouldering as mid-week training and onsighting lower grades on the weekend. The key is to mix it up. Try two months of this and two months of that. You'll improve in the long term as a result.
    4. Self-limiting beliefs
      Recounting a recent conversation with a training client...
      "So what do you think your weaknesses are?"
      "Bad finger strength, I can do every other 22 around, but I can't do ZYX climb"
      "I don't see a finger-strength imbalance. In fact, your finger strength is very good. You can certainly do XYZ climb"
      [the next day via text message]: "Lapping XYZ climb's all in the mind. Feeling psyched. Good work coach."

      The lesson? We all have little bits of errant code in our programming which are not serving us. In fact, they are self-limiting beliefs or programs. If you can identify these, you can begin to break them down. One way to do this is to challenge your own perceptions about what you believe to be possible. This is one of the main things a good coach does, but you can do it yourself. Have a think now about what you "know you can't do". Now ask yourself "why is that?". Could there ever be a situation where you could do it? What would that situation look like? What would be required?

      If you do this exercise you'll find your perceptions are often wrong. How good is that?

    Psyche up video - School Room training

    Need some motivation to hit some training?

    The Hyper Bowl hyperbole

    Well, finally back from a week in Townsville. Neil Monteith and I were greeted with 26°C temperatures, blue skies, and friendly locals to show us around. We wasted no time in dropping off our bags and heading straight out to our objective - Fredericks Peak.

    Set amongst a desert-like backdrop (picture anthills and dry, dusty plains and scrub) Fredericks Peak is a collection of four main pinnacles up to 150m in height. Due to access issues like locked gates (and the five minute walk-in at the nearby Mt Stuart), climbing here has only been sporadic since the 90s. More recently, a solid access arrangement has been established, and regular climbing has been occurring since about 2003.

    The climbing culture in Townsville is quite unique. The climbers are very active, and it would seem that nearly everyone is involved in putting up new routes! However the overall climbing level is fairly moderate, with only a small percentage of climbers regularly pushing beyond grade 21. I attribute this mainly to the style of the climbing on offer. Townsville is a mixed route haven (bolts and trad on the same climb), with relatively few purely sport routes on offer, and nothing above grade 26. Most of the climbing on offer is a mental rather than physical challenge. This was demonstrated amply to me on the first afternoon when Neil and I launched up what we thought was the crag classic Monkey On A String, a multipitch 23. I cruised through the mostly bolted, second pitch crux only to arrive on a slab where I was expecting a set of chains. No, there was 15m of near-vertical granite with no bolts and quite crap gear. I was quietly shitting myself. And then we found out that ours was actually the second ascent. Hmm!

    To date, the routes that really get the traffic at Fredericks are the grade 15 and 17 five-pitch trad offerings. The quality is apparently very good on these. However, we were lured to the area with photos of large caves that looked perfect for modern sport climbing, so after descending, it was time to check them out. We weren't disappointed. There was two existing mini-routes in the main shaded cave which were done ground up, and stopped short of the steepness. It was obvious that a top-down approach was required, so the next day we made our way to the top of the South Sentinel and after several rappels gained the top of the cave. What followed was days of torture which only developers of extremely steep routes on extremely hard rock can appreciate.

    Me bolting my first route, Townsvillians 25.
    © N Monteith 2009
    The days blurred into one another. Wake at 6:30am. Trudge up the hill. Spend eight hours hanging in a harness brushing, cleaning, hammering, drilling, jugging. Try to climb something in an exhausted state. Stumble down hill. Repeat. We likened it to what it must have been like being captured and forced to row a slave ship. Your body either quickly adapted, or you were thrown overboard.

    I couldn't be happier with what we ended up with at the end of the week, with routes of every grade between 22 and 27 being established. The Hyper Bowl is an amazing piece of rock secreted away in the wilds that will now become the crucible of hard steep sport climbing in North Queensland. It seems to tick all the boxes with quality routes on bullet hard, highly featured rock (it's a type of granite believe it or not!) which stays in the shade all day. The cave itself is capped by an impressive 80m headwall. Potential for harder routes and endless extensions won't be exhausted any time soon. Visitors from cooler climates will choose July or August to come here, else dissolve in a puddle of sweat.

    Thanks to everyone we met and were so hospitable to us during our stay.

    Want more info? Check out the guide here. The best way will be to contact the locals if you're in the area and want to take a look. Christopher Glastonbury is one of the most active locals and a good central point of contact. He can be contacted at cglassy99 at hotmail dot com.

    South Sentinel fool! At the base lies the Hyper Bowl, swathed in jungle.
    © L Cujes 2009
    Neil 6th day in a row attempting his colossal White Gold extension.
    © L Cujes 2009
    Neil sending his Metalicious 23.
    © C Glastonbury 2009
    My first ascent of Hyperbowl 27, currently Townsville's hardest route, but not for long!
    © N Monteith 2009
    Spain? Nope! Me on Hyperbowl 27.
    © N Monteith 2009

    Upskill North Queensland trip

    The Upskill boat is pushing off for the sunny climes/climbs of North Queensland.

    Team Upskill have teamed up with a local contingent. Crates of new routing hardware have already arrived on location and for the next week we aim to be hanging upside down, establishing what will certainly be the hardest and hopefully some of the most spectacular climbing in North Queensland.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

    Featured granite, with holds, and CAVES!

    Pfft! Endurance is so 1995

    Mixing things up is a good thing.

    I've been doing lots of bouldery climbing (see The Singularity) this season, so it makes sense to switch focus and have a project that is, well, a monstrous endurance beast.

    And so it is.

    The project in question was originally proposed by Mr Campbell in 2008, and set up by Mr Steel. It links the 15m Beastly Behaviour 8a/29 into the top 20m of One Hit To The Body 8a+/30, via a 13 move traverse to create a left tending line of epic proportions.

    After buying a new rope (my other tatty cords weren't long enough) I've now sunk a handful of days into the route. It's tough enough just getting through the very burly Beastly, which I've managed to do six times so far, then it feels like the route actually begins. My biggest issue is tricking myself into thinking that positions which clearly aren't rests, actually are.

    Back on the wagon tomorrow.

    Climbing guide Brisbane

    I've just finished up four days of Upskill guiding over the last couple of weeks. It's been nice to take things down a notch, and simply go out and enjoy a great volume of classic moderates - some of the best SE QLD has on offer. Sharing some of the climbs I love with others is great fun.

    We had two half days out at Frog Buttress where we enjoyed Materialistic Prostitution 17, Wizards Back 16, The Stars Look Down 21, Infinity 19, Elastic RURP 18, Micron 16, Devil's Wart 15, Iron Mandible 18 and finished on the mighty Conquistador 21. I hadn't been to Frog for a few years and it was interesting being back.

    Me about to launch up Infinity © K Hartley 2009

    The third day was on my home mountain, Mt Tibrogargan in the Glasshouses. Familiar territory, and it was brilliant being there and just getting stuck into some volume on Clemency Wall, Celestial Wall and the Carborundum area. We did ** Divergence 19 into Tested Twisticle LHV 17 to get to *** Caritas 21, then down for *** Rubicon p1 18 and ** Rubicon p2 22, then a quick blast up the classic *** Aphelion p3 22 on the way back down, then across for an excursion up ** Remains Of The Day (5 pitch 150m 16) into the Summit Caves. About 350m of quality climbing that day.

    Kym looking down at me belaying him up the megaclassic Caritas 21, Mt Tibrogargan. © K Hartley 2009

    The final day left us with just a couple of hours, so a quick mission at Kangaroo Point allowed us to bag Bombadil 17, Idiot Wind 21, Pink Berets 21 and Brisbane Bitter 24. There was a friendly guest in one of the trees near Pink Berets too. Check him out...

    Python at Kangaroo Point © L Cujes 2009

    So if anyone is doing a flying visit to Brisbane and would like to head out for a day, please get in touch. We can tailor a day out to suit exactly what you'd like to do whether that is sport, trad, difficulty, volume, single or multipitch, whatever.

    See you out there!

    Keywords: climbing guide glasshouse, climbing guide tibrogargan, climbing guiding brisbane, climbing guide brisbane, climbing guide frog buttress, climbing guide queensland, glasshouse mountains

    The Hard Yards

    Well, it's been an inspiring couple of weeks climbing with Blue Mountains strongman Mr Campbell.

    Even though he puncuated his Pulpit climbing with trips to Frog (onsighting Future Tense 26 and others), it turned out that The Singularity really got under Nigel's skin. He said he thought it was a bloody good route with great movement. For Nige, it proved to be one of those lines where doing all of the moves is not the issue. The energy-sapping nature of the moves and lack of rest means it's difficult to arrive at the crux with enough juice in the tank.

    After four days on the route and coming tantalizingly close, Nigel drove back from Stanthorpe (!) to have one final, all-out battle before needing to drive back to NSW the next day. He again came agonizingly close on several shots on the day. I also jumped back on to have a go with his beta and for me, it felt just as hard, but a bit more more secure and less of a 'percentage move'.

    So the route remains unrepeated. We talked about the possible grade and Nige said it would be hard to say anything definitive without having sent the route. So we'll simply wait for the second ascent, and whatever the grade ends up being, it remains a quality route and a good challenge.

    Tunnel vision

    One month ago after completing my project The Singularity I wrote:

    I have proposed the (no doubt controversial) grade of 32. I am not "setting" the grade of the route - it's simply my best guess; something to be confirmed by future ascentionists. We hopefully have a brigade of strong southerners coming up for a winter trip this year, so I hope they'll be keen to jump on and tell me what's what. Regardless though, it's my hardest piece of climbing, and I'm really happy to have done it, and sad that the long, repetitive journey is over.

    Well, I got my wish. On Thursday, quiet achiever of Australian climbing Nigel Campbell had a crack. His Blue Mountains crimp strength really paid off for him on this route. He actually looked more solid on the tiny crimps of the crux section than on the easier sections with bigger holds! The real news however is that he devised a sequence to avoid my strength-sapping dynamic throw down low, and also came up with a way to eliminate my low percentage slap to the crux crimp (the move I fell off about 50 times). Amazing!

    This just highlights to me what tunnel vision I get while working a project, and the enormous benefit that can be gained by working hard routes with someone else to bounce ideas off. While he hasn't sent the route yet, his sequence looks significantly easier and a lot more solid and controlled - perhaps a grade or two easier than my original proposal? The draws are still on and he'll be back on it soon. We'll see.

    Openings for training at Upskill

    We've got a few openings at the moment for 2-on-1 personal training sessions at the Upskill woody. If you and a friend are keen to get smashed for an hour a week, or even every two weeks, check out the link and get in touch. Training with a friend will get you both psyched and save you money. Don't have a training partner? Get in touch and we can help hook you up.

    We've also released a couple of new products for this year, the Upskill Weakness Assessment and the Upskill Improvement Pack.

    The one hour Weakness Assessment is perfect for those climbers wanting to identify the areas they need to focus on to improve their climbing. Perfect for busting out of that rut. And the good news? Anyone can do this regardless of experience level. Check it out.

    The three hour (over three weeks) Improvement Pack builds on what we learn in a weakness assessment to deliver two intense, focused personal training sessions where you'll actually work your weaknesses and learn HOW to train yourself. Perfect to tune up the engine without a long term commitment and outlay. Check it.

    On the Upskill Trips front, we are again seeking team members for the Upskill Kalymnos Training Camp in April 2010. Read the blurb. If you're keen, don't leave it too late to register your interest because after the mega trip we had last year, it's already filling up! Email me.

    Finally, we've got some new designs in the Upskill climbing clothing range. Check 'em out and if you want anything you can order directly on the site and they'll be on your doorstep within two weeks.

    Happy climbing, be strong!

    Angry Dragon

    A couple of posts ago I mentioned a new 30m project at the Pulpit...

    On the weekend, I headed back to the Pulpit yet again, and began work on a great new 30m project which Duncan equipped earlier this year and gave to me to try. It has a tough, in your face opener which I solved with several thumb underclings, some crimps, and a big throw/span. The climbing then backs off through a section of slabby climbing where you would be able to climb into a cave with an anchor at the 15m point. And once I've climbed that cleanly, that'll be one route, but the real line (the extension, as it were) doesn't go into the cave and instead continues up the ever steepening wall into the top crux, which is haaaard! Slopers, weird gastons, high awkward feet, a core destroying left foot stab, then a super long crux stab for a perfect three finger flatter. When you catch this you're really extended with terrible, terrible feet. You get through this bulge onto the headwall, and finish up the runout outtro of Gay Abandon, an existing 27. It's gonna be cool!

    Well, last week was my second full day devoted to the route. On the first try, I fell on the tricky start, cruised up the easy section, and then surprised myself by freeing the upper crux bulge for the first time (about grade 29). I then sat, chilled out a bit and spent time working the Gay Abandon finish which is still quite pumpy and sequency.

    On the second try I freed the bottom for the first time (about grade 26/7), only to fall on the upper crux. I thought to myself "Oh no, it's going to be one of those routes". It would have been easy to lower off at this point, but I climbed through and again worked the upper section several times, and I was lucky I did.

    On the third try I could tell I was more tired, however I made it through the start, and latched the upper crux flatter by the skin of my teeth, climbing through up into Gay Abandon where I was soooo thankful that I had spent the time working the upper section. As it was, I only just managed to get through it without pumping off (I haven't been doing much enduro climbing lately).

    So there it is! Angry Dragon (29) is born! Another good hard route for Queensland. Great concept by Duncan.

    The crazy upside down holds of the opener on Angry Dragon (29) © G Llewellin 2009

    Video: Take Flight!

    A little video to take us into the weekend. Keep tryin' & flyin'!

    Take Flight: A Stone To Air Journey from Upskill Climbing on Vimeo.

    Post natal depression

    Well, after the massive high of completing The Singularity a couple of weeks ago, I've slipped into the inevitable low. Gareth called it post natal depression, and it's probably similar in some respects. When you have months and months of working towards something and then it's achieved, I guess it's natural to go on a bit of a downer, and feel at a loose end. I've been almost continually sleepy and hungry for two weeks. There's one word for how I'm feeling right now: flat! I'm not worried though, because I know the psyche will return.

    After the send and my 32nd birthday the next day, I spent a long weekend away camping and climbing at Brooyar, and I opened a new small cliff called Hammerhead with six routes between 14 and 20 which I gave to friends to do. It was good fun. Because I'd spent a lot of time exploring, establishing routes and playing tour guide, on the last day I onsighted 20 routes in a few hours to round out the trip.

    On the weekend, I headed back to the Pulpit yet again, and began work on a great new 30m project which Duncan equipped earlier this year and gave to me to try. It has a tough, in your face opener which I solved with several thumb underclings, some crimps, and a big throw/span. The climbing then backs off through a section of slabby climbing where you would be able to climb into a cave with an anchor at the 15m point. And once I've climbed that cleanly, that'll be one route, but the real line (the extension, as it were) doesn't go into the cave and instead continues up the ever steepening wall into the top crux, which is haaaard! Slopers, weird gastons, high awkward feet, a core destroying left foot stab, then a super long crux stab for a perfect three finger flatter. When you catch this you're really extended with terrible, terrible feet. You get through this bulge onto the headwall, and finish up the runout outtro of Gay Abandon, an existing 27. It's gonna be cool!

    Having this new project is the carrot I need to snap out of my post send funk, get back into training and get keen. It all starts this week!

    Let Ondra get you psyched to train

    15 year old Adam Ondra is the best climber in the world. His ticklist for just six days climbing in Kalymnos last month would have placed him in the #3 position for the year. That is, in six days in a place he'd never been to before, he climbed better than every other climber (bar two) has in the past 12 months at all crags, total!

    Just in case you need some inspiration to train finger strength, here he is repeating Corona, a grade 9a+/36 route in the Jura....

    Adam Ondra repeating Markus Bock's Corona, 9a+ (grade 36) in Frankenjura © Vojtech Vrzba 2009

    And if you'd like to read a little more about Adam and a few tactical and technical aspects about his climbing style, check out the short interview on

    CoachWise series by Dave MacLeod

    Let's face it, good info is good info. And climbing coach and professional climber from Scotland Dave MacLeod has written a number of pieces recently which I think need a wider audience. In my opinion, these articles are well worth reading, and it's possible that you could really make a breakthrough as a result.

    Dave's philosophies are very similar to mine, and you'll see very similar messages coming through in in his writings as the ones I preach here at Upskill.

    CoachWise Part One:
    Using momentum, the tyranny of strength, the "big three" things to train

    CoachWise Part Two:
    What you do, you become, finding the motivation to work hard, plateau busting, the power of positive people, the truth about famous climbers, finger strength

    CoachWise Part Three:
    Bad habits, bad shoes, fear of falling

    Enjoy! And check out Dave's site if you haven't done so before.

    The Singularity

    On Saturday with cold, windy, near perfect conditions, I finally climbed my project at the Pulpit. I have named it 'The Singularity'. I started working on it in September last year before the season got too warm. I started back on it in March this year and have been stubbornly trying it pretty much every week since then. 18 days and 67 attempts. I imagine that will seem pretty insane to most people, but I did enjoy the process of doing it. It is a bouldery route up a smooth 30° overhung wall, with an unusual and very powerful crux coming at move 20 after you have skipped a clip, resulting in big swooping falls back to a few metres above the ground. This was designed to keep my belayers from falling asleep. I probably fell from this spot on 50+ occasions. The crux is the hardest sequence I have ever encountered on rock.

    I have proposed the (no doubt controversial) grade of 32. I am not "setting" the grade of the route - it's simply my best guess; something to be confirmed by future ascentionists. We hopefully have a brigade of strong southerners coming up for a winter trip this year, so I hope they'll be keen to jump on and tell me what's what. Regardless though, it's my hardest piece of climbing, and I'm really happy to have done it, and sad that the long, repetitive journey is over.

    Thank you firstly to my main climbing partner, Duncan Steel. Duncan helped me envisage the line, and belayed and encouraged me through the entire, drawn out saga, as he has on all my hardest climbs over the past eight years when I started climbing with him as a grade 21 climber. I can't imagine the level of frustration there must be for a belayer to see their climber fall at the same spot on a climb for months on end. As a twist of fate, on the successful shot, it was Gareth who was holding the rope, and Duncan was up on a climb around the corner and out of sight! Thanks also to everyone else who has held the rope - and therefore been catapulted - Ross F, Gareth L, Glenn F & Adam P.

    Finally, thanks to everyone who has given an encouraging word. I'm the least hippy-like person you'll find, but I am a believer in vibe, psyche, positive energy or whatever you want to call it. When you're at the cliff, you can choose to contribute positivity (encouragement, energy, help, laughs, happiness) which enriches the climbing day, or the opposite. I'm sure you've all experienced it. Whether it's two people or twenty, there's nothing better than a day where the cliff is really firing with positivity. Individual successes often come so much easier.

    Good luck on your personal challenges. Dream big!

    Internet = truth

    See, when you put something on the internet, it must be true.

    I sent my project at noon today. It was (if you can believe it) my 67th attempt(!) over 18 days.

    Mega, mega mega amounts of effort and dedicated training over multiple months. I've done almost no other climbing. Just this, over and over.

    Fifth shot of the day, perfectly executed through the crux move, then massive surprise and an absolute battle to the anchors. Almost lost it.

    That's the hardest thing I've ever done in climbing. Feels good.

    I should have brashly predicted this on the internet months ago.

    Let's see if this works...

    So I'm climbing tomorrow - Saturday. Day 18 on the project. Sunday is my 32nd birthday. So I'm going to say it: I WILL send my project tomorrow!

    So here's the theory. Okay, stay with me on this. If I believe it enough to post it on the internet, then that belief will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    What do you reckon? Could it work? Can't hurt to try!

    And the best part? You won't have to wait too long to find out!

    © G Llewellin 2009

    Beastmaker doth come!

    Over the oceans, around the world. Washed ashore like a piece of driftwood comes a wand of magical properties. Promises of strength echo around the vast reaches of the interweb.

    It has arrived at my door.

    Others would call it a very expensive piece of wood. I call it Beastmaker.

    Pic courtesy

    I've mounted the Beastmaker on my campus board. This was the position of my Moon Board and I really liked having it there as it allowed me to do some really innovative power/recruitment training I call "On-Off's" which combines the recruitment benefits of campussing with the grip specificity and hypertrophy of fingerboarding.

    On-Off's Example 1: Start with your lower hand down low on a campus rung, your upper hand on one of many grip types on the board, and then explode upwards as far as possible with your lower hand, going as high up the campus board as possible, then match.

    On-Off's Example 2 (harder): Start hanging with both hands on a low campus rung, campus one hand up onto the board (various grip options), then campus up beyond it in one fluid move as far as possible, then match.

    Because the campus board is on an angle of 12°, I needed to build a kickboard to create a vertical mounting surface. This is pretty vital considering the Beastmaker has 45° slopers to hang! (these are NAILS, I haven't come close - yet!). The wood feels so nice to train on. I look forward to many sessions with my new toy.

    The old much loved Moon Board got the heave ho over to The Coffin.

    I can has rockclimbings

    Great day. Not super conditions but reasonable. The breeze was very on and off, but mostly off.

    • 21+24+25+toproping new line to warm up
    • Four attempts on the proj, sticking the crux crimp longer again. Really an improved effort at sticking it. Felt like I had it for half a second or so on the two best shots. A slight but definite improvement on last session.
    • Toproped the new line again to figure out bolts.
    • Jugged line and cleaned new route, then equipped it. Starts just R of an existing 26 and climbs up through a small cave and up a shallow overhanging groove (four bolts) to join an existing 25 for its last two bolts. Roughly 24?
    • Sent the new route
    • Had a final destruction shot on the project
    • Led the 24 to retrieve some draws for Ben.
    Planning on heading back out mid-week for yet more punishment.

    It's funny, I'm not feeling the usual ups and downs in motivation and drive that comes with long term projecting. I'm just having fun. It's now all down to a single move.

    The victory throw which marks the end of the hard climbing. The crux is just below. © G Llewellin 2009

    Video: Meet The Holds

    Well that's done it, it's official. I broke my record on Sunday. This is the longest I have ever spent on a route. It was a good day. No sendage, but a good day with great people.

    Would you like to meet my project?

    Lee Cujes - Meet The Holds from Upskill Climbing on Vimeo.

    The definition of insanity

    Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    I wonder sometimes how this is any different to long-term projecting?

    Yesterday I put in six solid shots (#41-46) on my project. After the first warm up shot, every following attempt was identical. Same high-point.


    The only thing I can console myself with is that previously, I've only ever managed four shots and the fourth was a struggle. I'm obviously getting more route fit. Therefore, by pursuing insanity (doing the same thing over and over) I am conditioning my body to get to the crux in a more efficient manner so that one day, it will just happen.

    Proj Report

    Man, I'm getting slammed!

    Had my 40th shot on my Pulpit project on the weekend. I'm in the best and strongest shape of my life, but it's still slapping me down like a fly being swatted.

    Still, it was my best day on it so far, with more progress and some good knowledge seeping in. Like, we've deduced that my breathing (or lack thereof) is a real problem. It took my belayer to point this out to me. I was coming off the crux gasping for breath. So now I have to concentrate on the breathing, and how to breathe during extremely hard, tension moves.

    I'm going to do it. I know it. But until then...

    Let the smackdown continue!


    #1: 38% humidity and cold. Struggled to connect first time with cold fingers. Went to beginning of crux and grabbed, clipped in and worked crux. Only managed it like 1 in 6 times. Not good!


    #2: Slapped crimp, completely out of breath. Need to learn to breathe.


    #3: Strongest shot yet. Slapped crimp, then came down to SUPER LOW LINK and did it on the second try all the way through (i.e. 7 moves into the crux, then through). The day I climb 20 moves into the crux then through I have completed the route.


    #4: Breathing was the focus. Made the slap again, barely, bit low on power on shot #4. There's some subtlety on the brick pinch I've yet to decipher. Sometimes it feels locker, other times like a slippery catfish.

    Brooyar long weekend report

    Brooyar guide updated again. Lots went on on the weekend. Who wasn't there? Man, so many climbers.

    At Eagle's...
    - Graham Page did the FFA of Central to Blackheath 24 in the brown alcove. I repeated.
    - Sam did the FFA of Miss Manners 15, just right of Miss Kandy Kane. This will see more traffic than the Gateway on peak hour.
    - I did the FFA of a route up the big orange scoop left of MKK. Fatman Scoop 22. Happy to upgrade if there are objections. As I was fixing the anchors and had a bird's eye view, I watched Joe Driver pitch off the final corner in spectacular fashion.

    At Point Pure...
    - Joe sent his first new route, Orange Flavoured Hand Grenade and gave it 22. As it's short, it will be veeery popular. People love short routes.
    - There was a nasty accident on Coco Pops 15, see the accident report.

    At Wolf's Lair...
    - Graham has equipped something futuristic near Carnivore.

    At Hanuman's Hangout...
    - I actually went there finally! I did all the routes, some nice roofing to be had. It's also worth noting that it's really easy to simply walk here from Black Stump. Three minutes tops.

    At Black Stump...
    - Glenn and Tim (current and past Upskillers) did 21 routes between them in a day.
    - Dave and Ruth (also Upskillers from Kaly 08) probably weren't far behind.
    - Matt Schimke did his best to upset the buttress numbering system.


    I did a rogue new route on a 15m high freestanding breadknife pillar! Check it out. More on that at a later date.

    New pillar route first ascent © S Cujes 2009

    The right stuff

    This marks my 100th post, so let's see if I can make it count.

    I had a friend recently tell me "I just got so sick of 'the scene' I needed to take a break from climbing for a while". Can you imagine that? It wasn't the climbing. The personalities in their climbing circle were so poisonous that they had to escape!

    Talking to climbers, most of us want to "get better". Of course, that's what this blog is all about. The whole "getting better" thing is completely subjective, but one of the primary factors that people don't often think about which has huge repercussions on "getting better" is surrounding yourself with the right people.

    The right people:

    • May be better or worse climbers than you, it doesn't matter. If they are better climbers, they encourage you to get better and suggest routes to try
    • Help you to see your mistakes
    • Contribute positive vibes while at the crag
    • Give energy to you. When you're feeling down or unsure, their moral support helps to get you through
    • Are solid, safe, climbing partners. You can focus 100% on climbing when they're on belay
    • Are willing to go out of their way to see you get on your goal routes, knowing you'll do the same for them
    • May be competitive with you, but regardless, truly want to see you succeed
    The wrong people:
    • Bring negative vibes to the crag (complain about conditions, injuries, other climbers etc.) which sucks energy and psyche
    • Are unreliable and often bail on climbing
    • Are distracting
    • Are stagnant and haven't improved in years
    • Are fixed in their idea of what climbing should be like (i.e. this style, this cliff, my way!)
    • Talk smack about other people's climbing
    • Aren't interested in your climbing goals ("We're going to this cliff and that's that!")
    • Are so competitive with you (i.e. insecure), that they would secretly rather see you fail than succeed
    Moral of the story? Find the right people. Cultivate them. And BE one of the right people. How can you help your partners achieve their goals? Hint: step one is to ask them what their goals are...


    Since my last post I have been in battle mode on the proj, sinking two more days into it. 30 attempts so far (!!). I'm still making constant, incremental progress. The route is a constant 30° overhang and has a long, hard, taxing slap move down low at the second bolt, then a sustained handful of long pulls to get into the crux sequence which is at the limit of my power. It's too hard to clip there, so it's do or fly, ending up back at the first bolt. Yesterday I even managed to repeat Beastly Behaviour (29/8a) as a warm down after all my redpoint burns on the proj. I think I'm pretty route fit. I'm getting that itchy feeling like it could happen any time. I just have to keep trying and flying.

    Rain and Suffering


    What Would Sharma Do?

    Climbing on the weekend was a battle. Woke up on Saturday to pouring rain and the radar looked crap. So easy to bail and go back to sleep. No. Drove to the crag through rain and mist. Walked up the hill through long wet grass, getting soaked. Arrived at the cliff with mist pushing against the wall.

    The best thing we did was institute a rule that the climber was not allowed to complain about the conditions on his route (bad friction, damp holds). You were only allowed to say that it was 'hard'. Needless to say things were pretty damn 'hard'. On my last shot on my project it started raining, heavily. Thank god for steep routes.

    But, do you think persevering made us stronger, or weaker?


    The super simple Steph Davis hangboard workout

    A very common question out there is "Okay, now I've bought this hangboard, what do I do with it?" As soon as the know-it-all's (like me) start mentioning stopwatches, reps and sets, eyes glaze over and demotivation kicks in.

    There is beauty in simplicity. And this little nugget of training gold from Steph Davis is the height of simplicity. Easy to remember, easy to apply and easy to adapt to any old thing you can hang off, be it a hangboard, rock rings, or even a piece of wood bolted to the wall.
    "I happen to have a nice So Ill fingerboard which I like very much, but I imagine they are all good. The workout is simple. Start on the biggest hold (on mine, it’s the sloper on the top), and do a reasonable amount of pullups. This amount could be 3, it could be 10. It’s up to you. Make sure you do them well, slowly, with no thrutching. Quality is more important than quantity.

    Then move down to the next smallest hold (on mine, it’s the big edge below the top sloper). Do one less pullup than you started with–could be 2, could be 9. Then move to the next smallest hold, and do one less pullup. If you started with 3, this is it. Whenever you get down to one, it’s time to start going back up your pyramid, back to where you started. And that’s it. It hardly takes any time at all!

    At the moment, I do 6 pullups on the sloper, take it down to 1 pullup on the tiny pockets, and go back up to 6 on the sloper. I make sure to rest for a couple of minutes between sets (usually a good opportunity to weed or rake leaves out of my cactus gardens). So the whole workout doesn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes. In a week or so, I’ll probably start at 7.

    I did this last winter when I kept hurting my legs BASE jumping, and I couldn’t believe how much stronger I got after just a few weeks. I went from being injured and not climbing for months, to being able to do one of my hardest redpoints. And I’m pretty sure it was all because of my fairly non-impressive fingerboard workout. At the time I thought, “geez, I’d better do this all the time!” Naturally, I didn’t. Suddenly I have the fingerboard motivation again, and after only a week and a half (this means a grand total of 3 fingerboard workouts), I am noticing instant finger strength improvement again! It really does work.

    Geez, I’d better do this all the time!"
    Give it a try!