Saturday, 4 June 2011

Make the most of your climbing time - no matter how short!

When I have very little time to do something I tend to push that time that much harder to get the most out of it. In other words, take today for example: I had only two hours in which to get some climbing done, out at the crag. I was determined to head out. The previous evening I had been scoping lines on a Limestone crag around an hour from my house, and had planned my day around getting out there as early as possible. However, due to a long week in the office, and my body deciding that because it was the weekend it was just going to hit the hibernate button and not let me out of bed before 10am (see how I subtly avoid blaming myself... sort of), I gave myself less time than I had intended.

Bleary eyed, I stumbled from the warmth and shelter of my duvet, ate eggs and bread for breakfast, washed down with some delicious and freshly ground coffee (nb: breakfast in my house is always a slow and relaxed affair and must be conducted with care) before taking a look outside. And damn was it nice today. Blue skies. A few scattered clouds but no chance of rain. And it was around 23C (unsure what that is in fahrenheit... apologies.). I knew it was going to be warm, which is why I chose limestone to climb on - because it's greasy and slippy at the best of times, and a little warm weather doesn't have half the effect it does when climbing on gritstone, which becomes nigh on impossible, with even 6As feeling hard due to lack of purchase on anything.

I pulled on my climbing shorts and t-shirt, wandered to the car and took off.

By the time I had made it halfway to the limestone crag, due to traffic, I was running very short on time. Anything less than two or three hours there would be pointless, so I ditched the idea at the last minute, and chose to head for the nearer gritstone crag. Yes, after all I said about it being nigh on impossible to climb on in the warmth, I went anyway, suitably prepared to climb easy stuff for a couple of hours, get a sweat on and have a good time.

I chose Gib Torr because I had been there two days earlier and had a project to work on - The Fin Sit Down (7B) - but without much hope of climbing it today I thought I might just get on a few of the moves after a good, long warm-up. Lapping a 5+ five times, I started to feel loose and, surprisingly, strong. Next I jumped on a 6B+, a high ball stand start to a problem called Staying Alive (7B). I climbed quickly, confidently, and easily through the 6B+ and then made a decision to try the sit down. I wasn't too sure on the beta for the sit, having never tried it before, so I had a little play - grabbing the starting sidepull on a steep overhang and a rubbish sloper out right and trying a combination of footholds. In the end, after pulling on two or three times and getting nowhere, I went back to my first footwork beta and just threw for the next rubbish sloper, which turned out to be not so rubbish when you're still so far underneath it, and it latched. It took a two or three goes to work out each of the six lower moves and, before I knew it, I had linked the sit into the standing 6B+, which I knew I could do with ease, and I topped out.

I have to admit, I was ecstatic. Going out with little time and little expectation I had apparently climbed a 7B with only around 30 or 40 minutes of effort. I came back down and checked the book, which gave a different description of the problem. It followed the same line I had, but said something about using small, sharp crimps (I didn't pull on one crimp) and a series of pockets (which I had used). I went back and had a look at the crimps - they were definitely both small and sharp, and my skin screamed NO!, not having much of the stuff left due to a heavy climbing schedule of late. I decided not to bother trying it - partly for the reason that it looked like it would shred my already thin tips and also because it seems to be an eliminate on grit and I hate that. I was still happy with my send using the slopers. Unfortunately, I have no idea if it is an accepted variation and, if it is, I wouldn't have a clue about the grade - suffice to say it still felt hard, dynamic and morpho, so I can't imagine it to be too far away from the actual grade.

After that I looked at a 7A called The Stall - a technical arete. Where Staying Alive had been shaded all morning, The Stall had been baked in sunlight and, as soon as I touched the rock, I realised it was going to be three grades harder today and decided to pass. And instead of getting on my project, The Fin Sit Down, which I had checked out but discovered to also have had a sun bath, I went to Newstones to quickly move around some easy problems I had done before, to get a bit tired.

Arriving at Newstones with only 45 minutes to spare (bear with me here - there is a reason for listing all the numbers), I moved through 6 problems ranging from 5+ to 6A+. Then I did a 6C+ fridge hugger of a problem - really physical and tiring. Then another 6A+, a 6B+ I had never actually tried before because it looked a bit rubbish - turns out it's actually quite fun climbing. And I then I tried a 7A+ a couple of times with only five minutes to spare (didn't finish).

Now, the reason for listing all those is because, counting all the problems and repeats of problems I did today (16 problems - two of which I had never done before - and one attempted problem) I think I squeezed a hell of a lot out of my two hours. A HELL OF A LOT. My hands certainly thought so - so sore. And I was chuffed with myself. And I was still ten minutes early for my next engagement (traffic was lighter than expected). Although I have to admit, after I finally did get home, I ate a sandwich and went back to bed for two hours ;-).