Training, finger boards and a flying visit up to the Peak

Now that eating, drinking and Christmas is all out the way life can start to get back to some normality. Normality for me at the moment is training! Since being reselected for the British Bouldering team all my attention has been focused on training. It’s kinda fortunate really as this poor British climate isn’t so good for sport climbing outside at the moment. That aside my training has been going pretty well at the moment. One thing that being reselected for the team has done has made me focus on structuring my training. The last couple of years I have spent a lot of time coaching, especially working with youth. The work I have been doing has been predominantly performance based, structuring sessions and training phases for the keen, young climbers that want to compete and¬†peak for the BMC Youth Climbing Series. I have even delved deep into the world of periodisation for one of my regular kids who had made the junior British team, and was heading out to Imst (Austria) for her first international competition. But yet structuring my own training is something I have never really done before.

My secrete to getting the kids strong... Doughuts! ;)

My secrete to getting the kids strong… Doughuts! ūüėČ

I¬†haven’t¬†ever felt the need to use a finger board or campus before but now they both play a big part in day to day life. There has always been a bit bad press when it comes to finger boarding and campusing. ¬†But I think when used right, and at the¬†appropriate¬†time they are both very powerful tools. A few years ago it was only your hardcore legends like moon, moffatt who knew and used these things. Now theres so much¬†information¬†and literature¬†out there these training aids are¬†accessible to anyone.

Another thing that is “in” at the moment are core sessions. A lot of climbers are¬†supplementing¬†their training with one or two core workouts a week. These sessions are mainly floor or bar bassed exercises that help¬†strengthen¬†and increase core muscle fitness. On one of our recent team trainings I was introduce to the TRX. (Thanks Rich “Tricky” Hudson).



The TRX was designed by a Navy Seal so that he could stay mission fit where ever they might end up. It’s a form of¬†suspension¬†training whereby the user works¬†against¬†their own body weight to perform different exercises. The great thing about this bit of kit is that it’s so¬†versatile. You can practically sling it up anywhere and there endless amounts of exercises you can do with it. As soon as I used it I had to get one. The workout this thing gives you is insane. As it’s suspended from the floor your body is constantly¬†trying¬†to¬†stabilise hence the “beasting” your core takes. So if you see me about the wall with my feet stuck in some straps and making some interesting shapes, don’t be alarmed, it’s all in the name of training.

It’s not all been hard training. This weekend just gone we¬†finally got a break in the weather, even if it was only for one day. Before competing in TCA’s flash comp on the Saturday I checked the weather forecast for the Peak. 1-2 degrees and clear blue skys for Sunday. Perfect! After sending a couple of texts It wasn’t long before all the seats in ¬†the van were taken. The Comp went well I won the Flash comp only dropping 12 points.¬†Unfortunately luck of the draw wasn’t with me for the head to head. But all in all a good set of blocs.

Thanks Tris for the photo

Thanks Tris for the photo

My alarm sounding at 06:30am on a Sunday morning isn’t a pleasant sound, but when you realise why it’s going off it makes getting up at this ungodly hour worthwhile. We were on the road by 8am and arrived at Gardoms 10:45am. ¬†A while back a friend posted a video where he climbed this amazing looking arete called Suavito 7B. From then it went on the list, and thats what was on the agenda today. For once the forecasters were correct. It was a cold crisp morning. We headed to Gardoms south to warm up. After a few blocs, ticking off the classic G-thang sit start it was time for the main event. ¬†We padded out the landing and¬†prepped the holds we could reach. Like an excited little child that couldn’t wait to get to the play ground I jumped on. It all went pretty¬†smoothly until I got to the last move when a bit of¬†realisation¬†set in. I was pretty high above a poor’ish landing about to make a bit of a¬†committing¬†slap to the top of the bloc. It might of been a good idea to scope out the top to see which was the best bit.¬†Fortunately the bit I hit was pretty good, I pulled round and top out. The problem climbs just as good as it looks and is a must do of the Peak.

Sauvito 7b. Photo Gav Symonds

Sauvito 7b. Photo Gav Symonds

Following that we moved along to the business as usual boulder. Theres a good little jump start if your feeling springy (Business As Usual 6c+) and a lower start for the strong. Which pulls on from some undercuts and goes at 7b+. I ticked off the low start first go followed by  the jump. I tried the 7c arete to the left but its was pretty green so gave up on that one.


Al latching the jump start on Business As Usual

Later we moved on to Moyer’s¬†buttress. We laid the pads out under a¬†diamond¬†shaped hanging bloc called “The Gritstone Treaty” 7b. I was slightly¬†apprehensive¬†about this one as the landing wasn’t great.¬†Fortunately¬†I sent it first go, I didn’t fancy falling off and I¬†definitely didn’t want to get back on for pics. I sold it so well, Gav had already put his trainers back on by the time I got down. The light was starting to fade. We made a quick stop at Pogles Wood, doing both the sitter and the stander, then started to make our way back to the van, stopping one last time. ¬†On the way up to the boulders this morning one line stood out in the moorside boulders. Superbloc! A stunning high ball blunt arete, rolling in at 8a+. It would have been rude not to try it. We had a few goes but fatigue got the best of us.

Superbloc 8a+

Superbloc 8a+. Photo Steve Winslow

As the light had almost gone and as Bristol wasn’t getting any closer we decided to call it a day.

The ever fading light. Photo Steve Winslow

The ever fading light. Photo Steve Winslow

A good day was had by all, even if it was an early start.


When it Rains, It Pours!

December hasn’t been the best of months, not only have I been working every hour god sends covering my supposedly best mate while he’s away jet setting all over the word. “Why didn’t I think about that for my honeymoon”. On the few days that I have had off it has been rather wet. So it had left me no other choice than to turn my attention indoors for a little winter training, I suppose you have to start it some time. As I have mainly been focusing on routes this past year I thought it would be a good idea to start in the boulder wall. After my first proper session back I was pleasantly surprised, I hadn’t seemed to have lost much of my strength. I guess hard British lime stone tends to be pretty bouldery.

Throughout the month I managed to fit in 2 – 3 sessions a week, they weren’t long sessions maybe 2-2.5 hours but they were packed with quality. As I was trying to focus on bouldering I tried to have one hard bouldering session followed by a not so hard session, but including core and campus-ing and the last session would be spent on 3, 50-60 move circuits ranging from F7a+ to F8a+ I had set in the cave, this was just to maintain a bit of fitness but still focusing on strength and power.

It soon came apparent that I was lacking a little power. I really noticed this as soon as I pulled on to the campus board. Hence one of my sessions being a campus one. Over the years I can honestly say I have never really trained, I have dabbled here and there but have never done any specific training. I always saw it as if you want to get fit and strong for climbing then climbing is the best sort of training for that, which in most cases is true. But when your trying to hold down a full time job and you can’t always get out to the crag for one reason or another, a little bit structure and specific training can be very useful. I guess what I’m trying to get across here is that if you want to go that extra mile but dont quite know how to get there, just take a step back and have a look at what your doing and maybe try and structure your sessions a little better.

After a couple of weeks on the plastic I finally got a dry day on my day off. I was keen to get down to Anstey’s Cove. As there had been no rain down there for a couple of days I thought it would have been a safe bet for a dry crag. I couldn’t of been more wrong! I headed down with Dan Jenkins who was pretty psyched as he had only been to Anstey’s once. He was keen to get on “Just Revenge” F7c+. I was quite keen to get back on “Poppy” F8b+. I had one session on it a month or so ago managing to do it in two sections bar one move in the middle. As we walked in the seepage on Empire wall came in to view, “oh dear”. After dropping the kit off, I walked around to Ferocity Wall, which unfortunately wasn’t much better. The only route dry on the entire crag was La Creme, a F7c+ I had done 5 or 6 years ago. As we had driven for two hours to get there it would have been a waste just to drive back again, so I racked up and set off up the F6c ar√™te of Might and Main. This was also wet which made the crux quite interesting. After Dan had stripped the draws out, we walked round to Ferocity Wall. As the majority of Poppy was wet I decided to have a look at Fisherman’s Tail F8b. I knew I could do the second half as Poppy joins it half way and the start looked fairly dry. It wasn’t long before I could see the outcome of this, I managed a few moves but it was wetter than it looked so I ended up threading the third bolt. As it was the only dry looking route Dan got on La Creme. After getting stuck at the crux for a while he lowered down. Unfortunately for him I didn’t really remember much of the route so I tied in and set off. I dropped the crux. After figuring out the best way to hold the slopey lip, I pushed on to the amazing stuck on block and then on to the lower off. Dan went up to try the crux again this time with my beta. After a little bit of work he managed the move then carried on to the top. I tied in for my second go and fortunately sent it. The crux felt pretty greasy, but I managed to just keep it together. Dan had a few more red-points but didn’t get it.

It was a shame it was a bit of a wash out, but all-in-all it was nice to be out at the crag again.

It has been a pretty good year for me not only getting married I managed to get 20 F8a’s and above, with the majority of them being in the UK. I’ve decided to take a couple of weeks off over Christmas both work and climbing, looking forward to enjoying a bit of a rest.

I hope you all enjoy the festive season. I will try and add on a new section for the blog over this period, which will be focusing on coaching and will also include ideas for session plans.

Bring on 2012…


A wet looking crag, at least the pups had fun.