Sunday, 6 October 2013

Turning Over an Autumn Leaf

The busy life of the A9 commuter means time flies by with barely a nod of recognition.  I was on Pabbay last week.  Wasn't I?  No, it was four months ago.  And what have I got to show since them? Months of hard hill days at work, a couple of days out West, a couple of local sport routes redpointed, a handful of bouldering sessions.  Not much.  Well, that's not quite true, it's been a great summer in real life: weddings, friends, family, holidays in Morocco. There's just not enough time to do it all.

But there's a change in the air.  With October's blustery arrival and Winter lurking on the horizon,  it's time.  Finally there's breathing space in the calender, weeks and weeks with no plans or distractions.

Regular readers will be shocked and stunned to hear that priority number 1 for this winter is to climb Malcolm Smith's Arete on the Ship Boulder, Torridon.  During last year's emotional rollercoaster of attempts I got fairly close, sticking the last hard move for a millisecond before gravity prevailed.  Over the 6 months since I last tried it I've been doing some soul searching and come to the conclusion that if I'm ever going to do it things have to change, and now is the perfect opportunity to start.

When it comes to training and prioritising I've always had a scattergun approach, hoping rather then knowing that if I do a bit of everything it can't hurt - routes: do some circuits, bouldering: do some deadhangs, go for the odd run, do the odd core exercise.  However, I've never really had a structure or kept a record of progress, and never stuck at something long enough to make any real gains, other than psychological ones perhaps.  So, here we go.  It's a few months yet until the really good conditions of winter, now is the time to start something that could and should make this the year of success.

  • Prioritising - I've already shown myself that Malc's is hard.  Damn hard.  If I really want to do it I'll have to make some sacrifices.  I expect this winter there'll be some lovely days when everyone else is off to Am Fasgadh, having a fun, sociable time, but on those days I'll have to ask myself what I want more?  Similarly, when I've only got a small amount of time, I'll have to decide whether I want a nice session on local boulders, or a punishing session on Rich's board.
  • Contact strength - I've hit the top of Malc's loads of times, but just can't hold on. I've done very little campus boarding and think that this should help.  Over the years I think I've neglected working on raw finger strength but I'm realising that it could make a big difference.  Fortunately the wall at Inverness Leisure Centre have just had a board built.  Divine providence?
  • Core - Specifically, keeping a toe on for the big move seems unlikely with my body shape, but the stronger the back and core the more I'll be able to dig my toes in for the jump, or keep my toes on if a miracle happens.  More generally, bouldering is brutal so the stronger the body, the less chance of mischief. 
Rich and I were out in the Glen yesterday for a pre-season friendly, pottering about on a circuit of brilliant easier problems.  With the imminent release of Ian and Rich's guide to the area there's been lots of checking of old classics and discovering hidden gems, so we had an explore.  Morning Wall warm ups, Celtic Knot, Conundrum, Chris Houston's new thing (fail by me), Slopey Ripples (classic!), Squelch, Tetra Pak, Bertram Dickson (team fail), Spaceship Right, Spaceship Left, Indian Winter (classic, but a team fail for the sitter).  It's good to be back.

Rich on Indian Winter

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