Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bouldering in the Cave and thoughts on training

After getting back from Spain in January, it was time to focus on training in preparation for the forthcoming routes season. I have been listening to a few podcasts of late, in particular the excellent Training Beta podcasts with people like Jonathan Siegrist, Carlo Traversi, Angie Payne and lately Adam Ondra interviewed which got my thinking on how I was going to improve my climbing for projects this year. I don't pretend to be remotely scientific about any of this and decided to stick to what seemed to work quite well last year, i.e. doing lots of fitness laps at a medium grade at Stockport wall along with some fingerboarding, sessions of 100 pullups and as much bouldering as possible.

Working Lou Ferrigno V10 in the Cave

Which leads me onto a key debate, how should a climber who spends most of the year doing stamina routes prepare for this? How much of the year should they spend bouldering? Personally, when I came back from Chulilla, I felt pretty weak bouldering wise. I felt I had to get back on track with busting out some V9's and 10's. Parisella's Cave on the Orme near Llandudno is the perfect venue for this as there a lots of linkups and hard boulders like Rockatrocity and Lou Ferrigno to test yourself against. After stringing together a few saturdays in the Cave, I was soon back on track and whilst not feeling as strong as I used to feel 5 years ago when I was purely bouldering, I was not far off. I must admit at times, thinking back to those days in 2009, the thought did flash across my mind of getting back into exclusive hardcore bouldering. I would like to do a V12 and reckon with sufficient training and focus it might be achievable. However, I love routes too much and being an allrounder, you have to put the hours in on a rope indoors (or doing circuits) to have any chance of keeping a cutting edge come the spring. So, a compromise was reached and over the last nearly 3 months I have been bouldering saturdays and sundays and doing 2 routes sessions in the week at Stockport with fingerboarding or pullups on a Tuesday morning, just to keep it real ;0).

More Lou Ferrigno action!

I have since learnt that this is a 'non-linear' approach where the disciplines of stamina and power are maintained simultaneously. Necessarily, unfortunately it is not possible with this approach to generate significant peaks of performance at desired intervals in time (for a trip away for example). However, as this excellent post by Steve Bechtel on the Mountain Projects forum suggests (see midway down), modern athletes need to be fit all year round and there is a risk that by sacrificing stamina training for a punt on increasing one aspect of performance (i.e. power), overall fitness may suffer.

This has been the reasoning behind my loose 'non-linear' training approach and has been the source of many interesting debates on the way to the Cave recently. A friend of mine says that ultimately, to get stronger, it will be a case of having to knock fitness training on the head completely and work on power alone, maybe next year! Here is a video my friend Dan Cheatam made documenting some Cave action! This shows me working on Hatch Life High, a cool V11 which I managed to bag in February and captures the atmosphere of a good Cave session I reckon.

I am currently working on Lou Ferrigno sans Pocket, an upsidedown V11 with lots of compression and clamping along with Hatchatrocity, another meaty V11 link into the classic Rockatrocity V9. Fitness will get you nowhere on these beasts! Here are more vids of some forays to Tremerchion, an excellent roadside craglet of immaculate, crimpy limestone where several extremely cold sessions were had. Top tip, you can't fail to get mutant fingers cranking here, the holds are tiny! (Apologies for readers who have already seen these on Facebook).

36 Chamber Font V9

 22 Chambers V9

A raid down to Dartmoor earlier this month yielded a tick of Jungle VIP, an excellent bloc-style V10 or V11 (depending on who you talk to) at Burrator Reservoir, along with a second ascent of Alex Waterhouse's excellent new V8 slab, Aurora at Combeshead Tor, see these vids:

Aurora V8 (second ascent)

So, how much should a stamina climber boulder? I have no idea! but for me I have decided to try and maintain a decent level of power whilst still majoring on fitness like I did last year. For the future, maybe the rope will be put on the shelf for 6 months in exchange for a sustained period of power training but not just yet, did someone say Malham and the Tor were nearly dry, I'm there!

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