Sunday, November 8, 2009
Plateau, Rumbling, Bearfields & Twitter
So, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to add to the base of bouldering I have already created so far this season, and try to start ticking off some harder climbs. Lately I have felt like I have plateaued back around V3, again, and have hardly been ticking anything higher. Last week, we went to Rumbling and sent a bunch of the classic easier problems in the Trailside, Obscure and Cluster areas (here is a short video, courtesy of George Evans, of Wrestling An Alligator V1, one of my all time favorite routes). I felt that I was climbing well, but not as good as I should be able to. I usually hit this spot after the beginning of the fall bouldering season, but I don't mind staying there many times and just enjoying the easier climbs. This is generally the point in the climbing season that I have to decide if I'm going to push for higher grades and tougher problems, or simply climb around V3 for the season and just spend my time enjoying life in the boulders. This season, I would like to try to use this plateau as a springboard to climb the more intermediate grades.
When I get to this plateau, I try to fight back the frustration and use it as a place to refine how I climb...I try to use less energy, try to focus on footwork, try to retool my mental game, try to build strength, power and endurance, and climb each problem as clean and fluid as possible. Usually at this point, I realize I have to do something different than what I normally do, to start sending the tougher problems. I like to use this plateau time to train a little more often and with a little more resistance. This is when I start training with some light weights and old school general conditioning exercises...especially at night in front of the TV. With the change in daylight and our clocks recently, many of the times that were once available to get out and climb are now pitch dark. Instead of clinging to the couch and vegetating, pick up some dumbbells and start pumping! This is also a great time to let the lack of sunlight up the melatonin in your brain and...head to bed earlier. Your body heals around 4x's faster while you sleep, so rest and recover is an important part of becoming stronger and a better climber. In the last few weeks, I've started using some weights and focusing on my crunches (weighted mostly), push ups and pull ups, as well as, doing a little more HIT training. I also had a busy week at work and I wasn't able to get out to the boulders all last week...so Friday, when I finally got my fix at the Bearfields, I was feeling stronger and much more rested and fresh, compared to my usual Friday session.
The hike in warmed me up enough, so when I finally got to the hanging face of the Washboard Boulder I was ready to climb. This is one of the most unique looking boulders I've seen...it juts out of the hillside, hanging 2 feet off the ground, and has a near vertical face with small ripples & 2 half way descent edges just out of reach from the ground. The left side has a small foot and a small arete that goes around a V2, and was the only route climbed on the boulder for a long time. In the last month, I started projected the right side slopey arete that felt like it would go around a V4...I was focused on sending it sometime soon and it had become a big goal of mine recently. After warming up on the V2, I started to work the V4, and to my surprise I sent it second go. I was elated to send what had become one of my newest projects. Afterwards, I started to work on the super classic Washboard V5...the obvious line that has stared me down everytime I've passed by it for the last 9 years; you start on a high crappy foot, while the other foot floats, hands on thin slopey ripples and then you move up to the 2 half way descent holds, before moving back to ripples and a dyno/deadpoint to the top. Until recently, I hadn't even figured out the beta to just get off the ground and stay on the face. After putting 3 recent, good project sessions on it, and 4 years of half-ass tries, I finally snatched the top and sent that sucker! Soon after, it hit me that I had just climbed one of the oldest projects I had ever touched and, at that time, never thought I'd ever have the skill to send it. It was awesome to connect those 2 points and memories in my life and compare who and what I was when I first saw that problem as a newbie (that didn't even know what a V anything was), with who and what I am now. Afterwards, I found a neat little V3ish dyno problem to the side of Washboard that was tough and frustrating to start, but a lot of fun to climb. Right out of the box, it was one of the best climbing days I have had simply because of the nostalgic FA's and I "batted for the cycle" (a V2, a V3, a V4 & a V5 in a session) again. Later that day, I headed back up to the Bearfields with George and sent the FA of another project I had worked a few times, Ship of Fools V3...an oddly deceptive rising arete that leads to a grunt of a topout. It was nice to feel strong and send 4 new routes I've had my eye on for a LONG time.
I like to keep track of my sends and when I do them...its like a journal of successes, but also a good log of how you got to where you are, as far as difficulty of climbs, and what got you there. I'm trying something new by doing this with a Twitter account ("UpstateBoulder" if you want to follow). I can send a text after my session, that way I don't forget what I sent and my thoughts on it. Eventually, I'll have a virtual log of my sends, that were made while the send was still fresh in my head and the feelings are more in the moment. I've added that to the right side of the blog, below the sponsors, so folks can see where I've been climbing and what I've been up to.
Don't forget to send in those videos...I know there's a couple out ready to go, lets see 'em!