Friday, 6 November 2009

The cold weather has arrived making route climbing even more difficult than I was finding it before. Whilst single moves on the harder routes are now feeling a little easier because of the better friction, I have been really struggling with numb fingers when trying to string more than a few of these moves together.

I have been getting out quite a bit with Gerhard and Emi to places like Schwarze Wand and Dolby Surround, and whilst managing to get a lot of individual moves and bolt-to-bolt sections done, I have failed to clip the chains on a single successful redpoint of anything notable.

One man’s fear is another man’s fantasy, and so whilst the cold may not be beneficial for routes, it does mean that the bouldering season is on its way back. Over the last few weeks I have taken a few short trips to Switzerland and Italy in order to dust the cobwebs off and find out just how much of a punt a year of ropes had made me.

Amber - A lovely photo of a lovely little bloc in Ticino - courtesy of Emi Moosburger

The answer was quite surprising. In terms of single move power, I don’t feel much worse than at my past peaks, however, when it comes to power endurance I am way off the pace. With all the stamina work I have been doing over the last year I would have put money on it being the other way around, but once again climbing continues to confuse me.

As soon as the moves drop below about 50% of maximum then I feel ok and can link a good few of them together, yet once I am actually pulling or squeezing my tank feels almost immediately empty. I really noticed this on a problem called Frogger in Ticino which is a steep 10 move problem I had first climbed about 2 years ago. I originally climbed Frogger on my second try (after my foot slipped on the 1st move on my flash go) and at the time felt that it was pretty soft for the grade. This time however, it took many tries and much grunting to get to the top, feeling instead that it was rather stiff – yet another indicator of the subjectivity of grades.

Yesterday I went to try one of my route projects up in the Zillertal. On the drive up the valley, the temperature gage in the car was losing a digit every minute or so, finally settling at a nice round zero as we arrived at the crag. To shorten what could be a lengthy and boring story, I fell a couple of times about 3 moves from the top due to fingers closely resembling icicles. After the main section of hard climbing you arrive at a mediocre rest where it is possible to recover a little before the last technical boulder problem. The problem was as each shake brought new life to my forearms, my fingers died a little – a frustrating little catch 22 that seemed destined to always end in the same way.

Perhaps hand warmers in my chalk bag might help?

1 comment:

Paul Bennett said...

Schwarze Wand looked amazing when we went up there but it was in the full sun, far too hot to climb!