It seems somewhat ironic that it was a return trip to England of all places that enabled my first real outdoor climbing experience in over a month. My move to Innsbruck was motivated by the idea of climbing every day on glorious, difficult routes and boulder problems, and up until October that was precisely what I had done. Then however, came something I hadn’t bargained for (don’t ask me how something so obvious could have slipped my mind ;), the snow!
Despite my best efforts to persevere, eventually I accepted defeat and realise it would be a lot more productive to use my time training in the gym as opposed to wandering round freezing wet forests. I was fortunate to have a great training partner in the form of Emanuel Moosburger, who introduced me to the sets of “standard” circuits often used by the Austrian team, and a few other world class wads.
On the first session, I was shut down so hard! After Emi explained to me the three twelve move circuits, of crimps, pinches and slopers, I failed to make even one complete repetition of two of the circuits. With the eventual aim to make six reps of each problem with only two minutes rest in between, I was a long way off the pace, but determined not to let it get me down. The next session was a surprise as I managed four reps of each problem – which was a pleasant surprise and quite an improvement. The following session was five, and the next six, and just like that I was where I wanted to be.
Over the next few weeks, Emi and I continued with the circuits and despite recurring problems with soggy skin (due to what I think must be too much time wearing ski gloves) we were both pleased to find them feeling easier and easier which we both hoped was due to an improvement in strength/stamina rather than simply being more familiar with the problems.
The time had come for me to leave Innsbrucklyn for a little while and return to the UK for some work with TNF in bonnie Scotland. The two day event with Blacks went really well, and as far as work goes it was pretty good fun. The highlight of the few days however was the sunrise on the first morning. I could write for time about the beauty of that moment, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I will let you decide for yourself...
There has been a lot of snow in the Peak over the last few weeks and resulting in some seriously impressive drifts below a lot of the hard grit routes. These drifts made for wonderful, soft, raised landings turning leg-breakers into boulder problems and a lot of the Peak’s proudest bold routes received more ascents than probably ever before. A few weeks after the last big snow fall, I joined my friend Jim out in the Peak who assured me the drifts were still there and wanted to make the most of them to climb “Three Blind Mice”, a traditionally bold and balancey E7 that in its current state was more like a highball V7.
Walking along the top of Burbage north, the wind was evil, chilling us both to the bone and making my face turn numb. I was actually dreading starting to climb, but on reaching the route and descending to the base of the crag we entered a different world that was practically tropical in comparison. We warmed up, dried a few holds on the route and both made quick ascents – a nice introduction back into the world of proper climbing :)
After walking out of Burbage North in a Blizard, the weather cleared and we trekked into Stanage to have a look at Shine On and Cemetery Waits, two short but gnarly E7 and 8’s. Unfortunately, the snow coverage was now minimal, but still made for a slightly more comfortable landing than usual so we padded up, motivated and got involved. The climbing on Cemetery Waits is very physical and boulder, quite different from the majority of hard grit routes. I fell off the finishing break on my flash attempt after coming up just short on the slap. I was a little nervous about the fall, as it could have been back first and I wasn’t sure where I was in relation to the pads. I need not have worried as it was a perfect feet first wall into the middle of the pad, and after warming up my numb fingers I finished it off next try.
My feet were getting pretty cold, so I decided to leave on a high with skin intact, ready for a training session tomorrow. The only question now is... where to go?