One of the interesting things about being able to return to bouldering areas year on year, is the ability to see change. Change in the climbing environment. Change in the boulders. Change in the community, and of course change in yourself. For me, seeing the changes in myself, and the climbing areas often provide the most reflective moments of any trip. Ultimately this is what keeps me coming back to climbing for more.
From a performance standpoint, returning to boulders you have tried through the years and not done is always a chance to learn. It can be a satisfying moment, seeing a move which was once simply too hard, brought into possibility in a matter of moments. This realisation is without doubt one of my favourite aspects of climbing. It’s also a feeling which is only given with hard work, and an attention to the detail of the move itself. Sometimes it’s a simple thing; “I need to be stronger on pinches”. Other times it’s more subtle; “my body needs to be strong in this quite specific position which only uses this tiny muscle”. But there is always something to learn. When you return to the boulder for the 5th year, and it’s still not possible, you begin to ask more questions; “is this a technical thing?”, “do I need to spend more time on this style of hold or move?”. Finding ways to improve for these problems is what keeps me going, and brings me back to these areas. The broader problem solving aspect of how to improve can be very addictive. You constantly want to know if you’ve improved, addressed weaknesses and created new strengths. Vecchio Leone in Brione was the problem that gave me this experience on this trip to Switzerland. My ability on pinches relative to my last attempts years prior is night and day, and I suppose I have the School Room's famous problem ‘Milk It’ to thank for this. Cheers Malc.
Seeing changes in your mentality is perhaps even more satisfying than changes in physicality. Being content with spending several days on a pr
Looking back to the day of Dev Squad Selection, I felt confident that I had done well.
I remember when North East climber and photographer, Mark Savage, sent me a photo of the damage done to the classic Bowden problem 'Vienna'. The damage is obviously due to it's popularity and 'Vienna' is certainly not unique in this respect.
There will be classic problems all over the country which are sadly changing for the worst. One of the causes of this damage is from excessive brushing to remove excess chalk so as to improve the grip between fingers and rock. We all do it and its almost become a ritual, part of the mental process of preparing for a hard send. However it's worth questioning how effective this process is, is it worth the damage it causes and are there better alternatives for improving the friction and therefore your chances of success?
I have done plenty of brushing in my time and my company even sells brushes, but in most cases I don't actually believe it does help to improve the friction. The only cases where it might help, are where the hold obviously hasn't been brushed for a long time and is really caked in chalk. In my experience, this is not often the case and holds generally are pretty clean. If the hold is relatively clean, and by clean, I don't mean free of chalk, I just mean free of large particles of chalk or layers of chalk then brushing is unlikely to provide any advantage other than a psychological one.
I certainly don't see how it will dry out the hold and remove moisture, which is really what you want. Therefore in most cases, I would say brushing is pretty much a waste of time and the benefit will be far outweighed by the long term damage you will do to the rock. Even if you are dealing with hard rock types which aren't easily damaged, at the very least the hold will become polished over time. You can see polished holds everywhere and although I am not saying that brushing is the cause of this polish, it's certainly a contributing factor and should be avoided where p
So, is it possible to raise kids, work full time and (continue to) climb well? There are many examples that it is possible, but the real question is how?
Having children means a day-long action, regular job last for 8 hours and training also takes part of the day. Except mentioned you have to eat, sleep and do a pile of other small things that also require some time. Bearing in mind that day lasts only 24 hours, it becomes clear why incorporating climbing into this jumble often called "real life“ is all but an easy task.
After you become a parent it is quite normal that climbing is not anymore the most important thing in your life. The arrival of these little creatures is a miracle which awaken the most powerful feelings and often significantly changes your view of life. When you reset to new settings overnight, raising kids and providing good for them becomes the priority number one. Consequently, it increases the importance of having a job and a place to call home while everything else, including climbing, becomes the thing of the secondary importance.
If you are a passionate climber, it is not easy to accept new circumstances. At this point many of my friends, young parents, just stopped climbing and started enjoying some of the less complex activities. When I say complex, I am thinking about those who take less time to perform and are much simple in terms of logistics.
There is also another part of the crew that continued to climb but often have problem to accept the fact that their climbing level has dropped and it becomes much harder to reach and maintain a good form. They keep climbing but are suffering from inner restlessness which is hard to withstand for longer time.
Anyway, this is the point where you need to show maturity and admit to yourself what climbing really means in your life?
Why do I climb? Is it just about climbing top lines
The Trilogy Project The Trilogy project is some thing that started to take shape in my head last summer. I have a long lasting love affair with the Dolomites. We all know how it is with progression. At first glance a route can come across as more of fiction than a viable option. So we dream about the route. You just look at it think; OK fun for the lucky few who has the skills to pull off a route like that. But as you get closer to the mountains and get to know them things change. Once you have been up a wall and seen that it actually has its weaknesses you start to see possibilities.
Photo: Cima Grande to the left and Cima Ovest to the right Routes that previously where in my dreams I now think are well with the reach of what I can climb. The Trilogy Project all boils down to time, partner, training and motivation. I think I have all of that in place. Not one partner but with 3 different partners. With this set up I think I will end up with the best possible partner for each route. I think climbing is so personal that it is not realistic to think some one else is interested in devoting so much time and effort to a single project some one else has come up with. We all like different styles of climbing, different mountains appeal to us as climbers and even if we can agree on a mountain its not the same as agreeing on a specific line or route. I think its important to set climbing goals in order to get on with training and the days where motivation might not be on top. So This Trilogy Project is part of my mental training program. Its driving me to train harder and the planning of this venture is making me happy. I know what it takes and I know if I will be ready. The down side with this kind obsession is that alpine rock climbing on big walls is