Old Dogs New Tricks – The 8b+ Challenge

Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and accept that meandering along isn’t enough. So, turning 49, I have decided to give myself a challenge to go from my current grade, around 7b+, to do an 8b+ before I turn 50.  One year…

49th birthday presents - inspiration, application and recuperation..

49th birthday presents – inspiration, application and recuperation..

There are many reasons for this: the stark and sharp reminder of mortality of my mum passing away last year; the second (partly brought on by this) was the nagging feeling that first time round I never actually sent what I could have; and the third was a fascination to see whether new training methodology could help me to achieve my goals.

I am a climbing lifer, 38 years and counting, and during the 90’s was pretty good for a spell: I climbed E8 on grit, 8a+ in limestone (close to 8b+) and bouldered 8a.  Yet just I was setting myself for some harder stuff in 2001 I managed to tear my shoulder and spent 2.5 years out with injury and two operations. A spell away from climbing followed as the spectre of another injury (and a totally screwed arm as the doctor warned) and I moved to Spain to try surfing instead.

Old school training mode...

When we were strong…old school training more at the original School

Yet working in climbing I never escaped the scene and over the last 5 or 6 years am happy to call myself a true climber once again. Yet at the same time it’s clicked that my ‘golden-age’ is well behind me (my hardest grit route was 20 years ago) and I’ve realised that dining out on ‘once was’ after all these years makes me a has-been!!

Hence the challenge…

There are also lots of inspirations for me setting off on this and chief amongst these was working with the UK Para-Team during my last year at Wild Country. The dedication of people like Sianagh Gallagher, Dave Bowes, John Churcher and the rest of the team in dealing with the hand they’d been dealt made me look in the mirror…and not massive stoked on the ‘middle aged man who’d been cruising for a while’ that looked back I decided to get off the couch.

Fat 1

You too can have a body like mine…’looked in the mirror and saw a fat middle aged man looking back at me…’

Obviously there are others who have also made me look up; Ben Moon kicking ass again at only 3 months older than me, my old mate Dave Stainthorpe doing his hardest route at 64, Steve MacClure at 45 still pushing limits, Karin Magog quietly getting on and sending 8b, Tom Randall, Pete Whittaker and Jairo for their never-ending psyche, Caroline Ciavaldini’s determination and watching Shauna crush (obviously)…

I have a feeling this won’t be easy; and judging by the reactions of quite a few mates it seems other people don’t either. But if it were easy everyone would do it…goes the famous phrase.

6 kilos to go from there...

6 kilos to go from there…

Luckily, (through blackmail and more) I have access to some of the best climbers in the world to help me to do this and so over the next year I am going to follow their advice. Chief among these will be Tom Randall and I am hoping that with his direction and working efficiently will cut through the chaff and I can stay the course. I am very interested to see if structure and science to make up for a 49 year old injury prone body – whether structure can provide ‘shortcuts’.

Shit or bust...bust!!

Old, injury prone and fat…can training properly help…?

Because however well I climbed in the past, and though I trained really hard, my training was haphazard, had no structure, no method and certainly no ‘goals’. However, I was having fun (which GimmeKraft stick on top of their list) and there was a pleasure in cranking at the School in my heyday which I have possibly never bettered: but the question remains what could I have done if I had followed a plan?

Finally, to spice things up I am going to add a financial penalty – if I don’t make it I will pay £250 to the Para Climbing Team…and I wish to extend this possibility to everyone out there please sponsor me for a sum that you’ll pay to the Para Climbing Team if I make it…!!! (as safe a bet as you’ve ever made)…

The GB Para Team

The GB Para Team – as inspirational a bunch as you are likely to meet…







5 thoughts on “Old Dogs New Tricks – The 8b+ Challenge”

  1. Awesome and the best of luck in realizing your goals. Is there a homepage or feed where we can watch and follow your progress?

    1. Mark,
      very sorry for slow reply…I may set up a separate Blog but up until then I´ll be sharing on here and on my Facebook…Thanks for your kind words, I´ll the support I think!!!

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