Tag Archives: climbing

Bruised, battered, but happy – Old Dogs New Tricks Day 5 – The Test

Waking up too stiff to move I have just realised how much work is ahead of me.

My challenge – to climb 8b+ in the 360 days before I am 50 from my current grade of about 7b+ – rests on my ability to try hard enough and Tom Randall’s ability to set me a program. Yesterday, during Tom’s unique, specialised test procedure (giving him the information he needs to set me a program) I cottoned on to the fact that I may have to try a bit harder than I was hoping.

The first test, deadhanging with weight or assistance, was OK and he figured that I hadn’t moved too far from a very rough test he did on me a few years ago while I was actually bouldering a bit.

Style strength technique...compare and contrast Mcclure vs Patterson

Style strength technique…compare and contrast Mcclure vs Patterson

However, the second, a series of circuits on his ‘Lattice Board’, designed to test aerobic and anaerobic activity and other things was brutal. Increasingly pumped with forearms and fingers screaming I struggled to complete laps then struggled to complete moves. Each move isn’t difficult (as Steve McClure put it it’s ‘E6 2A’) but once you’ve done a ‘maximum’ the next series which Tom puts you through, with what seems like progressively smaller rests, start to hurt.

On the Lattice Board

On the Lattice Board with Tom shouting it out…I was proud of my 72 moves…first go!

I was pleased with my first go and I posted what I felt was a reasonable number of moves. But then came the repeaters. Tom sent me off again with a target he’d set (a % of the first go) and again this went OK. But with two minutes rest the third ‘lap’ started to hurt….and the fourth lap really hurt, I started counting each move out loud to give me an edge.

And suddenly what I was also noticing was that there was a psychological element creeping in. How hard am I willing to try…how much do I want it….how long do you put up with the pump…one more move? two more moves? Five more moves?

The last go was really hard, like setting off on a repoint immediately after getting a solid good go. Counting again, 15,16,17…each move harder than the last…then legs not going where you want them to wrong feet causing more pump…32,33,34…then boom!! Sagging onto the mat breathing hard arms unable to move, bust but happy!!

Strangely enough it was nice to be pushed, to be taunted by Tom’s stick which moved like a metronome in front of me. ‘Up, left, right, down’ Tom’s voice leading me on. I started to realise that I hadn’t actually trained properly for a long time and in some senses that was fun – I always enjoyed training but in other ways it was worrying; can I do this again…fifteen years later??

And it occurred to me that this small test was in someways a mini-version of the next 12 months…I would have to have this intensity but without getting injured or losing my psyche.

Steve McClure had joined us halfway through the session and it was a bit bizarre being watched by one of the best sports climbers ever, someone who’d on-sighted my grade goal two weeks previously in Chulilla. Perhaps it helped – who wouldn’t want to try hard with him watching. Afterwards I collared Steve about my chances and his face was a picture. He evidently didn’t want to be negative but at the same time didn’t want to bullshit me…’maybe’ was his considered opinion when I asked him if I’d do it…

Steve McClure on his 172 move circuit...

Steve McClure on his 172 move circuit…

Even so, I was proud of my efforts in the test and it did leave me with a good feeling about my climbing –at least I could still try hard – I just had to see if the results matched up to my goals and whether Tom would give me the thumbs up or thumbs down!!

Form filling and interviewing me afterwards; current grade, style of climbing, lots of probing about my motivations and goals as well as explaining a bit more about how it all worked, Tom was giving nothing away. ‘I’ll need a few hours to sort out the results’ he said deadpanning and with that i was left hanging.

Formfilling

Adding some vital statistics…

PS: It was really interesting watching Steve on the stamina test after me for although he did 100% more than me when he did start to fail it was his legs and his foot placements that went first. Exactly like mine.  Not sure that this proves anything but it was very interesting…

Casa Quirós – our holiday cottage under the crag

We have just opened Casa Quirós – a picture-book pretty, traditional stone-built Asturian house that has been recently renovated to a high standard.

A great spot for climbers, Casa Quirós is just underneath one of the best crags in Asturias, Quirós, which has nearly 300 sports routes spread over 22 sectors. Teverga, another huge climbing area, with nearly 500 routes, is only 15 minutes drive.

The view from Casa Quirós on a summer morning...

The view from Casa Quirós on a summer morning…

The south facing house sleeps four and is situated in Aciera, a picturesque traditional Asturian village, in the heart of the parque natural de Las Ubiñas-La Mesa. Surrounded by beautiful peaks and passes the area is perfect for all types of outdoor activity including; climbing, road biking, mountain biking, trail running, hiking, fishing and birdwatching

If climbing’s not your thing (or your partner’s) then not to worry because the area has loads more to offer. The road and mountain biking, straight from the house, are both awesome. For littler legs the 45km long, mostly flat, Senda del Oso (bear path – yes, we even have bears!) wends its way along the foot of the valley beneath the village. There’s even kayaking on the reservoir just below the house.

See more about Casa Quirós here…

Teverga – Entecampos delivers as ever…

We were slightly worse for wear after the ‘bonitada’ (tuna festival) in the village of Aciera (just under Quirós). As ever Spanish hospitality was fantastic so after about 4pm the next few hours were taken up with a proper siesta (2 hours sleep). After that we managed to get back in the camper van and drive the 10 short minutes from Quirós to park up at a busy Teverga.

Men and grils...doesn´t change the world over... The next morning the parking  was, as usual, buzzing and there were a lot of climbers milling around ready to go…although as usual in Spain loads of them didn’t make a move particularly quickly.  So after a quick coffee in the always friendly Bar Sobia we decided on Entecampos – almost the closest sector and still with plenty to do; even though we´d been there loads.

Mary sends the first pitch of Nirvana 6b...

Mary sends the first pitch of Nirvana 6b…

Starting on Nirvana 6b we enjoyed the cool fresh air after the previous days storms and marvelled how the crag was completely dry even after the near wash out of the Saturday.  I then jumped on Diablo 6c, the short version and got a shock as it seemed hard than I remembered; fingery and intrictae it would be easy to fall of this neat little route.
For a change we the moved to the top of the sector: always empty yet with some of the best routes around. I had done Tijeruca 250 7a/+ before but the quality once again impressed. 35 metres, 16 bolts and a gently ‘leading you on’ feeling culminating in a pretty tricky move high on the route.

A very foreshortened view of the route...

A very foreshortened view of the route…

Mary did well on a top rope and my arms seemed as though they recovered / warmed up so I picked a route I’d wanted to do for ages – El último flote 7a+/b. Another long route, this time 28 metres, the start had always put me off – a decidedly thin looking tufa/groove which led to the steep roof and the superb looking tufa groove above.

The very thin and tricky initial groove of El último flote 7a+/b

The very thin and tricky initial groove of El último flote 7a+/b

Well the groove was a grim as it looked, super thin and a bit dirty I slapped for the finishing jug of that section very, very relieved!! Motoring through the roof I felt Ok but at the top of the tufa strewn groove the pump hit and form then it was ‘sh%t or bust’ to the top. Crawling higher and higher I though I was going to make it but confronted with the last move my arms failed and a desperate lunge for the top failed….

Shit or bust...bust!!

Shit or bust…bust!!

Lowering off i was both happy I’d got so close but pissed off that this was the first 7a+ i’d fallen off across the whole of Entecampos!

Still a great day out and as ever Entecampos delivers!!

Roca Verde

Roca Verde is the first international guidebook, published in English and Spanish, to the amazing sports climbing in and around the Cordillera Cantábrica (inc. the Picos de Europa) in north west Spain. Roca Verde includes the best crags of the Spanish regions of Asturias, Cantabria and León.

Our intention is to highlight this fantastic area, which we believe has the potential to be a new ‘hotspot’ destination and a regular stopover for European climbers. The Roca Verde region is well served by international flights and ferries, has an excellent road network and, unlike much of Spain, has a climate that is amenable to climbing through the summer months.