Some progress!

I finally managed to get past the first crux and make it to the halfway rest :). It was quite a battle, so the flashpump got me quickly after the rest, falling at the second crux, 5 moves before the top.

I reached this point last year once, and I realized I need to get through the bottom part (25 move 9a) quicker and with less of a struggle. I’ve climbed the top part (12 move 8c) several times with some pre-pump, but now I arrived at the rest pretty destroyed.

Conditions were okay (see post below), but could be better, and I’m happy about switching to fight mode. I’m still enjoying the process, as well as seeing other people at the crag succeed on their projects! I’ve got some days left, but I would be surprised if this trip will bring a send. I guess I need to get a little fitter, as always 😉

Photo by Toni Mas Buchaca

Conditions, a climbers’ biggest friend and foe

Climbers are ALWAYS talking about conditions. Too hot, too cold, no wind, too moist, too dry, you can literally come up with anything. It seems that conditions are never optimal, and everyone is always complaining about it.

Alex Megos keeps saying that it’s just a bad excuse for not being strong enough, which of course is totally true. When projecting at your limit getting stronger is of course one option, but getting acquainted with the climbing conditions is nonetheless extremely important.

Oliana is a good example why this can be tricky. Asking the locals I was told that ‘Spring is best, because there is wind and shade in the afternoon, and even Summer can be good’. Asking Adam Ondra, he will tell you that he was ‘tricked into coming in Spring, just to find temperatures way too high. Winter for sure is the best’.

So good conditions are not the same for everyone. I felt how good the route can feel like with a winter breeze, but my fingers get numb from the cold, and I have no idea how Adam can climb like that. I also climbed on the route on a 20°C Spring day, where I cannot even do the single moves…

I guess I have two options: Wait for that perfect day where cloud coverage didnˋt heat up the wall, temps are around 10 – 15°C, and the wind is blowing, OR go home, train and come back stronger 😉

A good day and a bad day

A quick update on how things are going so far: Beast mode is slowly coming, the split finger is healing, but also some hot temps have showed up…

There were some A+ conditions on my second climbing day, and I was super happy to stick the bottom crux. Unfortunately my fingers were too numb so I missed a tricky deadpoint right before the rest. I’ve fallen here twice last year, so I improved my beta, which will hopefully help. From there on I fired it to the top, feeling quite solid on both upper cruxes! Darn, that dyno feels nice if you stick it!

Satisfied that I was finally able to five it a good fight, I tried again the next day, but failed at the lower crux twice. I felt tired already and couldn’t even do a crux link. Conditions really have to be on your side to climb this route.

A little progress, but no highpoint! I’ve taken two days off to heal the split tip, and with the heat today I was already sweating from belaying Marco…

Looks like some good days are coming, so Iˋll be giving it all for the second week of my trip!

First touch!

Well, first touch of the season I should say. Most of the holds on Fight or Flight felt exactly like I remembered them. It’s crazy how body memory can make movements you haven’t done in a year feel so familiar!

I’ve been waiting impatiently to be back in Spain. As most of you will know, I’ve come here with one route in mind: Fight or Flight (FOF) in Oliana. needless to see here: graded 9b. Two weeks will give me ample time for a good fight and hopefully some good conditions.

After a week of driving around the Netherlands visiting family without much climbing action I still feel a bit dull, so I’ve decided to take it easy in the beginning, rather than switching to beast mode on day 1 😉

Arriving to the crag there were quite some familiar faces, and before I knew it I was belaying Seb Bouin sending Pachamama 9a+! It’s great to see someone send (it looked almost effortless) after investing a lot of time in a project. Good vibes right at the start. Going up FOF I was a little nervous on how it would feel, but after a few moves I realized that many of the hard moves actually felt quite ok! Even though I split a tip after 10 moves (here we go again), all moves and most of the sections felt totally fine.

Getting back into a project is all about the small details: the subtleties that make hard moves a little easier; placing the correct tickmarks; remembering the sequencies until you execute all moves automatically. I even changed my beta a little bit, tried some of Chris’ methods (no way for me!) and brushed the top (please don’t make me fall off there!).

Conditions were great, so I gave it one burn, but this ended at the first crux. No beast mode yet… I guess Hulk doesn’t want to come out as often any more compared to when I was 20 😉

Oliana, one of my all time favourite crags

How to know if you’re fit enough?

Nearing the goal you’ve been training for, you’re going to ask yourself the question: Am I fit enough? If (like me) you’ve picked a project you can’t just go and try over the weekend, you have to rely on comparison. This can get a little tricky, but it can give you some valuable insights.

The first option you have is to try routes that you know the feeling of climbing on from a past season. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve climbed them already or not. What’s more important is that you remember how the moves felt, and compare that with how they feel right now. A problem of course is, that conditions are always different…

Another option is the comparison with climbers you know and train with. Think of your regular training buddies. If all of the sudden they seem to be very weak (or the other way round), it’s seems like you must be doing something right! No big surprise: they aren’t constants either. If they’ve been training for a different goal, comparison isn’t going to help you much.

A last option can be standard exercises. These basically never change, so they come in real handy as a fitness test. If last season you could do a one arm pull up, and this season you can’t, you know what to work on. Other examples are campus exercises you know from the past, hangboarding, front lever etc.

In the end, comparison is not very reliable, but can help out a little. Knowing whether you’re fit is more like a gut feeling, and with a bit of training experience, you learn to recognize that moment when it clicks.

Since I got very close on Fight or Flight last year, I know the fitness that is necessary to climb it. I tried to compare my training and fitness with last year, but it didn’t really work. My training partners were al focussing on something else, there was too much snow to try routes around Innsbruck, so all I could compare on was the standard power exercises, where I didn’t see a change. But hey, I guess we’ll see how it goes soon!