End of Spain trip #2 – no cigar

I battled, gave it all, got close, but didn’t get to celebrate quite yet…

Trip Recap

I’ve tried ‘Fight or Flight’ for the last two weeks and made good progress right at the start of the trip. Feeling a big improvement from my last trip in December, I was confident that during this trip a send was well possible. The route dried up and with some good conditions I hoped for more progress, but instead ran into a wall (see previous posts).

Right at the end of this trip I felt more or less recovered and climbed to my highpoint: the upper crux! I got close, lacking four moves to the top jug, but unfortunately ran out of energy (and conditions) on the very last days.

A little below my highpoint. The top edge of the photo is the victory jug. (Photo: G. Mionske)

On my way home now, my feelings on this trip are quite mixed. I came with all the strength and confidence I could have hoped for, and I’m going back tired, sore and feeling weak.

What now?!

This might sound a bit negative, but it honestly is the exact opposite. I learned so much from this trip, and I remain positive. My expectations with a 70:30 sending probability might have been on the positive side, but I’ve learned that this works better than a lack of confidence. At first it was quite hard to take setbacks (especially those I couldn’t explain), but then I learned to accept them. They’ll make succes even sweeter.

The plan is to rest and recover (I’m really really tired), return to the fitness I had previous to this trip, and come back in about three weeks. It might sound strange but I’m still confident my fitness before the trip is enough for success.

A thank you

I realised that this website has helped me a lot along the way. I think it’s important to keep track of the process, to see what worked out well, and where problems appeared. It’s also been fun to see so many people interested in this project, and I’m happy with all the good feedback and comments!

So stick with me, project-9b is far from over, and let me know if you have wishes or feedback.

Over and out. Jorg is going to sleep for a couple of days ­čÖé

Rest days best days!

As I explained in my previous post, I wasn’t feeling so strong, and it was frustrating not to know why. I’ve taken it easy for the last couple of days, and I’m making good use of a bad weather spell for double restdays now. That gave me some time to think…

Things I should do different

The most important and underlying thought is to stop worrying. If I feel bad, so be it! Finding out why, is important, but counting the remaining days and worrying what to do is not productive. I’ve been having some headaches, and I just accepted I must have picked up something that’ll go away anytime soon.

I must admit I was a bit stressed filming for project-9b, since our timeframe was short. I think this has been the first external pressure I’ve felt, and I decided to let it be the last. This project is something I care about, something I love to share with people, and I don’t want it to be influenced by external factors. I’ve felt this before, climbing in front of the camera is always different, but one lesson I learned is to not let it influence your climbing.

Patience once again is the word that comes up, and as I keep saying: Rest days best days! I sometimes forget that not only skin and body need rest, but also the mind. During the last two days I’ve felt power and motivation (or positive spirit) come back, so let’s see what happens.

I’ve updated the section Projecting tips, as this past week I’ve learned more about it than ever before!

Restday activity: exploring Catalonian backcounty…

The hard part of project-9b

Well I must say, project-9b suddenly kicked back at me and it feels like I hit a wall.

The highs and the lows

Right after some great progress at the start of this trip, which caused a huge leap in both my motivation and confidence, I noticed that the next days I felt really tired and burnt out. Since it was raining anyways, I was happy to take two days off and let my skin repair. Where I had felt strong and in control the last few days, the next days would be the complete opposite.

Jon Glassberg had joined me to film and document the process of project-9b and he was keen to hear I felt confident. The next day we went up to find great conditions and some chill temperatures at the same time. As the locals predicted, Oliana in March or April really sees good conditions, not too cold but very windy.

After a quick warmup I went up ‘Fight or Flight’ to fix a static for Jon to film. The moves felt good, everything was dry and I felt ready. I gave it a good redpoint burn, climbed through the initial moves and stuck crux #1. Good so far, but then I got a little lost and dryfired right before the rest. I initially thought ‘great! new highpoint, almost made it to the rest!’, but then realised that I felt powered down. One more try proved that to be true, and although I made it to the same point as before I just gave up while climbing.

middle trip downdays

The next day brought more of the same. I felt wrecked from the previous day and couldn’t get my fingers warm. I tried hard on the route, but couldn’t get anything done. While trying to do crux #2 as a single move, I ripped a hole in my index finger and had to stop. I tried to switch my attention to some other routes, so tried ‘Joe Mama’ (9a+), a route that Adam Ondra wanted to flash but had little beta for. I made some moves, but I knew the day was over, and that my will finger need quite some restdays to heel.

During my previous trip in December, I had a very similar experience where I climbed until I was too tired and ignored a split tip. It took until the end of the trip to get back to feeling fresh and fit, so let’s see what happens this time. It’s frustrating that I can do only so few tries each day, and that I need so many restdays. I guess that’s all part of climbing a route that’s around your limit…



Progress on the route!

Spain trip#2

I’ve arrived in Oliana and I’ll spend the next two weeks working on ‘Fight or Flight’! As expected my motivation has sky rocketed, especially after two months of training and gym time. Hiking up to Oliana, it felt so good to be back and I could hardly wait to warm up and start trying. The wall was dripping wet from a recent storm, so I was surprised to see the upper half of the route dry. I battled through the waterfall-like start and got to work!

As I did the first couple of moves I knew right away something was different. It felt like either the route had changed or I had. Having worked on it so intensively in December, all the body positions, holds and feet felt so familiar, except that this time I was in control, instead of the route. The single moves felt like flowing, even cruxes #2 and #3 went down fairly easy. Sinking the last dyno into a mud puddle I knew that the route is within reach.

Oliana good times

On my way to Spain my baggage went missing, but fortunately I had a pair of climbing shoes in my hand luggage, and some friends helped out with gear. It’s been great seeing a lot of familiar faces at the crag, climbing together with Marco Jubes, Rannveig Aamodt, as well as some guys that are trying ‘Fight or Flight’ as well. Piotr Schab, Lucien Martinez and Patxi Usobiaga, an American crew coming soon, it’s going to be both crowded and motivating!

Oliana is like a magnet for the worlds’ strongest sport climbers, which is easily seen in the amount of nationalities at the crag, and is well displayed in┬áChris Sharma’s videos Oliana Good times 2016 and 2017. You might think it’s annoying trying a project with several others, especially since the prime conditions are only a few hours each day, but it’s actually super fun and productive. Everyone has its own beta and by comparison and trial I constantly adjust and refine my own beta.

More progress

On my second day the wall had mostly dried up throughout the afternoon, making it possible to try the first half of the route as well. I tried Piotr’s idea to use a kneepad for crux #1, which worked like a charm. Icontinued to the rest, stuck crux #2, fired the dyno and was so surprised to climb that far, that I just tapped the top jug without even trying to grab it. The feeling that I could actually climb the route in non-ideal conditions from 10 moves in was a bit overwhelming, but shows that I closed the work-out chapter and can start the chapter of proper tries!

I still need a bit of time to process that feeling, but some more bad weather gave me time for that…

Training phase I (throwback)

I was pretty excited to see how this training cycle would work out, for there were lots of changes to the previous years:

  • A new goal: a rock route instead of a comp season
  • A new training facility, and oh boy, it is enormous!
  • A training start right during the healing of an injury

A slightly worrying issue was that I started my basetraining at least a month earlier then all of my usual training partners, leaving me to do specific exercises by myself, which is much less motivating.

General feelings

Even though I only did an average of 4.5 sessions/week (which is less then I did during my endurance years) I had some problems regenerating in between trainings. As a guideline, I use the principle of doing the next training session after sufficient recovery, which is not fully practicable at my age with the training I had planned. Nonetheless, by varying the intensity of my sessions (60% – 100%) I made it work to avoid those useless zero-energy trainings.

What sometimes totally destroyed me, was the height of the bouldering wall. The wall I used to train on was 3 meters high, this one 5 meters. That means boulders automatically become longer, since nobody stops half way. Since I was training for a power-endurance project, I guess this was nothing problematic, but rather helpful instead.

Due to my finger not feeling 100%, I had to adapt some exercises, for example use bigger crimps therefore smaller feet. I was sure that at the end of the training cycle my crimp strength wouldn’t be where I want it to be, but you gotta make the best of it, right?!

Things I stopped doing

Since my goal is very specific, I had thought really long and hard what I needed and what not ;). I was actually quite happy to put aside the modern comp-style jumping and volume-wrestling; I’m an old school climber these generations, so those were never my thing…

I also had to make some cuts in some activities that were… let’s say counter productive for training. Alpine scrambles (I live in the Alps and I love them!), skiing (this winter proved to be the best in many years), and travelling. I basically decided to stay at home to focus on training. Since I had enrolled in new studies after finishing a few years ago, I thought ‘why not use all that free time and get active?!’. I quickly realised that I had bitten off more than I could chew, and that full-on training plus full-on studies are not great companions.

In the End

I gotta say I didn’t feel at the top of my fitness ending phase I of my training, but I wasn’t too worried about it. What would really count is how I would feel on the route, and I was sure that I had layed a good base for the upcoming training phases.

Next throwback: Spain trip #1

Few days before the trip

Well, I’ve booked my flights for Spain trip #2, I’ve finished my four-month training cycle and I’m starting to get really excited (=nervous) to try ‘Fight or Flight’…

The past week I’ve reduced my training quantity and basically only did good project tries on routes similar to FOF and some bouldering. I’ve even had a 2-day climbing break for the first time since my training started, and to be honest: I can hardly wait to touch some rock! It’s like those last minutes prior to exams, where you start thinking if things will go according to plan.

This is actually the first time during this project I’ve felt nervous, not really about whether I’ll succeed, but more the feeling: ‘let’s get this started!’

Anyway, I feel strong (training paid off), my fingers feel good, I hope the route is still in the same condition (no holds have crumbled or broken), and I’m looking forward to spend some time┬á in Oliana.

A crew of America’s strongest climbers is currently making Catalunia unsafe, and some of those are keen to try the route with me, which is always motivating. One of them is already on sending spree:

Congrats DWoods!

Training start (throwback)

I started planning the details of project-9b and training for it in Summer 2017, and I was happy that I finally had the courage to say: ‘let’s do this!’, when everything was thrown to the wind with the comeback of an old injury. A ganglion (or cyst or whatever) in my middle finger had reappeared, and the tendon sliding over it as I crimped hurt as hell. I saw my dreams crumble, but activated the patience necessary for curing injuries (it’s not the first time my fingers are bugging me).

Injury begone!

After a late Summer and Fall of trying therapies varying from leeches (yes, those blood sucking thingies) to cottage cheese (sounds funny) to regular physiotherapy, I decided to get rid of it the same way as last time: a shot of cortisone. I did this some years ago, and problems were gone quickly, and stayed away for years. This time the cortisone didn’t have the same effect, and I was bummed to not feel a change at all. After the necessary break (cortisone temporarily weakens your tendons and pulleys) I started climbing again, and alas, over time I felt improvement!

Summa summarum, the little bugger is still there, I can actually feel it sitting below the tendon, but somehow my body has adapted to it, and if I keep the bloodflow going and the fluids drained, I can now (since Jan. 2018) crimp at 90% without pain. Trust me, I rarely crimp at 100% ­čśë

Postpone Project-9b??

Downside to the injury chapter was: my training cycle had been delayed by a month and a half, and during basetraining I could not train crimps like I wanted. I thought about postponing it to next year.

In comes Katha, not only my wife, but also the mastermind behind my training, and with some adaptations and reductions my planning was back up! November 20th 2017 I started phase I with double the motivation, but some doubts in mind whether time would be sufficient, since I had set sending time for March 2018.

Next up: feelings on Phase I


Notice on route info

As you might have seen, I removed the info for now on how natural routes are in the section route info.

I originally added this info, since I think the climbing scene should know that a lot of today’s high end routes are not completely natural. It’s important to distinguish between:

  • reinforcing holds/structures with sika so that it’s barely visible/invisible.
  • reinforcing holds/structures with sika so that it’s clearly visible and you actually climb on sika.
  • ‘creating’ holds, e.g. by drilling holds, making new ones with sika, or even adding plastic holds…

I think the state of the art today varies per area/country and it’s hard to say what is right or wrong, and where to draw that line. This alltogether is a different discussion I’d love to see in the climbing scene one day.

The reason why I removed the info on how natural routes are, is that it can be easily misunderstood and discredit the route’s first ascentionist, which I think is not correct. I guess if I want to list that info, it would need more specification and detail.

It’s a tricky case isn’t it?

Mid-way start

Yes, I should have started this blog earlier, not when I’m already more than half way into the process.
But hey, better late than never…

Anyway, welcome to! The goal of this website is to give some more detailed information about:

  • the process of trying to climb 9b (this blog)
  • info on those routes that I’ve tried so far (here)
  • info on my training and preparation (here)

Now you might ask yourself the question: ‘Who’s still blogging these days??’ So did I, and I came to the conclusion that even if only some diehard fans are happy with it, why not. At least website content is a bit longer lasting then nowadays social media content.

So here we are! I’ll try to catch up on the last couple of months (basically since I intiated this project) by some throwbacks.

If you have any suggestions, wishes, or just wanna say hi, please comment!