Wideboyz 2 Download

Well, that was an exciting weekend! Just a few days ago was the premiere of Wideboyz II at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. Unlike the viewing of the first film of Century Crack, I got to have a sneak peak of the unfinished product and I have to say it made the night feel quite a bit calmer.

Cobra Crack (c) Paul Diffley, Hotaches

Cobra Crack (c) Paul Diffley, Hotaches

I remember sitting in a Kendal cinema 2 years ago for Wideboyz I and absolutely crapping my pants. I’d never been in a climbing film before, let alone one that had my face plastered all over it. This time, knowing that Chris Prescott and Paul Diffley from Hotaches had made an amazing job was reassuring to say the least. I know it seems a foregone conclusion, but when your year’s climbing efforts are in the spotlight it’s not quite so easy to be casual about. Maybe I shouldn’t care so much, but then again, I’m only human!

So far the production has won Best Climbing Film already at ShAFF which is ace and John Coefield has written a very complimentary review on UKC here. As ever Pete and I will be doing a Europe-wide lecture tour to support the film, so please do give us a shout if you’re keen to see and hear about Pete’s sausage fingers, my nude top rope of Cobra or how you train for 8c on a 8ft wooden crack….

Download Wideboyz 2

Much like Wideboyz I, the film is available to download directly here and all you need to do is click on this link. It’ll take you straight to the download page where you can access it direct to your computer. Simple eh?!

DVD Hard Copies

You can also order DVD hard copies of Wideboyz I or II through my blog (simply comment on this post and I will email you) for £20 incl P&P.

Finally……………….

As an extra something in case you’re not into all the crack climbing – I mean, who is…? – then here’s a short video made by Guy Van Greuning about the recent first ascent of Pure Now E9 6c. Hope you enjoy it.

Back on The Crack Horse

It often seems to be the way with me, that just as I feel like I’ve had a little bit of a break-through, I get injured. It’s happened time and time again over the years. This time, just one day after doing My Kai and Master’s Edge I injured myself fingerboarding.

I was training down in my cellar doing some assisted one-arm hangs in safe grip positions. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Then, I had this sudden urge to see what my max full-crimp hang score was….Why?? I really don’t know. Thirty seconds later I had a sharp pain down my forearm and I knew it was game over for a while.

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Bad chin day.

Over the years I’ve been injured far more times that I’d like to admit to myself. It’s been absolutely soul crushing sometimes, but over time I’ve learnt a really useful skill: sideways motivation deflection. Every bit of psyche that I’ve got I’ll plough with total energy into what I can do without affecting my particular injury. The list of “sideways deflection” results during the last 5 years probably now reads as the few things that I’m actually quite good at; offwidthing, hand jamming, pinky hangs, core conditioning, and index monos.

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Back when the cool kids did core conditioning, not deadhanging.

The ferocity at which I end up training and obsessing about these things have only been equal to the frustration that I’ve had in not being able to do “normal climbing.” So where did this leave me after the latest blow up?

After 2 weeks of total rest, I spent some time testing what I was able to do on rock. I could do some pretty intense climbing on very steep rock (big holds on >45 degrees) and any amount of finger crack climbing. With hindsight, I can look at this injury as being a good thing as it reminded me of two goals this year. My Blackers Hole Projects and an Italian Trad climbing trip to Cadarese and Orco in April. With those in mind, I was back focused and happy!

Firstly, I booked off a little time to spend down at Blackers Hole reaquainting myself with how pumped you can get on big holds. It’s totally mind boggling really as there’s hardly a crimp down there, but within 60ft your arms are exploding. It was brilliant fun though, finding that I could climb with no pain on such big holds, yet still explore a couple of new routes in the E9-10 range. Very, very psyched for this.

Heading up on Infinite Gravity. The new route breaks out from this into beefy and bold territory. (Photo: Oli Grounsell)

The second half of my motivation has been directed towards making new steps forward in my crack climbing again. Pete Whittaker and I have come up with some devious ideas and some devious training methods! I love making these sorts of plans with Pete as he’s partly mad and fuels the fire for some insanely tough and unique training sessions. I’ve built around 40ft of new finger crack that’s got some amazing link ups and problems up to….. er….. well, quite a horrible grade.

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Flappers don’t come in the usual places now.

So for over a month, I’ve been slogging it down to Blackers Hole and sweating away down in my cellar, with just a small dinosaur shaped paddling pool (and occasionally Pete) to keep me company. Last 10 days though, I finally felt like my injury was starting to not hurt on problems less than V6ish, so I headed out for a few days with the very talented Oli Grounsell and did The Bad and The Beautiful E7 6b, Fat Slapper E7 6c, Peas of Mind E6 6a and a rather nice 7c+/8a finger crack in Cheddar Gorge called Bursting the Wave.

Photo: How to get good on grit? Go out in all weather.-0.5 degrees in the car park at Curbar at 9am...doesn't stop the mighty Tom Randall..!

Flashing Peas of Mind at Curbar. Can’t be more than E5 6a though. (Photo: Wild Country)

Hook or Book; The Zone E9 6c

So far this winter I’ve struggled and struggled. My two projects have seen sessions of no success and to be honest I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated. It’s not like the training isn’t going well – my fingers (and specific training goals) are the best they’ve ever been and I regularly PB, but it’s still not quite enough for success on the given line. I guess, I’ve got to be patient. The best thing to do when this happens though, is to get out and do something – something that will give you a bit of a buzz and feel like progress. That’s right isn’t it?

I decided I wanted to see how my projects and finger strength compared to something on the hard grit circuit and thus see if progress from last year really was being made. The Zone, E9 6c at Curbar kind of fitted the bill. Nice wall climbing, fairly challenging sport grade (not the usual gritstone 7a+ frightener) and bold enough to thrill. This route was put up by British climbing legend John Arran and one I remember the first ascent of it well, back in the day.

Photo: Gnarly bugger and inveterate soloist. John Arran

This weekend, I finally bit the bullet and called up Pete Whittaker and told him I’d man up if he promised to hold my ropes and carry me to my car if it went pear shaped. As usual he was totally psyched for it – I already felt stronger just listening to the enthusiasm on the phone! It’s way easier to commit to routes like this when you’ve got a good mate who’s going to bring the right vibe to the crag on the day and who knows even less about skyhooks than me.

The first half of the route is a highball boulder problem up to a series of flatty edges where you can arrange some skyhooks. This highball V3 takes a little of the edge off the nerves to start and settles you into a rhythm, which you then immediately break by spending 10 minutes trying to place the hooks. In fact I got totally pumped putting them in place and the ensuing down climb of a few moves was desperate in this state – a big reminder that I’ve not done any AeroCap for about 3 months!

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Photo: the 2 poorest hooks – my mind needed them though.

After taking a few hours of resting, faffing, waiting for the holds to stop being warm and procrastinating I finally went for the lead. I’d moaned for the previous 2 hours about how the crux hold wasn’t cool enough, but somehow I felt that I’d probably sketch it out if I really needed. Climbing the bottom section felt reassuringly solid the next time and arriving at the hooks for a shake out, I bolstered my confidence by only eye-balling the good group of skyhooks. I couldn’t face even a glance at the bad ones as I knew they were there only to make me feel less scared.

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Photo: the good grouping of hooks – surely these are ok?

Moving onto the top sequence of the route I kept thinking about the mental tricks that I learnt on Century Crack last year. The moves glanced by so sutbly that even when I got the crux hold and it felt terrible I didn’t think much of it. Adjust thumb, sit on right foot, bump right hand up a touch (go further than you think), throw for pebbly-boss…. OH SHIT….. that was nearly off. In someways I felt like I’d actually fallen off the route, but there I was feeling gripped on the last hard move. Pete was telling me I was looking smooth (good liar) and all I had to do was crimp it up. Index finger on, crimp that finger first, adjust hip left a little, feel toes inside boot, move foot across, share feet….. ah. Ok all over.

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Photo (Mike Hutton): bottom V3 highball – great problem in its own right. Luverly.

Topping out on the route was such a disappointing feeling though. I’ve never done a headpoint before where I only did it to progress my headspace. I’d always done them in previous years because I wanted the route so badly. This time, I’d taken my obsessive approach to training and self-progression to a headpoint and it didn’t work. Trying dangerous routes in this style for me has to be about how much I want the experience, not just as a tool for progression. A real lesson learnt this weekend. In the end I just ended up thinking about what I really wanted; to do those other projects!!

Many thanks to Mike Hutton for the photos…

Training to Ride The Wave

Have you ever noticed that when you’ve taken on new forms of training or new methods of training over the years, that you follow a similar pattern of performance? I certainly know I have, and it’s been a long and painful process to try and push myself out of the following bad pathway. My training method for a particular exercise used to take 4 steps:

1. Start with being utterly rubbish (very hard on the ego, but you push on)

2. Get quite good (reward the dented ego)

3. Get even better, but then suffer from ever decreasing returns

4. Get frustrated and obsesses with this certain manner of training and hit your head against the proverbial brick wall until you either give up or get injured.

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The core can be trained harder than almost any other muscle group.

There is one (amongst others) fairly sound method of staying away from this pathway decreased performance potential, and I’ll call it “Riding the Wave.” The wave principal in training is used to ensure that there is a continuous improvement in bodily conditioning. As we all know, it’s amazing to get the initial gains, but we can stagnate after just a couple of months. Common sports science literature suggests that we change the training load after just 6 weeks of training effort, and importantly, supplement it with periods of regeneration training to promote super-compensation.

So, in essence:

1. Alter your training load (factor of intensity or volume) after approx 6 weeks

2. Don’t forget periods of regeneration training to allow your body to realise its gains. Most people love to forget this part!!

When you’ve done your 6 weeks of a new regime and you’ve passed through the lows of being totally rubbish and moved onto the highs of burning off your mates at said exercise (or your own PB) then reassess and ramp it up! Don’t go too mad for too long though; make sure you drop the load right down at regular intervals during the season, so that if you were to graph the “line of load” then it’d look like a slowly growing wave.

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Crack training is no different from any other. Change it up, or lose out.

Tricks of the Endurance Training Trade

Endurance training is easy right? You just put your earphones in, get on the wall and plod around on jugs for hours and hours and hours…. Or, do you get down the wall and start a beastly regime of 4×4 laps on routes a couple of grades below your regular onsight? Or do you plug into a TENS machine?? One or more of these might be familiar to you, but which is the best? What’s the real secret?

Pumped?

Firstly, you have to think about what you want to achieve by training endurance. What is the effect going to be?

1. Increase in aerobic capacity

2. Increase in capillarity (density of capillary bed in forearms)

3. Increase in mitochondrial density

4. Increase in climbing efficiency.

Increase in Aerobic Capacity

This can also be known as an increase in “endurance capacity” and is simply the maximum amount of oxygen that can be consumed and utilised in a given time period. If you have a low aerobic capacity, you will be using little of your available oxygen for metabolism and vice versa, if it is high. The key to increasing this capacity, lies in the next two sections – mitochondrial density & capillary density.

Capillarity

The muscles in our forearms are extremely dependent on the supply of oxygenated blood and also on the removal of waste products. It has been found in a number of sports that the limit of the performance of an athlete is dictated not by the metabolic processes within the muscle itself, but by the oxygen supply arriving at the muscle. Increasing the capillary bed size in our forearms is one way in which we can fight this battle.

What does the research say?

1. Adaptation occurs at high intensities of training

2. Adaptation does not occur at low intensities of training

What does this mean for you?

Get off that wall and stop wasting hours and hours traversing around on jugs, just for your capillarisation session. There are of course other benefits to traversing around for hours, but there’s evidence to suggest that capillarisation isn’t one of them.

Mitochondrial Density

These are protein structures within your cells that produce aerobic energy, and as such, pretty useful things to have plenty of! If you can increase your mitochondrial density (and hence oxygen consumption) you will increase the rate of aerobic energy supply = better endurance capacity.

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What does the research say?

1. We have mitochondria in both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres.

2. Training intensity will relate to the stimulation on certain types of muscle fibre and consequently effect mitochrondial density in those fibres.

What does this mean for you?

You’ll be able to increase the mitochondrial density in fast twitch muscle fibres by doing high intensity, low volume work and in type I (slow twitch) fibres, you work at low to medium intensities at high volumes. You should be aware that the balance of this training is dictated by your fast/slow twitch make up and maximum efficiency will be gained by working with your genetic make up and not against it!

Climbing Efficiency

Finally the effect of doing a huge volume of climbing, is extremely beneficial on the efficiency of your climbing. You will learn to not over-grip, your footwork will improve and you’ll improve your movement skills no end – especially if you vary the angle at which you carry out your endurance training.

All of the above of course, is just a part of the whole equation and there are always more factors to consider. It does however, get very complicated and even the more intricate training programme can never work to perfection. As a final note of caution – don’t forget if something works for you, and you’re happy with it, then there’s probably no need to change. Probably.

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A reality check

This year was going to be big. I was so psyched from last year, so motivated to make changes and up the game a notch.

I got stuck into a grit project that was really hard for me, I started finger boarding properly, I wrote myself a 2 year programme and my lattice board was trained on at all hours of the night and day. It all went really well actually and then…… I went on a slabby 7b and “POP!” game over. I kind of knew it at the time, but for the last 2-3 months I’ve been trying to ignore it. Well, it’s time for a reality check. The finger is doomed. I’m cutting it off and abandoning.

No more ring for me. It was useless anyway.

No problem. Crack Time!!!!!!!

Much that I hate to admit it, I’m a totally crap face climber, so whilst this finger is deciding to hate life, I’m back to cracks. I’ve dug out the old project book, found the key to my cellar and hitting Millstone on a regular basis for some reacquainting.

Mr Turtle and I, remember how it used to be.

Trying to get back into training down the cellar has been a bit of a rough ride. It’s kind of shocked me how good I got at stuff down there, so 12 months later, it’s a bit a rude awakening! On my first session I couldn’t even do the hand crack roof (about 7b?) and the 45deg finger crack was off limits.

No chance. Up the game slacker.

It’s ok though, the training and specificity is coming through now and I’m back above my previous peak, so happy days. I’ve got the replica moves on my South Wales project sorted, so that’s all good. Some core, less rain and some time off from building my new boulder wall in Loughborough and things could be looking up.

No more splitter tips. Just these.

Enjoyment in other peoples’ successes

One of the things that I’m really lucky to experience in my role of coaching, is vicarious enjoyment through other peoples’ successes. Two climbers that I’ve been working with for a while now, are Stu Littlefair (you can read a little more about him here) and Luke Tilley. Both climbers are brilliant to work with because they understand the concept of proper hard work and dedication.

When I first met Stu properly, I was amazed by his incredible strength, but also his stamina for the opposite reasons! Working for Stu, creating periodised training programmes to try and even out some of the imbalances, has been really good fun (he probably doesn’t see it that way though!) and in the end very rewarding for me, personally. To see him break the Aerobic Power record on my Lattice Board (used to assess the energy systems of sport and comp climbers) this week, was massively inspiring. So thanks Stu, you’ve spurred me on to work harder!

Secondly, to hear that Luke hit the podium in the finals of his recent European Youth Cup in Russia was great. For at least the previous 3 years before going to Uni this year, he’s worked incredibly hard with his training. Almost anything that I throw at him, he just laps it up and gets on with the graft. That base, seems to have paid off this year still, when he’s not quite had the time to utterly beast himself 24-7. As such, his depth of experience and training is still coming through. I hope he continues to push into the Senior events to inspire more out there.

For me, it’s been a bit of a dark month. My finger injury has really pushed me hard and I’m feeling a little lost with where I’m going right now. I might have to go back down a path that resembles the picture below. Perhaps no bad thing if it looks like that?!

Itaca Nel Sole, gorgeous 8a finger crack.