The recalcitrant

IMG_2093With some spare time on my hands, well a little bit of time, a new baby tends to suck most of the time away. I decided to make an attempt to think about my climbing, with as much of an objective perspective as possible.

I have two very similar tendencies or preferences if you wish. I say to my wife, I’m going training, this means going to my shed for an hour or so, sometimes a little more, here I listen to techno, I do a few dead hangs on increasingly smaller holds, a few assisted pull ups, standing on a bucket, then I do three (warm up) problems in escalating difficulty, if I flash them all I move onto three harder problems, one of which was a project for several months, basically these are three maximal effort problems. After that I try one of maybe two on-going projects, I fail to complete the projects, both of which are over a year old. Then I go back to the house.

Outside I mostly go to one of three or four same venues and try and fail on one of my four or so projects in the area. Occasionally I make progress, but if I’m honest I’m some way from finishing them off. Now and again, a few times a year, I clean and climb a FA, grade wise I look for 7’s, if the FA is a 7B+ it might take a half a dozen or more sessions, less if it’s easier. To be fair on myself I do sometimes finish a harder project, more often it will be a FA. It’s just that the last time I did this seems some time ago now, maybe it’s what happens as you get older or maybe I like the process too much or maybe I’m just lazy.

It’s clear my training and bouldering is limited, maybe not in imagination and dedication, but in terms of breadth it is limited. My training I suspect if analysed by a professional isn’t even training. However I justify to myself that I am in fact training for circumstances that I encounter in reality, for example a single boulder project, isolated near no warm ups, its often cold. So my ‘training’ in the shed is I think specific at least. This specificity is revealed when I try and do something broader, like a long boulder problem or visits a bouldering wall with blobs and compression and roofs and not a 45-degree angle with small holds in sight. In these contexts I’m rubbish.

So I ask myself what do I really want from my climbing and training. I think I like doing what I do, it’s a habit, it’s a routine and it’s a comfort, it’s a meditation and sometimes a philosophy. It’s also an embodied practice; I’ve been doing more or less the same thing for twenty years. But and it’s a big but, I would like to finish one, at least one of my projects.

Next time I have some spare time on my hands and I don’t go to my shed to train, or drive to a project and fail, I will try and write up some ‘objectives’ or some ’thoughts’

down by the river

Down by the river. A large mouse crawls out of the undergrowth oblivious to my presence as I sit motionless. Over the summer spiders have colonised the cracks and holes in the rock, brambles and ferns hang over the lip of the boulder. Out of the half dozen or so moves that I tried I couldn’t do any of them. Is this a meditative practice or a huge waste of time…I expect I will never know.

sector 28 Laramade


Sector 28, for want of a better name. There is a bit of a sector not far from the main area at Laramade. It does seem that there is quite a bit of potential in this valley, last year I found  and in another sector, after a bit of a clean, this very good arete emerged, starts hard and gets easier; ‘Scully’ 7B/+ or thereabouts I think. Very close to this I cleaned up another good problem, more like 6C ish. This area has been climbed in before, there is an old hard project from a few years back, with a video lurking on the web, but the area has quite a bit of potential. I have a few projects on the go some stupid some realistic.

training…second week, home and away

In the second week of this programme and each session has involved dealing with a sensation that can only be described as mild nausea. I remember this feeling, years ago when I ‘trained’, now its clear that for years I have only been putting effort into the things that I enjoyed. For example, hanging off and moving on small holds I like, thus I do lots of it and think I’m training. This last couple of weeks I have been doing  amongst other awful exercises; ‘planks’, they are horrible, what is their to enjoy from passing from fatigue to feeling sick, heart pounding, red in the face and vibrating from head to toe, basically nothing.


My last post was about a project…well it took a few sessions, but I’m very pleased with this problem. It pushed me a a bit, struggled initially to climb past my seven move limit/block. In the end it went easily though. I’ve spent a year in the Ariege looking for new problems but it was only in the last couple of months that the searching started to pay dividends, the bare trees of winter probably made the difference allowing glimpses into the trees that finally revealed the potential. Should be more to come!


I looked in the woods and I found a very promising unclimbed boulder. I came back with brushes and a ladder and cleaned the moss and dirt from the boulder. Revealed beneath was a prow of granite, hidden in the trees, a thing of interest a thing of desire. On my second visit I began to piece the moves together, complex yes, but everything seemed to be in the right place, every move was powerful and interesting. I’d found a beauty.

It’s now a project, it’s harder than I thought. Thirteen moves long, none easy a mid way crux and a difficult finish.

Ohh but the joy….