Sunday, 25 November 2012

STS round 3

This weekend saw the 3rd round of the STS. I was wanting to do better than round 2, were I came 5th. The competition was held at RGU in Aberdeen. Unfortunately thanks to the rather modest size of RGU there wasn't a final, so everything rested on qualifying.
I managed to get a clean round, getting 140/140 points. It was quite an easy competition as a few people did, including Scott Grosdanoff and Steve Johnstone, but it is still a good 20 points to add to my final series total. 
On Sunday I went to Newtyle Quarry with Andy Laing and Alejandro Garcia. My project for the day was Too Fast Too Furious (M11). I managed to link up to the chains on Torchlite on my first attempt but came off whilst trying to search for holds. I think if I had the hold beta I may have been able to flash it. I had another attempt later on but I was too tired to do very much.
Alejandro and Andy went into the tube for the first time and were working Fast and Furious.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Training with Schmoolz

Schmoolz, for those that don't already know, are a really fun and interesting way to train for dry tooling indoors on normal plastic holds with no sharp pointy things to hurt anyone.
Ive been using these for a couple of years now and my dry tooling ability has come along quite well. 
I'm not really one for proper structured training so I won't try and try and give a detailed training plan, but here are a few of the things I try and practice with my Schmoolz.
1. Holding axes: The best thing about schmoolz in my opinion is how similar they are to a proper ice axe, compared to other similar products out there. Holding an ice axe is a pretty alien thing to do at first and efficient use of the finger rests is an important thing to master. If your used to just squeezing your axe because there isn't a trigger then your going to do that on an ice axe and get pumped. To be fair I should point out here that there is a flaw with Schmoolz here. The triggers are just a bit too narrow, which hurts your little finger a bit. Ive been told this is getting sorted though.
2. Moving smoothly: To make your axe stick on marginal holds you need to try not to move the axe whilst matching and reaching the next hold. This is sometimes harder said than done and what better way to practice it than by doing it!
3. Accuracy: It quite hard to be accurate with an ice axe. Trying to do big moves on schmoolz gets you used to putting your axe in the right place to stick the next hold.
Going big
4. Fig fours: Fig fours, and fig nines, are probably the least natural and hardest to understand of all dry tooling moves. Sometime its hard to understand why they may be useful and how best to move between fig fours and nines. Schmoolz are perfect for practicing this.
5. Get pumped!: Schmoolz are an amazing way of just getting pumped. Say what you like but I quite like getting pumped. It makes you feel like your doing something. 

I find that trying to climb routes only using the holds they have been set with is a good way of practicing many of these techniques. As routes are generally set with hands in mind it isn't always possible to use all the holds. This means that you may need to use marginal holds,make big moves or just get into odd positions to complete the route, which you may not do if you make your own routes up.
Getting into weird positions (sorry about the bad photo)
I will add some more pictures when I get some.
Happy Schmooling!

Monday, 19 November 2012

STS round 2 and Ravelston Quarry

This weekend was the second round of the STS. It was held at Glasgow climbing centre. I didn't do so well this round, coming 5th. I flashed all but one route, which I didn't get atall. It just so happened to be the only route that didn't have intermediate scoring on it. If it did I would have made the final. I will just have to improve abit for next week at RGU.
On sunday I went to Ravelston Quarry in Edinburgh, with Dan Aberdeen. Ravelston is a small, sandstone, drytooling crag. It is unbolted and un drilled. I think the style of climbing would be very good preperation for winter as all the holds are on natural features. I managed to onsight two things that were probably M6 or M7.
The crag was developed by Oly Leask. Hes written a few blog posts on it which can be found here.
The routes we did were face route B and something to the left of face route A, as shown on his blog.
I will hopefully get down there again to try some more of the routes, and if things go to plan bolting will start soon.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Round 1, Scottish Tooling Series, The Ice Factor

This weekend was the first round of the 2012 Scottish Tooling Series. I have been looking forward to this for a while and so have been trying to get some training in so that I would be in the best position possible to better my second place from last year.
The day started pretty badly as I over slept. I was meant to get up at 5.30 am and have a leisurely breakfast and drive up in time for registration at 8.30. Instead I got up at 7, made a quick coffee and left. I forgot where I was going on my way out of Edinburgh and was half way to the fourth road bridge before I remembered that I needed to go west, not east, so that wasted a bit of time. I knew there was no chance of me getting there in time for registration so I phoned ahead. I managed to arrive in Kinlochleven at about 9.20, just while the introductory talk was going on.
I was to climb with Pete Holder. I first met Pete at the Northern Tooling Series, which he won and I came second in. Pete has been getting a lot of practice in down at The Works in the lake district so I was interested to see how he did. We got under way climb and despite a bit of a shaky start things seemed to go well. I managed to flash 13 of the 15 problems and got 2 on my second attempt. I fell off problem 3 just because it was very hard. I also slipped off the start of problem 9, just because I wasn't paying attention. This gave me 144/150 points, and I qualified for the finals in second place. I was behind Steve Johnstone, who got 150/150. Pete came in 3rd with 141/150.
The finals were to take place on the hanger wall, which was set to a reasonably steep position today. It started with a short traverse then straight up to the top. There were 5 men in the final; Steve, Pete, Cass, Scott and me. I was the fourth person out, as it is done in reverse qualification order, with 5th place coming out first. I figured Pete, Scott and Cass were all strong enough to complete the route, and hearing the crowd cheering made me think that they quite possibly had. I bouldered around whilst in isolation, trying to do as many dyno's as I could, as I'm not really very good at them.
It was my turn and as I came out of isolation I could look at the route and see which was the highest swinging quick draw, as this give me an idea of how high Pete got on his attempt, which was before mine.
I started off pretty steadily and made light work of the traverse. I got to the 5th clip quite easily but the 6th I found a bit more difficult, as my feet slipped whilst clipping and I nearly came off. I managed to get back on and clip then move up again. I got to the 8th clip, which was just before a massive move up. I was getting pretty tired now so I tried to rest as best I could. My gloves were starting to slip on my axes but I went for the move anyway. I didn't reach the hold and I couldn't control the fall back onto my lower axe and came off.
Stevie was up next and he cruised up to were I came off, although by a very different sequence. Stevie managed to make the move I didn't, although he didn't make it look easy, luckily. He topped the route and was crowned winner. I came second, thanks to getting a couple of clips higher than Pete, who came 3rd.

My high point
 There will hopefully be some videos to follow.
The full results are here.
UKC have done a write up of the event here.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Migrant

This weekends weather was looking promising for winter climbing. I met up with James Higgins at the Cairngorm car park at 6.30 am on Saturday morning, after roughly 5 hours sleep in the back of the car, and off we went into Coire an Lochain to find something that looked white. Jim was on about trying Pic n' Mix but we decided against it as it is really quite hard and would have been a bit ambitious for such early season. This was my first day out this season, and Jim's second. We were joined in the Coire by Neil Adams as his partner had forgotten his boots.

We decided to go for Nocando Crack (VII 8). I had seen some pictures on of it on UKC and it looked really good. Neil lead the first pitch and then I was given the second, which was the main crack and crux pitch. I started up a short corner and then onto a big ledge. From here I was to traverse to the right edge of the ledge and climb the crack to a big cut out. I spent a while trying to get gear in and find hooks. I couldn't find anything I trusted and after a while of fiddling around I asked Neil and Jim if they wanted to have a go at it. Neil said he would and came up to meet me on the ledge. He gained the crack and then started climbing up it on very thin icy hooks. There was too much ice in the crack to allow you to place gear, although he did find some in situ gear. Neil climbed about half of the pitch before deciding it was unjustifiably dangerous and lowered off his axe in a good hook. I was quite glad I didn't get that far as I'm not sure I would have done that.
Neil abseiled to the ground and Jim and I finished up the Migrant (VI 7), which was very good. Jim lead the crux on this, which was a thin traverse. I finsihed up the easy angle slabby terrain at the top, which I though climbed really nicely. We abseiled down Nocando Crack to retrieve Neils axes and walked out.
Despite the faff we had on Nocando Crack I had a really good day, and only got hot aches once. Hopefully the rest of the season holds more successful ascents.
Jim has also done a write up on his blog.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Getting Creative

It was the first CSE climbing competition this Thursday, which I went to. The format this year was different from previous years as there were no mats to pad up the tower with. In this case the competition was a joint bouldering and top rope competition. The competition wasn't a massive success, as the CSE route setters don't really climb in competitions and didn't seem to understand how to set for them. Regardless we soldiered on and I managed to come out in 2nd in the male hard category, 7 points ahead of Hugo and 5 points behind Ryan. I'm very pleased with this placing as its the highest Ive ever placed in a non dry tooling competition.
Today I have been getting creative with and old pair of climbing shoes. Ive wanted a pair of fruit boots for a while but they are very expensive to buy so I have decided to make my own. I used my old Scarpa Mago's and bought a pair of Petzl dart crampons and bolted them to the front. This is the result.....
Hopefully they wont fall to pieces too soon.