No pain, no gain, that's the theory right?! I hope that is true, because I have been pushing my body harder than ever before and existing in a state of perma-tiredness... Getting up at 5 or 6am every morning to train in the cool morning hours and make the most of the day... My training cycle has involved grueling circuits, sprint intervals, long hill runs, tread-wall sessions and a LOT of climbing. Completing this cycle has required a huge amount of energy and focus, and I have even been relishing my few rest days more than ever before...
I have to thanks Rob Pizem for putting together such an awesome and demanding program for me! I have found myself loving having a plan to stick to and I feel like both my body and mind have thrived on the routine it has created in my relatively random life. I have always enjoyed pushing my body to its limits... So training has just become another more thorough and structured way of seeing how much my body can handle. Now, after five weeks of training it is exciting to see how well my is responding and the progress I am getting in my climbing, overall fitness and strength. Even when I am exhausted, I have been performing better than ever before! It makes me realize (once again) how much room I still have progress and learn in this sport.
Surprisingly, I have actually managed to follow through with this program to the end, and combined it with climbing in as many different places as I can around the Grand Junction region. Attempting onsight as much as possible and do large numbers of pitches in a day, rather than get sucked into working on one route, as I normally would. I climbed in Rifle, the Puoux, played on the alpine granite up on Mt Evans, and locally in Unaweep. And I even made it out to the Black Canyon for a day, but unfortunately it was still a little on the warm side!
In this way I have managed to get a much higher volume of climbing in and kept my focus on training for my goals in Yosemite! It has been great to be based in one place for a month, it has helped me regain my focus and drive. In a few days I am off to Germany to attend the Adidas Rockstars Comp, then to the Valley!
Thanks to everyone here for welcoming me into the community, and all my sponsors for believing in me and helping me follow my dreams! Gnarly Nutrition, Five Ten, Adidas, Petzl, Stirling, Joshua Tree Skin Care and Em's Power Cookies.
With only a few days left in France, a big storm rolled into Chamonix, leaving all the mountains with a new layer of snow on the mountains and me very frustrated - It took all of my willpower to summon up enough patience (definitely not one of my strengths...) to endure a couple terribly wet days in Chamonix and not to just leave... However, luckily I did stay and was rewarded by an amazing last couple days climbing on the alpine granite!
The first fine day was still a little snowy to head up onto the Mt Blanc massif, Martina and I chose to go up to Mt Brevent, where we did two very nice routes in a row. The first was a beautiful mixed (bots and trad) four pitch route, then the second was on the same formation, just a little to the right. Three rope-streatching pitches of technical, sustained and quite demanding climbing (7a+, 7b+ and another 7b+). It was a good day of climbing and we were back down in Chamonix by 3.30pm!
Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc - Trident du Tacul.
Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc - Trident du Tacul. Our objective was an eight pitch route called "Les Untouchables"... A beautiful route on steep clean granite, with many pitches in the mid 7's and very diverse climbing - From steep splitter cracks to super technical slabs with invisible holds...
The crux pitch was at the top of the route, and had two variations - two cracks running parallel to each other up a steep blank face, either 7b+ or 7c+. Naturally, we choose to try the harder variant, which turned out to be predominantly purple and green camalots... The worst size for both Martina and I. I was glad of the ring-locking practice I had over winter on the sandstone in Indian Creek, and it obviously helped - I came very close to flashing the pitch, but unfortunately a foot blew and sent me flying.... However, I was still very happy to send on my second attempt! Leaving us plenty of time to rappel the route and be back at the cable car to catch the last lift down!
This was a fantastic day! Thank you Martina for being my guide and showing me a diverse selection of what Chamonix has to offer... I am super psyched to come back for more next Summer!
Now, after a few lovely relaxed days with my family in Germany, I find myself back in Colorado. Where I have launched straight into a brutal training regime to prepare for Yosemite - Thanks Rob!!! Everything hurts already, after only a few days here and I can see that pain is going to become my best friend again. But I know my body will adjust quickly and I am excited to give it my all and see what I can achieve.
Thanks to all my friends and sponsors who are giving me the means to follow my dreams!
After a wet and very unsettled Spring/Summer, with a little too much flitting around the world, it has been a welcome change to be living out of my van again, in the full blown heat of Summer... Being able to focusing purely on climbing again and getting super fit for my season in Yosemite this Autumn. After three days at the Outdoor Trade show in Germany, Ben and I escaped to the peaceful and beautiful Ceuse - It is still one of my most favorite places in the world! Even in the midsummer rush when there are people everywhere and often queues for the popular routes, this place seems to maintain its serene atmosphere. While being up at the crag, I feel like I am removed from everyday life, looking down at the rest of the world... A little like being in the mountains.
The first few days were brutal... I felt like I was just getting destroyed by everything I tried, from 7a's to 8a's, they all felt absolutely desperate. For me, this was hard to handle, because the last time I had been there (in 2009) I was fit, used to the style and crushing everything. However, it only took a few days or my muscles to remember how to climb at Ceuse, and the last few days were amazing.
However, before I managed to get really accustomed to the style (and hour long hike to the cliff) at Ceuse, I decided to move on. I headed for Chamonix, offering bigger mountains, higher altitudes, longer routes and even granite cracks... Well, I was hoping to get on the granite, but unfortunately the weather has not quite been cooperating. I have managed to climb many pitches and cover a large amount vertical meters in the last week, which is actually exactly what I was wanting!
The last adventure was climbing "Dret dans l'Pentu" a fairly sustained 8 pitch route (crux 7b+) on Fiz (Pointe d'Ayeres), with Martina - A beautiful limestone peak just down the valley from Chamonix. It was a big day, starting with a two hour hike up the mountainside, of which the last half-hour was a scramble over horrifyingly loose scree slopes above decent sized cliffs - Where any wrong move would have ended very badly...
However, we survived and the route itself was incredible, diverse and engaging, with beautiful views of Mt Blanc and the surrounding valley. Now I have a few more days in Chamonix, before heading back to Germany and then back to Colorado, for some more climbing at altitude... The Diamond!
A crazy trip and another whirlwind experience.... Twenty hours of flying each way for three days in Beijing to attend ISPO, their big trade show. Sasha and I were there as athlete representatives for Adidas and Five Ten. It was a totally foreign world and could not have been any more different from my simple van life here, where my life revolves around training and climbing...
Coming from Grand Junction, where I never drive more than 5min to get anywhere, the huge city of Beijing itself was a shock, with its constant noise, traffic jams and an insane amount of people... all speaking in rapid, extremely loud Chinese and barely any who spoke English. However, it was a really fun trip and an interesting insight into a very different way of life. It made me appreciate the freedom of my lifestyle, which I generally take for granted too much. The beauty of the relatively untouched nature that surrounds me, where I go climb or run on a daily basis, and the clean air - A couple of the days we were in Beijing we so smoggy that I did not even want to go outside... I understand why they wear face masks now!
The Chinese looked after us like we royalty... We were put up in a beautiful hotel, taken out for incredible lunches and dinners, where although I rarely knew what I was eating, most of it tasted really good... And for once we (the athletes) were only required to be at the show for short periods of time - to do a few presentations, posters signings and media conferences!
This meant that we were fortunate enough to actually experience a little of China outside of the ISPO. The highlights of my time over there were... Getting a "real" Chinese massage - an hour of intense but incredibly good pain, which came complete with a scorching foot bath, hot tea and sliced oranges. An interesting yet winning combo!
Wandering the streets of the Hutong with our lovely young guide, who introduced us to countless typical Chinese/Beijing delicacies, and showed us many of the classic Chinese shops, including an incredible tea shop - We spent about an hour there, testing delicious teas, browsing the beautiful ceramics and watching the store attendant making tea art...
And a visit to the Forbidden City, where we were treated to a meeting with a nephew of the last great emperor, who is now one of the best Chinese calligraphers and sometimes works within the Forbidden City.
Now, after only 6 days away, I am back in Colorado, finishing my training cycle and climbing as much as I can before hitting the road again... A trip like this was definitely a good way to make a week feel like an eternity!
Living in a true winter this year has made me realize how much I really do dislike the cold... It was snowy, with daytime temperatures well below freezing for almost a month straight. I struggled with short days, very little sunshine and it simply being too cold to go play outdoors. This made me realize how much I love and how much my general happiness depends on being outside in nature. However, the positive aspect of this was that it really forced me to focus on training and spend time climbing at the gym, which I know is going to benefit me more in the long run... Yet, is hard to deal with at the time!
I have been based in one place for about two months now - A record time for me in the last few years! Even though it has been difficult for me in many ways, I have actually really enjoyed being in one place and truly focusing all my energy on training. Now, without me realizing it, Grand Junction has actually become some form home for me... And with the days getting longer, spring on its way, and weather warming up enough to get out climbing a fair bit, I am actually really starting to enjoy being here. I just started my second training cycle and now that I have become a little more accustomed to it... I am realizing that I actually enjoy having this focus and structure in my life. My entire body is hurting more than ever before, but I love the pain and thrive off the challenge to push myself to my limit in every single training session... To make the most of the short time I have to dedicate myself to training - I want to learn and grow as much as I can in the next month, which makes every session a vital part of the whole.
I am seeing large gains in my strength, power and explosive movement, which is motivating me to push even harder and to find a way to incorporate some blocks of structured training into my life several times each year. Also, with the weather improving slightly, I have finally been managing to explore the large variety of different crags around here... Limestone, granite and sandstone are all right within an hours drive. Exploring the desert, learning to jam in the splitter sandstone cracks and climb some desert towers were big parts of the reason I came to this part of the USA... Unfortunately it has been un unseasonably cold winter, so that did not happen at all until the last couple weeks. Now, I am trying to make up for it - Squeezing in as many days as I can!
Last week went down to Caastleton Tower to check out "The Ivory Tower" a relatively new route which takes a stunning line up a calcite coated arete. The day I went to climb it was freezing, so all I did was boulder all the moves on the crux pitch to see whether I want to invest time and energy into the route. Of course, the answer was "Yes" - It is one of the most beautiful lines with fantastic, technical yet at the same time kind of powerful face climbing. In a breathtaking location.
Also on another freezing adventure with Piz, we succeeded in doing a first ascent of a small, perfect finger crack... My first new route in the desert on sandstone. Now, I am making a brief transition into another world - I am on route to Beijing, China for the ISPO. Stay posted for some stories from China...
Another year and a new Mayan Calendar have begun without any change to the world (that I noticed anyway...) However there has been a big change in my approach to achieving my goals. I am finally doing what I possibly should have done a long time ago - Experimenting with training rather than just climbing, to see what this can do for my overall climbing ability. I have self-imposed a break from travel and any real climbing to focus on working my weaknesses, building my strength, power and explosive movement. Preparing for the craziness of 2013 - I am excited to see what it has to throw at me...
I have consciously placed myself in a difficult and often frustrating situation, and I am feeling a long way out of my comfort zone. Winter in Grand Junction - a small redneck 'Merican town in Colorado?! What I was thinking when I decided that this was a good plan... The whole region has just been hit by an abnormally cold winter - It has been well below 0 degrees Celsius for a good few weeks now, making climbing outside near impossible. The transition from climbing outside nearly everyday, and not really training on plastic at all, to suddenly spending all my time inside is difficult to bear. Over the last few weeks I have often found myself questioning why I am here when I could be anywhere in the world...
The answer is, because I want to learn to train. I know that my true passion is for climbing outside on beautiful natural features, yet another key part of my drive to climb is about extending my limits and attempting to reach my full potential as a climber. For quite a long time I have had the feeling that training is what I need to do to make significant gains in sport climbing. This is a side of climbing that I have never explored fully, having spent most of my time progressing through simply spending countless hours on rock. This feeling was strengthened by my brief experience with training before heading back to Punks in the Gym at the end of last year - I noticed a big difference in my overall strength. Therefore, I have chosen to base myself in a place where I am forced to train... I am determined to stick to my plan of doing several moths of true training, however, it is pushing my limits in ways I had not expected.
Having a plan to follow is new experience for me... For many years I have been structuring my climbing days around listening to my body. So, it is a big change just doing what I am told, learning to trusting in Rob's experience and not thinking about the short term. Maintaining motivation by focusing on the long term gains. I am now a month into my program and I am trying to give each session everything I have... My body has been feeling totally destroyed most of the time, yet I have also been seeing constant improvement in my strength and have been learning a lot! Embracing this pain and documenting my improvements are the only things which are getting me through my internal struggles, and withdrawal symptoms from a lack of 'real' climbing.
Last week Rob, Ben and I took a brief trip down to the warmth of Vegas last week to climb, which was a welcome break. It was awesome to be out in the sunshine and just climb again. It really made me notice how much harder training is than climbing... And interestingly enough, I quickly found myself missing the total body fatigue I have been getting from the workouts. Ah, life is fun!