Climbing status

» 08 November 2010 » In climbing »

I realised recently that I know quite a bit about climbing these days. I don’t know why this realisation hit me now. I’ve been giving out more advice than receiving for a number of years now, spent a fair amount of time introducing (coaching?) newbies into the sport and dedicated a large portion of my life to getting better at it so I suppose it’s only fair I learn a few things along the way :)

The airy traverse of Outer Space, Washington. Photo by Alasdair Turner Photography ::

‘Climbing’ was one of the original categories in this blog. The astute amongst you will note there haven’t been any posts in there yet. This marks the first, and a decision to start writing about clambering as well as coding.

But why a post about me? Well, firstly, climbing is both dangerous and popular. If I’m going to be giving out advice I think it only fair I disclose my own ability and experience first. Even with all the time and effort I’ve put into climbing I’m by no means top class – I’m sure plenty of people out there will find this advice redundant. I suspect the advice I have to give is most useful for people in the mid F6s looking to break into the F7s (sport) or people looking to break into the lower Extremes (trad).

Secondly, I’m going to update this post periodically with my latest achievements, and in doing so use it as a marker for my progress. It’s true that I’ve plateaued a little in the last couple of years. Progress is being made, but it’s slow and sometimes doesn’t feel like any is being made at all.

A little history

I’ve been climbing indoors since I was 11 and on trad (i.e. outdoors) since I was 15. As of November 2010 I’m 28, so that’s quite a long time. By age 18 I was leading 6a indoors and E1 outdoors, but then went to live Cambridge for four years where rocks are few and far between and all but quit climbing. I still did bits and pieces out of term time – I started mountaineering more than rock climbing, spending some time in the Alps and doing my first Scottish winter seasons. During term time I got into rowing in a fairly obsessive way.

After studying I moved to London, quit rowing and picked up the climbing again. Still surrounded by flat most of my climbing happens indoors, with regular weekends and holidays for the ‘real thing’. Four years of rowing made me competitive and more focussed on training (as well as really, really heavy. <sigh />). I’ve tried to apply some of this discipline to my climbing.

Where I’m at now

These days I focus on sport more trad, and trad more than mountaineering and ice climbing. This is mainly because of where I live and what’s available to me, but also because sport climbing holidays tend to be in the sun! :) I train 3 times a week and weigh anywhere between 87 and 90 kgs.

For a list of the kinds of things I’ve been climbing check out my ukclimbing log book (I don’t fill this in religiously, especially anything older than 2009). Similarly, you can check out my cardio training on endomondo – but this only includes UK training and when I remember/can be bothered to have my iPhone on me.

Bits that stand out:

  1. Trad, onsight: E2 5c
  2. Sport, onsight: 7a/7a+
  3. Bouldering:V6, once!

So that’s where I’m at. Plans for the near future are 7b in sport – which is definitely doable – and consolidating E2/climbing E3 on trad. Again, with the right route I’m confident I could do that already but pushing yourself too hard too quickly is likely to get you hurt!

Offwidth hell high on Dragontail Peak, Cascade Mountains, Washington

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