In which I take a photo every day that I'm 50, and post it here on this blog, with a bit of related blurb.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Day 221b - Baker Street

You used to think that it was so used to say that it was so easy, but you're trying, you're trying now...

This post really has nothing to do with Baker St, except the tenuous day number connection, and that scrap of lyric that I appropriated.

It's just that I'd had this topic lined up to do on Saturday night, when we got home from a birthday meal out...only to find Jazz had taken a sudden turn for the worse...and that was that.

Anyway, rather than rush, and being unable to resist the urge to go for a bonus post on day 221, I've hung onto them and figured I'd feel up to writing it up by then, hopefully. 

We'd been out climbing, and had gone indoors because of the forecast.   As the post about steep bouldering a couple of weeks ago had sparked some conversation, I thought I'd follow up and grab a couple of videos of steep indoor climbing whilst we were there.

Each of the bouldering problems (climbs) that I'm going to show in this post has the same basic rules.  The objective is to start from the marked starting holds for your hands, and follow the same coloured holds to the last one (usually at the top, more or less).  The problem is complete when you have both hands on the last hold in a controlled manner.

In this post I'm going to focus on steep climbs, of which there are always plenty, because...well, they're fun!

The climb above is fairly low grade, V1 or so I think, and had nicely juggy handholds...but it was steep - maybe 50deg compared with 35deg for the rock in Lancashire.

Observe how careful and controlled Anna's movements are...nicely efficient, and no wild swings.  Note that even when she lets her feet come off the wall at the end, it's done in a very deliberate. controlled manner.

Here's me making the same climb look a lot smaller...

Now on to the really steep stuff - ceiling climbs!

These are great fun, although very tiring.

Technique-wise, there are several fundamentals:

Straight Arms - bending your arms in these positions is very hard, and involves a lot of upper arm strength...keeping arms straight means the only muscles you really need to use are those keeping your fingers and logic aside, it's simply way easier to keep arms straight - it just takes a little trust and commitment...

Don't cut your feet (unless you have to) - that is, don't let your feet come off the wall leaving all of your weight on your arms and upper tires you out quickly, and uses huge amounts of core muscle (and similarly huge amounts of energy) to get your feet back on...and every pound of weight you can push through a foot is a pound less that your hands are having to support...

Weight Transfer - Whenever you need to move a hand, get as much weight as possible settled and steady underneath the other hand...this means you won't swing when the one hand lets go, and you'll have time to make a controlled move, rather than the all too common lunge-and-grab.

With those ideas in mind, here's a video of me having a first attempt at a slightly harder route.  I fail to complete the problem, but you can see some of these techniques as I move across the ceiling... 

Note that I cut my feet 30 seconds or so in, having failed to realise that I could have actually walked my feet around keeping them high instead...then I have a few moments of bent arms on the next hold, before falling off because I've run out of energy. 

Here's Anna on the same climb...

Notice that Anna has to cut her feet at the start, as she couldn't possibly reach the next foothold otherwise...but thereafter her feet are on all the time.

Also notice that Anna moves her feet several times before each hand movement...getting her weight in the right place, and as much of it through her feet, before letting go with the other hand.

Here's me again, this time from the opposite side, on a second attempt at the same climb.

Notice that this time I don't cut my feet, and climb a lot faster as I'm more familiar and know that I can do it so far...and hence I get a bit further with the problem, whilst still not actually completing it.

Finally, here's a less steep, and somewhat easier climb, again utilising straight arms, keeping feet on as much as possible, and smoothly transferring weight before and through each move... 

This time I down-climb too, for the additional challenge and exercise.

At my age, it's also not a great idea to just drop off the top every time.  I'm really not flexible (check my landing in the second video above), and my joints would suffer from repeated hard landings.  Hence I usually down-climb all but the steepest climbs.

So there you have it, a little overview of some of the basics of steep climbing. 

If anyone wants to come and have a go sometime, just let me know, I'll happily take you...


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