Sunday, 20 November 2011

Getting ready for Winter pt.2: Fitness

So, those that have done some climbing will know you dont have to be mega fit; you can do no activity, park at the base of the crag and still haul yourself up the rock. Although, being fit is a major advantage for trickier and longer routes. For Winter it is completely different; this is due to the fact that you have the added faff of the walk in. If you're planning on heading to the Ben, you're looking at a 3 hour walk in.

So when it comes down to training, you've got to think - theres no use being able to do one-armers if you cant do the walk in! Yes, work on upper and lower body muscle training, but put plenty of time into cardio for those long days and walk ins. For me, i have put a decent amount of time into getting fitter for this winter; i was alright last year, but i  felt absolutely chin strapped on the descents and on the walk ins we were trying to do quickly (sneachda). But its not all fitness, its what you eat. In my house, we all try to eat plenty of fruit and veg, take vitamins and dont drink too much beer. If you do want to drink alcohol, try spirits like vodka as they dont contain many calorie (unlike beer).

Runs: Every couple of days i will try to go for a short run, this is usually round the racecourse, which is about 2 miles. I dont do these at a particularly fast pace compared to the people who usually blast past me. But it is right for me, which is what counts.

Circuits: These are great for climbing training as you can work on various muscle groups as well as your cardio. For winter this is great as ice and mixed climbing is renown for giving full body pumps. I do the circuits once a week with a bunch of other people from the University of Worcester Climbing and Mountaineering Club (UWCMC). We start at the uni, run to the racecourse (1/2 mile), run to the end gates (1 Mile) and into the park. The lovely council have put a load of exercise machines around the park which have been ruggedised to prevent chavs from trashing them. There is around 7 'stations' but we add things too like, burpees, press ups, sit ups etc.... We try to sprint to each station which are around 50m apart. Then we do bear crawls up and down small slopes, planks and then run back to uni via the racecourse (1.5miles). So along side the circuits, we have also done a 3 mile run!

Stair runs: Once a week i pack a rucksack with a few bits and bobs to add some weight and get down to the racecourse stands and go running up and down them. This is great for developing leg muscles and general cardio fitness for getting up and down those hills. It's pretty hard, and if i dont feel tired at the end i go for a bit longer, i try to build up the weight and pace each time i go.

Indoor Climbing: Every tuesday the UWCMC try to run a climbing wall session for members where we instruct on belaying, tying in, harnessing up and general climbing stuff for new members. These little sessions are run by SPA qualified and trained people from the club. When i'm there i try to use a pair of fig fours on the hardest route i can get away with. This is great for muscle training. If no fig fours, then i climb with ankle weights, this is something i think will be good to get used to having heavy boots on...not to mention how knackering it is! We have now been given permission to use the wall's indoor dry tooling wall, so watch this space an update on that.

Hill walking and climbing: As much as i can i try to get out into North Wales for some hill walking, scrambling or climbing to see if my training is paying off, but i havent been for a while , so watch this space.

I've tried to talk about the stuff i do each week, but you should try and come up with your own training programme that works for YOU.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Getting ready for Winter pt 1: Kit

Hi there,

Havent posted in a while, have had a lot on at work and now back at university. Just thought i'd do a post on how im getting kitted up and preparing for winter.

Firstly, i've got a wonderful beard 'on the grow'. For no other reason than to have some fantastic pictures of a frozen face!

Kit wise, ive replaced my DMM flys with a pair of old school DMM Xenos (left), replaced the picks and bolts on them so theyre in full working order now. They also came with triggers pre-attached which i was pretty chuffed about. I was going to buy some of those Cassin X-Grips for the shafts, but i didnt fancy paying £20 a piece for them, so i just bought some skateboard decking tape which is basically glorified sandpaper which should give a bit better traction when going for a high grip. I also bought a Grivel Springer Leash for when im leashless.

 Last winter i used my Mountain Equipment Kaniq as a belay jacket, however, although it was warm, it was HUGE! Because its a Gore-Tex insulated jacket, it doesnt pack down especially small and therefore takes up half a pack! I was looking at an ME Fitzroy as a replacement, but i opted for a down jacket over another synthetic purely for warmth. I went for the Mountain Equipment Lightline, but the newest blue version with orange zips - which worked out cheaper than a fitzroy anyway. This packs down redonkulously small for such a chunky jacket. But it also retains a somewhat fashionable appeal, so just as suitable for the apres-ski as in the mountains. It is supremely warm too, these cold, hungover mornings walking to lectures are so much easier in it. Cannot wait to try it out properly.

I replaced my aged Scarpa Mantas back in May with a pair of La Sportive Trango S Evos, which are superb. The comfort of these boots is beyond words. They are just as at home on grade III scrambles as on gentle walks in the Peak District. However, as these are a B1 boot, they are not suitable for winter mountaineering; so i had a problem. I have massive feet. So finding a pair of winter boots that fitted me properly was a challenge. However, after a bit of internet research, i found Outside in Hathersage stocked my size in all the boots i was looking at. I dropped in on a day off from work and got sized. I tried Asolo AFS8000, Scarpa Vegas, La Sportive Nepal Extremes, Scarpa Phantom Guides, Scarpa Mont Blancs and the brand new Mammut Nordwand TL.

The AFS8000s were too small and i couldnt get my foot in the shell with the inner boot on, so they were crossed off. The Vegas were stupidly cumbersome and heavy, so they were crossed off. The Nepals didnt fit my foot shape due to them being very narrow at the back. The Guides werent as confortable as i'd hoped and for the price i wanted a pair i immediately liked. The Nordwands were amazing; comfy, supportive and good looking. But due to the price, the were crossed off the list. Which left me with one of my favourites from the off, the Mont Blanc (left). They were supportive, comfy, very agile and not at all cumbersome, plus; i love the orange. They are a brilliant boot and at £360 RRP, rather pricey. So having found them cheaper elsewhere after buying them, Outside refunded me the difference. The experience of boot shopping there was very good, the staff were so professional and had great knowledge.

I have more articles watch this space