Saturday, 11 March 2017


highpoint March 3rd from Dave MacLeod on Vimeo.

The video above is my best effort so far on the project, from a couple of sessions ago when conditions were quite good.

Yesterday, I went to the project in Arisaig and was slapped. Here are my list of excuses (feel free to skip directly to the following paragraph):

Still tired from a new mixed route 48 hours before. Humid conditions. Skin too thick. Not enough sleep. New boots I hadn’t tried before or broken in. Too weak. Too heavy. Too many days away from the training board.

Still, I learned a lot, so the time was not wasted. I have been here before on many projects. None as hard as this, but the stages are often similar. Often, at least at my age, the lessons are not really new things you didn’t know, but crucial reminders of things that are easy to forget.

The first thing reminder was how important the small details are. My ankle must have been a tiny bit stiff from winter climbing a couple of days before. Who knows how little, but it can’t have been as much as a 5 degree loss of dorsiflexion. Not even enough to notice during walking or any moves apart from one. Normally it is a squeeze for me to fit my knee into the kneebar rest before 4th Wave. Today I just couldn’t get the knee in at all. What is normally a straightforward move just didn’t happen. So, redpoints were out. Given the above list of excuses, I realised pretty quickly that it would be a session of reflection on the details of the moves, and reflection on the bigger picture of my progress in general.

On days such as this of utter failure, at least by the measure of how many moves are linked, you see clearly the overwhelming probability that you will never be able to climb this project. It is too hard for you. Something has to be. It would be a bit ridiculous to have chronically underestimated my climbing abilities for over 20 years! At some point, you won’t be able to do something.

This holds no sense of disappointment or stress for me - it’s just inevitable. But the value it does hold is that it sharpens the mind to search for the next level of intervention. What is the next move in the game?

Some moves have trade-offs. Do I leave the project for a week or two and do more training, or keep going on it? Not 100% sure. I am almost certainly getting weaker without training on the board. Yet despite knowing it quite well now, I could still flow through the opening section more efficiently. And that comes from lots of time on it.

I have some equipment issues to sort out. Tomorrow I try out a different kneepad, the original homemade one I made for Echo Wall. It might help a little with sliding the knee in. I know that I need to work more on my core strength for the two minutes of stress hanging upside down off those kneebars. At the moment, it’s a straight trade off between sliding out of the kneebar, and breathing. I need to be able to do both.

Some other things:

- I need a more solid warm up routine for my sessions there. I think I might try ‘add-on’ from the start of the project.
- I’m more and more aware of the nuance of conditions in there. I need to take more advantage of good weather days. The cave has okay conditions most of the time, which is fine for working moves. At this stage, I need good conditions now. 
- I need more rest, better rest. Less work.
- I have some work days coming up. I need to combine them with some intense circuit training.

Most of the above is all small but important details. What of big things. Well, most of these I have sorted. But I still have a big hand to play regarding the king of all variables for me; strength: weight ratio. I will play it soon.

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