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Project 8a (Read 4631 times)

Yossarian

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Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 03:54:32 pm
Since returning from my summer alpine rock adventures Iíve pretty much made the decision to not do anything like that again for a while / until Iíve got more time than I know what to do with. Instead, I want to train and I want to go sport climbing. And therefore it seems sensible to revert to my long-held ambition of climbing 8a.

The main obstacles standing in my way are:

I am very fat. At 95kg Iím probably 10kg heavier that I was when I climbed my hardest. However, I lost a load of weight when I was psyched earlier in the year, and am fairly confident I can drop down to 80-85kg, or even a bit more.

I am very weak. I havenít got a pulley set up yet for my Beastmaker (which also sags slightly overhanging) and everything but the big holds either end seems impossible. And last time I tried the 45deg board at the local wall it all felt far too difficult. Being heavy is obvs a major contributing factor to this.

I live on the coast in the SE and therefore miles away from any sport climbing. Portland is 3 1/2 hours away. I realise there are quite a few places in the SW (Brean, Cheddar, Ansteys, etc) that could be done in a day.

I can be pretty flexible midweek, but weekends need forward planning due to usual family stuff.

On the plus side, I have a big garage that is hopefully going to be cleared out later in the year. Iím thinking I should be able to fit a 45deg board, and maybe a longer 15deg circuit board too. I have a fairly decent local bouldering wall (Chimera) and can get to a lead / autobelay wall (White Spider) midweek too. The first job is to remount the BM so it stays level and sort out pulleys, etc. And I have some rings, plus weights / kettlebells, etc. My previous peak level was 7b+, of which I did a few (one of which I virtually flashed) and bouldering-wise 7A I think. I wasnít training much / at all back then, but getting out fairly frequently.

From the small amount of sport climbing and bouldering I did on hols, the obvious issue was finger strength / being too heavy / powering out. Because we were aiming to do routes, Iíd done quite a bit of aerobic stuff at the wall in the months leading up to the trip, so that was fine. Mid 6 boulders and routes were fine, but the (bouldery) 7a and 7A things I tried were just not happening.

Which brings me to the conclusion (partly based on Alex Bís thoughts about strength) that my best short term plan might be a two-pronged attack - shed the weight, and concentrate solely on bouldering for the time being. And in terms of the wall, focus more on steeper, fingery, board type stuff firstly, and then do the other stuff plus a bit of aero towards the end of sessions.

Realistically, bouldering weekends / trips with the family have a far higher likelihood of success for the next year or two. And weekend sport climbing day trips could be planned at 4-6 week intervals to monitor progress.

This is obviously a far from ideal scenario and perhaps the most sensible idea would be to sack it off and take up golf. But I would very much appreciate a critique and some suggestions...

csl

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#1 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 04:24:50 pm
Losing weight and getting stronger sounds like a great idea whatever you choose, but it might be a good idea to think about the style of route you would like to aim for or think you'd be suited to? What is required for a short UK 8a will be quite different to a 40m enduro route in Spain, and may inform your training once you've begun the process.

SA Chris

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#2 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 04:33:47 pm
Whatever you do, don't take up golf!

Or cycling!

Good job, get on it, very admirable quest. I think first step is to find the project that plays most to your strengths, and has best chance of being in good nick, i.e accessible, not coastal  / tidal / too hot or too cold most of the year / not going to be a damp seeping mess a lot of the time.
WARNING! Posting may contain traces of irony, spoonerisms, horse play, sarcasm or other attempts at humour. Not suitable for consumption by foody muckers.

Yossarian

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#3 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 04:36:17 pm
Yes, I should've mentioned that. The climbs I've felt best on in the past have probably all been 20m or less, and fairly cruxy. I was keen on the idea of the 8s at L'Olla, Siurana, but they all seem to be 8a+ now.

This all stems from the fact that, when I've previously explored this idea, the concensus was basically climb loads of routes, a massive pyramid of sport grades working up, etc which basically is not going to happen now.

Duma

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#4 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 04:41:17 pm
How old are you Yoss? losing the weight will make a big diff to the likelihood of injury, and particularly finger injury. IME this sort of thing happens more often and takes longer to recover from as you get older
I pull line and am content with a good feeling in the belly.

Yossarian

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#5 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 04:55:06 pm
It should be blazingly obvious that Iíve just turned 40...
 ;)



Yossarian

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#6 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:01:52 pm
The Cider Soak is probably the one, in terms of things down south...

csl

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#7 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:04:53 pm
Yes, I should've mentioned that. The climbs I've felt best on in the past have probably all been 20m or less, and fairly cruxy. I was keen on the idea of the 8s at L'Olla, Siurana, but they all seem to be 8a+ now.

Yes, then getting strong and losing weight seems like the way to go.

With regard to

This all stems from the fact that, when I've previously explored this idea, the concensus was basically climb loads of routes, a massive pyramid of sport grades working up, etc which basically is not going to happen now.

While climbing lots of routes is obviously the ideal, my climbing is pretty similar to what you have described in the first post. 6-8 weeks between days on rock, training indoors in the meantime. As boring as it sounds, I've found getting fairly specific with route choice well in advance, and training on similar ground or perhaps even a replica works well. It keeps you motivated by having a clear target, and then makes it easier to perform on a short trip.


T_B

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#8 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:14:03 pm
My mate who lives in Exeter did Leather Whip Mick as his mid-life-crisis-8a-tick. Soft and a good one if you're fat/weak apparently.

erm, sam

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#9 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:29:11 pm
Have you got any old fashioned non electric bathroom scales?  Use those to take weight off so you can start fingerboarding now without an excuse. Aim to be still fingerboarding in 2 months. Eg, take it super steady and don't get injured. I started with 50% bodyweight and worked up to full bodyweight hangs over a few months. Everybody talks like bodyweight hangs are a natural expectation but I just kept getting injured..

Yossarian

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#10 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:43:04 pm
I have! I will investigate - thanks for the suggestion!

lagerstarfish

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#11 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 05:47:51 pm
Everybody talks like bodyweight one arm hangs are a natural expectation

my edit
Should you meet me at the crag - I'm pretty crap at face to face social interaction - what might seem like me being aloof is actually me trying to control moderate social anxiety - alcohol helps, but I don't take it to the crag

habrich

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#12 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 06:13:42 pm
I succeeded in a fairly similar grade quest (~7b to 8a) in my late 40s so may have a few relevant observations.

First, it sounds like you want to redpoint a route at the grade rather than become an "8a climber". As other people have already mentioned, that means finding a target route that's appropriate to your relative strengths and - important - located somewhere where other people will also want to go (you'll need a belayer ...). Once you have done that, I would get on the project earlier in the process rather than later, so you can gauge the specific strength/ mobility/ endurance requirements. Try to do that by going bolt-to-bolt, stick-clipping if necessary, rather than top-roping, as if the route is steep the outward drag from the top rope can often make hard moves feel harder than they really are.

Second, I would read Dave McLeod's "9 out of 10 climbers" book, especially all the bits that Nibile hates about looking at the broad life context of your climbing ambitions rather than just physical performance. In my case, I quit work and moved to a climbing town, which is a little extreme. But do make sure your family are onboard and understand you need time and support. Also listen to the interview with the high priest of old-age climbing Bill Ramsay https://www.trainingbeta.com/media/bill-ramsey/.

I'd also echo the bathroom scales fingerboarding concept (which I recall being mercilessly mocked for on UKB a few years ago - it seems it is now mainstream). In my experience, it works best for creating very gentle loading on your fingers, up to about 50% bodyweight. Doing that regularly for a few months will get your tendons ready for more serious training later. And if, like me, too much sitting at a desk has wrecked your flexibility, start stretching regularly.



Yossarian

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#13 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 07:35:19 pm
Sam and Habrich - Just tried the bathroom scales thing. Total revelation! Thank you. Weíve had a huge set of Seca scales kicking around which I was going to eBay. They work perfectly. TBH Iíd not got my head around the principle of this, but now Iíve tried it I can see its genius. Also makes warming up a doddle. Thank you both.

Yossarian

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#14 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 07:42:54 pm
First, it sounds like you want to redpoint a route at the grade rather than become an "8a climber".

I donít have any expectations re the latter, but there are a number of 8as that Iíd like to try, and the idea of doing an 8a in a few days / trip as opposed to a full-scale siege definitely appeals. But first things first...

Quote
Second, I would read Dave McLeod's "9 out of 10 climbers" book, especially all the bits that Nibile hates about looking at the broad life context of your climbing ambitions rather than just physical performance.

Itís been sitting by the loo since I started climbing again after my lengthy layoff. I think Iíve got better focus now, and am working on eliminating potential sources of conflict (such as drinking too much). Also, 6yo daughter is keen boulderer and family climbing trips / hols present no problem in principle. But we are unlikely to be moving any time soon.

Quote
I'd also echo the bathroom scales fingerboarding concept (which I recall being mercilessly mocked for on UKB a few years ago - it seems it is now mainstream)


This is brilliant...

ben

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#15 Re: Project 8a
September 05, 2017, 08:01:22 pm
The Cider Soak is probably the one, in terms of things down south...

Well I'd be keen to get on this/Leather Whip Mick as an 8a project if you're looking for partners.. (I live just east of Exeter).

Some thoughts, after redpointing my mid life crisis 8a 3 years ago (a route at Cheddar).  I chose a route that would generally be in good nick and climbable whenever the opportunity arose (no real seepage, steep enough to stay dry in rain, non-tidal). 

I basically only get one evening a week to climb (+occasional weekend days) so basically just starting working it, getting stronger on it and fine tuning beta and doing links  (plus some fingerboarding at home).  Turned into a bit of a siege (16 evening sessions) but really enjoyed the process.   Another point was choosing something that felt doable eventually (once fitter) rather than something with a really bouldery crux that you might never know if you'll manage.. if that makes sense

not sure that's helpful, as it doesn't sound like getting on a project really regularly is an option for you but..

Yossarian

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#16 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 09:50:21 am
Ben - Iíve been looking at the vids of Cider Soak for a while, and found the Kris Suriyo vid of Leather Whip Mick last night, and both look eminently suitable.

Depending on how things go with training, a weekend day would be great sometime in the future (if we can figure out one when weíre both free) and Iím sure I could figure something out midweek sometime, especially if we do a family trip SW at half term or before Christmas.

Iíll drop you a PM.

Wood FT

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#17 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 10:16:05 am
I'm trying both these routes at the moment, though rather sporadically. Cider soak can be frustratingly seepy at times and is nails, you'll certainly be keeping your 8a tick safe with that one.

Leather whip mick is highly enjoyable and just a matter of fitness once you have the Avenged crux dialled in, I think it's bottom end 8a but still worthy of the grade. People get up to fitness on empire wall and they all start feeling soft. If you've not done Avenged it'll feel desperate on first attempt.

Let me know if you want any beta for either route, a local gave me the hose down and I've also got what I feel to be easier beta for the top of LWM
Limestone means Limestone

abarro81

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#18 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 10:18:01 am
If you struggle with getting weekends in the UK, you may end up deciding that doing one on a trip is a better fit (obviously being dependent on how holidays work - may not be feasible if holidays are all family hols!). Wasn't clear whether midweek is flexible in that you can fit training in or flexible in that you can smash all the way to a crag and climb?

One major thing is consistency, especially if motivation if a bit up and down, as it sounds from your OP like it may have been with weight loss? On that front, if you're making a training plan then being somewhat flexible with it will be important if you've got a busy life. The subtlety of exactly what you're doing is likely to matter much less than the consistency of doing something productive - especially initially.

Yossarian

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#19 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 10:40:40 am
I'm trying both these routes at the moment, though rather sporadically. Cider soak can be frustratingly seepy at times and is nails, you'll certainly be keeping your 8a tick safe with that one.

Leather whip mick is highly enjoyable and just a matter of fitness once you have the Avenged crux dialled in, I think it's bottom end 8a but still worthy of the grade. People get up to fitness on empire wall and they all start feeling soft. If you've not done Avenged it'll feel desperate on first attempt.

Let me know if you want any beta for either route, a local gave me the hose down and I've also got what I feel to be easier beta for the top of LWM

Thanks for all of this. My current thinking is to head down for a look as soon as Iíve got my weight down to 80somethingKG, so probably late Oct / November. Realistically I think Iím going to be quite a way off strength-wise still, but hopefully being lighter will at least mean that I can have a relatively productive time figuring out the things I need to work on most.

Iíll definitely hit you up for some specific info nearer the time - thanks.

Yossarian

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#20 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 10:59:42 am
If you struggle with getting weekends in the UK, you may end up deciding that doing one on a trip is a better fit (obviously being dependent on how holidays work - may not be feasible if holidays are all family hols!).

This was my original plan. Basically picking something with some decent videos, and then trying to train specifically for it, and also to build some sort of replica on the board (when itís built). Bizarrely (and entirely without my coercion) my wife and sister have been talking about a group hol for next year and have figured out that somewhere with decent climbing on the doorstep would persuade me (and our daughter) so that could work really well. Ru gave me some good intel re family sport climbing ideas in the Frankenjura, and Provence is one other idea. Although my oldest 8 ambition (Chouca) is obvs 8a+, and I couldnít get off the ground the last time I tried it...

Quote
Wasn't clear whether midweek is flexible in that you can fit training in or flexible in that you can smash all the way to a crag and climb?

I can basically do anything anytime midweek (depending on workload) but I deal with the kids in the afternoon / evening unless my wife can reorganise her work schedule, so midweek crag hits take plenty of preplanning.

Quote
One major thing is consistency, especially if motivation if a bit up and down, as it sounds from your OP like it may have been with weight loss? On that front, if you're making a training plan then being somewhat flexible with it will be important if you've got a busy life. The subtlety of exactly what you're doing is likely to matter much less than the consistency of doing something productive - especially initially.

Thatís the nub of the matter. And itís why I think the concept of intermediate goals outside, both bouldering and on ropes, is going to be the key to this. I did pretty well on psyche in the months running up to this yearís summer trip, in that I managed quite a lot of weight loss and definitely got somewhere with training (bearing in mind I was starting at zero and too heavy - thanks T_Stub for urging me not to overdo it). But in retrospect I wouldíve done much better with a few days / weekends away beforehand.

And that trip was an unknown quantity, and ended up usefully proving that I didnít in fact know what I wanted out of climbing. I thought it was adventure in the mountains. I now know that itís progess on difficult things.

Nibile

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#21 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 12:12:27 pm
Yoss,
other than what others wrote, for my part I think that you should concentrate on losing fat, rather than just losing weight.
If I were you, I'd have a serious and reliable body composition analysis, to know exactly how much fat you carry, then I'd refer to a specialist, or I'd search the Internet, to make a plan in order to maximize fat loss while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible.
I say so, because I think that you don't simply want to climb 8a, but probably you want to keep going after that.
So, this first goal could be the foundation of future years of 8th grade climbing.
I'd do everything not to simply achieve your goal, but to get fit and strong for the years to come.
In my opinion, and experience, crash diets for specific goals work only - when they work - for the specific goal, with no long term benefits. In fact, things usually get far worse than before in the long run, and people regain more fat than they lost.
Think long term, search for quality weight loss and you may achieve your goal a few months later, but you'll set the foundations for many more 8's.
Good luck!

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#22 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 12:38:59 pm
Whatever you do, don't take up golf!

Or cycling!

Cycling can be useful as a general get fit/weight loss regime and is eminently compatible with family commitments. Cycle to the wall/work/family day out etc etc. Just try not to get too addicted  ;)

Good luck on the goal, sounds fun, think the biggest issue is to avoid injury, sadly as someone in their 40s I've reluctantly accepted we don't bounce as easily or mend as quickly as we used to.  :'(

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#23 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 12:54:00 pm
With regards to keeping psyche levels high, I find it helps to have plenty of small, relevant, aims written down which you can tick off on your way to the big tick.

E.g. losing 2 Kg, doing 3 fingerboard sessions, 2 PE sessions, climbing a specific board project, actually going to and trying the 8a, doing some moves, linking the crux, etc. I'd actually argue the smaller the goals the better, as consistently taking away small positives will help with motivation, and momentum, and can make the whole process very enjoyable. Allez.
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Yossarian

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#24 Re: Project 8a
September 06, 2017, 02:22:45 pm
Yoss,
other than what others wrote, for my part I think that you should concentrate on losing fat, rather than just losing weight.

I totally agree, and I am going to think carefully about it.

From my experiences earlier this year, muscle loss has not been a problem so far. I dropped 4Ē around my waist (from an admittedly portly starting point) whilst simultaneously finding jackets no longer fit because my shoulders got too big.

Iím aiming for 2kg or so off a month, rather than trying to rush it.