Suburban Dirtbag: Espresso Blend

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Weeks 6-8: Day 60 (Other Posts in This Series)


It’s been a busy holiday season on the road or sure and there is a lot to talk about. As such, I’ve decided to break the past three weeks down into two separate posts. This one will be “lighter” and feature all the basic climber / dirtbag / wanderlust things; while the “dark roast” will get a bit gritty and existential. This way reader of both can enjoy each separately, or together… like coffee, a perfect Shot-in-the-Dark.


Trucklife:

Perhaps the most outright change of the season is that I’ve retired my old steed (car) and made the conversion from sedanlife to trucklife. I have to say, it’s a pretty awesome new world!

Whilst my 2004 Chevrolet Impala served me very well over the years (9 of them and 180,000 miles) it never knew when it was made that it would become a tried and true cragwagon. The upgrades include:

  • 4 wheel drive (as suggested here)
  • Higher ground clearance (literally drug my muffler halfway from Chattanooga to Atlanta once).
  • My “bed” is now literally a (truck) bed.
  • My living space (bed) is spearate not cluttering my work space (cab).
  • I like being “a truck guy.” (i.e. coolness factor)

The one down side is that gas mileage is significantly worse, however, comparatively my truck does about the same as anything else I looked at on the market (e.g. crossovers, Subarus, etc…).

Climbing - Year Review:

My 2017 climbing year looks like this:

  • Total Ascents 2016 / 2017: 168 / 218
  • 2016 / 2017 Boulder Highpoint: V5 / V7
  • No. 5.10a Lead on Gear 2016 / 2017: 1 / 3 (one redpointed)
  • No. Pitches Lead on Gear 2016 / 2017: 13 / 25

Needless to say then, I had a stellar fall season. What I think is most remarkable is the feeling of breaking into new territory. The total review doesn’t tell the whole story. I had a good winter climbing on gear, followed by a very stagnat feeling summer, then a bomber fall.

The real magic for me was in overcombing the mental plateau of the summer.
I remember thinking I was just “stuck.” But unsticking myself felt great.
To summarize, I did the following:

  • Realized that the reason I wasn’t sending harder boulders was because I wasn’t trying harder boulders!
  • Spent a solid month rehabing my elbows and doing a lot of yoga. No hangs, minimal climbing, fixing injuries, etc…
  • Spent about two weeks really seriously sitting down and assessing what was holding back in climbing, where I was weak, what I needed to work on, and what I was good at (didn’t need as much work on). (get suggestions here).
  • Spent another couple weeks developing a simple training plan and resolving to actually follow through with it.
  • Once the actual climbing began, I honed in my diet (paleo if you’re curious) and tried hard… really hard, just a few goes, a few times per week.

Climbing - Goals:

Par for the course with the new year I’ve started planning some climbing goals for myself. But, I took a different approach this year. Rather than planning one season or even one year at a time I took the long view.
That is, I picked a single route of epic proportion that I imagined to be “impossible.” Then I asked myself: “What do I need to do to get there?”

This inspiration came from the Anderson brothers’ Rock Climber’s Training Manual. The result was a 5 - 6 year plan all broken all the way down to annual benchmarks and seasonal (3 seasons per year) goals. More specifically than that thought, I’ve taken the priciples that helped me succeed in 2016 and taken them further.

What am I weak at? Well, for me, that’s crimps… the nemesis of my sausage-like fingers. So, I started hanging on full and half crimps and specifally seeking out the crimpiest lines in the gym. What’s the next degree? What am I scared of? The answer: roofs on gear. That puts me in a predicament living in the Southeast I know, but all the more reason to head the advice of the great Dean Potter and go towards your fears(safely).

With all this I’ve literally drawn up several years worth of training pyramids. Some of the top tiers have specific milestone routes. Some lower tiers intentionally specify a “mini-project” that intimidates me. I do believe there is a (relatively) safe approach to all this that begins with swallowing one’s ego and beginning with toproping said intimidating line, then aid climbing to get familiar with the placements, repeating both of those, going for the lead and accepting that it is a hard line and you may fall, and finally… eventually gunning or a redpoint.

Climbing - Training:

For beginning the new year I’ve got two immediate general (non-climbing specific) goals for the next month or so.

1) Build / Assess Base Fitness (e.g. resistance traning and flexibility

2) Refine Diet to Establish “Ideal Weight” (for roped season only, gear is heavy enough without excess mass bodyweight)

Looking more long term I’m planning to employ most of the principles talked about in this podcast by Power Company Climbing. So, generally, that looks like this:

  • Ongoing “integrated strength” (~2 exercises to focus on per block period)
  • Alternating blocks of maximum recruitment (e.g. limit bouldering / weighted deadhangs) and power / endurance (e.g. linked problems, campusing).
  • Using the gym to train a specific energy system of need. Letting my crag time take care of technique (i.e. conserative and focused apporach to pyramid goal).
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