Yesterday I climbed outside for the first time in almost a month. Wales seems to have been embraced by some kind of soggy membrane for several weeks now, this combined with 3rd year's unreasonable workload (nearly 5 hours a week now. Sheesh!) has not been particularly conducive to getting out. However, it's given me time to work on a few other things to help when I do finally get outside. I tried climbing with a weight vest and ankle weights a couple of times and I've seen more or less instant power gains, well, after the 2 days of barely being able to lift my arms or turn my head. I've done some, although admittedly not enough, finger icing and despite a set back at the end of Jauary it seems to be almost healed. Also I've being losing weight steadily this year and feel like I've cracked a diet that works for me. I cut out meat, other than the odd cheap chicken or low price lamb, primarily on a financial basis, and I don't miss it, but I do think I ache a little more after climbing if I haven't hit the post session Yazoo.
Dunc and I arrived at the Orme yesterday as soon as we heard the rumours of some dry rock. Unsure about what to try without a guidebook we warmed-up on Brothers in Arms (6c) which felt amazing. All the training, dieting and rehab had paid off, and being more than 3m of the ground felt liberating. Cranking through the overlaps I couldn't believe how easy it felt for the grade. Back on the deck, I kissed the guns and revelled in a new level of strength whilst Dunc had a similar experience and we both agreed it felt like 6b used to feel.
Then we met up with Livingstone and Sam Rad trying the bouldery Jerusalem is Lost (7a). Dunc got involved and managed a ground-up ascent after Sam who got it second go. Meanwhile, I checked Livingstone's Smartarse Phone for a guide, only to discover the route we had just done was in fact Tony's Route (6a+). A pleasant reality check.
We looked for something we could all try that's not too fingery, and so ended up at Firefly area to try and do all four E3's, placing the gear on one each and leading the other 3 as clip-ups. I remembered I'd done one of them before, but I wasn't quite sure which until I had a flashback when I recognised a particularly sapping undercut. Sam started on Solid Gold (E3 6a) whilst I attempted a wet looking Firefly (E3 5c). Sam made quick progress, I flailed around on moist, soapy pockets and ended up slumping on to the first bolt I intended to make a retreat to try something dry, but, seeing Sam going for it and getting pumped I decided now was the time to get involved. If it was wet the whole way it would just be a bit harder than usual. I pulled back on, cracked on and loved it. The wetness added an exciting element of uncertainty and induced some gimpish whooping. The whole atmosphere changed, it went from being a disappointing, damp and dingy day to a more vibrant, fun and less serious situation. It was the sort of change I normally feel if the sun comes out, but this time there was no physical trigger. It's all just a state of mind. Hopefully I will be able to tap into this more often, perhaps climbing in the rain is a good way to achieve it? Although I'm sure if I did it too much I'd earn the multi-dimensional nickname: Rain man.
Sam and I swapped over with Livingstone and Dunc respectively, who both seemed to make lighter work of the routes than we had. Then it started to rain heavier, but by this point we were all enjoying it so we cracked on. Sam and I re-led the routes cleanly, then we all swapped over for a team clean-up. By this point it was getting late so we headed down to The Cave where a big team of monsters were trying wet V12's. I flailed about on Lou Ferrino (V10) until Nodder took pity on me and give me the numbers. Next go I nailed the one move I'd never managed, so now its just a case of linking the 12 incredibly powerful moves, which just about seems possible. Dunc also made progress on Left Wall Traverse (V8) linking the entire bouldery start at the end of the day so a trip back soon is on the cards.
It's now Thursday, I've got all psyched to climb in the rain and now it's bloody sunny again. Typical.