Open Handed

Alice coaching me on how to climb using the open hand technique.
Alice coaching me on how to climb using the open hand technique.

Injuries have forced me to examine how I climb and to start thinking about how to change my climbing technique so that I reduce the chance of injury. It was a knee injury that originally got me thinking, but recently problems with my hands have jolted me into really looking at the grips I use. I’ve realised that I rely too much on crimping and that I need to use an open-hand grip more if I want to be minimise hand injuries. However, I’ve been struggling to get this grip right and it was only a coaching session a few weeks ago that helped me understand that using an open-hand grip is about much more than what you do with your hands. Read more

Back on Plastic

I’ve taken my first steps back into climbing following surgery on my injured knee.  They’re just small steps at my local climbing wall, because I worry that anything else will see me injure myself again or at least slow down my recovery.  My physio was clear about how to not hurt myself – avoid jumping down or falling off from boulder problems until my legs have regained the strength needed to cushion the impact.  The only way to follow that advice was to carefully climb easy problems and down climb everything. Back to plastic

This was limiting and could have been a bit irritating, but I decided the best thing to do was to accept climbing this way and ended by enjoying my session.  It’s sometimes fun to just focus on moving well during a climb and to forget about pushing yourself to climb harder.  I think that I’ve been guilty in the past of getting so caught up in things like the next gear placement, the fall below me, reducing rope drag or how to complete the next move that I just forget to enjoy moving on the rock (or on plastic).  My injury has been frustrating, but it is getting me to think differently and to think more about how I move, how I balance and how I can just relax into climbing.  If I can change my focus in this way then may I can  enjoy the climbing I can do more and build up the fundamentals of good climbing technique so that I can be a better climber in future.  Maybe I can also not get frustrated about how rusty my technique is right now and how much strength I’ve lost. 

My climbing wall session was the start of all this.  I’ve got quite a way to go yet to return to my previous climbing standard, but I’m happy to be back climbing.

One Year On

It has been one year since my injury. One year since I tore a part of my knee using a heel hook while bouldering. One year in which I made my injury worse and in which I’ve been trying to recover so that I can climb again.

In retrospect, this was a bad idea.
In retrospect, this was a bad idea.

I was unlucky, uninformed and an idiot. It was near the end of our second day of my first bouldering trip to Fontainebleau and I was with a group climbing just a few more problems before it got too dark and late. Some of the group had climbed this tricky problem up the flat front of a split boulder and I wanted to do it too. It was different, a challenge and looked fun. This was partly because completing the problem required a right heel hook and I don’t do heel hooks often. Climbing in the lower grades means that I either don’t need to do them that much or can get away with using different moves. But I wanted to try them now because I want to make the most of my time in the legendary Fontainebleau forest and wanted to do this climb. Read more

Rock the morning after

It’s common for rock climbers to drink alcohol after climbing.  It’s also common for rock climbers to go climbing the morning after drinking alcohol.  If done in moderation and sensibly, this can be fine.  But it can also be unsafe and affect climbing performance both in the short and long-term.

It’s my stag party soon and a big part of the plan is to go rock climbing.  As alcohol is typically central to a stag do, I’ve been wondering recently how sensible it is to combine rock climbing and alcohol.

It’s not just on my stag trip that the two activities of drinking and climbing might come in to close proximity.  Alcohol comes into a climber’s life all the time and it’s often part of the climbing lifestyle.  A pub is a good option for food, drink and relaxation on the Saturday night of a weekend away rock climbing.  The alternative of relaxing in the campsite, hostel or hotel usually comes with a few beers, some wine or the odd whiskey.  Then there is the trip to the local pub that can follow an evening session at the climbing wall.  The next day, climbers can be out climbing again.  I’ve been around climbing and alcohol in all these situations and my forthcoming stag has got me thinking about what affect this has lifestyle has on climbers and whether it makes it harder to keep yourself and your climbing partner safe as well as to climb at your best. Read more

In praise of Builders Bars

It’s hard to write about Builders Bars without sounding like an advert.  They may only be protein bars, but they are great protein bars.  They are also brilliantly convenient if you want to recover after rock climbing and don’t want the hassle of protein powder drinks.

A Builders Bar

Clif, the company that makes the eponymous power bar, makes Builders Bars.  They are basically chocolate-coated biscuit bars that contain 20g of protein for building muscle and aiding recovery after exercise.  There is even a picture of a ripped climber on the packaging to give you an idea of what to aim for (I’m still trying). Read more