Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Climb Now Work Later

So.... As usual I have been pretty slack with keeping this blog updated but trust me, I,m trying. I will get better at it.

What's been happening in the world of Wiz you ask? Well all the days are merging together and I have been climbing a lot of rocks. Traveling, climbing, eating.... Sounds pretty good to me. One thing is for sure though. I am living my dream and having a lot of fun doing so. A few things have changed with me recently, and I am very excited to have joined both Rab and DMM as part of their teams. I am really looking forward to working with them.

The last six weeks or so has been pretty exciting actually. Climbing in the UK, to bouldering in Ticino, to climbing in the Frankenjura, then Bouldering in Magic Wood, then back to the sunny Frankenjura. Now I am back in North Wales with the aim of hopefully climbing lots outside and when it rains, training time!!!

So where do I start....

Ten days in Ticino.
Again I teamed up with the German power house Alexander Megos and together we decided to head down to the famous bouldering area of Ticino (Cresiano and Chironico) to have a go at this thing called bouldering that everyone is talking about. I hear its meant to be pretty good there...
We quickly realised that bouldering wasnt easy... I spent a lot of my days falling and sitting on the pads staring at the wall. What the hell am I meant to do? Bouldering is all about finding the 'trick' but unfortunately for me a lot of the time I didnt, leaving me puzzled and empty handed. I found this quite hard to deal with because for me I like to move on the rock pulling through one nice move after the next but with hard bouldering this doesn't happen very often. I found this very frustrating to begin with as I would look back at how my day went and I may have only pulled a few moves in the entire day and the rest of the time spent was trying and falling. Something had to change. There has to be a secret to this.
Bouldering in the woods. Photo: Wiz Fineron
Not a bad view from the balcony in Ticino. Photo: Wiz Fineron

None the less I was having a lot of fun climbing everyday (we were there for ten days and we only had one rest day) so it had to be good for my climbing. Not so much for the skin though. Toward the end of my time in Ticino I began to notice some improvements in my bouldering and the secret was slowly being revealed. Both myself and Alex had been approaching these problems way to calmly... Trying to fined the easiest and smoothest way through each move. Typical route climbers. But we soon found out that this was not the way. The trick to getting up these darn problems is being angry. With bouldering you have to be willing to let emotion out and really find the drive to want the problem bad enough to actually do it. One day this clicked and from then on a chilled out climbing day turned in to an exciting, tantrum packed bouldering session. Pads were flung through the forest, shoes were thrown at the wall, and in the end we just ended up having full on brawls with each other. (that is a joke) Who ever said that violence wasnt the answer?... It worked. Problems began to go down one after the next. (more so for some of course).

Victory over Alex. He may be good at climbing but definitely needs to practice his fighting :) Photo: Alex Megos
Unfortunately I only found out this trick about three days before we had to leave. This was a bit gutting but I made sure I was to get things done in the time I had left. 'An 8a a day, keeps the doctors away' some people say. So that was it!
On the second to last day I found the courage to finally try a really cool looking problem called Delusions Of Grandeur. A problem that I had wanted to try since early on in the trip but due to how I was climbing, the number '8b' seemed way out of reach. Anyway I thought I should get on it just to see how it was with the thought 'There is always next time...' in mind. But surprisingly it went really well. After a few tries of working out the right beta etc, I began having tries from the start and surprised my self by climbing to the end of the slopey rail on the first go. I knew it was possible now so it was just a patience game from there. I fell off towards the end a few more times before I realised that I that was too tired to do it this session. We still had time in the morning to come back before we drove off so that was the plan. Rest up and get it done quickly the next day.

Having fun on ????? 8a. Photo: Alex Megos.
So after chilling in the heat all morning waiting for the cooler conditions we wondered on down the hill to give it a last go before heading off.  At first it felt hard again and it made me worried it wasnt going to happen... But after a few warm up goes and revising the beta I had it in the bag. As usual when you finally send something it didnt feel to bad at all. Definitely a lot left in the tank.

Wiz Fineron on Delusions Of Grandeur 8a+/V12 Photo: Alex Megos

So now that we had left Ticino having a great trip but it was definitely in the back of both of our minds that we hadnt climbed has hard as we would have like to. We were heading back to Germany for a few days to come up with the next plan but in the mean time the weather was looking good in the Frankenjura so the psyche was on for some short hard bouldery routes!

1 week in the Frankenjura:
It was the first time that I had been in the Frankenjura and it hadnt been raining. I have been there twice before and and it seemed like the rainiest place on earth. So to finally to be there when the weather was good I was so excited to get out and try some of the classics. I just wanted to climb everything and anything. Alex is a bit of a local I hear so a guide book was definitely not needed.

Having only about a week we decided that only one rest day would be more than enough. Climb climb climb!! The psyche was high.

Too strong. Training at the crag. Photo:Wiz Fineron
As usual it took me a few days to get the swing of things and by that time we only had a couple more days left. Not to worry though as I was determined to make the most of it. On our last day in the forest before we took the long drive to Switzerland (Alex drive, me sleep), iIwas feeling strong and very psyched. I just couldnt stopped. The day started off with a climb called Straight Edge. A short hard bouldery 8b+ face climb on small crimps. I had tried it a few times a couple of days before and came close so I was eager to get it done before we left. Having falling off the last hard move every time I just had to get the body position right and it would be done. Pump isnt really too much of an issue on this one. So I warmed up, put the quickdraws in and tried the move a few times. Came down, rested and then bam, Execution. It is a great feeling to climb something hard, and feeling solid on every move. Later in the day we returned to the same area and I decided to try a climb called Boiling Point. Another short one (of course) but this time steep and powerful on pockets with limited feet options graded at 8b. Considering the size of my Biceps (or at least where they are supposed to be) I am not normally very good at these kind of climbs. I went up, checked it out, put the clips in and was feeling strong. Still high on Psyche I came down, pulled the rope through and tied straight back in. About two minutes later I powered my way through it cutting loose and jumping my way to the top. It felt like I was swinging around on monkey bars. Great fun. Next up was a one move wonder 8a+ called Bad Brain. I fell of the crux on the first go but then found myself a cheating heal hook making the move really easy. Came down and then climbed to the top straight away. More like 7a+ this way. :P
That was the end to a great days climbing in the Frankenjura all with the excitement of spending the next 12 days bouldering in a Magical Woodland.

12 days in Magic Wood:

Psyched!!! Photo:Alex Megos
Magic Wood is a place that I have heard a lot about, seen many pictures and a lot of videos. It looked amazing. I could not wait. After having figured out the secret to this bouldering thing toward the end of our time in Ticino I was keen to give it another shot. I was feeling very psyched, strong and angry for some bouldeing. This was going to be a good trip.
I came up with a goal of wanting to do the same amount of boulders 8a or harder than the amount of days that we were there. So the attack plan was to climb hard all day everyday no matter what. Climbing with Alex really helped with this. Seeing him just walk up problems that I would normally perceive as being hard made me realise that actually there is no reason why I cant do that. Giving me a really good head space for hard bouldering meaning no matter what the number was, I got on it and gave it a go. Day after day, some cold, some hot and some wet we were out there climbing and having a lot of fun and that is what its about.
Not a bad place to climb. Photo:Alex Megos

Another goal of mine was to climb my first 8b/v13 boulder problem. A goal that I have had in my mind for a while now so after having done a fair bit of bouldering recently and liking the style here in Magic Wood, I was feeling strong. Time to try hard. First I tried a problem called Steppen Wolf. A short but hard problem with each move being just as hard as the last leading to a tricky mantle. It was definitely tricky. To cut a long story short, I was pretty much to weak to do it so I had to start looking for another one otherwise it would drive me mad trying the same move over and over. I like to at least pull a few moves in a row before falling off. Next up was a climb called One Summer In Paradise. A really cool looking bloc with small in cut edges leading to the top. I first tried the Pura Vida section as it is meant to be a grade easier but still climbs through all the hard bit of OSIP. It didnt feel to bad, and after a bit of working out I just had to stick the first move. This was definitely the hardest move so once I got it I climbed to the top. OSIP is pretty much just an extended start from the left so after a bit of a rest I decided to give it a go. Coming in from the left meant that you skip the first move of Pura Vida (for me the hardest) so my theory was as long as you have a little bit of endurance it shouldn't be to much harder. After a few tries all falling off on the last few hard moves I realised that it wasnt going to be that easy... The extra few moves at the beginning meant that I was that little bit more pumped on the final moves making them seem much harder. After a rest day I returned super psyched to get it done. I knew it was possible now so I just had to wait for the right moment.

Perfect weather... Photo: Alex Megos
The plan was to warm up, climb the end a few times and then hopefully climb it first go from the start and that is exactly what happened. It was a great feeling but something inside me just didnt agree to 8b/v13... I just didnt feel like I worked hard enough on it for that grade so I decided 8a+/b sounded fare. This meant I still hadnt achieved my goal so the next one on the list to try was the famous Riverbed problem. This on the other hand I found really hard. My first session on it I got totally shut down on the end moves (the crux) but it was a problem that I had heard a lot of great things about before going there so I was willing to put in the time and effort to see how I got on. All the holds on it are all quite skin friendly meaning I could really squeeze tight and give it all I had. Each session progress was visible keeping me in a good head space to keep trying. By my third session on it I was falling off right at the very end so I knew that on the next go I just had to try that little bit harder for that little bit longer and that would be it.

Here is our video that myself and Alex made of a few problems we did in Magic Wood including:
Sofasurfer, Jacks Broken Heart, One Summer In Paradise, Steppenwolf, Riverbed and The Never Ending Sorry.


Towards the end of our time in Magic Wood the weather gods had decided that it was time for us to leave. The weather was looking really bad for the following week so unfortunatly we had to leave a few days earlier than expected. Being the only ones left in the campground we figured it was most likely not going to be sunny tomorrow. This was a little disappointing but after being there for twelve days and having done twelve 8a's or harder (including my first 8b) I was pretty happy with how it went and was ready for the next stage.

Not a bad view here in Magic Wood Photo:Wiz Fineron
 Grades a are a funny thing. Some people may think its easy, some may think its hard but climbing is such a specific sport and is different for everyone. I believe the numbers are there as a guideline and a great way to follow your progression so dont be held back by a high number (we all do it) If you think it looks cool just get on it. You might surprise your self. 

Next we headed back to the sunny Frankenjura for a few more days before I went back to the UK. We had a few really great days in the Frankenjura but one stands out among the rest. It was my second to last day and it was a chilly one at that. A few days earlier the idea of going to try Action Directe came in to Alex's mind and he could not get rid of it so he just had to go give it a go. After a chilled out morning trying to warm up we found our selves standing beneath it. It was a cold windy day making it very hard to keep the fingers warm especially on pockets. There were a few others hanging around and you could tell Alex was nervous. After a bit of umming and arring he finally decided to get on it and I was lucky enough to be the one belaying him. I didnt really have much to do of course because after only a few tries he climbed and screamed his way to the top. It was one of the most inspirational pieces of climbing I have ever seen. Hopefully one day soon I will be back there ready to climb it myself.

Here is a video of the ascent here:


For the past few weeks I have been back in North Wales doing a bit of everything really. Trad climbing, Sport climbing, Bouldering and just having fun. It is a great place for me to use as a base over here in Europe as it still has a bit of a homey feel to it. Lots of nice people to hang out with and when the weather is good there is some great climbing to be done right on the door step.

Llanberis pass. Photo:Wiz Fineron
The end of a great days climbing. Photo:Wiz Fineron

Whats next you ask?
I am going to be spending the following three weeks out in the Alps doing some big multi pitch routes. A completely new form of climbing to me so I am very excited to learn a lot and hopefully climb some impressive looking walls. Psyched.

Living the life!!

Thanks to my sponsors FiveTen, DMM, and Rab for the ongoing support.

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