Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Striving to be an "All-rounder"

The concept of being a good all-rounder in climbing is well established; back in the day Joe Brown was pushing the boundaries in trad, winter climbing and alpinism, even getting the FA of Kanchenjunga to boot. Today's top climbers are getting more specialised, but even top competition on-sight climbers can still knock out a decent boulder grade or sport redpoint.

I guess what i'm saying is that climbing hasn't reached a level of performance yet that to be a top performer you need to specialise in just one discipline. The standards listed below are by no means top-end anymore, but even just 10 years ago any single one of these would be considered a very high performance, but as a personal challenge I think it'll make for some fun times!

The "8" Challenge.
This measure of a true all-round climber has its origins in article about Andy Cave published in Climber magazine many moons ago.

Ideally for symmetry, all of these would be completed in an 8-month period:
Font 8A
French 8a
Mixed/Dry Tool M8/D8
Scottish VIII

8 pints in an evening session (8,000m was in the original list, but working full-time I've subbed in the drinking challenge instead!)

Assessment of current level:

In the last few weeks since getting back from Oz I've done a fair amount of bouldering. Ticking Tetris at the Roaches (7C bloc) and repeating Cave Life in Parisella's cave (7B+/C cave power-endurance style - yes Etchelion, you might be right in calling this 7B+ with the new foothold).

I always thought 8A would be the stumbling block for this challenge, and had hence come up with an alternative version of "9's" = V9, E9, IX, f8a x9, M9/D9.

However, I've started to think the original Andy Cave "8" challenge might be a goer this year, as I've worked out all the moves on the Hatchattrocity start to Cave Life (8A) and made some significant links.

Sport Climbing:
My aspirations for 2013 are to do Melanchollie (hard 8b, LPT) and Unjustified/Overjustified (8b+/c, Malham) so i really hope achieving 8a shouldn't represent much of a challenge. (There, I've said it. It's on the web and undeniable - no shirking the training sessions now, put up or shut up. 8c here we come!)

Trad Climbing:
I didn't have many days on the trad in 2012, but if I've gotten up some 8c strength, head-pointing an E8 couldn't be too much of a struggle should it?

I'm thinking Nesscliffe will probably provide the best bet to doing an E8 in 2013. I've top-roped a few there and just need to get round to leading them. Ed Booth's massive new arete in the main quarry sounds like one most likely to hold onto it's grade and above all it's an absolute corker of a line.

I've no plans for an continental ice trip this year, so dry tooling at White-Goods or on the slate will have to make do. The fact i don't own froot boots might make route choice critical as fig 4'ing in big boots may add unnecessary difficulty...
Rob Pitt on Jaz at White Goods (pilfered from the entertaining White Goods Blog)

Scottish VIII:
I'm hoping Pete H will get me out winter climbing again and drag my sorry arse up something hard. Last years single Scottish winter trip, resulted in a total of 25ft of technical climbing (half a pitch of Fallout Corner before storm force winds made retreat the sensible option) and 5hrs belaying Pete on something hard on the Ben.

I figure Pete owes me a belay and I've got my eye on Travesty on Clogwyn Du; we just need some Welsh winter conditions in the new year.
You can probably see why this route is called "traverse-ty"

Beer Drinking:
Combining getting drinking-fit with the other more physical challenges presented here could be the crux of the whole challenge. 2.5pints of "Double Dark" this Tuesday pretty much ruined my guts the next day so I'm starting from a lowly level. The only way is up!
You know it's not going to do your guts any good when it's "Double Dark"!

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