The Longest Climb - Part 2


So… its all actually really, properly, happening. For real.

The wheels are turning, the wagons rolling and any other getting started type metaphors you can think off.

I’m sure anyone reading this by now will be aware of the challenge Tom and I are taking on – unless by some random, freak occurrence of coincidence you have just landed on this blog by chance, in all the billions of pages on the internet. Should that be the case may I suggest you read the previous entry from Tom and the other info surrounding our little (or actually not so little) endeavour.

A re-introduction for lead climbing at our climbing session on Tuesday 3rd Nov 2009. I've lead climbed before - a loooooooooooooong time ago. Must be at least 18 months - which is my round about way of saying that I was crapola!!! Just terrible.

Climbs that would have whizzed by on a top rope, took interminably long as I back clipped, climbed too high above the clip, messed up my route, and hung for ages fiddling with some frickin karabiner that just WOULD NOT GO INTO THE BLOODY CLIP.

In short I managed to get wrong just about everything I could – I could even sense the frustration of one poor climber, whose route was close to mine, who got caught behind me as spent about fifteen hours climbing a relatively easy grade 5, whilst he clung on by his fingertips attempting a 6c.

Are you sensing my frustration - I hope so. It was all little disheartening really. Though I left the climbing centre with a vague sense of having relearnt much of the knowledge that had gone walk-about in my little vacation from climbing.

Tom as usual fared a lot better with his climbing and I watched a little jealously as he knocked of a few tough grades as if they were grade 3.

My only defence against my total crapness was the fact that I had been to gym before hand and rowed 10,000m in a fairly good time. In fact I made myself feel a little more confident and less like I was wasting my time with this whole thing when I put in a PB on the rowing machine @ 10,000m. Its a shame this isn't a rowing challenge really isn't it... oh well. On a serious note the reason I've picked rowing as my main cardio training exercise for now is that I figure the action uses similar muscle groups and movements to climbing and so hopefully will help improve my climbing stamina as well as my fitness too. When we have our first session with a personal trainer he'll probably tell me I'm an idiot.

For our first real test we decided to see how far we'd come in training. We basically climbed up and down a wall as many times as possible - setting ourselves a provisional target of 10 times which quickly changed to 20 when we blasted through 10.

Tom and I had a small argument over the choice of wall for the test. I felt he chose a paticuarly difficult wall to climb. All the grips were quite fingery, and spaced out and also there was a small disc outcrop half way up the wall which made it even more tricky to traverse. This annoyed me for two reasons:

1. It gives him an unfair advantage in the training, as he is by far a better climber than me.

2. It isn't an accurate representation of the climb we will eventually be undertaking for the challenge.

Anyway - in the end I agreed to climb, and decided to go first. And was actually very pleased with result. After 45 mins I had climbed the wall 25 times - and actually had found this fairly easy. Between climbs 8 and 12 I found it tough - but then around climb 12- 14 I pushed through and found it got easier. In fact the only reason I came off the wall in the end was that it was 9.15pm and we had to give Tom enough time to climb after me. I wasn't that out of breath or knackered and despite a dull ache in my arms felt physically ok. Tom went on to climb 30 times in 29 mins. This annoyed me a bit as I felt it skews the results a bit. Obviously he is faster than I am, but I felt that had I been allowed to continue climbing I cold have easily passed the 30 climb barrier. The cameraman with us pointed out that whilst Tom was knackered from the attempt I seemed less exhausted. Anyway - we'll see, I don’t want sound like a whiny little bitch or a bad loser (both of which I am) - And Tom and I are becoming great friends, and I don’t begrudge him anything – but we're both competitive and want to do well at this event.

After another good week, and both feeling strong, we decided to push the test up to 50 climbs, or 600m. We’ve now both done this distance twice and although Tom remains slightly faster – his quickest time being 47 mins to my 56, I’m still coming off the wall feeling like I could go on, in fact the second time I did just that, meaning currently I am closer to the target than he is! I really felt quite good after that week - we seemed to be hitting goals earlier than expected and where as before after a training session I'd be destroyed physically for a couple of days, I was now feeling like I could just keep on going and going – like some kind of vertical, extreme sports Duracell bunny - just without the ears... and fur... and batteries. Until a drunken night put a stop to all of that.

I was out celebrating a friend and colleague’s leaving drinks as she is jetting off round the world. Unfortunately a spot of crazy dancing turned into 4 hours in A&E and the prognosis of 4-6 weeks before I can resume training. Suffice to say I’m pretty pissed off; I was really starting to make some progress and my technique and strength was improving dramatically. Hopefully lots of chin-ups over the next few weeks will allow me to stay close to Tom, who is going to have a massive advantage now! 200 days to go till the big climb and I’m going to be spending a large chunk of it on crutches!!

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Cheers people, have a good one.

Follow Jonny and Tom at:Website: Twitter: Facebook: Thanks to the Westway Climbing Centre and to all for your support and generosity; £270 raised so far!