One spends enough time climbing and it eventually becomes clear that half the things climbers say are total bullshit.
I’ve heard all kinds of ludicrous statements come out of people’s mouths over the years.
“You only need chalk once you start using it.”
“Grigris aren’t a safe belay device.”
“Campusing is a dangerous training technique and if done more than once a week will lead to injury.”
The first two don’t even deserve a response. As far as campusing goes however, there IS a little truth to this statement. Many people DO hurt themselves while training on campus boards and fingerboards, but I insist that this is case of operator error rather than faulty technology. Rarely do people approach these training tools with any sort of plan. Most start yarding on holds in an attempt to imitate their buddy who’s been slowly ramping up his workouts over the past 2 decades and their combination of poor form and weak tendons leads to... POP!
Almost one year ago, still severely anemic from blood loss and nursing a chronic shoulder injury, I hopped slowly into the shed on a walker. Since that time I’ve systematically trained my arms/hands at least 3 times/week. Its been torture at times. The tedium of endless repetition, the stiff mornings, the inevitable plateaus along the way - training isn’t easy, and that's fine with me. But guess what’s happening? No. I haven’t ruptured any tendons or torn my shoulders to pieces. I’m getting stronger - far stronger than I’ve ever been.
So for those of you that recently lost the use of your legs, or those that have any interest in climbing harder sometime in the future. Here’s a short list of articles that should help you design a program that works.
My additional advice is not only to warm up VERY slowly (good explanation on the School Room website below), and stretch your fingers and shoulders AFTER each workout, but also train the shit out of your rotator cuff. I still end every workout with 2 sets of 2 different exercises (rotated daily from a group of 6) to complete failure.
The masters of all things hangboard. The name says it all.
The School Room
Tips from one of the world's epicenters of climbing specific training.
Variations on the themes above
Increasing the Calibre
More variations on the same themes
Not much training here, but notice the Beastmaker board in the title image and the list on the right. Pretty funny.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
On Sunday I loaded the Mini with some climbing gear, a small suitcase and a very special twelve pack of Olympia and headed for Bob’s cabin in Tom’s Place. Upon departure I joked that I was planning on returning Tuesday evening, but may have to stay over because Dr. Karch was surely gonna love the way the leg was looking and may want to remove some of the “now unnecessary” hardware. Everyone was psyched. After 11 months we were out of the woods and well on the road to recovery.
I arrived early in the evening to Bob and Nuke relaxing on the porch. The two had spent most of the afternoon celebrating their first big mountain together. They bagged a 12,000 ft plus peak before lunch - Nukes first “real mountain” as Bob put it. After a few warm up brews and some tasty pizza out at Convict Lake we headed home to tackle the twelve pack. After all I was roaming around the cabin cane free and was already climbing better than pre accident. So we drank the shit out of that thing, and then the following day we went and checked out the Warming Wall in Mammoth. The very short approach was the main attraction, but even in the heat, we agreed the crag had more than a few star worthy moderates. Bob noted the same phenomena that many had already noticed - while climbing I almost look healthy. I’ll say it again: The leg’s been feeling great.
Ok, now back to the xray... It didn’t take a physician to see that the bones were bowing severely - maybe 10-15 degrees in right in the middle of the main fracture site. Fuck me. Seems there’s a few explanations for this. The first is that the bones were set that way originally (but they weren’t), the second is that there’s an infection that has resurfaced and eaten away at the bones leading to their fragility, and third that the bones simply never healed and the weight I’ve been applying has slowly bent the partially healed soft bone. So, over the next few days, Dr. Karch will go over some blood test results, get ahold of my Santa Barbara films and confer with his associates to come up with a plan. He wasn’t willing to say much before doing so, but it sounds like the plan will probably be to pop out all the screws (all 17 of them plus the plate), externally fixate the leg and then slowly torque it back straight over the coming months. This is all assuming the bone is still soft and there’s no infection. Otherwise, the situation is different.
I could tell Dr. Karch was frustrated. I knew I was frustrated. He may not have been thinking this, but I sure as hell started to doubt the care I have been receiving in Santa Barbara. Most specifically the call made my the local orthopedic surgeon to start applying full body weight a few months back. Even more worrisome is that the local Doc then told me a check up would be unnecessary for 3 months. Yet somehow, over those 3 months the leg bowed a shit ton. Grrrrrr. Who knows? Of course I wanna blame someone, but maybe thats not fair.
After the appointment I got in the Mini and drove home, all the while trying to get psyched for the coming weeks. After tossing around a few extreme ideas, reality settled in. The plan is no different than its always been. The leg is gonna take a LONG time to get strong again, and maybe a little longer than I expected. Fine. I’ll keep doing what I can along the way. That means continuing to prepare for school this fall, creatively keeping myself financially afloat, and attacking the campus boards with a fury equal to the pain of a double compound fracture.
Video: 1 - 6 bump 7 triple on the bigs
Monday, July 12, 2010
Between Steve Edwards (one of the fittest almost 50 year old people on the planet and master of suffering for fun), Elijah Ball (the guy who somehow survived a bout with pneumonia that was supposed to kill him and now climbs as hard as ever, and swims better than most people), and Phil Requist (the 40 something CFO who refuses to give up on 15 year projects and is still making progress towards finishing them post shoulder surgery), and numerous others, I’m surrounded by people who don’t really believe in taking the easy route. Yes, turns out this whole success thing is predicated by a shit ton of down and dirty hard work.
Saturday I was able to warm up well and get 3 good burns on Hardboiled. I say good, not because of redpoint potential (nowhere close), but because of the progress made on specific goals and a continued positive vibe. After a break to shoot some photos and take a look at some possible work, I took a stroll up Crocodile Hunter 5.12d, resting when necessary to relearn the moves and clip chains. Not a bad day at Mr. Lees.
And then we tried to climb at the Tor. I should back up and point out that although it rained for most of the night, just after sunrise the clouds parted for the most part and let in the July sun that one expects out at Silly Rock. So the possible upside of cool temps that we both fixated our minds on while tossing and turning the prior night was gone with breakfast. But things were much worse than that. Like a proper thunderstorm this one left us with a Sunday humidity of like 75%. We slugged through 4 laps each and called it a day. Not the most fun anyone’s had climbing, but I think our bodies serve to respond well to the additional stress.
The plan is to keep doing this on a regular basis, but it’ll have to start out biweekly cause next Sunday I’ll be driving up to Bob’s cabin in Tom’s Place to hang out, climb, see Dr. Karch, and drink at least one twelver of Oly. Hopefully Elijah doesn’t come to his senses before I return, cause I’m gonna need a belay the following weekend.