Monday, September 19, 2016

New Website

The time has come to retire my site here at blogger. I will keep it up and running for a short while that is, until all is successfully transferred to the new site. The new site is a work in progress but i shall hope you find it more user friendly than this one!!!

Many thanks to those who have been solid readers of my writing. See the link below for new material!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Injury Prevention by Training Smarter

As climbers we push ourselves constantly; climbing and training through pain to only luckily climb past it or inevitably have the pain stop us in every way, shape, and form from doing what we love. Recently, I have met my wall; there was no way up, down, backwards or forwards to keep climbing. A wall is a wall as a stop sign is a stop sign with a cop car behind you. You have to stop. 100%.  My wall gave plenty of warnings before actually setting its pillars down. In hindsight, those warnings taught me some valuable lessons. For one, when I start climbing again, training smarter will be my priority.  But what does training smarter mean? And more so, why do we even push ourselves to the point of pain? 
Before going into injury prevention by training smarter, it is important to address the underlying causes of injury. By this, I don’t mean the physical aspect but more, the emotional and mental motivation behind it. Many athletes have the tendency to ignore the subtle messages and feelings that warn us of the dangers of ‘one more try’.  In our efforts to improve, the small tweaks and pains are ignored for the voice of the ego. We become impatient with our bodies and the process; ignoring the fine line between make or break. With thought only on the climb in front of us, we push and ignore our bodies’ limits and messages while tinkering on the brink of destruction. This is a similar mentality to how we treat our earth; humans seem to like tipping points… 

One of the hardest things to do when faced with injury is stopping.
Despite the body saying no, i just kept at it until there was an ultimatum.  
Admittedly, I am guilty of all of the above but am learning from my mistakes and embracing the idea of going slow and steady with longevity in mind. It is exciting to be revamping my training mindset with the idea of mastering basic movement while slowly preparing the connective tissues to match their design and capabilities.  

So - how do we get better without wrecking our bodies? Though not complete, below is a list of indispensable things learned from my own experience as well as invaluable advice received from people more adept than myself including physios, national team coaches and world champions. 

Listen to your body

Know yourself. Beyond the physical messages, our body gives warnings in the form of subtle thoughts and feelings that tell us we are approaching its limit; hunches that warn us that one more try probably isn’t a good idea. This is our intuition; our inner intelligence pointing us towards our best interest. Listen to that above anything else. It trumps everything and everyone around you even the physio, doctor, and especially, the ego…!! Our bodies know how to be born, how to grow, and heal. Listening and respecting that intelligence means stopping before it hurts, definitely stopping when it hurts, and being patient with ourselves and the process. We must think long term; past the boulder or route in front of us and onto the many years of climbing we have ahead. Don’t ruin yourself for a send or training session. 

Don't over train

Sessions should be short and sweet: the standard guideline for maximum strength training is two hours or less. Any longer is ineffective. However, if you are training endurance, you can go longer. If you can’t stop and want more, do a double session. One in the am, one in the pm, leaving at least two hours in between to rest and recover. Doing one more set when you’re tired is only putting yourself in a hole that gets deeper with each try, making recovery even harder. Be patient; stop when you feel strong, and don’t go to failure.

How do you know you’re overtraining? Your body will tell you in a variety of ways:
Lack of snap and dynamic power
over all feeling of malaise or being run down;  getting sick more often than usual
lack of psych and motivation to train. (Different then plain laziness!)
getting the yawns part way through your session
general heaviness, especially in the legs 
mentally tired, foggy in the mind
central nervous system fatigue. This can occur after too many hard sessions in a row and can be really harder to recover from. Use periodization training to prevent this and keep a training log.

Don’t repeat things over and over

Working the same move repeatedly is not only tiring to those specific muscles but is also teaching your body bad movements pattern for that particular crux; by repeating that failure you are teaching it to fail. While many moves take lots of work, it is inefficient to work it for hours upon end. Walk away and go back only when fresh in your body and mind.
Keeping the other tweaks in check throughout my rest period.
Climbers elbows usually need some help! 

Don’t expect immediate results

Strength and improvement do not come over night. The best climbers have taken years to get where they are and many would say they are still learning and improving. Going slow with training is healthy as it gives the body time to adapt to the added stress. This is especially important for our tendons and ligaments which develop and strengthen a lot slower than muscle. Start with the basics and slowly move upwards only when your body is prepared. This will really help prevent injury down the road. Slow and steady wins the race but since it isn’t a race, chill out and think long term..! 

Focus on movement over strength

Climbing is a movement based sport. You’re training should comprise of at least 75% towards movement. Climbing strengths and abilities can improve dramatically by focusing on climbing movement itself. Although weights can definitely play a role, there is no point in training to deadlift 200 pounds if you can’t place your foot efficiently and properly. Focusing on movement is also easier on the body and really beneficial for making one a ‘better climber’. Go into the gym and practice foot work, drop knees, hip overs, cross overs, dynamic and static movements, etc. Or better yet, go outside! Nothing like a bit of rock to teach you the intricacies of movement! 

Stop if it hurts

The unfortunate thing about tendons and ligaments is by the time they send their messages of pain, it is too late. The damage is already done and recovery now takes a lot longer. Try to find that sweet balance so they don’t get to that point. Stop when still feeling strong, before you think it might hurt and definitely stop if it hurts. 

For example, one day while doing physio I was listening to a podcast about training and injury prevention. The guy was talking about the subtle messages we receive from our bodies that warn us of its limit. As I was doing my I, Y, T’s with small weights, a very little pain rushed through my shoulder that normally I’d ignore as it was just so freaking small but as he continued speaking, something clicked… I immediately dropped the weight and did the exercise with bodyweight alone. The pain stopped. My body wasn’t ready for that increase and was being kind enough to tell me. From that day on, my focus has been on listening to those little messages and my recovery has only been going uphill.     

Take care of you:

A new stretch i found that really helps stretch out the biceps and shoulders. "The Table"
Training is stress on the body. Combined with the general stresses of life, that is a lot of wear and tear. Don’t overdo it, be patient and take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced healthy diet with wholesome, nutrient dense unprocessed foods that will meet the demands of a recovering body and last but not least, know your body well enough and listen to it! If you are doing physio, focusing on doing the moves well to speed recovery. 

Good Luck!!

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Monday, April 18, 2016


Do you remember a time when you wanted something so bad, all your energy and thoughts combined, spiraling towards that one and only, which finally in the end, was swept from beneath your feet? You go through a few days of disappointment and upset yet, somewhere in the deepest of spots, a small feeling knows that what you wanted isn’t necessarily what you needed. Anyway, that’s been my last couple months…!

Nationals… slight disaster…!! Not just the event, but more the time leading up to it. My shoulder was a mess; pain was my constant. After BC provincials, it was to the point where it demanded no more. My physio suggested I pull out of Nationals. Everything hurt to moving my clutch to no longer being able to do a simple pull-up. My cyclic schedule of resting a few days followed by hard climbing wasn’t working; completely rest was mandatory. The fact that the Nationals was in one month had no say. Climbing through pain doesn’t work with progress or longevity. To those who push through pain may understand my ways; long term simply wasn’t in my program. I just wanted to last long enough to Nationals. The idea of longevity had to become part of my vocab. So for the four weeks leading up to Nationals, my time was spent counting reps of physio and stability exercises instead of climbing; less than ideal but better than further damaging my shoulder.

A week before the comp, the pain and inflammation were decreasing. Not wanting to compete after three weeks of complete rest, I headed to the gym for a test session to see how everything felt. Pain was still present and my body was uncoordinated and lacked power; basically, it was horrible! With disappointment and frustration, I abandoned the idea of competing. After wrestling with the idea of using the medical exemption rule, I asked my physio for the letter. They used previous results when considering the person for national team. My results from last year averaged me as third out of the top six Canadians. While this seemed good enough to allow a chance, my results from last year’s Nationals lingered and my thoughts fell on the selection process two years back when the committee favored two younger competitors despite my results and ranking being higher. Now, I was torn..!! Attending Nationals injured and after weeks of rest; or take a leap of faith that my results from last year were good enough, and use the medical exemption rule…

The cynic inside of me decided to test the waters of climbing again. Ironically, everything felt miles different than the day prior. My body felt light and strong and my coordination was working. While it wasn’t rational to decide ones readiness after the second session, Nationals were in three days, only 45 minutes away and deeply, I wanted to go. It was then decided. Mistake or not, I was going.

For qualifiers, I pulled through to semis though my flow wasn’t omnipresent. For semis, it was another story. Climbing felt foreign and my whole being was confused; as if all my skills had run away. I lacked power and conviction. Finishing with no bonuses and my worst result at a Canadian comp ever was disheartening. Gone were my chances of making team and doing one more year of World Cups. I kicked myself for being irrational and obsessed; for seeing my ranking as third out of six not good enough; for not trusting the selection process despite them telling me their switch to 100% results based… I sat in a gloom of regret, frustration and annoyance.

As time would tell, although it was painful to deal with this defeat, a part of me felt relief. Physically, my body needed a time out to heal. Mentally, my mind needed a break. Had I placed well, training would have continued and I’d be more broken. The end result wasn’t ideal but it was giving me the opportunity to heal which otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken. It was a giant slap in the face that we ultimately have no control. We can take the steps towards what we want, but life itself will steer us towards what’s best; whether we think so or not…
So finally, after months of chronic shoulder pain, my body is getting the rest it needs. It’s been a month and a half already. Regularly physio and stability is keeping me on track. In the end, the opportunity to do World Cups is still there, (given the 17 names above mine don’t fill up the limited 6 spots!!) but either way, thanks to this wakeup call, competing isn’t my priority, healing and longevity is. As Katie Bird said, ‘we’re lifers thomo, we gotta take care of this one self’.

Thanks for reading. and a big shout out to Ken Chow for the many photos! 

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Breakthroughs, Part 3

To save the eyes of any weary reader, this will be the last of my series on breakthroughs simply because after this event, there were no breakthroughs, only realizations. For now, I’ll tell you a little story about the competition which took place at the end of January, the BC Provincials.

Headed into the crowded zone of qualifiers, my goal was to bring the state of mind needed to do my best: that of relaxation and focus. For the past few years of my competition journey, I knew this was necessary but wasn’t sure of the how, let alone my capability. But in the qualifying round of the competition a week prior, I was surprised to find this state deep within.

There was however, a glitch.... For the past couple weeks my right shoulder had been complaining and was to the point where simple things like flushing the toilet hurt. When I picked up my bag for qualifiers, a sharp pain was sent through the sensitive joint and the feeling of creakiness and unease took over. I wondered what the hell was I doing entering a competition given its state. The thought of withdrawing became more real.

While the officials gave me permission to pull out, I first wanted to warm up and then decide. Surprisingly, the pain gradually subsided, so stubbornly I kept going.  Later, I learned that with tendonitis, once the joint gets moving, the inflammation flushes itself out, leading to the misunderstanding that things are better. Well, regardless, I was psyched! My body was allowing me one more go!

Amazingly, my head space for qualifiers was great, much better than my standard. The desired neural pathways were becoming more engrained and for the most part, my breath was relaxed, my eyes focused.  When I fell, I stayed calm and practical; focusing on the physicality, such as a different beta or throwing with more commitment. I guarded my shoulder a little but overall was psyched to have made it to finals without more damage.

topping problem 3
When finals came around, the usual nervousness filled my body. Telling myself a repeat of Calgary wasn’t necessary, I focused on accepting these feelings as normal, while reminding myself of my goal. This mentality really helped until the time between problems 3 and 4 in isolation…

At this time, I returned to iso having topped all of the problems so far. Until then, I hadn’t thought much of the results. I figured everyone would send this problem since I had done it meaning the results would come down to the last. But finally, as each competitor returned, their chatter revealed that only two others had topped, meaning, if I did the last problem, I would podium. Thinking of the outcome was of course, a mistake.  The nervousness and pressure came back with vengeance. Feeling my desired focus and mindset quickly disappearing, I isolated myself in order to recuperate.

As I stood waiting for the final problem, my body was jittery; clearly ignoring my instructions to relax and focus. My eyes start working in a darting fashion, taking in various things but nothing in particular. The problem was littered in volumes meaning the type of climbing is very body position intensive; one has to be relaxed in order to feel the moves. Normally I am quite good at this style but as I ordered my mind to calm down, I simultaneously over gripped the start holds. Missing feet options and using zero technique, the pump quickly filled my forearms. With a scattered breath, I proceeded to blow any chance of podium. Upon timing out, I sat frustrated with my lost focus and watched the others climb it with the calmness and confidence from years of competition experience.

panicking on problem 4!
When the comp finished, I put my shoes back on and sent the problem. I realized that on all my falls, relaxing more may have helped open my eyes to the various betas such as required bat hangs. Annoyed with having lost my focus, I was still somewhat content for having held it together through qualifiers and 3 of the 4 final problems. I wanted to embed this’ keeping it together feeling’ but it battled with a loud voice that put me down for having blown it at the end.

Tonde once said to me, ‘competitions are a huge mental game of choosing the right voice to listen to’. It’s a battle between good and evil, lightness verses dark. Either way, it wasn’t easy to leave content; I’m hard on myself for not keeping it together despite the progress. But perhaps that’s the real battle… finding balance between self-criticism and acceptance for making mistakes no matter what; in other words, being kind to oneself in moments of loathing.

Thanks for reading. :)
and Thanks to Ken Chow for the many photos!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cowboys and cowgirls. Breakthroughs. Part Two.

There was a bus that bobbed along the city streets, like a bottle in the ocean. It was crowded and filled with people who seemed to be minding their own affairs. The guy next to me was watching an 
Instagram video of a young girl dressed in a bikini, blowing kisses to the viewer. Across, a darker woman sat with sad eyes, staring out the window to a distant world. Though like any other, the bus ride felt odd, foreign like. Not foreign as in people speaking different tongues, but foreign because I was sitting on this bus with only one piece of luggage and, no child by my side. 

I often hear of mothers travelling solo for a week or two to experience an escapade ‘without the kids’. For myself, this is an alien idea and frankly, not an option. But as fate would have it, my sister was free to watch Cedar for the weekend so I embarked on a solo adventure to Calgary for the Alberta Bouldering Provincial’s. It was a strange sensation. Kissing good-bye, the sense of worry and concern conflicted with grounded rationales that she was more than safe. Eventually, my uneasiness disappeared and the feeling of being on vacation exploded within. 
Sparing the details of how exciting it felt to be exploring the frigid city streets of Calgary to getting groceries at my own pace, a foreign sensation of being at ease filled me. Perhaps only fellow parents may understand this but it seemed, over years of parenting, something very gradually engrained itself deep within me to the point of not knowing, that is, until it disappeared. Normal daily worries and stresses had somehow lifted themselves. 

Upon heading into qualifiers, I recapped goals based on lessons from the comp a week prior: to relax, enjoy, and full commitment on moves. Warm up went badly and concern about my right shoulder grew. Yet, when crossing the line between iso and start time, I absorbed my surroundings. Something within took light. On problem one I felt insecure from the start yet my breath was slow and calm. I trusted my feet and myself. My eyes and breath were relaxed and focused.  

Problem two required a bit of a throw. I knew what to do and did it; no hesitating had. Sitting between problems, I was filled with a strange feeling of being relaxed while observing and breathing in the amped environment around me. The realization that I was learning to enjoy the moment, the tension, the stress, pleasantly surprised me. I was relaxing into the energy of competition and enjoying it!                                                                                                                           Upon arriving at the top of problem three, the focus of my eyes changed to a darting fashion. The final hold seemed just out of reach. Unsure of what to do, I threw from a most awkward position. My shoulder twisted as it tried to hang on while I headed face first towards the ground, letting out a scream. Realizing all was ok. I laughed at the sketchiness of the fall. Getting back to the top and taking a deeper breath, I realized to reach the finish; all I had to do was turn 180 towards the crowd. 
Problem four had a big move which I didn’t get deep enough on the first throw. To my own surprise, I dropped back down, rearranged my feet and threw with more vengeance. The last and final problem was tricky: to balance and move subtly, or to grr and scratch myself up there. I choose the latter which clearly, wasn’t the way. On each attempt I was spit off in a fury but to the surprise of those who knew me, when I fell, I laughed. I was approaching it as a puzzle rather than defeat. :)

Ironically, once qualifiers finished, issues normally of a concern like letting go of stress, worries and such didn’t come into the equation. Being so much more relaxed than I’d been in any competition, there was really nothing to ‘let go’ of. The words of Lucas were true.  Relaxing and trusting myself worked. I had made progress.  After analyzing my first fall, had I stayed relaxed at the top, reevaluating and not rushing the beta, may have worked. As for the last problem, taking a breath, keeping my eyes open and looking around, may have shown me that I couldn’t reach the next hold because my arm was bent.

In the end I did 4 of 5 problems in 5 tries. To my own surprise I qualified in second behind strong lady Stacey Weldon. More importantly, I proved to myself that being in that ideal state was possible. I really did it and seemingly, without trying. This was a huge breakthrough!                                                                           Then, finals came... Thinking back to this leaves a sour taste in my mouth. With the increased pressure of wanting to reproduce what I did the day prior, the stress came back with vengeance. Tightness constricted my body and mind. No matter how many deep breaths I took, summoning feelings of relaxation felt next to impossible. 

Trying to stay optimistic for problem one, the move to the bonus was far. No matter how hard I tried, getting the extra centimeter needed to get my tips around it was impossible. I began fearing the rest of the comp. This impending fear and not letting go of problem one, quickened the downward spiral. I cursed myself for losing it which also didn’t help. As a route setter myself, I left finals with much frustration; the many long moves felt just beyond my reach; I felt there wasn’t even a fighting chance. 

Finals were akin to falling back into unhelpful patterns and fearing the unknown. The ironic thing is, in competition, the outcome is always unknown. Really, anything can happen as I recognized in qualifiers. To realize that it was possible to relax and focus on the task at hand was a godsend. My eyes remained open, my breath steady. Each moment, success or failure were taken with stride and easily let go. Climbing was enjoyable and the atmosphere light; it was serious, but unserious. To maintain this relaxed state while standing in the midst of whatever life throws at you whether as a parent, competitor or anything really… now… that would be ideal..!! Like Bruce Lee says, “Be like water my friend.”   

(Haven’t I said that before…?) Yes…

Thanks for reading. XX

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Some really cool bow and arrows found at the Glenbow Museum

Monday, February 15, 2016

Breakthroughs. Part One

January was like this… a whirlwind of excitement, adventure, nervousness, and apprehension; emotional turmoil twisted itself into moments of empowerment and disbelief. Eye opening realizations and instants of complete disappointment wrestled with my core beliefs. While ancient hardwiring aimed themselves down pathways of comfort, something followed; challenging and provoking another way, showing other possibilities.

credit: Ken Chow Photography
It’s like this; you need to do something different to make progress. Usually it is something simple; like relaxing or taking conscious breaths. Yet, when found in a situation that makes your breath quicken, your heart beat faster, the complete opposite expresses; everything contracts and tightens. This something simple isn’t so easy. In fact, it feels next to impossible. For something heavy from lifetimes beyond, exist deep inside. Two worlds speaking different wants and languages collide. Lightness and heaviness abide, swimming next to each other, intertwining, yet conflicting with their different currents. 

Self-talk; inner dialogue…  A child sits at the kitchen table, looking at their anchor who sits quietly, gazing off at the ceiling which has stained yellow from the smothering of cigarette smoke. Jaw tight, her dark eyes distant. Something is not right. In childlike wonder, the watcher absorbs. Daily, this is how it is. She remains quiet, but for the occasional tut. Stewing, churning, the thoughts in one’s mind, over and over… 

Ruminating… Lizzy once told me after a competition to stop ruminating. Looking on perplexed, I responded… what’s that? ‘It is what you are doing right now; churning, dwelling, analyzing to the point of exhaustion. You have analyzed enough my friend. Now take what you’ve learned and let the rest go. Ruminating is pointless.'

It’s my first competition of 2016. We’re at Ground Up, Squamish’s stellar new climbing gym. Nervousness and excitement filled me, yet there was apprehension. The day prior I was visiting Sheila the Great. Standing to leave, she looked at me in her inquisitive nature, speaking quietly as if remembering something, ‘I wonder if it is a learned behavior’. Looking puzzled I asked, what? With a fling of her hand as if brushing off a fly, she nonchalantly recalled words from a previous conversation spoken months before. ‘This thing you do, maybe it was learned…’ 

Fast forward to the moment between problems 2 and 3 in finals. Heading back to isolation, embarrassed and frustrated, Matt Lucas, a friend of 15 years, stepped forward. After witnessing my defeat on problem two he naturally took the role of coach. Towering over me at 6 foot 3, his height can be confused with authority, yet his face represents kindness. He told me to let it go, to refocus on the next. I respected his advice. Besides, he was right. 
Credit: Shane Murdoch Photography

Fighting my trembling lip, I hid myself between my outstretched legs, pretending to stretch while fighting the intense emotions of competition. Trying to convince myself of the un-seriousness of the matter, to let it go; reminding myself that we are all going to die, that it doesn’t really matter… the words of Sheila echoed in my head. “Maybe it was a learned behavior…” 

Breathing deeper, her voice reiterated. Thoughts and images from past lives flashed quickly. I see a woman at a table, smoking, stewing; me, watching, absorbing. Unexpectedly, Eddie’s voice comes in. “In these moments you have got to choose who you listen to: the inner wounded child of ours or what we want to become.” Then, as if in perfect sequence, Robyn spoke: “When shit hits the fan, you sit down with yourself; take a deep breath and demand, no more.”

Something clicked. My breathing slowed down. The words radical realization took on definite meaning. The choice was always there, but this time I felt the power to make it. It was done. I said no.  Something deep within lost some power. A new neural pathway was paving itself, stronger and more ready. I was not going to allow these stagnant emotions and old beliefs to take me down. Standing up, for the next problem, heaviness lingered but something was different. As much as I cringe at the trendy jargon of words like empowerment, there it was, growing. Between being a deer in headlights and someone with stubborn determination, I went out there and fought for something better. 

Problem 3 was a dyno. My most feared. The big white holds are far, the starting handholds small. My legs felt clumsy and awkward bouncing towards them. I shimmed my fingers to get one cm closer. Touching the hold my already weak right shoulder felt a twinge. 3 minutes left. Try again. Fall. 2 minutes left. Voices screamed, ‘come on Thomo, come on’. Torn between incapability and determination, I thought about my hips, what they needed to do to execute; finally, my focus was right, I was learning from their failure. With one minute left, I tried again. To my surprise, the hip idea worked. I was hanging from the bonus, smearing my foot on the wall reaching far to the next sloper. I was at the top in a most awkward split position wondering how to match the final hold. At last, I took a deep breath. My eyes relaxed and looked down at my feet. I could heel hook. ‘Ding!’ Moving them around, I found a secure position and matched. The buzzer rang, my friends in the crowd cheered. An exhale of relief came forth.

Credit: Shane Murdoch Photography
I didn’t do the last problem. My body and mind were too rigid to relax into the position it needed to be in to execute. But this idea of needing to relax is something for the next story.

My friend Natasha, a co-worker and someone who I like to call coach, sat with me after finals and forced me to make a verbal list of three things I did right in the comp. This process felt utterly painful, like churning an unoiled crank. Completing her task took much anguish. The difficulty of this task for me has since inspired an adoption of this practice. 

After the comp, I was pleasantly surprised by my moment of empowerment; something tried before but I lacked the conviction to do so. I absorbed the various flavors of advices which came from friends who I’ve known since my early days of climbing. Our relationships were based on a level of trust and understanding. Not everyone can tell me to’ let it go’ and I listen… 

So, when those same voices tell you their post-comp observations which match exactly what some sport psych told you: to not worry about who is watching you, to focus only on the things within your control; when they say, ‘man, it looks like you need to relax and get out of your head’; when they suggest to you to learn how to enjoy the moment, to relax and trust into yourself... that you are doing great, to stick with it, that you are indeed improving... 

Well, sometimes… you just listen.   

Many thanks to my Squamish community for the love, especially, Mr. Lucas of Lucas Teas. Xx 

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this story from my life please consider donating to my blog to help make my efforts in writing sustainable. Danke, Merci, Thanks!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Epic Tv Interview

Big thanks to Epic Tv for hosting this short video on my life and lifestyle. They used footage from a few years back as I haven't much new in terms of quality so it was was pretty cool to see not only the growth in Cedar, but also my various self inflicted hair styles... :)

Loved the classic Newfoundland footage...!! It is so beautiful there. Dream like. Another world...

Thanks Zofia and 'Duct Tape then Beer' for the quality footage. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tips on Splits. Part two.

This is part two of “Tips on Splits”.

For part one, click here.


There are some things you can do to prevent a split for occurring, skin care and self-control on the rock being the most important. If you feel a tear is pending, yet you can't seem to stop, again, really consider stopping and try thinking long term. (You'll also probably send your project faster…!!!) If it is impossible to stop climbing, definitely tape up and change problems. The rock will still be there in a week’s time. Climbing with tape sucks but waiting a week or two for a tear to heal is worse.

If your skin is being pushed into a small wad on one side: sand it down!! I never used to sand my tips but have since become fanatic. An even layer of skin means the rock is less likely to catch on it, eventually tearing it.

Change the chalk
Try changing the type of chalk you use. Some chalks are more drying than others. If you have dry skin like myself, (a blessing in the summer yet a curse when it gets cold), a more drying chalk can dry your skin out too much thus increasing the chances of a split happening. I like to keep things simple with Metolius block chalk.

Wash your Hands! 
Wash the chalk off your hands after climbing so the drying effect of chalk doesn’t continue beyond necessity.

Chalk is a drying agent and dry skin can lead to split tips so consider moisturizing after climbing. (For obviously reasons, not before... You don’t want to grease up the holds on the problem…) Consider using a moisturizing salve like Metolius hand balm or Climb On. On cold dry days moisturizer can really help save your skin not to mention help prevent those dry painful cracks that can happen between the nail bed.

No to Antihydral
Antihydral is a drying agent and can be very helpful to those with greasy, sweaty skin. For me however, it would be the opposite as it is not recommended if you already have dry skin. Antihydral seriously dries out the skin thus increasing the chances of getting split tips. I have some friends who used it and ended up getting more split tips than warranted.

If you must climb before the tip is fully healed: 
(totally understandable…!)

-put cream on the spilt to keep it moist and help speed healing. I suggest Peneten for the healing properties of zinc oxide
-tape the finger up really well (see below photos)
-avoid the culprit holds or project so not to aggravate or delay healing
-once the skin is dry, sand!
-repeat the cream/tape process throughout the day and night

The curiosity of crazy glue:

Some people swear by it, some don't. The theory is that the glue will prevent the split from opening while the body heals. The new skin will eventually push the glue out. I tried it multiple times in the last month, was told different things, and finally, after some experimentation, decided against it. Unless you’re using the very expensive medical grade glue, I don't recommended putting this chemical directly into your split/ blood stream. But again, that's just my opinion. Some folks swear by it. As with the first mentioned method that I found works, (see part one) sanding, cream and patience are still required for the crazy glue method.

What gluing method didn't work:
It was my first time using crazy glue so a friend suggested his method which was to put glue on the split in a closed position and hold it that way so it dried closed. This seemed to help as there was now no opening which meant no pain. But this method did not work. The split immediately re-opened the next climbing day and thus set me back a couple days of healing.

What gluing method might work:
I say might because I didn't see any difference between the times I used it and did not use it. The 'maybe' method is to put glue on the split but don't close it. Let the glue/split dry open. This way it is less likely to re-tear when back at climbing. That said, I don't understand the logic of putting cream on if the glue is there. The glue is relatively impermeable to water and salves so how would the cream break through that glue barrier to reach the skin opening...? If anything, I would assume a healing cream/salve has higher healing properties than crazy glue. But I guess if you goal is to keep the split from moving, perhaps, glue is ideal.

As I said at the beginning in part one, a huge part of healing those annoying split tips is self-control and patience. So with that, I wish you all the control you need!!

Thanks for reading!!

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Tips on splits. Part one.

Part one. 

In the last month i have encountered four split tips. This is something I am not accustomed to yet split tips are something many a climber suffer from. As many climbers prefer to climb in the wonders of a cold and dry environment, unfortunately, in this environment split tips are bound to happen. (especially if one skin resembles that of a which case you want to always wash chalk off and moisture and avoid Anti-hydral, (It will dry out your skin too much) !!)

My recent split tips have caused me blood and pain, but more importantly, delay on my projects. So in order to get my skin in shape, I quickly had to learn how to heal these annoying things, and for the future, learn how to prevent them. 

After talking to many an experienced climber, thankfully, I found the advice from Peter Michaux, TD, and Dr. Noah Kaufman really helpful. But before I share what helped, be warned!! A big part of the prevention and healing thing is self control and patience. (Hard for a psyched climber wanting to finish the project..!!!)

The arrival of a split tip:

Stop climbing at once (REALLY...) if you lack all control and simply can not step away, tape it up really well and change problems. This will prevent the tear from deepening, thus shortening healing time. Avoid the type of holds causing the damage with all your power. (for example: a crimp). Below are two methods I found helpful. They vary slightly, yet people swear by both methods so take your pick. 

Method One: (Peter and TD)

1. Sand the tip down as much as you can bear until the skin is really smooth. If the tear is deep enough, this will mean blood and pain but it really helps... You want to sand the tear completely away so it can not re-tear when you climb again. Sanding not only prevents skin from catching on the rock but also promotes faster skin growth.

2. Wash and clean the split. Put on enough healing cream so there is plenty left for your skin as the bandaid will absorb much of it. I suggest pentene which is a baby diaper ointment and provides the healing properties of zinc oxide. Peter uses neosporin, and Tim uses Neosporin. Then, sleep on it. This will make your skin white and soft but apparently this atmosphere speeds healing. Continue with this method until the split is fully healed. This will take a few good days depending on how deep the split is.

3. Once the split is fully healed and a new callous is formed, do the test: press your thumb nail directly into the sanded area. You want to experience NO pain. This way you know enough callous has grown. If there's pain, wait a bit longer for new skin to grow. It's always nice to climb without pain and the worry of it possibly re-tearing. If you're pain free, you're ready to climb! Take the cream and tape off and let the skin dry out the night before you intend to climb so allowing the skin to harden. 

Method 2: (Noah)

Noah is an emergency doctor and long time climber. Being a "big guy", he has ample experience with split tips. He suggest using "Precision Clippers" over sanding.

1. After a shower when the skin is soft (it's easier and hurts less) clip off the edges of the canyon of the split to make more of a smooth valley. Re-wash hands. After clipping, let it dry and proceed to the next step.

2. Noah reckons that a wet environment is not always the best. He suggest putting on Desitin or Pentene cream which is baby diaper ointment and has a high percentage of zinc oxide which helps with healing. Put a Band-Aid on for four hours and then let it air dry for about four hours.

3. Taping is recommend on the third day, but after that you should be good to go with a little sanding to even out the edges. You can always continue on with step 3 of Peters method- the thumb nail test. Noah says that though his method is anal, splits usually heal in two days this way with an effective strength of the heal.

*** Remember to not climb on the type of holds that caused the tear in the first place before the tip is fully healed. Impatience doesn't pay here..!!  What is halfway healed will only re-tear and the continued aggravation will not speed healing and will only delay your chance of sending.

How to tape a split tip:

Put an upside down piece of tape on the tear so the tape doesn't stick to the cut. Snipping off the square bandage part of the bandaid would also work and provide some cushioning protection. Both these methods work over using a full sized band-aid as the tape won't slip while climbing but with a full band-aid it will. 

Almost healed!

As I said at the beginning, a huge part of healing those annoying split tips is self control and patience. So with that, I wish you all the control you need!! 

The next post will cover climbing with a split tip, prevention and the curiosity of crazy glue. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading! 

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Affair

I don't kiss and tell. Nor do I tell the the name of this one being which I will speak of. Mainly out of privacy. Or more so, perhaps I fear superstition. That if I speak to loudly and reveal that before actually sending, a curse may fall upon me (if it hasn't already), and that i will never send or conquer that which already has bound it's spell upon my being.

Simply, it's like this: an obsession. Why? Unexplainable. It just is. When I first heard it's name, I wanted to climb this problem. Later, the same reaction transpired when I  saw a photo of it. When it came to meeting it in person, with all the logs and rocks scattered in multiple levels at is base, the steepness of the rock, the size of the starting holds, the confusion of the end sequence, that wanting became even more. It became a need.

It began three whooping years ago. That means this problem accounts for my longest project ever. In terms of time and effort, it takes the cake. It has involved more energy and will than any other. It occupies my mind whether I am near or thousands of miles from it. I make my plans around it, change plans for it, sacrifice for it, fly across the world for it.

Yet, it remains a project. Securing the pocket multiple time doesn't mean sent. Nor does falling at the end over fifty times or sticking that first hard move even more. Nope. Not close enough.
Most folks opt for the easier but long and awkward move of its alternative start over the burly small crimps found on my version. The starting foot is a mere smear, with a tiny pebble which outcrops just slightly. It took a bit to understand the first move. That little smear and the angle one places ones foot on it, with just the right amount of pressure, can mean sticking or falling flat on ones back. What feels impossible in failed attempts is surprisingly easy when latched.

There's exactly 20 moves with my beta. The first move is the hardest in itself while the ones in the middle are easier but not to be confused with easy, they still take effort and focus. Then of course there is the end moves which look deceivingly easy yet are really quite technically hard. That heel has to be placed 'just so' otherwise it's over. The body has to be pulled inward to the rock 'just so' otherwise it effects the heel which effects the whole thing. And if you arrive there from the beginning, you need to relax enough and yet maintain enough tension just to let your body succeed in doing just that. Some people would call this 'tedious...'

I don't know what my problem is. I have done the end many a time. Yet when arriving there from the beginning, my mind begins to cloud. Things get fuzzy as if in a dream which I can easily wake from usually to land on my ass. My focus changes from what I am doing with each hand and foot placement to the voices and sounds around me. The tension I must keep in the heel is like an idea long forgotten. If my hand secures the two finger pocket, it's panic mode. The conversation commences. "I am doing it, I am doing it." A reply of "shut up and focus!" The critic comes forth whispering, "you're not good enough to do this!!" "The heel is going to slip!!". My body automatically changes the heel to a toe. And then, as if scared, or some invisible power pulls me down, something gives. I am one the ground. Again.
It's tiring now. Projecting is hard. It can be mentally and physically exhausting. But the closer I come, the more hope it instills. It's like a tease. By the time you read this, the yesterday I speak of will be long past. I went to my project rested, psyched and determined. My last session resulted in a new split. It was now the fifth experienced from this thing in the last month. But after some rest, I convinced myself I was ready. But on my very first try, the split re-opened. The moves felt harder than usual. The first move was now unrepeatable. After having rested four days from this thing, knowing my trip was very near its end and with fresh blood oozing out of my tip, I lay on my pad and simply expressed what was in me, I cried.

split #5. not impressed!
What had felt completely and convincingly possible now took a 180.  It felt like I was back at square one. With one climbing day left, there wasn't time to let the tip heal. I thought about all the other rocks and areas I sacrificed so to stay around and send this thing. I called myself crazy for being so attached. But, I honestly thought it would go sooner. Unfortunately, with the split tips and weather, things didn't work out.

My thoughts flew back to three years ago. Again. I was falling at the end but got shut down by 30 cm of snow. Season ended for everyone. Last year, our stays were shorter and less frequent but on that rare moment when I stuck the first move, again, I'd fall making the long reach to the pocket. This year I changed my end sequence by adding a move to make the long move closer. Reaching the pocket was much easier, the end came more consistently. The first move had to be re-learnt but after some work, this eventually came, after all, its memory was still encoded in my body. The problem is the mind. It remembers how tedious the end is. How one could send if everything isn't 'just so'?

And now, it's close to over. So close, yet, not. I am flying away from this beast, this beauty. I don't know if I will do it tomorrow. But if its spell is not broken, I will be back. If not tomorrow, next year. If not next year, well, that someday will come. As much as it has beaten me down, I have to get up. And like any affair, my heart can be left broken, yet I know, it has been worth every second.

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