May 042011

Went to Planet Rock last night after dinner to do some bouldering traverses. I’m finding I enjoy the challenge of side-to-side climbing more than vertical ascent; maybe because it doesn’t involve falling very far if I slip.

PR has a tunnel, lined with grips on both sides, that leads up to a bouldering cave. What I’ve been doing recently is climbing along one side of the tunnel to the first turn, then either continuing past the two turns into the cave or crossing to the other side of the tunnel and coming back down. My finger strength and stamina is increasing, as I was able to boulder this way for almost a solid hour with only brief stops to get a drink and stretch my fingers. I’m also finding that continuing yoga would be very helpful in making the long stretches necessary to reach distant grips. I definitely need to get my own pair of shoes, however. The rentals have been adequate while I was re-learning the ropes, so to speak, but I’ve outgrown them already. I need my own, with a proper fit. Maybe this weekend, budget willing.

I met a cute Michigan Tech sophomore named Eric in the bouldering cave. He was trying to make it around the last corner into the cave, which is very close to a 360º turn, and wasn’t having much success. I showed him how to navigate it, and we talked and climbed for about 20 minutes. He said he felt almost guilty for using his long limbs to his advantage; I countered that a lightweight climber wouldn’t feel guilty that his lack of mass allowed him to scamper up a wall and hang from a grip longer, and that cured his guilt. He’s only been climbing for about a month, like me (after my eight year hiatus), and is practicing over the summer in hopes of making the climbing team in September. Unfortunately for him, he lives in Brighton, so can only make the drive down about once a week. When I last saw him, he was trying on harnesses, so he must be serious about it.

The burning I was getting in my forearms and elbows after climbing, that required 600 mg of Motrin to remedy, didn’t reappear last night, so instead I took it for my right shoulder. Oddly, it was the left one that I overstretched once, so hard it felt like an electrical jolt, yet it’s been completely pain-free. Maybe I should put my right one on a rack for a good pull.

I need to research a good training regimen for all this, something holistic enough to cover flexibility, finger strength, and muscle endurance. While the best way to improve those things is to, you know, climb, I need something for when I can’t. So far, I’m thinking yoga for flexibility and breathing technique, pilates for core strength (so I can hang horizontally under a shelf and keep my torso from dropping downward), regular weightlifting, and the hand/wrist/forearm training programs easily found with a Google search. The big one will be losing as much excess fat as possible, something I’ve always struggled with, but has gotten easier lately since I’ve cut most sugar from my diet. That alone has noticeably reduced my stomach size, and I wasn’t eating tons of sugar to begin with.

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