rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Life On Hold is finally out (download, with the DVD coming soon).

And yes, it lives up to the promise of the trailer.

I think it was [personal profile] niqaeli who described climbing as "ballet meets geology", and this is ballet/geology porn.

Two years of bouldering in the UK, focusing on the Peak district, Yorkshire and Northumberland scenes, and encompassing the new trend of doing short trad routes as super-highballs/solos over mats, often ground up.

And it's really, really gorgeous, shot in luscious high def with a grand eye for the details of rock and setting (and no, I don't think they used an orange filter on some shots -- the Burbage valley honestly does turn to gold like that when the sun hits the right angle). The film doesn't just have cutting-edge ascents, it communicates a sense of place and of the climbing as rooted in the landscape.

There's minimal interviewing; this is not a film that delves into complex individual motivations, it's about the scene and the places. Which is a disappointment if you'd like to know more in depth about some of the people involved, but basically it's a film that does what it says on the tin: climbing and time-lapse shots of the weather. The film does catch a scattering of telling little moments that give a sense of personality, whether it's Michele Caminati's chirp of "Nice!" regarding almost any problem, Chris Webb-Parsons forcing his broken foot into a climbing shoe, or Ned Feehally accidentally wandering into someone else's shot, realizing, flailing, and running for cover. And there's real emotional engagement as people struggle, falter or fall on desperately hard, committing problems.

My one big quibble is that women get under-represented in the film; with the female firepower available (Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Katy Whittaker, Shauna Coxsey and Alex Puccio all feature in the film), they deserve to get more than one problem each. The cutting-edge of women's bouldering in the UK is being pushed very hard right now, with women doing some uber-powerful problems, and it'd be nice to get more attention being paid to that.

In conclusion: preeeeeeetty.
rydra_wong: "i like to climb alot". The xkcd stick figure climbs up the side of Hyperbole and a Half's yak-like "alot." (climbing -- alot)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
(Because I've been promising to write this post up for at least two years.)

I can honestly say that a solid 90% of everything I know about climbing technique, I got from the first two of these resources, and the third may be the single wisest book I've found about training. Since I keep reccing them to all and sundry, I thought I ought to explain why.

The Self-Coached Climber by Dan Hague and Douglas Hunter (book, with accompanying DVD)

On at least one climbing forum, "Read the Self-Coached Climber" has become the equivalent of "read the FAQ, n00b".

This is a very information-dense book with a lot of very solid advice. It starts with a focus on movement awareness, then breaks down the theory behind different climbing movements such as backstepping and flagging, explaining why they work in terms of centre of gravity and balance, with a range of suggested exercises for improving your skills and developing fluency.

The second half of the book focuses on training, discussing the physiology of climbing then breaking it down into aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, and power, with suggestions on training each and on putting together a training plan to meet your goals. As far as I know, all of this information is as accurate and state-of-the-art as anything in climbing training can be (i.e., given the lack of double-blind controlled trials, mostly based on anecdata — but this is as solid as it gets).

Cut for length )
emperor: Photograph of me climbing. (climbing)
[personal profile] emperor
Cams are great. They fit in parallel or even slightly flared cracks in the rock into which you'd never get a nut safely, and if you fall on them it makes them grip the rock harder. Also, they're very aesthetically pleasing devices[1]. Ignoring for a moment micro-cams which you'll probably only need if climbing in the E-grades, there are several different options, with either single or double-stem, made by Wild Country, DMM, Metolius, or Black Diamond.

On my first trad climbing trip, I got to try a range of different cams from our instructor's rack, and since then I've bought some Dragon Cams, and have used them on limestone, rhyolite, and quartzite. I think they're really good - they have a pretty good range of widths for each cam, and I find the thumb-trigger design much nicer to use than the loops you get on the C4 Camelots. They're a bit stiffer to operate than some other cams, but that means they feel a bit more secure in the rock. The extendable sling is a real plus on meandering mountain routes, too - quite often I don't need to use a quickdraw on my Dragons.

In the end, the best way to decide what cams you like is to play with different ones and see what they feel like, but I'd definitely recommend giving the Dragons a go. I'm very pleased with mine and they are sooo shiny!

[1] I may have been known to happily sit playing with the mechanism on my cams...
rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
"Deep play" is philosopher Jeremy Bentham's term for any gamble or wager in which "the stakes are so high that ... it is irrational for anyone to engage in it at all, since the marginal utility of what you stand to win is grossly outweighed by the disutility of what you stand to lose."

It's also the title of Paul Pritchard's first book, in which he chronicled his growth from a semi-feral child throwing petrol bombs down at the climbers in the local quarry to becoming one of the brightest and boldest British climbers of the '80s and '90s generation: the "dole climbers" who scrounged gear and food while creating ever-more-daring new routes, most famously in the slate quarries near Llanberis and on the sea cliffs of Anglesey.

Pritchard's a sharp, pawky writer, and the book's fragmented and lyrical and jagged, dodging around moments of self-revelation, from his impulsive decision to throw himself down a four-storey stairwell at school to his near-fatal fall (from a route named "Games Climbers Play" -- this story has too many ironies to count) at Gogarth.

Cut for length )
rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Would book/DVD reviews be of any interest?

I realized that I seem to have accumulated quite a stash of reading/viewing material about climbing, and it might be interesting to try some write-ups ...

(I'd certainly love to read other people's reviews.)

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