A Brand New World

Change is hard. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to changes but sometimes I can be a bit resistant. When the change required quitting my job and moving from South Africa to Austria, I expected it to be challenging. I also knew that it would be an adventure that I would never regret.

I landed in Austria on the 13th of March and I have been adapting quite well. It was great to be able to keep on working for my old company in South Africa as a contractor, very helpful in relieving the stress of not having a job. It gave me plenty of time to acclimate to the new country, while giving me the flexibility to have fun at the same time.

The language has been a bit challenging at times but I’m definitely learning and enjoying speaking German, granted I speak mainly English at home. At the crags and while I’m travelling, it’s often a mix of the two languages but I’m feeling like I can at least express myself well enough to get by.

My Travels in Europe

So far, so good. The people here are brilliant and the countries surrounding me are beautiful. Claudia and I have been climbing in Arco, Germany and Austria. We have been to Vienna for a walk around the parliament buildings and gardens, which are beautiful! I even managed to catch concert in München!

20170605_205944-ANIMATION

Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

20170331_214932

Parkway Drive performing in München

20170510_132435

Catching up on rest in Verona

20170705_111129

A short hike ended up a 11km, 5 hour 1600 vertical meter journey. What an amazing day out with Claudia!

IMG_20170510_170416_081

It’s important to relax

20170530_150841

Catching a tan at the Taugl, a nearby river

Photo shoots with Claudia

I had the pleasure of assisting Claudia on some photo jobs this year. I helped build a training area in the barn for La Sportiva’s summer clothing. Was fantastic to meet Stefano Gisolfi and Sylvio Reffo, along with their two lovely ladies! Matteo Pavana was also on the shoot to make a training film for La Sportiva.

 

17966771_1457791027610309_1297461778640545787_o

Matteo, Stefano, Sara, Sylvio and Fransesca chilling on our couch. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

One such job took us to Gröden for a shoot with Leki where I even got to be in a few of the pictures. It really caught me off guard when I saw the photos on the wall at the Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen!

IMG_20170517_092801_411

Sunrise in the mountains… Big hike in the dark to start off the day

IMG_20170517_091439_864

Relaxing in the sunset

New Sponsors

One of the most important events that I’ve attended so far was the Outdoor Trade Show. It was there that I met with DMM and La Sportiva, which brings me to some great news. I have been offered a sponsorship deal for equipment from DMM and a clothing / shoe deal with La Sportiva for 2018. I am beyond excited to be able to continue to work with the two brands from Austria after having parted ways upon leaving South Africa.

IMG_20170713_151236_435

La Sportiva shared a great selection of clothing with me. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

IMG_20170716_180724_446

I’m so happy to be able to work with these two brands.

 

Training and Climbing

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to train! I have been keeping very fit since I’ve been here. Running, climbing, hangboarding, the works and I’m in pretty much the best shape of my life. I feel strong, I feel fit and I am healthy.

 

It’s been a godsend that I have a hangboard in my bedroom, though I have not had to use it that much this summer. Why hangboard when you can climb till 9:30 at night?

 

Arco has some fantastic climbing! That’s for sure. Admittedly, the ice cream is to die for!! Every day we were there we had to have ice cream!! and sometimes pizza too.

claudiaziegler_ZIC0677

claudiaziegler_ZIC0415

20170528_141343

The Koloseum at Maltatal! So much fun!

Without a doubt, my favourite area so far is the Barmstein. I have spent more time there than anywhere else, and for good reason! The routes are long and sustained, making them so much fun because it is really easy to progress on them.

I climbed the Elefant Trio (as I like to call them): an 8a+, 8b and 8b+. All are 45m long and completely amazing climbing! Here are two pics from Stenofant (8b) that Claudia took on a sunrise shoot.

claudiaziegler_ZIC7548

The author on Stenofant (8b) Photo by Claudia Ziegler

claudiaziegler_ZIC7470 (2)

Spot the climber… Sunrise at the Barmstein Photo by Claudia Ziegler

After I climbed Elefantenspatziergang (8b+) Claudia and I went back for a second photo shoot. What came out of it was really quite special. Thank you La Sportiva for the clothing for the shoot!

claudiaziegler_ZIC5680

Setting off in the dark

claudiaziegler_ZIC5736-2

Focused on the slopers

claudiaziegler_ZIC5758

Keeping the core

claudiaziegler_ZIC5784

Power through the crimps

claudiaziegler_ZIC5861

Hold the cut

claudiaziegler_ZIC5870
Take a deep breath

 

My Fortress of Solitude 

 

Life, love, the universe. So many distractions to pull me around. Sometimes, I need to find a way to channel my focus; I need an incentive to drive me toward. I returned from an amazing two weeks in Austria with Claudia primarily being there for the holidays with her but also having climbed some superb routes. 7b+ onsight, near 7c+ flash. Great fun.

Sharing a day on the ledge at Wilhelmswand

Approach to Wilhelmswand

-5C in the shade, belaying out of the snow. BRILLIANT

Walking around in Salzburg, Claudia saw this. I guess you could say the writing is on the wall (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

My time in South Africa is coming to an end, I’m leaving for Austria on the 13th of March. It left me thinking about what I still want to achieve in the time here. My biggest goal is Shear Force and it will be my first 8c. It’s been the hardest line I’ve worked and been an absolute pleasure to climb. But it is seriously hard. I’ve watched Andrew, my mentor and friend, fall off the crux move repeatedly. I’ve seen him struggle and even get hurt by the line.

How am I supposed to climb a line that Andrew couldn’t?

10460175_717604631620103_2066409829805262949_n

Andrew setting up for the last move in the crux — Photo by Zele Angelides

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c)

Andrew Pedley on Shear Force (8c) — Photo by Zele Angelides

Well, I guess you could say I have to walk my own path. My time is precious and limited. I work all day and I have 2.5 hours of lectures for German on Mondays and Wednesdays. I also want to have a Skype date with Claudia at least once a week for a few hours in the evening.

So what do I need to do?

I chose to compete in the National Boulder League on a Monday. Normally,  competitors have two hours but I can only arrive at 9 and the gym closes at 10. So, I need to race through the problems, 12 in an hour. Perfect quiet day after two days in rock over the weekend (holds up sarcasm sign).

_mg_2839_dxo

Focusing on the tricky balance problem during the NBL (Photo by Allister Fenton)

Tuesday became my big day. 30 minutes bouldering to warm up, 30 minutes campus training, about 2 hours on the Beastmaker 2000 then 45 minutes core and legs. This is my definition of a hard training session.

My hangboard sessions include two major exercises at the moment. Beastmaker has an amazing training app, I use the 7B program as a benchmark. I struggled severely to complete the 7A at first. This cycle I was able to start at 7B.

A month later, I’m doing the 7B with 9 repeats of 7 on 3 rest with 4 kg extra weight followed by the 7C+ program shortly after. This focuses on power endurance and fiber strength.

If my fingers aren’t too sore afterwards, I do the Chris Webb Parsons program which one discussed in detail previously. This focuses on lock off strength while building crimp strength.

Wednesday I have class again so I either get in a quick session with 15 minutes bouldering for warmup, then 45 minutes on the hangboard and campus board. This session is normally designed to be a bit easier than the past few days so that I can move freely on the wall or work slightly different muscles than the previous day’s training.

Thursday became either a really light session or a fantastic, long Skype session. I’ve been preferring to take 2 days of rest before the weekend to let the body fully recover before the project.

Friday is rest. Saturday and Sunday of on rock, hitting Shear Force. Every weekend has been a high point. It’s been four weeks of close calls and I think it could go any try. I held the hold for about a second on Sunday before my core crumpled and that was the end of Brian.

Hmm. Reading this makes me think about how crazy this schedule actually is. But this is actually only half of the story.

The other half is how I’ve changed my habits. I haven’t had any alcohol or meat since I’ve been back. I really enjoy my wine and I usually would have a portion of meat at least once a day, so this is really a big deal. This means passing up that burger and beer after training, or the glass of wine I’m offered, and trading it for a bit more rest and some sleep.

Between my training schedule and my diet, I’ve dropped a few kgs and I feel lighter and stronger than I’ve felt in the last two years. I’m finally feeling like I’ve moved away from being injured back to feeling like I’m peaking.

The view I’m going to have from home soon – – thanks for the reminder Claudia

I find myself walking my path, alone. There is no one pushing me, or pulling me forward. I have my goal, I have a time limit and I feel like this route is one of the biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself. I find myself in my own personal Fortress of Solitud where the connections to my past are structuring my goals and my future.
Will I do my first 8c? Time will tell.

The author on Shear Force (photo by Claudia Ziegler)

Well, it really doesn't get much closer than that… Final boulder crux of Shear Force (8c)

A post shared by Brian Weaver (@brianmweaver) on

The Return of the Masochist

Today is the 1st of February. When I started writing this post about a month ago, I thought that it was going to be a bit funny at first. I had some photos of myself that are a bit embarrassing for me. I’m still feeling the effects of my knee surgery so things are still a bit harder than usual but I’ve spent the last month pushing myself harder than I ever have in the past, I have trained 27 of the last 31 days; of the 27 days I trained twice a day for 20 of those! I’ve also been seeing a dietician and have been going to bed early so that I can get up for my early morning hangboard session every morning. So what was it that actually brought about this radical change in my attitude and behaviour? What brought about this month of pure masochism? It was the time I spent overseas and then the month of December which certainly didn’t help. Before our trip, I was really good about not eating too much, even in Germany I didn’t gain weight. Unfortunately for me, we went to Austria and there were 6 course meals every night, massive buffets for lunch and for breakfast, plus I couldn’t exercise so it was all a big problem.

Yeah, no comment

Yeah, no comment. 76kgs

When we got back I didn’t think too much about the matter, I wasn’t training yet so wasn’t worried. The worries started towards the end of November and the middle of December when I started trying to do a bit of training again. At that stage I’d picked up a few kgs but it didn’t quite stop there… At my worst I was 76kgs, up from my normal 69. That’s a 10% increase in just a few weeks as I was 70 when I left for Germany.

Two weeks in

Two weeks in

As a New Year resolution thing, I decided to take on some serious training. I also decided to focus on my nutrition because all the training in the world won’t help if you eat crappy food. Drinking lots of wine doesn’t help either so I’m definitely going to take it easy on that too, even though we have some one the Cape’s best one the rack! I’ve been focusing on eating every hour or two. For breakfast around 6:45 I’ll frequently have two pieces of fruit before training. Immediately after training a 50g serving of Future Life High Protein, or muesli with yogurt and cottage cheese. I’ll train till around 8:15 / 8:45 depending on the intensity of my session. Then at 11:30 a carrot or an apple. Around 1 o’clock I’ll have a meal: a serving of protein, a cup of steamed veggies and 1/3 a cup of rice, or 3 Provita crackers.

Good breakfast!

Good breakfast!

During the afternoon I’ll munch on another 2 carrots, apples, plums or whatever I have available. Somewhere in the mix will be a handful of almonds and cashews. By 5 or 6 o’clock I’m usually at the gym. 7:30 I cook dinner. Usually I’ll steam veggies and either chicken or fish, sometimes a pork fillet, and 2/3 a cup of rice or sweet potatoes. Yep, that’s a pretty typical day for me. I came across an article on climbhealthy.com indicating that in a study conducted in the USA, it was determined that athletes recovered 26% more effectively during the night if they ingested protein 30 minutes before bed time. So sometimes I’ll have a protein shake right before bed if I’m worried I’ll be really stiff the next morning.

Healthy lunch time meal

Healthy lunch time meal

10 January:

73.5 kgs on the 11th of Jan

73.5 kgs on the 11th of Jan, looking better.

I started writing this about a week into my mixed gym and hangboarding sessions. My hangboard sessions are in the morning, usually before work, so they have to be quite short. Kris Hampton has the solution for this in his Bare Naked Hangboarding. From start to finish in 30 minutes. But this wasn’t enough for me seeing as it was doing the same exercise daily, so I have added a variation to it by alternating it with the Chris Webb Parsons program that I spoke about previously. Here’s an instruction vid for the twelve week program: http://www.vimeo.com/61430224 The advantage of alternating these is that I can focus a significant amount of effort on finger strength one day (Hampton) and a significant amount of effort on one arm strength the next day (Webb Parsons). I’ve been doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It was suggested to me by a personal trainer that I follow on Twitter. His name is Alexander Pawels, he’s based in Belgium and he’s got some good ideas for heavy fitness training. There are a few different exercises but each of them revolve around Giant Sets, which is essentially four complimentary exercises back-to-back consisting of 15-20 reps each. After you complete your 80 reps you take a 45 second break and then start again until you’ve done 5 sets. There are two Giant Sets per workout and for me it takes about 45 minutes to complete. The weights are pretty heavy, the goal is that you can easily complete 15 but struggle to reach 20.

HIIT Workout 1

HIIT Workout 1

HIIT Workout 2

HIIT Workout 3

HIIT Workout 3

HIIT Workout 2

I usually start a HIIT session after 25-30 minutes of cardio, either rowing or cycling or both, that way I feel warmed up and my heart is racing. I tend to keep my heart rate above 150 for the whole session, it’s not easy, on the contrary it’s actually outright exhausting.

18 January:

72kgs on the 18th of Jan

72kgs on the 18th of Jan

After getting the Moon Hangboard, at first I couldn’t even hang the micros for a second, three weeks later I’m up to 5 seconds! I love seeing progression as I improve. I would say that my absolute benchmark is Paul Brouard’s program C which involves 3 minutes of non-stop repeaters (6 grips per minute, straight arms 1st minute, 1/2 lock second minute, full lock 3rd minute, followed by 10 pull-ups on a small edge in the first 30 seconds of the forth minute. Rest 10 minutes, repeat for 5 sets). I’m really looking forward to moving into my power-endurance phase when I can work with that one!! But for now, I’ve been working on lock-off strength and on pure finger strength to prepare me for what lies ahead. I did a little experiment yesterday and did a 30 minute hangboard program with an exercise every minute on the minute. I was really surprised when I annihilated it! There were some momentS of definite pump, but I got through it just fine and continued to do a lot more than just that. Here is my training log in case anyone is interested, it’s quite rough.The past three weeks have really been tough and I’m loving it, I even met with a dietitian on Thursday the 15th to help with the designing of an eating plan that can match my goals. My strength is going up and my weight is coming down slowly, the way it should. It’s always a rewarding feeling to do exercises that were your benchmark in the past, I’m sure we all have a route or exercise that when we can do it well we know we’re fit. During my strength training session, I’ve noticed my ability to hold smaller holds for longer periods. It’s been really reassuring knowing that I’m doing something right. It feels great to hang a crimp with 35kgs extra weight for 10 seconds at a time and not fail. It also feels great to be able to hang on some of the small edges on the Moon Climbing Finger Board I got for Christmas. The 18th was 2.5 hours of hangboarding and 2 hours of cycling and HIIT training at the gym, basically till the point of exhaustion. Probably will need a rest day after this weekend. Three weeks of training is a good place to start… My goal is to train on my board till I’m cleared to climb outdoors again. After I finish my strength phase (8 weeks), then I’ll move to my power endurance phase (6 weeks) and follow it all up with a month of pure endurance training. Once it’s all done I’ll start over and build on my pyramid! Hopefully my body will be ready for a good winter climbing season at Chosspile and Boven! Wish me luck .

1 February

IMG_1690

70 kgs and feeling strong!

IMG_1732

Smiling during a training session, something must be up… Maybe it’s the photographer, I bet she’s doing something funny!

Well, we’re back to where we started: today is the 1st of Feb. During the last two weeks, I’ve been pushing really hard trying to isolate my fingers and push my body even further than ever before. I started to plateau a little with the Kris Hampton program, I think it’s because I don’t have small enough holds on my boards other than the micros and tiny slopers on the Moon Hangboard. So what I did was listen to my friends and start focusing on a single hand (still with 10kgs) while the other hands assists as either a F2 or B3 on the smallest edge available. It’s also slightly offset, rather than being on the same height. So in a way, I’m doubling up on my exercise. I’m also able to hang both the Micros and sloping crimps on the Moon Hangboard for over 10 seconds now. Big progress there in just a month.

F2 Left Half Crimp Right

F2 Left Half Crimp Right

F2 on the Beastmaker with B3 on the small edge of the Metolius

F2 on the Beastmaker with B3 on the small edge of the Metolius

Mono Right with M2 Left

Mono Right with M2 Left

What also happened, which was a first for me, was I had to change to a different hold for the Chris Webb Parsons program. I moved away from the outer slots on the Beastmaker and now I’m using the center incut (as in the below pics). My finger strength has moved forward significantly and my lock-off strength is catching up I’m getting closer to the elusive one arm. As of today, I can go from straight arm to eyes in line with my hand (not quite 100% there but close).

Use the rope for some assistance

Use the rope for some assistance

Improvements on that lock-off and finger strength!

Improvements on that lock-off and finger strength!

Last week I also started seeing a biokineticist, so I’ve been doing a lot of exercises daily to strengthen my leg and my glutes. I can see that it’s going to be a long road ahead in terms of the recovery process but by the time my knee is ready to come to the party I’ll be fit enough and strong enough to jump back in! All in all, I’ve been splitting my time between my boards at home and training in the gym. Over the last month I’ve bouldered 5 times, done 25 hangboard session, 16 gym sessions and had no alcohol. I’ve eaten 1.75 pizzas and had sushi twice, other than that I’ve controlled what I eat. I haven’t been to bed after 12 this month.  Anyone want to challenge my dedication? Here’s the training program again in case you missed the link. I call it Brian’s Training Program for Strength and Power. I would like to thank Paul Brouard, Steven Bradshaw, Kris Peters, Kris Hampton and Chris Webb Parsons for the psych that was produced as well as the programs that I used to build my workout. It’ll keep expanding as I progress and I’ll update the link from month to month.