After the geeky ramblings on training from my previous post, here's the more interesting part: outdoor fun! As explained, I want to focus more on volume and fun, without getting lost in ego-fed superhard projects and hardly getting any climbing done. So no grade chasing, no tunnelvision on superprojects, but just climbing whatever comes across my path. As Teuto happens to come across my path regularly, being the only crag within an hour driving1, this resolution resulted in me bouldering quite a lot in Teuto in the past months. And I can honestly say I've been enjoying it more than I expected to do: it's a lovely forest to be and to walk in with the dogs and off the beaten tracks there is a surprisingly large amount of good and hard bouldering. Sometimes the problems require a bit of a definition to be of interest, but despite my dislike of defined - contrived - boulder problems they never felt unnatural. All fun and games, so who really cares?
A 'good' thing about the bouldering in Teuto is that there isn't a guide book or any community kept list of problems. Most lines in the forest have once been climbed, but it's often hard to find out by who and what name or grade has been attached to it. Usually I get my info through Matt, who has the Teuto woods as his backyard and has a great climbing network via his business. Sometimes the grades are soft, sometimes silly hard. They are absolutely meaningless, which is great: it shifts the focus automatically to climbing lines instead of grades. And it's humbling and motivating in a peculiar way to get completely shut down by a boulder someone else perceived as 7A.
|Topping out Alpha Centauri, the best ascent of the year so far! Video below...|
iPhone video of a few boulders I climbed in Teuto. The first - Boone low - I have been trying on and of for more than a year and it always eluded me.
Not this time. Progress?
Not this time. Progress?
So bouldering in Teuto fits my present goals pretty well and I've been doing it for quite a few afternoons this spring. Nevertheless I do like some variaty (and climbing routes instead of boulders...), so getting to other crags is always on my wish list. So far I've only managed to do this twice this year, but both times were productive and fun! The first visit was with Matt to the limestone cliffs in Ith, where I climbed the first routes of the year and managed to make quick work of 'Neues aus der Anstalt', a 7b+/7c at Kannstein with a powerful undercling crux and a short bit of power endurance climbing following it. Although both Matt and I felt it was easy for the grade, it feels good to be able to grab a quick ascent in the upper half of the 7th grade.
The other visit - with Matt again - was triggered by a video Matt stumbled upon of German strongman Stefan Hochbaum climbing an amazing looking highball in the woods surrounding Bielefeld (technically still the Teutoburger Wald). Matt used his network to uncover the location of the block and a few days later we went, with two brobdingnagianly big Moon Saturn crashpads stuffed in our car. I fell in love with the boulder immediately upon seeing the video, but walking up to 'Alpha Centauri' in real was even more awesome. It was high though, impressively high. I don't consider myself a big risk taker, I am deterred by the idea of not climbing for months while recovering from a serious injury. At the same time, I do appreciate the appeal of a beautiful, high boulder problem. So we set up a toprope first to practice the top of the boulder. Falling from the top was not really an option, so we made sure we had it dialed in perfectly. Nevertheless, when we removed the rope I felt anxious. The first part of the boulder is a steep and athletic and well protected by a good landing. Halfway it switches to a lightly overhanging arrete, which is hard to downclimb. A big move marks the transition to the arrete and is a psychological point of no return. Above it, you are high enough to not want to risk a fall and the only way is up, to even higher ground. I climbed the first part being very aware of this point of no return, but felt strong. A brief moment of hesitation paused me before the big move, but I flipped the switch and committed to it. I floated up, never once looking down to the ground. Within moments I was standing on the top. It felt absolutely amazing. Minutes later Matt followed. How hard it was? I honestly don't know. The first ascentionist gave it 7B, in the video Matt found 7B+ was proposed. When I climbed it, it felt much easier. But who really cares? Alpha Centauri was the best thing I've climbed in a while and topping out felt like a victory, extremely rewarding and exciting. An additional special touch: after climbing my first 7th grade boulder problem four years ago, this was exactly number 100.
Video of Matt and me climbing Alpha Centauri.
The route climbing season has only just started and I hope to get some more routes done. Nevertheless I'll probably go out bouldering a lot more. No complaints, I'm absolutely loving it again!
1: The only exception is Isterberg, which is hardly ever dry enough to climb. When it is, there are a few very hard boulders left to do, which will probably resemble the type of project I try to avoid right now.