Solution, start doing more climbing with the ice tools. Problem where? Although there are, I guess one would describe them as soft tools to use at indoor walls, my local wall is very reluctant to allow them.
Solution = Chalk. The idea of climbing on a cliff which is prone to falling down after heavy rain or waves crashing against it seems a bit daft. But it is actually fairly safe as long as you pay attention to the warning signs, much like, ice, winter and alpine climbing.
The beauty of the chalk climbing is the fact you get to use your ice tools and my injured finger takes less of a battering. Plus, you get to choose any route at the crag as most people dread the thought let alone actually climbing on it.
Result 1, I get to climb outdoors in a great location, whilst many others either play indoors or on the crud southern sandstone (MPO by the way).
Result 2, due to the nature of the chalk, your climbing head becomes more aware, focused and calm. This proving itself on the wall.
With climbing once a week on the chalk and another at the wall, the finger has had active rest. Experimenting with different strapping techniques has also found a very good option that seems to work, it just make clipping a pain. Climbing with two fingers taped and then strapped together is not easy, but seems to be doing the job.
Result 3, I am back on 7a's, not getting them clean or even getting them, but the reason is apparent and more importantly the finger doesn't hurt. Why am I struggling on the 7a's, simply put I am too weak. Something to work towards and I like a challenge.
So feeling better about the whole climbing thing and listening to Ant's words, the only way to get stronger is to climb the harder grades. I am back climbing the harder grades.
However, this lead to some plain stupidity the other day, but a hell of a lot of fun and a further turning to the dark side of climbing. I noted that a friend Rob had set some dry tooling routes in easy to get to locations. I also noted, just how damn good he is at the whole, ice, chalk, mixed and dry tooling game. So it was decided with a couple of friends to go and play in a dank quarry cave on a lovely sunny day at Winspit near Swanage.
It has to be said that 5 meters of M10 is bloody hard, god knows how hard the remaining 15 meters would be. After repeated attempts Tommy, James and I had only managed 5 meters, this include leaving the ground and climbing the starting pillar. Feeling destroyed we finally gave that game away to go and look at another cave with an aid route inside. The recent rock fall and Tommy and James' reluctance to second the route, put pay to me trying to lead it. Probably not a bad thing.
Some sports routes were chosen and climbed in increasing wind, but sunshine. A long awaited return to real rock was ticked and without finger soreness or taping.
What's next, well inspired by the spanking from the M10, finger on the mend, Ant and Ben's willingness to climb hard and Phil's awesome Ironman Switzerland effort and his dedicated hard work over the time from deciding to do it to actually doing it, I am inspired to train.
Both cycling and climbing, training, this means I need to get my life sorted a bit more and get of my arse in the times I don't want to.