Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Scrambling, Hiking and Running in Wales

My brother and I had two great 6-hour outings in the mountains of North Wales over the weekend. It was a medley of scrambling, downhill jogging, uphill power walking and normal hiking. Great training for next week's Langdale Horseshoe Race.

Scrambling is and excellent all-body workout. I used to think it sounded twee and unadventurous before I really understood what it involved. In reality, it's a hybrid of hiking and rock climbing, capable of being very hard indeed.

I took my pulse at various points. 120-130 for the hiking, 150-160 for the scrambling and downhill jogging, 170-180 for one 10-minute power hike to a summit.

The Joy of Scrambling and Climbing

I enjoyed the scrambling so much, I have vowed to take more of an interest in pure climbing.

Natural Messiah is a serious climber, as you will know if you are a reader of his blog. I think I am starting to see how well this gels with the Paleo philosophy, and why it works so well for him. There is something incredibly primeval about scaling a rock face.

In the evenings my brother showed me some climbing videos. These guys do things that give you the fear just to watch.

Mixing it Around

Conversely, my brother has agreed to try a fell race. I think the days of long hiking slogs are over. The mountains offer an excellent opportunity to mix walking with running and climbing, so I'd like to take advantage of that more.

Oh - and of course, swimming. I am ashamed to say I failed to grasp the wild swimming opportunity this time. The best chance came at the end of day 2 when we walked past an inviting lake where some people were already swimming. Since I had no swimming shorts and no towel, there was no way to swim without risking public indecency.

Minimalist Kit

I also had an epiphany about kit. Chris from Conditioning Research, who also has a hillwalking blog, says he hikes in Innov8 shoes, which are basically fell/trail running shoes. That got me thinking.

Previously, my brother and I have always loaded up with kit. Boots like deep sea divers, rucksacks full of food, water, emergency this, emergency that.

I guess some of this is necessary for comfort and safety... but the reality is that a little less comfort and a realistic assessment of risk can radically reduce that load; and if you are scrambling or climbing, that makes a huge difference.

Comparing an archive picture from a previous trip with a photo from the weekend shows the difference this can make. I did spend the whole of the first outing this weekend with wet feet - which was fine, once I accepted it. Not sure it's viable in winter though.

Here are the key differences with my new approach:

- waist bag, not rucksack
- food beforehand if possible, rather than carry
- water from streams instead of carrying a bottle
- no change of clothes

This is pretty much the kit I take on a fell run. Why would I need significantly different kit for this type of outing?

Eating Big

I ate big all weekend, but still avoided breakfast, according to my Leangains experiment. One pre-walk epic lunch consisted of 9 eggs scrambled and drizzled in coconut cream, avocado, nuts and fruit. It took the entire 6-hour walk for my furnace to burn that one off, but when I got back I was ready to nail a baked mackerel and roasted vegetable feast.

There were also, even this late in the season, opportunities to forage some berries in the mountains. Up there, these wild berries probably contain several times the antioxidants of the big, overly sweet berries available in supermarkets.

The Foot

This was a big test for my foot, which I mentioned in a previous post might have a stress fracture. In fact it took everything I threw at it, and felt fine.

Participation in Saturday's 11-mile Langdale Horseshoe race therefore looks likely. Perhaps my previous diagnosis was a little over-dramatic.


4 Winds said...

Not sure if my last post posted (broadband dropped out). Anyway, gist was: Love Snowdonia,nice photos, good news on the foot, carrying waterproof, gels bit of map, compass now it's October.


sbrt said...

That looks fun I am jealous.

Scrambling with out protection seems so much purer and paleo than rock climbing to me.

CT said...

Nine scrambled eggs for lunch? Awesome!

Aaron Blaisdell said...

I love rock scrambling! It can be done without special training or gear (so long as I avoid cliff walls). I've done it in the Canadian Rockies, in upstate New York, various parts of New England, in Ohio, and once during a fantastic trip to Scotland. I think if I lived in Scotland, Whales, or a place like that that would be my go-to outdoor sport. I never thought of it as sport, more as pure, unadulterated fun.

Methuselah said...

Sorry Paul - only got the abbreviated version, but the gist is there! We did have compasses and whistles too, and yes, I sliced out the relevant section from the map, having sellotaped back in a previously sliced, different section :-)

Stephen - I tend to agree. No protection is where the true freedom lies, and since death is a real possibility with real climbing and no protection, scrambling is the answer - at least with scrambling it's more like a broken limb at worst (if it's a grade 1, that is!)

CT - I've been known to do 10...

Aaron - I agree it's a lot of fun. Not sure where sport ends and fun begins. For me it's all the same thing these days. P.s. don't get caught writing Whales instead of Wales ;-)

Chris said...

Great post. Light weight and minimal gear is the way to go! The more you carry the slower you go.

SCrambling is great but sometimes more dangerous than climbing - climbs often involve protection!

Aaron Blaisdell said...

Oops! Sorry about the misspelling. I'm sure I'd misspell my own name if it weren't for spell checkers.

Methuselah said...

Hi Chris - agreed - I think if we were doing a grade 2 or 3 scramble we'd use protection of some kind. Not that I've done anything more than grade 1 - I'm just repeating what my Brother said!

Methuselah said...

No problem Aaron.


Boris Terzic said...

Sounds like a great time.