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Climbing Journal

Early morning at Bermondsey Arch Climbing

James Kellerman

Started my london bouldering journey with an early morning sessoin at the Arch in Bermondsey. I started promisingly with easy problems to V2 and then flased a good number of v2-v4 problems before getting shut down on a set of sloper problems. Most importantly I still couldnt dig deep for motivation. I ended the session with 2 blue circuits on the circuit board. Even with the huge jugs on the route I was absolutely exhausted after only 2 laps. I'll work on this as its a clear progress indicator.

I need to admit where I am as a climber and it's definitely not the flattering picture I had of myself while living in Portland.

Bouldering with my betters

Saturday afternoon at the Circuit NE turned into a lesson in what I am capable of when pushed by others. At the start of the session I bumped into a group of strong climbers that I had bouldered with before. After warming up and then thrutching my way through an awkward V5 we went over to try a newly set V7. From the outset it looked very possible. Moderately steep with positive holds and a fairly obvious sequence. Two of the climbers I was with flashed it and I took that as a sign that it should be at least possible for me. It took me a half dozen tries but with a little perserverance and some encouragement I managed to top it out. My second V7 and a positive mental boost after my back problems of the last month. It certainly feels like mixing in weight sessions along with my climbing is paying off.

Training with climbers that are stronger than I am is also helping. Seeing their sequences and body positions helps me learn things that I didn’t realise that I didn’t know and exposes areas of technique that I have to work on if I am going to improve.

Weight: 188 lbs

NE Gym Session

James Kellerman

After a very sporadic couple of weeks thanks to my over exuberance with a dead lift I made it back into the bouldering gym. I had low expectations but it went better than expected. After a steady warm up. I struggled on a V4 with a tricky move to a layback and then a high foot. My lack of technique made this a lot hearder than it needed to be. Completely failed on the V5 nex to it. An awkward start to a pinch followed by a dynamic move to a sloper. Needed some beta, no idea how to get it going. Repeatd another V5 and struggled up an awkward V4 on the undercut slab. Saved the best for last with a very solid flash of a V5 on the steep prow.

Not a bad session, but definitely out of practice.


James Kellerman

I foolishly pushed a little hard on my deadlift at the gym and tweaked my back. No training since Friday. Will try for my first day back climbing on Wednesday.

Weight: 189 lbs

Status Update

James Kellerman

It's been a while since I last updated the site. This is because I have been off doing far more important things. First among them marrying my amazing wife and becoming her husband. Now that life is returning to normal it's time to get back to the routine and make some serious progress.

So where am I now.

  • Weight: 189lbs
  • Body Fat: 12.2 (I think the scale is optimistic)
  • Climbing solid V5 - with a few V6's where I have put in the work.

I am down about a grade from my peak strength. The biggest problem I am struggling with is motivation when I am actually at the gym. I've been frustrated and not shown much patience for problems that I have to think about or figure out. I've wanted everyhting to come easily and when it hasn't I've just walked away from the problem.

I have been reading more and increasingly realise that I need to get my diet under better control if I want to reach my goals. The site has great easily digestible information on diet and training plans. I am incorporating more lifting into my training to get better all round level of fitness. All of my fundamental movements are pretty weak.

Bouldering @ Circuit NE

James Kellerman

Date: 24th August 2014

I went down for a quick evening session < 90 min withtheintention of focusing on technique. Warm up felt fairly weak did some easy problems to V4. I took three attempts at one of teh V4's after missing a foothold and a handhold. I had difficulty with the balance needed to move to a crimp on the slab.

From there I worked a V6 to completion. A 15 deg overhanging route, sit start to two good slopers followed by a series of decent crimps to a long move to the lip.It probably took in the region of 15 attempts. Most of which involved falling off the last move. When I first attempted the problem I found the second move hard. Holding the swing on a move to a good pinch/sloper with slippery feet. Once I figured out an improved body position, bringing my hips closer under my center of gravity and figuring out where to hold the sloper the move became easy. The last move, a rock over from a right hand crimp, eluded me for multiple efforts until it was pointed out that I had not moved my left hand up after the hard move to the crimp. Once I moved the left hand up, I finsihed the problem easily.

This was a good example to me of a problem that felt really hard on first attempt becoming easy by the end. Not through gains in strength but by actively thinking and exploring the problem. It's something I need to do more of at every grade I climb.

  • Weight: ~187 lbs
  • Body Fat: ~ 12%

Bouldering @Circuit SW

James Kellerman

General bouldering session

  • 10 min Warmup problems to V4

Problems V5 and above

  • V5 2nd attempt, vertical crimpy.
  • V5 Flash Wave wall?
  • V6 Tried in previous session, 1st attempt. Crimpy on wave wall
  • V6 ~6 attempts. Arrete, slopers


Cracked knee hard after foot slipped on V6 at beginning of session. Felt nauseous during mid part.

Did some light campus work at the end.

Gym Session with Xan

James Kellerman

Upper body focused gym session at LA Fitness.

  • Superset

    • Incline flys: 4 x 35
    • Tricep rows: 4 x 50
  • Benchpress: 2 X 10 X 105, 1 x 8 x 115, 1 x 6 x 125

  • Superset

    • Cable pulley tricep pulldown: 4 x 8 x 90
    • Cable bicep curl: 4 x 8 x 100
  • Superset

    • Standing shoulder press: 4 x 10 x 20
    • Lat raises: 2 x 10 x 15, 2 x 10 x 10


Shoulders and lats sore from Saturday bouldering alongwith ring and middle finger on left hand.

Training @Circuit Tigard

James Kellerman

10 min warm up - to v4. trying to work on foot placement.

Problems V5 and harder

  • V6 flash - Moves on positive holds up steep face into stemming on crimps.
  • V5 V Steep, out of roof on good holds. 2nd attempt
  • V5 Tricky start with hand heel match. Very solid finish on good crimps.


Weight: 191 lbs Still feeling a little tired in the forearms from Thursday. Slow paced session, didnt work very hard. Nutrition over the last few days has been mediocre, burrito :( and wine.

Bouldering Session @Circuit SW

James Kellerman

Warm up: 10 minutes problems up to V4

Completed V5 and harder:

  • V5: Long moves between good holds on wave wall - 2nd attempt (missed a huge hold)
  • V6: Long dynamic move on steep wall to crimps on headwall. 3rd attempt
  • V5: Steep juggy undercuts with high foot - flash
  • V5: Undercut start to crimps then jug and high step up via crimps on headwall - flash
  • V6: Long problem out of the cave. Last problem of the night - 1st attempt

Other problems attempted:

  • V6: small crimps on wave to rest, struggled with foot placement and holding move to jug.
  • V5: Balancy slab problem with tricky start - 1 attempt
  • V5: steep wall, one tricky move - 2 attempts
  • V7: Crimps on steep wall to start, missed heel hook opportunity, very possible.

General Comments:

Hot conditions and very thirsty the whole time. Still feeling a little tired after weighted HIT session on Tuesday.

Recovery & Nutrition

Did not eat protein post session, drank two pints beer :(

Time to share again

James Kellerman

It's been a while since I wrote at this blog or really anywhere, but it's time to start again. As I sat down to write this I reread some of the last posts and it allowed me to see how far I have come in the last few years. I want to give my future self that same opportunity.

In my last training post I mentioned that I was struggling with V2 and V3's on steep terrain and roofs. Last night I climbed two steep V6's after only a couple of tries. When I last wrote I weighed in at 202 lbs, I am now 187. Clearly I've made progress though not nearly as much as I would like.

So this blog has two purposes. To be a resource for my future self and to document my training, weight and performance so that I can more easily see what works for a 40yr old boulderer with a full time job.

Lets start with the basic stats:

  • Weight: 187 lbs (84.8 kg)
  • Height 6'4" (192 cm)
  • Age: 40

Climbing history:

I started climbing at Exeter University in 1992. I came across the climbing club at freshers week and was hooked. By the end of my first week I was bouldering in the climbing gym wearing my best repurposed cycling lycra. My log legs and ungainly movement quickle earned me the nickname Storky. Over the next couple of years I learned to climb trad. Learning was slow, outdoors only once a week and hours on the traversing wall at the uni gym. I slowly worked my way up to leading grades up to E3 / 5.11a. After a couple of years at Exeter I left for London where I had fewer opportunities to climb. I drifted in and out of regular climbing eventually stopping alltogether after twisting my ankle badly and losing much of my base fitness while it recovered. After a ten year break I rediscovered climbing when I moved out to Portland, Oregon. I found a great local bouldering gym in The Circuit and started bouldering regularly. I also managed to get out to nearby Smith Rock and clip bolts on some easy routes. These days I mostly boulder indoors with the odd trip out to local bouldering spots. The idea of doing more than 10 moves in a row fills me with dread.


Reguarly boulder V8 in the gym, do the same occassionally on real rock.

Current level:

  • Onsight indoor: V5
  • Max indoor: V7
  • Max ooutdoor: V5

Current Training Plan:

Boulder 3 times a week indoors with little structure. Occassional HIT workout for all round fitness.

Smith Rock Trip

James Kellerman


Siri and I hit Smith Rock this weekend for our second trip to this climbing mecca. Unlike the first time a fortnight ago we were blessed with beautiful weather. On the saturday it was too hot to climb in the sun and after warming up on sun baked 5.7 & 5.8 slab routes at Christian brothers we moved into the shade of the Phoenix buttress and attempted out first 5.10 leads.

I kicked things off with a slightly shaky but ultimately successful lead of the excellent Phoenix.  Great climbing on nice positive features with good rests before all the tricky bits. Siri then cleaned it on top rope before leading the bolder Drill Em, Fill Em to the right of phoenix. A good lead with a runout top slab and less chalked, far less obvious moves than Phoenix. I cleaned the route and we headed off on a beautiful evening to watch the Ducks come back to win against Stanford at the local bar. After an enormous rack of ribs and enough beer to get through the game we cruised back to the campsite to try and get some sleep.

The next morning brought overcast skies and the pitter patter of rain on the outside of the tent. Disappointed but glad for an extra half hour of sleep we waited it out from the comfort of warm sleeping bags. Breakfast at the One Street Down Cafe and then straight to Northern Point to try our hand at some harder routes on Top Rope. We were quickly spat off both Lady in the Meadow, 5.11a and something that started on a slab and got hard fast at 5.11a. With sore arms we left the crag and headed back to Portland for some much needed rest.


Training Update

James Kellerman

Its been a mixed couple of weeks of training. I have made some good progress on steeper ground. Completing a couple of V2 and V3's out of the cave. Part of the gain has come from technique, but I am also feeling a little stronger on the holds. Still feeling elbow pain in the right arm though it is affecting my climbing less than it was. The majority of V4's are still eluding me and I often find V3's difficult. On the positive side I am starting to feel the possibility of a v5.

Have been trying to figure out the best approach to my time down at the gym. At the moment I have been trying a number of different problems and not working anything too hard. Generally taking good rests between efforts.

My diet has stalled a bit, I spent the weekend eating and drinking to excess with friends in town and am now paying for it around the waist.

Weight: ~202 lbs

Thursday Bouldering at The Circuit

James Kellerman

Short late evening training session tonight. Felt stronger after a days rest and worked all the moves in a very steep V3 out of the cave. Wasn't able to link it in a couple of tries though the moves felt fairly good. Completed an old V3 on the floating boulder that I had failed on a number of times. Was a lot more in control than in previous attempts. Struggled on a number of sit starts and more technical problems.

  • Weight: ~ 203
  • Hardest Problem Completed: V3
  • Mood: 2
  • Intensity: 3
  • Session Length: 1hr

Tuesday 17th August

James Kellerman

This was my third day in a row bouldering and it was very hard. I felt tired from the get go. Even the warm up problems seemed to take their toll and I failed to complete 3's and 4's that I had dome in the previous session. Fingertips were sore and by the end of the session the lower part of my bicep was very sore. Managed about 90 mins of bouldering mostly working new 3's that had been set in the gym. Found the low starts extremely hard. Need to work on body position. Found myself frustrated failing on problems I though I should be able to do.

Weight: 202.4 lbs

Mood: 3

Hardest Problem Completed: V2

Why another blog?

James Kellerman

I am going to be using this blog to keep track of my progress towards the goal of sending V10 boulder problems. I will be tracking my training. weight and anything else related to my climbing progress. I didn't want to become a boring list of posts regarding my weight and frustration at slip;ping off holds, so through the miracles of posterous an instant new blog. V10 or BUST!