Christmas Stay-cation: Hipsters sign

Christmas Stay-Cation

Is it too late to talk about “What I did on my Christmas Vacation”? If so, just pretend I didn’t get the memo 🙂

We took vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, and had one of Jonty’s brothers come to visit. The week went by far too quickly (as it usually does), and the weather ended up being quite good for all but one day (where it rained non-stop, and we deemed it a good day to see a movie).

As always, we ate good food, drank good beer and wine, and tried to work off as many of the calories as possible by walking / climbing / sightseeing! | Sea-to-Sky Highway drive, BC

We drove up to Squamish to hike up around Murrin Park. It was the first time we have been up there since Jonty’s knee bailed on him (BTW – how quickly has 4 months gone by!?)

We were a bit unprepared for the amount of snow! I guess the large amount of precipitation the day before helped…

FYI: It’s still waaaay easier to walk up and down a snow-covered mountain, than it is to do so with a broken knee-cap and torn patellar tendon!

The views from the top of Murrin, looking down Howe Sound are just as beautiful in the winter! | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC

… Now make sure your glove is covering one-half of every picture… 🙂

… And no drive into an empty parking lot full of snow would be complete without two brothers egging each other on to do donuts in the Subaru. | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC

As for the food…

There was Beef Wellington and honey-roasted veggies and Yorkshire Puddings (no Christmas dinner with two lads from Yorkshire would be complete without them, and for the family members, Tom won the Yorkshires Bake-Off for the second time in a row, by what Jonty says is a much smaller margin this time)…

… lots of cheese (this one baked was fantastic!) and sausage… | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers

… and homemade crackers (recipe coming!) and roasted beet dip… | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers

… and there was a meal out at L’Abattoir. It was fantastic, and highly recommend a visit! | L'Abattoir, Vancouver BC

… with lots of lights…. | Science World at night, Vancouver BC | BC Place at night, Vancouver BC

We capped off our Christmas Stay-cation with a visit to Earnest Ice Cream. Double-scoop waffle-cones, all around, please!

All in all, it was a relaxing week off 🙂 We hope yours was, too!

Fall in the Fall

It’s hard to believe we’re almost through September already. This month is really flying by, and the next few months don’t appear to be slowing down! The leaves are definitely turning colour, and the conkers are starting to fall – I came home the other day with a pocket full of them. They remind me of my mother-in-law – she was a master at picking the biggest, shiniest conkers while out on her walks. Hopefully she will be proud of my selection 🙂 | Collecting conkers | Collecting conkers

The last few weekends have been a mixed bag of weather and health. On the ones with good weather, I struggled with a nasty bug, which put a damper on some of the climbing (for me). On the wet ones, I was healthy but Jonty was not. What can you do!

One Sunday a few weeks ago was supposed to be a good one, and we had a vacation day the next day to climb, so we used Sunday as a “rest day”. We were up early and cycled down to the Cambie Street Bridge in an attempt to catch the sunrise. The clouds were almost in the way, but we still got a few pretty great moments! | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC

There was a stiff wind that morning and we were already looking forward to our coffee at Whole Foods, but we persevered to get “the sunrise shots”! | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC | Olympic Village sunrise from the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver BC

The next day was a vacation day and we headed up to Squamish to jump on our climbing projects. The weather was supposed to take a turn for the worst later in the week, so we were pretty excited to make the most of our day off. On our third warm-up climb, Jonty was leading a route, and did a slight drop-knee to make a quick power-move up to a hold. Next thing I knew, he had fallen 10 feet down and was clutching his knee, yelling to be lowered immediately.

Not good!

Once he was down and we were trying to figure out what happened (and how bad it was), he said he heard a tearing / fluttering sound in his knee and then his knee just collapsed (like the key was turned off on the engine – no power!).

Definitely not good!

With the aid of two makeshift crutches, he made the sloooooow trek back down to the car (the standard 20-minute hike took close to 1.5 hours), and headed into the Squamish ER. | Jonty's crutches

The ER doctor there was very good and got Jonty an appointment with a highly-regarded orthopaedic surgeon in North Vancouver, so hopefully we will find out his true diagnosis today at his appointment! (We’ve been consulting Dr. Google over the past week, making our own assessments.) He’s hoping for the best, but preparing for a few months worth of recovery. Unfortunately, that marked the end of his performance session this year 🙁

The good thing (for me!) is that being on crutches has not prevented him from making pie on the weekend – he just needs to sit down to do it! | Jonty's crutches

So, without a belay partner, I’ve been getting back to the climbing gym to boulder, and Jonty has been working on his pull-ups (currently over 50-a-day!), since he’s out of ideas of what he can do safely right now. I think we’re both looking forward to hearing what the surgeon says today so Jonty can get back on the road to recovery as quickly as possible!!

Training for Climbing: Sending Season (And Sweet Potato-Coconut Power Soup!)

Well, we have finished up the last of the training phases (power endurance) and will be finally getting into our performance phase! The month of September is full of random days off work, to get outside as much as possible to climb. We had yesterday off and headed up to Squamish to take a look at some of the routes we want to climb. | Looking down Howe Sound, Squamish BC

For the entire duration of our training cycles, we’ve battled with hot, hot weather. As of last Friday? We had more rain in one weekend than we’ve had for the entire summer – perfect timing, hey?! We want the cooler temperatures, but we also need dry rock! We headed out to the crags, passing by water streaming down the banks, carefully traversing the wet, slippery trails. Not a good sign. | Waterfalls, Porteau Cove BC

Most of the walls: totally wet! Or seeping in the cracks! Or soggy through the crux sections… Insert sad trombone sounds here. | Wet rocks at Murrin, Squamish BC

So, we did what any frustrated climbers do – we headed back to Vancouver and made use of the climbing gym to get one last power endurance session in. Actually, we both had an enjoyable time, it felt good to make the most of an unfortunate start.

The weather is supposed to stay dry over the long weekend, so we’ll head up on Sunday and keep our fingers crossed that the rock dries out.

For the last few weeks, in preparation for our performance month, we’ve modified our diet a bit, trimming out a few niceties (ice cream! sponge cake!), and getting in 5 “clean days”, then indulging on the weekend a bit. This, combined with switching to walking from cycling is all it takes, easy really… | Sweet potato-coconut power soup

One of our favourite meals has been this Sweet Potato Coconut Soup. We call it our “Power Soup”, because every time we eat it, the slow-burning carbs from the sweet potatoes seem to give us an extra energy boost the following day – perfect for those long days at the crag! Soup is also easily digestible, low in calories and usually quite filling, so we’ve been loading up on it (often with a few slices of this on the side). | Sweet potato-coconut power | Sweet potato-coconut power | Sweet potato-coconut power soup

This soup is very easy to make and, for having so few ingredients, is unbelievably flavourful, highly recommended! Lime, ginger, lemongrass and shallots infuse into the coconut milk-based broth, and using a high-powered blender to purée, creates a velvety-smooth soup with no added cream. Feel free to use yams or sweet potatoes. We’ve used both (sometimes a combo) and either tastes great. | Sweet potato-coconut power soup

(Jonty added a swirl of beet purée to his, for a pop of colour, and it was unexpectedly tasty!)

With the fall temperatures approaching, and the nights drawing in, this is definitely a soup to should consider making. | Sweet potato-coconut power soup

Training for Climbing: Sending Season {and Sweet Potato-Coconut Power Soup!}
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8 - 10 bowls
  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 221
  • Fat: 18.7 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.7 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 63.3 mg
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 4.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 shallot bulbs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed
  • 4 - 5 cups low-sodium chicken (or veggie) stock
  1. In a large pot, briefly sauté the shallot and garlic in a small amount of oil. Add the ginger, lemongrass, lime zest and coconut milk (if you rinse out the cans of coconut milk, add that water to the pot) and bring the mixture to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce to a simmer. Let the ingredients infuse into the broth for about 20 - 30 minutes (the longer you can wait, the better the flavour).
  2. Remove the lemongrass stalks from the coconut mixture and add the cubed sweet potatoes and enough chicken/veggie stock to fully cover the vegetables. On medium heat, simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a blender, purée batches of the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the lime juice, reheating if it's cooled below your preferred temperature. Taste the soup and add more salt, if necessary.
This soup freezes well, or will keep in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Enjoy! | Sweet potato-coconut power soup

Training for Climbing: Power Endurance

This past weekend we finished our Power phase and started navigating into the Power Endurance phase, the last few weeks of training before we start trying our projects! (For those interested, you can read about the strength and power phases to get caught up.)

We both ended our campus training on a good note on Saturday. The day was cooler (which helped) and we both pushed ourselves in a really good way. I finally figured out a routine that seemed to add incremental progress “nudges” for me, and Jonty was finally able to skip a ladder wrung on the thin holds, which has taken him almost 18 months to progress to! Like we’ve said before, it takes us months and years before we see some of the gains. It’s a continuous work-in-progress, and we constantly monitor ourselves to find what works and what doesn’t, and what weaknesses we need to work on. So, notes have been made to remind us of our campus session tweaks, until the next time we are back to train for that (probably in another 3 months).

Jonty making easy work of the campus doubles (set #26!!) 🙂

The Power Endurance phase is only a few weeks long and slowly merges into the Performance phase. Climbing endurance is fleeting – you can lose your endurance stamina pretty quickly (try bouldering for 3 months, and see how quickly you lose steam trying to climb anything that requires you to stay on the wall for longer than 2 minutes!!), but the good news is that local endurance comes back pretty quickly! This is why the endurance-training component doesn’t come into play until right before you want to send your hard projects. All the training you have done in the previous few months has been to build up strength and power. After a few sessions of endurance training, you should have gained most of your local endurance back.

There are two ways we’re going to train this over the next few weeks:

  1. Linked Boulder Circuits (LBC)
  2. Outdoor Circuits (OC)


We found that this method of indoor training works pretty well for us; Jonty used to use 4×4’s but didn’t like getting off the wall in between problems and found that the benefits were marginal, at best. The idea behind LBCs is just what the name suggests, essentially you create a long, bouldery route requiring varying degrees of power and repeat it for several sets.

The basic idea:

  • Choose 3 or 4 boulder problems that link up easily. If you can incorporate dynamic moves into your problems, this is good.
  • Time yourself climbing the LBC, then rest twice as long as it takes you to climb (e.g.: If it takes you 2 minutes to climb your LBC, rest for 4 minutes) This is a 1:2 climb/rest ratio; work towards 1:1 over several sessions.
  • Repeat this for 4 to 6 sets.

The key is finding a good pace for yourself to manage the forearm pump and fatigue that will most-definitely set in. Whenever we start this phase, we’re always amazed at how quickly we get bagged by this exercise: done correctly it feels quite savage! It is normal in the beginning to be unable to complete a full LBC after the 4th or 5th set, even with resting twice as long. But, after a few sessions, the body adapts, and you should find yourself able to stay on the wall longer and with less rest.

Choosing the LBC route:

This will involve a bit of trial and error for selecting the correct difficulty. Choose boulder problems that you can easily complete and that are around, or slightly below, your on-sight level. The order in which you do these 4 problems can make a substantial difference.

For example, lets say you choose 4 problems, graded V0, V2, V4, V6:

  • Climbing V6, V4, V2, V0: probably easier
  • Climbing V2, V0, V4, V6: probably harder

So if want to increase the difficulty, just think about the order in which you complete your sets, and progress / modify along the way. | Jonty completing power-endurance route, Cliffhanger Climbing Gym

Jonty might choose to go up the yellow, down the green, up the red, and down the purple, all without resting or getting off the wall.


The idea behind the Outdoor Circuits is similar to Linked Boulder Circuits. Choose a route that is around on-sight level, that you can complete successfully when you’re not tired. You don’t want to spend time figuring out the route on the day you try it, so familiar is best! Make it specific to your “goal route” as possible e.g. terrain, hold-type, angle.

  • Time how long it takes you to climb the route.
  • Start at a 1:2 climb-to-rest ratio and, over the next few sessions, work up to a 1:1 climb-to-rest ratio.
  • Repeat 2 to 4 laps on this route. | Rock climbing at Porteau Cove, Vancouver BC

Choosing the OC route:

We have been climbing at Porteau Cove over the last few weeks and have spent that time figuring out the climbs and choosing a few that we think will work for training power-endurance. The routes are all quite long, some are overhung and/or use thin, crimpy edges. Doing laps on these types of climbs will hopefully get our bodies used to dealing with the fatigue or pump we may experience on our “goal” routes.

Here’s our plan for the next few weeks: