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Richard's Story, Back Squats & Sprints

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In April of this year Christianne and Richard from England happened into the gym. She started with personal training to build confidence, and he got busy with On Ramp and classes. Paleo positively impacted her health, and after a few short months she made her way into regular classes. He sought out CrossFit as he wanted to climb El Capitan in Yosemite, and what better way to condition than what we do daily. They are teetotalers, but he works in marketing the Napa Smith wines and beers. They had planned to be with us through December, but visa issues sent them home early. They frequented the 6AM classes, they are dearly missed, and here is Richard’s Story.


At the end of July I spent 4 amazing days climbing in Tuolumne with Steve Schneider, who probably knows the climbing in this part of the world better than anybody alive. Despite the afternoon thunderstorms and my lack of ‘climbing fitness’ I was able to climb up to or near my limit on each day, which is only 5.9-5.10 but interestingly is not far from what I climbed as a kid. We managed to climb on average about 10 pitches or 1000’ feet of climbing per day and at an altitude of 8000’. Steve was impressed with my fitness and my ability to climb pitches swiftly and efficiently throughout the day – he may have though on occasion misinterpreted naked fear for speed and efficiency!

A fortnight later, Christianne and I made a trip to Jackson Wyoming to climb one of the US’s most iconic and famous mountaineering objectives, the Grand Teton (13775’). This mountain rises some 7000’ above the valley floor and any prospective climber must first negotiate a hike of 7 miles and an ascent of some 5000’ before beginning the climb proper, which begins from a hut on an exposed saddle. Most choose to climb the Grand in 2 days and bivvy on this saddle before climbing the route the next morning. However, as places in the hut were limited, I chose to attempt the summit in one day, which generally involves a 3AM alpine start and a 16-18hr day.

I set off from the trailhead at 3AM on Sunday with my guide and we hiked the entire ascent to the hut in such bright moonlight that head torches were redundant. This magical experience was enhanced by the knowledge that in this forest I was not at the top of the food chain for a change. We reached the saddle at around 6.45AM and made the summit by 10AM having overtaken many of the parties that started from the hut. The roped climb was in no way technically demanding and I was able to thoroughly enjoy it. We were blessed with amazing views on the summit, which will live long in my memory.

The descent was tough as it was made during the fiercest heat of the day and after having damaged the big toe on each of my feet climbing in Tuolumne. However, we made good time arriving back at the car by 4PM with plenty of time for a cold beer.

Again I was able to move swiftly and at a constant pace throughout the day, which I have to put down to the hard yards invested in those 6AM CF sessions. I was surprised how the short, intense sessions of CF translate into alpine rock climbing, which can intersperse long sections of thigh and lung burning slogs with short sharp sections of climbing proper. I was certainly well prepared to pull hard at altitude and the extra fitness translates directly into enjoyment of the climbing.

What CF also imbues is an ability to deal with the mental requirements of alpine climbing, which requires you to get your head down and keep on moving, despite pain, discomfort or fear. If I can finish Angie then I can climb the Grand Teton (though I am not sure which took me the longest) just by imagining Brian Rios climbing right behind me…

So that’s a long way round saying thanks to you all for helping me get into better shape to achieve some wonderful climbs. I was planning to climb The Nose on El Capitan next spring but whether I will be able to get back into the country is anyone’s guess.

All’s not lost though as we are back Crossfitting here in the UK and the world is full of inspiring mountains. We will miss Wine Country Crossfit and the friends that we made there. I do hope to be able to sort my visa issues out and so be back to support my business interests as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please pass on our best regards to all at WCCF, especially those brave few, who made 6AM training bearable and continue to support Napa Smith Brewery please. The new brewpub is open now and there’s always a pint on me for you.

-Richard Cutler


Back Squat Find new 1rm
lower weight to 85% and complete 5 reps

8 Rounds:
5 Lateral Hops (20″Rx)
Sprint 20 Yards

* Lateral hops – using the small PVC start standing on one side laterally hop over the pvc landing in position to immediately laterally hop back over the PVC.  Alternate starting sides each time.

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