Review: Awesome Woodys Cliff Board Mini

For the last year or so, VL‘s Simon Madden has been testing the Aweseome Woodys Cliff Board Mini. Here’s how he found it.

This thing could just as easily have been called the Cheap Motel Board, the Mining Camp Donger Board or the Airbnb Holiday Board – but it’s called the Awesome Woodys Cliff Board Mini.

The VL Massive and its sometimes large entourage have used the Cliff Board at loads of different crags: under the hard routes of Nowra, to get things moving in the freezing cold of the Grampians, lazily in the cool breeze of Coolum Cave, but mostly we have used it at dive motels when we’ve been on the job, at our mum and dad’s on Christmas morning, on the balconies of rented holiday houses in non-climbing areas – all over the joint. It’s small and light and has more than enough holds for you to eke out a session wherever you find yourself.

During the hours of hanging I think a lot and I have come up with a Cliff Board mnemonic. ‘Cliff is a bored, lonely recruiter obsessed with failure.’ The interesting thing is that it is it says less about memory and more about imagination. This mnemonic doesn’t really help me to remember anything rather it is indicative of the dumb thoughts that accompany the repetition of hanging on edges. It’s just a bunch of words that come into my head when I am training away in some dingy joint in the middle of nowhere. Maybe – in the same way they do for superstar nice guy Tom O’Halloran when he is toiling away on mine sites – they help me to remember that I am a climber.

Cliff and Bored
Pretty obvious what they mean.

Awesome Woodys

Reuben Louis Bennett-Daly borrowing the board to warm up in the ferny wilderness of Nowra. Image Simon Madden

Recruitment
When I think of recruitment I don’t think of maxing finger strength through neurological adaptation I think of arseholes: job recruiters.

VL is what in the old days would have been quaintly called a cottage industry. A (very) small-scale, dispersed workforce that keeps the lights on by running unceasingly and without dignity on a hamster wheel. We’re a labour of love, so we don’t have a labour force and the only good thing about that is that we don’t have to deal with recruiters. Parasites and liars the lot of them.
The mind of most obsessed climbers would go straight to weighted dead-hangs on 15mm edges, tuff tendons and killer contact strength, but not me. Try as I might I can’t reprogram myself to cure this Pavlovian response. Still, I have been trying to with consistent fingerboarding – recruitment is not a bad word, recruitment is not a bad word, recruitment is not a bad word. This takes me to loneliness.

Loneliness
Not loneliness brought on by us being misanthropes and keeping away from people. It’s the loneliness of the road. Fingerboarding is the Unabomber of climbing training, Ted Kaczynski would have had a board in his Montana hideaway no doubt. It is the dark, insular thing that you do when you are alone. And it’s good to work on being comfortable being alone with oneself.

Obsession
You have to be pretty obsessed to take a portable hangboard to your parent’s joint and sneak a session in after the prawn breakfast and before the whole family arrives for lunch. Miss a session though and you know that you go back to start!

Failure
Either I am failing on the fingerboard or failing at the cliff, or maybe the Cliff Board helps mitigate failure as a warm up, recruiter and activator between redpoint burns. Either way there is a lot of failure and thoughts of failure and training to failure.

The Awesome Woodys Cliff Board Mini – we’re into it.
Simon Madden

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