Thursday, 13 December 2012

Photos from Youth Open 2012

Photo: Pete Wuen

 Photo: Pete Wuen

 Photo: Pete Wuen

 Photo: Pete Wuen

 Photo: Pete Wuen

Photo: Pete Wuen

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Head Games at European Championships Gemozac

            This post is quite late as the European championships were about a month ago. After I finished this competition it took me a while think what to write about. Turns out it is really difficult to write a blog post when you are disappointed with how you did in a comp. Anyway here goes…

                                                    Opening Ceremony

            I travelled to Gemozac on November 1st. The plane landed in Bordeaux and we then hired a car and Ian drove us to the hotel. We were staying very close to the climbing wall, as it was only a 10 – 15 minute drive down the road. Thursday and Friday were designated relaxing days, recovering from the travelling. We went to a local town as where we were staying didn’t really have much going on. The town we went to was really interesting and had a typical French feel to it. We even found a little climbing wall on the local playground. I still don’t know what the town we went to was actually called though.

            Competition day arrived and I felt good in the morning. I wasn’t tired as I had got a good night sleep and the breakfast really hit the spot. Fuelled up and ready to go we went to the wall for an early start. This was due to me being on one of the qualifiers first. I wasn’t too fazed by this as I had won a competition by going first on a route in a comp a few years ago. I warmed up on the less ample sized wall and felt like I was ready. My warm up had gone exactly how I wanted it to go and I felt strong. I went through to the main arena and waited for my go. I walked up to the seat where I tied on. I sat down, put my boots on and sat there waiting to be called onto the route. At some point in this tying in and boot putting on sequence I had got really nervous. It’s not normally like me to get nervous at this point, I will either get nervous the day before the comp or I will be ok. I walked up the route and felt tense. I pulled on to the route and felt strong. I pulled through the lower section really easily. I got to where there was a sequence of hard moves. Pulled through them and then hit this sloper. I felt so tired. I pulled up and left to the next hold and came off. Looking back at the route. I realise why I felt so strong and I why I pulled through all of these moves so easily. I was so nervous that I gripped way to hard and climbed really tense. This was my downfall on the route.

            After the first route I managed to compose myself and I was more relaxed despite my effort on the first qualifier. I planned the second route well and felt like I knew exactly what I was going to do. I tied into the rope and put my boots on. This time I felt ok, no nerves and felt relaxed. I got on the route and climbed the lower section slow and controlled but relaxed. I wasn’t feeling too tired. I got onto a harder section and felt strong but not in an over gripping tense way. I pulled through a hard move easily. Nice one. I carried on and hit a bit of a rest. I then stepped through onto a bad foothold and pulled up to a crimpy edge. I matched it and had a tiny rest. The next hold looked so bad and I had to cross over into it. I pulled through, crossed over, touched it and was off. I felt better after this route and felt like I did climb it better. I still would have liked to have been higher up on it though and I felt like I could have been higher up on it. I looked at the sequence later and realised that there was a few things that I could have done differently to make the route easier.

            I felt a bit rubbish after this comp and felt like I didn’t climb to my full potential by a long way. I sat down for about an hour after my two routes and wrote down my feelings from the comp. This is something that I have not done before but it seemed to work quite well. The first thing that it did was I was able to see what I thought I had not done very well and think of ways to address this. This worked well and I was able to think of something that I could do to every negative point to improve it next time. The second thing it did was it enabled me to look past the negatives. In my head all I could think off was that I had not done very well in the comp. Whereas when I put it down on paper and was trying to break my routes down piece by piece, I could pick out good points of my climbing in the competition. This second point was one of the most important things I took away from the trip. After I had gone through this process of writing it down on paper, I was able to forget about the bad result and look past the negatives to the positives. That’s what you need in any sport. Positives. Its what makes us keep going… 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Senior World Cup Kranj

            Just over a month ago I was offered the opportunity to go to one of the senior world cup rounds being held in Kranj in Slovenia. It took a quite a bit of thinking as to whether or not it would be worth my while in going to an event like this but the decision was made in the end and I booked my flights.
            Joining me on the trip was two other members of the GB Climbing Team, Luke Tilley and Ed Hamer. Me and Ed travelled to Slovenia together which involved a very enjoyable sleep at Stansted airport on Thursday night. We got the train from Sheffield to Stansted and then found a cosy corner to bed down in. Amazing.
            Once we landed in Slovenia we waited for a couple of friends from the Swiss climbing team and got a taxi with them to the hotel. During the day we chilled out and relaxed from the travelling that we had done over the past day. We nipped to the local shop and stocked up on food we made need during the comp and then headed back to the hotel. We had dinner at a local pizza restaurant with the Swiss team and then headed back for an early night. Luke arrived later on this evening after hitch hiking his way from Venice all the way to the doorstep of the hotel in Slovenia in one car. Good effort to him…
            Comp day arrived and we made our way down to the wall for an early start. The men’s qualifiers were on in the morning followed by the women’s in the afternoon. I was on 20th on the first qualifier and 46th on the second qualifier. As soon as I started to warm up I realised just how hard this comp was going to be. I was stood there warming up next to some of the best climbers in the world. It was amazing and after a couple of minutes I got less nervous climbing next to these people and I just got on with what I needed to do. I route read the first route with Luke as he was on a few people before me and I had a really good look at all the holds through some binoculars. I felt ready for the route and I finished off my warm up. I sat down and relaxed for a bit before I was up on the route and did a few final checks. Sat down in the chair and tied into the rope, I took another few minutes to relax and I felt really good. I walked up to the route and pulled on. Climbing strong and controlled I pulled through the lower moves and found myself at one of the hard moves. I pulled onto the hold and as I went into match it I came off. The move felt very hard and in itself would have been hard for me but after I had done the lower section of the route felt even harder. I was happy with how I had done and I did feel good on the route so I felt strong going into my second route.
            For my second route I spoke to Ed about it as he had already been on this route. I got the beta off him and found out what he thought of the moves and holds. I stayed warm between my two routes and then got ready to go onto the route. I sat down in the chair and looked up at the route for a final route plan. When it was my turn to go onto the route I walked up and pulled straight on. It instantly felt a lot harder than the last route and I was fighting on every move. I nearly came off on a volume but managed to just stay on it and move past it. I then pulled over to the right and then as I was reaching up high with my left hand I came off. I was happy with this effort and was pleased with how I had done on the route.
            I finished in 48th, which for my first senior comp I was happy with. I also scored very similar to quite a few of the youth competitors who make finals in EYC comps on my second route. I had a really good trip and watching the finals was amazing. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

New Surroundings

            So I have moved to university and things are a bit different now. I am living in student accommodation, cooking and cleaning for myself and having to be more independent. This is all very new to me but I am enjoying it so far and am coming up to the end of my first semester.

            With it being student accommodation I am slightly limited as to what I can and cant do to my room. I haven’t got a fingerboard anymore but I do have a good doorframe leading into my bathroom… I also have got a pull up bar for the door and some weights to use at home. All in all I am making do quite nicely. Below is a picture of the gear and training stuff.

            I am studying Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford. This means that I have got all of Manchester to explore and the climbing walls in Manchester to train hard at. I climb a lot at Rockover Climbing Centre, which is a bouldering only venue. It has a really good atmosphere and the climbing is amazing there. The training facilities are spot on and this means that I can train hard at wall that is only a fifteen-minute cycle down the road. I have also been traveling a bit further a field to Manchester Climbing Centre, which is both a lead and boulder centre. This has been good in my training as well as it enables me to keep the route training up and focus on some long pumpy routes (Good 16 or so metre walls).
            Here is some photos of me climbing at Rockover Climbing Centre.

              And after all of the training and hard work i have my hand care kit set out for when i get home...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

European Championships

Just arrived in france for the weekend. Will be competing in the European Championships on saturday. Psyched at the moment and ready to crush. Will post after the event with some results. Cheers

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Keep Calm, Stay Calm, Dead Calm

Once again I found myself heading north back to Kilnsey: this time with a group of people. Accompanied by Orrin Coley and Billy Ridal, we drove up and arrived psyched. Naomi Tilley had organized the trip and her grandparents allowed us to stay in their house in the village of Kilnsey just a five-minute walk from the crag.
            After the drive up we found ourselves sheltering under the big roof at Kilnsey to get out of the rain. Disaster. Still, at least it hadn’t seeped through yet. After warming up I decided that I would get on 50 for 5 F7b+. I went for the flash on this route and set off. I climbed through the bottom strongly and found myself at a rest.  With the pump almost shifted I set off again for the cruxy top section. I fluffed a sequence up and then found myself popping off the finishing hold. The route went second time though and was a good tick on the first day.
            Second day saw me back on Dead Calm F8a. This was the route that I had tried to on sight on my last trip to Kilnsey but came off on the last hard section. First time back on it and I got a new high point. Only three more moves were in the route before pulling to the finish jug. I rested up and went again and came off one move higher and my foot popped off. I later realized that this was because of me missing an intermediate foothold. With the light fading and people wanting to go home. I had one last ditched effort. I timed my rests carefully and made sure that I didn’t have too long on each rest. I was then on the top section. I made it to the last hard move. I was so boxed. I hurled my foot on the hold. It was on. I managed to keep it all together and pulled somewhat dynamically to the jug. Sweet. It was ticked.

            Third day and I decided to get back on The Bulge F8a which was another route that I was close to ticking in the last trip I had to Kilnsey. After dogging up the route and familiarizing myself with the moves again, I got on for a red point attempt. I got through to the top section and did a very powerful clip causing me to fall off because I got very pumped. I went again and decided to miss the clip and carry on resulting in me taking a huge whipper and bashing the wall pretty hard. Wasn’t going to be doing that idea anytime soon again. With me done in we headed back and had a BBQ followed by a swim in the river. Refreshing was one way of putting it.
            Fourth day and I had discovered that the swim in the river had done my muscles the world of good. They felt fresh to tick The Bulge. I had three big goes on the route today and kept dropping the big lurch for the final hold. With this we headed back with still no tick on The Bulge.
            The evening saw us back at the river but this time with a slack line. Me, Orrin and Billy swam across the river to fix the slack line up. We then started un-wrapping the slack line and bringing the un fixed end over to the other side of the river to tighten it up. One small miscalculation left us three metres short and stranded in the middle of the fast moving river. With the river winning we ditched the slack line and swum back to the bank. With everyone very un-motivated it was down to someone to swim back and retrieve the slack line. Three guesses for who that may have been…

            This was the last full day that we had at the crag and I was determined to get The Bulge done. I warmed up and felt good. I went for it. I came off. I went for it again. And came off. With people wanting to go I tried one last time and came off. That was it. Finished for the day. But I wanted to try to work out some better beta for the top section of the route. I managed to find a really big Egyptian that meant I could static the move that I had kept dropping. With this under my belt I decided to go home for the night and tick it the next day.
            Rain rain rain. I heard it all night and I knew that The Bulge would be soaked by the morning and I was right. I got there and the whole two clips at the bottom were dripping. So I sacked this route off and went on and tried some other routes. I managed to get a route called Ground Effect F7b on my second go and then I did Pantomime F7b+, which is a route I have done before but wanted to repeat.
            Big up to Naomi for organizing the trip and thanks to everyone else that made it an awesome trip. And thanks to Evolv, PrAna and Metolius.

Friday, 28 September 2012

“Not Bad For an An Cap Athlete”

For the previous two years I have been heading up to Kilnsey for a weekend of climbing at one of the UK’s best sport climbing crags. With my A Levels done and a long holiday before starting uni, I decided I would take some long trips up there this summer.
            The weather looked iffy but according to some reliable sources (the oracle that is Ian Dunn), Kilnsey was on. I headed up with fellow GB climber Buster Martin in my trusty steed (a little blue Kia Picanto). When we arrived we found that the sun was shining and the crag was dry. We walked in and warmed up on two easy routes called The Directissima F6c and The Bulgelette F6b+. With these done and feeling warmed up I pulled on The Bulge F8a. I got all of the moves worked quickly and found myself lowering off from the top psyched and thinking that this route would definitely go. I tried it twice more on this day but it didn’t go. I got a good high point on my second redpoint, which was one clips from the top.
The second day saw us at Malham Cove, it was an absolute suntrap and as it turned out it was too hot to climb anything hard. I managed to do Seventh Aardvark F7b on my second redpoint. After this I pulled onto Raindogs F8a but it was just so greasy because of the heat I could barely do any of the moves. We headed off back to the shade of Kilnsey and I had two more goes on The Bulge, dropping the last hard move twice. Gutted. We walked off back to the campsite and cooked some dinner. Morrisons Value Chilli definitely hit the spot after a long day.
Third day and I warmed up and had two more goes on The Bulge. It wasn’t to be. I stripped the clips out as my skin was getting destroyed. I then went on and did WYSIWYG F7b on second redpoint.
Fourth day and I was back at Kilnsey. After warming up on the usual routes I managed to flash Smooth Torquer F7a+. With this done I had a look round or something else to try and before I knew it, Ian Dunn rocks up to the crag. With his recommendation of The Last Gasp Finish F7b, I pulled on, worked the moves and put the clips in. I came down, had a rest and then went for the redpoint. I pulled through the hard bottom section fairly ok and was in the mid point rest. I took a long rest there and fully recovered. I carried on and pulled through to the chain. Done. Sick route. Cheers Ian. With three F7b’s and an F7a+ I went for one last ditched effort for glory. A flash attempt on a new route called Dead Calm F8a. It is an extension of WYSIWYG that goes through a steep overhanging upper section. An F7b followed by an F7b with a V5 boulder problem to get the chain. It looked amazing and I couldn’t wait. I set off strongly and ticked WYSIWYG, took the mid point rest and pulled through the second section and took the rest just before the V5 Boulder problem. All felt good and I was on huge jugs. I rested for a long time. Too long. I pulled through three moves on the V5 and came off. So close yet so far. Still. As my coach Tom Randall once said, “Not bad for an An Cap Athlete”.

Thanks to Evolv, PrAna, Metolius and The GB Climbing Team

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Costa Blanca February 2012

For the past two years in the winter school half term a group of climbers from the midlands have headed off to Fontainebleau for some cold weather bouldering. This year we fancied a change and the cold British weather spurred us on to travel to warmer climates. Southern Spain seemed like the perfect place…
After a busy and crowded flight we landed in Alicante to find the sun shining and the temperature well into double figures, we picked up our minivans and headed off for our villa. The drive north along the coast was very pleasant and we were already looking out the windows and seeing some of the crags Costa Blanca has to offer.
The first day of climbing was at a place called Sella, one of the most popular crags in Costa Blanca. The walk in was short and the climbing was amazing. I started things off with “Martin Galas” F6b+, which was a surprisingly tricky route with a tricky crimpy crux in the middle. Definitely got the fingers going on this route. Then I went on and did “El Torronet” F5+. “Kashba” F6c+ was next on the tick list, which is considered to be one of the best routes at Sella. I got the on sight on this route and it was really good climbing. After Kashba we felt like some more of the steep climbing. “No me bajes tan...” F7a fitted perfectly. It is described as “grab the side-pull and jump!” and they weren’t wrong. Good sending for our first day and I was really psyched for the rest of the week.
The second day started with a trip to Sierra De Toix. For a target I had set for later in the week we decided to get some practice in on some multi pitch climbing. “Espol√≥n Limaban” F5 was a really nice three star route, first pitch F4 and second pitch F5. We learnt a lot on the route, the most important being never climb in the shade in Spain mid-February for a long duration of time, its freezing! – Lesson one!

The afternoon saw us at a venue called Los Pinos, a steep overhanging wall just off the road. There was some really impressive climbing at this crag and I thought it would be a good place to try one of my targets of the week. F8a. I climbed “Route 3” F7a+ first before going for an F8a. “Jog Jog” F8a was the route I decided to try, a short and powerful route through a roof. I worked it from the ground and then pulled on. This was my first F8a and I on sighted it.
The next day we aimed to go to Bernia but due to taking the wrong road ended up at Murla instead, Having learnt the previous day not to climb in the shade, we found ourselves standing below a huge leaning wall with the sun around the corner, and not looking likely to be coming around on to the face till at least late afternoon, typical. Once warmed up I got on a very crimpy route called “Tendonator” F7b, which I got the on sight on. Lunch eaten I got on “Route 17” F7c+. I tried working this but I was very tired and the rock was so sharp, a flapper would not have been good as I still had three more days climbing.
Wildside at Sella was our next place to visit as people had claimed it to be world class climbing, and it most certainly was. After warming up on a F6c+ I moved onto something to try red pointing. “El Gremio” F7c+ seemed perfect… Which it would have been if I were on the right route. Poor topo reading meant that I was actually on the F8a+ just to the left of El Gremio – lesson two. Always read the topo carefully. Described as a two-crux route, on my on sight attempt of the route I got past the first crux to the fall on the second crux. Once I found out I was on the wrong route I was very spurred on by my effort on it. I then moved to work the right route and had one good redpoint attempt on “El Gremio” but I was too tired to link it. I shall have to come back to this.
Day five was when my plan of a big multi pitch would be put into practice. It was probably one of the most memorable moments of the holiday as we were going to climb the eight pitch “El Navigante” F7a on the Penon De Ilfach, a huge and impressive wall sticking out into the sea near a town called Calpe. The route was the most serious route I have ever done and the sense that I was up there with my friend (Sarah Pashley) was quite scary. The route was very intimidating from the ground and setting off felt very committing. On pitch four I veered off route (remember lesson two!!) and ended up snapping a hand and foothold and plummeting 15m down the face of the cliff. Nevertheless we soldiered on through some amazing climbing. Favourite section of the route was pitch six F6c, which was really exposed and had some stunning climbing on it. Topping out felt amazing and looking down on what we just climbed was breathtaking. My Evolv Optimus Primes stood up very well to this long multi pitch route and despite them being a down turned, serious boot which I also used on my 8a, they were really comfy for the duration of the route. They were an excellent boot for the trip, which I wore every day, all week.

The last day was a trip to Gandia. The weather was the best on this day and I was very psyched for mileage and a lot of three star routes. I did “Nina De PorcelanaF6a+, “El SolF6b+,”Amarrada Al PilloF6b, “Enya” F7b+, “PereF6c+ and “PepestroikaF6b. All these routes were great climbs and it was a superb finish to an amazing week.

Superb week in Spain and I was incredibly psyched when I got back for some hard training towards my competitions this year. I will keep you posted on my 2012 antics.

Thanks again to Evolv, PrAna, Metolius and The GB Climbing Team