Tuesday, 11 December 2012

BMC Youth Bouldering Open

The day after the climbing was the first youth bouldering open. The qualifiers consisted of 8 problems which you had five goes to complete and 3 problems in the final. I was gutted when I saw that most of my problems were vertical. Just what I hate! The bell went to start the qualifiers and I was third up on the easiest problem which I flashed easily. I then went to the over end of the wall and did another easy problem although it had a dyno last move that was quite hard if you were short. The next problem was a roof with a hard crimp move out of it. I climbed up to the move and slapped to the next hold! To my surprise I stuck it and topped the problem flash! I then went to the over end of the wall and flashed another easy problem before having a go at the problem I was most scared of. It was a slab with terrible feet which you had to stand on! I got on to the problem praying for my feet not to pop! I inched my body up and placed my foot on the next foothold it was better and I stood up and matched the finishing holds! It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. The next problem was a vertical wall with lovely triangle slopers. To my surprise I cruised it and actually enjoyed doing a technical problem for once! That was it the easy stuff was over! The next problem was a vertical wall with a horrible sloper at the top which I had to match and a dyno for the finishing jug! I fell on my first go but gave the holds a good brush and sent it on my second! The last problem to be done was a steep wall with a really hard move into a undercut. After three goes I couldn't reach the undercut and fell off! My fourth go came and I went for the hold and stuck it but then, when moving my feet, my hand slipped and I fell! The fifth go was rubbish and I finished qualifying with 7 tops which was enough to get me into the final!

To make a long story short isolation was hell! 5 hours in a dark section of the bouldering wall with 30 other climbers! As the time went by the nerves got worse. After all the other age groups, except junior male, had gone out it was our turn to climb. The first couple of finalists came back and said that they flashed the problem and it was easy so the pressure was huge! I ran out, keen to get on the problem after a quick brush I got on, climbed the first bit easily and I just stuck the last move! Same again for the next problem but I felt even more pressure because if I screwed this up I wouldn't get in the bouldering team! Once again I ran out and brushed the holds. The first few move were easy and I got to the lip of the roof and campused to the next hold but I couldn't reach it! I came back down to the previous hold and campused again and managed to get the next hold. This was the last hard move and I topped the problem to my relief! For the final problem I was even more nervous because it was all or nothing! I came out of isolation totally psyched and ready to crush. I took a deep breath and pulled on. I got the second hold which was really bad, matched and cranked through to the undercut. I climbed out of the roof and reached the bonus hold. This is were I got stuck after trying various methods I couldn't get past that point. To my huge surprise this was enough to get me second place!! After William who only beat me on count back! I was really happy with this because there were loads of strong climbers in the final!

Yesterday I found out that I was selected for both the GB lead team and the GB boulder team!! Bring on 2013!!

Winter BMC Youth Open

The last big comp of the year was the BMC youth open in Liverpool and the following day was the first BMC bouldering open. Both of these were used for the selection of the GB teams so there was lots of pressure to perform. After driving six hours in a uncomfortable mini bus we arrived at our luxury accommodation, a premier inn, like normal. After having a fun meal and playing lots of hands of very competitive card games it was time to get some sleep.

The next morning I was woken up by Luke's ridiculously loud alarm clock but I didn't care because I was so excited. After a few short cuts we arrived at the wall but we were too early and had to stay in the minibus this just made me really impatient and listening to Eye of the Tiger didn't make it any better. Finally we went in, quickly I found my qualifier routes and was pleased to see that they didn't look too hard!

After saying hi to everyone I went to check the starting lists. Maybe the qualifiers wasn't going to be such a breeze I was up first! After watching the demo carefully and making sure I knew how to do top which looked like the crux it was my turn to climb. Hearing my name shouted several times I rushed to the staring point carrying all my gear, so much for being prepared! Once I was ready and chalked up I set off. The first part of the route was a slightly overhanging wall with small holds but straight forward moves. I climb this slowly because I didn't want to make a costly mistake. To my relief I made the bottom of the overhang. I shook out for a bit, then left the rest and focused on the next moves. A tenuous move with high feet then a big lock to a good crimp. This was were I had guess the crux would be. I did the next move, clipped and climbed along the slopers and got my toe onto the first sloper. I pulled up and reach for the next hold, to my disgust it was really bad! Fearing the worsted I cautiously lifted my leg up onto next hold and pulled a bit. To my great relief I felt my body go back into balance and I was able to do the last two moves easily. Topped!

For the second qualifier I was on about half way through the group. I watched lots of people top it without much problem and was starting to feel the nerves. Soon I was sitting getting ready for the route and watching another climber top it. He lowered of and it was my turn to do it. I pulled on and climbed the first steep section of the wall with confidence. Suddenly after the angle change I had to pull on small holds and keep my balance. After climbing past a tricky crimp section I only had a few hold to go to the top. Keeping focused I climbed the last bit and clipped the chains. Brilliant I had made the final in joint first place (not sixth for once!).

Our group finished quite early so I had lots of time to get some food and relax before I entered isolation. But that time didn't last forever and I soon had to enter the Crypt which was a low ceilinged bouldering room. Crypt by name crypt by nature, it was cold, dark and impossible to warm up in. All I managed for a warm up was easy traversing, a couple of roof problems and deadhangs on the finger board. Overall not the best! But I didn't have to wait very long because I was soon let out and told to go to the waiting room. Here I focused myself for the hard route I was about to face. I ran through the route in my head. It started with a technical overhang with sequencey moves, then a steep roof but it was on jugs so didn't look hard; after that the hard climbing came with hard moves of tufa features and terrible slopers at the top! I was my time to go out and try my hardest. This was the last chance this year to win a national competition and I had to keep my place in the team! I walked out totally focused and got straight on the wall. After the first couple of clips I got to weird move which I hung about on trying to work out what to do. I quickly found the solution of swinging my feet onto the side wall and crossing through. The steepest bit of the roof was relatively easy and I made it to the start of the tufas barely pumped. After a big move to the top of the first tufa it got hard and I had to pull hard to get the next move. I climbed up the next tufa and clipped. I was quite pumped now and I reached  for the first sloper. It was terrible, totally crap. I quickly placed my heal onto the tufa and started to pull for the next hold. I just about touched it before my heel popped and my fingers uncurled! I fell feeling happy with my effort but new that the climbers after me would be capable of topping it!

I wasn't wrong William and Angus both topped the route that left me in third place. After a super final William beat Angus. I was happy with third place but not over the moon because I really wanted a win but it just wasn't the right time. Hopefully next year I'll have a win!!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

EYC Kranj

I had been told that I would love Kranj and it would suit me perfectly with powerful and bouldery routes. I wasn't disappointed. On the flight to Slovenia I was really excited to see what it was going to be like. I'd never been to a country that was once communist and was less developed than the other countries I've been too. Once I arrived my eyes couldn't take in all the scenery at once. From run down housing estates to nice old streets filled with bakeries and expensive shops to rugged mountain landscapes. It really did impress me. Once we arrived we went out into the town and visited a old bakery for lunch where I had a massive bit of pizza covered in lots of different types of vegetables it wasn't what I'd usually eat but it was really nice none the less. We walked further down the main old street and it lead us to a view point above the river. This was brilliant fun because it wobbled loads so we all jumped up and down on it to see if we could break it and fall 100 foot into the water below which in hindsight wasn't the best idea! The second day was fairly boring until to my surprise I was given the option to go and see Skyfall in English seeing as I hadn't seen it I was excited to  see it and I loved it especially the seats which were so comfy I didn't want to leave! The next morning the time for joking around was over it was comp day and I wanted to end the year on a high with a final. The first qualifier was really easy to just above the roof where there was a good rest but then I had to do a long move to a crimp match it and then a long move out of it which was quite hard but I managed it ok. After then slapping to a sloper and pressing into the roof I was completely boxed I just got the clip in before my fingers uncurled and I fell. I was really pleased with this because I couldn't get any high than I did and I was in 11th place so I had a good chance of making the final if I did well on the next route.

 We went back to the hotel and I retired to my room for a power nap. I kept telling myself to keep calm and climb hard and if I did my best I could do it. I knew I could do it. But would I do it is the question. We walked back to the wall and I was feeling good and postive. When I saw the route it only made me want it more. The route was steep with a roof in the middle but then a rest and a really hard bit at the top which the rest of the team had fallen of before me. It was my turn up next and I sat below the route watching William fall on the obvious crux at the top. It was my turn now, my turn to give it all I got and my turn to make final. I climbed quickly through the lower sections of the wall and arrived at the rest.  I stayed there for a while making sure I was fully recovered. Now it was my turn to try the top crux I did the big move into the jug on the roof and quickly moved to the crimps at the lip, swung my heel up and started to pull really hard to the crux hold, I just caught it and it was much worse than expected. I tried desperatly to gain some purchase on it but it just wasn't happening I slapped wildly for the next hold only really trying to get the plus point because that make make the difference. I was gutted as I lowered of having failed but I was still hoping I might just make the final. After waiting for all the climbing to finish and the scores to go up. I was gutted!! 11th place!!! One hold of making the final was probably all I needed. This was defiantly heart braking! Although in the long run it will be good because now I am really psyched to train like stink as Ian puts it so eloquently and I am ready to crush the youth open at Liverpool Awesome Walls!! 


After leaving Gorge de Tarn we travelled to Gemozac for the European Championships. This is the biggest competition I've ever been to and you needed security passes to get in!!!! After chilling with the team for a couple of days the morning of the competition was just a sleep away. After a good nights sleep I was ready to crush. I was on early in our first qualifier so I was really calm and I climbed the route without a flaw until I pulled over onto the vertical top section of the wall and was faced with horrible holds and technical moves. After dispatching the lower section of the wall I was so focused but this proved costly because I climbed past a crucial clipping position and then couldn't clip so I jumped for the next hold but wasn't near at all. I was disappointed because I could have done loads better on that route and if I had topped it I would have made the final. The second qualifier was surprisingly easy for me I was shaking before a vertical section of the wall. The holds on this bit were little cracks which I had to go to in control or else I would miss it and fall. There was one more move for me to do before I got of the vert-dirt and onto some steep climbing. I reached to the first crimp which was an intermediate hold rocked over and tried to stab into the next pocket but I hit the edge in that split second I stabbed a couple more times to try desperately to  hold myself on but it didn't work and I fell. That was it. Another hold on ever route and I might have made the final but it wasn't to be. I finished 13th equalling my best result.  I didn't feel to down though because watching the finals in the evening was truly amazing and showed what a good spectator sport climbing was. I flew home with the team with my head held high and ready for the next EYC at Kranj in a couple of weeks time. I was desperate to make the final there!

Russan Trip

Wow this was probably the part of the year for me after driving all the way down to the south of France after a horrible two day slog we arrived at a lovely campsite just outside Nimes. On the first day we went to Mont Gaussier which was a beautiful mountain crag with some lovely climbing. After warming up I flashed a 7b+ which I got really pumped on but wasn't near to falling of because the moves were easy. After that I belayed my brother on Rattlesnake which was a power endurance 8a. To my surprise and awe he onsighted it with no problem. Now the pressure was it was my first really big chance of an 8a flash. I got the beta of my brother and cruised the powerful start. The crux was a long move to a side pull and then a big drop knee to reach the next pocket. I got to the move and by a costly mistake put my foot on the wrong foot hold and missed the crucial pocket. Gutted!!! I then went on to crush it next go.

That night there was 60 mph and our tent was taking a total battering. In the morning just as it got light I was awoken by a tearing noise. The tent had ripped!! We franticly took our stuff out and put it in the car before it blew away. Soon we were sat in our car wondering what we were going to do next fortunately we soon found a big gite to stay in. I was happy because we wouldn't have to stay in a freezing tent but gutted because we missed most of the days climbing. The only climbing I managed that day was a 6c and a sketchy as 7a followed by a really nice 7c which I did second go. The next day we went to Claret and it was really hot almost too hot to climb. The climbing there was really hard with weird features and hard moves. This was defiantly the  worst day of the trip I dropped a 6c+!! which had a blank slab on it!! As well as this I backed out of a 6b+ at the second clip!! On the other hand I did flash an amazing 7b with a trick knee bar in the middle of the roof.

Pipeline 8a
The next day easily made up for the failure of the day before. After doing a quick warm up of a 6c and 7a+ I got straight in with the hard stuff by trying Pipeline 8a. To make a long story short it was really hard!! I had to fight on ever move on the top section. It was brutal huge moves on bad tufas with crap feet!!! After the first five goes I was thinking that I wouldn't be able to do it, I was too weak. But luckily my brother showed me some new beta and then it felt possible. I got to the pitiful rest before the crux and had a quick shake. Built my feet up and made the full span move to the next tufa, but my heel on and reaching into the small crimps before matching and making sure I had them good. I was so pumped by this point and I screamed as I dead pointed into the next awful tufa. I desperately scrabbled with my feet and slapped into the jug undercut. Sticking that hold was one of the best feelings I've had all year. I believe that Pipeline was my hardest route I've done. I was thrilled!! It wasn't over then though. My sights were now set on another 8a! My brother went up first and said it was not too hard so I had a go. On the flash I fell of the first crux which was a really cool slappy boulder problem on little tufas. Then there was a good rest but it soon got hard again. There was a blank section of wall with only the smallest crimps for hands. Then big rock overs and sketchy moves to reach the belay. After working out the moves I went for it. The bit I fell of earlier felt easy and I crimped the hell out of the holds on the crux and just managed to scrabble my way to the chains. Once again I had done two 8as in a day!!

Next we travelled to the Gorge de Tarn here we stayed with a lovely English couple who had moved to the Gorge because it was a beautiful place to live and I don't blame them it really was spectacular. It was a shame we didn't get to do much climbing there but the routes we did do were amazing. The style required lots of endurance and good route finding skill because there were so many holds but most were not as good as they seemed. I really want to go back there to try some of the harder routes and climb some amazing climbs. Overall this trip has been a roller costa ride with highs of climbing Pipeline and lows of having our tent riped apart and failing on a 6c+ but I will never forget it and I can't wait to go back and crush some more!!:)


Other the past few months I have been very busy. My first main event was the British Lead Climbing Championships which was hosted by EICA Ratho. I was really excited and wanted to do really well because I had trained really hard and I wanted it to all pay-off. The first qualifier was on the main competition wall. Everybody before me had got to one move it looked really hard and I new that I would have to be climbing really well to get that move. After my pre-route chill I set of climbing the first easy section well. Now came the steep climbing, the moves were long and dynamic but there was a rest before the roof. I stayed there trying to calm myself down once this was done I continued up. On one of the moves my feet came of. Suddenly from being calm and confident, I was panicking and pumped. I set up for the hard move and fully committed but I was just too tired and fell!!

The second qualifier was on the old comp wall which was less steep and required more technic. The route started of with big open handed holds and then there was a hard traverse. I cruised all of this with confidence and was only slightly pumped. The top of the route kicked back into a nasty slab, just what I love!!! Unfortunately I got to a stopper move after having rocked fully over my foot I couldn't quite reach the next hold and fell.

But with this ok effort I made the final in 6th place by the skin of my teeth. Being in 6th place means I was up first on our final route which was once again on the new comp wall. It went right up the middle of it on yellow lapis holds. After walking out and feeling the crowd watching and expecting a great performance. The route was hard from the start with a tricky rock over low down. As the wall got steeper I became more pumped until I had run out of power and fell on a big move of a side pull. I lowered of feeling happy with how far I got but was it enough to get that first place. I watched as Billy Ridal fell much lower than me because of a mistake. Then Alex Waterhouse made the same mistake. I breathed a sigh of relief as ultra strong Dom Burns fell a move before me. Up next were Angus and William I watched with great respect as they both cruised past my point to fall high in the roof. With that I finished a good 3rd place. The next thing for me is the European Championships in Gemozac and a trip to the Russan area. So I'm going back to training and hopefully I'll do well.