Saturday, 12 December 2015


It was autumn and the sunset matched the colour of the trees. Each morning I’d wake up go, buy pasties and go climbing. My half term couldn’t have been much better. Each venue bringing something slightly different; the dark reflective pines of 95.2, the hustle and bustle of Cuvier, the vast quantities of boulders on offer knocked me flat and quite often I’d finish flat on my back after being spat off again.

I’m going to choose three reasons why this was a trip of such variety. The first would the feeling of just learn to climb afresh. I felt like I was ten again venturing out of England for the first time to touch European sandstone. Each sequence was subtle. A perfect example was Beurre Marga 6B+ at Isatis. This climb like the patterns on the bark was complex and full of intricacies. This wasn’t about strength or power, it was about learning. Each go I slightly further, a foot move and hand move. Until I was stood on top of the boulder knowing I’d climbed that perfectly.

The second was climbing hard. You don’t go to font without wanting to come back with some hard ticks to your name. I improved massively over this trip and it was on the last day I did the hardest boulder. This was Rencard 7C. I’m a simple climber, I don’t like fancy toes and heels. All of that just seems to complicate the climbing for me. Although a simple move can have just as many tricks. Rencard was a pull off the floor to a bad sidepull off a bad sloper. The first go I didn’t feel like I could pull off the floor, I thought of quitting then. The next go I managed to pull off. The next go I touched the next hold. Maybe I could do what had originally felt impossible for me. When it all came together I was ecstatic it felt right at the limit of what I could do, the hardest possible moves. Any climbers dream.

The third were the ones that got away. L’ange Naif 7C would be a perfect example. This boulder consisted of one big move. You had to fly. I made progress and eventually I was almost getting my fingertips over the top. However my ability can’t last forever and I started to get worse and worse. I left defeated. Still this has only made me hungry to return.

So what’s next? Well I am once again going to Santa Linya. Last time I failed on Rollito Sharma but this time I am set to do it. Let’s hope it plays ball.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

British Championships 2015

British Championships 2015

After not a brilliant result in Arco, I had no idea what to expect at the British Lead climbing Championships. Last year I finished 3rd and 8th so I would have liked to finish slightly higher. The competition was held at Awesome Walls Sheffield which was one of my favourite arenas to perform.

The first day was the junior competition. I felt like an underdog going into this one but I’m British I love an underdog.  Our first qualifier was a vertical crimp festival. I watched multiple climbers fall suddenly from the finger-tip holds. Getting ready to set off I knew one misplaced foot or a sudden movement could spell utter disaster. I was cautious, slow and precise. I felt my arms starting to throb spelling the end of my attempt but I was on the second to last hold. The finish in my sight. I set my cross-hairs at the target and committed myself fully. I fell short but it was still a good performance although maybe not good enough for a 3rd place.

Next route I was lucky. I was first up. A chance to show everyone else I was there to mean business. Pace was everything, no time to stop to think I threw myself into harder and harder moves. I started to breath heavily. I fell right at the top having given my all.

I was through to the finals in 3rd position. We waited in isolation, every minute ramping up the tension I felt. Coiled like a spring I sat in the chair waiting for the fateful call which meant it was my turn. I hit the wall running, doing each move as fast and efficiently as possible only stopping to refocus. I got to a big sloper at the lip and could only really hold it with one hand. I pulled down hard at the same moment feeling my feet swing into space. All or nothing. I felt my hands latch down, preventing my weight pulling me off and breath out a sigh of relief. The crowd cheered for me sticking the move. Now I had to earn a position. I knew the next move might be the difference between 4th and 3rd then between 3rd and 2nd or even between 2nd and 1st. I hung on desperately with my fingers slowly slipping and once again took aim to top the route, I gave absolutely everything but I didn’t have the recoil to create the momentum to stick it. I watched in awe as Jim went on to top the route pushing me into second position.

The next day was the seniors. I recognised many of the people I saw from articles for sending their recent desperate 8c+/9a projects. I was first up again on my first qualifier. This time I wasn’t too keen because it looked like a really technical slab. The bottom turned out to be easy but as I climbed high the holds got worse and worse. I got to a volume and I needed a high step, like really high. I decided I’d display my legendary flexibility which I’d been training for ages, it took me about 6 attempts to get my foot up. I wobbled on this volume. Tried to find balance. I think I need to spend more time slacklining as I twisted and fell off.

Only six went through to final, a small number, six of Britain’s best. Would I be one of them? The next route would decide. I climbed fast but found it hard, my body stretched out, tortured. I felt like a spider with someone pulling its legs. I made it to the change of direction. I rested, thinking of nothing but the climbing, everything was about the climbing. About 10 moves left. With each move my arms weakened but I was on the last hold! I clipped the chains! I was in final.

I’d spent many hours in school looking out the window thinking about this moment. Now it had arrived. I waited like I had done yesterday, the people outside waiting too, expecting. The lower wall went easily and soon I was into the hard climbing in the roof. I spun around looking at the crowd’s excited faces. The next moves were big but I climbed passed a clipping position. All of a sudden I was stuck, I couldn’t reverse and backtrack my mistake and yet I couldn’t go further. It was over I fell. Disappointed I lowered to the ground. I ended in 4th.    

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Do you prefer bouldering or routes? For me it’s routes. No doubt about it though they are more effort, more mentally tiring and more stressful. So I went to the dark side.

First I had a trip up to the Peak. I spent two evenings sneaked in after team training. For these I just climbed with my brother and we went around working out the problems the rocks threw at us. I climbed well with the feeling of the grit under my fingers like having sand on my skin from the beach. I worked the Terrace, a classic 7C. With clinical precision and absolute control like taking a penalty in the World Cup I climbed my way up it. I then took it easy and supported my brother as the sun dropped behind the hills. We both walked away feeling very happy with how it all went. From the rugged beauty of the Moor the next evening we went to the tranquil setting of Water-Cum-Jolly. The water was still like the muggy calm before the thunder roles in. With this storm came Tsunami 8A. It’s brutal, basic and brilliant. I was so close each time tickling the crescent shaped crimp! I came away as a gambler putting everything on red and it coming up black.

Next on the list was North Wales. The Pass was dank, drizzle washed over the car windscreen and fell to the floor with my hopes. One boulder was sure to by dry, well at least the bottom of it was; Jerry’s Roof. I had the ideal bouldering conditions wet, one boulder pad, no spotters, no beta things were looking splendid. Jerry’s Roof and Bus Stop weren’t too bad so I finished those quick. I decided to try Diesel Power. Not going to lie, I wasn’t very close to this. This didn’t stop me loving it though, I was stretched out on a roof trying hard to keep my feet on and eventually taking a swooping swing and landing with my bum on the mat. Doesn’t get much better! After Ed Gow-Smith and James Squire showed up so we climbed on the beautiful slopes of Snowdon. You know that nervous energy? That energy you get when you know everything is in place to climb something truly at your limit. Well that’s what I was swamped by when I stuck the shoulder shearing move on Stone Temple Pilots 8A.  The cave felt like being swallowed up into the mountain, it was dark but the chalk on the holds caught the smatterings of light and reflected it showing an interstellar path of holds out of Snowdon. I would never have done it though if it wasn’t for great beta and a bit of pressure to keep the ‘send train’ going as James topped it just before me. To end the day we headed to wavelength area and went right to the top. No noise reached us it was the perfect end with chilled out climbing at it's best.  

More limestone was calling. I visited Parisella’s Cave. It’s very steep. I set my pad up to climb Rock Atrocity 7C and found myself quickly coughing up the cloud of dust I landed in. I fought my way up just before my arms gave in. Another venue I visited was The Gop. This was a very short, very steep cave in the Welsh hills. One problem there stood out for me, Smoke a Bloke 7B+. The problem was one move long and what a move it was! Just pull on and jump for a pocket off two small crimps.

Next up was a quick attack of Peak limestone. I felt like I was in a rhythm now and hit crags like Blackwell Dale, Tideswell Dale and Raven Tor in the evenings. Tideswell was a special favourite situated in the most picturesque peak valley. You climbed off a meadow of grass on high clean limestone. I love the crimpy style and Pump up the Power 7C+ stood out for me as it’s such a classic.

I haven’t talked about closer to home. Hartland was the place where all my effort was focused and on one problem: Supercede 8A. Situated on a rocky beach, with the waves crashing like a natural rhythm to climb to, I’d say it’s one of the best places to have a project. I went down with the Mabons to try it. I spend about 4 sessions on it overall and that day everything was perfect. For me that was the hardest bloc I’ve ever climbed! Just next to it was Northern Exposure, a high, unrepeated problem which was given 7a+ but multiple strong climbers had failed to get the repeat. I tried it with a large crew and we had loads of pads. The atmosphere was chilled out and everyone was enjoying the evening. We pushed each other on to try to get the second ascent. The move that was stopping me was a desperate twist on a tiny edge in the crack. The first time I properly commited, I did the twist and slapped a sloper next to the crack. Now it was to the finishing jug, I latched it but felt my feet cutloose. In slow motion I twisted and my right hand ripped sending me into a sideways helicopter. My spotters divided out the way to avoid getting landed on. My side hit the pad and I watched my momentum take my face towards a rock, I stuck out my hand. Pain. My wrist felt like it had been bent back 180 degrees. I wasn’t able to climb for a month and that brought an end to my bouldering phase. Bouldering from North Wales Bouldering in the Peak and Hartland

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Over 10 days it took me. I probably spent about 40 goes on it. This route had no repeats. This route was Chimera. Since summer last year I’d been trying this monster link of Fisherman’s Tale, Postman Pat and Tuppence which goes at a top end 8b+. I would describe the route as an 8b consisting of a V7 and a V8 boulder followed by an 8a+.

We’ve all been there trying a route that is right at our limit and just being able to do each move on it. This was me at the start. For the people who push on they find a sharp improvement curve were the moves start to get easier. This wasn’t me, the moves were too hard and holds too small. I realised I’d have to do more than just try it, so I got training. Each session I would punish myself with a good 100 pull-ups before starting the session and hours working on finger strength. This was when I started improving. I went from falling off the 2nd draw to falling on the 4th draw to falling on the last draw. It felt amazing improving so much and I bet every climber finds getting better one of the best experiences. Am I wrong? There was one move which stumped me again and again, this one move was the hardest move I’ve ever come across on a route. This move didn’t just require all the strength I had but also a clinical accuracy to every movement through it. This move was as a real stopper. One day though, it was the 8th of February, it all clicked. It was like a key fitting into a lock and I felt the move go like the unleashing of the lock mechanism.

Then the pressure came. I’m not sure if I’m the only person that feels this but it grows slowly and you start to think about succeeding. I try not to though. I try to force myself into a mind-set of calm where I can focus on the moves. For I have found success to only come from this mental state. I went for it, I climbed through the crux, and the first time I’d done it. Now it was on. I believed I could do it. Got to the final moves and thought it was going to be easy. I fell. I was heart-broken I knew I’d have to do it all again. I knew I could do it now there was no doubt so the only thing I could possibly do was focus on pulling as hard as I possibly could. I climbed Chimera. This is what really doing a route at your limit comes down to.

Projects, I’d say, are the things that provide me with some pure motivation. I feel that now as in the back of my mind I think about what I’ve got next. Supercede, 8A. It’s a childhood dream, I remember climbing with Mikey and Tom as they were trying to do the first ascent and thinking how that looked like the hardest moves out there. Also Poppy 8b+, the next route at Anstey’s, the next obsession.   

Friday, 20 February 2015

Winter Opens 2014

Over the last two weekends the final two national competitions of the year were held. The first was the first round of the British Cup at Awesome Walls in Sheffield and the second was the December Open bouldering competition held at the Unit in Derby.

This was the first British Cup ever held because before they were just stand alone competitions so all of a sudden this competition meant a lot more to me, because winning the cup would be a great achievement. I’ve had many competitions at Awesome walls, so I don’t really need to describe it but something that was different this time was; the amount of training I had done prior to the competition. I’d been advised to take the remainder of the year off so I hadn’t done any hard work for a good month before. My first two qualifiers were surprisingly steady and I managed to top them both out. I was safely through to the final. The final was on the overhanging wall with a little roof at the bottom. While route-reading I thought I could do this as all the moves seemed very straight forward. Isolation I always find stressful and end up sitting quietly focussing on my performance. My heart beats faster when I get called out and suddenly you are in front of a large crowd being expected to climb as well as you can. However this is probably the part I enjoy most about competitions that nervous excitement. I pull on to the route, the holds are red and I enjoy it as the moves linked together really well. I turn the lip and have a really disgusting match but then I’m off again. I start to feel lactic acid build up in my arms as they start struggling to hold on in a relaxed position, however I’m almost at the top and I cross to a sloper and find I can’t even hold it! I tried getting a better grip but nothing came finally I just gave everything I had a slipped out of the hold.

I found out I was in first with only Jim about to climb. He climbed really well and managed to go again to the hold I fell going to. In the end I finished in 2nd place after Jim which I was really pleased with because it kept me in the running for the cup. Also I did well enough to get reselected for the GB team for 2015

The following weekend was the Boulder open in Derby. I’d visited this wall a couple of weeks ago for a quick look about so I knew it quite well. This competition we only had three tries on each problem which was really annoying because it meant it was less like a real European competition, also it put more pressure on each try. We are given 8 boulders to complete. We had 4 slabby ones and 4 powerful ones so it was a good range of technics required. Our time started and I got my confidence up by flashing the first one which was really easy. Next I tried a vertical one and I fell on the last move! This knocked me and I knew I had to keep my head in a good place if I was to have a chance of making final. Next I flashed two more and did the one I fell on which was a relief. Sometimes I get lucky with my height and find a short person problem which happened on the next one. I was able to get my feet really high therefore allowing me to get it on my third attempt. The next two problems where on the competition wall. The first was a massive roof which I flashed and it was the coolest problem with loads of squeezing with the limbs. Next was a wall with a stopper last move. This killed me and I knew if I could get this I’d have a good chance of finals, however the last hold was awful and I kept not quite holding it. This left the last slab, I knew I had to do this to make finals. For once I had to really pull it out of the bag. First and second go I fell. Left was my third I felt the pressure. I gave it absolutely everything I’d got but couldn’t quite get the push to reach the top. I fell and was gutted for the first time I hadn’t made a boulder final.

Once the results came out I found out I was in 10th position, I wasn’t happy with this and I really want to improve it. Sitting out of the finals I saw the problems and thought that the final would have suited me. Although I did really enjoy both competition and it has made me psyched for the up and coming competition season so let’s see how it goes!!

British Lead Climbing Championships 2014

This year the British Lead Championships were held at the new wall in Sheffield, Awesome Walls Sheffield, which is a new BMC performance centre so one of the best walls to compete on a european style stage. The junior competition was held on the Saturday and there was a big turn out with about 20 in my category. The setting was done by Jan Genoux and gave some great routes. I was quite nervous because this was my first national lead competition this year. Normally I made finals with comfort but I wasn’t so sure this time! The first route had a hard top section but I felt really good on this and topped out. I felt really relieved. Next was a long steep route up the lip of the massive roof and I fell on the last move of this because of a poor foot placement which was really annoying! Anyway, only Will and Jim topped out and I qualified in 3rd joint with Alex, no surprise there! I was more chilled now but I realised that this was the competition for British Champion, the big title, and the competitiveness kicked in. I came second last year. Could I do one better?

Our final route was through the centre of the roof with hard moves all the way through it. I climbed fast and it all went really well; I made no mistakes but fell on the top wall going for a small crimp that I just couldn’t grab! I came down, feeling like I had done my best, and was please to find I had the high point at the moment. Alex fell one move before me, although I thought he looked more solid than me. Jim then came out and destroyed the route with an incredible top out! Now Will had to match it, but do it faster. Will looked strong to the last move but then dropped with the finishing jug in his hands. So close! I finished in 3rd place which I was pleased with because I couldn’t have done much better, but it still wasn’t a win.

The next day was the seniors. It was a massive jump in depth of the field, almost everyone was capable of making finals and only 8 spaces were available. We had two qualifiers as normal but both were significantly harder than youth routes. Both our route were about 8a+ which was right on the edge of my ability. I thought I had the fitness to make finals but it was just a question of how hard the routes were. The first was up the steep wall but not through the roof. I felt really confident when I climbed and enjoyed the experience. I managed to get a rest right at the end which completely saved me because I could rest before the final sequence. I felt fresh unfortunately there was an enormous move and I fell. This was good because only two people topped and I was in joint third! The next route was disgusting, like, really vertical with no positive holds and big stretched out moves, hell for me. I tried really hard and got to the crux but my lack of technique on weird moves showed itself again and I couldn’t really manage to do anything so I fell off. It wasn’t the worst effort and left me in a middle emotion of wondering if I had done well enough. After a nervous wait for about two hours I saw the results and was over the moon to have made it. Only just though; Ellis needed one move to kick me out.

5 Youth A boys made the final out of 8, which shows how competitive my category is and I’m psyched to be able to climb against all of them. The other three were men who were super strong but weren’t specialised lead competition climbers. Our final route looked amazing, unsurprisingly it went through the roof on big fat pinches with a dyno in the middle to get the crowd going. I was up first because I qualified in last position and climbed really fast and efficiently to the rest before the roof. At this point I had to clip from a set position which was really far away. I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach and was considering just dropping off but after three attempts managed to get it in. I did a little crowd raiser to get psyched and unleashed for the dyno, stuck it, yes! Next I missed a crucial kneebar which was a mistake and then my heel popped on a crucial move and I came down disappointed with my performance. I wasn’t surprised when everyone else got significantly further than me but still you get routes that just don’t go your way.

I really enjoyed the added pressure of the aura around the championships and the respect you get from winning it, however I was pleased with how I did and won of my goals is to become British Champion so next year I might make it one of my priorities to do well in. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Looking back I can't quite believe how far I have come in 2014. I feel like I put in some seriously hard work and it all paid off which was one of the most rewarding outcomes of the year. I've loved my training all year and have regularly been down to the Quay doing laps on brilliant routes and at the Rock and Rapid Adventure Centre pulling down hard on their training board with good mates.

Fisherman's Tale my Anstey's Project
I'll start with my bouldering. It has been a year of highs and lows with the highest high being some of my outdoor ascents like Ben's Roof 7C+, Brad Pitt 7C, Corridors of Power 7C although these where all dwarfed by The End is Nigh 8A. In a competition front I haven't climb as well and found that I've really struggled to compete in the new category of youth A.

The End is Nigh
My lead outdoors I think has been the highlight of the year and I'll never forget when I climbed my first 8b+ Kale Borroka at Suirana. I think this is the best route I've ever climbed and the best I have ever climbed. It was just one of those moments where I was totally in the zone feeling immersed in the movement and executing it perfectly. These moments are rare and I regret now not taking an hour to just appreciate it. I climbed many more 8b's and 8b+'s that year and it all culminated in Slow Food which is the hardest route I've ever done, I think that was my physical peak of the year. The question of 8c was constantly on my mind. It was the next big grade and I feel like it is the step up into the big league. I tried Dure Limites once and found it suited me but it got wet so I hope to return this year to Ceuse to finish it. I had a goal to onsight 8a too which came to fruit when I succeeded on Font Picant and I'd never had to fight so much! When the wall was about to become less steep and more feature I just remember thinking, 'This is it, give it everything!'

Nothing beats the Archtempter!!

My competition lead was a hard year as I moved in Youth A and, at Imst, was shocked at how much harder it had all got! The main event was New Caledonia which was the most memorable trip of the year. I wasn't happy with my performance but then again I didn't have a nightmare and I finished in 19th place. One of the best moments was making the senior men's final at the BLCCs which has opened some doors for me.

Corridors of Power
I've also done a smattering of trad and have managed E4 on lead which was a terrifying experience and also I did the Archtempter E3 which was my first proper experience of choss climbing. I have also been lucky this year to be sponsored by Dewerstone clothing and I have enjoyed supporting a local Devon company!

Recently I have had some time off and have had a holiday to Nice over Christmas. This has been a really chilled out affair and I've had fun just climbing and discovering new places. This is something I've missed over the last couple years, I've been stuck in a performance tunnel, as Steve McClure puts it, but I still don't think that is a bad thing and I'm even more excited to through myself into it next year.

I end briefly with hopes for 2015; most importantly I want to remain injury free and keep enjoying my climbing. I'd like to do better in the competitions and also I might be able to go to a senior World Cup so the competition side is looking good! Outdoors I want to climb 8c that's basically it. I want to discover new places and generally follow my passion wherever it takes me, so lets hope 2015 is a good one!

Thanks to My sponsors
North Devon Sports Foundation

Flash Over 8b+