So in terms of competing I've actually done quite a lot recently, but I've felt none of it was worth writing about... So here is a quick run down of my competitions since September!
- 5th place, The Big Flash, Highball Norwich - Gave me motivation back for competing.
- 3rd place, Junior BLCC, Awesome Walls Sheffield - First ever podium in the BLCC's in my final event as a junior.
- 1st place, Senior BSCC, Awesome Walls Sheffield - 3rd year in a row as British Speed Champion.
- 7th place, Battle of Britain, The Depot Leeds - Best result in this event to date.
Now for the good bits!
Since the BBC's I've been trying to do a lot more outdoors, pushing my limits on real rock and exploring new places and it's been great fun! I've delved more into the world of projecting, first ascents, and jumping over barbed wire fences.
So first I went to Forest Rock with some strong locals Clint and Ollie. They showed me a line I hadn't tried before called Antihero 7B+/7C and after sharing the beta I managed it second go, I was stoked. After talking a lot about a potential extension to it where you do the first move of Own Narrative 7B+/7C then traverse into Antihero I set to work trying to link moves together. It was all going well until I burnt out, I had got so close to linking it all but decided to call it a day and return the next morning.
I arrived at the crag, warmed up on some easier stuff then tried to link it, to my amazement I did it first go! But I dabbed the pad... A couple attempts after and I finally had my own first ascent! Sure it was only a link up but I was proud. The line soon became Witchcraft 7C+.
Next I had a couple sessions in the cave again working a different line known as Black Art 7C+, originally put up by Clint. It goes straight through the roof of a painful knee bar and guppies for your hands. It's a weird line, not a typical roof climb. Since repeating it a few times I'm now unsure on how hard it really is, when I first managed it, it felt hard, really hard. But now I know the easiest beta is it really 7C+? Does the fact that it's so morpho make the grade valid?
Once more I returned to Forest Rock, after doing Black Art I had a few goals in my head. Nagging. Slowly eating away at the back of my head. I knew Clint had done an extension to Black Art, where you started up Antihero and then finished up Black Art. He called it Apartheid 8A and as far as I was aware no one had repeated it since. So I arrived at the Crag with Ollie and we set to work on our projects, he soon put down Witchcraft claiming the third ascent . I then managed to fight my way up Apartheid which felt amazing to finally manage my second 8A almost exactly a year since I climbed my first. Not too long after that I climbed Enchantress 7C+ which was awesome! It had eluded me for so long and is probably one of the most repeated climbs in the cave.
Once again I found myself questioning the grades, after repeating Enchantress several times I think it could be easier, but the climbing again is kinda morpho, all the holds are big undercuts. You really give your biceps a good workout but with the knee bars you could almost recover from every move...
And with Apartheid I began comparing it to Ben's Roof Ext 8A, it's a completely different style climb but after 10 months since the first ascent only I have repeated it. Has it repelled that many attempts?
I chose to have some time away from the cave since every time I went I got shut down on my new project there, it started to take a mental toll on me. I started to believe it was too much for me, that I couldn't do it...
I tried a new problem, something I've heard a lot about - "It's the hardest climb in Leicestershire" "It will suit you" "Steep, it's like climbing on a system board"
It's called Shades Of Grey 8A+/B but unfortunately it's in a small little crag where access is questionable. I'd been once before at night time trying to find the climb at a time I knew I wouldn't get caught, but it was too dark and even with my head torch it was difficult to find the rock. I parked my car, jumped over the barbed wire fences and searched the woods for the hidden crag. Soon I found myself under the steep wall, I warmed up and made a quick flash of Rainstorm 7A+ then set to work on the line. Honestly it's a poor line, drilled pockets up a perfect 45 degree overhang. But I was after something hard, quality didn't matter today. I felt close but being a lot shorter than the first ascentionist I had to make some very hard moves to get up where as originally the moves where just reached. I'll be returning for this one, it will go.
I took a holiday to relax, clear my head and enjoy myself. It was great, a real pick me up that was really needed. The day after getting home I took a trip up to Stanage Plantation with Billy where I finally managed to send Deliverance 7B+, this monster of a climb as many know repels a lot of ascents with the "Levitation" move at the end. Billy also sent Brass Monkey 7C which I also repeated.
|Climbing at Cademan Wood|
Not long after I found better beta and soon found myself standing on top of what is now known as Sacrificial Offering 7B+, my second first ascent! But again I was pondering grades... It definitely felt hard, but I almost feel I gave the plus grade for the sheer fear aspect, was that wrong of me?...
Once again I found myself deep in the cave at Forest Rock, staring up at my project, intimidated, scared, excited and ready... This time I took Amber, we warmed up and had a play on some of the classic climbs at the front of the cave. Amber has never been outdoor climbing much, so although she could confidently climb hard stuff inside it was a big jump getting on real rock. After a while she fought her way up Sorcerer 5+ and soon set to work on Saucy 6A after getting so close she called it a day and we set to work on my project.
As soon as I climbed Witchcraft 4 months ago I knew it would be possible to link it into Black Art, creating a power endurance line linking steep aggressive climbing into a morpho roof. I'd been visiting the cave every so often trying to link it, but I'd never got anywhere. This time was different, I'd been visiting more frequently and I had the muscle memory for the moves, everything felt easier and after a while I found myself making big links, getting so close to the send. One go I even stuck the crux throw of Black Art but just didn't get my hands on enough to make the next moves. I tried once more then called it a day, determined to return the next morning.
We arrived the next day, Amber quickly put down Sorcerer again then she set to work on Saucy. With the confidence of the previous day and now she knew the line better it all started to come together. And a short time later she had latched the last hold!
Next we moved into the cave, put the pads under my project and I set to work. I fought my way through multiple attempts and always dropped the crux throw of Black Art. I took a long rest, had a walk and soon was sat in the cave, putting my boots on, strapping the knee pad on and chalking up... Next thing I knew I was matched on the last hold, dropped to the floor and unsure of what I'd just done. I don't think I could have done it without Amber supporting me for hours on end, filming my attempts and cheering me up when I sat there thinking it was impossible. Thanks Amb!
But once again I was sat thinking about grades. How hard was this? Honestly all along I thought it was 8A+. But once I climbed it I didn't believe I could climb something that hard. I found myself asking lots of people for advice on the matter, does linking two 7C+'s make a 8A+? Most people (who have tried the two climbs) seemed to think it could... I started to compare it to other 8A's I'd done Ben's Roof Ext felt hard, but mostly it was just a basic endurance test piece, yet apparently that's soft for the grade? Then I found myself thinking about Apartheid, is that even 8A? I'd no clue...
So eventually I made a decision. I don't want to be that guy who over grades things. I don't know what an 8A+ is. Yet. At some point I might, but for now I'm proud to have made the first ascent of the hardest climb I've ever done -