Monday, 10 November 2014

The Grading Game

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
A short time after I went to visit a new crag called Cademan Wood with Clint, Roshan, and Matt. We explored and tried a few easier problems dotted around the woods, then soon found ourselves standing under the big roof... After a while I managed to send Miss Direction 7B, you start up jugs get to the lip of the roof and do a big slap and an awkward mantle. Soon I found myself looking deeper into the roof, trying to find holds, imagine a sequence and not long after I discovered a line! After trying the moves I actually managed the climb second go, however I took a risky move and big swing, due to the risky nature of the line, being high up and with a more than sketchy landing I obviously had a spotter, who at that point tried to save me because I looked like I was screwed. So although in reality he didn't really assist me I felt wrong to claim the ascent, besides I still felt there was an easier way up. 
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 -

Necromancer 8A

Friday, 27 June 2014

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favour?

Two weeks ago was the European Youth Speed Climbing Championships in Ratho. So in preparation for the event I had an easy week with only one easy session at the wall. The day of qualification arrived and I started warming up, building the psych, adrenaline and excitement. Then disaster struck.

While practising some dynamic moves to get my body into the swing of all things speed I pulled my tricep. Panicing I tried to ignore it and did some sprinting hoping it would lay off... Still nothing, I got a massage and had it taped up which seemed to improve it ever so slightly. I tried to have my first practice run on the wall and realised I couldn't climb at all.

And that was it! The end of my last competition as a junior on the GB Team.

After a week of good physio and being very careful doing the best I could to help it recover I felt maybe I would actually be ready and fit to compete in the British Bouldering Championships. So the day came around that I looked forward to more than any other day of the year and I really believed I was fit!
After warming up I was ready to go out and climb, being ranked 6th at the start I was up to climb 3rd. So I had an early start!
Problem 1 - A techy slab involving a slightly balance orientated sequence that I just wasn't prepared for on the day. My head wasn't in gear I was afraid of pushing my shoulder and just wasn't ready to commit. So sadly no top for, me just a bonus.
Problem 2 - Thuggish climbing on volumes revolving catching small holds on the corners to try and progress higher up. Still afraid to really push I just couldn't get up it, I wasn't able to catch the holds and was basically just flailing around the wall...
Pressing out the first move of Problem 3
Photo - Phil Waterhouse
Problem 3 - Had a very powerful shouldery move to start which on my first go I managed to power through it! But fluffed the end by forgetting to use an obvious hold. Three attempts later I got past that dreaded first move and finally topped the climb.
Problem 4 - A straight forward power problem up volumes and a steep wall. Being unable to figure out the start for a few attempts I finally got past it and was up there ready to throw for the last hold and I just powered out... After that I got no further....
Problem 5 - A vertical wall involving a jump right to a volume then carefully balancing across to the bonus hold and a careful reach to the awful last hold. Luckily by this time I was in gear and ready for it. My style. After 3 attempts I finally held that last hold, dropping it the turn before!

Problem 1
Photo - Phil Waterhouse
I managed to scrape into the semi finals in joint 9th, a pleasant surprise as I really thought I hadn't made the cut.
The next day I woke up, feeling sore, weak and slowly dying from Hay Fever. But I couldn't focus on the factors that just held me back. I had to be ready, motivated and psyched to send!
Problem 1 - Another slab! With an awkward start, that luckily for me I figured out this time. But perhaps a few too many attempts...
Getting up there on Problem 1
Photo - Alex Messenger
Problem 2 - Flexible and powerful climbing around volumes that I just couldn't quite nack! I felt so close, but the answer to the end sequence just eluded me...
Problem 3 - Aggressive climbing up an overhang on poor volumes that honestly I think I was just too weak for.
Problem 4 - Well. This didn't go well. And I think it showed, I couldn't even pull off the floor and after what felt like a lifetime of embarrassing my self in front of everyone I couldn't take it any more and finished for thirty seconds still to go...

In the end I finished 14th place, not as good as my result last year but having had time to contemplate the event and my performance I'm still quite pleased. The odds where not in my favour all weekend and I tried my hardest to fight through them and didn't perform too bad.
And to top it off now I'm competing in the senior event I will always have the next year unlike competing in junior events where you will be moving age groups ever 2 years, a very unforgiving environment. I will not miss competing as a junior. I had a rough time going through it dealing with psychological set backs as well as physical in most events and then never having a second chance because I became too old for that age category.

It may take me five, ten, fifteen or even twenty years. But I am always going to be chasing my life goal of becoming the British Bouldering Champion.

Full report and results from the BMC here.

Replays of all rounds below.

A few days after the event I received the package I've been anxiously waiting for this year. The Evolv Nexxo. I've been a fan of Evolv since I first pulled on a pair of Shamans back in January 2012. I've gone through a few shoe brands since I started climbing such as Boreal and 5.10 and although at the time I felt their shoes suited me well none ever gave me the feeling I got when I first pulled on an Evolv shoe. I do not believe there is a "best" shoe in the world but for me nothing could top Evolv, I find I get a lot out of the rubber and the shape of the shoes suits my foot shape perfectly. I've always been able to pull on a brand new pair and they just feel right from day 1. Linked in with the Love Bump and Knuckle Box I feel Evolv has found the balance between very high performance climbing and comfort. And I believe they are key factors. Because you won't be pushing your hardest if you are in pain due to tight, agonising shoes.
I initial impressions of the Nexxo's are great and I feel Evolv has done it again creating a high performance shoe that doesn't lack comfort/ I'm looking forward to many sessions to come climbing in them.

Thanks Beyond Hope Climbing yet again for your fantastic support!

Friday, 6 June 2014

IFSC Boulder World Cup, Innsbruck

I've always said that in life if you aren't doing things that make you happy then quite frankly what is the point? No matter what I do in my life I will always follow the path that puts a smile on my face. These where two main factors in my decision to attend another World Cup this year. Practically I couldn't afford it and financially it wasn't a wise decision, but for all I know I could severely injure myself any moment and never climb again. Even with the unlikely event of that happening I wasn't prepared to take the risk, so why not live in the moment?

Next thing I know I'm at Heathrow Airport again, this time with Jon Partridge ready for my next world cup. Motivation was high, I'd been told many different things about Innsbruck but the one that stuck in my head was "It's one of the best events of the year." So I had built up an idea in my head of what was in store for me over the coming days. Mostly revolving around my childhood dream of a massive crowd in a beautiful city watching the best climbers in the world compete on the best quality problems in the world. But did it deliver?

In short, yes.

But a simple "yes" doesn't emphasise how phenomenal the whole experience really was. I have never experienced an atmosphere quite like it. Watching the finals in a square of about 4000 other people shouting and screaming was amazing, they had great music playing, lights, commentating, the whole sha-bang. It really was breathtaking.

But down to the climbing. Due to there being such a large crowd of 81 men we where split into two groups competing on comparable boulders. In my eyes this was the only downside to the event, because although they where comparable in style, they where not in difficulty... The bonus for me is I was lucky enough to be placed into the "easy" group.

Problem 1
Photo - Eddie Fowke
My first problem was a awkward traverse on a slightly overhanging wall off of volumes which made the wall seem more like a slab. My first attempt I got my feet into a bit of a tangle while stretching across the first volume. Once realising what I had done wrong I hopped back on and although reading the sequence slightly wrong and going a more powerful was around it I was suddenly matched on the last hold! A feeling I will never forget, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!

The second problem was completely different, a steep overhang on small holds and a crux move revolving around a sloper. I had one attempt and at that point knew I was no way near strong enough to do it, I fell off with a slightly stained back from the powerful moves, collected my thoughts and tried again. Dropping off yet again realisation set in that not only could I not do it, I was severely hurting myself. I stood up and realised I couldn't breath and moving was agony. I called it at that point and went back to isolation trying to decide if it was worth continuing with the competition.

Problem 2
Photo - Eddie Fowke
Problem 2
Photo - Eddie Fowke

After much debate I made the unwise decision to continue anyway and got onto the third boulder, a dyno to two slopey pinches, after fluffing the first go trying to avoid hurting myself further I realised I just needed to try harder and easilly sent it, catching the dyno, campusing to the next pinch and then pressing out to the final hold.

Problem four was again a dyno but from an awkward angle to a positive hold but again at an awkward angle. I had many goes and even now believe I could do it but sadly I was in too much pain to really commit to going all out on it...

Finally my last problem was a slab on tiny footholds and thumb catches. After dropping my first attempt due to not wanting to trust my feet on the small holds I hopped on again and made the awkward transition up off the little holds to a flat volume and then a big pull to the final hold, yet again finding myself at the top of another problem!

My overall score was 3 Tops in 6 and 3 Bonuses in 4. I'm ridiculously proud of this as it placed me into a respectable 45th place. Next time I'm hoping for more similar difficulty boulders for the groups as I do not believe this is an accurate representation of my ability on the World Stage.
Dave Barrans, John Ellison, James Kassay and Myself Supporting CAC!
Regardless of my thoughts they where indeed fantastic boulders and I again had the time of my life competing with the best yet again. I was lucky enough to be offered the help of the Austrian Team Physio with my back and after a short diagnostic he had worked out what I'd done. So moments later there was a "crack" and suddenly I could breath again and the pain subsided! A few short days later and I was fully recovered, I can't emphasise how much I appreciate his help.

The GB Team had good results all round with Shauna Coxsey winning her second consecutive gold, beating some very tough competition. Mina leslie-Wujastyk making semi finals and the men being in a very tough category, mostly coming down to attempts on whether or not people qualified!

GB Results

1st – Shauna Coxsey
16th – Mina Leslie-Wujastyk
37th  - Micheala Tracy
67th – Diane Merrick
41st – Dave Barrans
45th – Orrin Coley
65th – Jon Partridge

Final Results

1st – Shauna Coxsey and Killian Fischhuber
2nd  - Anna Stöhr and Adam Ondra
3rd  - Akiyo Noguchi and Rustam Gelmanov
4th  - Mélissa Le Nevé and Dmitrii Sharafutdinov
5th  - Marine Thévenet and GiGi Glarion-Mondet
6th  - Miho Nonaka and Michael Piccolruaz

Yet again it was an amazing experience to be up there, I don't see myself being able to attend anymore events this year. If the opportunity arises I will jump for it but sadly it is too expensive for me at the moment!

The Full results can be found here - IFSC Boulder World Cup Innsbruck Results

Also if you are feeling generous, why not go buy The Circuit World Cup and Performance Magazine? It funds Eddie who took these wonderful photos to travel and report on all the world cups.
And while you're at it, maybe go donate to Climbers Against Cancer!

Finally recently I have Reset the V7-V8+ boulder circuit at The Climbing Station and we did a short video to demonstrate a few! (Ignore the poor footwork, it was a long day...)

Stay Psyched!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

IFSC Boulder World Cup, Baku

So what can I say? Long story short my first experience competing in the Senior Boulder World Cup was amazing. But for very different reasons than I would have thought...

I expected to go out, compete on the best problems I'd ever had the pleasure of climbing, get burnt off by those problems, come in a pretty poor position, meet all the top climbers and suddenly become my awkward shy self and barely say a word. But none of that was the case.
If I'm brutally honest they weren't the best problems I've ever competed on, that's not just because I couldn't top anything or made little mistakes. They where just plain average as far as I was concerned. That doesn't mean I didn't have fun climbing them, I had a great time. They just didn't quite have that "wow" factor I've dreamed of since I was 11 years old.
Problem 1 - Fighting past the bonus
Photo - Eddie Fowke
As far as my climbing was concerned I don't believe I could have climbed much better, sure I made one or two mistakes but it is hard to be perfect all the time, if I was perfect all the time I imagine I'd have the potential to be up there in the finals. Sure it helps being ridiculously strong like those guys but a huge factor on their results is they can be perfect on that wall. And one day I hope to equal that perfection.

The first problem was an interesting climb up a slight overhang then onto a small slab revolving around pressing off an undercut crimp above your head and standing up on a poor volume. I managed to get the bonus 2nd go after being painfully close my first attempt, but unfortunately did not have the power in my fingers to pull off the undercut crimp, instead trying to use it as a poor slopey gaston.
Problem 2 - Almost looks like I held it!
Photo - Eddie Fowke

Problem two I was pretty awkward and I couldn't get the right body position to launch myself into the awkward dyno round a corner. So sadly I've not much else to say about this!
Problem 3 - Shouldering "try hard" face
Photo - Eddie Fowke

I had a lot of issues with problem 3, yet it was one I was probably most successful with! Mostly I struggled to step off the floor onto the awkward volume, but on the 2 or 3 times I got up I did fairly decent managing to push through the powerful shoulder moves up to the bonus but dropping off trying to press out to the finish.

Problem 4 - Going for the Dyno
Photo- Eddie Fowke
Problem 4 - Sticking the Dyno
Photo- Eddie Fowke

Problem 4, another dyno! This one was more straight forward, a big jump to a volume which you needed to guppie to control the swing. After a couple attempts I was consistently catching it but could progress no further off the poor volumes. A good fun problem, but two dynos out of 5 problems didn't seem like very imaginative setting.

Finally was problem 5. Which honestly I couldn't really figure out, I had a vague idea of where to go, but no clue how I could! I fought my way onto the start only to immediately get shut down trying to so much as move after a few attempts I found a way to progress further than the start holds, only to not be strong enough to move any further! It seemed an interesting problem, I'd have enjoyed more time to play around with it but alas this is a competition... And my time is up!
Problem 5 - Excitement at doing the first move!
Photo - Eddie Fowke

So all in all I wouldn't say I got burnt off by the problems, I honestly think given more time I could have gotten at least two tops. But in competition you are not blessed with the gift of time. You have your five minutes and if that's not enough, well tough. I finished with 3 Bonus points placing me into 22nd place! Which just goes to show how tough those problems where, if without a single top I can be so close to making semi finals. I achieved a far better result than I could have ever dreamed and that has given me the motivation I needed to progress further in my life as a climber.

One of the best parts of coming to this event was getting to meet so many different people from all around the world. I have made many new friends during this experience and that means so much more than placing a number on me and saying I'm this good. Getting to meet the likes of James Kassay and Jan Hojer, climbers I've looked up to for quite a long time and realising that although they are some of the best climbers in the world they are just people, living their life and exploring their passion like myself. I'm happy to say they and all the others I have met over this weekend where some of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and I couldn't be more grateful to them for making the experience that much more special for me.

As for the others representing Team GB we had Shauna Coxsey, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and Jennifer Wood. What an eventful World Cup it was for those girls! Jen Placing a very respectable 27th in her first event as well had to deal with a very bloody flapper during her 2nd boulder, hindering her for the rest! Props for battling it out Jen! Mina cutting it oh so fine making the Semi Finals in joint 19th then managing to pull it out of the bag coming an amazing 14th! And finally Shauna, what a traumatic event! Those who watched the live stream and have read all the other reports will know just how close she was to achieving her first ever Gold Medal. All it took was a mere dab of the mat by the very tip of her shoe to snatch it right out of her finger tips and place her into 3rd place. I have respected Shauna for a long time being such an outstanding competition climber but seeing how she dealt with the aftermath of losing out on Gold has made me realise why she is one of the greatest climbers in the world. As painful as it must have been she was able to hold herself together and manage to smile, do an interview and happily stand on the podium when we all know she deserved that Medal. (Apologies Shauna for going on about that, I found it very inspiring to witness!)

So a big well done to my Team Mates! And thanks Mina and Shauna for making it an event to always remember.

Finals Results
1 – Anna Stohr, Dmitrii Sharafutdinov
2 – Akiyo Noguchi, Jan Hojer
3 – Shauna Coxsey, Rustam Gelmanov
4 – Jule Wurm, Killian Fischhuber
5 – Mina Markovic, Jeremy Bonder
6 – Alex Puccio, Kokoro Fujii.

What an event! It got me psyched for the future. Perhaps too psyched if that is possible? Because it seems to be that I have been talked into attending another World Cup this year! In fact it is just over a week away. So next Thursday I will be leaving yet again to compete on the world stage and live my dream.

So if there is anything I have learnt from this experience it is this - You never know what can happen tomorrow. So live your life today.

Also if you are feeling generous, why not go buy The Circuit World Cup And Performance Magazine? It funds Eddie who took these wonderful photos to travel and report on all the world cups.
And while you're at it, maybe go donate to Climbers Against Cancer!

Thanks again to Beyond Hope for supporting me with amazing kit, just today I went out and sent a real cool problem called Squishy Squashy V10 at Forest Rock in some new stuff I had just got!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Preparing For Flight!

After having a pretty low week struggling to keep my motivation up for anything I had a small achievement on Monday managing my long term project on The Stations System Board.
This started to brighten up the week as I'd said to myself if I could send it before the coming World Cup this weekend I'd believe I was ready to compete. And sending it this day proved I was peaking in my training for the correct time.
I'm now sat at home packing my bags ready to go to Baku, Azerbaijan tomorrow morning for my first ever senior World Cup. I'll be entered into the bouldering event (Unfortunately not the Speed due to a muck up during registration) I have no expectations for the event other than to learn a bit about myself and to understand what the standard will be like.
It's easy to watch the best on the live stream and think how you'd climb the problems but to stand next to them competing will be a different matter... I'm hoping at the end of this I will have the knowledge on how I can improve myself so in future years I can enter a world cup with the aim of being one of the best.

Heres a short video of my Project on the Stations Board! Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Font Point Three

Since my first trip to Fontainebleau I've been hooked and a year since that fateful trip I was already on a voyage to my third trip there... Now I'd imagine I'm going to end up visiting the beautiful forest countless times in my life and climb numerous climbs, hard and easy. So quite frankly I think that would become boring to read about unless I do something pretty damn hard! Unfortunately I don't personally think I made an spectacular accents while there but there where a small few which I am very proud of...

On the second day of the trip I felt like I was on fire, We started out at Apremont where I flashed Centaure 7B which is a cool overhang and very indoor style boulder. I then went on to repeat Sitting bull 7C on my second attempt. Next it was over to Crazy Horse 7B which felt like a typical competition style boulder problem that I  flashed, I then went to try the 7B+ extension to it which I also flashed! Moving on from there went to Rocher Aux Sabots where I had unfinished business with Salle Gosse 7C which luckily I managed to do!

On the fifth day we got up at half five in the morning and risked the sub zero temperatures of Bas Cuvier. I had my mind set on La Berezina 7C which I'd had a good play on with Gaz Parry the day before. He was kind enough to share all the beta and thankfully on that cold morning I managed to send!

So in my mind those are the moments from that trip that I count as big achievements. During my time there I had some good attempts at Dual 8a, Salle Gosse assis 8a and La Berizina Carnage Combo assis 8a. I feel very confident given good weather and plenty of time those will get sent at the next opportunity...

Thanks a lot to everyone who made it a good trip and to Beyond Hope who kindly supported me with a brilliant new Metolius Boss Hogg pad, some funky prAna T-shirts, Mojo Shorts and a fantastic pair of Stretch Zion Pants. Hands down the best trousers I've ever had the pleasure of climbing in.

Myself and Tom Bonnert (Blog here) made a short ten minute video of our trip which I hope gives a better representation of what it was we got up to!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Stepping It Up

So on the 23rd of February I attended the GB Bouldering Team world cup selection event at The Castle in London. It was a pretty intense event and our results would be a huge factor of whether or not we would be selected to go to any world cups. My run up to the event had been very similar to how I would prepare for any other competition, I trained hard and like any comp I do I'm in it to win it. The only difference with this was I had to accept the reality that I couldn't win it. Having recently gotten onto the Senior Bouldering Team I've learnt a lot about my own ability and how far behind I am from the rest of the Team. So my main goal was to give it everything I possibly had, keep a cool head about it all and to have fun!

The format of the day was we had 2 rounds consisting of 4 boulders each in which we had five minutes on, five minutes off. I had been quite nervous about this as climbing at my maximal ability for such a long period of time had always trashed me very quickly in the past. Even though I had specifically been focusing on improving this aspect of my climbing I was still worried it wouldn't be enough. As it turns out during the whole day I can't think of a time I fell off because I got pumped, I fell off because the climbs where freaking hard!

We had no viewing time for the problems, you just ran out, had a good look then threw yourself at it with everything you had. While sat in isolation the first few climbers all returned quite fast so I knew the first problem was do-able. Once it was my turn I ran out and looked it over. Basically it was a dyno from two volumes to a big undercut with one hand and the other cupping over the top of a volume, then a deadpoint to the finishing jug. I pulled on pretty quickly, confident that I could do it and flashed it with relative ease!

The day went on like that until we had climbed (Or attempted to) everything. I had no such success as I did with the very first boulder other than scoring a few more bonus points. Overall I was very pleased with how I climbed, potentially I could have done better but that's the thing with climbing. There are a lot of "What if's" and I have learnt that you can't put yourself down for not topping everything or for having a little slip and coming off a climb, because these things happen. Sometimes they could have been avoided, but if you can walk away knowing exactly what it is that you did wrong then there's nothing to be upset about! You can focus to improve that and next time, if you put in enough effort it won't happen again. Similarly if you put in everything you possibly could yet still fell then there's no point getting yourself down. You just know you need to get better. I've been climbing for 12 years now and have been competing for 7 of those years and it's only been recently that I've really learnt to understand that...

Along with the World Cup Selection event I've taken part in many other competitions and have been learning a lot throughout them all. First of all for the first time I have taken part in the Blokfest series. Honestly, this was one of the best bouldering series I've ever done. The problems are all so well set and the atmosphere for the finals (which I made once, finishing 3rd) was phenomenal. Overall I finished in 6th place in the senior category. Which I'm pretty pleased with as it was a very strong group of guys!
I have also taken part in the pretty chilled out Climbing Station winter bouldering league where after doing all rounds I finished in a comfortable 1st place, over a hundred points ahead of 2nd! This event was a good opportunity for me to get practice flashing some pretty spicy blocs, anyone who has entered one of The Stations winter leagues will know Tom Randall loves setting some confusing problems!
Finally and most recently was The CWIF. Wow was that an awesome comp! Some of the best problems I've had the pleasure of climbing on in the Qualification. Nothing necessarily brick hard but you really had to think about what it was you where doing. I finished with a decent score of 254 points, placing me in 29th place in a very strong crowd of the top British climbers and some top of the top climbers in the World too! Unfortunately that wasn't enough to make Semi Finals but I had made 2 slip ups which should have been avoided ultimately cost me a place.
On the Sunday after I decided it was a perfect time to return back to my project... Keen Roof 8B at Raven Tor. I'd spent some time away from it considering whether it was better to continually throw myself at it or just become stronger until I know it will be finished. Unfortunately after some time away I hadn't kept it fresh enough in my head and looking back I made it very hard for myself using some dodgy sequence... But even so I could feel it on the tip of my fingers, I strongly believe still that I will do it. It's just a matter of when?

During the week after The CWIF I had the opportunity, being part of the Senior Bouldering Team to have a couple training sessions with some of the other International Teams who had came to the UK to compete in CWIF! This was pretty intense and quite an exiting prospect for me, getting to climb with people who I have been watching crush on the World Cup scene for some time. The Works had their competition wall set with around 30 World Cup standard boulders for us to climb, including the CWIF finals problems (Some of which I topped!) This was a fantastic experience and I feel like I've learnt a lot getting to climb with some of the best climbers in the World.
I'm now more psyched than ever to keep on improving and one day be standing shoulder to shoulder with these people. (Which might not be long as I'm planning on entering a World Cup in May!)