Saturday, 20 August 2016

GB Team Training in Arco

As I sit here on my laptop, staring out of my window onto a grey, raining gloom-August in England-I can't help but think of the sunny skies of Arco, Italy, where I spent my last week on a GB Team training trip. The trip was a perfect combination of activities in a perfect location-we spent our time eating ice cream. swimming in Lake Garda, playing 'Manhunt' in the warm evenings and of course climbing, both at the incredible Rock Master Wall and outdoors at a variety of crags.
Having not done much outdoor sport climbing before, I was quite nervous at the start of the trip, expecting to be completely out-climbed and terrified of the whole experience. To my surprise, my fears soon subsided and as we visited more crags, my confidence grew and by the end of the trip I had flashed 7b and redpointed my first 8a outdoors. Topping out on 'La Cucina dell'Inferno' (8a) was definitely the highlight of my trip but I also really enjoyed trying the competition style routes set at the wall which proved to be very difficult but perfect practice for the European Championships coming up in a couple of weeks!
Overall the trip was great fun and I really enjoyed getting to know some of the team better. Thanks to everyone (especially the coaches) for making the trip such a success-I hope to be back next year to climb 8a+ or harder!
Keep climbing!
The team at the wall
Sending 'La Cucina dell'Inferno' (8a)

The Rock Master Wall

Sun's out guns out! (with Emily Phillips)

Monday, 11 July 2016

Senior British Bouldering Championships

Despite initially not being particularly bothered about attending this event (as it was a senior comp so would be very difficult and was not in my favoured discipline), I ended up finding the Senior British Bouldering Championships one of the most exciting events I have ever been to.
Located in a tent outdoors on Devonshire Green, Sheffield, the BBCs was part of the annual Cliffhanger festival, a festival showcasing outdoor sports with food stalls and live music to add to the atmosphere. However, upon arrival in the heavy rain, my initial feelings were not entirely positive and I began to wonder whether it had been worth turning up at all. The qualification format was one with which I am not entirely familiar-5 mins on 5 off for 5 problems (so no extra time to read the problems and no chance to grab some other beta)-and I found it stressful to figure out my own beta and get each problem done in the time. After almost flashing the 1st block but slipping off the last hold and then being unable to repeat the start, I did not feel positive at first. However, a flash of the 2nd gave me a confidence boost. Unfortunately, this was to be my only top, but it was enough to sneak into semis at 18th place (with 20 in semis).
After a good rest I awoke early on Sunday to get back to the wall before isolation closed at 11.30. I felt more comfortable with the time format and knew that even if I screwed up, I could only move down 2 places and, being one of the first out, the problems would not be too greasy. With only 4 blocks to climb, the semis was less tiring and went quickly-I soon found myself sat on the mat at the end smiling, for I had managed 2 flashes and 3 bonuses, a result good enough to at least retain my 18th place. However, to my surprise, I found myself sitting at the top of the score board for a while. Waiting anxiously by the barrier to watch the others, I counted down as people scored below me...a top ten finish was within site.
When it came to the last 4 or so climbers and I was still sat comfortably in the top 3, Watching the last climber-Shauna Coxsey, overall Boulder World Cup Winner of 2016-fall of the last problem (one which I had got first attempt) was something I did not expect! The final results were announced and I had somehow qualified for the final of the Senior British Bouldering Championships in 4th place (with 6 in the final) along with seasoned comp climbers (and world ranked athletes) Shauna Coxsey, Tara Hayes, Michaela Tracy, Leah Crane and Gracie Martin. As the youngest (by 3 years) and least experienced of the men and women in the final I was the clear underdog-the Wales of the European Football Championships.
The finals was incredible. With people from all over the world watching on the live stream as well as the live crowd, I felt anxious but excited and gave it my all. Being one of three to top the 1st problem and narrowly missing out topping the 2nd, I was pleased with my climbing despite finishing in 6th. Well done to everyone who competed and thanks for all the support from the viewers!
Keep climbing!
Head shots of the finalists

Monday, 20 June 2016

Weekend in Wales

Eyy! Exams are over!
To celebrate the start of my long 'summer' holidays (though it doesn't look much like summer to me) I travelled up to Snowdonia for the weekend to get some indoor and outdoor climbing done. Because I will be having a GB team training event next weekend to select for the European and World Championships, I decided to spend a day at the Beacon Climbing Centre where the selection event will be held to get some practice on the different walls.
I like the walls at the Beacon as, despite not being very steep like most other walls, they are very tall and often have consistent, non-cruxy routes which require stamina and solid vert technique-the kind of routes which suit me best. I enjoyed getting on some of the harder routes to onsight but discovered a couple of routes set with wooden holds-holds I had only experienced on circuit boards and did not like on routes. These were slippy and unpredictable but I gave them a go anyway. My favourite route of the day was an 8a up the main wall which had a dynamic beginning but very technical end. Unfortunately I fell off a bit over halfway up but I managed to get all the moves in sections.
On Saturday evening, after visiting the Beacon, I had just enough time to spend a couple of hours at the Cromlech Boulders in Llanberis Pass. I hadn't expected to do any outdoor bouldering but had brought a mat just in case-and it was a good thing I did because the problems were brilliant and by the time I had to go back to the house I had already ticked a crimpy 7a/v6 called The Edge Problem and given a good go at the famous Jerry's Roof (7c/v9).
The following morning I got up early as I knew it was due to rain at midday and I had to get back to London that evening. After a drive through not-so-promising mist and light showers, we arrived in the valley where the Cromlech Boulders are and got out the pad. I though our session would be short lived and was beginning to regret coming outside again after feeling the slippery, slanted footholds. Nevertheless, I pressed on and the weather began to get better. I soon found myself topping out on Roadside ArĂȘte, a nice 6c/v5 I had looked at the previous day, and proceeded to work the pumpy, sloper traverse into it, which formed Cave Route (7a/v6). The traverse was of course concealed in the local sheep toilet, which was less than pleasant, but I figured out the moves fairly quickly and managed to get the link.
Having battled hard keeping the sheep poo off my climbing shoes and bearing the pain of my quickly disappearing skin, I though it would be a good idea to try the next link-Roadside Basic (7a+/v7) and surprised myself sending it on my second attempt of the full link. Alas, the weather starting really packing in and I ran to seek refuge in the car-it was time to go anyway. I hope to return soon to claim the other links-Rampless (7b/+/v8) and Full Roadside (7c/v9)-and get back on the classic Jerry's Roof.
Keep climbing!
A cool problem I found-don't know the name

The Edge Problem (7a/v6)
Coming out of the traverse on Roadside Basic (7a+/v7)
Next move on Roadside Basic...

The sequence continues...

Friday, 3 June 2016

Imst EYC

Last weekend I entered my first ever international competition-the European Youth Cup held at Imst Kletterzentrum. Due to having an exam the day before the comp, I was unfortunately unable to travel with the GB Team, so arrived late on Friday.
The demos were scheduled for 8.30am on Saturday, so it was an early start for the whole team and we all got down to the wall in time to have a look around and get warmed up before the climbing began. The wall ( or I should say walls) was amazing,but what struck me in particular was the indoor wall (we were competing outside) which had an amazing range of angles, all crammed into a space smaller than most centres in the UK and yet far more impressive. My first qualifier was soon revealed to be a very technical vertical route up the middle. This should have suited me. However, extreme nerves overtook me and I found myself greasing of a pair of chalky crimps halfway up the route, with lots of energy still to spare. To my annoyance, the route was brushed straight after I climbed, but to my relief, I still managed to come 22nd out of 37, which, although not an amazing result, was reasonable for my first ever international route. I enjoyed the route nevertheless and would have liked to have given it another try.
I soon found out that I would be climbing last on my second qualifier, giving me a 6 hour wait in the heat and blazing sun. After watching a few of my team mates compete, I headed back to the hotel, with the intention of returning an hour and a half before my climb, enabling me to warm up and grab beta of some of my teammates (I would be missing the second demo).
Back at the wall, I began to feel nervous again and even started reading the wrong qualifier route (luckily my teammate Rebecca pointed this out to me!). When it was finally time for me to climb I had overheated in the sun and I found the first part of the route sketchy, as my sweaty hands struggled to grip the chalky slopers. This wasted energy and unfortunately I came off lower than I should have due to misreading the route and clipping from the wrong places. This placed me in 25th overall, which I was a little disappointed with. However, I feel that I learnt a lot from the experience and know that I can improve a lot as I will hopefully be less nervous at my next international.
The following day I enjoyed watching the finals with the rest of the team (big up to Hamish, Emily, Will and Molly who all made finals!) and was inspired by some of the incredible talent on show. I can't wait to return to the wall for another competition!
Keep climbing!
Squeezing the life out of the chalky crimps on my first route

Font in the rain... of the best bouldering venues in the world and a place I have wanted to visit for so long. In March I finally did get the chance to go and what better an opportunity for the weather to pack in and rain almost constantly. Much time was spent fondling wet rock optimistically and it was frustrating to watch the days of our short trip go by from behind a window.
Nevertheless, the area is undeniably the best place I have visited for any outdoor climbing, with boulders littering the forests in well established areas such as Bas Cuvier,and hidden gems awaiting in the depths of the forest at Apremont Bizons and other more obscure areas. Despite not being able to climb as much as I wanted, I managed to tick my first font 7a, which, considering the conditions and lack of time on the boulders, I was pretty pleased with. I discovered lots of potential future projects and am excited to go back soon (hopefully when it isn't raining!).
Keep climbing!
Sending Magifix (assis) at Rocher Canon

Karma Climbing

In March I visited to new boulder centre in Tunbridge Wells-Karma Climbing. The centre was spacious and all though not very big, it had a really good vibe and the staff were helpful and friendly. The setting was great and I had fun trying some of their comp set which ranged from gutsy dynos to weird balance acts. I also made full use of their training facilities-a small gym, campus and peg boards, rings and two circuit boards.I would really recommend the centre to anyone living nearby or passing through kent-it's definitely worth a visit.
Keep climbing!

Catch up-Hackney Youth Sports Fund

I haven't written in a while due to exam/training stress, but I've finally had time to catch up! During March I received a youth sports grant from the Hackney Council awarding me £350 to help pay for some of this year's competition costs as well as a year's free membership at my local leisure centre. A few weeks later I discovered myself on page 7 in the local paper! Thanks to Hackney for all the support they've given me-
Keep climbing!