Thursday, 13 June 2013

A lot of catching up to do

It’s been a great few months for me and my climbing, with new personal bests and excellent competition results. Just recently, around 2 weeks ago, we had a GB team training day at Westway in London. The day took the form of 3 routes, interlinked at half height, meaning we had 9 routes to attempt and get pumped on! The day was similar to the Northern training day at Kendal, but the routes harder and pumpier on the steep Westway competition wall. Compared to my clean sheet of tops at Kendal, Westway proved hard for me, and a combination of onsight mistakes, foot slips and pump kept my total as low as 6/9, not the best result but great training for the Ratho EYC the following week.

Last week, I competed in the first EYC of the year in Edinburgh. No matter how often I go there the venue looks incredible, but the weather is normally drab at best! This year was different, and the sun meant a new first for Ratho; no down jacket all weekend!

Competition wise, I’m disappointed with the result! I didn’t climb badly on either route, but then I had no performance I was happy with either. The first climb tackled the most technical section of the wall, a slightly overhanging flat panel on the old comp wall, just my style, but everything just felt hard! The holds were smaller than I thought, the moves much bigger and I ended up the most pumped I’ve ever been on that angle, perhaps ever. When I went to shake out on a jug after the climb, my left hand literally couldn’t grip, and all I could do was stroke the hold in hope of grip returning for my next climb.

The first route
Pictures by Sandy Carr :)

It didn’t. The route was up the centre of the main wall, and was a long easy section of about 20 moves to a “rest” (rests in EYCs consist of a greasy sloper caked in chalk), before a hard section over a bulge to long moves on good holds in the roof. I felt fine through the easy section, milked the rest and went for it through the bulge. I felt strong, the moves felt fine, but suddenly, on an undercut and a crimp, pump returned instantly and viciously. My grip was gone; I couldn’t even make the plus point.

I ended up 21st. This equals my worst result ever, and without making any major mistakes. It was my first competition in a new category, with harder routes and better climbers, and it’s clear to me after the weekend that I need to be doing more. I need to do that extra circuit, take risks and suffer a bit if I’m to get to where I want to be. It’s going to be painful, but the rewards will be worth it. Hell, I may even enjoy it!!

I’ve also spent a fair bit of time out on the rock recently, taking momentum from my spring trips and making use of the drier weather. In bouldering, I have been continuing work on my project, Jungle VIP (font 8A). This incredible granite roof line, put up by my coach Mikey Cleverdon, is just 10 minutes from my house, making it the perfect project. I made a breakthrough recently, doing the move and the problem, but a small dab on the pad as I swung made, for me, the ascent invalid and I didn’t take the tick. I know the dab did not make a difference to my holding the move, but to spend this long on a project it would be frustrating for me to not be entirely happy with the final ascent. It also gives me an excuse to carry on climbing on this perfect move, so I can’t complain too much!

So Close! 

In sport, I have also made significant leaps; my project at Anstey’s Cove, the classic Tuppence, recently succumbed to my continued attempts! The powerful and short 8b on Ferocity wall, which I have been working for a few months now, should be my antistyle, but the draw of the steep limestone within relatively easy reach was too much! The climb is amazing, straight up the centre of the wall, every move hard. I fell off every move while working it, and most quite a lot more than that. After getting close a few days earlier, only being thwarted by a foot slip, I was ready to do the climb. A couple of false starts later, coming off at the 3rd move, I was up and past the crux, and setting up for the final hard moves. They are all powerful and dynamic, and after the bendy, crimpy, madness of the crux it is all so easy to come off. The last move is a killer, but I just caught it, throwing a thumb on to keep- me on the wall. I’d done it! My first UK 8b, and my first one solid at the grade.

I’ve had a couple of other competitions since my last post. I managed to win the Leading Ladder final in Kendal, where I was the only one to top the 8a+ final route. I have also had the second round of the Junior British Bouldering Championship in Glasgow, where after jumping off before the top of an easy problem in qualification, I got through to the final in second place. The finals were hard, and I was suffering from flash pump on the first 2 climbs, topping neither. Fortunately the final problem was a slab, and I topped out, bringing me to second behind an extremely strong Dom Burns, European bouldering champion and monster. I am now in second in the ranking overall, with the result between me and Dom most likely deciding the winner!

SYBCs, the last qualification problem

Finally, some really great news! After much discussion, I would like to announce my first real sponsor, Paul Allen Wealth Management, a tremendously successful local business dealing in the financial industry, specialising in the areas of Investment, Retirement provision and Inheritance Tax Planning. This is a big step in my climbing, and has been one of my goals for a while now, so to achieve this and with such a great firm is fantastic. I look forward to working with them!

Only two weeks to go now until exams are over, and the Europe road trip begins! Tres Pons, Terradettes, Oliana, Rodellar, Tarn, Ceuse, Loup, Grenoble, Innsbruck, Imst and Font all on the ticklist……. Its gunna be a good one! 

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