Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wales and Ireland

I’ve competed at, as far as I know, every Welsh Championships there has been, and this year was no exception! Despite the fact that it was in North Wales, a 7 hour journey (further than Sheffield!) away, I was psyched for the comp! We travelled up late on the Friday, slept in the van in the car park and were up early for the comp the next day.

The format for the Welsh is different to most comps, in that you do a whole 5 routes in a day, from the morning’s 3 qualifying climbs to the semis and finals in the afternoon. This format is good in terms of getting as much climbing as possible into a comp, and its great training having to climb that many routes in the day, though it does take some getting used to.

I flashed the 3 qualifiers and the semis pretty easily, but knew the final looked much harder, and would be difficult to top. I qualifier into the final in 1st, so came out last. I could see the draws swinging from the previous climber, so knew where I had to get to win. It was a goal, a point where I knew if I reached I would win. I set off, and passed the high point. I powered through the 10 or so moves, knowing I had won, but the psyche I felt was different. I was not climbing for a win, I was climbing for pride. This was not the psyche I was ready for, fired up for a competition final, and my mindset changed. I tried hard, and pushed through some very powerful moves, but my foot slipped around half height and I was off.

When I got down it was confirmed, I had won! I chilled out, watched the rest of the
finals and had a quick play on the 8a+ senior final, falling on the last move!

The next day we headed out bouldering in the Ogwen Pass, where despite the cold conditions I came away with a V8 flash and a V9! It was just my style with little crimps on gently overhanging rock; I just wish there had been more of it!

 This weekend it was the turn of the Irish to host their national championships. This year the senior and junior events had been split up, so I could only make it to one of them, and decided to go for the senior title once again. I knew competition would be tough, and when the whole of the Irish junior team and last years second place were on the entry list, that was made certain!

The first route of the day, starting on jugs and finishing with a spicy section on slopers, and I was 4th up. I like climbing early on my first route, it gives me a time to target my warm-up at, and this time was no exception. Bar a couple of big moves at the top, the route was no problem and I topped along with a good few of the senior males.
The next route was an entirely different prospect, with a big dyno around the 4th clip and an incredibly balancey and technical final few moves across a volume. I was relatively pumped when I reached those moves, so a sit down rest on a volume was well received when setting up for the final moves. It was such a nice final sequence, I squtted down on the volume, keeping my centre of mass low and rocked over onto my foot. I reached the little intermediate and bumped again to the finishing jug, topping the second qualifier. Dom Burns, the current European bouldering champion, was the only other climber to top the route, putting us in joint 1st
 going in to the final.

Next up was the final! I didn’t have a clue how far people had got when I came out. Normally you can tell from the crowd how people are doing, but this time we were too far away to tell. All I could do was top, or at least make a damn good effort at it!

I came out and looked up. The route was very powerful and burly in the lower section, but I managed to avoid most of the pulling with some high feet and a good few heel hooks! From there it was just my style. Little crimps and heel hooks, Ideal! I rested as much as I could, but knew that the final decider would be time in the case of a tie between me and Dom, so I couldn’t hang around. I reached across to an extremely tenuous side pull, bumped my hand in and reached up to the bottom of the volume. I slapped onto the volume and rocked over, squeezing myself against the volume to gain a basically no hands rest. I could have stayed here for another 5 minutes, recovered completely and gone for the move, but I knew time would be the decider if Dom reached the same point. I pushed up on the volume, eyed up the hold, and threw! I was close, but just at the deadpoint of the swing my grip failed and I was off into space. Just another centimetre would have been enough, but not this time.

The final route! Credit: John Banyard

Go big or go home! Credit: John Banyard

It was all down to Dom now. He set off and looked pumped from half way, but fought his way to the volume and rested his forearms. He was trying to press up with his feet and use the arête, but kept coming back to the volume to rest. After another attempt at pressing up, he went for the jump, getting 2 fingers on the hold but, like me, not sticking it.

It was down to time! A nervous wait followed, and after the judges checked multiple times it was decided; I was Irish champion again! I was so psyched to win this competition for a second year, the first title I have ever defended and my first senior title of the year! Bring on 2014!

On the podium Credit: John Banyard

My next competition in the lead and bouldering youth opens in Sheffield in December, where I hope to be reselected onto both the lead and boulder teams.

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