Saturday, 18 August 2012

Three more Yorkshire 8s and first 8a flash

After Imst (see below) I had one rest day where I went to watch some of the Olympics in the stadium. It was really cool to see people do other sports for once.

I then headed up to Kilnsey with Tom Bonnert. We got there with a little time to climb before it got dark, and within an hour of arriving at the crag I had finished off The Bulge (8a) and had a play on some harder things, I was psyched!

Day two, and a go on Bat Route (8c). I did the majority of the moves that were dry that day. I really understand now that to attempt this grade in Britain you need the beta and I didn’t have any. I can also see why Adam Ondra onsighting it was just so cool. But it was very hot and wet so we went back to Kilnsey.

I got on Grooved ArĂȘte, a 15-metre 8a+ (some say 8b) on the right hand side of the crag. It is said to be a harder version of Raindogs, being mostly power endurance. It sounded good! After working the moves I had a few redpoints that night but was tired from working Bat Route. The next day I got frustratingly close but decided to leave it. Tried the following day but it was my fourth day on and I could feel it.

Tom had to go home but I met Ian Dunn and after a rest day (watching climbing at the crag) I was back and did the route first redpoint of the day; easy after a rest day ;-).

Dead Calm is a newish 8a at Kilnsey on the right of North Buttress. A lot of people were trying this so I tried to get as much beta as possible over three days of watching people on it and try for my first 8a flash. After climbing the lower section (WYSIWYG 7b) I shook out at the good rest then got to the second last clip, clipped it and composed myself for the top crux. It was weird to be up here and looking at the holds after three days of getting beta - I knew exactly what to do and then I was at the top, my first 8a flash!  Thanks for all the beta from everyone on the route and to Ian and Tom who made it a good trip!

Video (should have been wearing brighter colours!) of Grooved ArĂȘte

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Psyched now for the Worlds after Top 20 at Imst

After Ratho I managed to fit in one session at Westway before the next European round at Imst. It felt good to be back at Westway after so long away and I was psyched to do a Liam 8a+ there.

Early flight next day, a long wait at Munich for the rest of the team and crazy storms on the drive through the amazing Tirol to Imst. Next day after that, the rest day, was spent on the Alpine Coaster, a 3,500m long roller coaster on which you control the speed. I learnt how to kill the brakes with my feet. Cool.

Later that evening we found out our start positions. I was 8th first round and 30th second, which meant, I reckoned, a seven-hour gap between climbs. I had this before in Linz, where it was also very hot. I’d learnt how to prepare - stay cool, drink lots and relax. I was so psyched that I woke up feeling very tired due to not getting enough good sleep. Comps in Austria are always really well run and Imst being no exception the comp started exactly on time. All the routes were on the big outdoor wall leaving the huge indoor lead wall for warming up, which is one of my favourite things about Imst.

After watching the seven climbers before me there were some interesting results. I was up. After sketching my way up the bottom slab I climbed pretty fast up to what seemed to be the crux section. Really cool moves on small but positive holds! My style! I got past the big move and then to a complicated foot sequence where your body is horizontal. I got my feet sorted and just before I pulled up to the next resting jug my feet ripped off the wall! I was a little annoyed but psyched as I felt I had climbed well on the route until that point. I came 23rd on that route. Need to do better in the second round.

My second route was shared with the Junior category (apart from one changed hold) and I went after Jonny W, so I got lots of beta from the two Jonnys and Luke. The route began up one of the long slabby sections of the Imst wall with a jump start. I was pretty nervous for this but allowed myself to be as I knew once I caught the jump I would be relaxed for the rest of the route. The route had some big moves on poor holds until it turned into the roof where there was some funky 3D climbing. I got up to the roof and a few moves in I decided to try a different sequence and missed the hold that had been added for my category. I slapped to a volume, almost held it, and was then flying through the air.

I was happy about how I climbed on this route. I was 15th, so an improvement on the first round. (I noticed that I had been scored lower than I thought so after a word with the judge I was moved up to the correct score.) I had finished 19th overall.

Imst is a very popular comp and often has some interesting results,  so I was not to annoyed and got psyched now about the Worlds at the end of August!

Overall the team did well with Luke, William and Alex making the finals and others very close!

Time to get back out on rock.

Friday, 3 August 2012

To Ratho, to try to qualify for the European Championships

After one day of rest at home after getting back from Ceuse, I travelled up to Edinburgh for the British Youth Open, which is used as part of the ongoing selection process for the British team and for the rest of the comps this year.

After a good warm up, getting back into plastic climbing after my time in Ceuse, I got psyched up for my first route on the old comp wall. It started up a techy slab. I knew there were lots of slips and foot pops on the route, so I knew I had to be careful. The slab then leads into the roof and the obvious crux, which was turning the lip on huge funky slopers.

I climbed up to under the roof with no problems and after a quick shake headed into the roof. Left hand gaston undercut in roof. Right hand - into undercut. Left hand – jug, then match. Clip. Left hand - huge sloper. I slapped around for the best bit on this, got my foot up and slapped for the next hold. I was off. This funky style is definitely something I need to work on. I came third on this route, the only tops were from William Bosi in Youth B and Jonny Stocking in Juniors.

The second route was up the right hand side of the main comp wall on sick slopers with lots of heel hooks. I managed to top the route without much problem, which meant I had qualified for the final in joint first with Luke Dawson.

The final was the Juniors’ second qualifier. It was a line of small holds, but good ones, up the middle of the comp wall. My style - I was psyched, I came out second to last and managed to top the route - it was about 7b+/7c. I had won, which meant I was selected for the EYC in Kranj and the European Championships in France.

I’m sure Ceuse helped because trying all those 8s and 7c+ onsights taught me to rest efficiently and I could feel that helping on the second qualifier and in the final. Plus you’ve got to get a bit stronger after ten days outdoors. I must keep using in comps everything I learn outdoors, and vice-versa.

It was a really good comp with some impressive climbing from everyone! Well done to the Lyon youth who all got some awesome results. We also got our new kit from the team’s new sponsors, ‘Sherpa’. Thanks to John Ellison for sorting.

(Right click pictures to open)

Going for the top in the final 
Picture - Peter Wuensche

Getting it!
Picture Peter Wuensche

With Connor (l) and Luke (r)
Picture: Nick Pope

Link to results:

Ten days, seven 8s, in amazing Ceuse

Last week I returned from an amazing ten days in Ceuse, said to be one of the best crags in the world. I was out there with Will Smith and Jonny White. We were lucky to have perfect conditions the whole time we were there and there were no forced rest days due to weather!

Not gunna write about the whole trip, just about some of the best days and my favourite routes.

On the first day we headed to Cascade which is an amazing steep sector that features lots of bouldery climbing between HUGE rests. First we did the classic warm up Ananda (7a) then I got on Correspondence Imaginaire (7c+) - 20 minutes later I lowered down. My first 7c+ onsight. Good start.

Then we headed over to Biographie, which is probably one of the most famous sectors in the world as it is the home to Realisation (9a+). It also has one of the most classic 8as in Ceuse, Les Collonettes, which can either be done at 8a from the ground or 7c+ starting after the very hard bouldery crux. I definitely wanted the real tick. I worked the moves then went for a redpoint, getting close to the top. Next go, I thought. I had a few more goes but in the end I could not even do the crux move at the start anymore.

Next morning Jonny and Will both managed to crush Correspondence Imaginaire after a half rest day. I was back beneath the amazing tufas of Les Collonetes but again I could not get past the reachey move at the start! Time for a change, I thought, so I got on the classic 8b of the crag, L’Ami De Tout Le Monde, which is a very powerful and steep route on the right hand side of the crag. I managed to get all the moves pretty quick so returned to the ground for a redpoint attempt. I had a few attempts that evening before it got dark, managing to do the first crux only to fall off on the next move.

A few days later after a rest I was back at Cascade and managed to onsight Mirage (7c+). Will also came very close to the onsight. We then walked over to Collonetes, but I still could not crack that crux move! So I did the 7c+ version with the aid start to get my draws out, but I felt ashamed for doing it with the aid when it’s possible without. I promised to come back and finish it off properly later on in the trip.

Next I decided to get back on L’Ami De Tout Le Monde. I quickly dogged it to get the moves back into my head and then set off for an attempt feeling strong. On the start the jug felt 10 times better with good skin, caught the crux yes, flick to jug - got it! Come on! “Relax,” Will shouted. I rested and then set off into the second crux, which is not as hard as the first , but is very droppable - luckily not for me on this go.  I then climbed the top wall slowly, being careful not to make any mistakes, and clipped the chains! YES! Second 8b. As for the difficulty, it felt very similar to SatanX (8b), which I did in Gorge du Loup at Easter in the same amount of sessions  – two. I was psyched!

For the rest of the trip I got some really fun climbing done and on the second last day after doing Face De Rat (8a+) on my second go I decided it was a good idea to get back on Les Collenettes. After almost catching that early crux a few times I managed to get it and top the route easily. Even through this route is ‘only’ 8a it is one of the most satisfying routes I have ever done due to the start move feeling impossible!

Jonny and Alex Waterhouse both got some impressive ticks while we were out there, Jonny doing his first 8a and Alex putting in a sick effort to onsight Blockage Violent, a desperate 7b+. Will had a good trip ticking two 8as while I was there and he is still there for three more weeks so will probably crush some even more hard stuff!

Thanks to everyone, Ben too, who made it such a good trip! And for my birthday messages on the last Saturday!

Overall my ticklist was:

7c        Vagabond d’Occident (o/s)
7c        Galaxy (second go, ground up)
7c        Corps Etranger (second go)
7c+      Mirage (o/s)
7c+      Correspondence Imaginaire (o/s)
7c+      Privilege Du Serpent (second go)
7c+      Tenere (second go)
7c+      Makash Walou
8a        Bourinator (second go)
8a        Carte Blanche (second go)
8a        Petit Tom
8a        Les Collonettes
8a+      Encore (second session)
8a+      Face De Rat (second go)
8b        L’Ami De Tout Le Monde (second session) 

Chilling at Ceuse

On L'Ami De Tout Le Monde (right click to open)

Topping L'Ami (right click to open)