Sunday, 4 October 2015

" autumn and winter, they gradually pass away" By Jen Wilby

We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. Zhuangzi

A view from one of the crags this Summer
If this sentence was the only one in this blog, and this blog was the same one for three months running, would you bother to read it any more? No! That's why there have been no blogs for the last few months. Who wants to read about nothing? Is it even possible to read about nothing? I digress.

2015 has gone so quickly, if I think about it too much it's terrifying. May was the last time I touched grit stone and ended the season with Sweet Dreams (stand start) and it marked the end of the Grit season. Although one can argument this, it is never truly the end of the Grit season, you just have to go looking for the conditions. So, I shall rephrase the start of this paragraph...I ended my season. 

Catching the last of the cooler condition up at Ilkley
The last blog mentioned how, following the marked end of my season I was going to sit back, chill and not train. Sitting here, thinking back, I honestly cannot remember doing that! Although I must have done, as the summer was filled with so many weddings leaving little time to do anything else other than work, travel to the weddings (all in the South!) and then recover before the next one. It was fantastic fun and it was ace catching up with distant friends, however, it was soon time to knuckle down. 

Normally, my summers are all about getting out to the Lakes and North Wales, exploring new crags and training. It's always been hard in the summers as training has always taken priority over resting for the weekend. So most of the time, I would turn up to the Lakes or Wales and be far from optimal. The mental battle during this time is huge! After all the partying it was time to make a plan for the remainder of the Summer. The last few years I've experimented with my training, and made some epics mistakes along the way. It's all about trial and error! I've under trained, over trained, been plain lazy and trained the wrong things. The hardest part of this, is that the trial and errors takes time, three summers in, that's a whole three years, I feel like I have finally cracked it. SHOULDERS!!! It's not rocket science, the shoulders are the Achilles heel of the torso. Screwed shoulders means screwed mobility and injury. This is something I've battled with for years. 

This year I promised myself I would learn from the mistakes and work on the shoulders, their mobility, flexibility and strength, no matter how long it took. I swapped my training around and reduced the intensity and did a lot more yoga. So far ... (touches wood) I've been injury free, shoulder wise :D this is a HUGE improvement and feels ace! 

2015 has also been a year of changing the mental aspect of climbing. Climbing is not just physical, it's a mental battle and sometimes, most of the time, its the head which is the limiting factor when it comes to trying to do something. I worked hard last year but still didn't quite have that belief of myself. This year, I've managed to crack that also :D I've learnt how to empty the mind, let go, and figure stuff out. I go to a bloc or into training with no intentions, to just climb each move the best I can. It's a very liberating experience and makes climbing so much more fun and free! 

So in a nutshell, this summer has been about working hard, mentally and physically. I'm not where I aim to be...yet...but I am on the way and enjoying the ride. 

Up in Yorkshire we've had a few cold spells, I was so excited, I thought Summer had finally left us and the "season" had started. However, it's been coming in waves! It's been so hard to prepare for the week ahead when everything has been changing so much. So we've been spending more time in the Lakes and Wales and tried some awesome lines. 

I did have a video of some good blocs at Woodwell, however, and I am sure many of you read the UKB thread, it has been removed, for the right reasons. Woodwell is an ace little crag to go to and worth a look if you are across that way.

Then I ventured out on Grit for the first time and went back to Widdop. I forgot how stunning that place is...I also forgot how different and special gritstone is. Que the foot popping, barn dooring (<- not sure that's even a word!) and general hilarity that is Grit Stone. I had to go back during the week to get up Fight On Black at Widdop and brave the midges! Its a quality line and worth trying if you are across that way:

Then the temps started to drop again and we went to check out what can only by described as one of the best lines on Gritstone....
Heaven in Your Hands
You cannot miss this arete as you walk across the moor and up to the crag. It shoots up out of the ground with the white specks of chalk showing you there is a way. When we went to this, I had no intention of getting on it. However, Marco sent it quickly that evening

So I decided to see if I could at least get off the floor - I knew I would not be able to get it that session, this style of climbing is not my forte, however I really want to climb this line, it is stunning. So I'll keep going back, when the wind is blowing, and just keep trying, it's so enjoyable.

Starting Heaven in Your Hands

Beautiful Line
Then the wind did change direction, so it was time to head back to something which I knew I could do, Road House at Nettle Crag. At first glance, the crag does not look like much, but when you get up there and start climbing, it has some cool moves, you won't see another climber up there and the views are stunning. I was very pleased to do this, as it shows the focus on the shoulders and mindset is paying off ... just got to keep going. The guidebook states 7c+ without the bloc. On the first visit to this, I tried, alot to use the bloc and found it way harder! Either way, doing this, lets me know I am on the right track and the moves were ace! 

Just passing the crux on Road House

Last tricky move

So the start of Autumn has been a good one and a fun one, with this weather, its about taking each day as it comes...until our next adventure...

If you've made it this far, fear not this is the end and you can go back to doing something productive...and thanks. 

Happy Climbing!

Friday, 4 September 2015

A Successfull Summer- By Flo Tilley

This summer, like the rest, has flashed by and has been busy and successful with my climbing. I started it off with 2 weeks in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Sarah chauffeured me and Naomi, driving us from derby to Bodhi Camping, covering a total of 1600 miles. What a Hero. 

Washing facilities

For those who have not been, it is, as the names suggests, a wood in a valley with a mystical kind of feel. The floor is a lattice of roots and meandering paths, with boulders that spring up as you walk through. 
Naomi enjoying the wood
The campsite is about a 5/ 10 minute walk through the wood to the closet boulder, Bruno block; best if you’re climbing higher grades. To really get stuck into some of the best problems, in my opinion, are further along in the wood. For me, some of the most memorable climbs I did were Grit de Luxe 7b, a climb right on the river side, involving a mantle to start, leading to more crimpy moves to the top. Hohenrausch 7b+, a crimpy face with  big committing moves.

Grit de Luxe 7b photo credit: Sarah Pashley
Exclusive 7b Photo credit: Naomi Tilley
Exclusive 7b was another great climb, a more powerful problem, with a tricky start and draining last few moves. I also tried Intermezzo 7c and Foxy Lady 8a both crimpy, technical problems, both of which didn't feel so far from my ability which felt pretty good!
Supper Crack 6c Photo credit: Sarah Pashley

After a couple of days back home I headed up to Kilnsey, to spend time with my Grandparents, who live handily close to the crag, fill up on some of my Gran’s cake and of course, get a few days in of climbing. My aim was to do The Ashes 7C+ which I had had a play on a couple months before. After working the crux; a large dynamic move to two eyes and falling frustratingly near the top on my red point attempts multiple times, I got the tick on my 2nd day of working, 3 days in total. Pretty Psyched!

The start of The Ashes is to the right of the second tree and finishes at  the break before the roof. 
Straight from Kilnsey I headed down south, helped Naomi to move into her new student cottage in Falmouth, had some fun on some easy Trad and tried to surf (tried the important word there).

After surfing selfie

All this fitted in nicely to go and compete at the Deep Water Solo competition in Exeter. Like last year it was a fantastic, well organised event with a great atmosphere. On the Saturday I got away with only getting wet once, managing to top all 3 of my problems. Unfortunately on Sunday the weather was not on our side and for my first two climbs in the semis, it rained and due to the wet conditions slipped off fairly low on my second climb, after topping the first. Despite this, after an hours brake to dry thing up, we were back climbing and I had a good attempt on my last climb of the weekend. I finished 9th overall.

 The final was a great watch, it was speed format. 6 finalist raced up the climb, and then the 3 fastest went through to a super final in which they would do the climb again, deciding podium position on their final speed time. This format worked especially well for the general public watching, the aim of the game was obvious, how fast could they go!

I am now back to the reality of life- back to 6th form to finish my last year of school. Scary stuff! However I have lots of training for up coming comps, including the junior lead cup and the BLCC’s, to take my mind off the scary prospect of exams and adult life!
Zilliman 7a

Thursday, 20 August 2015

5 month round up! By Connor Byrne

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last blogged, but yep I am still alive, survived my first year at Sheffield University and am still climbing.

British Universities and Colleges Sports - Bouldering
February saw me in another boulder competition; this was the British Universities and Colleges Sport Bouldering competition (BUCS), a massive event embracing many sports and about 6000 athletes. I was in the Sheffield University team in the Bouldering (no lead climbing comp), with about 200 competitors in the male bouldering and only 4 to go through to the finals I knew it would be a tough day; it was great climbing as part of the Sheffield team and I was happy with my bouldering but did not expect to be in the finals. I was amazed to find I tied 4th for a place in the finals. It was a great atmosphere in the Climbing Works for the final. I knew the three problems were going to be hard, and there would be one on a slab, (which would need more balance and flexibility than I have).  The slab problem took 7 goes to top, my lead climbing stamina came in as I could just keep trying in my allotted 4 mins.

BUCS final problem one, photo James McIlveen

I was totally stunned to find I had come third; beaten only by Joe Swales and Ashley Wolsey-Heard.

On the back of their BUCS success the University of Sheffield team were invited by the BUCS organisation to enter the European Universities Sports Association competition in Poland (more about this later).

Team Training in Europe and EYC Dornbirn (AUT)

My lead training had been going well, and over the Easter break I travelled out to Austria for some training on the walls at Imst, Trivol and Arco, with some of the GB junior team for a few days. There were some fantastic mountain passes we drove over, between Italy and Austria. And some pretty good ice cream to be had in Italy.  Then it was back to Uni before the first EYC of the year.

Finally, in May, it was out to Dornbirn for the first EYC of the year.  We had a day to rest and explore before the competition, Dornbirn is very quaint and at risk of sounding like the tourist office the countyside is quite beautiful too. 

The comp wall had plenty of overhangs, and after a good look at the routes I was feeling quite confident…  However on my first route I stupidly found myself wrong handed and all was lost. This put me really low in the group and I was very disappointed, yet again I have mucked up the first route, I know I could have done so much better. 

The first route (yellows), that caused my downfall.

I pulled myself together and had a much better climb on the second route; finding myself being joint 11th place on that route.  However my appalling first climb put me in 20th overall.  I need to seriously think why I don’t perform well on the first route at the International Competitions. I know I can climb so much better.  Hopefully I will resolve these head matters before my next International. 

Having a better time on the second route

Preparation for EUSA and World Cup

The EYCh clashed with my first year exams, a real pity as they were in Edinburgh; however the day job has to come first sometimes.  I am now busy getting my stamina back, a quick trip to Ratho last weekend shows I need to work a bit on this still.

A bit pumped, photo Ian Dunn

I have two main events over the summer that I am really looking forward to, the first is the EUSA comp in Poland (mentioned above) the University of Sheffield have been really supportive to me over the year, I am really looking forward to being part of the team to represent them, they have organised us some great kit and it’s going to be an interesting competition, a little different to the EYC format, although still overseen by the IFSC.
Each competitor has to do two disciplines, I have gone for boulder and lead (speed is not quite my thing), although I am a bit worried as the boulder comp is the day before the leading. Our teams consist of Jen Wood, Luke Dawson, Sam Williams and yours truly; we don’t yet know who are on the other teams internationally but hope to do really well.  As far as I know we are the only GB Uni team entered so we are also representing GB. Unfortunately this clashes with the EYC at Mitterdorf, it’s just not possible to do that event as well.

Later in August is the IFSC World Youth Championship in Arco, I need to get training hard. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Challenges By Jen Wilby

It's half way through 2015 and, for some of us, we’ll be looking at the next half of year ahead and for the rest of us we’ll be looking at how the last 6 months have gone. You may have set yourself some challenges, whether it be climbing or lifestyle related. Personally, I set some challenges for Climb Out which were a mix of climbing and lifestyle related.

When looking up the definition of a challenge, I got the following:

1.       A call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.
2.       A call to prove or justify something
3.       Dispute the truth of validity of
4.       Invite (someone) to engage in a contest.

All of this strikes as being very ego orientated, with the use of words like competition, justify, validity and contest. Were these words what you have in mind when you think of your challenges? I understand we chose our goals to help push our boundaries or to face our fears. However, think deeply and most of the challenges, ultimately will prove or disprove something, we could go on to say that the challenges are a way to prove or justify something to ourselves. This clashes with my beliefs somewhat. One of the reasons we moved up North was to get away of the talk of who did what, what colour someone did or did not do, of the staring eyes etc. etc. I admit, we have not got away from it, however, we have many more options to be able to go to remote crags with no one else about, to enjoy climbing the way I love it – remote, peaceful with a select few of close friends with the same ideals. So why have I set challenges for myself? Yes I want to get better, I want to improve and push myself, but why set challenges for that?

Looking at the challenges I set for 2015:
1              10 Pull Ups
2              1 x 1 arm pull up
3              5 x tri dips on the rings
4              Turn my phone off more
5              Be more committed when climbing
6              Learn a new language
7              Spend more time in the van with no technology around, my true          love.
8             Get back onto routes
9             Grow more veg this summer
10           Improve shoulder strength to do a hand stand.
11           12. Spend less time in Bar T’at

All of these challenges seem a bit disorientated and focussed on different things, so I am starting to question why I set them. It seemed fun at first. Bingo, fun, that’s what it should all be about. At the end of the day if it’s not fun why flippin do it? So lets take a look at them again:

1       10 Pull Ups: This is the ability to prove to myself that I can do pull up’s and I am not a total floppy mess when it comes to doing them. So for now, this one stands I am enjoying the process, the gains, the set backs and pushing through. This is all about the climbing for me, I see lines that are just too powerful for me, so this is staying in the aim to try more fun lines.
2      1 x 1 arm pull up: Not sure about this one, I’ll need to think on it a little more.
3      5 x tri dips on the rings: As #1
4      Turn my phone off more : The aim of this was to be more mindful about where I was at any point in time and not be distracted. However, I enjoy reading through social media sites, keeping abreast of things and people. Basically I am nosy! However, I do turn it off when I want some quiet time.
5       Be more committed when climbing: Is this ego based? This will prove how I can climb when I really try, and yes, I have been going 100% when I when I climb and have seen huge gains. It’s also totally exhausting, showing how much I really have not tried. This one stays as I have fun when I climb, so why not be 100% at that each time?
6       Learn a new language: This is being removed. I’ve had some time of work recently and honestly don’t know how I have time to work. I’ve got way too much stuff going on in my life right now, which can be very stressful trying to juggle it all, so why add another thing to do in to the mix. Removed, with a clear conscience.
7       Spend more time in the van with no technology around, my true love: enough said.
8       Get back onto routes: So, I detest the summer. I like the long nights and mainly the early mornings, however, hayfever is a bitch, add killer midges which frequent the UK crags and its just not fun. So I’m not going to force myself, if I fancy doing it, I will, if not, then hey ho that’s just the way the cookie crumbles!
9      Grow more veg this summer: Same as number 6, although I did try, most of them died. So on to doing something else with the time and move on.
10     Improve shoulder strength to do a hand stand: I will stick with the shoulder strength, so I can climb more varied lines, but why the heck to do a hand stand?!
11     Spend less time in Bar T’at: I’ve never spent so much time in a pub, but I love it and I love meeting the people there, so whilst it’s not as often, I’m not going to feel guilty about going 

So as you can see, some of the challenges are no longer relevant. It was not until I had some time off that I realised I have filled my life with way too many things. So days off work have been spent trying to catch up, which means when I move on to the next day, I never felt rested or content as the list just kept growing. So personally, reviewing the challenges was about changing my priorities. Challenges are great, the help you maintain progress and focus, however, they should be organic and evolve with you. I now have some clearer focus for the next 6 months and it feels great!

I’ve not blogged for the last couple of months, mainly because the grit season finally came to and end. So it was time to sit back, chill out and not train. It’s been awesome! However, its only half a year until the next season so it will soon be time to get back on it, and have fun.

It’s been great wondering about Ilkely, but I do get itchy feet so we’ve gone to some more crags and had a few epic adventures along the way! We’ve headed to some new crags in the Lake District and North Wales and after a few adventures out, I’ve seen how stunning the UK is and how quality the climbing is. If the weather was stable I’m certain we’d have a lot more people making the trek to climb here!

The most stunning place was Lad Stones, it was absolutely stunning and worth the trek up there. The blocs are huge and have some real, proper problems on them and you won’t find another soul about! Bliss

As usual I’ve made some vids, have not managed to get the Lad Stones ones yet but these should keep you going for now.

Andy Browns Wall:
Sweet Dreams and Superset:

Happy Climbing!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

It’s on…It’s off…It’s on…. By Jen Wilby

The stunning Lake District

Blah Blah Blah. So the last blog was about how the Grit season was not over. We spent a long weekend in the Lakes and came back to what felt like summer. Spending evening’s lazing on the pads in between training sets. Then I declared the Grit season, was indeed over.
So time was spent coming up with a training plan to take me up until the end of January 2016, which is mental as normally thinking 24 hours ahead is too much hassle. Last year, there was a rigid plan which saw me fall off the rails and fall out of love with climbing. (Nice read from Leah here: Looking back, I think part of that was due to moving up North. Living down South means you only head to the rock when you know the weather is going to be good, and its all planned. You have no rock to head to after work, its all about the weekends.  Therefore you know when you can train, as its most of the time. Heading North for 3 hours each weekend takes its toll, it’s easier to train when you live South. Living here, in the stunning Ilkley means you are no more than 30 mins away from all of the good Yorkshire Gritstone crags, there is the opportunity to head out for a couple of hours each night, heck, when it’s dry you can go out every day of the week. There is an abundance of different crags which offer shade, sun, shelter, exposure, the lot! Trying to train and continue to project outside can take its toll; mentally and physically. In order to focus on training, something has to be sacrificed and living up here, it has to be the time out of the rock. Well, it depends on your goals of course.

So I sat down and thought about what I was committed to for the rest of the year, how much rest I needed and what needed to be trained. The plan I have come up with is not rigid in terms of time, sets etc, its flexible and the one thing which will determine what I do and when, will be my mind and body. Let’s see how that works out this year.
It’s started well by managing my time, due to a stressful and demanding job, I can work 12 hours a day if I let myself. However, the balance has to be found. So I now work to enable training to take place at lunch times. Only ever an hour long, whether it be finger boarding, flexibility, strength. Then sometimes with another two sessions in the evening, obviously targeting totally different muscle groups.
It’s great to be focused but not under pressure and it’s really enjoyable.

Getting to grips with the 30d board @The Depot
Then the temps dropped! Arrrgggh! Get out, get out, go go go! That’s what it’s been like up here this month. It’s been relatively dry but there has been a real mix of it being really hot, or really cold! Sometimes, it’s a punt going to the crag. I’ve been to Caley when folk have thought it was too hot, we’ve been to Earl Crag, when admittedly it has to have been the coldest place on earth at the time! Then this weekend, with the rain radar looking like something out of Independence Day, we shot over to Earl Crag early on Saturday morning. The crag was empty and we got an amazing two hours of climbing in before the heavens opened. The time will come where it will be back to full blown training and sacrificing the outside time.

This month has also been a month of adventures in the Lake District. The Lakes is a stunning place and we’ve taken some time to get out to new crags when its been raining rather than just sitting in a cafĂ© somewhere. The first, Nettle Crag on the way to Dow Crag. It’s a sweet little crag with a couple of good lines on it which we will go back to.

Dow Crag, “why would you want to go there to boulder when the amazing routes are  there”, this is what we always heard when we mentioned Dow Crag. My response to this, because it is a stunning place and it does not matter if you do trad, boulder or simply sit by the Tarn, its an amazing spot and everyone has a right to experience it. As for the 50 minute walk in, that is a total lie. However, do not let that put you off, it is worth the walk.
The view from high up at Dow Crag 
The other one we went to was Gillercombe in near the Hamlet of Seathwaite. The first spot is where Cloud Chamber is. This is an awesome, large bit of rock with an awesome climb on it. Now, the question once you have done this is whether you hike up to the top of the hill to the main crag, or drive over the back to Honister Pass?

If you know the way, go over Honister Pass, it’s a lovely walk. If you don’t know the way, go straight up the hill from Cloud Chamber else you’ll end up in a world of pain dragging your mat’s over walls and fences and generally having no idea where anything is. You’’ll get to the boulders very late and be too tired to climb anything. Speaking from experience! Ha! 
View from Gillercombe

Hamlet of Seathwaite

Not another climber or walker in sight. 
Gillercombe is absolutely stunning and worth a visit whichever way you go in.

I did a short video of the two crags which shows the locations and hopefully will make you want to visit.

Lake District Video:

The main thing I took away from this month was a boost to the confidence on the sit start to Titfield. I had my eye on it for a while and thought it would suit me and I was right. I know it’s a soft one, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Titfield Thunderbolt Sit Start:

I also managed to get this vexing problem done up at Carrock. It really is frustrating until you do it!

There has been quite a lot of development going on in the Lakes, including the unearthing of this bloc, once called the disappointing bloc.

Toe Jam and Earl:

This month has also meant a new delivery of some goodies in preparation for the Summer season. Thanks to Beyond Hope. The biggest surprise was the Nexxo. I know they have been out for ages, but I’ve always considered them too aggressive for me. However, they are fantastic. Yes they are toe down, but they are so comfortable and quick to wear in, they are now on par with the Shamans for me!

Testing out the Nexxo on the small holds

That’s the end of another month, and the next few months are going to be manic with  my birthday, another year younger, weddings and stag do’s. So it could be some time until the next blog, you’ll have to find something else to send you to sleep.

Happy Climbing.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Grit Season Is Over…Jen Wilby

Stunning sunset at Brimham Rocks

The Grit Season is over is what someone said to me only a week ago. My face must have been a mix of confusion and amusement…that’s a look you don’t want to see often!  
The past few weeks have been amazing conditions, not too cold, not warm and perfectly dry. It means we've been able to get out and about to a few different places and complete some blocs which I've had my eye on whilst they have been sopping wet. This also means that I've not been training as I've been totally wasted for 3 days following the weekend’s antics and I've not wanted to push myself before the weekend. This is the great thing about not having a training plan! My plan is listening to my body and letting it tell me whether I should be training or not. Those of you who follow the blogs will know I had a bit of a melt down with training last summer and it led me to ditch the plan and just do what I felt like doing. This has paid off! No longer am I bound by the guilt of not training when my book tells me to, no longer do I push when my body is in pain rather than aching. It’s amazing!

So the question is, with spring almost here (it’s still been snowing up North!) what do I want to do now? We have a long haul trip in the pipeline for early next year and I want to be 100% fit for this, to be the fittest and strongest, and lightest I can! Thinking about it, the only way this can be achieved is by following a plan. So how do I go about that without totally burning out? When do I start it? Not training is starting to take its toll – with feelings of less energy and lethargy creeping on. However, the weather is still here, the Grit season could have another good month or two or more! Decisions! Either way I’m flipping excited!!!

The only thing….

Pushed it a bit too far for a bit too long
A few weeks ago, when it started to heat up, I panicked! I started to go out whenever I could and would literally thrash myself at my projects. This was 99.9% successful with success on most of them! I've been working problems which are my weakness and its been amazing to see successful attempts! Proving that my weaknesses are getting so much better – and my strengths are still improving!
Except Crystal Method at Caley, which has to be one of the hardest blocs I've ever been on, and I mean ever. It’s nails from start to finish…and one which I am focused on trying to finish before the season is actually over. Secret Seventh Caley 

The issue with the panic, is I nailed my skin! Whenever I touch rock at the moment, it just bleeds. This always puts me in two minds when I check the weather forecast. Last week I could see it was going to rain for some time over the weekend – so I took a chance, even though my skin was poor and went out to try the sit start to Titfield Thunderbolt at Brimham Rocks.
Within a few attempts the skin split and I thought it was game over, but the forecast just kept playing on my mind, so I carried on – with success! Titfield Thunderbolt Brimham

This month I've also gone out climbing on my own a lot, due to my climbing partner having worse skin than I and different projects. Climbing on my own was a new experience for me. I normally like going out with a few close friends (nothing too manic with loads of people) and I enjoy climbing with them and talking to folk. Climbing on your own brings a whole new experience and focus. All of a sudden, you are there, on your own, with only one goal – to climb that bit of rock. No banter, no one to spot what other beta you can try, no one to fill in the rest times…just you.
The first time I did this I was super nervous! Why? No idea. Now, I love it and it suits my personality, the calmness and the focus is amazing. Everyone should try it, at a quiet time at the crag, it makes you listen to yourself and makes you see clearly, why you do climb. Some of you might hate it – but it will show you what you love about climbing. A valuable lesson. I now have no fear of going it alone (unless it’s a high ball and want a spot – even then I’d give a whirl!). The freedom is amazing!

Another new experience this month was my first ever boot demo at the Depot in Pudsey.

I've never really been a geek about my climbing shoes, I stick with what I love and believe that being strong in the mind will make any shoe you wear obsolete and the fact we all have totally different feet makes the choice up to you. Some shoes you love and some you hate ! Listening to others talk about shoes was interesting. The new Luchador made its appearance and both were good! If you get chance to head to one of the demo’s give it a go.

 Now the Easter holiday approach’s, the van is packed and the plan is to head out somewhere, wherever the weather looks good.

After this – its time to come up with a Summer plan and how to do it without being totally burnt out!

Some other vids of the last month: Close to the edge Woodhouse The sherrif Wood house Something of some grade Woodhouse Slapstick Arete Caley

Happy Holiday everyone! 

Friday, 20 March 2015

The three eights

The Three Eights

Over the past two years my vague goal has been to complete the three eights, that is E8 (any tech grade), French 8a and Font 8a. Just because I think its worth while being an all round climber and each discipline aids the other two, also 8 seems to be a good bench mark of ability. I say vague because I had big doubts for my bouldering and focusing too much on a goal can be a little stressful, and despite mainly being a trad climber I handle stress quite badly...

I managed E8 a good while before the other 8's. Dawes rides a shovel head was my first E8 (blog:
I never planed to do E8 first, to be honest Id rather have done it last so that I knew I had the strength to do the moves, aw well, the route seemed to good to put of, a bit like half a cheesecake that you know wouldn't be the same after a night in the fridge, so you "pig-out" while its fresh.. Moving on

Next up was French 8a, there were a few problems with this, I live in the middle of the lake district now and have access to four sport routes, and I broke the crux hold to the 8a+, needless to say, it was not going well. However, a quick check on UKC revealed good news, there happens to be an 8a link up in thrang quarry. The three eight plan is back on track.. I returned to the quarry/ big damp hole in the side of a hill.
The route is called "kept woman" and climbs brilliantly, probably due to the drilled holds. I did all the moves on lead first go, taking rests at each bolt. After a while of resting it began to rain, the rain forced me to make a hasty attempt at the route, only by pushing through horrible flash pump did I make it through, slight episodes of power scream toward the end, and happily on to the worlds dodgiest looking chains.

Nexxo's warming by the fire at thrang crag,
 nice sticky rubber for the send 
 2 down, one to go.

So, Bouldering. I actually really like bouldering,but I've just found it really quite hard to get any better.. Id been climbing 7b+ for a whole year prior to the past month, despite a fair amount of indoor training. Happily I finally broke the grade by sending Brad pit at Stanage, a well deserved classic 7c, although my experience of it may have been slightly tainted by 3 inches of snow and ice on the top out and jug. In the end it only took a few goes as it really suited me.

Brad pit, at around 12pm 

Bouldering was looking up now, so on to the 8a. Myself and the manic fingerboardist Eli Cartwright decided to aim out efforts at the much sought after "Tourniquet" witch went at 7c+ till a hold broke, now it settles at a hard 8a, The moves are nothing but mad, the problem is more or less centred around one hold, which cripples your wrist into place. To get a feel of how to hold it, try twisting your wrist till you can go no further, then get someone to twist it more, then hang off it with your feet above your head.. and if your loving that, get on down to kentmere! Besides this hold the problem is amazing, and flows well.

We worked out the beta in the first session, which is no simple feat, a bit like sudoku really. By the time we had a good sequence we were burnt out, but still put in good attempts. The second session saw good progress and badly split tips for me and a send for Eli.

Eli, walking the crux of Tourniquet 
After a day of rest and rubbing pure vitamin E into my fingers, I headed back for another go before the rain came. I made the walk in (just) with four pads, but the toe hook was soaking wet due to rain the day before. Not to worry, like a boy scout, Im always prepared. Out came the beer towel and I got down to some serious drying activity, followed by star jumps, partly to warm up, partly for fun..
My first attempt was surprisingly good, I got passed the crux and slapped for the last hold, but fell all the same as before. More similar attempts followed, including an attempt that caused a slight chip in one of the holds (no change to he difficulty though, damn it). I went for a walk around the area to calm down and think a little. Once I got in the zone/a bit bored of walking aimlessly in a small copse of trees, I got back to the problem. More star jumps and drying activity followed before, finally I sent it, feeling stronger than ever.

I finished my two year goal.

Working on Tourniquet, Kentmere 
On to the 9's!... or a few more eights or something