Sunday, 31 January 2016

Perfection by Jen Wilby

The image of perfection

Day 1 - Leeds to Heathrow
The anticipation, it's finally here. You spent ages, planning, preparing and training, then you get to the airport so excited to neck two pints of ale before your flight boards and throw in a couple of bags of crisps and nuts for good measure. Or least that's how this "rock athletes" adventure started. 

Lets roll back a couple of hours, packing, re packing, double checking, got the shoes and chalk, check, check, check and we are good to go. The anticipation, we really don't know how things are going to go when we are out there. It dawned on me whilst we were en route to the airport that this isn't the usual Euro trip where, even if you have never been before, you still have an idea of what you are going to be faced with. This is a different continent, when we land, we have  no idea where we will be and there are any number of things which could go wrong and we are not a stones throw away from the bubble we call home. 

Off to the airport, which is 5 miles away, only we didn't really know where the airport actually was. Sure, we've seen the planes fly over Caley but we had never actually been to this airport. Cue checking into the wrong car park. We find the right one, have a bit of an idiot moment trying to get in and finally we are at the airport. People staring at the pads, " are they mattress?" of course we drone. Check in, sigh of relief. 

That is how this whole adventure started...

Day 2 Heathrow to LAX
Lets not get a hotel we said, it would be OK we said, it's only a few hours and we've got pads. Don't do it! DO NOT DO IT. Despite 24 hour drinking licenses being available in the real world, here in the terminal things go into lock down. What followed was 6 hours of guarding our stuff whilst security moved suspicious looking folk on. I must say, we get extra points for being well prepared for our little sleep out, the police were impressed! 

Onward and upwards a mere 11 hours and we'll land in sunny California. 

Miles and miles of nothing

View of the mountains from the plane
We had to be out of LAX pretty quick to go and pick up the RV before it closed. Rushing through to passport control and we came to a harsh stop. Damn. Two people they had on the desks for international arrivals. Outrageous, as were my mutterings for the next hour. We were tired and getting to the cut of time for picking up the RV. 
Finally it was our turn. 
I can only apologise to those waiting in the queue behind us who had to listen to "but where are you staying? We need an address?" "I have no idea, we don't have a fixed address". This went on and on until it hit stale mate. Lobbing the guidebook on the desk trying to control my northern sarcastic mouth was hard and it didn't go down well. The US Border Control folk have NO sense of humor. I began to think we were going to be in a little bit of hot water. Marco with one guy me with another, we just looked at each other .. uh oh. Eventually, the woman shouted she wasn't going to waste her time with us, wrote down some campground address and then STAMP! We were in. 

What came next was the most terrifying taxi ride I've ever been on. After taking a number of wrong turns and almost crashing a few times, the taxi driver decided to put his glasses on so he could actually read his sat nav and what was going on in front of him! We made it to the RV rental place just in time and picked up Minni Winney...who is not mini! 

The not so mini winnie
Day 3 Bishop - Buttermilks

We arrived in Bishop at 3am and were at the Buttermilks by 0930am. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Words cannot describe how amazing this place is, the view, the rock, the people - it's beautiful. 

You have to take some time to take it in
I've seen so many photo's and video's of the milks and always thought it was this mystical land I'd never go to. Yet we were here, and I really couldn't take it all in, this place does something to you and I don't want to leave. 

The rock is perfect, clean, crisp and just the most perfect lines. We spent the morning just going from bloc to bloc and just climbing anything we liked the look of - which was alot. The skies were clear, the sun was out, it was just perfect.

The climbers here are so nice, they are such positive people and happy to climb with you, it's so different to England, in a very good way. The other thing that struck me about the Milks, is there is ZERO litter. Not a smither of tape lying around, nothing, its super clean. It shows how much the climbers here value their crags and I just wish England had the same ethic. 

After a couple of hours, something started to feel odd, I started burning up, sweating, which totally mullerd my skin and I had to stop play early as I was about to split a tip. Something was not right....

Day 4 - The feeling of death and no where near perfection

We knew the rain was coming so had a lie in today...but I woke up totally gunked up. SH*T! I had a cold, more than that, shakes, shivers, fever the lot. I lost it, I could barely walk for two minutes before feeling like I was going to pass out. I thought I'd got away with it, but whenever I spent time in an air conditioned space I always get ill. I tried to shake it off, it got worse. 

We went back up to the Milks as it was snowing, and we had the place to ourselves, although it was snowing, the rock as still dry, so I was on spotting duty whilst Marco did this classic...
Soul Slinger - Buttermilks
I'm gutted, I'm in the most beautiful place, with limited time and it's now that I get ill. I can't help but get totally bummed out by it....

Day 5 - The snow rarely hits the town...
Of course, until we arrive. I'm sat here in the Black Sheep Cafe watching the snow fall as it has been for hours. Roads are closing up North again and we've just got to sit it out. It's not a bad thing, as I'm still on deaths door, exaggeration I hear you say, yes, but try being here and feeling like I do right now and then tell me how you feel. 

I'm still in awe of this place, its now its time to rest up and get better, because I'm starting to think this could be a nightmare of a trip for me and there is a big potential I could be ill for the next week, leaving two weeks to climb, with rest needed in between for skin days....there is a chance I'll walk away with nothing...try dealing with that.

Day 6 - It's all become a blur! 
So the good news is the snow has melted, in most places, and I'm almost fighting fit again! The bad news is, or maybe it's good news, it just depends on how you feel about that from Day 6 onwards, I have no idea what we've done! We've climbed mainly in the happies and sads due to the milks being wet. We've had pizza, burgers, even gone to the cinema! I think its safe to say I'm going to be leaving a little bit of my soul in this place. We've just climbed loads of stuff, so I'll leave the photo's to do the talking. 

Molly - great line! 

Strength in Numbers, probably one of the best lines I've done so far

Morning Dove White - 

Cheesy "happy that is over" shot after Morning Dove White

Snow is still sticking around but the skies are endless.

I think after just over a week here, we've finally clicked with the climbing and it's just to try really hard on everything and anything. We are doing 2 days on and 1 day off, and its working skin wise, but it feels odd to rest so much!

We were planning on heading over to Yosemite, but the pass is still closed with the snow, so we'll leave that one for next time, as we will be coming back. There is just so much to do, Death Valley, Pine Creek...I don't think I'll come back!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Brief 2015 round up by Adam Jeewooth

2015 was a successful year in all aspects of life. An early season training indoors at BoulderUK on circuit board paid off with me flashing “Parasite” French 8a and ticking “Mussel Beach” 8a 1st redpoint. So that was a great day out. I also managed to climb my annual V11 tick with Lou Ferrino without the pocket. 

Ruby Keeping warm at a cold Malham

Adam Jeewooth climbimg Lou Ferrino sans pocket V11


Moving forward 6 months I'd also had a number of 8a ticks at various crags but was still waiting for the big tick. I'd also ripped my house to bits and was physically knackered.
Adam Jeewooth climbing  RB&D 8c, Photo Peter Wilkinson

Adam Jeewooth RB&D.  Photo Peter Wilkinson
Adam Jeewooth RB&D.  Photo Peter Wilkinson
So, September 2015 arrived and the project was dispatched. “Raining Bats and Dogs” 8c at Malham. I was so so happy with this route. The hardest route and best route I've ever climbed

 Following this once again work continued and I did the BoulderUK “plywood masters”. However, I wasn’t really prepared to this comp physically and despite getting into the finals and coming 6th I endured some sore fingers and a bad shoulder!!! 

John Ellison and Ruby
Adam Jeewooth, Prana T, Prana Pants and Evolv Bandits
Then there was a really nice Spanish rock trip to Margalef for a week to conclude the year onsighting.  And the loss of one of the nicest men I knew - John Ellison RIP

2016 should be a good year all being well and I’m looking forward to an easier year, lowering the grade and ticking along nicely. Oh and I've also got my final year of my degree to finish!

Big thanks to the beyond hope crew and good luck to everyone for 2016!!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Spain Game by Peter Dawson

Over the past few months I have been waiting, anticipating, preparing for one thing, going back to Spain. Catalonia is the centre for sport climbing in the world and every aspiring sport climber has come to face the challenge of the areas hardest routes. Last time I had gone was two years ago and the hardest I had climbed was 8b+ but could I do one better? 8c?

The first two days were a shock but I'd expected that. I was just getting into it. On the third day things clicked. We travelled to Oliana, which is a really futuristic crag with endurance routes up to 50 metres! The route I tried was called China Crisis, about 35m of slightly leaning wall guarded at the bottom by two fierce boulder problems.  On my second try I climbed shakily with my arms almost giving in on every move. I was at the last clip but I fell going to a crimp, 35m of climbing  and I'd have to start from the bottom again. Next go I climbed well and efficiently reaching where I fell the go before and easily doing the moves. Yes I got it! In the evening I tried Fish Eye but got shut down by a move at the top which was pretty gutting! However next to China Crisis was an 8c called T-1 full equip.
The next day was going back to an old enemy. Rollito Sharma 8b+, this route was the opposite to China Crisis. It was about 20 metres long and really hard the whole way up it. On all the goes that day I made it to the crux but wasn't anywhere near doing it as I was just too pumped.

Ok now it was back to Oliana, to try T-1 full equip. My first go I did all the moves but up high was some desperate moves on tiny holds. Next go was a little better and I managed to do the boulders at the start where the second felt about 7B. I also managed to find a better sequence on the top although it was still hard. I wanted to do something that day so I sent La Marroncita 8b second go. With the sun dying and the air chilling off I decided to give it an all out attempt. The Spanish have a phrase a muerte which means to climb until death giving it everything and holding nothing back. I was going to go a muerte. I wasn't surprised when I got through the boulders at the bottom but I wasn't very pumped at all. I set up for the first hard crimp sequence and it went! Now I was panicking the next one wasn't as hard maybe I could do this, I slowed myself down and chilled out. I knew I could do it. Moves where previously I had slapped I now grabbed static and before I knew it I was clipping the chains! My first 8c! I was over the moon.

I didn't want to stop there though, I still had Rollito Sharma and I wanted to try to climb 8a+ first go. The next day we went to Terradets. The climbing is unreal there. A 35m leaning wall dripping with tufas situated in a gorge full of 600m walls. I started by climbing 8b which was one I'd left unfinished from the first two days. When it felt loads easier it might have been foreshadowing a great day. Next I flashed an 8a Luke had tried a couple days ago. I was just getting going next came an 8a onsight where I fought like a savage through the final crux. A friendly Spanish man was trying a 8a+ and I watched him to get the beta then I would try to flash it. I managed to get through the boulder problem start now I thought maybe I could do it. I climbed into a big pocket and pulled onto two bad crimps above it. I was stuck with a heel in the hole, above my head a huge spike! Just out of reach to get it comfortably, I jumped and felt my feet swing out wildly but the spike was good enough for me to control the swing and I stuck it. From there I was in and I climbed to the top of my first 8a+ flash!

Now the only thing left was Rollito Sharma and I took a rest day to recover. This was going to be my last chance. I was lucky the moves felt easier and I knew I had a good chance of doing it. My first go from the start I stuck the crux move but was too shocked to keep myself together and get to the end of the crux. Right I just needed to keep my head together. The next time I got through the crux but only just and now I had a brief rest. I thought that I might not be able to do the crux again so I was really nervous for the final hard move, probably the hardest move on the route. I set up and jumped for the next hold. I held it and had the power to match in to the pocket. I got the bat hang rest which was super comfy because of my Evolv Shamans and felt psyched that I was going to do it! I clipped the chains after probably doing one of the hardest routes I'd ever done.

The last few days I took easy and just enjoyed the climbing still I managed to flash Mon Dieu another 8a+ at Oliana and I dropped the last move on a 8a+ onsight so maybe that'll be the next goal!  

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.