Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Competing in the rain – Senior World Cup Chamonix By Connor Byrne

After the technical meeting and publication of the running order we had a bit of a debate over how to share the one senior male GB competition vest we had (kind of Déjà vu moment to Kranj last year).  It looked like we would get away with it, I was up 22 on my first route, giving plenty of time for Ed to get the vest to me.    However for my second climb the timing got tight for me to get my vest back, I got it in the nick of time - slightly damp, hope that was rain and not sweat.

Qualifiers in the rain
Athletes’ presentation
I have mixed feeling over my performance on the two routes.  The first one, I was climbing well and felt comfortable, but just made a mistake and was spat off the wall. I was a bit fed up with being 71 of 76 as I knew I could have done better.  I focused on the second route and did much better – coming 45 of the 76, although oddly I felt I came of this due to a mistake again.  I was fairly happy with 62 of 76, especially considering the quality of climbers I was competing with.


Crowd watching the final
Yet again I have learnt loads, and know what to try to focus on in training, and competing outdoor in the rain an experience.  Staying all together in one apartment was brilliant, and defiantly the way to go, especially with the wet weather.

Chamonix in the sun

View from the Tourist office

Looking forwards to the Senior World Cup in Imst, and then Senior World Championship in Gijon, with all the senior GB men.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Without Hope or Ambition - By Jen Wilby


What is this raging fire
And anguish that consumes the heart?
Why is it so strong
As to rip mind to pieces
And temper heart into sweet complacency?

My passion lights my blood ablaze
And inspires me to travel
To the edge of the earth for answers.
The most complex and unforgiving problems
Seduce my mind,
Clutch at my very soul, and tear out my heart.

Why does my ambition plague me so?
Why does this endless restlessness
Grip me so harshly?
Why must my emotions entrench themselves in such
Cruel whimsy,
Swerving like the raging water in a river?

Shall I sit in this agony as
it Stains my soul?
Shall I lie as this torrent glimpses my weakness
Lulls my defence,
And, as a phoenix bursts to flame, takes the flesh to ashes and I along with?
It is man’s most insolent beast, that which craves and aspires.
And there are none to comprehend the depth of nature to desire.

Hope, the optimistic attitude of mind, based on an expectation of positive outcomes, something which I believe we should not have, as it focuses the mind on the future without actually taking control of it and focusing on the present. Ambition, the strong desire to do or achieve something, which I have in abundance…in winter.  When I first started climbing it was all about routes, and they were awesome, bouldering was just something I played around with in between. I’m not sure when the change happened, when I realised that I enjoyed bouldering so much more, and I’ve never really thought about it up until now. Bouldering for me allows a sense of freedom, I get so much satisfaction from just one move, one single move can consume so much time and energy and the happy dance comes out when that move is achieved, even if the whole boulder problem has not been completed – that’s just an added bonus. However, I am also incredibly stubborn when it comes to boulders, if I get that “feeling” that it will go, I will try and try and try, until physically I can’t any longer. Sometimes this pay’s off, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, the feeling is amazing, when it doesn’t, it’s so frustrating. I walk away wondering if the time I spent on it was worth it, sometimes it seems like such a waste of time. Spending so much time, and often skin, on one move. Forget all that, it’s totally worth it even if I then have to have a few days off to grow the skin and stop the aches :D Climbing is awesome!
However, and odd realisation this month, has been that I actually get more satisfaction from completing a route than a boulder problem, maybe this is because I find routes a lot harder, requiring more than just power, but the knowledge of when to rest, how to rest, recovery, reading holds and moves. So when the chains are clipped, there is so much satisfaction and after clipping the chains of something which has taken so much work, I often re-live that route in my head for many days after. I sometimes do this with boulder problems, but not often. I’m normally read to move on to the next one.

This month, I tied into the end of a rope for the first time in two years. It’s taken long enough to admit that it’s the time, as going to the Lakes or North Wales to boulder every weekend is just not an option, and now I live in Yorkshire, it would be a crime not to get on the Limestone!  The first stop, Trollers Gill!  http://www.theleedswall.co.uk/cms/images/leedswall/ymc/trollers/trollers.pdf

Trollers Gill
I wasn’t overly psyched, just because it had been so long, but Trollers Gill is in a really cool location up a dry river bed in a gorge. The walk in is very pleasant and it’s worth going just for the walk, beyond the crag to view some awesome Yorkshire scenery. We were the only climbers there, so I could express my sincere trepidation, but I found I was keen to just get on with it. I find if I have time to think about things, I tend not to perform, this has been evident since my swimming days. So off we trundled, laying low on the 6a+ warm up first – pumped, so so pumped by the time I got to the top. This is when I realised that if I wanted to do anything on routes, I would have to invest a lot of time on power endurance. A few years back before heading back to Catalunya, I spent weeks and weeks just going up and down routes, lapping for 20 mins at a time, and found myself able to recover of some of the smallest holds. Am I prepared to do that this year for routes…no, honestly, I’m not. This year is all about preparing for the winter, to get on more physical problems, get on more problems, and be a physically stronger climbing. So, and I quite Freddie Naish, the attitude towards routes this year is “without hope and ambition”, but is it? At Trollers Gill I still got on some harder routes, maybe with a little hope and ambition.

Despite not focussing on routes, I still want to explore the Yorkshire Limestone, so the next stop was Giggleswick. The guidebook showed this crag to be a perfect mileage destination, which I thought would get me back into the swing of things. I don’t know whether it was the time of the year we went, however, it wasn’t what it was described as. Some routes were loose, not very inspiring and it’s a very bad crag for hayfever sufferers, you have been warned! So we decided mileage was not an option, off to Hollywood Bowl it was!

Hollywood Bowl
This crag is not your usual Yorkshire Limestone destination, it has tufa’s! However, it quickly becomes apparent that these tufa’s are not your European tufa’s, those grippy little things which you love grappling with. Be warned, these tufa’s are Yorkshire Limestone tufa’s, slippy, even when not wet and it takes some cunning and brute power to crack them! It’s all goof fun though and there are a few good routes here.

The next stop – Kilnsey! The classic impressive crag.

The stunning crag of Kilnsey

I’ve been to Kilnsey once, a few years back but didn’t do much, so I was keen this year to actually do something on this awesome crag. Bearing in mind, I have no endurance, I went for the shortest route a 10m 7a+ at the far right hand side. It’s got an awesome little boulder problem at the start and then some big moves between big holds, it’s a very enjoyable route!
Comedy is the route which sticks out, a short bulging route which is described as “a modern test piece which is easy for thugs”. Well, that’s not my style, so best get on it. I’ve always wanted to do it, but with that description and with the fact there is always a rope on it, I’ve never been on. I am now fortunate enough to be able to go on an evening, so one Friday evening,  I would like to say I was keen to get on it, but I feel I was bullied into it – however, I loved it and treated it as move for move, not thinking about the chains at the top, but just about the next clip. I enjoyed it so much that first go, I’ve been back again after work to have a go at trying to make some of the moves a little more efficient, however, it is as I feared, thug your way up. Although I haven’t finished this route, I am keen to tie back in and get on it! Who would have known! I got on Comedy because I have hope, hope that one day I will do this route, and I have the ambition to do this route. Whether I am willing to put the work into get there is another question, which is were hope proves void. Therefore, I am doing routes without hope and without ambition, to just enjoy the moves for what they are, individual moments in time which take you away from the past and from the present and provide so much satisfaction. What more is there to it?

Photo's of Comedy - taken by Freddie Naish - MD of The Project Climbing Centre


This week see’s the end of the first training cycle. I was due to be doing power endurance over the last few weeks, which should have tied in nicely with routes, however I’ve done very little PE work and just used the time to climb. With the Tour de France this weekend, it marks the start of a couple of weeks of rest. I’m not too sure how I am going to cope with that, but I will use the time wisely and look at what I want to achieve during the next cycle, which I am super excited about starting. My last blog detailed how I was going to change my diet, I am still going to do this, but I am going to start it when I start the next cycle so I can see the full effect of the supplements and be able to compare more easily to the cycle of not really caring about the nutrition side.

That’s all for now folks, I’m off for a decent rest, lots of sleep, a detox and another planning session.

Happy Climbing!

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Bucket List. By Daragh O'Connor

On the 21st of June the British Bouldering Championships rolled around yet again, Qualification went as planned with me making it into semi’s in 14th. Not amazing, but not bad either.
The real fun was to start the next day. It was a strange feeling to be climbing in the semi’s as all my thoughts and psyche building up were focused on the Qualifiers...

After my first problem I knew my head wasn’t in the game at all. Falling off the first slab which normally would be the problem I would bank on put me off. After that I couldn’t get settled. Looking back I feel like I should have comfortably done both the slab and the dino; and with another attempt on each I might just have.
But sure thats the way with competitions. If your heads not prepared you get diddly in terms of tops. After being bumped down a position from qualifiers to 15th I had to put it out of my mind and focus on what was the main point of the trip.
The senior world cup in Laval.

I knew that how I would climb would pivot on my mindset, if I wasn’t focused I would get annoyed at how I was climbing and with that get more distracted.
Isolation at the world cup is like no other isolation you have ever experienced. Your standing in a room with the best climbers in the world, its tense to say the least. As I was climbing late I had to chill for an hour or 2, trying not to even look at the other climbers as a knock on your confidence is the worst thing that could happen before you have to convince yourself that you can crush every problem in a heartbeat.

You have 50 minutes. 25 minutes of climbing 25 of rest. 5 on 5 off. You don’t really think of much else but climbing. It wasn’t pressure or any of silly mental barrier stuff  that made the comp feel different, it was just an unbelievable amount of psych I had never felt before. After getting my first problem second go and falling off the top hold of 2 more problems i was happy. My result (late 40’s) didn’t show how close I was to doing very well indeed. With just holding those 2 top holds I would have been bumped up my result 20 places at the very least.
Thats why im happy. So excited to do more, and maybe just need to be a little luckier and hopefully all should fall into place.

So yes. Competing in the senior world cup. One of my biggest goals in climbing ticked of the bucket list!

Monday, 2 June 2014


As Spring turns to Summer, the Psyche and motivation has arrived.
Over the last few months trips to Malham, the Lakes and Wales have been going well.  Ticking Bat Route is just around the corner and I am hoping to send before the weather turns hot and work commitments get in the way.  This is the fittest I’ve been for 3 years and I’m loving it.
The Metolius Inferno Draws are brilliant and The Evolv Bandits and Pontas are Holding their own against the rock.
Adam Jeewooth Hatch Life v10/11

Adam Jeewooth shock value v11

Recent trips to Wales have assisted with my power endurance and fitness and also increased my strength.  I have ticked a few new personal problems in the cave: Left wall v8, right wall high v9, cave life v10, high life v10, hatch life v10/11, but failed in hatch life high v11 dropping the last moves 3-4 time (that’s climbing for you).  Also had a good tour of Llandullas cave with Local Wad Chris Doyle.

adam jeewooth walking up ben nevis with ruby dog

A Quick hit to Virtual Crag ended up with an unexpected tick of a classic V11 Shock Value.
Last week a van trip to Scotland was good fun, sightseeing and to conclude the trip an epic walk up Ben Nevis.  Thankfully the Stretch Zion Pants kept me cool and my Evolv Bolt Trainers were comfortable on the rough terrain.
Off to Malham in a min. Wish me luck..........
Enjoy the sun folks.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Where did May go ... ? By Jen Wilby

Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking talking adult.

Birthday cakes!
Sat here looking over a very misty Cow and Calf, wondering where May has gone and what the heck has been done. My memory eludes me! I've never really thought about how these blogs help me, instead, trying to use them as a means to help people open their minds and thoughts. What do I actually get from them though? I spend a significant amount of time pondering about what to write and how to write it (most of the time!)Wanting to say something more than "I did this, and I did that". Sure, I get some awesome things from Beyond Hope....however it has to be about more than that and it's only this morning that I have really thought about what impact these have on me and how it helps. 
The conclusion is that it gives me the opportunity, every four weeks, to review the month and exactly what I've done. It provides a means to be able to think about if I have done everything I have aimed to do, has what I have done been a positive step in the right direction and if not why not? That's a pretty awesome opportunity to have. If I didn't have this, the months would tick by and merge into one big blur, without real focus on reviewing and resetting my goals. 
We are all guilty of it, days merge into months, months merge into the year and by the time you know it, you are celebrating another New Year talking about what you aim to do this coming year which you have many reasons why you didn't do it the year before.
So, why not start your own "blog"?  I don't mean publicly talking about your life, unless you wish to, but personally, at the end of each month, or couple of months, note down how it went, what made you happy, what was productive, what didn't make you happy and how you are going to change things for the following month, no matter how small. 

I was so happy with the progress...I wrote it down :)
So, May, almost half way through the year. It has been a productive month in many ways, except in climbing :\. This month has mainly consisted of rain, searing heat (for a Northerner), bank holidays, weddings, birthdays and organising for this little one to come to the UK to have her forever home with us!

Zahra keeping snug in the Lake District
Jackie at home ... or a wedding venue.
It has also been a month of work, working long hours and committing time to "education" and traveling. I'd love to not have to work to live the life style I do, but I do, so might has well put some effort in. (For those that know me you can pick yourselves up off the floor now).

Mary Jane in London!!!
May has also been the start of my power phase, so I have taken some time to reflect on the strength phase and the training overall to date. My ultimate goal is to climb more physical blocs, rather than the finger ones I gravitate towards and if another result of the training is climbing "harder", opening up more lines to climb, then that's a bonus. I've been trying to put some structure to what I have learnt to share with you all, but it's been a bit difficult, I know what I want to say, just not sure how to, so I've broken it down into sections:

Absolutely key to repair and recover, also something which I have let slip, like a massive landslide! My initial thoughts when I started the plan, was that over the seven months I would drop the weight by focusing on it every day and cut down the intake / type of food I ate as well as the lovely summer ale's that are present in Ilkley! This, in hindsight, was not going to succeed. How can you increase your training, with two sessions a day sometimes and cut down the amount of energy going in? In my last blog, I described how I was totally exhausted and needed to take a few days out. I quickly took the decision not to worry about my weight during this cycle and to just focus on the training and if I wanted to eat, I would, the issue is it was utter cr*p!. I am going to change this for the next cycle and when we get closer to the grit season. A far more sensible and sustainable option. The strength phase has meant I have done little climbing, just campusing and weights. So yes - I'm a little bit of a chunky monkey right now! So what will I change next time around? 
The first major change is going to be introducing the bullet proof coffee into the diet. The Lab  have been experimenting with this for a few months now and only have positive things to say about it. I'm a coffee drinker, like most climbers, but I don't feel great after the "high" has gone. The aim of the bulletproof method is to provide me with enough fuel and brain function (using the Brain Octane Oil) for the whole day to improve my focus and training and to alleviate the craving to snack on rubbish! Once into the grit season I will be using this this as my crag diet, fueling me for the long and brutal grit days. I need to eat at the crag, but when I do, I crash. This should help.

I will also be introducing some protein supplement to the diet. This will involve the B12 Vitamin. I'm border line anemic anyway and this is the one vitamin that I can't get into my diet. This should help with the energy levels. As well as this, I will also be introducing a protein supplement to help me recover . I'll be experimenting with this stuff: http://www.optimalstate.co.uk/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&view=category&virtuemart_category_id=21&Itemid=278

As well as a general overhaul of the quality of food I intake, I'll be making more use of the Rich Roll pre and post workout smoothies. I have used these before and found them really beneficial, both for recovery and getting that little boost before training. Once again, he's experimented with what works and doesn't, so it takes the hard work out of it for you. 

Strength Phase:
I did a lot of muscle activation for this phase, rather than pure strength and for the first time in a very long time, I have managed to complete a full phase without getting injured and I have come out of it that little bit stronger. I did this phase for four weeks, however next time around I am going to extend it to five weeks, as I believe this is the most important phase, after the rest phase, in the cycle and needs more focus. I will introduce maximum weight pulls and hangs as well as a heck of a lot more core! When I designed the plan, I thought I would be able to do two sessions a day twice a week to put in the finger board sessions. With work being so unpredictable, this was not a success. So next time around I'm going to have to plan it a bit more realistically and probably commit to training on a weekend rather than leaving them clear. 

Power Phase:
During this cycle I am dedicating six weeks to this, however I feel this is too long. It's consisting many of dynamic climbing, dynamic campusing and some weights. I feel I am "OK" at power and that strength is really my weakness, so I shall be reducing the time of this phase during the next cycle. 

So that's what I have learnt so far and I'd be keen to hear about everyone else's trial and errors and what they have learnt.

This month, I have managed to do some climbing in between some normal social commitments, with a trip to North Wales and the Lakes. As I am in the middle of training, I'm not tip top on a weekend, in fact I'm normally wiped out. So I've not done anything significant, however I have began to pull more and do bigger moves off slopers and pinch's, so the training must be working and is leaving me excited to really commit to the next few months.
V5 in Carrock Fell

V6 in Carrock Fell I somehow managed not to grease off in the humidity that cut the weekend short!

Start of a one move V5 in Carrock Fell

Start of an awesome V5 in North Wales near Idwal Slabs area, worth the hike.

Onwards and upwards to June, more training with a little more commitment than what I've had this month....and it's time to dust the rope off I think! 

Happy Climbing!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Art of Waiting... by Ben Bransby

Waiting whilst my climbing partner sorts their skins, ski touring into the Mountains, Mont Blanc, Winter 2014.

Aguja Standhardt, Patagonia, 2004
The narrow snow gully above me ends at a large chockstone, the walls on either side steep and verglas covered. I make the final few steps up towards the chock and then pass underneath, the view suddenly widening to encompass the ice cap stretching in front of me. The other side of the range is now visible, but as the view widens the full force of the wind hits me and I am forced a few paces back down to find shelter. Bean and Jvan join me and for the 3rd time in this place we stop long enough to smoke a rollie before heading back down to the bivvy boulder and resuming the long wait for the weather to improve…

Polakos bivvy, Torre Valley, Patagonia. In the era before internet weather forecast the atmospheric pressure was the best way to predict conditions. Bean Bowers and Ben Bransby both check their watches for the latest readings.
Grindelwald, Switzerland, 2008
The waiting here is easy, swooping down the ski slopes to pass the time rather than squeezed in a Alpine bivvy, but still it takes patience to stare over at the North Face, mostly hidden by the swirling clouds, without a sense that the chance is slipping away. My short vacation away from a new family comes to an end but I also feel a sense of relief. My year old daughter had been tugging at my heart and I had never felt in the right head space for ‘the wall of death…’

The Diamond, North Wales, 2013
30m of immaculate overhanging limestone: what will be (if I climb it) my hardest piece of physical climbing. From the initial days bolting the line to the weeks of stamina training, this is a route in which I have invested the most time and energy of any I have attempted. Things are as good as they can get; the notoriously fickle conditions caused by the sea spray are good and I can intimately visualise every one of the 89 moves and holds. The warm up pump has left my arms but I still don’t feel fully fresh; I think it is the nerves making me feel tight. I try to relax and listen to my body. How long to rest, how long to wait?

Howser Towers, The Bugaboos, Canada. A rest day below the North Face of the Howser Towers, Ben bransby waiting for the Sun to warm up and the coffee to brew. Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Alpinlite
Cogne, Italy, 2014
My eyes are drawn upwards to the ice fall on the hill above. From here it doesn’t look too steep or big but it is the first of the grade for me. We start the approach relatively late in the day – we have just arrived from a washed out Chamonix – hoping that the steep walk and lateness will give us the climb to ourselves. 1hr 15 later and the base comes into view, along with 6 other climbers all below our route. I wipe the sweat from my face and pull the down jacket from my bag. It starts to snow…

Bosigran, Cornwall. Having waited for the tide to go out and the sun to shine Jvan Tresch finds perfect conditions whilst snatching a couple of hours of soloing.
Yosemite Valley, 2002
The alarm is set for 4am. We are planning a 1 day free ascent of El Cap via Freerider. Sleeping in the van at the base of the wall we opt for an early night. Midnight and I am still awake, my Alpine down sleeping bag way too hot for a stuffy van in California. I crack the window open… 1.30am, I lie listening to Jvan breathing, is he asleep? I need another piss… 3.15, I feel exhausted and we haven’t even started yet, should still be asleep. I wait for the alarm… it’s claxon comes like a gulp of air on surfacing from water, the hardest part is over, the waiting has ended…

Somewhere below the West Face of Aguja Poincenot, Torre Valley Patagonia. After a 2am start Ben Bransby tries to work out where to go whilst attempting the approach to a new route on the 1200m West Face of Poincenot.
Waiting is one of the essential skills for a climber, a skill often overlooked by many. I spent 2 months in Patagonia without making a single move in the mountains and enjoyed it so much I went back the next year, spending 2 days in the tent below the mountains sat against the canvas walls supporting the poles whilst the winds tore through the valley; waiting for the weather to improve enough that we could retreat back to basecamp, only to return a week later. Days in tents in the Scottish highlands whilst incessant drizzle and midges pattered against the canvas of the tent; the highlight the 3 times a day we could eat a meal, the boredom broken by numerous brews and resulting dashes out of the tent to piss, trying to open only the slightest gap in the zip, like Houdini, to minimise the number of midges that make it in.

Burbage South, Derbyshire. Just prior to the first ‘flake free’ ascent of Parthian Shot Ben looks through the gear whilst trying to decide if it is worth it… Jacket:Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket.
The hardest waits have been the ones before hard climbs, those waits where you may not be cold or hungry but you are sure scared. Those times before redpoints when you want to be fully rested but not cold, before hard grit routes when you think how easily it could go wrong, a slight mistake and you will be slamming into the boulders.  Before Alpine faces when every cloud looks like an approaching storm. The one thing I have learnt about waiting is to make it comfy. It is hard enough dealing with the mental turmoil without freezing at the same time. Camping in Scotland, and I’ll put in extra sleeping pads and the right temperature bag. Sport climbing in Catalunya, and I’ll take a down jacket in the pack. Winter climbing in Scotland or ice falls in the Alps, and I’ll take the biggest jacket I have got along with balaclavas and extra gloves. Where it really matters is the times weight is also critical, multi day climbs where you will be carrying your gear, and getting it wrong could leave you more than just cold. I am more than happy to spend the extra money to get the best, lightest down bag I can; my toes are worth more than a couple of extra days work…

The Abri Simond bivvy hut full of snow, Mont Blanc. Spend long winter’s night here with -25C temps and suffering from the altitude, Winter 2014. Sleeping bag used: Western Mountaineering Lynx MF
For me Western Mountaineering offers some of the best value warmth around both in terms of warmth to weight, and the technical and lightweight equipment you get for the money. The simple design focuses on real mountain use; high functional ability and efficient construction with a fantastic lack of pointless gadgetry.

Polakos bivvy, Torre Valley, Patagonia. Bean Bowers happy that the wind has stopped after being trapped in the tent for 2 days.