Thursday, 29 January 2015

Wear a helmet kids! - Adam Lincoln

Lesson for the new year, wear a helmet. Here is me trying an E7 called On the rocks. It was all going well till i got to the crux with numb fingers. Thinking i would be ok, i pushed on and ended up taking a nasty fall. A skyhook gashed my head open and a trip to A and E was called for.

Here is the vid.

Stay safe folks!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

2014 in a nutshell by Gill Peet

Hi all, I am well overdue an update of my blog so here’s a summary of what’s been going on over the last 12 months, why I've disappeared off the comp scene and what else I've been up to in the world of climbing!

Although after having some great results from 2013 comps, I decided to knock it on the head and focus on sport climbing. I was getting pretty fed up of just bouldering all the time and then going on a sports climbing trip and feeling really unfit and not been able to push the grade. I also missed the luxury of waking up in the morning and just been able to 'go climbing' without worrying that I needed to pull on plastic and remain strong for the comps.

So in January 2014, I sat down and wrote down some goals for the year and now as we start a brand new year, I am feeling proud as punch as I can say I have achieved almost all of them!

Goal 1- Go abroad sport climbing! TICK
After bagging off my job as Climbing Development Officer at Preston wall to join Ian at Boulder UK and establish my coaching academy, I have more freedom to just hit the road and go climbing abroad and we have been lucky enough to get away to Spain 7 times this year and kalymnos once. Jammy I know! This has helped me see a massive improvement in my sport climbing abilities and climbing on rock has reminded me why I love climbing.
El Chorro Spain. Photo: P.Wilkinson

Goal 2 - Flash 7c sport climbing! TICK
I'm not a big lover of red pointing as I prefer to onsight and flash what I climb as I feel this is more rewarding knowing I tried my hardest with little knowledge of the route. Up to now, I've never even attempted to lead 7c, only the odd top rope of one Ian had lead and so with my new goal in my head I decided to embrace my first 7c lead in Chulilla, Spain. I remember laughing to myself nervously thinking as if I'm even going to flash my first ever 7c lead and then blow me down, there I was at the top of my first 7c lead.

Goal 3 - Red point an 8a. TICK
OK so I've just said I'm not in to red pointing but I'm going to be honest, I felt like I was missing out on being able to say 'I've climbed 8a' which I know is a pretty poor reason to set a goal but my friends told me that if I want to push my onsight/flash abilities I need to know just how hard 7c+ and above is. So, on a cold May morning we headed over to Malham to pick a random 8a which was Toadall Recall as it was short and bouldery which I was hoping may suit me. After Ian ran up it and shouting down beta at me, I top roped the moves and managed a quick top rope ascent. Blimey! I thought, this isn't too bad, however I crap myself when Ian suggested I should now lead it. So, off I went feeling positive, but then there was an awkward step through move on a steep section making the rope balloon which I had to step around so the rope was on the right side of me, but could I get the rope out of my way?, could I eck! I'd blown it. I was gutted as I knew I could lead it, but we decided to leave it and come back 2 days later and once I'd quickly learnt how to step round the damn rope, I'd lead my first 8a within the hour. Woop!

Goal 4 - Boulder x5 7c. ALMOST
I'd done a couple of 7c's at my local crag in Longridge but felt I wanted to get more consistent at this grade before I even attempted anything harder. So far I have managed 4 and I am pretty hopeful on securing the last one. First up was Weird Science at the beautiful setting of Dow crag at Coniston which was a quick ascent in the warm June temps. Next was Bone Machine at Fairy steps in South Lakes, a fingery little number which tested my skin. The 3rd & 4th problems were two little numbers from the NEW Lancashire Bouldering guide, Starship at Wilton 3 and The Noisy Cricket at Stronstrey Bank. Myself and Ian have been dabbling on these new hidden gems in the Lancashire bouldering guide and we've been really impressed (Get your copy at Boulder UK).
A thumbs up after sending Starship

Goal 5 – Get further on the Longridge Traverse. TICK
I’m lucky to have the amazing Longridge crag not far from where I live which is fantastic for training stamina. Each year I like to try and get further and further and who knows one day I may do the whole thing! I already knew I could get to the wobble bloc (7c+) but my new goal was to get to the high break (8a+). I am useless and remembering beta so there was many attempts where I messed it up and kept falling off on the same move pumped out of my brains wondering why, despite the training I had been doing. Then on a summer evening when the rock was cool I managed to blast my way right the way to the high break. I was well chuffed, I couldn’t believe the difference the cool rock made to my ability to hang on.

As you can see, I've found goal setting really useful and I recommend it to any climber wishing to push yourself. I know it’s an obvious one, but be realistic with what you set yourself and stick to them. Although it has been hard for me to step away from the comp scene, it has made me realise that achieving my own personal goals is much more rewarding at this stage in my life. Right, now I am off to set some 2015 goals.

Training at home for my next goals!

Thanks as always to Evolv, Metolius, PrAna, Beyond Hope, Boulder UK & Ian for your support!

Impressed with the New Nexxo's on Animal Magnetism V8+

Friday, 26 December 2014

Nexxo Review - Tom Newberry

The Nexxo

 Since I first put on a pair of Shamans two years years ago they have been my go to shoe for almost everything. However, this may have changed. I started wearing Nexxo, the latest shoe in the Evolv Sharma Signature Series, towards the end of the summer and have been impressed. In fact, I was sold before I put them on. The slick and sexy looking shoe looks more like a high end fashionable football boot than nerdy climbing shoe. So regardless of performance at least you’ll look good in a pair – winner! So far I have used them on a number of sport climbing trips testing them on short steep routes in the UK through to 40m endro fests in Yangshuo, China. I like the aggressive, downturned asymmetric profile meaning gripping footholds on steep terrain is easy. Like the Shaman, the Nexxo features the Love Bump at the bottom of your toes and the Knuckle Box at the top put your toes into a powerful position that's also incredibly comfortable. For those that surf I guess you could make the comparison to when split toe wetsuit boots first came out. This feels a little strange at first but once used to it you can really notice the difference in power you can get through your feet on poor footholds. I’d hesitate to go back to wearing a shoe that didn’t have this feature now. It really does work! Further bonuses I’ve encountered is that the Nexxo provides lots of toe power yet keeps the sensitivity allowing your footwork to feel precise and powerful standing on the tiniest edges. Evolv took its trademark Trax rubber and shaved it down in critical areas to give your foot the dexterity it needs for precision on technical climbs. I must concur that this seems to have worked quite well. The dynamic, precision shape of the toe box allowed me to utilise tiny pockets effectively and with confidence; something I was grateful of on the crux of China Climb 8c. Those who have climbed with me will know that a love to use the whole shoe to sneak my way around hard moves, toe hooks, drags, footlocks and more. This is where the Nexxo exceeds the Shaman with lots of rubber atop the foot made toe hooking, heel toes and footlocking exceptionally great. Like the Shaman, the shoe strives to reach that fine balance between sensitivity and support, comfort, and performance, and meets those expectations for what a great performance shoe should be. I therefore found, once broken in, the Nexxo was great for long training sessions I’d been putting in prior to my China trip. 

To summarise, for steep climbing of any variety, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better, more powerful edging shoe than Evolv Nexxo; a great high-performance slipper that does it all well whilst being surprisingly comfortable for a high performance shoe. I can’t imagine a better shoe to take on a two month trip in the states next month.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Senior World Cup Kranj by Connor Byrne

I was worried how I would perform as my hectic life has made doing all the training I want difficult.  However at least this was well timed for a few days away as it was reading week, so I would not miss too many lectures.  I gave Luke a lift to Stanstead on the Thursday night, to fly out on the Friday.  Friday night the running orders were announced and I was to be first up, with the difference in time I was to be competing at 8am UK time.

Senior qualifiers
I had a good read of what would be my first route (2nd qualifier), the plan was to go from the orange pocket, crossing left onto the crimp, then going right out to a sloper, then turning the left crimp to an undercut and finally crossing right to another sloper in the roof.  I was such an idiot, when I got to the first sloper I tried to left shoulder to the sloper in the roof – this was really stupid, it was too hard to undo my mistake and I fell.  How often do I make silly mistakes!  I was really disappointed; I passed the beta onto the rest of the team. I just had to focus on my other route.  This went much better, I stuck to my route reading and I could give useful beta to a decent height to the rest of the team.  I ended up 33rd on this route, but 49th overall.  It’s so frustrating knowing I have the fitness (so better nutrition is working), it’s just getting the brain to work.  Hopefully next year I will put two decent performances together at one of these comps.

For a lead climber I have been busy taking part in the Northern University Boulder Series (NUBS), I have done two of these rounds so far, my second round was an improvement on my first, (better route reading).

This weekend I took part in the Plywood Masters Bouldering Competition, and completely shocked myself by making the finals.  I was really worried about how hard the problems would be in the final, however I surprised myself again and finished 5th overall.

Two lives in One by Connor Byrne

Since my summer blog I have started at Sheffield University.  I was somewhat shocked to find my timetable had 30 hours of contact time, before I even start any own study.  On top of this there is finding time for cooking – or at least eating (and washing) – welcome to the real world!  Somehow I also need to fit in training, why else am I at Sheffield.

3 weeks after entering the real world it’s time for the BLCC, a nice 10 min drive to the wall (sometime things work ok), picking a few  mates up on the way.  Day one was the junior comp.  The day went pretty well, resulting in retaining my BLCC title.  This is now the 4th time in a row I have won my category in the British Lead Climbing Championship!

Junior final route
Junior podium
Back to student digs for the night.  Sunday dawned and I felt rubbish, I had just not recovered.  Three weeks of poor nutrition had finally taken its toll.  I was up 4th and was not ready- great photo from Pete Wuesche you can just see I feel grim.  

Photo: Pete Wuensche
I was feeling much better a couple of hours later for my second route (making 7th place) but my result of the first qualifier dragged me out of the final.  I was really disappointed not to make the finals, but learnt a huge lesson on nutrition.  It is very hard to be fully committed to two hugely time consuming lives – and trying to cram them in one life – and then remembering to eat properly.  I am pleased to say I am more sorted now.

Friday, 19 December 2014

2014 Success - Flo Tilley

2014, how quick has it gone! It's been year of pretty amazing firsts, red pointing my first 7c biological need at Kilnsey, competing in the first ever deep water solo competition in the UK at Exeter, and wining my last ever YCS.
DWS competition at Exeter

This year the first round of the Junior Lead Cup for 2015 was held at Awesome Walls, Sheffield in late November (previously called Open youth). The day, for me went well, although I didn’t actually reach the top of any of my routes I felt like I was fully involved, enjoying them, climbing them like I would like to, not letting the competition nerves throw me of course.

I qualified into finals in 3rd, to Molly and Tara. The route was long, working its way round the right of the comp wall. I felt strong as I started climbing, with what felt like good technique, climbing efficiently. However not even half way I went wrong handed , realised, reversed, then did it again, got my hand on the next undercut then came flying down; I felt like I could have got some much further but made a fundamental error. However this still finished me in 3rd (only with the skin of my teeth. The judge missed my final move). To me a successful day, I might not have got the highest I could but I enjoyed it. Personally I felt my actual climbing went well, with my head in its right place.

The following Sunday the Climbing Unit at Derby held the first boulder ‘youth cup’; catering amazingly for the number of competitors and the comp wall giving a great final to watch. However for me this day wasn't so successful... My strength was drained; months of training had finally caught up with me. I managed 3 tops in 3 attempts in my qualifiers (out of 8 climbs).  This unsurprisingly did not see me through to the finals! Although I knew, and accepted my peak was over I was still gutted; I love boulder finals.

In the middle of all this I had my grade 8 piano exam to fit in. Typical that all the stress comes at once. It was, as an understatement, a hard time in the run up to it all.

These youth cups were also used as team trials for the GB team. I was hoping to get re-selected for the last 2 years, however it didn’t happen. I am frustrated but recognize that my climbing, although I feel like has developed still isn't at the right standard to compete in an international field. And to me I feel like I'm only at the start of a long journey, I know I have a long way to go but I’m psyched to train and want to carry on competing internationally past juniors comps- I love it, they can’t get rid of me yet!
DWS competition at Exeter

So 2014 a successful year, 4th in the senior category of the first deep water solo comp at Exeter, 4th in the junior BLCC, 6th in the senior BLCC, 3rd in my first comp in the junior category, managing hard redpoints outside and a merit in my grade 8 piano. Not too shabby!

I'm excited to what next year will hold. And my main aim? Get stronger!

Have a good Christmas X

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Made in China - Tom Newberry

Made in China - Yangshuo

A coach, a plane, a minibus and a sleeper bus took us on the 36hour journey from Exeter to Yangshuo, China. I'm completely blown away. Yangshuo is a very unique place, unlike anywhere I've ever been. The city itself is buzzing and has become a booming tourist attraction for Chinese travellers; hotels, touring services and restaurants number in the hundreds, 95% of them targeting the Chinese traveller, given that the number of westerners visiting is still relatively low. The city has built up in and around a totally surreal landscape of karst towers that stretch as far as that day’s air pollution index will allow the eye to see. Beautiful, limestone pinnacles are a dime-a-dozen around here, ranging from slabs to dramatically overhanging and single pitch to 5 pitch monster outings. Rock climbing in here was first put on the international map in the early 90s when Todd Skinner, Sam Lightner and Mike Tupper established some of the still-standing mega classics, routes like Over the Moon 7c which climb out the incredible Moon Hill formation. Since then the area has seen a number of rebirths and cycles of popularity- most recently influenced by a segment in Dosage 5, visits by Chris Sharma on the Evolv tour and more recently a stop on the Marmot Lead Now Tour. While Yangshuo is an incredible adventure for any level of climber, the amount of difficult climbing here has increased rapidly in the last few years, with a good number of routes in the eighth grade to go at.

Climbing/travelling outside of your zone always takes a little adjustment. Climbing on the other side of the world can take some serious adjustment. The comforts around Yangshuo for a western traveler are fairly well established, but still, this is definitely China. Being aware of this fact and also traveling on a strict budget, I gave myself a couple days to try and get settled in before I aspired to really push myself. The first week saw me sorting accommodation (apartment for £30/month!), getting to know town, finding proper cheap food joints (damn, proper stir fry is so good and for £1 who can go wrong!) crag snacks were a little trickier. I also learned the rules of the road (that there aren’t any) and therefore how to stay alive whilst driving a moped with no lights, brakes, exhausts or working dashboards. It took a while to get used to the lack of enforced traffic laws, and even though doom seemed ever present, there weren’t too many close calls. We did however seem to have to visit the garage a lot, but the bill usually was in pence rather than pounds.

Our arrival saw unseasonable hot and humid weather more akin to that of southern Thailand, so to kick off our try hard in Yangshuo we headed to the shaded Riverside which features a nice collection across many grades. After a warm up, I moved my rope below the start of Flaming Hornets 8a+, managing a send on my second try of this incredible crimp and compression test-piece; a good confidence boost and great way to get stoked to try some harder lines. Over the next few days, I continued to work through the many classic 7’s and low 8s. Red Dragon 8a+/b stands out as one of the best lines. The mad moves and crazy rests through the steepest part of the Moon Hill arch were simply amazing to climb, unfortunately I failed to get this redpointed as Moon hill is now banned and the police (whom were more than likely fairly pissed off that again they have had to walk 45 minutes uphill to kick climbers off who again have ignored the numerous no climbing signs) made it known that climbing here is not an option.

Lei Pei Shan, one of the big three crags in Yangshuo, (and my personal favourite) is an immaculate 40m wall with the perfect mix of little in-cut crimpers, tufas and hueco pockets. Despite some still tropical weather, my impatience got the better of me and after ticking the first of the big routes that tackles the high headwall, No Guaranty 8a/+ (incredible route!), I was psyched.  So I headed out to try one of my aims for the trip China's first 8b+ and one of the truly world class routes that Yangshuo has to offer, Thunder. The routes begins with an incredible 7c to a good rest before passing through a series of super technical cruxes involving a balancey sequence followed by a huge dyno off tiny crimpers into a sinker hueco. Having mostly been doing ~15m routes in the South West, I knew I would have to step up my fitness game to send this 40 meter beast. But, after 4 goes working the moves and tweaking beta, I happily clipped chains on my first redpoint go, managing my endurance at every opportunity and not taking any rest for granted. Back again after a day off and the neighbouring route, Lightning 8b/+ was the next obvious challenge. This beast goes on forever with little rest bite, technical climbing on crimps, pinches and pockets continue up the headwall after the anchors of a challenging 8a. Again, I clipped chains on my 5th try total, after frustratingly dropping the last hard move on my first redpoint. I finished the day with a few more classic routes and looked forward to a well-earned rest day complete with traditional Chinese massage. 

Half way through the second week saw the arrival of rain and a welcome drop to the previously boiling temps. This meant I finally got to check out White Mountain - which is unquestionably the area’s best crag. Set in ‘Rural China’ this beautiful wall rises above a sea of orange trees.. no road noise.. little pollution to speak of.. routes from 6b to 9a… amazing. I warmed up on a couple awesome 7b+s and quickly followed with a second go tick of Gin and Tonic 8a/+. The slick slopers were a dream on my worn tips as a teched my way up the golden 30+ meter wall. Next day, Karate a muerte en Torremolinos 8b, a bouldery number, had worked its way to top of the to-do list. 3rd day on and tired I wasn’t optimistic, but the moves suited me well.  A foot slip ended my second go but I managed to pull an ascent out the bag on my next try, waiting till almost dark for optimal conditions. I left feeling psyched and inspired. After a rest day maybe it was time to try hard and get a project.

Week 3 was projecting week, and after sending Axeman 8a/+ I noticed its awesome looking neighbour China Climb 8c - this was the one to go for. This test-piece features a wickedly crimpy crux and powerful ~V9 moves. It's burly, it’s ferocious, it’s awesome. The only down side was the rather sharp holds that took some careful skin management to keep my chances up. The crux took some working, but after a few sessions tweaking the beta, I managed to fight through to the chains skipping the final 3 draws (I took the full 20+ meter lob too, as my arms ground to a halt on the penultimate move). Woop, woop my second 8c of the year, and a world class one too!

The fourth and final week saw me finally get to Bayan Tree to do the Dosage classic and China’s first 8b, 9 deep, 1 shallow. Another stunning route hosting some brilliant moves on unusual features; one I won’t be forgetting any time soon. I then wound it down a little with some on-sighting mileage, eager to experience as many Yangshuo classics as my tired muscles and sore skin would allow for. The funky chicken 8a, Smackdown 7c, Over the Moon 7b+, Yangshuo Hotel 7b, Tod Skinner Line 7b, Lily 7b, Dragonfly 7a+ are all highly recommended and worth seeking out. 
I’m now sat in the airport killing time before the 11hour flight home super motivated by my success here in China and plotting my next adventure – Hmmmmmm…. Mexico, Chile, Cuba??? Too many choices…

PS. My Nexxos worked a treat on the steep rock here! Love these shoes! Review and more thoughts on these soon…