Thursday, 4 December 2014

Steaks, Crimps and Roofs (Hueco Tanks)

This was a trip that we had talked about over a year and a half ago. When the idea finally came to be, the psych was high and we were ready to send some hard Boulder problems and eat a hell of lot of steak! After over 24 hours of travelling we finally arrived in El Paso in our absolutely incredible house that we had for the next 4 weeks.

Too giddy to wait, we went straight out to climb on North Mountain the next day. Jet lag was hitting most of us hard except Sam who made swift work of a really cool looking problem 'Dean's Journey' V10.

Sam sending 'Dean's Journey' "what's jet lag?"

With our biceps aching from the slopey undercut on Dean's we went out again the next day feeling a little more awake... Slowly getting into the swing of things, we climbed a couple of V6's and V7's including a really fun highball 'See Spot Run' and the super classic 'Baby Face'. We also climbed a soft V10 'Fern Roof'. After this we all thought a rest day was needed to fully re-cooperate from the travelling and the climbing we had just done.

Fully rested and ready to go again, crush mode was engaged and I sent my first V12/8a+ 'barefoot on Sacred Ground' a really cool climb starting in a small roof climbing up through slopers and crimps with toe hooks and compression. This had an optional high top out which I did try but got freaked out when I found sand in the holds at the top and dropped off. Third day on and I had already reached a personal best! After taking a pretty sketchy fall from the top, max also climbed 'Loaded With Power' V10 a super cool line with huge Huecos and knee-bars. I definitely had to come back for this.

'Barefoot On Sacred Ground' my first V12

Max climbing the Huecos of 'Loaded With Power'

During the rest of the first week we went on our first tour to East Mountain where I managed my first ever V10 flash of 'Mojo' and climbed a V11 'Chninkel' and we also had another day on North where we climbed a slab and a couple of other things including an amazing climb called 'Bloodline' V7. After flashing Bloodline Max took a tumble down a crevasse while taking photos and hurt his shoulder pretty bad. And had to visit the hospital meaning he was out for a week. 

'Bloodline' V7

The second week was all on North with 2 more V10 ticks including the infamous 'Power of Silence' and one of my favourite climbs of the trip a V11/12 called 'Diaphanous Sea'. Basically a board problem with a jump. I also put up what I'm pretty sure is a first ascent which in true Hueco style I named 'Boobs.com' which goes at about V5. Tom also climbed 'Loaded with Power' his first V10 and was buzzing for the whole day!

Tom taking a wild swing at the top of his first V10

Now halfway through the trip which was going so fast, we had 2 more friends Join us; Dan and Rowanne. They where keen to get straight out like we were so we went on tour to East Spur where possibly the greatest concentration of good boulders in Hueco are. I climbed 2 cool V8's including a really fun roof called 'Bush League'. Dan's power scream/roar was quite impressive as he front levered himself through to the finish... I did try a V13 'Crown of Aragorn' and managed to do all of the moves but wasn't psyched.

Later that week I had what was probably the best outdoor climbing day I have ever had. I climbed 3 V11's including one which I nearly flashed... Then proceeded to flash a V10 and climb 'Loaded With Power' the V10 that Tom and Max had done earlier in the trip 1st go of the session. I don't know why but I had so much energy that day. I was running up the mountain to get to the problems... Michelle also climbed a cool V8 called 'McBain' which was pretty burly!
Who needs knee-bar pads!

I had some trouble with my elbows but after getting a deep tissue massage we got quite a lot in during the last week. I pulled out another V12 'Loaded Direct' on North and we went on a lot of tours where we climbed a few V8's and a lot of mid range classics. About 3 days from the end of the trip I went back out to East Mountain, just me and my tour guide Ann so that I could try 'Slashface' a V13/8b which I had tried the week before and she could try one of her projects 'Sunshine Roof' a cool slopey roof traverse.

I went out in my Christmas pug T-shirt which the crew had bought me a few days earlier feeling confident. After 2 attempts missing the first crux move, I stuck it and made my way towards the final crux move where I just missed and fell. I took a 15 minute rest and pulled back on. I came to the same move again but this time I stuck it! Now trying to calm myself I fought through the next few awkward moves with toe hooks. I was fairly pumped after this so took a long shake out before continuing up the chossy top out to then celebrate as I had just sent my first V13!!! Wooooo!!! I wanted to climb V13 this trip and this was the one I wanted to do the most. I really couldn't have asked for anything more...

Trying on pug tops...

Shooting guns in Texas!

One more day in the park. We got up early and managed to get spaces on North where I climbed an incredibly sharp but cool problem which is a shorter version of a V12 called 'Le Retour de Goupil' which goes at V11. Me and Tom then finished our last day up on a super fun font style V4 called 'Michael Kenyon' which was the perfect way to finish up the trip.

Last day in Hueco...

Wishing I was back there already. Maybe I will return for a full season at some point...

Leaving El Paso...

Thanks to the crew for being awesome.
Thanks to our tour guides: Anna, for bringing the psych every day and keeping us motivated, and Ann for spotting me on Slashface and taking me to see West Mountain which we didn't get chance to climb on.
Also, thanks to my sponsors: Scarpa (The booster S is the perfect shoe for Steep Hueco climbing), PrAna (The new continuum pants are a great rugged pair of trousers with cool colours), ROKT Climbing Gym, Metolious, and Peak Pro Fitness.

(Photos courtesy of Max Ayrton, Michelle Greenall, Tom Greenall, Sam Whittaker.)

Below is my full ticklist for the month.

El Rauncho V2F
Bloody Flapper V4F
Baby Martini V6
Nobody Here Gets Out alive V2F
The Mexican Chicken V6F
Fern Roof V10 (V9)
See Spot Run V6F
Babyface V7
Daily Dick Dose V7F
Barefoot on Sacred Ground V12
Warm Up Roof V4F
Mojo V10F
Le Chninkel V11
The Two Star Arête V2F
Blackmail V3
Lobster Claw V5
Speed Bump V7
King Cobra V6
La Delicate V3
Mandalahaha V3F
Bloodline V7F
Power of Silence V10
Pounding System V4
T-Bone Shuffle V4F
Sign of The Choss V4
Choss Training V3
Theatre of The Absurd V10
Diaphanous Sea V(11)/12
McBain V8F
Boobs.com V5 FA
Better Eat Your Wheaties V8
Bush league V8
Name dropper V3
Rogered in The Shower V10/(11)
Seka's Speciality V2
Dark Age V11
El Techo V11
Tequila Sunrise V11 (2nd go)
Girls of Juaréz V4
Free Willy V10F
Loaded With Power V10
Guillotine V2F
The Executioner V4F
Loaded Direct V12
Choir Boys Light V7
Uncut Yogi V6F
Sex After Death V8F
Hi-Pro Glow V6F
New Religion V7F
Alf in a Blender V6
Babyfat V6
Young Guns V4F
Greasy Kid Stuff V4
Slashface V13
Uncut Yogi (sit start) ungraded (V7) (1st go)
Javelina V8
Jingus Bells V5
Fuck You Asshole V4F
Adjust Your Attitude V8F
Le Retour de Goupil Light V11
Michael Kenyon V4F

Brackets is what grade I think it is...

Grades
V2 - 5
V3 - 5
V4 - 11
V5 - 3
V6 - 8
V7 - 7
V8 - 6
V9 - 1
V10 - 5
V11 - 7
V12 - 2
V13 - 1

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Travelling...

The final comp of the season was last weekend. The world championships were an incredible end to the year for me. I'm not going to go into masses of detail about this competition but rather how the comps in general have changed my opinion on how I want to live my life.


The World Championships took place in the 1972 Olympic Park in Munich. A fantastic piece of architecture featuring really interesting wavy glass roofs all over. Going to all these new places has meant I've had the chance to see amazing things, like the: Arc De Triumph, Niagra Falls and obviously the Olympic Stadium in Munich.


                                                   Olympiazentrum Munich

In Munich I got to see all my friends that I haven't seen in a long time. By travelling to these different countries I got to meet old friends and also make a lot of new friends! It's great to catch up with old friends; finding out what they've been up to and I love meeting new people.


                  My beer is bigger than yours

I managed to top one boulder out of quite a hard set in Munich. Over the 5 comps I did, I felt I progressed through all of them and improved both physically and mentally.


Basically, I've had the time of my life this summer and it was because: I kept moving around, got to see old friends, saw them climbing really well, and had lots of great experiences which I want to carry on.


Every time I come home I just think about the next trip I have planned and when is the next time I will get to leave the country. My life is going to be made up of as much travelling as I can possibly fit in. As long as I can afford to do it, I will do it.

            Returning home to cold cold England

On the note of meeting old friends, I happened to be sat next to John Ellison on the flight home on Sunday. I've known John for quite a while but I had never had the chance to speak to him for so long and in so much depth about how Cancer and the charity has affected his life. He smiles probably far more than the average person, which is incredible under the circumstances. I think we should all follow in his footsteps. He has a great outlook on life and I personally think if I can be anything like him them I'll have a happy life.


                         An inspirational moment at the CAC donation before finals

Also, definitely buy a Climbers Against Cancer t-shirt or 2, or 3 if you get a chance.


Till the next trip... 


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

World Cups + Recovering From Injury 2

Haiyang


After a solid week of training and sleeping back in the UK it was time to head out to China. I had never been to Asia so I was quite excited but also a little worried as I had only heard not that great things about China...


I had a nightmare trying to get my visa sorted out prior to leaving but eventually managed to get one with a day or two to spare. This was the longest flight I had to take for all the comps involving 2 layovers, one in Paris and one in Guangzhou China.


Flying into China


When we arrived in China the air was incredibly humid and you got a sweat on just standing still. After a long taxi ride we finally made it to the hotel. Haiyang was not at all what I expected. I had heard about the masses of people in china and not very good food, but in fact Haiyang was quite the opposite. There were loads of high rise flats with no one living in them. The whole city felt like the aftermath of a zombie apocolypse. With lots of construction going on and only a few people here and there, it was a bit strange to say the least. Then after suggestions of bringing my own food with me to China, (which I decided against) the food was great! A huge buffet for every meal with plenty to choose from. So not typical China I would say...


The boulders in the comp were fairly basic pull hard problems. It was quite hot during qualifiers but I felt good. I dropped a few boulders and came close to getting boulder 1 and 2 but I knew not many people were topping. It came to the last boulder and I was tired but knew this was the one to get. I pulled on and climbed to the top with relative ease. I topped a burly (ish) boulder! Well it was overhanging and not a slab at least...


When the round was over I checked the results and found out I had qualified for the semi-final. A great birthday present!


Photo by: Shauna Coxsey


The next day in isolation me and Shauna had both somehow misread the time for semis so I ended up only having 20 minutes or so to warm up. This definitely showed on the first boulder. I just couldn't engage my shoulder enough to press out on the volume. This was the boulder I thought I would have had the best chance at. It started raining half way through my rotation so I got to have a bit of extra time to rest which I was thankful for. I managed to get one bonus on the roof problem. It didn't really matter how I climbed because I had accomplished my overall goal for the season. To make a semi-final, and I was happy with that.


Laval


We arrived into Charles De Gaule Airport to be notified that our bags had been; "misplaced"... Great. I won't go into detail about how shit AirFrance were to us whilst we attempted to regain our bags over the following weeks. I still don't have my bag back yet. Anyway, after a couple of days training and wandering about Paris taking in some culture. We met up with Shauna's coach who drove us to Laval. 


View of Paris


It was great to be back in Laval, the town where I won my first international gold medal as a junior the previous year. It brought back some good memories. I got to meet some old friends who were also competing in Laval last year and we also had a much bigger team at this event. I always like the team vibe it definitely pushes me to climb harder.



Whilst warming up for qualis, my skin just disintegrated and fell off. This has never happened before and I was left asking myself "why now!" After a lot of chewing I got my fingers to a climbable level and carried on with my warm up.


The venue was much hotter than last year which was a big factor. Everything was quite sweaty and it was hard to keep your breathing down. There were a lot of competitors entered for this competition which meant we had to climb in two separate groups. I was in group B.


I was out fairly early on and cruised the first boulder. It felt really easy. The next 3 were a bit harder but I managed to reach the last move on all of them. The final boulder was a cool outward facing start, a little manoeuvring and a sideways jump to the finish. I surprised myself with another flash! Well psyched!


Photo by: Eddie Fowke (The Circuit)

Photo by: Eddie Fowke (The Circuit)


I definitely feel like I climbed my best in this competition compared to the other rounds. Once again, I didn't care where I placed, the fact I felt I climbed well was all that mattered to me.


Well that's it for now, the World Cups are over and back to work. Now it's time to train for the World Championships!


Hopefully I'll get my bag back at some point...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

World Cups + Recovering From Injury

I am going to write 2 separate blogs for the World Cups. One for Toronto and Vail and the Other for Haiyang and Laval. This is just so I don't bore you with endless amounts of words.


As you may know, I injured my hand 3 weeks prior to the world cups. I tore the lumbrical muscles between my ring finger and little finger. This put me out of the first half of the season. Obviously I was devastated as I felt the strongest I'd ever felt. I knew I had to train safe and hoped that I would be able to maintain some strength and be able to compete later in the season. I set my self a goal to make a semi-final at least once, but I wouldn't mind if I didn't. this year was all about gaining experience.


Toronto


My hand recovered enough to start my season in Toronto (Canada), the 5th instalment of the World Cup Circuit. Before the competition we had a session at Climbers Rock with the Australian Team. We also went to see the incredible Niagara Falls! 



This was my first ever international competition as a senior, and I had a bit of first comp nerves. I went out after Ty Landman the only other Male climber competing for GB. The first problem was a vert 2 mover. I managed to top after a few drops of the last move. I was really happy; I had topped a World Cup boulder!


After that I got another bonus but struggled on all the rest of the boulders. It felt I gained a lot of experience from this first comp and I would apply it in the next one. Ty managed to make semis, and Shauna made finals. The crowd was amazing in Toronto. So loud and super psyched for everyone. Even clapping when someone fell off...


Photo by: Eddie Fowke (The Circuit)


On the way to the airport before leaving for the USA we managed to visit "Nathan Phillips Square".



Vail


From Canada we flew to Denver (USA) and drove to Boulder at 4000ft above sea level. On the first night I got to meet and have dinner with someone I had seen in climbing videos for years, Chris Schulte, along with a couple of really nice people who cooked and welcomed us into their home.


We spent a couple of days in Boulder where we had a session at the Spot Gym where I got to see how strong Daniel Woods and Carlo Traversi are in real life. They are very strong by the the way... Then we ate a lot of pancakes... Vail is 9000ft above sea level so before heading there we drove up Mt Evans, all the way up to 14000ft in the hope that when we got to Vail it wouldn't feel nearly as bad as up there. I really struggled with the altitude. I had a couple of nose bleeds and a really bad headache coming down from Mt Evans. I just had to make do.



https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=565880696866759&id=293931117395053

A short video of us climbing at the Spot Gym in Boulder. Video by: Shauna Coxsey


When we arrived we got upgraded to an amazing suite with 3 chandeliers! I had a 4 poster bed to myself!



The competition was part of the Go Pro Mountain Games so there was a lot of other events going on that we could watch such as the Slackline World Cup and Slopestyle Mountain Biking. Oh yeah and this weird contest involving dogs jumping into a paddling pool.


Anyway, time to compete! after being in isolation for 4 hours it was finally time to get on the wall. I felt more relaxed this time and felt good. I struggled on the first boulder but regained myself to get the bonus on the second. The third was a 360 campus on 2 finger pockets. I hadn't tested my hand on pockets in a while so I thought I'd give it a go gently. As soon as I started to weight it it really hurt and let go. I had to do the move off my front 2 fingers and did it next go. I reached the bonus several times but could not finish the boulder.the 4the was really hard and after a moment of stupidity not seeing the blue hold on the blue volume I topped the last problem. Another slab! Leaving this comp I knew what I wanted to do in the next comp. top a burly boulder!


Photo by: Eddie Fowke (The Circuit)


Before leaving America we headed out to Independence Pass with Chris and some other friends. And got to see the amazing ice caves. They were so cool and can only be expressed in full by actually seeing them in person. It rained so we went into Aspen for a hot chocolate then got to do a little bouldering when it dried up before getting snowed out. After all that we finished up with a greasy burger before leaving for the airport.



For now it was back to the UK for training and much needed sleep.


Haiyang and Laval blog will be up in a few days.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

A Trip Cut Short

Since my last post I climbed Le Mur Du Son 7c a couple of 7b dyno's and a few 7a+'s. Everything was going so well until I pulled a finger...


                                                       Le Mur Du Son 7c


I have never really had a serious injury that has put me out of climbing for more than a week; I've been ill but never injured. To be honest, it couldn't really have come at a worse time. With the World Cups only 5 weeks away, even if it was completely healed by then I wouldn't be able to train... Rendering me useless.


It happened a few days ago. We went back to have another go at Elephunk which I had previously got so far on. It took me a little while to remember all the moves and then I started trying from the start again. For some reason, the crack felt better with 3 fingers today rather than 4. On my 3rd or 4th go I heard a loud snap and felt my tendon go tight all the way from my wrist down my forearm. I obviously dropped off holding my arm in confusion. There was no pain... Then after a minute or so my ring finger slowly started to hurt and ended up being quite painful. I didn't want to believe it, but I knew my climbing was over for quite some time.


                                                       Just after the snap...


It was bound to happen at some point. It's not often someone climbs for 13 years and doesn't get injured, I just wish it could have happened at a different time.


Luckily I have BMC insurance and they are sorting out an earlier flight home for me so I can get it checked out as soon as possible.


I plan to train using other methods while I am out. Lots of core work, maybe some swimming and when I can use my hand properly again hopefully some weights. All in hope of recovering in time for the second half of the World Cups.

Friday, 28 March 2014

2 weeks in Fontainebleau: Day 4-7

Day 5:

After all the rain we had yesterday meaning all we could do to keep ourselves amused was to have a weight session at the gite, when the sun came up today we we're raring to go out and crush some boulders.


We decided to go to Cuvier Rempart and try the big 4 which consists of 3 7c's: Big Boss, Fourmis Rouge and Tristesse, and also a 7c+: Big Golden. When we arrived we headed up the hill a bit to warm up on some easier stuff. We climbed 2 7a's: Laser, and a nice little climb called Ridicule and also the super classic easy arête: L'Angle Alain. Then to get the hight factor warmed up we did Watchtower 7b+ which is pretty damn high.


                                                         Watchtower 7b+


Now fully warmed up with the sun beaming down, it was time to get on the big 4. As Big Boss was in the shade we decided to try this one first. Will hurt his finger so had to stop which is a bit of a shame on his first day... I almost flashed the problem but then had a bit of a hard time getting to the same point again. After a few more attempts with some different beta I topped out! Feeling good we then moved to the next (Fourmis Rouge). This took a little bit longer and was quite scary at the top. Slapping for slopers at about 4 or 5 metres is not the nicest thing to be doing but I managed to pull it off. Joe was really close to this climb and I think he will go back to get it sent. Tristesse had been in the sun all day so I was a bit sceptical to whether it would be doable. To my surprise it only took me about 10 minutes to get this one done. My favourite of the lot!


                                                            Big Boss 7c

                                                        Fourmis Rouge 7c


The last one was Big Golden, the 7c+. I still felt ok so started working the problem. I managed to get quite far but I could tell I didn't have much left in the tank. After lots of unsuccessful attempts I had to call it a day. A little disappointed I didn't manage them all but still happy with the rest. I will go back fresh to see if I can get Big Golden finished.


Day 6:

Today was kind of a rest day. We headed to Franchard Cuisiniere at about midday and warmed up. I climbed a hard 7b called L'Arete Du Star and then moved on to Rencard; a nice 7c just down the hill a little bit. This felt similar to an indoor style problem and only took about 5 minutes to get done.


                                                            Rencard 7c


After that I had a few goes on Karma which I had tried before but it felt even harder than last time so I heroically gave up.


Feeling tired with not much skin, we went for another session on Duel (an 8a slab) which I had also tried previously. I made even more progress than my attempts back in October getting just below the high crux move. Definitely need another session on this before we leave.


So all in all a pretty good "rest day". Tomorrow, we head to Marlanval to try Elephunk.


Day 7:

A mixed bag of emotions today. We set out to Marlanval to try Elephunk (8b). We got there and it looked slightly damp but it turned out we had perfect conditions. It only took me about half an hour to get all of the moves done. All that was needed was to link it.


The problem has a steady-ish start into an awkward hand flip and a tough move into a vertical crack. There's one more quite hard move which needed perfect body positioning, then you're into Mac 4 7b+ which is not too bad but is quite snatchy.


                                             Latching the crack on Elephunk


After a few goes from the start I did everything perfectly and got through all the hard moves into Mac 4 and my left hand ejected out of the crack. Devastating!


                                                       Left hand ejection!!!


The way you hold the crack, it crushes you're little finger and was tearing a hole in the side of mine. Which meant I had to stop. I am going to rest up tomorrow and not climb in the hope that the hole in my finger will heal up and allow me to go back and get it sent!


I'll let you know how it goes in a few days.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

2 weeks in Fontainebleau: Day 1-3

I haven't been to Font since October and it was definitely time to go back to complete some unfinished projects and send some new stuff!


Day 1:

After doing the final round of The Depot winter boulder league last night then driving straight down to Font over night was pretty epic to say the least. It was raining when we arrived at our gite so we decided to do a food shop and stock up for the week. After that the weather cleared up and it became really sunny so we headed to Roche Sabots (a place we are very familiar with) to have a relaxed climb on some easier problems as we we're shattered. After climbing a few 7a's and 7a+'s I ended up repeating an 8a I had done in October last time I was there (Sale Gosse assis). Joe Swales had previously done the stand start to this problem which gets 7c so he attempted the sit. He cruised the flick off the mono at the start but just couldn't link the whole problem together. I am certain he will get his first 8a this trip.


                                              Joe Swales on Salle Gosse Assis


Day 3:

Yesterday we went to Bas Cuvier. Me and John climbed Aerosol 7b+ and then had a few tries at La Balance 7c before getting rained off it. 


                                                    John Thornton on Aerosol


Today was an awesome day! We met up with my friend Mike who was on his last day in Font. He showed us this really cool boulder in the middle of nowhere with an 8a problem on it called Opium. It was a bit morpho but I managed to send it after figuring out the beta that worked for me. I really enjoyed that climb and would recommend anyone who climbs at that level to go and try it.


http://vimeo.com/90013936

Video of me climbing Opium.



After that we wandered off to try and find a problem called Hueco Tanks 7c+. But instead stumbled across a huge outcrop of untouched boulders. I put up a new line fittingly called "Where's Hueco?" which goes at about 7b. I will definitely have to make a longer trip to font at some point to have a look at some of the other cool looking lines there.


After all of that we had some lunch and ate some weird pink stuff which sent us a bit hyper, we took the trek to find the elusive Le Kraken 7c. Leviathan 7a to the left was our warm up which I managed to flash and then started working the moves on Le Kraken. We were getting really close to the hardest move (a dyno to a crack) When me and Joe sent it straight after each other! All aboard the send train!!! Toot! toot!


I will keep you informed on the rest of the trip with more mini blogs like this one throughout.