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.

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.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

It's been a while

It's been a while since my last post, but honestly it's been hard to top what I talked about in my last one. It truly was a great moment.

Since then, a lot of things have happened. A Font trip, a hell of a lot of training, World Cup Selection and The CWIF. I have actually gone from strength to strength since Laval. I managed another 8a in font (Salle Gosse assis) and another one back in the UK (The Joker) at Stanage Plantation. I won the GB Team World Cup Selection event at the Castle in London, meaning I am now competing in the full World Cup season along with The World Championships a bit later on in the year.

Video from the last font trip.

Last weekend was the annual Climbing Works International Festival. this year a huge amount of international strong men and women had signed up including the likes of Rustam Gelmanov (RUS) and Jernej Kruder (SLO). I knew this would be a good tester to see how I will perform in the world cups to come.

Qualifying was made up of 30 blocs that were truly awesome. Super techy with only a couple of slightly burly ones. I think everyone who competed would agree it was set to perfection. I was really happy with my qualifying score of 291 which put me in joint 3rd with Gabriele Moroni (ITA), only beaten by Alex Megos (GER) and Stewart Watson (GBR) who both scored a very impressive 300. A full house.

The next day we went into isolation for semi's. I used this time to mingle with some of the other athletes who will also be doing some of the world cups this year (It's always good to have friends), and of course to warm up.

Because of my qualifying score I went out near the end. I decided to try some relaxation methods to calm any nerves I had about the competition. As I sat on the mat waiting to turn around and head towards my first problem. I closed my eyes and imagined myself laying on a beach on a really hot sunny day taking in the rays. This seemed to really help.

The first problem was a pull hard or go home kind of problem and I only managed to gain the bonus. After, I looked at the second and knew straight away I was going to send this problem. It was a ninja kick! (Anyone who knows me will know that this is my favourite kind of move), I flashed the problem with relative ease. The third, again I only managed the bonus but still felt pretty good. The last was a really balancy slab. I took my time to look at and prepare all the holds. It felt like I was on the wall for ages, but I pushed through and managed another flash!

                                            Me sending the ninja kick problem!

I was really happy with my performance at the weekend and I now know I can hold my own against some of the worlds best. Following last weekend, I have also had the opportunity to have 2 training sessions run by the Slovenian coach along with the Slovenian and Deutsch teams and Rustam as well. These were really good fun and I really had to try hard throughout.

So, as I write this at 1:30am, I am currently wedged like a Tetris piece in the back seat of a car driving down to Fontainebleau yet again along with some of my good friends. I will post this as soon as I get some wifi which may be a couple of days from now. I'll keep you informed on how it goes with a full report of the trip and we will also be making a video so keep an eye out!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The greatest moment of my life so far…

Looking back at last weekend I can hardly believe what happened. As I sit here writing this struggling to keep my eyes open, it’s amazing to think of all the unbelievable achievements that were accomplished for GB climbing.

So Thursday, travelling to Laval (France) for the last round of the European Youth Bouldering Cup. We all met up at Manchester airport raring to go and excited about the weekend. After a short flight, a few delays at the car hire and a hell of a lot of Paris traffic, we finally made it to our hotel. It was quite late by this time and we all needed some sleep but for some reason I wasn’t able to get any… As I sat outside the hotel at half 3 in the morning I had time to think. I knew this was going to be my last ever competition competing as a junior and I really wanted to put in my all.

The next day I had a chance to catch up on some sleep and relax a little before the opening ceremony in the evening. It did feel quite cool to go up on stage holding our nations flag along with all the other countries. The speeches did drag on a bit but maybe if I had learned some French before I came I may have understood at least some of it. Afterwards I did my usual team talk with everyone and also got to meet one of the GB para-climbers.

Competition day, today was the day it all happened for youth A and junior categories. I watched the Youth A’s in the morning and tried to help out as I could. Everyone did so well! And it really got me pumped up for my qualification round in the afternoon.

It finally came time for me to get on the wall. I hadn’t climbed properly since the Monday before so I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel once I got started. I had a good warm-up and was ready to go. The problems were really cool and I really enjoyed it. I managed to top 7 of the 8 boulders qualifying me at 5th into the final.

I normally suffer from bad cramps during the finals of competitions so I got a massage straight after qualifying. This really helped and I didn’t get any cramp whilst on the wall.

We were in isolation for ages so I went to sleep. After waking myself up and having another good warm-up we all went out for observation. The crowd was massive and the atmosphere was incredible. The problems looked awesome and I couldn’t wait to get on them.

The first boulder was and off-vert, technical and slopey creation. I came out and somehow managed to flash it! After fist pumping at the top and shouting “COME ON!” I was feeling great going back into isolation. The second was a crimpy start into a dyno. It took me 3 goes to stick the dyno but it felt great when I topped it. The final boulder looked crazy with these huge pink blobs leading to the top. On my first attempt I got past the first section with relative ease but then came unstuck at the slap for the penultimate hold. I knew what I had to do and started up the problem once more. I paused just before the move I had previously dropped and said to myself in my head. “Last ever junior problem. Make it count.” I stuck the move with a wild helicopter of my feet and matched the last hold with a massive smile on my face.


As I walked out to watch the last competitor on the final boulder, at this point I knew I had second place and wasn’t expecting anything more. I was really happy with this and I had maintained my world ranking of 2nd and bumped my European ranking up to 2nd as well. The only way I could come 1st was for the last climber to not top the final boulder. I was standing with the team at this point who had been giving me the best support all through the final and were by far the loudest team there. After he had dropped the problem 3 times I actually started to think I might actually win this. He pulled on for his last attempt just before the buzzer sounded so was allowed to complete his go but was not successful. The whole team including me jumped up and roared! I felt a bit bad that we were all cheering when he fell off but I couldn’t believe it! I had actually won!

This was the greatest moment in my life so far…

To be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in and I was getting congratulations all weekend. It felt amazing!

The next day was the turn of the youth B’s and I was just blown away with how well the whole team worked together during qualifications. Normally I go around coaching during qualification and helping out as much as I can but today was different. I sat back and watched the team do this without any instruction. They just wanted everyone to climb their best!

Both Pete and William made finals and did amazing. Will even made podium! I loved watching them climb in the finals, proving that the Brits are a force to be reckoned with.

 The Team has really bonded more than ever on this trip; it feels like I have become part of a 2nd family. Without them cheering me on there is no way I could have done what I did. I am really sad to be leaving the team and I’m sure the next team captain will be just as good if not better than I was. Thank you for all your support guys. (And of course the card and cake)

Now… Into the seniors…

Photos - Credit: Brieuc Deléage, Stasa Gejo, Céline Bellanger