Friday, 4 April 2014

“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.” The great North Yorkshire Crags By Jen Wilby

“Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation.”
Kim Hubbard

It is said that the English weather is one of the biggest topic of conversations in the UK. This topic will get you out of and into many social situations. The topic of weather, when raised among strangers can be a boring one, one that is used to just fill that awkward moment when there is little else to talk about. However, with climbers, along with many other sports, the topic of the weather is normally top of the list and of high importance. Starting on a Wednesday (for most of us full time working folk) – checking to see how it’s looking on the lead up to the weekend, then again on a Thursday, has it changed? What’s the temp like? What are conditions due to be? With a final discussion on a Friday to decide if heading out is worthwhile. This decision is made easier now we are a mere 30 mins away from most crags.

If you have read my previous blogs, you’ll know the start to this year has not been smooth sailing and I was beginning to question to move. THEN IT ALL MADE SENSE. The heavens cleared and CALEY BECAME DRY! AMAZING! I have been to Caley a few times, but not enough to understand such comments as “it’s one of the best crags in the UK”. I do k now that it’s rarely in condition though, so with this break in the weather, some holiday to spare and early finishes are work. I managed about 8 straight days at Caley, Brimham and Almcliff. It was amazing and the move finally made sense.

Spending this time at Caley has showed me what a top crag it is. I’ve only ever ventured to the road side part which I thought was awesome enough, but managed to break out into the crag part, which is, dare I say it, almost on par with the roadside with some quality problems.

The best for me by far was Ben’s Groove Stand Start (f7b). It’s a quality looking line which goes up the centre of the huge bloc. I remember looking at this many moons back, thinking “how on earth to folk get up there?” – and now I have. It’s got some nice moves on it. There are however, no photo’s on the top as I needed a spot – might have had a little wobble due to fingers pinging and feet popping. So happy to top this one out though.

 Ben's Groove Stand Start - Font 7b
Start of Ben's Groove - Font 7b

Getting into the crack before the heart stopping moves
 The Horn - Font 7a+
Crimping the sloper - standard

New Jerusalem - Font 7a ?

Walking to the crag area, you will see a rather large bloc by the footpath with Scary Canary (f7b+) on it. It looks awesome so I had a few plays on it as I now am in possession of the fantastic Metolius Magnum, its an awesome pad which covers so  much area and makes high balling / bad landings much easier to protect– one for next time:

Brimham is a place I visited, once again, many moons ago to do some Trad (yup you read right). It was a damp and drizzly day, I got lost, bailed and declared Brimham was naff. I’ve never returned since until the start of the good weather, and I have to say, I have changed my mind. The grit is different to that of Almscliff or Caley. Its much more rounded and has a very Font like feel it. There is a high concentration of problems in such a small area, its hard to know where to start and when to stop! Turns out when to stop for me was splitting a tip! Here are a few blocs I managed to do along the way:

Whiskey Galore - Font 7a

  Titfield Thunderbolt - Font 7b+ ?

The Anchor - Font 7a+

This was destined not to have an elegant top out

Un-named - Font 7a+

The best for me was Whiskey Galore. Looking it, there are a limited number of holds and you have NO IDEA how to climb it. A friend of ours had seen a video on line and managed to do it first time and show us the way. I was kind of disappointed not to have been able to solve the problem – however I do wonder how long we would have been there trying to solve it J

The rest of the time has been spent at Almscliff, where I have a new project but managed to try it with a split tip – less than ideal as it’s on crimps! I am confident it will do next season though. This weekend saw the last of, what I feel, is the life of full day grit cragging for this season. On Saturday the fog decended so we headed back to the Cliff, had a few pops on the project, split another tip so then decided to try and finish the Arete sit start to the Matterhorn Arete (Font 7b+). It’s not the best looking like (the Mattherhorn stand is!) but its something I started and wanted to finish. I was getting a little annoyed as I wasn’t able to do the first move again. So I’d pretty much given up and called it a day. Only to have one last go – and it went. Rather quietly, so quietly my better half missed most of it. Lucky Chris was there to provide some useful beta along the way, as I totally messed it up and was thinking when he gave me some beta, as my feet were pinging but somehow still holding on, that “it will not work, I’ve tried it like that”. It just goes to show, let go, have no attachment and good things will happen. I’ve now done all the ways up the Matterhorn :D

Sunday came, with more mist and everything condensed which made some of the Cliff wet. We tried, but morale was low, skin was missing and body’s were tired. It was time to declare the full grit days over.

We are so lucky to be living so close to the moors that we still have the chance to get out after work on to the hills during cool spring evenings. It’s been a cracker, but it does feel like the end of a relationship … for now.

I have already started the preparation for next season with a 7 month strength and power plan :D I’m finally feeling fit and injury free for the first time in about 3 years, so I’m very much excited about this journey!

Onwards and upwards, training, summer and Malham. The pump is going to be painful!

On another note, as many of you may know, the GB Team had their funding cut in half unexpectedly, and with the first round of the World Cup coming up very soon they decided to try and raise the funds through Crowd Funder. What an amazing success this has been and I’m proud to be part of such a giving community, despite most climbers having very little money!

Here is the link if you wish to take a look and give something:

Happy Climbing

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ethan Fowler

It was the final round of regional BRYCS today. The midlands climbing area had 3 rounds at The Tower in Leicester,  Wolf Mountain in Wolverhampton and today at Creation in Birmingham.

In the first 2 rounds I came away with a clean score card, topping all my routes and boulders. Today ended with a twist!
Myself and one other competitor topped all the climbs, so to determine first place we had a climb off.

Names were drawn and I was to climb second.

5 minutes were given to plan the climb. The crux was 2/3rds the way up the wall coming over a huge sloper to a small crimp. I thought once I was past the crimp the climb would relax. But no the sloper which followed was awkward and not a positive hold . As my shamans found purchase on the small crimp I pulled through and finished the climb with a big cheer hoping I had done enough.

1st place today and first place overall all for the midlands region.

Off to the finals in Scotland at Ratho at the end of June.

Training is now ramping up in preparation!!

Thank you to evolv for all their support, and amazing sticky shoes.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Winter of bouldering - Adam Lincoln

Its not been a winter of very good weather for getting out. Certainly in my hunting grounds of The County, Dumbarton and the North West of Scotland. Lots of bad condition days in the county, but also some amazing ones too. Makes all the bad ones not matter so much. 

My list for the winter that i wanted to do was as follows. 

The Crack - 8a- Bowdem
Born Lippy - 8a - Bowden
Honeycomb Wall - Bowden
Manuka - Bowden
Working class - 8a+ - Bowden
Northern Territory - 7c+/8a Kyloe Out

So far the crack and born lippy have fallen, which still leave the others, with winter leaving us behind. 

Id also like a trip up to Torridon to tick a few more of the classics off up there. Hopefully in the next few weeks. 

Here are some vids and pics to keep the psyche high over the remaining winter months! 

This one is from Saturday at Hepburn. The classic and scary A northern soul. 7a+ or E5 depending on amount of pads! Thanks Sean Bell for the pic. 

And some videos of Born Lippy and The Crack. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

To be or not ... there is no more to it. By Jen Wilby

"What do you want to be when you "grow up"?", the answer to which every kid dreams about and you will get an answer along the lines of astronaut, nurse, ballerina (or Gladiator is Mina's case) or actually in this day and age you are more likely to get an answer of footballer or celebrity. What is the follow up to that question though? How does life set them up? What kid, or person knows at 14, what they want to do, at an age when they are asked to make choices which go along way into shaping the rest of their lives? Who are we to do that?

Has anyone ever told these kids not to worry and to do what makes them happy and that if they do not know what they want to do...then that's OK?
Probably not. 

Check out this impressive kid talking about Hackschooling:

I remember wanting to be a child's heart surgeon, wanting to save lives, then I realised I couldn't cope with the loss which it would ultimately bring. Then I wanted to join the Navy. When I was told they did not allow females onto submarines at that time, so me being me, protested and refused to join. Then I wanted to be an oceanographer and explore the sea's, mapping out the worlds oceans which have always held a special place in my heart. 

Life is about opportunities and there is a well known theory about the 10,000 hours / 10 year time scale to become efficient / excellent at something. So by the time you have figured out what you really love, and I mean want to spend the rest of your life doing, it's going to take about 10 years to become pretty good at it What if you never get the opportunity to find something that really fires up your soul?

The Winter Olympics recently ended and I was interested to hear that 3 years ago a women's scouting initiative took place and picked out folk to train in certain sports ready for the Olympics. One girl was picked whilst training in athletics and was put into a winter sport and within 3 years she was holding the Olympic gold medal. I'm certainly not taking anything away from that achievement, but did this person love the sport before she got into it? Was it just that she had never had the opportunity to try it? She may love the sport now, but is that only because she is now the best in the world? What if she had never had that opportunity? 

In the climbing world, the kids are machines. Doing things which a "normal" climber would consider a life long goal / dream. Kid's are brought into the sport, given all of the coaching and training plan's and are coming out brutally strong. Would these kids lives have ever brought them into climbing later down the line? Should kids go and experience life and other sports, go through life's ups and down's before being so committed to something? Is there too much pressure to perform, which leads to extreme reactions to what is deemed as "failure"? I have seen so many tears and tantrums at the wall and crag and not only by youngsters. Shouldn't the kids have that life experience to be able to handle the hard world that is climbing? Michaela Tracy has some interesting words on competition climbing and how she now feels about it having grown up through them: 

If I had a crystal ball, I could say that I would have changed a lot of things to put me in the position to just climb and travel, but, if all of the stuff before I found climbing did not happen, I may never have found climbing. Even all of the bad stuff, eventually led me to here. I am a stronger person for all that "stuff" and maybe a better climber than if I had started when I was a youth?

I did not plan to work where I do. I never thought about being in IT and some days I love my job and other days I'm ready to throw in the towel and be done with it all and as I sit here in my home office with blue skies outside of the window to the world, I almost panic. A sudden urge to just go, anywhere, everywhere. 

Check out this:

I have had that feeling of panic twice in my life. The first was during my first day back at work after the trip. I sat in a huge office, alone, except for someone else on the other end of the phone welcoming me back and asking if I had decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? There it was...panic and it took a lot of effort not to bolt. In fact in all honesty...I got to the door. The truth is, I have never known what I wanted to do and I still don't. All I know is I love climbing and traveling.

As I sit here, staring at the Calf, I am like an excited child, my heart pounding and it's only a few hours until I can set off for the wall and start training. The love re-kindled, exciting days ahead. I am so lucky to have found something which lights my soul and that just thinking about it get's my heart thumping. 

Sometimes life doesn't work out how you had planned. Is it worth sitting and looking back all the time? Or just be in the now?

The "now" for me is Ilkley, which appears to be the wettest place in England! So far, 2014 has been the worst start to a year I have had in a long time. I've had the shoulder injury rear its ugly head and 2 bouts of flu, all in about 8 weeks! I have no idea how that happened and it totally knocked me. I knew I was at a cross roads at the start of Feb. I either started training again, which I hadn't done since Swissie or I loose the gains I made. The decision was taken out of my hands and I have spent most of the last two months dwindling away. My confidence was low, moving to Ilkley and not being able to train or climb sucked and I began to loose the love. 

I did manage a cold and windy outing to Almscliff and almost did the sit start to the Matterhorn. I know, I know, almost isn't doing it. However, it was unexpected to even get as close as I did (we are talking mm's) so it is looking promising. I have only just started training again this week, so my body feels broken - especially as we have this little house of pain in the garage:

And would you believe - a week into training and the weather clears up! We managed to head out to the Peak District. I was sooooooooooooo excited I was rushing out of the door! My climbing partner has been trying Full Power, and he is so close. So 4 hours of Saturday was spent hearing "just one more go" :) I did manage to get a few hours out at Burbage South Edge, one of my favorite places. I decided to try a high ball in the atmospheric quarry. WOW - what a mistake - my confidence really is low and I'm not ready for a high ball with a poor landing. How the mind plays games! So I opted for the shorter and more powerful / less scary 7a+ Violence. I was pretty happy with that given how things have been going. 

All in all it was a good day and if all the blogging was a bit serious for you, here is a link to a very non serious climbing film:

At the end of the day, the result does not matter, you are where you are so enjoy. 

Happy Climbing x

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Just Drifting? by Karen Varga

Since getting back from my travels in October last year I’ve pretty much gone with a do-as-I-feel approach to my climbing sessions, sometimes doing  a power session on the campus board, or going for some strength gains on the system board, to focusing on technique and movement by working boulder problems or hard routes.  And then occasionally feeling compelled to finish off with an endurance run.   This has been successful to some extent, and while I have got a bit fitter and stronger this was almost inevitable since I was coming from a largely unconditioned starting point. Which is the very reason why I decided to go with this approach for a few months – being so unconditioned I felt that I needed to build up a solid base across all the facets of climbing, while at the same time giving my body (and mind) the freedom to do pretty much what I felt like at the time.

Me competing at the World Championships ... a big goal
at the time which gave me a lot of motivation and focus.
But now it’s been just over 3 months and I find myself feeling unmotivated for the climbing wall. Luckily it seems we’ve got the worst of winter behind us (hopefully!) but it’s still a while before the weather in the UK will be warm enough for the likes of me to venture out into the great outdoors. After a couple weeks of rather unmotivated and aimless sessions I realized what was missing … a goal! Whether it’s for a particular route, or to get a PB, or just to be fit for a climbing trip, I realized how much having a goal helps me to feel enthused and push myself both physically and mentally.  As soon as I started to think of what my goals might be, I immediately itched to get onto the computer and make up a training program in order for me to achieve these goals.  

But setting a goal is not always as easy as it sounds.  If your goal is based around a grade or route, then how high do you set it? For sure we all want to climb 9a, but there’s no point in setting that as your goal unless it really is realistically achievable for you.  Getting the balance of setting a goal that challenges you, but which is still realistic, can be quite tricky and requires you to be absolutely honest with yourself. 

Factors to consider are things like how much time do you have or are willing to dedicate to training, how long you’re giving yourself to achieve this goal, what your current physical state is, and how much can you push your body such that you remain injury free. This will differ for everybody, so there is no point setting your goal based on what someone else has done or is doing, it needs to be a personal decision based entirely on what YOU can do.

If your goal is focused around a climbing trip then you’ll have some very definite time frames to work with, which should be taken into account, along with the other factors mentioned above.  You should hopefully also have some idea of what type of routes or boulders you’ll be getting on there, so you can tailor your training sessions around this too.

The reason for setting a goal is so that we can enjoy the satisfaction of achieving it, and to inspire us to push ourselves into new realms.  Set your goal too low and the lack of challenge will rob you of that feeling, set it too high and not only will you not get any fulfilment, but you’ll also end up feeling extremely frustrated.  

So if you find yourself feeling a bit aimless, floating from session to session without much drive ... just drifting ... then consider setting a goal and dare yourself to achieve higher, faster, stronger!  

But the one thing that I do want to stress is that, above goals and training programs and everything else, make sure you’re having fun and enjoying the journey!  That is, after all, why we climb in the first place :)

Friday, 7 February 2014

PRE SEASON PUMP by Adam Jeewooth

Climbing at the back end of 2013 was going really well.  I could feel my strength building and i was focused.

Conditions were good for the grit and when it was wet outside, I was doing circuits at the wall to get some pre season pump.  I managed to tick of loads of new gritstone problems comfortably  up to V10 but haven't tried anything harder this season.

Pictures above:Adam Jeewooth     lager lager lager V9 and random climber on the best rock in the world at Margalef

A quick hit to catalunya  last week for 6days on sighting  was successful and I concentrated on getting the mileage in my arms rather than trying hard routes.  I impressed myself on the first day flashing a 30 metre 7c+ and from that point on my confidence was high. Thanks to Lynn for the belays and accommodation.

Super Set V10 

Now back in Britain my brain is telling me train and prepare for the route season ahead.  My tick list is wrote for the year and I'm going to do my best to achieve my goals. Just praying for a bit of sun now to dry things out.  Fingers crossed.

Also watch this space for the newest photographer in town......Peter Wilkinson.....

Stay Safe

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Last year's comp, new year's plan- Flo Tilley

Photo credit: Pete Wuensche
Last year I spent all my time training with the goal of getting back on the team for this year. However, this year has come and I’m still not back on.   

December 2013, I competed in the Youth Open, it being also the GB team selection, at my home wall, the Foundry, Sheffield. The bouldering comp, held at the works, was once again the day before the leading so not wanting to ruin my body, I resisted all temptation and didn’t compete on the Saturday.

Sunday did not start well. We got to the wall thinking we rd on didn’t help the situation. I didn’t climb amazing for the first qualifier; my head wasn’t calm or focused, never the less I still got a decent way up. The second qualifier flowed much better, only a clip away from topping out. Even with the dodgy started I still managed to secure a 4th place into the final and this route was on the almost vert wall, a style which I really enjoy. As I got on I felt good, my head was in its right place and the moves felt controlled and fluid, however as I came off, as always, I was slightly frustrated as I didn’t actually top out. Over all I kept my position going into the final and finished 4th place.
had loads of time to warm up, however it turned out that we missed read the time and I only had 30 minutes to get ready, and being 3

Photo credit: Pete Wuensche
So the weekend didn’t go as much to plan as I hoped and neither did the selection but since the New Year I am as psyched as ever to train harder. With new angles to my training and coaching, I can see my self reaching further and cranking harder! Bring on 2014!!