Friday, 9 November 2012

Portland and the need for POWER

So the annual Portland trip with the Uni club came and went with a great weekend full of banter and climbing! The weather held out both days as well making a productive trip ticking a few routes and getting shut down on some others.

First day we headed to The Cuttings, a lovely part of Portland which lends itself to a more common inland crag. I say this partly because of the lack of dodgy flinty seams that Portland likes to throw at you and has a bit more character than some of the areas. But hey thats my opinion! After mingling with the freshers and giving out a bit of hints and tips it was time to go and pull hard. Well Ard! A nice 6b was had for a decent warm up, a thin seam with some techy bridging movers was brill and got me in the feel for something at my limit.

Bearing in mind that my summer was hindered by the true "British summer" and the worry of aggravating my elbow my limit has dropped quite considerably. But somehow I still though that I might have a chance of on-sighting a 7b+. I felt good on the bottom few moves, using my feet well and trying not to over grip. Taking my time and making sure I didn't make any mistakes when I got to the hard bit. From the deck it looked pretty blank but started to slab out after the lip. My initial thought was find an edge or "something to get into the slab and then balance my way through this. When I got here with a little bit of pump I found that "edge" I was after. Not going to lie it was thin. Thin by my standards as well. I wacked my thumb right over the top of my knuckles and really pulled hard going for what I though looked like a chalk mark.

Bird Crap

What I though was going to be the come back of the century after having a diet of alcohol and parties hadn't payed off as I sagged onto the rope.

I mean what was I thinking. Even last year when I was on form and climbing the odd 7c I still couldn't onsight 7b let alone with a half grade on top of that. I chuckled to myself and had a closer look a the apparent "slab". After the edge I had found I turns out that Its a massive move to a well poor sloper and then a big burly move to a good side pull. The move looked awesome but I could hold the sloper. Up down up down up down for the best part of 20 minutes trying to figure a way to hold this bladdy intermediate. No dice. It was a real shame as when I tried it french style and pulled past that one move by using the draw the other moves were well out there but do able making me feel like a god. Shame for that one move but I will be back for more action on Sears Tower!

When I got home I had my usually talk to myself about getting some power so that I could make those small moves on routes and FINALLY got round to mounting my Beastmaker. First in the bed (If you know what I mean) and then on the door frame.

I now dread coming back from Uni to find it there staring at me telling me to pull on its hideous holds.

All for a good cause though so hopefully come Christmas, which is forever looming, I'll be back to being a crimping demon and might be able to do some ard stuff and maybe just maybe I might break into a new grade range (Massive sarcastic larff)!

Along with this I have caved into getting TCA membership again but due to my current state of El punter I'm scared to go down with the fear of be burnt off by the taps in the toilet, they look in better shape than I do!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Coming out of stasis

Wobbling my way up the start of pitch 3
For the last four weeks there has been little in the way of climbing happening. There has been a lot of so called epics but I'm afraid they have only really involved a silly amount of alcohol and banter as Uni life kicked back in. So I'm back Brizzle and the Shire is in the rear view for the time being. A very short lived summer hopefully urges a long winter of lots of activities. But first I have to find the psyche!

Summer was a bit of a wash out this year and my logbook looks more empty than a students wallet. Its such a bad excuses to blame the weather for the lack of effort put in as many people have been skirting the grey clouds and have been pulling some wicked accents out the bag. I on the other hand had only a small amount of goals for summer which due to my appalling organisational skills did come. It left me in a bit of a sorry mood really and my passion for climbing slightly wavered...

The goal for the summer was to finally send Avenged at Ansteys Cove. A tough 7c+ with a fierce upper crux (for me anyway). But by the time it was dry and I felt in condition it was the last day of the summer! The pressure was on to clip the belay and go out in Newton with a big grin on my face. I sailed through the first section breathing steadily and keeping calm readying myself for the crux section. I took a quick rest chalked and it was time to go. Pulling as hard as I could I reached to the first of the small crimps. Left heel on, left hand over right up, pull into the constriction bump to the "good" edge and set my left in the pocket. Setting my right hand to the other pocket I soaked up the support from below. All I had to do was pull in a deadpoint into the final big pocket which marks the end of the crux sequence. A place I had found myself at time and time again. I lunged gritted my teeth and throw my head a the wall..

Then felt the familiar feeling of my stomach becoming weightless as I sagged onto the rope.


It has been something that has been on my mind for a while and really has knocked my confidence and if I'm honest, has completely zapped my psyche I just didn't want to climb.

However after having a good 3 weeks worth of drinking my sorrows away I found myself chatting to my friend Dave in the pub (we were a bit drunk) about doing Coronation street at the weekend. I huge British classic route up a never ending crack line in the middle of Cheddar gorge. Something that had been on my wishlist since I started climbing. Something that failure wasn't an option on. Could I really lead it. So many thoughts was buzzing round my head about backing out and saving it for when I knew I was climbing hard! What was I to do!

Then the call...SAFE.. echoed through the gorge as Dave clipped into the first belay. What was I doing here? 4 pitches of unknown climbing coming up with a huge pressure not to drop any move. That meant no silly mistakes and no turning back. Gulp. As I stood at the first belay racking up an air of nervousness over came me as I knew it would soon be my turn to lead the next pitch. A technical roof section had to be over come to a good wide belay!

As I pulled over the the roof I started to think a career in tap dancing would have been a better option as my leg began to violently shake. I took a deep breath a continued onwards finding the belay with not too many problems.

Originally we had said that we would flip a coin for the traverse pitch but by the time Dave got the belay it was apparent that I was going to have to take the buck. A shaky start on the initial crack wasn't the biggest confidence builder but non the less I refreshed and set off again finding myself looking horizontally across the "hand" traverse in which Dave found enjoyment in reminding me of when I started complaining that there was zero footholds! With some pretty decent skills I rounded off the pitch with both knees on a block which eventually turned into me straddling the block and finally humping my way off it to find the "relative" safety of the belay. Relative to having a gun pointed at you.

A white faced Dave approached the belay and gave a little nervous laugh when he looked that the belay. With us both clipped into 4 pegs in which have probably been there since the first accent It soon dawned that the top pitch had to fall. For me the top pitch was the worst of my worries. The longest and hardest pitch saved till last. So off I set taking every possible rest I could making 100% I didn't pump out or get too tired.

I found myself stuff my arms as deep as I could into the crack with some sketchy bridging on some small foot holds, trying to hold my nerve and remain calm. The gear jangling definitely was a constant reminder that my comfort zone was a long way from here.

A "technical" move 
After few more desperate pulls and arms stuffing I found my looking at the final 20 foot of face climbing. All of a sudden I had a hugely overwhelming feeling of excitement and almost started laughing. This was with a element of caution as I carefully pulled on the small brittle edges telling myself "Its not over until your stood on the top". Until there I found my self stood looking out  across the Somerset downs, chew valley lake and of course looking down a the huge feature that Is the Gorge itself!

5 hours worth of fannying around and grobbleing up the face had finally come to an end. What an experience! What a way to regain my love for climbing.

Thanks Dave for getting me on it and the banter at the belays and cheers Justin for the pictures!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Witness the wetness

A friend asked me the other day "When do you update your blog?" 

I replied, "when something interesting happens!" 

...Hence the long period of non writing, because of exactly that, not much interesting has happened recently! This is largely down the brilliance that is the British summer which has left many in search of sunny destinations with pristine lines, scenic views and top class banter. I on the other hand retreated for a period of "rehab" with no climbing within a 60 mile radius and a miserable British coast line. However I had a plan.

For some months now I'v had a feeling of defeat in my climbing. For months at a time I would religiously cycle to The TCA in Bristol from my uni accommodation and train for about 3-4 hours a night, EVERY NIGHT. But still nothing I couldn't do the problems that I couldn't do originally and I wasn't seeing much progress in any of my climbing at all. Still just about managing the odd 7b/+ and when the steaks got really high managed to bash out an E4 on-sight. But that was it. I hadn't seen improvement because I hadn't tried anything really apart from the problems indoors so I had to reassess my strategy.

First thing I realised that I hadn't actually rested properly in about 3 months. Even on apparent "rest days" I was still cycling 15-20 miles in the evenings or destroying the last of my Uni work in record quick time. Which was all taking it out of me. I didn't feel good, I felt drained after my warm up in the gym and unmotivated. Something needed to be done.

So I backed my bags and headed back to the homeland in order for some actually climbing outside but firstly rest! So after a week or so of not climbing It was time to head to the moors for some granite pulling. My mate Cooper a little while ago stepped up to The Wave (V6) on Bone hill and sent it in a couple of goes. Livid that I couldn't even pull on I thought it would never happen. Time and time again I found myself stood under the same poor start hold and the ever looming monkey. It had got the point where I considered not going to Bone hill ever again! This time was different. A nice windy afternoon me a Coops hit it up and again I said it to her it wouldn't happen. Much to my surprise 2 goes later I had a good grip on the "dogs dick" last hold and was on the top! Amazed that resting had worked!

However the weather had its way and things got a little tropical so I found myself miles away from any rock in a pursuit of some fitness. With most of the cliffs around me being made up of cream cheese and various pastes they use in subways my grandparents resort is the definition of anti climb. Thus the running shoes have been my best friend during the last couple of weeks with my general fitness improving slowly but surely. So hopefully with this new found fitness I'm hoping that next weekend when I can finally get back on it my ready rested tendons and full skin I'll be able to start climbing ard. And if not at first I'm hoping that in a month or two I should be writing about some hard core success!

Either that or I'll be swinging from the shower curtain...

Cheers all


Monday, 23 April 2012


Ever since I first started climbing people have raved about some magical woodland place in France. They spoke of tales of huge sandstone boulders littered through a desert in the woods with amazing problems that would most probably last you a life time! I had seen videos of all the top climbers slapping there way up the hardest test pieces in the forest and holding hideous slopers on ridiculously steep terrain and locking the smallest crimpers and firing for that rounded topout!

But I was unconvinced. How could you spend any length of time doing something I consider training for Trad or Sport? How could you persist at something for a whole week which I viewed as a means to and end? 

In the words of Public Enemy "Don't believe the hype" I told myself. 

How wrong could I have been...

Piled into the back of a Ford S-max we began the 10 hours drive to Fontainebleau. I had managed to wangle my way onto the Exeter Uni trip so only knowing my wingman Adam Cooper it was a little nerve racking going abroad for the first time in about 7 years with a load of people I didn't have the foggiest about. I said to myself It'll be fine I'm sure there all totally sound people (maybe a bit boffinish as there from Exeter) but I'm sure they'll be fine. 

Ten hours later myself and Cooper had managed to talk utter crap the whole way there without a pause about the wonders of the Universe in which John Mayer had created and what every single French word meant In English as well as Nigerian. It was safe to say if the guys had coped with us being general idiots the whole way there and not got annoyed, They were the soundest of sound people 100% fact!

I was already having the time of my life and I hadn't even got on the boulders yet... Could it get any better...Hell yes! First stop to Isatis with some great problems and some scary high finishes! Me and Adam disappeared off for the morning finding random problems without the guide book and generally having a laugh. The best moment of the day and something I will probably never let down was a very high problem (no idea on grade possibly 5c-6a?) which I couldn't reach the top on, I complained a bit but still couldn't reach. Along comes some pleasant old dear and flashes it and exclaims what a lovely easy line that was... I turned to Adam as he laughed and manned up and sent

Most days were spent pottering around following crowds in search of some cool lines with a few ticks in mind as well but by the second day I was hungry for a hard send! We ventured into Bas Cuvier know well for some of its harder lines and exciting ones! After bailing the flash on the Le Mary Rose (The first 6a in the forest?) I could sense a high gravity day and my morale was a little dashed. So whats better to try something a whole number grade harder. Around the back is the problem of the Le joker 7a and it was bloody hard! About an hour of efforts and no send until I actually listened to the beta. One of the other guys from Reading said high left foot and rock. Once I did this it actually worked and I did it! Mega Psyche! First 7a in the woods and a pretty cool one to! 

Most days were like this a desperate struggle to warm up followed by a few decent sends in the low 7's and high 6's with plenty of banter and beta going round! Some great places with lots of really decent people including one very German bloke who's every other word was F**king. Probably the first German to have a decent sense of Humour! Me and him sieged Helicopter at Cuvier for most of the afternoon in boiling conditions which apparently makes it a lot harder! Either way It didn't go even though I managed to match the finally jug at least 20 times the swing was horrific but fun none the less! 

Before I knew It, we were downing the tents and backing everything into the van and cars. I had had the most unexpected best week of my life (bit dramatic!) enjoying the climbing but above all the company I think. Such great people, maybe a bit Derpy in places ( you know who :))! I guess to experience the memories and the fun I had I guess you better jump on the next trip. End of the summer who's game, I cant wait a whole year to go back!!!

I'm still sorting through Photos at the moment so when I'v sorted them I'll pop them up on here along with a brief list of some of the problems done!!

Cheers All


Thursday, 22 March 2012


I recent came back from the annual BUCS meet in Sheffield at the works bouldering wall. First, the place is massive with some pretty steep and high problems. I have to admit on one of the problems I was a little scared of blowing the top move as It felt more like a solo than a problem!

The competition itself was really good with a great atmosphere and some really class problems. Everyone was getting stuck in and sharing beta along with some great support for the climbers on their routes which made it seem less like a competition and more like a social meet with your friends which was really good!

What I like about competitions is the fact that you get to watch people try there hardest at each problem and focus solely on getting to the top! This for me is great as It gets me in the right frame of mind and ready to crush. Well it usually is, but something was wrong this time. I felt generally horrid, no psyche, no energy and no enthusiasm. It was the worst possible scenario possible for me, I had waited months for this to come around and when it finally came it was like someone had turned off a switch. Coupled with the fact that I had by that point been up for 24 hours I knew that It was downhill from there.

However rather than go at it hammer and tong I decided to cut my loses and not risk injuring myself before my trip on Font next week and play a spectator role. From doing A level P.E the year before I have a fairly sound knowledge into analysing performance and decided that to get the most out of the next couple of weeks climbing to come it would be worth learning from what I could see here.

Luckily for me some fairly well know punters were lurking around sending some of the harder problems, so I sat back and took note. Cheeky heelhooks were thrown in along with some impressive rock overs and lock offs which all made me want to review my own performance and improve to have some of the fluidity of some of the competitors.

For me though one competitor stuck out, Natalie berry. Yes she one the overall event in the women's and is a GB team bandit, but from watching her from the few attempts she had on the harder problems I learnt a fair amount. Now I could go through all the technical moves etc that went on but for me the biggest part was her determination and effort put in. It was clear each problem was tried with 110% without any lapse of concentration or from what It seemed any thought of failure.

This is a massive thing for me, Hanging in there until you cannot go any more and giving It your all without a single doubt you will not do it! So as I came away from Sheffield slightly disappointed in my performance but not empty handed as now hopefully I have the all ingredients for a crushing summer!

Friday, 2 March 2012


Since I last wrote nothing new has really happened on the climbing front. Another comp came and went with an O.k performance earning a respectable 10th place! My goal for this comp was to come in the top 10 so I was fairly pleased with the result. A quick trip to Cheddar yesterday

Whilst I have been down the wall I have found myself trending more towards trying to finish projects and conquer the red 7b circuit with little success. However these last couple of weeks I have tried to alter my usual way of doing things and adopt a training programme my friend sent to me. So far it has proved useful and I have followed it fairly well with only a few slip ups. However I am finding it a lot more intensive and demanding which is excellent!

Since hurting my finger a couple of years ago I have found myself trying to hold the majority of things open handed with the only exception of the smaller holds or when it really counts. This has been good and I have found myself quite fortunate in being injury free in the hand department! Until recently.

The training programme focuses on raw power and strength for a few of the days with a mixture of endurance and core work for the rest. This means for the power days I find myself underneath nine wooden rungs gurning away with the (apparent) intention of breaking my fingers at the joint. Improvement I tell myself comes at a price, however this seems more like a torture you might see in a Bond movie (If Telly Savalas was 8b crusher).

The price I seem to be paying Is extended resting and a bit of pain in my ring finger. At bit of a bummer but with the added rest it seems I am able to crack on with my work......Or procrastinate massively. So for now when I say "I'll have a day off" It means exactly that, not the usual of getting the rope out and trying to work out the moves on some desperate number in the gorge and then complain to my flat mates that my hand hurts!

Enough complaining as I have a quality weekend to look forward to If the weather holds, fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Comp Time

These last couple of weeks have been uber productive for me on the climbing front! I (finally) got a member ship at The Climbing Academy in Bristol for some much needed power and strength training. This has been going pretty well but has also become a bit of an addiction. I seem to find myself there most evenings gurning around the orange problems with little success and a lot of effort. However this is good because A, my power is ridiculously poor and B and not actually much of a fan of bouldering but it seems to have me hooked in the challenge!

With my new found habit I thought it be about time to put my skills to the test in one of the competitions that was being held there. Seeing as I hate competition with a passion I thought it was high time to conquer this fear and give it my best shot. There were 20 problems from all across the grade in an onsight format giving the added pressure of doing well first go without making any stupid mistakes.

All went well in the end and earned a respectable score of 958/1000 which is pretty decent result considering I'm a major waddy wad kins when it comes to comps and bouldering. But the main reason for going was to see where my current performance is at at the moment and from here what to do to improve.

Goal setting is a real issue of mine, I always seem to be able to have something in mind work towards and I focus on that until its done. Once that's happened it takes me bloody yonks to re accept another challenge and I think that's my main downfall when it comes to pushing my grade.

With goals in mind its about a month until the British University and Collage Sports (BUCS) competition so the plan is to get strong as an ox and hopefully throw so moves on the day! In the mean time I am working towards a fairly nails 7b monster circuit at the tca. I've only seen hand full of people do parts of it and it seems to be a huge stamina outing! I got in about two parts at the moment but I've got quite a way to and I think its about time I started  using my feet again!

Anyway the wall calls for some more Beasting cheers all