Saturday 24 June 2017

European Youth Cup (EYC) Switzerland, Uster

The wall holding the competition was in a big arena but was quite short. My first qualifier was a red climb which looked reasonably simple. Although, in past competitions when I thought I could top a route I have messed it up so I tried to concentrate on climbing my best.

In the running order I have generally been quite close to the end. However this time I was up 9th which was nice as I wanted to try climbing near the beginning. My red climb was slightly overhanging with mostly good holds. I didn't notice a single crux, just small hard moves here and there. The first half was a slab and the second half was overhanging.

On the route I tried to not let my mind drift off as it usually does. I remember half way through the slab looking down and smiling at Hannah. This reminded me that I was actually climbing and I could focus back on the climb. I got to the transition between slab and overhang. These were the 2 worst holds on the route. First was a slopey gaston that I clipped off and then an undercut that was so flat it might as well not have been there, the volume it was on would have been better on its own. Finally, after this there were some crimps in a line on an overhang - perfect. My pace changed quite a lot from here. Very slow and sketchy to quick and comfortable. All the holds were good and I was able to make it all the way to the last clip. At this point I was really nervous because I was so close to topping my first ever route at an EYC. There was one more hard section to go. Lots of people fell off at the last move so I got a really high foot and put all my effort into holding the last jug! I caught it and clipped the chains. I struggled a bit putting the rope in because they were a weird type of chains.
It felt so good to top my first route as for the last few comps in lead I haven't had a good first qualifier.

I had 5 hours in between qualification route 1 and 2 and I found it hard to keep focused. I was a lot more nervous for this climb because it was not my style. It had a slab section at the bottom that a lot of people slipped off.

When I was climbing it I had to concentrate on my feet and not slipping off the massive sloper volumes. I usually climb quite fast but this route forced me to slow down. I got pretty high on the climb but clipped in a bad position near the top which I think stopped me making the next move. I fell a few holds before the spot I would have been happy with. At first I wasn't sure if I had made the final but the results soon came out and I was joint 5th but then pushed down to 6th after the last climber had climbed.

Making finals had boosted my confidence a lot as my leading hadn't been going as well as bouldering recently so it felt amazing to see some improvements in results.

Compared with other finals in EYC's this one was a later start. I was 2nd to climb on the start order so I went out to climb at 10:15. Our route look interesting! Slightly overhanging with flat round holds all the way. The top was more crimps and volume though.

On the route I felt quite relaxed and was already happy with my climbing from the qualification so I just enjoyed the route. The start holds were better than expected so I thought they were going to be like this all the way. Definitely Not! Suddenly the holds got slopey and I had to skip out  a few as there were some holds which were almost impossible to use. I got to the angle change in the wall and carried on for a few moves before falling off. I was quite happy with my performance but before I climbed onto the steeper part of the route I should have shaken out for longer.

My final result was 6th which was a little disappointing because if I had got the next move I think I could have gone a lot further.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Junior British Bouldering Championships 2017

The depot Manchester is always my favourite centre for boulder comps. The massive amount of wall space means less queues and a lot less stress.

Youth B and C qualifying was first as usual. 8 blocs in 2 hours, scramble format. I liked that in this competition all our boulders were in the same room so we could see them all without having to walk between rooms.

My qualification went pretty smoothly and for once I finished before the time was up. After an hour an a half I had topped 7 and only had a really powerful problem left. At first I decided I was going to leave it and save my energy for the final but after a 20 minute break I went back over to it. I was curious to see if I could top it.

My first attempt earlier in qualifying involved a double heel hook which felt alright but I thought there might have been an easier way. 1 heel didn't work, so I tried the double heel again. It worked if I really pulled my toes down. The last part of the problem was easier and it was fun to campus the last move.

I'm glad I went back to do the climb to get 8 tops and to qualify 1st.

The final was very crowded and stuffy and hot! In warm up I could only climb 3 blocs as it was so draining to climb in the heat. I've competed in some very warm conditions but nothing compared to this! Towards the end of qualification you could see all the chalk floating in the air.

Looking at my first bloc, I was slightly disappointed to find a volumes only slab. The first move was a sketchy jump. I didn't realise it was a jump until I had pulled on, I looked around but couldn't find another way so I risked it and jumped. The volume was surprisingly good and it was easy to stand up on the volume and walk across to the top hold which was another volume.

Final 2 was... interesting. It started off well because I topped it on my 3rd attempt. At the top I turned around looked at the judge and he held his hand up to say I had got the top. So I jumped down and was just about to move to the next bloc when one of the route setters stopped me. I was told that I had matched the wrong top hold. The top was 2 slopers touching each other  with a tag at the top of them. The higher of the 2 holds was tagged and I matched the bottom one. They crossed out my top and I had to go again. I had another go and fell off and then ran straight back on with 40 seconds to go. I climbed as fast as I could (without falling off) and got to the bonus with 13 seconds left. I

I was so hot and I spent the whole of my rest time trying to cool down.

The last two boulders weren't too hard. The 3rd bloc was really fun - it was all proper holds, very crimpy and overhanging. I on-sighted it.

Last, we had a problem on the big overhang. All the holds were good and it had a fun swing in the middle. You had to cross over to a jug and then let your body swing out. The rest was core crimps and a large sloppy volume for the last move. I on-sighted this climb too.

This was enough for first place. But I was most psyched about topping problem 2 after getting my initial top taken away from me. I'm ok on volumes but I didn't think I could climb that fast.

Awesome setting as usual! (Except for the last hold on bloc 2 - that was mean!)

Wednesday 14 June 2017

European Youth Cup (EYC) Imst June 2017

This European Youth Cup (EYC) has pretty much become our annual holiday. Every year Imst Climbing Centre holds an IFSC EYC and the following weekend holds their own competition, the Youth Color Climbing Festival for kids too young to compete in EYCs. The week in between these two comps has always fallen on the UK half term holiday, which meant we could stay out and train on Austria's incredible walls!

The competition wall in Imst opened at 7:30 but I wasn't climbing until 11:00 (35th). My first route was an orange on the right side of the wall. It was very short compared to the full height of the wall which I was pleased about as Boulders (my home wall) is only 10-12 metres high.

I was very nervous and expected a lot of myself because I was younger last year and I had made the final so I really felt the pressure to get through. I didn't realise how it had effected me until I had already come off. It happened again! Old habits creeping back in. I thought I had enough left to finish the route so I didn't bother taking the obvious rest spot. Instead, I carried on climbing and fell off a few holds below all the best climbers.

I wouldn't have been so disappointed if it had been a new mistake. It was the fact that this had happened before in other competitions that made me feel so stupid. After a long while I did get over it and I started to focus on the next route.

My second qualifier was a blue climb right next to our first qualifier. It was good to be climbing quite early because the sun was moving around and going to be warming/greesing up the already awful slopers.

I am still really happy with my performance on this route as I climbed as well as I could. I moved through the sloper section and got into the roof steadily. After the first clip in the roof I was really pumped so I carried on climbing because I thought I was going to fall off. 3 holds later I realised I wasn't, and it was too late to clip so I skipped that clip and clipped the next one meaning if I climbed any further it wouldn't count. I knew this but I wanted to see how far I could really get. I climbed on and got to the first hold in the next roof section. I could hear the judges shooting for me to come down but I wanted to carry on. They pulled on the rope until I fell off. I was so annoyed they pulled me off and I think if they had allowed me I would have topped it.

I waited a long time for the final results to come in. But I knew that my chances of making finals were slim and even if I did it would be very close.

Eventually, I was disappointed to find that I wasn't through and I had achieved my worse ever European position, 12th.

Despite the bad result Imst was a very valuable experience for me, and I am almost glad it happened now so I can learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. I tried my first qualifier again the following day and I got to the 2nd to top hold. So I know I have the physical ability to make finals I just need to get the mental side back. But putting everything else aside it was a fun trip and I enjoyed climbing the routes.

Sunday 21 May 2017

First bouldering EYC of the year Soure, Portugal (2017)

My first European Youth Cup of this year was in Soure, Portugal and it was also my first international podium. This is my second year in category B and seeing as I made finals in both the bouldering EYC's I entered last year I was hoping for a really good result.

We travelled out on the Thursday afternoon, flying from Luton airport to Lisbon, Portugal. There was a slight complication with the hire car so we arrived at the hotel a little bit later than expected. Despite this, the Universal Boutique Hotel was really nice and each room included a mini fridge which meant we could buy foods like cheese and ham for the competition.

I got up really late on Friday and had breakfast in the hotel. It's always nice to have a day to relax before competing. For most of the day we relaxed in our rooms but in the morning we walked on the beach where there was a large training/exercise frame and 200m running track! We went over for a go. There were rings and monkey bars on it too. Later, as per usual we went to the super market and ate out in a nearby restaurant for dinner while Lucinda (one of our team coaches) went to the technical meeting to register us for the competition. The only change to the time table was that everything started an hour later which meant we had an extra hour of sleep!

Saturday - Qualifiers

On Saturday we got up a little bit earlier to do our hair in Dutch braids and make some lunch for after the comp. Lucinda drove us to the wall which was 40 mins away and in a Portuguese primary school. I thought the atmosphere was going to be really hot and horrible to climb in but it was actually a really nice temperature and the wall was indoors and shaded from the sun.

The warm up wall was quite large and had a range of different holds. At first glance our qualification blocs looked really hard and to my usual disappointment there were a lot of slabs.

As our category was quite small we only had 1 hr 30 mins to climb. The time was on a large clock above the wall and made a loud buzzer noise when our time had started.

In the first half hour I completed one bloc. The white one FYB1. It was an easy bloc but on my first go I got to the top hold held it with one hand and then fell as I forgot to hold on! When I hit the mats I remembered I was in an EYC and got really annoyed with myself. I topped it on my second attempt.

I had 2 bad attempts on the purple dyno. and moved onto a slab that involved triceps which didn't bode well for me but it had had a lot of tops so I gave it a go. I escaped doing a press up by using my knee to push up then edged my way across getting my first flash of the day!

This lifted my spirits slightly so I braved the second slab. I hadn't seen many tops on it but put my card in anyway. I pulled on a got to the bonus easily then I stayed on the climb for a long time trying to work out how to get to the thin edges that were just out of my reach. Eventually I worked it out and got my second flash.

Hannah had just topped the blue overhang when I decided to put my card in. I messed up my first go but topped it fine on my second. This was pretty annoying but gave me 4 tops which was a good position.

Next I went onto my favourite bloc. The run and jump dyno! I love these kind of problems because they are so satisfying when you top them. My first go I almost held the scoop shaped black volume, which was gripper than it looked. On my second go I completed it easily and felt I had go my flow back.

With only 3 blocs left I went straight over to the black over hang which again I topped on my second attempt. It was one of the hardest blocs in the set. I slipped off on my first go when I tried unnecessarily to swap my feet.

The last blocs were the dyno that I had already failed on twice and the long black roof. I tried the black once and got almost to the bonus but fell because I had wasted too much time.

After this disappointment I tried the dyno twice more getting really close to holding it. I was quite stressed as it all came down to my last attempt. I stood onto the volume grabbed the undercut and leant back as far as I could before jumping out to the holds. I held them and my feet swung back behind me. I was determined to finish it, as it was my final go. The last part was ok just a heel hook and rock over to a side pull and a balanced finish.

Finally, I got back on the black. I used the correct beta this time and got to the bonus from here it was much easier but I was quite tired from the roof section. I got to the last move and pulled to my maximum arm length just reaching the final hold and matching it.

I was pretty happy to get all 8 blocs before the time was up. For the last 5mins I went round with Hannah and helped her out with some beta for the run and jump bloc. After 2 attempts the buzzer sounded and time was up.

I was pretty confident that I was through to the finals but I thought I might have qualified lower down because I had taken so many attempts. The results were correct according to my score card and I had qualified in second place. I was satisfied with the scores as I felt very nervous at the beginning and didn't climb as well as I had hoped but managed to pull it back and get a good result.

Sunday - Finals 

I travelled in the earlier car to the wall even though I didn't start competing until 14:00. I like climbing early and was a little disappointed when the time table was changed so that category B was climbing in the afternoon. So I got up early as if I was climbing in the morning and watched the finals.

Hannah and me were the only finalists from GB and her final was first so we all gathered around and watched. She climbed so well and was only one match of the top hold away from 3rd place.

As soon as Hannah finished her final bloc I went into isolation with Lu. I had the usual nervous/excited feeling but when I started to warm up I felt very stiff and tight especially in my right shoulder. This was annoying but slowly loosened up a little as I got warmer. I used a lacrosse ball on it and Lu K-tapped it for me which helped.

It was time to got out for the introduction next where all the finalists are presented to the crowd. I ran out and almost tripped over the mat but I stayed up and carried on. It was quite nerve-racking just standing there!

Back in isolation I had 25 mins before I climbed so I finished my warm up and sat on the bench and watched the time tick away on the clock. With 30 secs to go until I climbed I was ushered out to my first bloc. I heard a lot of screams from the crowd on this so I knew I needed to top it.

When the final buzzer sounded I spun around and wiped my shoes on my towel. I took a quick look at the slab then pulled on. I found a way up this climb quicker than I thought - I don't have many slabs back home in Wales. I crimped the screw hols and tried my best to remember what I learnt in all the GB boulder training sessions. The moment I matched that hold I climbed a lot better because I was so much more relaxed with one top.

Bloc 2 was a run and jump! I was pretty psyched pulling onto this one. To make the move I kicked my leg back and ran across to the side pull then straight over to the bonus with a big swing. Then it was my worsted nightmare move. I had trained my triceps really hard before coming to Portugal so I could climb these moves. I put my heel up and rocked up as much as I could. So I thought then that the hard bit was over and it was just an easy stand up but no. I had to change the heel I was sitting on to a toe then spin around and finally stand up! At one point when I was almost at the final hold when I heard team GB screaming so loud I had to steady myself on the volume as I knew I was so close and might not have time to do it again. The hold was decent and I held it getting a second flash.

This was the worst route reading I have ever done though out the whole competition. On my first attempt I didn't start right but they didn't notice and I got to the last move but fell off. Second they noticed my wrong start and called me down. Third I was angry that I messed up the first two attempts so I climbed badly and got to the last move but fell off the same way again. It was stupid not to try something else. I had one more go and if I had done it on that go I would have won the competition but I did the same thing again and fell!

I was really annoyed at myself and took a long time to calm down while I sat in the chair but I didn't get too emotional even though that's not what's I was thinking at all.

I fell slightly more angry climbing this bloc as I knew I should top it because it was completely my style and I had to top it to have any chance of winning. On my first attempt I could feel my arms and shoulders were tiring and wouldn't be able to have many more go's. I fell dead-pointing off the bonus hold. I didn't plan my rest tactically but decided to get back on at 03:03 because that's the time I had started to put my shoes on through out the comp. This time I thought my arm was going to give in when I held the bonus but I was so determined to at least get a podium even if it wasn't quite 1st. So I jumped with everything I had and caught the crimp. As I did I felt my skin warring down on the hold. With just 2 moves to go I knew I would make it. I matched the top and looked at the judge. I wasn't too happy at first because of Bloc 3 but then I saw the better side of my climbing.

I was very happy with 3rd place but obviously a little disappointed as well. My first ever international podium!

We had to leave soon so I got my trophy and we all went out to the car and drove to Lisbon airport. About 10mins into the journey when our car went into limp mode and we both had to pull into the hard shoulder. The car was not going to work so half the team went to the airport with Jack and the other half stayed and waited ages for a tow truck. I was with Jack and despite going to the wrong terminal we were fine. However, Lucinda's team just made it in time for the flight! At one point we thought they were going to have to stay the night.

Overall the trip was great fun and I enjoyed being with the team as much as I did climbing. So psyched for France next competition!

Links to recording of live stream:

Portuguese Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing

Sunday 2 April 2017

BMC Open Youth Competition (Boulder) - Oakwood Climbing Centre

After a good day in Reading climbing centre on Saturday I was excited for the boulders. The competition was held in a newly built centre  in Wokingham called Oakwood.

On an email from the BMC that I got before the weekend it had a list of all this years new rules. One was 5 attempts instead of 3 which I wasn't too bothered about. But the main one was the finals format. This year they changed it to 5 on 5 off.  A semi finals format that they use in world cups. I have experienced this format a few times and I much prefer it to the usual one because it is quicker and more about endurance than just strength.

First when we arrived we realised we had forgot to register online so my Dad had to complete a form for both of us (my brother  Oscar and I).

Inside the centre it was very light and warm unlike most climbing centres in the UK. There was a small balcony of bouldering upstairs next to the cafe and a large area on the ground floor including a very long competition wall.

My blocs were already labelled so I spent my time reading them and warming up for the 9am start. I thought that I could top all the blocs but some of them did look a bit tricky. When I received my competitor number I pined it onto my back and handed in my score card early so I could be first to get on the blue overhang.

Just before we were going to start Rob called everyone over to collect a new score sheet as the ones we were originally given only had boxes for 3 attempts whereas for this comp the new rule was everyone should have 5 attempts.

Once we had a briefing the competition started (10:15). I got straight on the blue overhang which was probably the easiest boulder, and topped it.

Next I went around the corner to what I thought was an easy slab. It was only after I pulled on that I found that every hold was completely out of reach for me! Others in my category had topped using their height so I had to figure out a different way of climbing it. I used a lot of palms of the slippery painted wall and some sketchy feet. Just when I thought that big move was the last there was another and another until the second top! I was a bit shaken up after this; it felt like I was going to come off the whole way.

There was a nice mix of slabs and overhands in this set of qualifiers and I was very happy to see some really steep stuff as I haven’t seen that much of it in a boulder comp for a while! My 3rd bloc was a slab; it looked easy; everyone was topping it. The only hard part of this route was the top because the foot hold was very small and there was a high chance of slipping. However, I managed to get up it fine.

After a lot of route reading I pulled onto probably the climb with the least amount of tops for our category. It looked harder than the other blocs but still very top-able. I loved the start, you had to hold undercuts and kick your feet onto the holds in the roof and campus around to a nice sloper and lock off to a crimp. I found a not very helpful knee bar and used the previous sloper as an undercut so I could go again to the pocket. The crux was the final move. I popped out for a tear droplet shaped hold which was a lot worse than anticipated. I then jumped for the top. My foot got caught under the roof so when I held the top it pulled me off! This was the first time I fell off; it’s always hard not to get straight back on when you know what you have to do next attempt! I walked around to try and find another boulder with a small queue but they were all really busy so I went back for another go at the top move. It was easy this time; I used a drop knee and went for it with my opposite hand! Can't believe I didn't do that first time!

Along the comp wall there was a black overhang that everyone was avoiding. I saw some people trying it and they made it look easy and used some really good beta. I tried and topped it!

With only 3 blocs left to complete I went straight over to the slab and put my card in. I waited 15mins for a go as the judge had 2 very popular problems. I was aware that there wasn't much time left so I rushed it and tried to go for a move dynamically but this didn't work and I slipped off! I was so angry with myself for that!

I decided not to go back on and waste my time so I ran over and completed another overhang everyone had been avoiding. It was a yellow one and it was very dynamic and swingy which was fun!

My second to last problem was on an arête. I figured out some good beta to get pasted the crux which was literally the first move! I pulled on and stood up into the pinch but used it as an undercut instead of a pinch. It was really chalky and not very grippy unlike the other holds at this centre. From here I used the hold on the arête and tried to get a foot up but it was too risky; I came back down for a shake out with my feet on the good start holds. When I went back up I committed to the move by jumping and stuck it. An in-cut triangular core hold blocked by a volume. The final move was easy just one pull off a massive foot! I was surprised I managed to flash it.

Finally, I went back over to the slab and waited a short while in the queue. I was sure in  this attempt that I would top it and I would not rush and jump on such a balance based problem. The first part was fine like last time. Similarly, I got a bit confused at the same move but managed to rock up a bit more before snatching the hold. The last move was hard; when I had my hand over the finish hold it slipped and I started to fall backward but my shoulder somehow managed to keep me on. My shoulder seems to save me a lot on slabs! I matched the top hold and got a score of 8 tops in 10. I was pretty happy.

While we waited for the results and the old categories to finish qualifying we went out to a restaurant for lunch.

Isolation closed at 2:00pm and I had qualified 1st by 1 top on the results! I was looking forward to the new formatted final.

Rob (the competition coordinator) gave us a briefing. He said that we would have observation but you don't usually get observation time when it's a semi final format.

I was excited when I saw that 3 out of the 4 blocs were overhangs. However the slab did look really fun. Both the girls and boys had the same blocs but luckily the girls were going first so I wouldn't have to wait so long.

When I went out for my first bloc I was a nervous but excited to try the problems. I was on the slab first.

I pulled on and got to the arête first go but my foot slipped on the volume and I fell off. On my next attempt my foot slipped again in the same place. I was pretty annoyed because of this and on my next go I pushed my feet into the volume as much as possible. This time they didn't slip and I rocked up onto the arête slowly so I could get the bonus. It was a good hold and so was the crimp on the volume. I made a quick move to the undercut and of the the curved crimp hold. I then made the last move to the top. Topped it on my 3rd attempt.

Final bloc 2, was the easiest one. The start was a rock over with a palm on the volume. I did this from the wrong side of the climb so I ended up matching the next hold with 2 finger on my left and just 1 on my right. The last moves were just large sloping pockets. I was pleased to flash this bloc!

I enjoyed bloc 4, it was another large over hang. It had an easy start and I felt like I was climbing a route until I got to the bonus hold. It was a massive sloper and had no good bit on it. You had to jump from it to a crimp without cutting loose. It took me 4 attempts at this move to complete it and I only just managed it in the time. My last go had so much more power and I had to tense all though my leg to complete it.

Lastly, the best climb of the competition; bloc 4. I loved this problem. It was again a massive overhang and had a large mixture of holds, slopers, pockets, and some nice crimps at the beginning. I got the beta exactly right (for once) and managed to flash it. This ended the competition well for me. Shortly after the finals the results showed that I won the competition by 3 tops!

We stayed to watch the A and junior categories finals and for the presentations before we headed back to Cardiff.

Saturday 1 April 2017

BMC Youth Lead Cup Round 1 (Reading Climbing Centre)

It was nice to have a change of climbing centre for this round of the British Youth Lead Cup. It is usually up in Sheffield which is a 4 hour drive for us whereas Reading Climbing wall is much closer. My parents drove my brother and I to Reading on Friday night ready for the Leading competition on Saturday and the Bouldering on the Sunday.

When I walked into Reading climbing centre I can remember thinking to myself I really hope its not the blue route next to the barrel because it looked horrible! But to be honest I often say that for most routes then find that they don’t look that bad!

My first qualifier of the day was a blue climb on the side of the barrel (typical) a slightly overhanging wall it looked like there was a lot of big moves and there were no obvious rests. I watched the demo and tried to work out the sequence. At first I was really scared about going on it but it didn’t seem so bad after I had read it. The first climber was on around 10am and I was 10th in the running order which was a pretty decent position to be so I could watch a few people but not wait ages for my go. Unusually, watching made me more nervous, I thought there were a few big moves and one of them was 3 clips up. All the competitors before me had fallen off on this move except for one very tall girl. This was slightly off putting! Warming up was easy there despite the bouldering area being small. It included lots of competition style holds. I thought my warm up was good but the timing of it was a bit off as I thought that everyone would have took longer on our route.

It quickly came around to my go and I was pretty nervous – the first climb is always the worst for me. Near the wall, the moves seemed closer together and the holds looked better which was a reassuring thought before I started climbing. I was pretty happy with my planning for this route and knew the high point I had to pass. The first section up to the sloper move was reasonably straight forward, I managed to remember the foot sequence I wanted to use and it worked really well. I clipped the next clip and committed for the move straight away as planned. I stuck it and carried on climbing. The next hard section was at the current high point on the route, before this was a big sloper that I had been dreading using. Although I was surprised but relieved that it was quite grippy and not as bad as I had suspected. I think the crux of the route for me was probably the undercut move because matching it was quite awkward. After the undercut there were a few nice crimps before a really bad sloper which I was just about to slide off when I grabbed the foot hold next to it and used it instead. I should have shaken out lower down before attempting this move because I was really pumped by the time I was on the penultimate hold. It was a simple move but the crimp was rounded and warm since the sun had been shining on it all morning. I didn’t have enough energy left to get the top hold and I fell just as I touched it. Maybe I should have tried to clip the last draw first - I though about that just before I went for the move but decided against it. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get the top but pretty pleased with my performance.

Junior and Senior girls were climbing our second qualifier so I watched the last few of them but there were only 7 or so in the whole category. It was a black route on the left hand side of the barrel. There was an overhang with good hand holds at the start followed by a sketchy slab at the top. From what I heard the final holds were pretty bad. I thought I might be up first on this climb from looking at the qualifier 1 start order but later I found that I was actually up 3rd to last. Again on this route everyone fell off at the same place. The crescent shape volume over to the nice in-cut crimp. It seemed to be a very shouldery move! Nobody had managed to pass it by the time it was my go. I pulled on the route with confidence knowing all I had to do to make the final was get near the high point on this route.

The holds were good at the start but it was quite over hanging so it was more energy draining than I would have hoped. I got the the crescent volume and double clipped. I put a toe on the hold around the arête (where others had put a heel) and lent out towards the crimp. I held it with my finger tips at first but then slowly released my toe down onto it so I could transfers my weight onto the right side and then carry on moving. This worked well but left me with little energy as the route curved up becoming a slab. In the Senior category a lot of people fell off the next move just above half way. You have to bump up the arête and pop for a peanut shape sloper. I felt off balance here but I steadily bumped up the side of the wall and push for the sloper not expecting to hold it because I was getting pretty pumped. But I did get it and there was a shallow ring around the hold to crimp on! This gave me a quick chance to shake out and rest before attempting the top. When route reading, the tear drop shaped holds looked ok because they were on the vertical part of the wall but actually they were really bad. Holding the second one I had to use the arête so I could reach to the final hold. It was a nice crimp and at that point completely vertical. I clipped the chains and was very surprised to have topped it.

I knew I was through to the finals so we went out of the centre for a while before isolation closed. After observation I was confident that I could climb well on the black route we had. Opposite the barrel wall. I was last to climb in my category and I hated the wait. Although, people seemed to be going out very quickly which was also slightly worrying. I remembered my liquid chalk and walked out to climb at the same time as my fellow boulders academy climber Gwen. The beginning of the route was easy and relaxed me a lot more. The volume pinch was good and that was the end of the easy climbing. Next was only crimps and sketchy feet. It was hard to clip in a balanced position and my feet felt like they were going to pop all the time.

When I got to the crimp rail I tried to clip and then dropped the rope and carried on because I was too pumped in that position. I clipped from an undercut and the next one from the large sloping ball which was better than it looked. Very pumped I noticed there was only 5 moves left until the top! The next two crimps were decent but the following move was a cross under and I couldn't get my shoulders close enough together to do it. I got very pumped at so many tries at this so I decided eventually to match the hold before and go for the move. I almost held it but didn't quite have enough left because of all the mistakes near the top.

This was the high point so I felt really good to have won but disappointed with all the mistakes I made!

Thursday 5 January 2017

World Youth Climbing Championships - Guangzhou, China

In September this year I was invited to represent Britain at the World Youth Climbing Championships. The competition was held in Guangzhou, China so I was really excited to go there. Before this I had never gone any further than Europe for climbing or on holiday. 

This year has been my first year competing internationally as I am only in the my first year of category B. I have had some great results in lead and boulder this year and I managed to retain my British Speed Champion title. Because of this I was put forward to compete in the overall at the Worlds, which means I could compete in all three disciplines and have a chance at the overall title.

Day 1

On the 3rd of November I met the rest of the GB team members at Manchester Airport before flying to Paris. From here we flew straight to Guangzhou, China! I was looking forward to experiencing my first long hall flight but as I had been told it wasn't all that exciting. The flight was 13 hours and we arrived at 6 o'clock Guangzhou time. Just as we were going to get a taxi to the hotel Ellie (another team coach who had flown out some hours before) called to tell us our hotel wouldn't let any westerners stay there! So after many phone calls home and different arrangements a new hotel was booked.

Day 2

It started with a really odd but nice breakfast at the hotel. There were dumplings, noodles and the only British breakfast thing I recognised was eggs!

The competition was due to start on the 7th so we had 2 days to explore the city! The first thing we did was go into the town and visit the zoo. It took 4 taxi's to get the whole team to the zoo and it was unbelievable how busy the roads were! There were cars everywhere and a lot more cyclist than in the UK. The buildings were so much taller than any of the places I have seen before. 

Inside the zoo we met the rest of the team by the panda's enclosure. Seeing a panda was one of the things on my list of stuff to do in China so I was really disappointed when there was none in there. The cage was under construction. So we split up and walked around the rest of the zoo.

After lunch we left the zoo and we divided into 2 groups. I went on the metro to a sculpture park. We didn't find the park in the end but we found an area with trees so we hung the finger board up and did a little session.

Next we got on the metro again to a Chinese temple. It was amazing to see all the statues of the golden Buddhas and their religious ceremony. The roofs of the temples were just like the ones in Kung Fu panda. There were lots of scabby cats wondering around which was a bit weird. 

At the end of the day we got the very busy metro again to where the rest of the team were shopping. There seemed to be lots of people everywhere you went in Guangzhou! After finally finding the right shopping centre we had a meal together.

Day 3

We got up late and stayed at the hotel for the morning so we could rest for our first lead qualifier the following day. The hotel kindly let us ride in their mini bus to get to the wall so we wouldn't have to get taxi's. It was a pretty short drive there and once we arrived I went over to look at the routes and bouldering walls. There were some really big overhangs on the boulder and lead. When the whole team was standing looking at the wall the officials told us off so we went to the registration building. Inside the building next to the climbing was our registration point where we got competition passes and were told it was 4 hours until the opening ceremony.

It was decided that 3 coaches would stay for the technical meeting and the rest could go shopping and get some food. Because we didn't speak any Chinese it was hard to find  public transport to the right place. So after speaking to 3 different half English speaking IFSC officials we finally got on a bus to the mall.

Kitty (my friend also on the team) and I walked around the shops for a few hours as we had already bought food. We got really bored after walking around the shops 3 times but it was soon time to go for the opening ceremony. 

We caught the bus again but got off at a stop too early so we had to walk quite fast to the wall so we didn't miss the opening ceremony. As long as your teams flag bearer was there for the ceremony then the rest of the team didn't have to go. I was nominated to run to the wall to get there in time and be the flag bearer. I wasn't playing attention to the conversation and I only worked out what I was doing half way through the run. 

I was very happy to carry the flag at my first ever World Championships. The ceremony was held in the cycling velodrome just in front of the wall. I followed a lady carrying a sign which said Great Britain. I was so glad I wasn't at the front because I had no idea where to go. We did a quick tour of the velodrome before listening to a load of speeches from various IFSC senior officials. The teams were then allowed to join the coaches in the stands and watch the dancers and other traditional Chinese performances. Also each athlete got a "goodie bag" with some leaflets and a nice Chinese chalk bag in it. 

We left soon after the ceremony was over and went back to the hotel. 

Day 4

An early start for us! We had to go and register early and then wait for our turn. I was up last out of the team (45th) which I was happy about until I realised how long the wait would be. The demos weren't up for a while after we got there so I was guessing which one I would have. 

Eventually when the routes went up I had the one I wanted. It was a purple route on a slightly less overhanging wall. I spent a lot of time reading it and watching other climbers. Kitty was up early and she climbed it really well getting well above average. 

After warming up I sat in the chair until I was called to climb. I went out pretty confident and was climbing well until I came to the undercut move where a lot of other people had fallen off. It was a cross through to an under cut and then a massive stand up to a small crimp.

I knew what I had to do, I just didn't want to fall off so low down. After a lot of goes I made the move and climbed way too quickly up the next section to the volume. I had planned to shake just before I got the volume but I was really stressed after thinking I was going to fall off the undercut move. This made me really pants so I fell off going to good hold which I planned to rest on so I was really annoyed.

It took me a while to realise that I hadn't actually done that bad and to focus on the 2nd qualifier.

Day 5

The following day we had qualifier 2 and I was out around 20th. The route looked much more my style than qualifier 1 so I was looking forward to it.

After warming up, I had two things to think about from qualifier 1 which I kept saying to myself as a pulled on. 

Again I started well, climbing smooth. I had planned to shake out just before the roof but I thought I felt okay so I kept climbing. There were no rest spots for a while after this so I had to keep going. I regretted it as soon as I clipped the first clip in the roof. I was really pumped and all I could do was keep going. I went dynamically to the jug in the middle of the roof but I was too pumped to hold it and I fell. I felt so stupid because I made the same mistake I made the day before. I managed to recover from my disappointment quicker but it also helped that I had made the semifinals and had another chance to prove myself. Overall it was a pretty good day because everyone else in team GB made the semifinals as well!

Day 6

For the semi-final all categories went into isolation at the same time and one person from each category climbed at the same time. We arrived early on the shuttle bus from our hotel and had to go straight into isolation so we didn't get a chance to look at any of the routes.

Ellie was in isolation with us to help us and get us ready to climb. I was first to climb out of our team.

It was pretty nerve-wracking waiting in the chair to climb and all I wanted to do was put things I did wrong qualifying right on this route and prove to myself that I can climb well. I was happy with the route after observation. We were on the red over hang and it looked quite hard which was good because it meant there is a less chance of  tying with other competitors.

The only thing on my mind when I walked out to climb the route was sticking to my plan and really going for it. I knew if I stuck to my plan and tried my best there was nothing else I could do.

The moves were quite dynamic on this route but I enjoyed them. I made one route-read error that I corrected as I went up so it didn't cost me any more energy. I got the sequence right and in the roof I planed to shake out, so I forced myself to. I was feeling really good as the hold I was shaking on was a really nice jug. Just before I came out to the China clipping was a problem for me so I was worried about the clip in the roof of this climb. I reached out with the rope to clip it but it swung away and I couldn't quite get it in. I think I had around five goes until I finally got in. There was a big screen with live videos of the climbers. While I was shaking out I watched myself live. Here I rested again so I would be ready to complete the next section to get over the lip. I should have rested  a bit longer as I was still a little bit pumped when I started to climb on. I climbed on and made it as far as the first hold over the lip and then fell as I reached for the next hold.

I was so close to climbing my best and I couldn't believe I messed up just at the end. I wasn't as disappointed as the qualifiers because I hadn't made as many mistakes.

At the end of semis I was in 17th place which I'm not happy with as a lot of people got to the same hold as me so it went to count-back so I was pretty low down. So my mistakes in qualifying made a big difference to my final position. 

There was some very good performances from team GB but sadly no finalists.

Day 7

The main reason I decided to do speed was for the overall title but I would also like to train  so I can compete in that event in Europe and next year.

Both me and Kitty were competing in speed and on the start start lists by chance we were against each other. The format was on times so the fastest times would get into the final but there was still two climbers on the wall same time like a head to head would be. 

My first run was okay even though I false started on my first attempt. I don't know times as the IFSC only uses your fastest time. 

After everyone had finished their first run they started from the top of the list again for second attempts. I didn't false start on my second attempt but I felt a bit slower.

I wasn't as bothered about speed as I have no way of training for it in Cardiff. I was reasonably happy with 27th place and a best time of 14.94 seconds.

For the rest of the day I watched and junior male bouldering qualifications and by the afternoon we had a 2nd, 4th and 5th. Around this time it started to rain a lot. The climbing had to be postponed while the rain cleared up, leaving the competitors in isolation for even longer. They had already been there all morning! Billy was the only athlete from team GB left in isolation and he was the very last competitor to climb for the junior male category. After the rain stopped the finals resumed only to be completely stopped half an hour later. It was then decided that it was too wet for the rest of the qualifiers to go ahead so they cancelled it and all of the scores from the other competitors were deleted. This meant all of our great results were gone! Because there wasn't enough time to reschedule the qualifiers they decided to skip it and go straight to semi’s this meant that they had to separate 60 people down to 6 finalists. We all felt sorry for Billy and Tim (team coach) as they were in isolation that 8 hours and didn't even get to climb. 

Day 8 

After being a little disappointed with my performance in lead climbing I was excited to start the bouldering. I felt like my bouldering was slightly stronger and I was determined to climb better.

In lead I was really happy to be out late but I have now changed my mind. It is much better to be out earlier so you can get it over with and there is less time to get nervous. After deciding this I found out I was 50th to climb and would spend 4 hours in isolation!

Michelle (team chaperone) was my coach in isolation. The warm-up walls were okay. Also the holds were very chalky and there wasn't much space but as I was climbing very near the end most people had already gone out so there was lots of space for me.

I hadn't seen any of the problems so I had to be ready to climb any style. It was hard to be prepared for slabs as they only had one volume to use and both the warm up walls were over hanging. 

I couldn't help but hope there would be not many slopers as even with practice they are still my least favourite hold. The format was 5 on 5 off one of my favourites. It means the competition is over much quicker and this is more about endurance than just strength.

For my first block I was a little disappointed to see only slopers and sloper volumes the whole way up it. I pulled on and had missed a crimp in my route read so I was finding it hard to move up. I was getting more and more pumped so I looked different ways of doing the move until I finally found the crimp! I grabbed it and easily made it to the bonus hold which was giant volume sloper. There were only two moves left and I really wanted an on-sight. I got the next sloper and jumped to the top hold also sloper. To my surprise I manage to hold it and get the top. Later I found that I was only 1 of 4 people to on-sight the problem!


The next block wasn't just slopers. I pulled on and did a massive cross to a pocket and dynamically pushed out to volume. I messed around with my feet for too long which cost me a lot of energy for the last moves. I got to the moon shaped sloper and matched the top of it. I was really pumped and the wall was very overhanging. I went for the next move which was only one hold away from the top. I wanted to get straight back on as usual but I forced myself to rest before pulling on again. In total I had 3 or 4 attempts but none were as good as my first. I decided that when there was 30 seconds left I wouldn't have another go but save my energy for the the following 3 qualifiers.

For the third block I had a dyno. I am pretty bad at these but after a few goes they can sometimes happen. For my first few attempts I tried dynoing and static ways even though I new it was definitely a dyno. After six tries I stuck it, the next move was big and I had all the wrong beta. I managed to do a double heel hook and then fall off jumping! The time ran out after this, I didn't even get the bonus! I wasn't very happy in the transition area.

Block four was overhanging, short, and slightly less slopery than the last few climbs. I knew when I saw it that I could flash it so I was eager to get on. Maybe a bit too eager. As planned I route read for 10 to 20 seconds and then pulled on. The holds were much better than they looked and I got to the bonus easily I then jumped to the next hold and my hand slipped off it. I felt really stupid because I rushed and it cost me a flash because in the next attempt I did it easily. 

My fifth qualifier was a slab. I'm not usually very good at slabs but this time I was okay. It was a four point start on a ramp shaped volume then a stand up and go to a wiggly snake shaped crimp. At this point I had to jump and catch a volume, my worst nightmare of a move. It took multiple attempts but I did finally stick it. The last hold was a sloped volume with a chalky screw on top. In the last few minutes I tried jumping for it three times and slipped down every time.

I was reasonably happy with my climbing in bouldering and my position was 12th. If I had flashed qualifier four I would have been 10th!

Day 9

Sadly this was my last day of competing out in China as I didn't make it to the finals. The format was the same as qualifiers but this round we only had four blocks. Isolation was much shorter as I'd qualified in 12th place, meaning I was out 9th, this was much better even though it was harder to get onto the warm up wall. Michelle was in isolation with me again and we did the same warm up routines as before. Time slipped away much quicker this time and I was soon sitting in the chair ready to climb.

Bloc 1 had volumes everywhere and was very confusing to route read. I did pretty well first go, getting to the bonus even after I spent ages messing around in the middle. After a long rest I was still too tired and couldn't get anywhere.

Semi-final B2
Bloc 2 was one of the hardest and only one person topped it. You had to rock onto a volume and push into the roof with your hands then turn around and walk your hands down the wall to a sloper. I attempted to do it fast and slowly but I just couldn't stick it. The bonus was only a little bit above the sloper so I also tried going quickly to that as well. I must have had about 10 attempts or more at the problem because it wasn't costing much arm strength and I really wanted top it and make the final.

Bloc 3 - my favourite style. There were a few of the sloper rings and moons but they had crimps on them! I think I got the bonus on my first attempt and fell on the second last move because I didn’t move my feet up. I had 3 more attempts after this and fell off the top move every time, almost sticking it on the last go. When I went back into transition I remembered what I needed to do. This was such an easy thing to fix!

Bloc 4 - I just wanted one top! And I got a slab. My least favourite. After placing my feet and hands onto the four points I rocked onto the next volume and balanced across trying not to match my feet to much. As I balanced across I saw the bonus at my feet so I reached down and put my hand onto it and it slipped off. On my next attempt I got called off because I crimped a bolt hole on a volume which was allowed for most of this year but the rule must've been changed before I went out to China. I didn't really know what to do so I just jumped off and ran straight back on. I wanted to argue with the judge but I knew that would just waste time. I edged across again and put my feet on the bonus making it easy to get the top to hold. My only top in the semifinals! It was really nice to end on a high

The small mistakes I made were pretty frustrating that I was reasonably happy with my end result of 14th.

On the last climbing day of the trip we watched William Bosi and Tara Hayes come third and second in the bouldering finals our only medallists.

Day 10

It was really nice to have one day before we left to go out and see China. We hired bikes and tandems from the hotel. It was a lot of fun. 
So my final results were:
Lead - 17th
Speed - 27th
Bouldering - 14th
Overall - 11th

My current world ranking is now 13th!

As it was my first world championships I am happy with my results but feel like I could have done better. I am looking forward to next year when I am in the top of my category!