Tuesday 30 December 2014

Extending My Home Climbing Wall

In my bedroom I had a climbing wall which was overhanging by 30deg. This was really good for training at home and I used it a lot. But recently I noticed a lot of wasted wall space that was crying out for some climbing holds. My Dad and I decided to have a go at building a extension to my wall.

Before we did any planning we spoke to my coach Simon as he had built our overhanging wall. He suggested that we build a flat wall on the chimney breast and join it to the existing overhanging wall covering the rest of the alcove. 

Here is how we did it:

Buying materials 

On the Saturday before Christmas I was ill so my Dad went out to B&Q to buy the materials we needed to build the wall they were:
  • 2 x plywood (8ft x 4ft) - to bolt holds onto
  • 6 x wood planks 2x4 (2.4m) - for frame
  • Expansion bolts - to hold the frame on the wall
  • T-Nuts 10mm - to fix the holds to the plywood
  • Screws (from the garage) - to screw the plywood onto the frame
  • Paint (from the garage)
  • Sand - to mix with the paint to make surface rough

Putting Frame Up

We didn't start putting up the frame until Monday but we cut the 2 x 4's on Sunday evening to save time on Monday. We woke up late on Monday and started to drill the holes in the wall for the expansion bolts. The holes had to be really big so we had to use a massive and really loud drill. This didn't take too long and we managed to get the expansion bolts in and some of the frame bolted to the wall.

We didn't do anything on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but on Boxing my Dad went to the rugby at 12 so I put the vertical part of the frame up by myself. When I was doing this three of the holes in the wood didn't line up with the holes in the wall, so I had to make the holes a bit bigger so that the bolts could go in straight. I did this by taking the piece of 2x4 off the wall and used the drill to make the hole bigger. Finally, I managed to get all the bolts in the frame except two which needed to be made shorter so I waited for my dad to come back so he could hacksaw them. By the end of Boxing Day the frame was up except for the cross pieces.

Cutting the plywood

On Saturday we carried two panels of heavy plywood down the stairs so that we could cut them outside. We spent a long time making sure we measured the wood correctly so that we didn't cut it wrong.

We used a computer program called SketchUp to check out measurements which turned out to be wrong. I had mixed up two of the measurements for the lower piece of plywood. Once we were certain we got it right we drew the lines on the plywood for the jigsaw to follow.

The sawing unlike the measuring went really well and both boards fit on the frame well. I did part of the second board because it was a left handed job and my dad is right handed.

Painting the plywood

After the plywood had been cut I painted it two coats of primer/undercoat white paint. Once the undercoat was dry I mixed play sand with emulsion paint and painted it on the wall. The turned out well - it gave the wood a really rough surface which stops the holds from spinning when you put them on.


The next day we took the boards back outside again to drill the holes for the T-nuts. Before we drilled them we had to draw a grid on the back of the board. The grid had twenty centimetres squares. But when we finished the top board we found out that there weren't enough holes at the edge of the board so we put some more in-between the edge of the grid and the side of the plywood.  This looked much better but we made sure that for the bottom board we drilled closer in from the side. The bottom board did look better because we drilled  ten centimetres in from the side and then drilled twenties for the rest of the grid.

My Dad had already bought 50 T-nuts which was enough for the top board as it was smaller so I took the board into the middle of the garden to hammer the T-nuts in because it was too noisy to do inside. This didn't take long but I couldn't finish both boards because we needed another 75 T-nuts.

Up and Under had run out of T-nuts so we couldn't finish the wall. I wanted to go to Boulders because I hadn't been for a while. At Boulders my Dad asked if they sold any T-nuts and Tym told us that they had some old ones from when they replaced them all in boulders. Tym gave us 100 - this was awesome because it meant we could finish the wall.

Earlier today I screwed in all the remaining T-nuts finishing of the plywood which was ready to be put on the wall.

Putting boards up

This was easy except for some of the holes on the bottom board were blocked by the frame but we drilled holes in the frame underneath the plywood to allow the bolts to go though. To support and keep the plywood in place while we screwed it on, I put some wood and a Mr Men book under it. This worked well and we managed to screw all 50 screw in pretty quickly.

At last the wall was complete. It looks awesome and I built a lot of it myself with a bit of help from my Dad and my brother Oscar.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Blokfest - Castle Climbing Centre London

On Friday night my Dad, my brother Oscar, and me travelled to London for the third round of the Blokfest bouldering competition. We missed the second round in Brighton because we were in Dublin for the Irish Climbing Championships. We stayed at my cousin's house overnight so that we could didn't have to drive very far to get to the Castle climbing centre.

When we woke up on Saturday we drove across London to the climbing centre. We passed Big Ben just as it was striking 8 o'clock!  We got to the climbing centre early to get a parking space so we had breakfast in a cafĂ© opposite. My breakfast had hash browns and chips!!!

After breakfast we got our stuff from the car and took it into the Castle Climbing Centre. We Registered and got a score sheet. I had loads of time before the comp started so I went round and read the blocs some were OK but a few were hard! My dad listened to the briefing while I was warming up.

Once the briefing was over I started on the top floor and managed to complete all problems apart from one. This meant I had 20 left. My brother and I went round together to save my Dad some hassle. We went down a floor and I demoed some of the under 16 boys routes for Oscar and to warm up for my routes.

The next bay we tried was reachy but I was just tall enough to do them. The first one was easy and I topped it. The second one was OK but there was a reach at the top, I did it fine but my bro couldn't reach the top and he was up there for ages before he finally giving up. There were 2 other climbs on this wall and they were both really easy and I topped them both!
The next level was OK because there were only three climbs on it, one of them was all jugs so I tried that first. The next one was pretty easy too and I topped it. To get down from this climb you had to climb over the top and go through lots of tunnels - this was as much fun as the climb!

Next we went to the mega slab. They looked really easy because they were so slabbed but one of them was really hard. I did them all apart from the hard one which I left until later.

Just behind the slabs was a room with the overhanging climbs. These climbs weren't that hard and I topped them all.

I only had two blocs left to try. Number 20 which was a really difficult roof and Number 22 which was on the mega slab.

I tried the slab first and failed to top it. I didn't think I would top that one at all so I went to try the roof.

On my first go I got to the third from top which was a pyramid volume. On my second and third attempts my foot slipped off the volume of the start hold. I was really sad because I thought I could do really well again like I did in the first attempt. Catrin was there and helped me figure out how to do the move. Before having another go  I decided to try the slab again because there were more points available on the slab as I had only had one attempt.

I failed the slab again twice so this was only worth one point as well but I thought that I could top it so I carried on working the problem. I had loads of attempts before finally topping it. This meant that I had topped all but number 20 and I scored 228.

I spent the rest of the time attempting number 20 on the roof but I only managed to match my first attempt. I handed in my scoresheet at 1:30 and my Dad drove back to Cardiff.

The was round was better than the first round because the problems were more interesting and spread out over the centre.

The Castle Climbing centre was an amazing place - the climbing area was spread over loads of different floors and rooms which I really liked. I can't wait the for next round of Blokfest which is in Bristol (closer to home).

Sunday 7 December 2014

BMC Junior Bouldering Cup 2015 - Round 1 (Derby)

This morning we got up at 6 and went downstairs in the hotel for breakfast, I had hash browns, bacon and milk, After this we got in the car and went to The Climbing Unit for the Junior Bouldering Cup.

I was really excited about this competition because it is my favourite bouldering competition of the year. I had a look at my qualifiers, three looked quite hard but the others looked OK. I registered, got a number 156 and score sheet. We had to wait a while before the competition started so I read the routes some more and warmed up.

The first three routes I did were really easy, they were numbers 4, 3 and 2. I managed to top them all first go. I was happy about this so I moved around to the next bay. There were two more easy climbs here so I attempted them. Number 8 was on the arret and number 7 was on the corner. I also topped these first go.

There were three hard qualifiers left but I decided to go for number 6 first because it was the closest. I tried it, got the bonus and matched the top out of control and fell. I was so annoyed that it didn't count because I was so close.

After this I moved around to number 1. I went straight to the volume from the start hold, slapped it and fell off. I realised I should have gone the other way and put my card in for a second attempt. I knew what I was going to do this time and I was confident. For my second attempt I went to the arret and easily got to the hold on the volume. I got my foot up onto the top of the volume - I couldn't put it on the side wall because of other holds which were in the way. Instead, I put my foot on top of the volume and pulled up to the top. I couldn't quite reach it and then my foot slid off the volume so I fell. I wanted to try again because I knew I could have done it - it was just a foot slip. I was cross that my foot slipped so I had a break before attempting it again. On my last attempt the same thing happened - my foot slipped off the volume. I felt gutted and wished that I could have another go because I knew I could do it.

I moved on to number 5. On my first go on 5 I got to the roof and jumped for the second last hold and missed it. I was annoyed but decided to have another go - this time I managed to hit and almost grabbed it. After another quick break I went to try number 6 again - I only had 2 more attempts on number 6 and on both of them I swung off the top hold so I didn't match it in a controlled way.

My last attempt on number 5 was good - I managed to grab the sloper but fell off because I didn't stick it.

I wasn't pleased with my result but thought that I would qualify. We had 2hrs left until isolation opened so we went to the Toby Carvery for lunch where I had a roast pork bap!

When we got back to the centre I saw that I had qualified 3rd behind Kirsten and Rose. Kirsten managed to top number 1 and Rose got the bonus first go. I was happy to get into the final but was disappointed with my performance so far.

I was looking forward to the final because I always do better in finals than qualifiers. In isolation we waited an hour to climb but then we were told they were 10 minutes behind. Isolation was boring but we found a few fun things to do like playing catch with medicine balls and playing cards.

Finally we were called to look at the problems. I really liked the problems but the first one looked too easy for a final. After the observation period (6 minutes) we went back into isolation. I wait about 20 minuted for my turn on the first problems. I topped the route first go quite quickly - it wasn't too bad.

The second route was much more difficult. My first attempt on the route was good but I didn't manage to get to the disc so I jumped off so I wouldn't waste too much energy on this attempt. On my second attempt I got to the disc and swung up to the bonus. It was a really good hold and I managed to move to the second top from it. I fell into the undercut and went for the top. I topped the route and I was really happy.
After sharing scores with the other competitors I knew that if I topped the next route I had won. I was really determined to do it and thought it was easier than the second. The first part was pretty easy and I managed to get the bonus quickly. I matched the bonus and then unmatched and stuck my foot out onto the side wall. I moved my other foot down a hold and replaced my foot on the side for a hand. This way I could pull on the bonus and chimney to the top. I was really happy when I topped this because I knew I had won.
I watched Kirsten and Rose climb and then my mum asked Rob if I could have my prize because I had an exam the next day and needed to get back home in time to revise and have an early night.

As my prize I got a DMM kit bag, a medal and a certificate.

It was a really good comp. and the routes were interesting especially the qualifiers. I am looking forward to the next round.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Time-lapse video of the Junior Lead Cup 2015 - Round 1

Here is a link to the time-lapse my Dad did of the Junior lead cup. He spent a lot of time cutting out peoples heads and arms that went in front of the camera.

Monday 1 December 2014

GB team selection

Earlier today I found out that I had been selected for a place in the GB team. I was so pleased when I found this out I had been really hoping for a place in the British team.

See BMC website for announcement.

I don't really know what being on the British team is so I had a browse on the GB team website and found this:

Benefits of being selected to be on a GB Junior team include the following: 
  1. This is the first step in representing GB internationally.
  2. You will receive a GB Team kit and will have the privilege of being able to wear the GB Team kit at events.
  3. You will get free entry into selected climbing walls.
    1. For walls in England and Wales, the Team management will tell you which walls they are. They are also indicated in the BMC Climbing Wall Directory.
    2. For walls in Scotland, the information comes from the MCofS Management Rep and is available on the MCofS website. 
  4. Advice on training, nutrition, injury prevention.
  5. Advice and National Body (eg BMC and / or MCofS) support for funding from external funding bodies.
  6. Some coaching, but this is not the main purpose of Team Management. Team members often have their own coaches and work with them on an individual basis.
  7. Some opportunities to compete internationally in order to gain experience at selected events. These will be (i) at events that take place in the UK and (ii) possibly other events where the management feel it is appropriate. In the past, and in respect of the Lead Climbing Team, the Kranj EYC in November has been used for this purpose.
All the details can be found from this document on the BMC website:
GB Junior Bouldering & Climbing Teams’ Philosophy and Selection


Sunday 30 November 2014

Stanage Edge Bouldering

Today Simon and Liam took me and Oscar bouldering in Stanage. This was a short drive out of Sheffield and a muddy walk up to the rocks. The shoes I had to choose from for the walk up were crocs or heelies. I chose the crocs because I thought the wheel would get clogged up with mud.

The first rock we went to was an easy slab called the bull or something like that. We laid our mats out and gave it a go. Me and Oscar both managed to do it first go. So we decided to take our pads and moved onto another boulder. It was slightly wet but dry enough to have a go. It took a lot of attempts to compete this climb because it was really hard and I had to figure out the best way of doing it. Once we had topped it a couple of times we went around the back of the boulder and tried a slab. We made up some routes, found some cool holds and climbed on top of the boulder. When we jumped off the top of the boulder my snap pad gave us a really soft landing.

It was getting late and we only had time to try one more problem. We walked over to the green traverse and joined some people who were already climbing there. I had a few goes but I kept getting stuck on the crimps because I couldn't find anywhere to put my feet.

It was getting late so we made our way back to the car and drove home.

This was only my third time bouldering outside and I really enjoyed it. Even though Stanage was crowded there were so many problems to try. It would be awesome to go again.

Saturday 29 November 2014

BMC Junior Lead Cup 2015 - Round 1

On the morning of the competition we got up early and went to the Premier Inn restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast we rushed all our bags into the car because my dad forgot to book the room for the Saturday night so we had to checkout early.

We got to Awesome Walls later than I wanted to but were still in time for registration. I found out after registration that I was number 1. I thought it was impossible to get number 1 because my dad always registers me late for the competitions. Being number 1 meant that I was climbing first so I quickly took a look at my qualifying routes. I had a quick look at the second but focused on the first.

My first qualifier looked OK. There was a couple of hard moves and reaches but I thought that I could do them. I spent half an hour reading the route and the rest of the time warming up. The route wasn't too bad but I hadn't read it enough or warmed up enough. I managed to top the route but I wasn't as satisfied as I normally am when I top a climb.

I knew it would be a long time until our next route because there were 23 in our category! So when my coach arrived he read the second qualifier with me. At first I thought it was really hard, but when my coach read it with me and we watched the boys climb it seemed to get easier. While I was waiting for everyone to finish the first route and for my turn on the second I scooted around the centre on my new heelies!

About half an hour before it was my turn to climb I started to warm up in the bouldering area and using the auto-belays. I felt better before this route than before the last one because I had more time to read the route and warm up.

I started the route and climbed well until I got over the lip. When I got over the lip I clipped the clip but found it really hard to pull to the next hold which was an undercut. I pinched the undercut because I as struggling to pull up.

Eventually, I managed to pull up and clip and I wasted a lot of energy doing this but still had plenty left. Once I had got past this bit the rest was fairly straight forward and I topped the route.
I went to see my coach Simon after this and I told him that I hadn't climbed as well as I normally do and he told me that there was a foot hold under the lip that I couldn't see as I was climbing. Using this would have made the route much easier.

We went out for lunch to a pub called the Harlequin where I had a chip butty with cheese the size of my face which I couldn't finish! Once we got back from the pub, I found out that I had qualified first which meant I would be last to climb in the final. I did a couple of laps on the auto belay before going into isolation.

In isolation I thought about what routes I could have and hoped it would the yellow on the left side that Cat B,A and Junior all did in qualifying. I want to compare how well I would do with the higher categories as I had been competing against a lot of the girls before they moved categories.

When Rob called us out for observation he told us that the girls C final was the yellow on the left - exactly the one I had hoped it would be. It looked hard in some parts and OK in other parts. The bit I was worried about was where you had to climb down one move and reach across. There were also reaches around this part. The top of the route looked quite but I focused my route read on the middle.

There was a long until I came out to climb because there were 8 finalists in my category. When I eventually did come out I walked over to the route and looked at it one last time before attempting it. When I started the route I was bit nervous but I knew this was a GB team selection event so I was determined to do well. The first bit was all jugs until the bit where you had to climb down. This was hard but I got past it OK. To the next clip was all mini jugs and was quite easy. After this clip there was a couple of good holds which I clipped off before going to the sloper. I slapped the sloper, pushed it and stuck it. I was really pumped but managed to get two holds higher and then my arms gave up and I fell off.

When I came down my belayer told me that I had won and I was really happy. When I compared the scores for this route across the categories, only Catrin did better than me in category B and there were three girls in category A who got further.

Just before the presentations Rob announced that the GB team selection would be on the BMC website on Monday. I really hope I have done enough to make it onto the team.

I really enjoyed the competition. It was a really well organsied and the route setting was perfect. The top climbers were split really well.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championships (ILCC)

After a McDonald's breakfast we went to Awesome walls to register for the Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championships. We were nice and early so we had lots of time to see the routes. At first glance the routes look OK. Upstairs in registration I got a goody bag. In the goody bag there was a green competition t-shirt, a number (18) and leaflets about nutrition, hydration and some other useful training topics.
When I read the routes a bit more they looked harder than I had initially thought. But after reading them properly I thought that I could top them.

At 10:30 the demo started for the first qualifier. They made it look easy which made me feel even better about it.

I was 6th to climb. I got to the last part easily but then the judge shouted at me for moving my leg past the black tape. I though I had been disqualified even though I hadn't touched the arret. I didn't hear what the judge said but I carried on climbing anyway. It put me off but I still managed to top it. I asked if it had counted and it had so I was relived.
I waited until 12:00 for the next demos to start.I watched them and they gave me more confidence. I was up first so after the demos I went down stairs to get tied in.

I was a bit nervous but that soon went away after I started the climb. All the holds were positive on the climb so it was pretty easy I topped it even though I had thought that some of the holds might be bad. I was so pleased that I topped both routes and got to the final.

I watched the rest of my category climb and then went to a restaurant to get some food before the final.

We came back at 14:30 and the qualifying scores were up I was joint first with Pippa and was second last to attempt the final route.

We waited until  15:25 and then ran upstairs to isolation. I then waited even longer to go out for observation. At 16:00 we went down for observation. I had the green route on my qualifying wall. At first it looked hard but seemed to get easier the more I read it. We only had 6 mins to view the route so I soon had to go back up stairs to wait until it was my turn.

I got tied in as soon as Kirsten went out to climb. I was really excited and really wanted to top the climb. When I walked downstairs to climb I put my stuff under the scoreboard. I was already tied in and had my shoes so I got on after a 3 second refresh of the route.

The first three clips were easy, the fourth was a bit harder. In between the fourth and fifth clips I did a mini jump and got the hold. The next few moves were OK - my favourite one was where I rolled out from a side pull and grabbed the next hold because I don't usually do things like that and it was something new. I was nervous as I got closer to the top because I knew I would be gutted if I fell off at that point. The last two moves were difficult and I was really happy to have done them. 

This meant that I had topped the route. I thought that I had done it quite quickly and hoped it was enough to win even if it went back to time and countbacks.

Once everyone had finished climbing I was told that I had won and I was really happy. We watched the other categories' finals. Whilst we were watching Damien came up to us and told us the first prize was a sixty euro voucher for the shop and that we should start having a look because we were flying back early Sunday morning. I looked in the shop and decided to put my voucher towards a GRIGRI as I didn't have one.

It was awesome to be on the podium again and I really enjoyed the competition. I am definitely going again next year. Thanks to all the route setters as the routes were fantastic and set just at the right level to split the categories. Also, the competition ran exactly to time which proved the organisers were very good.

The results can be found here: Results
Report from Mountaineering Ireland here; Report

Friday 14 November 2014

Awesome Walls - Dublin

On our first day in Dublin we got up late and went to check out Awesome Wall which was the venue for the Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championships on the weekend. 

The centre was awesome because there was 2 floors of bouldering as well as a massive overhanging lead wall. I climbed a few routes and did a bit of bouldering. I also made this video:

Sunday 9 November 2014

Welsh Climbing Championship 2014

First place

Yesterday I got up and went to Boulders for the Welsh Climbing Championships. The car park was almost full when we got there, but we managed to find a space around the back. It was pouring with rain and there was a massive queue to get into Boulders but I passed the queue and found out it was only for registration so I decided to register later.

We went into Pebbles, the Boulders play area, to dump our stuff off. After this I went to look at the routes. My routes looked awesome and it was great to have so many new routes in Boulders. Once I had finished reading the routes I registered for the competition and got my t-shirt.

Warm Up

It took a while for the competition to get start so I warmed up in the bouldering area with my brother Oscar. There were 14 girls in my category (C) and I was climbing first on the first route. I was really happy about this because I don't like to wait around and get nervous.

When it was my turn I was really excited to be the first person to try the route. It was quite easy and I got to the top no trouble.

Route 2
The second route was a little harder but still OK and I got to the top.

After the second I knew there was going to be a long time to wait before we would start the third route. I spent some time reading the third route and then played around in the bouldering area with Sophie and Oscar.

Boulders was as busy as I have ever seen it yesterday. Over 160 competitors turned up each bringing some family members. The atmosphere was awesome and it was really nice to have so many people cheering me on.
The Crowd

My third route (yellow) was probably the most difficult route out of all those I attempted because it had loads of slopers which were really hard to grip.

I managed to get to the first four clips easily. From clip four to five was harder because there was a banana hold in the middle. I moved off the it and climbed to the next to the bananana hold witch was horizontal and slopery. I matched it and shuffled across it to the next sloper/pinch. It was ok and I had come across it before so I managed to move off it to another rubbish sloper but I held it and the rest of the holds were crimps so I topped it!

3rd Route
We next had a lunch break and Joby interviewed me for Boulders. After this we meet with my godparents for lunch at T.G.I Fridays. We always go out in the middle of competitions to relax.

When we came back  I went straight into isolation for the semi finals. We had 8 minutes to read the route. It was the orange opposite the logo wall. I thought it looked OK and was looking forward to it. I was last out as I had qualified in first place.

When I came out I was quite nervous as 9 people had climbed before me and I had been waiting for ages. The first part of the route was OK and then in the  middle there was one small reach but I managed to get past it. The rest of the route was really reachy. I got through all of the reaches except for the last one which I had to go for slower so I didn't slip. I got the hold and went for the top one and was very happy to have done it.

There was a small wait before our judge told us to meet next to the TV. We were shown the route. It was a yellow opposite the roof. We then we found out that other groups were climbing it and we would have to wait some time before we could read it and go into isolation. We had half an hour wait. After two minutes we were called back and Simon told us that our climb had been changed to the yellow next to the roof so we wouldn't have to wait.

We went to read the route and had eight minutes again before going into isolation. I was last up again as I had qualified first. When I went out I was really excited. I got past the first four clips and up to the roof. I stood up on my leg around the corner and felt the mini jug. Once I had this hold it took me a while to figure out how to reach the next hold as my first attempt at going for it didn't work. I finally got it and clipped. I was now on a flat wall. I bridged across the two holds and grabbed the third last hold. It was rubbish and so was the next one but I managed to pop for the top one and hold it. It was awesome to have topped every route in the comp.

I knew I had won because I topped the climb and countbacks were in my favour. I was really happy and spent the time waiting for presentations in the bouldering area with my friends.

In the presentations I got an epic trophy which was made from climbing holds, some offset nuts and a Mad Rock chalk bag. See pictures.

It was a great competition with an amazing turnout. The routes were fun to climb, they had lots of volumes and large holds which I am rubbish at so it gave me a good challenge.

Thanks to Simon and all the route setters for setting such great routes and to Boulders for hosting the competition.

You can find the results here: Results