Monday 25 August 2014

Lyra and Shark by Mad Rock

Mad Rock through their suppliers - Serious Climbing have given me two new pairs of rock shoes. These are the Shark and the Lyra:

The Lyra

The Lyra rock shoes look cool, they have two Velcro straps making them easy to take on and off. There is padding on top of the shoes underneath the straps to make them comfortable to wear. They have a slight downturn but not so much that it hurts you feet and gives you cramp.

The heel is bigger that the average climbing shoe. It is also ribbed which give more grip when heel hooking. Compared to my Katana lace-ups the heel gives more grip.

My Katanas are slightly more downturned but less comfortable. The rubber on the toe had the same amount of grip as the Katanas. When placing your foot on small holds the Lyra aren't any better than the Katanas.

On the top of the shoe there is some extra rubber which is useful for toe hooking. My Katanas didn't have any rubber on the top of the shoe.
I prefer the Lyras to my Katanas because of the heel and the toe rubber. They are also more comfortable.

The Shark

The Sharks have one strap across the top of the shoe with a padded tongue. They are as easy to put on as the Lyras. These shoes are a little less comfortable than the Lyras - this is expected because they are more downturned than the Lyras.

The heel on the Shark is ribbed and has a thick rubber strip over it. The rubber strip along with the shape of the heel give lots more grip when heel hooking. Also, around the heel is extra rubber. In fact the whole shoe is covered in rubber (almost completely).
The toe is thicker than the toe on the Lyra as it had a line of plastic underneath the rubber to make it harder and wear less quick. It also makes it more comfortable inside for your toes - it gives my toes something to grip which I like. The toe has a very narrow hard point which make it much more reliable when standing on a dodgy hold.
 As you can see from the pictures the top of the shoe is completely covered in rubber. This is very good for jamming your toe in cracks and for toe hooks.

Overall, I think that the Sharks are my favourite shoe ever because of all the details they have that I haven't seen on a shoe before. I will be wearing these in all my competitions from now on!

Sunday 24 August 2014

Outdoor Bouldering at Ogmore

Yesterday, my coach Simon invited Boulders Academy on a trip to Ogmore beach to do some outdoor bouldering. I was really excited and looking forward to having my first experience bouldering outside on real rock!

We met up in the car park at Ogmore beach. My whole family came along, even my little brother Silas. When we all arrived Simon walked us around to the first bouldering area and gave us a tour.

The bouldering area was bigger than I thought. It had loads of different types of problems. It had a roof, a traverse and a tube.

When Simon had shown us around, Oscar and I got our shoes on, grabbed a mat (we borrowed this because we don't have one yet) and paired up with Gwen and Fin to spot each other. The first problem we tried was the one closest to our stuff. It was an easy problem but it was our first time outdoor bouldering so we didn't mind what the grades were.

After this easy problem we moved on to the tube. This looked really fun as we had seen from Simon's tour. The first thing we had to do was grab a load of big rocks to put under the mats as the bottom of the tube was a rock pool. Once the mats were down we chalked up an each had a go on the tube. I accidentally did it the hard way because I didn't know which was the easy way and which was the hard way.

Next I tried a traverse - this was probably the coolest traverse I have ever done in my life! I found it hard to find the different holds because I couldn't keep my feet on. I slipped of on my first go but I remembered where not to go on my second attempt and topped it.

Another fun problem was the roof. I tried this problem next because it was just to the left of the tube. We took the mats and put them on the rocks and then moved all the big stones into the rock pool underneath the roof - otherwise we would have been shallow water soloing!

After a couple of goes I managed to top the roof - it was awesome!

Simon had just taught me how to use heel hooks properly a few weeks ago and I put them to good use on this problem - they really helped.

Just before we had lunch we found a narrow walkway with problems on either side. I got a little bit scared on this one because the walls were a little bit close together and I didn't want to whack myself on the other side. When I reached the top I jumped between the two walls because it was fun!

It was lunch time and we found a cave and we climbed through it with our lunch and climbed out the other side on top of the rocks. We climbed down a little to a ledge where Oscar, Gwen, Fin and me sat and ate our lunch.

After lunch we tried some problems on the other side. I tried the problem on the corner of the other side. It was really cool and you could see where you needed to go because of all the chalk marks.

On my first go I used my heel and failed but on my second go I used both my toes and topped it!

It was time to pack up and move on to the next bouldering area. I packed up my stuff but saw this problem and had to try it before we left. It took a couple of goes but I managed to top it - it was a cool problem.

Simon took us further along the beach to another bouldering area. We sat down by a cave entrance. Simon told us that this would lead out to the beach. It was fun going through the tunnel and we met up with Ollie and the other Boulders team on the beach. Simon threw all the mats down and came down to the beach.

We unclipped the mats and placed them under two slabs. I tried the easy one first and climbed over the top and came back down through the tunnel.. I rested for a bit then tried the harder slab. I slipped off in the middle of this climb on my first attempt but on my second I managed to top it.

I next tried a problem on the opposite side of the beach with Ben and Rebecca but it was really, really hard and none of us managed to top it. This problem hurt our hands a lot because it was covered in barnacles. After a while I moved on to climb next to me that my brother Oscar was trying. This was his favourite problem and he had done it about a hundred times already! It wasn't difficult but it was fun and interesting. When I reached the top I climbed over the edge and had to walk all the way around the cliff dodging gaps that you could fall through.

For my final climb I tried a tall hard climb really close to the shore and the tide was coming in fast! By the time I was half way the tide had almost covered my landing spot - so the mats had been moved. I managed to do it - only just. I climbed over the edge and stayed there as this was my final problem.

My dad was still down in the bouldering area and threw up our bags and I caught them from the top and put them on the rocks.

Ollie and the Boulders team lit the BBQ but unfortunately my Mum had disappeared off to the car and wanted to head back : (

I was disappointed we couldn't stay but we had loads of fun bouldering. Thanks to Simon for taking us out and showing us some cool blocs.

We will definitely visit this area again to try out all the problems we didn't get around to doing.

Friday 22 August 2014

Competition at Bloc Climbing Bristol

On Friday afternoon I went to the newly opened bouldering centre in Bristol called Bloc climbing. My Dad entered me and my bro Oscar into the junior competition. We had a look around the centre and there was  a big roof at the back of Bloc that you could climb on top of and jump off. We were looking forward to having a go. The rest of the centre looked really cool. There was a variety of different walls and problems to try.

Next we warmed up and finished just as the competition started. We collected our score sheet from the desk and found an easy problem to start with. The competition was self scoring for the qualifiers with a timed final. There were 20 qualifying routes and 3 in the final.

I started with some easy problems and then tried some middle difficulty ones. After these I only had 7 mostly hard problems left. I had a break and a drink so that I had energy left for the last 7. One of these was the roof climb. I was really looking forward to this because it was the only roof climb in the whole comp. It didn't look too hard and I managed to top it first attempt. I had only 6 problems to go and I managed to top 3 easily. The 3 remaining problems were difficult. I tried the blue bloc 5 once and failed. After this I had my attempt on the other two blocs 14 and 7. I failed these as well which was disappointing. I watched Oscar for a while and then tried the blue again. This time I tried a different method, one that Oscar tried. I failed again but I knew this method would work next time. After resting I tried again and topped it. This was the last climb I topped in the qualifiers. I scored 174 of 200. 

This was not enough to qualify for the final. I was 4th and the top 3 qualified. But the team at Bloc climbing organized a mini final for all the younger competitors who didn't really stand a chance against the older children.

After the main final was complete I tried the female final problems. I managed to top the first two of these on my first attempt which I think would have put me in first place if I had qualified for the final. It was frustrating that I didn't top the yellow 14 problem in qualifiers as this caused me to not get in the final.

In the mini-final there was my brother Oscar, my friend Gwen, Xavier and me. Steve from Bloc climbing picked 4 blocs for us to try - we had a minute each. Xavier and me topped all of them and Gwen and Oscar also did really well. Steve picked another problem for me and Xavier to try and we both got to the same point on this so Steve had to pick yet another problem. He picked a blue on the competition wall. I went first on the other climb so Xavier was first on this one. Xavier got to the second top but I topped the climb and won the mini-final.

Steve gave me prize of 4 free entry passes to the centre which I look forward to using soon.

I really enjoyed the visit to Bloc climbing and it is now my favourite bouldering only centre.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

First outdoor climbing experience - Deep water soloing

Yesterday my brother and I went deep water soloing near Tenby. We were invited by my coach Simon and his friends Andy and Rhos. I was really scared at first but slowly I got more confident. I have entered the deep water soloing comp at Exeter in August and I needed some practice climbing over water. I feel much more confident for the competition now.

 Yesterday was also my first experience of outdoor climbing it was amazing I can't wait until I go leading or bouldering outdoors too!