Sunday 28 September 2014

DMM Climbing Day with James McHaffie

We travelled up to North Wales for my DMM climbing day with James McHaffie which was my prize for winning the BMC Youth Climbing Series. I was really looking forward to this as it was the first time I had been outdoor climbing with ropes.

The night before the climbing day I stayed in the Pizza and Pint hotel with my mum. Then next morning we got up early for breakfast and went to Pete's Eats cafe to meet up with James and the rest of the prizewinners.

James told us we were climbing in a slate quarry in Llanberis first and that we may go bouldering afterwards in Llanberis pass. We got in our cars and followed James to the quarry.

We waited for everyone to arrive and then grabbed our kit and climbed over two styles before walking along a slatey path to some slate cliffs.

We put on our gear and James explained to us about trad and sport climbing. He made it really easy to understand and gave us some nuts to shove into some cracks in the rock. I found a crack for the nuts and managed to get them in properly. Meanwhile, James was putting up top ropes for us to try.
When he was ready we gave them a go. I managed to do both of them because they were easy and just to get our fingers warmed up. James put up another top rope which was harder and more crimpy. I fell off quite a few times, but I managed to complete the route in sections. This was my favourite route so far - a bit tricky but really fun.

While I was climbing James was putting up yet another top rope next to me. This route looked really hard but I was looking forward to it. I couldn't do the start, but I moved onto the middle and that was easier. The top was hard, but not as hard as the start. Apart from one moved at the start I topped it.

I had another attempt at the third climb - but didn't do as well this time. By this time it was 2 o'clock so we moved onto bouldering in Llanberis pass.

We walked to the bouldering area and tried a crimpy problem. I didn't top it because I couldn't see the holds initially. After a few attempts I could see the holds, but still couldn't do the problem. I needed to get my feet to be higher but I couldn't because I couldn't hold onto the other holds.

After this we moved onto the overhang and I managed to do this on the second attempt, only using my right foot for heal hooks. We went along to the next section and tried another overhang. This was much harder than the other overhang because it was more reachy and more overhanging. I had quite a few goes but I only managed a quarter of the climb.
It was getting late and we had run over time slightly so my mum and I decided to head back to the car park.

We had really good fun bouldering and top roping in North Wales even though I wasn't as good as I had hoped to be. If I want to be an outdoor climber I need to practise a lot more.

Thanks to James McHaffie and DMM for a great day. I learnt a lot and look forward to going outdoor climbing again very soon.

Monday 22 September 2014

MCofS Scottish Youth Climbing Championship 2014 - Grades

Venue: EICA, Ratho

Category Route Colour Grade Comments
Girls EQualifier 1 Black 6a+
Girls EQualifier 2 Yellow 6c
Boys EQualifier 1 Green 6b+
Boys E
Girls A+B
Qualifier 2
Qualifier 1
Blue 7a
*7a+ to top of route Boys E only 2/3 of route
Girls DQualifier 1 Pink+Black 6b
Girls D
Boys D
Qualifier 2
Qualifier 1
Red 6c
Boys DQualifier 2 Green 7a
Boys D
Girls C
Pink 7b+
Girls CQualifier 1 Black 6c
Girls C
Boys A+B
Qualifier 2
Qualifier 1
Yellow 7a+
Boys CQualifier 1 Black 7a
Boys C
Boys E
Girls E
Qualifier 2
Orange 7a+
Girls A+B
Girls D
Qualifier 2
Blue 7b
Boys A+BQualifier 2 Green 7c+
Girls A+BFinal Bacon 7c
Boys A+BFinal Red 8a

All grades have now been published here.

Scottish Youth Lead and Speed Championship 2014

I managed to win both the speed and the lead Scottish Championships. This is how I did it!

On Thursday I travelled up to Edinburgh for the Scottish lead climbing championships. It was a long drive but we eventually made it. We stayed in the Premier Inn and went to the centre on Friday for a light session before the comp.

I got up early on Saturday and went down the hall to breakfast. I had a hash-brown a piece of bacon and a sausage. After this I went back to the room and grabbed my kit. We got our food as well before jumping into the car and going to EICA, Ratho.

We found a good parking space right outside the centre so we could come back for stuff if we needed it. In Ratho the registration table was next to the reception. I signed myself in and went down into the arena.

I walked straight over to the comp routes and saw that my first route was the black (6c) on the Sardinian pillar. It didn't look hard and it didn't go right to the very top of the pillar. I walked around the wall but I couldn't find the tag with my second route on. There were barriers all around the wall so I couldn't stick  the labels back on that had fallen on the floor. I had to ask the staff to do it. They told me that it was the yellow (7a+) on the tallest section of the wall. At first it looked really hard but after reading it it looked pretty straight forward. I started to warm up so I would be ready for the briefing.

At the briefing they told me how the day would run and the GB team members did a warm up with us. 

I looked at the running order and I was 3rd last to climb so I stopped getting ready and watched Oscar, Gwen and Harry climb. Most of my category topped the first route so I really wanted to as well. 

When it was my turn to climb I wasn't very nervous I think this was because I was confident about the climb, much more than usual. I looked at my dad and the camera before starting the route and found that it was easy up until the top. It was hard to see the hold from around all the features but I managed to get my feet high and reach round to get the hold and move off it to the top. I hadn't clipped the second last clip but I had planned to clip then both from the top hold anyway. I felt pleased after this climb, it made me feel much more confident for the final qualifier!

I had then a half an hour break for lunch. I used this time for reading the route as I had snacked on stuff all day. I saw lots of details on the holds and worked out how to hold all the holds I had second thoughts on earlier.

I was fifth to climb on this route and I was a little bit nervous. I chalked up and started the climb, it wasn't as bad as I had thought like my dad had told me. I got to the bit I thought looked the most hard and I didn't have any trouble with it. I climbed past it and knew the rest was jugs so I took my time and made it to the top - I wasn't that pumped either. All that training paid off! I was so pleased that I had topped the 2nd qualifier. 

We had a long break until the final so I went over to the speed registration and had my practise attempt. I had practised the speed the day before for the first time, I had a good time but I couldn't hit the buzzer. The same happened in my practice. I was determined to register a time this attempt so I gave the jump at the top everything and I missed it. I was gutted and I only had one more chance to register a time. The speed climbing coaches gave me some advice on how to hit the pad so I could register a time. This time I was on the right hand side. I got to the top, jumped and hit the bottom of the pad. I thought I hadn't stopped the timer and so did my dad but I had managed to and it was 25.08 seconds. Not bad.

By this time my friend Pippa had also topped the yellow. I had to wait a while but eventually my category finished and the results were posted for speed and lead. I had qualified 1st in the speed and joint 1st in the lead. My brother had also qualified 1st in both top rope and speed. 

I called my mum and told her the news. She was really pleased. I had a very long wait until the final. 

Isolation opened at 2:45 and closed at 3:00. It was my brother Oscar's first time in isolation so I had to explain to him how it works. I didn't bother warming up at first because I knew the observation period would start soon and I was last to climb.

When we went out to look at our route, we found out out that it was the pink (7b+) on route 27. It looked crimpy but not as quite long as my second qualifier. I started reading it and it seemed to look better and better each time. By the time we had to go back to isolation I was really happy because I thought that I could top the route.

When my brother Oscar was called to climb I wished him good luck and sat back down. I was bored for a long time and I eventually thought that I would be called soon so I started warming up - then I stopped because I found out that no-one from my category had actually climbed yet and weren't going to climb for 5 minutes. So, I sat back down and had something to drink.

Before Pippa was called I did some warm up. When she was called I had to tie in to a rope in isolation. I was so excited about this climb as it looked really fun. It was a while before I could climb so I assumed Pippa had got quite far.

When it was my turn to climb I was a little more nervous. I made a good start to the climb by managing the first half. The second half however was harder and on top of that I was more tired. I got past the next clip where the holds were much worse that I had thought but they were better after that clip, but they still weren't great. As all of the holds were crimps I got more pumped quicker and the route seemed to harder and harder to finish. I had second thoughts before using the arret but there was nothing telling me not to use it so I did. I had now reached the second top holds. I was so pumped by this time I had to get chalk and shake out. I rocked over and touched the top hold and fell. I was gutted that I didn't manage that last move but really happy to have got so far.

When I got to the floor my dad didn't tell me if I had done enough to make the podium, he said that there had been some confusion whether I was allowed to have used the arret or not. I was a bit scared but I knew that I hadn't been told other wise that I couldn't use it. I asked the judge if the arret was in and he said it was so I was really relieved.

Pippa then came over to me and told me I had won and that she was second by two holds. I was so pleased, everything I had worked for had paid off.

After calling my Mum to tell her about the final I went over to the mini speed wall that was specially set for category E and D because they are a lot younger and shorter and can't reach the holds on the IFSC speed wall.

Oscar had his speed final first so I watched him. It was so exciting. He got through to the head to head final, and he won! He was so pleased. He had won both of his events!

My Dad and Oscar came over to the IFSC speed wall to watch me. As I had qualified first it was:

Me Vs Kirsten (4th qualifier)
We both went up, I was faster but neither of us hit the buzzer so our times didn't qualify.

Pippa (3rd qualifier) Vs Emma (2nd qualifier)
Emma was faster climber in that race but again neither of them hit the timer.

This meant it was back to qualifiers: 
Pippa Vs Kirsten  --- Racing for 3rd place 

Me Vs Emma for 1st.

In Pippa and Kirsten race Pippa won being faster climber and that Kirsten didn't hit the timer so she didn't register a time.

In my race we were called off the wall twice because the timer didn't start but on the third attempt the timer started I sprinted up the wall, hit the timer and won by 2 seconds with a time of 22.87 sec. I was so pleased to have won both comps and proud of my bro Oscar for winning his comps too. We packed up our stuff while we were waiting for the presentations to start.

I was really looking forward to seeing the trophies/medals because the trophies I previously had in Scotland are awesome. I was an awesome competition with interesting routes. I am definitely coming back next year!

I enjoyed the routes so much we came back on Sunday to try the other ones. I tried the Girls A+B routes and they were just as good.

MCofS report and results are here.

Monday 1 September 2014

Deep Water Soloing Competition in Exeter Quay Climbing Centre

On Friday we drove down to Exeter because I had entered the first Deep Water Solo (D.W.S.) climbing competition in the UK which was due to start Saturday morning.

We arrived in Exeter on Friday night and went straight to the Quay Climbing Centre. The first thing we did was go the wall which had been built on a pontoon over a canal basin.

It was probably the most amazing thing I had seen in my whole life! One of the things we noticed was how you would start the climbs. They built it cleverly by cutting two door shapes either side of the wall so climbers could get onto the routes. They had done the same in the middle so you could climb on the middle of the wall.

After looking at the wall and reading some of the routes, we went into the Quay Climbing Centre to listen to some inspirational talks. Sadly, we had to leave early from these because I needed a good nights sleep.

The next morning we had to get up early to register for the competition as I was 15th in line to take a boat onto the pontoon to start the competition. We had three routes in the qualifiers and 3 minutes to complete each. We only had 6 minutes rest between each route so if we fell in we would have to get dry quickly.

I was a bit nervous about my first route, but I had read it and it looked really easy. I managed to top it pretty easily, this made me feel good for the next climb.

The second route looked easy apart from the top move but I thought that I could top it. I manage to get to the top move and was a bit scared when I got to this point but I managed to match the top hold.

My final qualifier looked hard and I was really nervous about this. Not only did I need to top it but I had to drop in at the end anyway so I was going to get wet whatever happened. Up until the steep overhang the climb was OK. But when I got to the overhang I couldn't quite reach one of the holds so I popped for it and got it. It was a good hold and I managed to move off it. The next couple of moves were OK and then I reached the volumes. The holds on the volumes were tiny and not very good. I managed to hold them even though I was shaking. The top move was the hardest and I only just reached it.

I dropped into the water after the climb and it wasn't as cold as I thought but it was gross.

Topping all of the qualifying routes meant I had definitely qualified for the semis. Only 4 of the under 16 girls managed to top all the qualifying routes.

We spent the rest of the day chilling and watching some of the other qualifiers.

On Sunday I had to get up early again as I had to register for the semi-finals and was second in line to climb. As well as the qualifiers two members of the GB team went directly into the semis.

When I arrived at the DWS wall I went straight to look at the routes to refresh my memory from yesterday when I had looked at them. The first route looked the easiest and definitely doable. The second looked OK as well with a couple of hard moves towards the top. The third route was most definitely the hardest because the top few moves had really awful small holds and it was very steep.

As I expected the first route was pretty easy and I managed to top it. The second route was pretty easy up until the top two panels. The holds suddenly got smaller and the moves were longer. I got to the second top hold and then I was stuck. I was trying to grab the hold slowly but I wasn't quite tall enough. So I lined my hand up and popped for the top and stuck it!

My last route in the semis was OK on the steep overhang apart from one reachy move in the middle. The next couple of moves getting over the lip were OK and I managed to do them. After this there was one move going to the side pull which I really thought could do. I got too excited because I was close to the top and I made the move too fast not hitting the hold right. I fell into the canal from here and got wet.

After watching the other climbers finish I knew I had qualified for the final second behind Hannah Slaney. There were two other qualifiers both in the GB team. I really hope to make the team next year too!

We had to wait a while to take a picture of the results - here it is:
It was really hot and sunny, so we used a break in the climbing to go to the shops and get some sun cream and a hat.

It was a long wait for the final, but it eventually came. We were called into isolation in the Quay climbing centre so we couldn't see the route setting for the final. We were in isolation for quite a while and spent the time warming up.

We were all called out and taken on a boat ride where we could read the route for the final. It was the green - we had been climbing greens from the beginning of the competition. I thought I could top the route apart from one move in the middle where you had a long reach from a crimp to an undercut sloper.

I was called to climb third and took my position on the starting holds. When I started the climb I found the slopers at the start hard to hold but I managed to stick them. I next came onto the steepest part of the wall which had a sort of traverse across it. It was coming up to the hard move. I dropped from a crimp down to another crimp on the bottom of a volume. Next was the hard move - I pulled back and went for the undercut sloper. When I hit it I tried to move my feet across as that was the only way I was going to stick it but I couldn't quite reach and I slipped off.

Initially, I was glad to have finished the final. But then I found out that I had come 4th and I think it was decided on time. I think I was 3 seconds behind the third place and 2 holds behind 1st place. The final was very close. Now I was feeling very disappointed because I was in second place after the semis. I will post the exact timings and scores when I get them.

Overall the competition was really good and I had a lot of fun on the climbs. I thought the routes were excellent. The crowd was amazing and I heard there were over 1000 spectators. I will definitely enter again next year.

All results can be found on this page: RESULTS