Sunday 26 April 2015

BMC Youth Climbing Series 2015 - Grand Final

After school on Thursday my brother, parents and I traveled up to Edinburgh, Scotland for the BMC youth climbing series final 2015. Me and my brother had previously qualified for the final a month ago at the Beacon climbing centre in North Wales.

It was a long drive to Edinburgh and we were going at a good speed until our car went into limp mode for the last 2hrs. We arrived at 1:00am so we went straight to sleep.


I woke up late and had breakfast at McDonald's as it was too late to eat in the hotel. My family and I then went to EICA Ratho (the centre where the comp would be held) for a light session before the comp. It wasn’t a very light session because I ended up trying an 8a I got half way up. When I dropped the rope I fell and it got tangled around my leg which spun me around. I expected it to hurt but it didn’t which was good. We went into Edinburgh for lunch and to do a bit of shopping. When we were shopping for hats we found Chris Hoy's golden post box. This is the second one I have found on my travels.


I woke up early and got ready. We were planning on eating in the hotel but it was too busy so we went to McDonalds instead.

We went to the centre and registered, the t-shirts this year were yellow and looked nice. I was excited so I went straight to look at my routes. Because the standard of last years competitors was so high all the routes and boulders were set a lot harder.

Each category was split into two groups X and Y I was in X, this meant I had a different timetable to group Y.

At 10:00 the competition started and I started my first boulder problem. I was really nervous for the first time. When I got to the long move I shook my head and gave up without thinking. This made me really upset so I went off until it was my next turn. I managed to complete the problem on my second attempted but I was annoyed that I had given up on my first go.

Next we had the second boulder. This boulder was really difficult and reachy. I was up first and I fell off the first move because I went the wrong way. I got annoyed and sad and went off crying to my coach Simon. He made me feel better and I followed the sequence on my second go. I got to the fourth top hold. On my third go I messed up the start and didn't get any further. I thought I was doing badly in the competition.

There was a long break before the first route. I moped around the centre feeling sorry for myself until it was time for me to climb. The route was easy and I managed to top it. I felt a bit better because not everyone managed to top it.

It was lunch time but I wasn't hungry but managed to eat part of a panini and some fruit flakes due to the nagging of my parents.

There was another long wait until my third bouldering problem. On my third boulder I was nervous because everyone before me had fallen off. I started the problem well and managed to hold each hold slowly so that I wouldn't come off. There were lots of features which made the problem a lot easier and most of the holds were pretty good. The hardest move was the top, but I went for it and got the top jug. I was very pleased and it made me happier.

There was yet another long wait before route 3 (the hardest) which group X had to climb next. I spent the time reading the route and making sure that I was warm. When it was my go I climbed the first part really well and managed to get to the undercut on the second grey panel. But I made a mess of the next move and didn't quite get it. I was annoyed after this and thought my climbing was awful. Even though I was disappointed with my hardest climb I still got the highest out of my group.

After I had recovered from my disappointment I focused on the route 2. I watched group Y climb this route and they did well so I knew I had to top it to win the competition. I read it really well and knew exactly what to do. When it was my turn, I felt a bit nervous but not as much as I did earlier on the bouldering problems. The start of the climb and just over the roof was easy and pretty much everyone  got to that place. The next two clips I did were harder. I came to a big move and didn't know what to do. I saw a really good crimp feature but I didn't use it because I didn't think we were allowed to use features for hands. So I decided to jump for the sloper and got it fairly easily which I was surprised at because I don't usually jump for holds. The next bit wasn't too bad because all the holds were good and there were good clipping positions. But when I came to the crimp section I was a bit pumped so I shook out. I love crimps so this section of the climb was pretty easy. When I got passed all the crimps I clipped the chain from the third top hold still on the flat wall so I could safely top it before doing the last two moved anyway. I don't feel it is a proper top unless you do all the moves.

I felt awesome and relieved and knew that I had won unless someone in group Y did really well on route 3. I watched the other climbers excitedly but I still got the high point.

I was pleased that I had won for the third year running and I thought the competition was run really well. It was very good that the problems and routes were much harder this year.

I have learnt to not beat myself up after every small mistake. So, hopefully, in the European colours festival I will be better at this.

Thanks to my coach Simon for helping me out mentally in the competition and it was largely thanks to him that Wales came second overall as he coaches the whole of the Boulders team and a lot of the welsh team were from Boulders.


We went back to Ratho on Sunday and I was climbing much better than I was on Saturday. I got to the third top hold on route 3 and topped some of the other category's climbs.

Thursday 16 April 2015

GB Team Training Week in Austria and Italy

Day 1

My luggage
On Sunday morning my family and I drove to Burnley as I was going away for a week in Austria with the GB team the following day. We were flying from Manchester which is only an hour away from Burnley. We stayed with some of our friends overnight so that I wouldn't have to wake up so early. 

When we arrived at Manchester Airport we found terminal one and then found a car park. The car park was really expensive as usual. After finally finding a space in the car park we made our way down to departures, to meet the rest of the team.

Our Hotel
The queue was really long and it took a while before we got to the end. I put my suitcase on the scales and it weighed 16.2kg so it wasn't too heavy. Once everyone's bags were through we made our way down to security. As usual my bag was taken to the side and this time it was my lip salve! I might just leave everything in next time because they always seem to have to go through my bag anyway!

Packed car

We flew with EasyJet and I watched films on my iPad for the whole journey. The flight was two hours long but it felt shorter. 

After we arrived in Munich we walked through the tunnel and collected our bags from the conveyer belt. We then went down to the car park and collected the hire cars. We were the last to get our car because we were the slowest walkers!

The drive was about an hour and a half and it was snowing quite heavily so the mountains were white, I tried to take a good photo. I hadn't seen snow for ages!

We were the second car to arrive at the hotel so me and Kirsten got our room really quickly. We had a small room with 2 single beds and a wet room shower.

When everyone had unpacked we walked down the road together to an Austrian restaurant. The choices for food was wiener schnitzel or veggie pasta. I had the schnitzel and chips. While we were eating it had been snowing heavily so when we went outside. The snow was deeper than my trainers and everything was white. We had great fun throwing snow balls.

Day 2

Orange juice machine 
Breakfast was a buffet. I had freshly squeezed orange juice which was squeezed by a small machine. I put my cup under it but nothing happened It took me a while to realise that I hadn't put any oranges in the top of the squeezer. . 

We all met downstairs at 10:00 with some money. I followed the team to the supermarket where we were put into groups with older team members so that we would have someone more experienced help us choose food for the week. I was with Hannah and Alex Norton. We each got a cardboard crate and started shopping. I started by getting three bananas and just put them in a bag as I no idea how the machine                                                   worked in German.
 Soon after shopping we left for Imst... 

We were one of the first cars to arrive at the Imst wall. First we walked through to the climbing shop desk and paid our 5 euros entry fee.

I walked down the stairs to the climbing arena. Ian (one of the GB coaches) did a warm up with us (category C) as we are the smallest and have the least experience. We ran outside and did laps of the skate park until our heart rate was high and we were breathing heavily. The next part of the warm up was mobility and stretching which we did inside the arena. 

I carried on my warm up in the bouldering room with Kirsten and Abi. We started off traversing but had to move walls after our first lap because of another group of tourists came and invaded it.

I climbed with Abi and Kirsten and we got a lot of climbing done in the morning. My favourite route was a pink that Ian pointed out to all the group C's as it might be a good one to try. It started off with big holds and a couple of big moves but nothing too hard. In the middle it had a dyno which Angus (an older team member) had managed to reach. I was determined to reach as I don't like jumping because I don't have very good coordination. I tried this move so many different ways and spent way too long on it. When I found the guts I reached for it and cut loose! I was quite pumped at this point but all the holds were good so I got a lot further than I expected after I struggled with the dyno. I shook out a lot when I found a good hold and eventually I topped it. I felt really pleased that I got this but if it was a comp I would have been timed out so it wouldn't have counted. I took around 8mins and the limit was 4.

Imst outdoor wall
I decided to pack up and head down to the outside wall to climb on the outdoor wall which is what I climbed on at the youth colours competition. 

I had a quick lunch because we didn't have much time to climb outside. Again I climbed with Kirsten and Abi and we got lots of routes done, I even completed an easy one all the way to the top!

I loved the routes at Imst and it was a shame we couldn't stay for longer, but it was going to get really cold really quickly as we could already see the snow from the previous night.

Day 3

Multi-coloured eggs
I was woken up by my alarm at 7:30 and tried to turn it off as I thought it was in my hand, but I only found it wasn't when Kirsten came and did it for me! 

Breakfast was much the same except for these weird boiled eggs which had been dyed different colours.

For training on day 3, we walked down the road to Tivoli climbing centre. The centre was connected to Tivoli stadium. At the desk we had to pay 6 euros for entry to the centre. It was a very tall centre but not very wide. 

Ian talked to everyone when we got in, and he picked a route for each category so that we could practice our route reading skills. C and B had a 7c red route which looked hard. Everyone got a piece of paper to draw our routes so that he could follow our plans as we were climbing.

To improve we got back into our shopping groups Hannah helped me with my plan by pointing out clipping points and shake spots. 

Izzy gave me a belay. I started the climb well, but at this reachy move I wasted too much time figuring out the best way to do it when eventually I did it the way I planned. I passed the move and got to the overhang I was then too pumped to hold one of the crimps and I fell off. I was very disappointed in myself.

I had a break after this so I could think about how to improve as I knew I could climb better. While I was looking at the route Molly came over to give everyone some feedback. She gave me a lot of helpful tips that I would try to use next attempt. I had some more of my lunch before trying the red again so that I would have a good mindset for it.

Kirsten belayed me for my second attempt. I got to the big move fine and tried to do it a different way but I messed around too long trying to do it so I ended up doing the move by jumping. I was even more pumped than on my first go so the next clips were really hard. I fell off one hold higher than my first go because I had found a good shake spot. Again I was disappointed because I thought I was going to get much higher. But I had only done two routes in two hours so I left that route and decided to try some other stuff.

Kirsten, Abi and I took it in turns to belay each other up different routes. At the end of the session we had done about 6 routes.

Day 4 

I turned my alarm off at 7:00 and then went back to sleep, until I heard the fire alarm go off! This got me out of bed! I slipped my shoes on and grabbed my phone. I met about 9 other team members outside, everyone else stayed in bed! After about 30 seconds the alarm stopped and we all went back to our rooms. I didn't go back to bed as I knew I would never get back up again.

When we were in Arco and very close to the wall we got lost and had to stop a few times to re-route. While we were doing this Abi spotted a lizard and we took a photo.

When we arrived and saw the wall it looked amazing! It was all outdoors and in quite a small space, but the walls were so high and overhanging it didn't matter. There was two bouldering walls and 6 lead walls. Also it had a zipline that ended by smashing into a tree so I decided not to have a go.

By the time we arrived everybody had started climbing so there wasn't much space for us to go on the overhanging walls. We stared round the back of the overhang and climbed on the featured wall.

After this we went and did the yellow on the overhang wall that went right to the top! It was quite easy up until the roof where it got a bit pumpy and there were a few spiner footholds, but it was really fun.

It was so sunny and it was really nice to be outside. 

The first climb I did after lunch was the green through the roof. I had wanted to do this all day and I was really looking forward to it. The start of the climb was the hardest part because it had a couple of bad holds but the roof was fine - all the holds were good and there were so many good clipping positions. I managed to top it - I was really happy. The green was graded harder than the yellow I climbed earlier but I thought it was easier as the yellow was harder to read whereas the green had a more simple sequence. This was my 6th route and I only got two more routes in before we had to leave.

Ian walked us over to a big building. We then went off in groups to shop. The little town was amazing. It was a tight cobble street only big enough for one car. But the best part was it had loads of ice cream shops and loads of climbing shops! I wish Cardiff was that sunny and warm and sold climbing gear! I brought a wooden hold for my wall and some headbands. We also looked in a few other shops before going to dinner. 

 Ian showed us to the Italian restaurant and after that to the best ice cream parlor on the street. We also had a photo with Mario who works at the parlor, so our team photo could go on the wall. Many famous the world climbing champions had their photo on the wall with him too because world cups and big competitions are often held there.

Day 5

At breakfast I had a massive mug of orange juice because it was the last day. 

We put our stuff in the cars and walked to Tivoli and climbed there for two hours. I did some hard boulders in the session. Jon set them for us. We also made some up ourselves.  

I walked back with the rest of the team after the session and put my climbing kit into my suitcase. I climbed into the back of the car and Sue drove us back to the airport.

At the airport we checked in our car and waited for the rest of the team. After the second car arrived we all went to the bag check-in place and waited there for the other cars. They took a while but when they came we didn't have to queue for long because most people had already checked-in.

We then went to buy some dinner. After the rest of the group got their food we went through security.

The trip was really good fun and it was amazing to climb on the world cup wall in Arco. Arco has got to be one of my favourite walls!

Sunday 5 April 2015

GB team t-shirts and vests

Earlier this week I received my GB team t-shirts and vests. They were printed for the team by Phil (Alex Waterhouse's Dad) and they looked really nice! I have packed a few of them for my trip to Austria next week with the GB team. It's been exciting trying them all on!

Next week in Austria we are hopeing to visit three different climbing centres, Imst indoor and outdoor walls, Tivoli climbing centre and Arco climbing wall.

I am so excited about the trip and hope the weather is good enough to use the outdoor walls. The weather is looking good so far.