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!