2013 has been a great year for my climbing and in particular, my sport climbing. In 2012 I had around 6 sport climbing sessions in the whole of the year and my focus was primarily on bouldering… This year everything changed when I was invited to go on a trip to Gorges du Loup, Nice. Upon being invited I started training for short bouldery sport routes, living in Torbay the obvious place to train for this was Anstey’s Cove…January
Not much climbing got done in January due to bad weather and most things being wet. I did however compete in the National Colleges Championships and won. The rest of the month was spent indoors training for outdoors when the weather got better.
At the start of February I went to Anstey’s to find that everything was wet except for the left side of Ferocity Wall. So I decided to have a go on Devonshire Cream E5 6a on top-rope but managed to drop it below the first bit of protection so was a little worried about going for a lead… After I sorted the moves I decided to go for a go on an extension to Devonshire Cream which goes out right after the hard climbing and finishes up the top slab of an 8a; Cream Topping E6 6a… I started up it and soloed the first 8 meters to the first protection and then knew it was over. My first E6 and first ‘trad-style’ route.
Next in February was the first round of the BMC Youth Climbing Series at The Quay Climbing Centre; after a bit of indoor training in the winter I was feeling fairly strong indoors and ready for some comps. I was very nervous about this comp as I knew that this was my last year that I could compete in this comp before I got too old and had dreamt about winning every round of the comp. The first round went well with a win; one down, three to go!
This month was where it all began really! A big month for my climbing! At the start of the month I managed to get on The Cider Soak for the first time in 6 months; I arrived, put the draws in and sent it first redpoint! This was my first 8a and what a great feeling, my previous hardest send was 7b which made sending this route all the more exciting.
A couple of days after this I went to Brean Down for a day of easy climbing and had hoped to just do some lower 7’s. I started on the left side of the wall and slowly moved left onsighting every route I tried. I soon came to Tide Rising, 7c… I hadn’t even redpointed a 7c so never expected to be going for an onsight! I set up the route feeling pretty nervous but kept pulling through and soon found myself at the lower off feeling very successful; what a great week!
A couple of weeks later I had the second round of the BMC Youth Climbing Series at the Mill; after about two hours sleep I turned up to the competition feeling pretty ill and weak but still managed to top every route and take the win. The following day I headed over to Anstey’s with Alex and Phil Waterhouse and Dan Woolnough, although there was snow all night and in the morning the weather was pretty warm and a bit too hot to do the route I had came to do… La Crème Direct, 8a. I arrived, warmed up and started to put in some attempts on this bouldery line and fell off the same moves that I had been falling off in my previous sessions on it. After my 4th redpoint of the day and about 8th attempt overall, I got through the low percentage section and topped it. I then decided to go for its original route, graded 7c+ which was a grade I hadn’t yet done; I had a quick go trying the moves and then went for it. I did this first redpoint.
Shortly after I had a trip to Cheddar Gorge where I did my first 7b+, Insatiable and a cool 7c called Seven Months Later!
This was where the biggest advances were made in my climbing and lot’s of progress was made; this month was all about the Gorges du Loup trip.
Just before the trip I signed a contract with Mammut, which was one of the most exciting things that had happened all year and I was/am very pleased to be representing them and using their brilliant gear.
On the first day of the trip after very little sleep I got on an 8b for the very first time! That same day I had a couple of redpoints and came very close! Sadly it didn’t go in a session but luckily I was able to return despite awful weather a couple of days later where I ticked my first 8b ‘New Power Generation’ on the 8th redpoint although it should’ve been about 3rd. The following day we headed back to Deverse where I did my 3rd 8a on my second redpoint attempt and then the day after that we went to a cool less steep crag called Mesa Verde where I went for a flash attempt on an 8a called Situation Explosive which went pretty well and I succeeded on! I was pretty pleased for a week’s work!
Shortly after returning for France I had a trip up to Brean Down where I had a great day’s climbing; I sent Black Snake Moan, 8a, Storm Warning Variation, 8a, and Storm Warning, 7c+ all on my first redpoint. The next day I had the third qualifying round of the Youth Climbing Series at Undercover Rock which I also won despite a tough day of climbing the day prior. I had won three of the rounds and had now qualified for the final in June. I had one more round to win to complete my goal.
For the rest of the month I got on a new project at Anstey’s which I managed to do in two overlapping sections but conditions soon started to get to warm to be able to hold some of the slopers on it.
May was a fairly easy month with lots of training and upper 7’s ticked; with classics like Empire of the Sun, 7b, Not Just Empire, 7c, Bullworker, 7c and Chuilila, 7b+ done. This was mainly preparation for the following month when I had the Youth Climbing Series final in Edinburgh.
For the beginning of June I was feeling pretty weak and in no way ready for the British Youth Climbing Series Final. On a trip to Portland I struggled up some low 7’s and couldn’t get close to one 7c which I tried. Before I knew it was the weekend of the final and I travelled up to Edinburgh with Charlotte and Tom Wright. The day had arrived and I was feeling nervous, yet relaxed at the same time… I slowly ticked the routes off and then it came round to my final boulder problem which many of the other competitors had done and I failed to complete. This left me with little hope of winning the whole series and I didn’t get chance to watch other competitors on my final route, so I assumed that several other people had topped it leaving me somewhere near the bottom. I climbed steadily and fell off at the last move. Disappointed I got lowered down to be told that I had got the current highpoint and only two more people were left to go.
I waited nervously and was soon told that I had won! I had completed my goal of winning all four rounds and winning a whole series of the BMC Youth Climbing Series.
Stay tuned for Part II…