Summer Holidays

With six weeks off from school for the summer holidays I’ve had plenty of time for training, climbing outdoors and competing. Its been a fantastic summer for outdoor climbing throughout the country, we’ve had dry rock for the most of the season but thankfully Its not been too warm which has been great for getting on projects and having successful trips!

The weekend before the end of term, I was invited up to the Edinburgh international climbing arena at Ratho to demo the youth climbing series grand final, which is a role that we perform as members of the GB junior climbing team. I flew up with Molly Thompson-Smith and was warmly met by William Bosi and his family at the airport, who were kindly looking after us for the weekend. The next morning we set off to the wall to demo. Ratho is always an impressive venue and it was fantastic to see it filled with so many talented youth climbers, some as young as 8! On the sunday we decided to fit in a day at Dumbarton and set our sights on a classic 7c ‘omerta’. The climb is a 30 metre arrete which involves a variety of balancey and dynamic moves. Me and William tried the route first and quickly got all the moves dialled, it was interesting how different his sequence was to mine! We rested for a while and then I went for the send and I got past the hard moves and clipped the chains, William was next quickly followed by Molly and Angus, getting a team send of the route!

dumbarton

 

The holiday started with a trip down to dorset with Timo Zheng to do some sport climbing. I always enjoy climbing in dorset because its such a nice feeling climbing with the sea behind you and enjoying the views, although it can get a bit nippy! we had a good evening at the cuttings where Timo got a quick ascent of the three star ‘Hall of mirrors’ 7c. The next day we headed down to Battleship for the first time. We warmed up on ‘buoys will be buoys’ then ‘pump hitler’ which were both top 50 routes with amazing climbing on them. The goal of the day was to climb the classic ‘Zinc oxide mountain’ 7b+ which is a cool line going up through the different bands of rock with a variety of different climbing styles and millions of years of history! The bottom of the route climbs on some bad undercuts and crimps then the top bulge becomes great moves on pockets and sidepull cracks, so you get the full package! I managed to onsight it! Then I decided to try something harder so got on ‘shapeshifter’ 7c with no expectations and managed to onsight that too which was a great end too the day for me as it was my first 7c onsight.

battleship

 

August bank holiday weekend my dad drove me up to sheffield for GB junior lead team training, in preparation for the upcoming Lead world youth championships in New Caledonia. The first day started at the Climbing works where we did some endurance training, climbing every bloc in a 40 bloc circuit on the minute, followed by some core and upper body exercises. The next day it was great to get back to Awesome Walls, Sheffield. We all had fun trying the hard routes in a comp style format. It was fantastic to see everyone achieving 8a and 8a+ flashes! Its always great being able to train on such a steep and tall wall, as it compares well to the walls we encounter in the international competitions. On the sunday we climbed at the foundry which is probably one of my favourite walls, we did a similar activity to the day before, trying to flash the hard routes, and we all did really well considering it was our third day of hard training! It was a really worthwhile weekend with Ian and the team and everyone is looking well prepared for the worlds!

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On the monday I was hoping to get to Rubicon to get back on ‘Zeke the freke’ but due to the bad weather I went to Raven Tor with Pete Dawson and we had a look at Jerry Moffats’ classic ‘Revelations’. Having spent the last few months thinking that ‘Zeke’ was going to be my project, I seem to have changed my mind! Revelations is a much nicer route to climb, and has a lot of history to it. I went back a few weeks later with Jack and Ed, and with some new beta, got very close to the crux move. I have really enjoyed trying it over the last weeks, I just need to go back to finish it off!

The grand finale to the holidays was the amazing deep water solo comp at The Quay in Exeter. It was a really well run competition and clearly took a long time in the planning as everything ran so smoothly. The Blokfest team and Ben West did a fantastic job of the setting with a perfect split throughout the results! The comp was on a 7 metre wall floating on a barge in the quay and competitors were brought out by boat to climb 3 qualifiers. The top climbers in each category made it to the semis the following day then the finals in the evening. I was happy to qualify for the finals in 1st place topping 2 of my 3 routes and taking a splash down on the last move of the third. The finals on sunday afternoon were routes from bottom corner of the wall to the top opposite corner and it was quite different doing observation from a boat!

I was out climbing last in a tough category of very strong U16 boys. The atmosphere was amazing, with fantastic support from an enormous crowd, by far the largest I’ve seen at a competition. I realised I had won when the volume got louder from the crowd but I wasn’t able to get any further as I didn’t spot a heel hook on a volume so took the plunge into the water 4 moves from the end. It was awesome to watch the men and women’s finals and Michaela Tracy put in an amazing effort nearly topping her route as did Liam Halsey in the mens who both won there categories.

jim dws

 

Thanks David Simmonite for the photo!

The following day I went down to Berry Head with Gav Symmonds, Gaz parry and Mike Goldthorp to do some more deep water soloing. We started of on ‘Rainbow bridge’ which is an amazing traverse along the face. Once we reached the end of the traverse Gav told me we were now going straight onto a 7c extension to the traverse… Pumped out my mind from over gripping on the 7a I had just done I didn’t feel quite ready for this! But Gav and Gaz had set off on the climb so I had no choice but to follow. They had both climbed round the corner into the rest so it was great to have the deep water soloing legend Mike robertson giving me beta from the boat behind me as I would have been stuffed otherwise! I reached the rest with the two others and we kept going along the traverse on amazing but slightly wet climbing, I was terrified but having an amazing time and I was relieved to reach the in situ rope which is used to climb between two faces of a cave. From here it was “just a 7a” Gav said, but I got a bit of a shock when I was horizontal in a roof with my feet left way too far behind. I cut loose on the jug and surprised Gav as my legs came wanging out past the lip of the roof, and they were all that he could see of me! I somehow held the swing and topped out the climb with my forearms double the size they were when I started!

My whole summer was capped of with my first ever multipitch at Berry Head which I seconded after Lucy Creamer on the route from “Classic Rock” ‘Dreadnaught’ E3. This was a great experience climbing high above the water on the three pitch route and I really enjoyed learning the process of It: Lucy was a fantastic and patient tutor. I was most scared about not dropping any gear and it was all going well until I dropped the very last piece, Doh!

I hope everyone else had a great summer holiday, I’m super Psyched for the worlds next week!

Jim

 

 

 

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The last month has been quite an interesting one; I had my first proper injury, went on an amazing GB team trip to Austria and climbed with Adam Ondra in the Peak District!

Luckily my injury, which was during PE at school wasn’t as bad as I first thought and turned out just to be sprained wrist. It did mean that I couldn’t climb for a few weeks and I missed out on demoing the regional final of the BMC YCS which was a shame as I was really looking forward to climbing the routes. A few weeks later of no climbing and lots of ibuprofen I started climbing again and soon felt confident to begin climbing some harder routes. This was good news because I was going to Austria for the GB junior lead team training weekend in the Tirol.

Our 4:30AM start meant that we were in Innsbruck with plenty of time to go climbing before the rest of the team turned up. We dropped of our bags at the really nice hotel and headed of to the Tivoli climbing wall. When I got to the wall I was blown away at how steep it was and the density of routes and holds in such a small space!

Austria was a great destination for our training event, because all of their walls are of such a high standard, with lots of routes in the 8′s and some in the 9′s. These are the sorts of grades that we are put up against in the international competitions so it was great to be able to spend some time trying them. We  travelled between the Tivoli wall and the Imst wall which is by far the coolest wall I have ever climbed on! A highlight of the trip was trying some of the senior world cup routes which I had watched live online a few months earlier. It was good to have almost all of the GB lead team out in Austria; there was a great atmosphere and lots of support for each other.

I had been looking forward to the following weekend even more than the team trip. At the start of the year I had been asked by one of my sponsors Lyon Equipment if I would like to take part in a promotional weekend… Climbing with Adam Ondra in the peak district!

jim and ondra

Of course I wasn’t going to say no. People always say you should never meet your heros but in this case they are wrong! It was amazing to be able to climb with Adam and see him try some of our hardest routes in the Peak. Watching somebody climb in real life is so much more inspiring than watching an edited film. From watching his films I assumed he was very angry when he fell off, but I realised that actually he is really passionate about what he is doing and is instantly back to his happy self. He was a genuinely nice person who was open and generous with his advice and encouragement. I feel very privileged to be a part of the Lyon team which gives me the opportunity to climb with the likes of Adam, Neil and Pietro at events like this one. Thanks to Paul, John, Corin and the rest of the team from Lyon Equipment for making it such a good weekend.

A short film from Lyon on Vimeo –  Adam Ondra visits the Peak District

Tivoli wall crammed with routes!

Tivoli wall crammed with routes!

The amazing Imst wall

The amazing Imst wall

 

Work experience and more!

So much has happened recently, Its time I wrote something about it!

I was really lucky to be able to do my work experience at The Castle Climbing Centre, my local wall and second home. I really enjoyed my two weeks there and it made me realise that I could actually work in the climbing industry long term. I learnt lots of skills, not just about climbing but about the huge amounts of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep the centre running. I loved every job they threw at me, even the filing! My favourite time was learning to route set with Mike, and then setting my first two routes. I much preferred route setting to the boulder setting that I did because I liked the process of doing the rope access work which was a whole new experience for me. An added bonus was that I got to meet Alex Jones who was preparing for her Sport Relief Climb on Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. Thanks to everyone at the castle for having me! 

In the middle of my work experience I travelled up to Sheffield for the GB Junior Lead team training event at Awesome walls. We had the chance to on-sight some hard routes graded from 7c-8c then red point them the next day, I surprised myself by on-sighting an 8a+ on the comp wall which was my hardest indoor on-sight to date. It was great to be able to try such a wide variety of hard routes with the other team members all encouraging each other on. It was also interesting to hear from a sports psychologist, and nutritionist who was very happy to see I was munching on some flapjack and drinking chocolate milk- No seriously!! 

The following weekend I was back in Sheffield for The CWIF which is always good fun! I actually managed to climb more than half of the blocks this time coming in the top 100 beating one of my previous results of 169th :-) It was brilliant to see so many great international climbers competing in the competition. I also judged the semis and Male finals with Gav Symonds again this year; I had to pull Rustam Gelmanov off one of his attempts, Ive never been so scared in my life!

One sad thing that happened this month was the passing away of my great uncle John, I was very proud to have known him although I didn’t realise how much he had done in his life which was mentioned in his obituary. He lived in the Lake District and it was while visiting him there that I first started climbing outdoors. We travelled up to Eskdale and it was lovely to be in the valley again. There was a huge turnout for the funeral and I met Sir Chris Bonnington at the wake who was a really nice guy and very enthusiastic about young people climbing.

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On the way back from the Lakes I stopped of in Kendal just in time to have a go on Steve McClure’s Petzl super route for the competition at The Lakeland Climbing Centre. I scraped my way into third place after Ed Hamer and Neil Mawson and won fifty pounds!

The following day I went to The Boardroom in Queensferry with Leah, Liam and Tom. They have a really cool feature called the Psicoblock which is a massive over hanging wall above a thick foam mat. Its like deep water soloing but at a climbing wall! The whole wall had loads of features I had never seen before at any British climbing wall, and was well worth the journey. I would definitely recommend a visit!

Ive had a very fortunate few weeks, meeting some amazing people, and seeing some amazing places. Thanks for reading, Jim