European Youth Cup, Mitterdorf

Mitterdorf was the last EYC of the season and I had been training harder than ever to try and get my best result. When the team arrived in Vienna we were surprised by the temperatures up in the high 30’s and luckily we stayed in a great hotel with a pool to cool off in! The team had a day and a half relaxing around the hotel and getting used to the heat before the competition started on Saturday.

The day of qualifiers everyone was up early for breakfast before heading over to the wall, The outdoor comp wall was tall and steep peppered with volumes and hard routes. I looked at which routes were mine and discussed beta with my fellow team mates before heading to warm up as I was climbing early. My first qualifier was a technical slabby route with no room for error on every move, I managed to get a few clips from the top, putting me in 10th place. The second qualifier was a steeper line with much more basic, powerful moves. I got to a similar height on this route and scraped my way into finals in 10th place! The team headed back to the hotel, happy to have four finalists who headed to bed for an early start in the morning.

On Sunday morning the four finalists headed over to the wall for 7:30 to get into isolation. As I was climbing first I started warming up straight away as I would be climbing straight after the observation at 9 o’clock. My warm up consisted of some traversing to get pumped and then a few powerful boulder problems to get my arms firing. We went out for our 6 minutes to view the route and I went through the moves with team mate Aidan Roberts who also made the final in my category. The route climbed through the steepest part of the wall using lots of volumes and different angle changes, from the floor it was quite confusing what the beta might be but I figured out a sequence and decided to stick with it.

It was time to climb and with the nod from the judge I set off. Because I qualified in 10th whatever position I ended in would be a bonus so I felt relaxed and just enjoyed the climbing. After climbing through a tricky bottom section I reached a good rest then pushed on through the steep bulges up to the head wall were I fell off a powerful move 9 holds from the top. I was lowered down really happy with how I’d climbed, now all I had to do was see how everyone else got on!

To my surprise the next 4 climbers fell off way beneath my high point and I was already guaranteed my best international competition result which I was really pleased about. It was very tense when Jakub the Czech climber reached the same hold as me but didn’t move on from it for the plus point, the next 4 climbers all fell lower in the middle crux section and I had won!

It was a strange feeling and it didn’t sink in that I had won until coming back to work at the castle on Monday morning and seeing all the people that have supported me get to were I have over the years I have climbed there. It was great to see that all of my training and hard work has paid off and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes at the World youth championships in a few weeks in Arco, Italy. Thanks to the whole castle community for helping and supporting me along the way!

Special thanks to the comp squad coaches Ben, Juan, Jamie, Gordon and Tricky.

Hirundos, 2015

Heres a little review about the new Hirundos harness from Petzl which is super lightweight and  is perfect for onsighting in comps or sending projects outdoors.

A few weeks ago, during the Easter holidays, I spent a nice week in Austria and Italy training for the upcoming comp season with the GB Junior Lead Climbing Team. During the trip we got on loads of hard and long routes which gave me lots of time to try out the package which had arrived from Lyon Equipment a few days before. For the last few years I have only used the old Hirundos, indoors, outdoors, when training and in comps. I have always loved it because of its very light weight, and its super simple design which makes it really easy to use. Judging by the number of people wearing them at International comps, I’m not alone. I was keen to see what the new design had in store.

At first it didn’t feel much different to the old design, which was a relief! After a couple of routes, though, I began to notice the changes.The new Fuseframe material used throughout the harness makes it a lot comfier when belaying, climbing in or sitting in while working a route. This is a definite improvement from the old harness which felt quite sharp when sitting in for long periods of time.

Im really pleased that the new design hasn’t lost any of its old appeal and has made definite improvements in comfort, and is still great to be used climbing indoors or out. Ive got a new favourite! Heres a link to some more information about the Hirundos http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/Harnesses/HIRUNDOS?l=INT#.VS6wQZTF-Hw

Chulilla

This February, a few friends from The Castle Climbing Centre were heading out to Chulilla Valencia, which coincided with me coming down with a horrible cold. I had a few days off school & I couldn’t see a better opportunity to regain my strength, than soaking up the Spanish sun. After all the good things I’ve heard about the place, without a moments hesitation, I was in…

We were a group of six, Gav Symmonds, Mike Langley, Tim Maxwell, Juan Avendaño, Ed Ratcliffe and myself, all climbers from London. We set off Thursday night and stayed at a hotel so we didn’t have to get up at ridiculous o-clock in the morning to catch our flight. We were sitting around the bar, chatting and generally getting psych, when Tim the task manager unexpectedly started writing a shopping list for the whole trip. The list included what each of us would need to get at the supermarket once we arrived in Spain. For those of us who hadn’t been on a trip with Tim, it came as a surprise to see such a comprehensive and epic  list, that included around 40 pieces of every fruit under the sun, for just five days… After a couple of hours organising our roles, everyone felt pretty listed out, and ready to get to bed so that the next day would come faster!

We swapped snowy Britain for sunny Spain. With the hire cars sorted and the endless supply of fruit all packed in, we hit the road and arrived in Chulilla after about an hour driving on decent roads with very little traffic. The whole journey took about 4 hours from Gatwick. Still with plenty of time to climb that day, we dropped our bags at the refugio El Altico, where we were greeted by the super friendly Pedro Pons and his partner Nuria. Not only they have built a brilliant, clean and comfortable refuge, Pedro has a huge wealth of experience in the area (he has bolted most crags) and knows a thing or two about training (he is a World Champion).

View from the Refugio

View from the Refugio

On the walk in to 'Sex shop'

On the walk in to ‘Sex shop’

The first sector we went to was “Sex Shop”: a short 10 minute walk from the refugio. Gav and I started on a 7a+ which at 32m was already longer than anything I’ve sport climbed in Britain. I didn’t think the route was that different or special compared to the rock I’ve climbed on before, except that it was orange! The next route I got on definitely changed that view. Dale Duro Negro (7b) was a lot less polished and followed a great line up a corner with all kinds of hold types and climbing styles. After that, every route I got on was brilliant.. I kept moving along the sector, climbing the good looking lines and getting used to the climbing in Chulilla on some low level 7’s. Soon I was tempted to try something a bit harder. An obvious king line on the crag was ‘Ramallah’ (7c+): It follows a long line of tufas starting thin and getting wider and wider as you gain height. It had been recommended by lots of people who’d been there before, so I got on it and managed to onsight it with a burning pump in my forearms!

Looking back from 'El balconcito'

Looking back from ‘El balconcito’

The next day we went to a sector called El Balconcito. This sector is a bit steeper and the routes start on powerful climbing through a bulge, becoming technical and crimpy on the upper wall. Before getting on the hard stuff, Gav and I warmed up on a ‘tufatastic’ 50m 7b. It took 30 minutes before we could feel our feet again; Ive never had a foot pump before!

Gav set out to onsight ‘El Bufa’ 8a. Climbing up through a powerful bottom section on thin tufas he reached a good rest. From here its still long, technical sustained climbing on crimps to the top. After a few moments recovering at the rest, Gav carried on up the wall. However, about 3 quarters of the way up the wall, with a thundery grunt, he was off at a difficult section. He pulled straight back on, and climbed to the top.

Watching Gav on the route, the style looked like it would suit me. I thought Id have a go at flashing it, something I have never really attempted to do on an 8a outside before. I started the climb feeling pretty nervous. I was really sketchy on the bottom section, but once I reached a clear rest I began to relax. After a little shake I kept moving, before I got too cold from the wind. I kept crimping up the route, getting closer and closer to the chains, until there was only 5 more meters to go. This section was the hardest part of the route for me. I was super stretched out on some thin side pulls and had to stand up on a really high foot to reach the top hold. After all the hard work and strenuous, delicate climbing, I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to fall off, and managed to climb through to the top on my flash attempt  :-) I was really happy to climb this route: when I was younger 8a was always the hardest grade up at my wall and I never thought I would climb one, let alone flash one!

Ed, Mike and Juan looking very small at the base of the crag.

Ed, Mike and Juan looking very small at the base of the crag.

On a roll, I had a quick go at ‘Tequila Sunrise’ 8a to the right of ‘El Bufa’ and flashed that as well which was a great ending to a fantastic day, and one of my most enjoyable climbing days yet.

Two days in, I had already ticked the 2 hardest routes on my wish list, and now needed to find something harder. Pedro had suggested trying ‘Gran Reserva’ 8b at ‘Cañaveral sector. This area was very different to the others we’d visited. The routes were all about 30m and vertical, but very technical and the routes and grades were a lot sterner than before. Its also a lot busier than some of the other sectors, with families, dog walkers and tourists out enjoying the gorge On a fresh Sunday morning. I warmed up putting the clips on the route and trying some of the moves. It already felt way harder than the two routes I flashed the day before. There were 3 cruxes on the route and no rests in between, which was a real test for me as every move was so droppable, testing my stamina, power and technical abilities. This is what I liked so much about the route. I managed to do all the moves in 2 sections and left it at that to save myself (particularly my skin!) for the next day.

The topo for a section of 'Canaveral'

The topo for a section of ‘Canaveral’

We headed down to the crag early to guarantee the route was in the shade. I warmed up quickly and then got straight on Gran Reserva. The first crux involves a really high heel hook on a small spike, followed by a powerful move off two slopey crimps into a gaston. I fell off at this move a few times, so lowered down for a long rest. I felt like I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to climb this route because I didn’t have much time left in Chulilla. I was more nervous climbing this route than I am in comps! I tied back in and was determined I was going to do it this time. I reached the lower crux and set up for the move. This time I spent a lot longer placing the heel, and when I did the move stuck! So far, so good! The next section involved some really strenuous moves on undercuts and gastons and I even made some power noises, which rarely happens! I kept fighting my way up the route, eventually reaching the top crux. I was so determined not to fall off here, and fought really hard to hang on and keep climbing to the top. My elbows were above my head, I was so pumped. I reached the top, clipped the chain, and had to wait a moment or two before my arms had enough energy to clip the 2nd karabiner!

I was super happy to climb this route because it felt right at my limit and I think its the hardest I’ve climbed physically and mentally so far. Ed and Gav also had a really successful day both climbing ‘El Bufa’ and Ed also doing ‘Tequila Sunrise’, We all felt like we had earned our ‘arroz a la Valenciana’ that night!

Gav on his 2nd go of 'Entre Dos Caminos'

Gav on his 2nd go of ‘Entre Dos Caminos’

On our last day my skin was really suffering, but after packing my fingers with Climb Skin the night before I still had enough scraps left to climb on. We went back to the area around ‘Ramallah’ to climb in the comforting sun. Ed and Gav started putting the clips on ‘Entre Dos Caminos’ 8a and I thought I’d like to try that one too. I went and sat round the corner until they were done so I had a chance at an onsight. I had so little skin left on my fingertips that I didn’t want to waste it warming up, so once they were done I pulled straight onto the route. The climb zig zagged up the wall following every tufa there was, then up a slab to finish on a powerful top section. I topped the route, which was a great way to end the trip. Rather than our usual walk back to the refuge, we decided to spice things up a bit by taking the via ferrata. This proved to be actually pretty difficult with all our bags on our backs and spaced out rungs for good measure!

I really enjoyed Climbing in Chulilla and definitely need to go back. There’s so much to do out there and so much which hasn’t even been bolted yet! The accommodation at El Altico couldn’t have been better, and the advice and hospitality from Pedro and Nuria was invaluable. I would recommend it to everyone :-)

Thanks to Mike, Gav, Tim, Juan and Ed for making it an unforgettable trip.   IMG_2487IMG_2516

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The old pathway along the river, wobbly!

The old pathway along the river, wobbly!

Tufas!

Tufas!

Ed soaking in the sun on our last day

Ed soaking in the sun on our last day

 

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!

GB-JuniorLeadTeam_coach-sq

 

 

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

 

 

 

Link

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

 

Marmot Team

Today it was announced on UKC that I had joined the Marmot Pro team. I’m really looking forward to trying out some more of their kit, especially my new comp shorts!

It’s very exciting to be part of a team of very strong and inspirational climbers, I hope I can keep up with them all :-)

The full article from UKC is below…

http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/news.php?id=6188