The Roaches, April 2015 – It rained! And rained and rained. In fact the weather was abysmal for four of the five days potential climbing that we had. Thankfully strong winds and one dry day meant we managed one day’s good climbing. With a few trad routes to warm up I headed off with my friend Will and a borrowed pad to try some boulders that we’d been eyeing up in the rain. The rock was finally dry and the cold windy conditions meant some good friction conditions on the grit. This meant Will was able to send his first ever outdoor V5, Drunk Enough?, a really enjoyable problem which I found tricker for the short but do able. I had a look at Too Drunk V6 as well but the holds at the start under the roof were still damp so it had to wait for another day. A few hours playing on other classics including three pocket slab and the greener traverse, resulted in rapidly declining daylight. Digging head torches out of our sacks and keen to make the most of the dry conditions after four days cabin fever in the hut, we headed over to The Gutter V7. A cool problem well suited to my strengths, it didn’t go on the first night’s attempts but did on my second visit a few weeks later.
The gutter v7
Peaks, May 2015 – Better weather for this trip despite the bank holiday curse meaning it rained on the Sunday. This was a mixed sport trip with five of us visiting Horseshoe quarry (scarily loose in places!), Froggatt, Millstones and Burbage North. Horseshoe was fun for an easier day of getting the groups outdoor climbing heads back on and taking some falls on bolts. Froggatt was excellent with great weather, good access and some really fun routes. I worked with another member of our group, Dave to set him up for his first ever trad leads which was enjoyable and rewarding. I also managed a quick flash of the three star classic Sunset Slab HVS 4b and Strapiombante E1 5b. Millstones was less enjoyable due to changing weather and quite frankly a trek into the crag for me on my knees, however the cracks were spectacular and I really enjoyed Embankment 2 VS 4c and Street Legal E2 5c. The final day of this trip was a quick jaunt to Burbage North. No hard grades due to tiredness but a couple of 3* VS classics for me and Dave’s second and third trad leads ever. All in all an excellent trip.
Other than trips, I’ve been training hard for some upcoming bouldering and sport trips with the aim of pushing my grade higher. My training has also been structured around getting stronger and improving my cardiovascular fitness so I can manage pushing the approaches to crags in less accessible places and not be too tired to perform well when I get there. This has involved a lot of functional training in the gym on top of climbing indoors and swimming and pushing. So far I’m seeing great results. Big thanks also to the awesome people at Perform Health for keeping me fit and well throughout my training.
As you may have guessed by the lack of mention of comps this year, I’m taking some time out from competing for now, to work on my outdoor climbing, the season for which usually clashes with comps. It also means I can use my very limited income to pay for trips that allow me to push my grades outside rather than spending it on comps. My sponsors have kindly all agreed to stick with me as I transition to climbing outdoors more. The competition scene within paraclimbing, was also not developing as much as I had hoped it would and therefore I felt it was the right time to direct my energy into outdoor climbing.
With five more outdoor trips abroad planned in the next coming months, I should be able to put my training to good use again in the near future!
My Sponsors the Arch Climbing Wall recently opened a whole new centre just around the corner from the biscuit factory. The new wall is really impressive with a massive variety of climbing surfaces and the return of a traverse wall and the tunnel roof, similar to the original London Bridge wall. The new training facilities are pretty special too, with a great systems board, a huge selection of fingerboards, an impressive parkour training area and a pegboard. I’m busy fitting training in around uni at the moment but I’m really appreciating having access to these facilities and really think my climbing should improve from having such a diverse range of walls and training opportunities across the two centres. I feel extremely lucky to be supported by such a cool, forward thinking sponsor.
I managed to squeeze a sport climbing trip to the Costa Blanca in between Christmas and uni starting again in January. We stayed at the Orange House, who were super welcoming and are a great base for climbing in the area. The accommodation also worked really well with my wheelchair, which always makes life easier. The first two days were a bit disappointing with sub 5 degree temperatures, rain and hail. Hardly the weather we went to Spain for! The conditions warmed up for the rest of the week though, with dry and sunny days and chilly evenings. Great conditions for sport climbing. We explored the area and it was really cool to be on a trip where grades weren’t a big deal. We wanted a chilled trip to discover new areas and we achieved just that. I was impressed by the selection of climbing on offer at Guadalest and I particularly enjoyed some harder routes at Gandia. We also climbed some nice multipitch routes and had a fun day on the easier stuff at Echo 1.5, which has been well developed by the Orange House. Overall it was a great trip, with good climbing pretty much every day. I definitely want to go back with a tick list though, as there is a lot of harder grade stuff that I think would suit me out there. Thanks to Liam for driving and being a fun trip companion.
Following my birthday trip to Font, I had some surgery on my hand. This ended up being larger than the surgery in 2013 and took ages to heal. It was only three weeks before Christmas when I managed to get back climbing again without pain. The surgery seems to have been successful although I’m now dealing with a resurgence of the phantom pain from my missing finger as a result of the irritation from the op. Not ideal and it really doesn’t like the cold although I’m getting better at ignoring it.
A couple of weeks ago It was my 30th birthday, so to celebrate, (or should that be commiserate), I hired the boulder bus and along with 13 friends headed to Font for a weekends bouldering.
The weather was spectacular all weekend right up until we left the forest for home and I think we all had a great time. I didn’t go with a tick list in mind, which was a pleasant change from the usual sending objectives. This meant we had a chilled time climbing problems that looked fun rather than bothering about grades. I do however have a couple of projects I want to go back and finish as well as a couple of classic 7a’s that I was one move off…next time, and a good excuse for another trip back!
The competition was mixed for me with some good points, such as climbing well and not making mistakes, and some bad points due to team politics and some poor organisation. More than anything, the team politics and changes to the competition upset me loads and that kind of ruined what should have been a great week. I was also really disappointed by the poor route setting that really didn’t challenge me. I trained immensely hard for this competition, dedicating my entire summer to training and turning down a number of outdoor climbing opportunities, which made the poor setting choices for my class really disappointing. After two easy qualification routes it would have been nice if the route setters could have put my class on something a little harder for the finals. It’s really a let down when you train hard for a competition and the route is easy enough you have done it without the training! I don’t really think my class was considered important in the competition so little thought was given to the setting. Overall it was just a massive letdown.
At least I did the job I had to do and I achieved the World Masters Title and the World Number 1 ranking to add to my uncontested World Champion title. I could have let the politics and stress get to me and I didn’t do that so I was happy that I was able to focus when I really needed to.
Now I’ll hopefully be able to find the time around university to get in some outdoor trips to use the training that I put in over the summer, starting with a birthday trip to font. I can’t wait!
I am currently stuck in Frankfurt airport (and rather bored) courtesy of the incompetence of Lufthansa. Ok so my flight out of London was a little delayed but that shouldn’t have meant I didn’t make my connection here. The problem was that when we landed no one came to help me off the plane. I asked and even offered to crawl off but was told that is unacceptable. As it turns out that wouldn’t of helped anyway as the wheelchair accessible bus from the stand wasn’t there.
Ok so I was a little annoyed but kept my cool assuming renowned German efficiency would be demonstrated, all would be well, and Lufthansa would book me directly onto the later flight this afternoon. Even a quick phone call to the transfer company changed my booking for the bus no problem. But no, lo and behold Lufthansa have given me a standby ticket for the later flight, stuck me in a cripples (sorry disabled) waiting area, because clearly they think I might get lost or run away or something if I am let out into the big wide world of the transfer terminal and possibly disabled people aren’t to be seen roaming around like everyone else, and told me they might tell me at three if I have a seat on the later flight. Just great err NOT.
Number one, I really need to eat and can’t get any food in this area, number two, waiting until three to find out if I have a seat on the flight means I miss the opportunity to get a flight with another carrier or take the train. I think if I don’t make this flight I will have to go home and miss the comp as I won’t be able to get to Imst before one am and can’t get into my rented accommodation then. And the Lufthansa lady had the nerve to ask me why I looked stressed!
Needless to say I can only wait until three. Undoubtedly millions of people have been in this situation before so I should just chill and wait. It’s not the waiting that bothers me, I’m quite adept at sitting around, it’s the fact that I am stuck in one place with no option to do what my able bodied counterparts could do in such a scenario – shop, eat, drink etc. It really bugs me when as an individual with a disability I get shoved in a separate area without a choice and basically told what to do. I am not a piece of meat on wheels and would like to actually be treated as a human being if that’s ok with Lufthansa.
Oh well I guess I should stop rambling and get on with, what was it?, ahh yes, waiting.
Update: Lufthansa just gave me a seat on the next flight so I might make Imst after all. Maybe tweeting this blog might just have had a positive effect..
I’ve been super busy since I last blogged here so it’s time for a bit of a catch up.
Firstly I will be on TV on Saturday! Transworld Sport have done a piece on me and it is being aired on Channel 4 at 6.30am (and then at 7.30 am on +1 for those of us who don’t do 6 anything on a Saturday morning!). It will also be on 4od later in the day. I’ll post a link to it on 4od when it goes up there.
It’s been an honor to have a film made by these guys so I hope everyone enjoys watching it. I remember watching Transworld Sport as a kid so it meant a lot to be asked to do a piece with them!
Other than that I was recently featured in a news piece for the BBC breakfast show – see the link below for the video.
The British series has now come to an end and I’m happy to say I won the female NPD class outright, winning each of the three rounds. I was happy with how I climbed in the final comp (I achieved a perfect score) and it is a good measure of where I am at with my training. The first world cup is three weeks today so it is back to hard graft from here. Thankfully university exams finish next week so I can dedicate a little more time to myself. University finishing doesn’t mean I’m not busy though with filming lined up for a Children’s TV show and some percussion work with the Para orchestra as well as full time training.