A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Chamonix for the european championships.

The paraclimbing side of this event was in the usual format of two qualifiers and a final with the exception of a move away from factors, with climbers being classified and the grouped into competition categories. Less maths then for the results! This worked well for the physical disability guys who were split into npd 1 and 2 but due to to the small number of female competitors this system meant some athletes had to compete against athletes with less disability with no factoring to make things more even. As the results turned out this still lead to a good competition, (although the route-setting didn’t really split the athletes), however it is something that might be an issue in future competitions particularly for me considering there are a much greater number of moves that are hard or impossible for me to make with my disability.

I topped both qualifiers which meant I qualified for finals. This was my aim for the competition after only three weeks back climbing and 8 weeks post op so I was chuffed to have achieved that. Finals went well although the route included a tonne of side pulls and undercuts which are super hard when you cant push up with your legs. I got to the same point on the wall as the winner, slipping as I made the move off the hold (and thus not getting the crucial plus). My inability to stand up off an undercut to bump to the next hold and reduced left hand strength due to the op meant I had to pull on a tiny thin crimp that wasn’t designed for that. Oh well. I was super happy with second and the fact that I basically equalled the performance of the less disabled winner with so little training time. I also made no mistakes during the three routes in the competition which was a good plus and shows my onsight training has helped, as did being allowed a guide for inspection of the final route. Due to my visual impairment inspection has previously been 6 mins of looking at the first ten holds and then a load of guessing! I learn’t a lot about the need to stay in my own zone when competing which is useful. Considering this was only my second international competition it was definitely a helpful learning experience.

Photo by Tom Humpage.

I’m back to full time training now, working on getting used to the hand without the finger and working on the balance of muscles in my arm to stop elbow and shoulder issues from developing. Strength training has been tough in the recent heat but I can see improvements happening slowly. The paraclimbing cup in Arco is the next aim which gives me six more weeks of cranking so I’m looking forward to that. It was good to see such a large GB paraclimbing team represented in Chamonix with some excellent performances! A definite step up from last year.

I managed a day of outdoor climbing in Chamonix after the finals with my coach which was great although baking hot granite mean’t we only climbed for a long morning. Still it was great to get out on some actual rock with such an amazing backdrop. We also managed a trip up the Aiguille du Midi which was awesome and totally accessible. The view from the top was amazing. I’m hoping to fit in a couple more outdoor trips before Arco which will be great. I much prefer climbing on actual rock even if pulling plastic is the way to get strong! More updates on training to follow soon!

I’m also happy to announce I’ll be speaking at the 2013 Women’s Climbing Symposium which is being held at The Arch Climbing wall, Bermondsey on the 2nd of November.