Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here! So much has been happening!
After finishing University I’ve moved back to London and got a job as an indoor instructor and coach, which I absolutely love, and am climbing as much as possible. It’s really nice to be climbing back at the Castle regularly; I spent all of last summer on the Wave (the Castle’s training board), and was feeling stronger and stronger:
For this climb I decided to find the smallest hold on the training board and see if I could use it in a climb really suited to me, powerful moves on small holds.
This climb was set by one of the ultra-strong polish guys who climb on this board; he does LAPS on this thing, and he never cut’s loose, it’s really amazing to watch!
After a few months of climbing hard almost every day and competing as often as I could, I was surprised and ecstatic to find an email one day telling me I was invited to join the Senior British Bouldering Team based on my performance in the British Bouldering Championships! This had been a dream of mine for years, but I certainly didn’t expect it!
This huge achievement for me coincided with starting a new project on the Wave; it was by far the hardest thing I have done so far. I wanted to make the problem suited to me, so it was all on pretty small crimps, with lots of weird twisting movements, the crux being a full stretch into a gaston crimp; when I first started trying it none of the moves felt possible.
For some reason, as I became more and more obsessed with the project, I attached more and more meaning to it. I would come into the Castle almost every day for about 3 weeks, and try nothing else but this project, and I started telling myself that if I couldn’t get it then I didn’t deserve to be on the team and I wasn’t as good a climber as I thought I was. I started getting more and more frustrated, after a week of trying I was finding what I previously thought to be the hardest move really easy, but never seemed to have enough energy for the final lunge to a tiny hold when I tried to link all the moves. I remember one attempt when I hit every single hold perfectly and was sure that I was about to complete the climb before yet again running out of energy on the last move. I actually teared up a bit, suddenly thinking that I might not ever get it done.
About a week later I linked all the moves from start to finish; I hit every hold perfectly and it felt EASY all the way through, it felt like a huge breakthrough for me. I felt much more sure of my abilities, I had been doing better in competitions, I suddenly felt like I was back on track.
That was in November, and since then I think I’ve been struggling to stay motivated. A combination of severe pain in my fingers, work taking up a lot of time, not having my project to work on and doing worse on the competition scene was slowly draining my psyche (and for anyone who know’s how psyched I am about climbing, that might be a bit worrying!).
One thing which cheered me up IMMENSELY during this January was my first ever trip to Fontainebleau (I’ll be writing a full blog post about this once I finish the video!). The week I spent there really confirmed to me that all I really need to be happy is somewhere to sleep, a good supply of food, and plenty of boulders to climb. However, I had planned to climb Karma (8a+), and had trained specifically for it. After spending two days trying it and repeatedly falling from near the top, I had to leave it unfinished, which I again took as a big blow to my psyche levels (writing all this down makes me think I’m being too sensitive to failing occasionally), and I spent the last few weeks barely climbing, and when I did manage to climb was really struggling with the pain in my fingers. I kept feeling like I couldn’t pull as hard as I used to, and was constantly seeing all the kids on junior teams climbing almost as hard as me despite being years younger.
However, over the last week or so things are slowly turning around again; the pain in my fingers is getting marginally better, and the last round of Blokfest in Nottingham gave me hope that I’m not as weak as I thought. Although I didn’t make it into the finals (slipping off one easy problem cost me the 3 points I needed), I completed all of the hardest climbs, and when I did send them, none of them felt particularly hard. Two nights ago I went to the Biscuit Factory for an evening session after work and was suddenly back to feeling like I could CRUSH! I sent pretty much everything on the comp wall in about an hour, intentionally using stupid powerful beta on some of the climbs to test how strong I was feeling. After two hours of hard climbing and quickly getting to the top of a load more of their hard climbs, I realised the pain in my fingers was almost non-existent!
I’m really excited for the coming year; working with the Castle Competition Squad is a great source of inspiration to me, I’m feeling like I could do well in competitions, and I’m hoping for a few trips to Stanage Plantation and maybe even some sport climbing. And of course, as soon as the opportunity comes around, I’m going straight back to Font to send Karma.