Friday, October 23, 2015

Back to Lead Comps

After a summer of sport climbing I was pretty psyched for lead climbing and looking forward to the British Lead Climbing Champs (BLCCs). Being selected for the Puurs (Belgium) Lead World Cup was a surprise though as I hadn't really planned to start lead internationally this year. But because of being selected I thought I may as well give it a go and get an idea of the standard. I regretted my decision about a week before Puurs as I watched loads of videos of previous comps there and realised how flipping massive the wall was. I was feeling pretty good though and fitter than I had done in a while so slowly started to look forward to the trip.

It was nice going out to Belgium with a small team and Mechelen, where we stayed, was an impressive place with huge churches and big squares round every corner. The comp however did not really go well. Looking at the routes I was nicely surprised as the holds looked positive and none of the moves looked super hard, but unfortunately I still panicked when I pulled on and let nerves get the better of me. I fought on for a bit but was quite disappointed with my first route. I tried so hard to calm myself down for the second route I became too lethargic and forgot to pull. Again another disappointing result. It was hard to stay in mood too long with a supportive team who were all climbing really well; Molly managing to make semis!

After getting home and reflecting on the comp as a whole I'm feeling pretty positive. The routes weren't too hard for me, they were too long but I knew I hadn't done as much endurance as I would have liked. And I came 34th which isn't too bad for my first lead world cup.

The week after Puurs was BLCCs. Having got into the habit of one lead comp a year I wasn't sure how I was feeling about this comp. I think in the end that did me good, I felt very relaxed throughout the comp and managed to climb the routes how I wanted to, as fast as possible.

The field was stronger than it has been in years and I only just made it into finals in joint 5th (7 made finals). I came out first (as they'd randomised the bottom 3 joint qualifiers) which always suits me. I raced up the first half of the route, desperately trying not to get pumped, had a breathe, then kept going. The route was pretty long so I was so happy to still be on it through the roof. I fell going for a big move round a corner, which was the same place as a couple of others but my speed paid off and I came 3rd, my best result in a senior national!

BLCCs Final Video (vimeo)

Podium : Lucy, Molly and Me

I was super happy with my result but glad I could pack my harness away for the rest of the year and get back to bouldering.

The winter boulder comps started almost straight away with The Battle of Britain at the Depot Leeds the weekend after. Qualifiers didn't go that well for me as I still find a busy, 30 problem format tricky, but I made finals in 4th place. Finals went much better and I managed to get another 3rd place :)

Battle of Britain Final Video

I've got a few weeks before the next comp so proper training has started. I'm enjoying it so far!

Friday, September 18, 2015

I actually climbed outside this summer !

I've just moved back to Sheffield after a pretty mega summer. After the BBCs I mostly spent the summer away and actually got to do some sport climbing outdoors.

The British bouldering championships went pretty well this year. I was really pleased to make finals and get my best result of 5th place and 4th Brit.
Not really sure what do do in semis 
first problem in finals

Thought I'd got the bonus on the third problem

Maybe not ..

Eyeing up the dyno on the last problem

Cheers for the photos Colin Perkins of Peakography
Check out his other photos on :

Next up was Poland for the first European Universities climbing championships. Sheffield entered a team of 4 which included: Sam Williams, Connor Byrne, Luke Dawson and myself. We had no idea what to expect of the competition but were hoping for a good result having won the British Universities Competition. 

I was the first to climb in the bouldering as we had all decided speed wasn't our thing (each competitor had to compete in 2 of the 3 events - speed, boulder and lead). The format was the same as the youth bouldering europeans with 8 blocs in 2 hours then top ten through to a final. I started well flashing 4 problems and got another second go but was a bit disappointed with my attempts on the roof bloc - definitely something I am going to work on more. I finished in a very annoying 11th place, just missing out on finals by attempts on a bonus. The boys were next in the boulders, they all climbed well with Luke managing to make finals in 9th which gave us someone to support in the finals in the evening, he did well on the super hard blocs to keep his position. 

Early the next day was lead qualifiers in a very sweaty wall in Katowice. Thankfully it was over quickly with all 4 of us making semifinals. I topped my first route and hit the last hold on the second putting me in 4th. We spent the rest of the day eating ice cream while slowly exploring the city. 

Semifinals went surprisingly well for me after feeling quite pumped early on the route and I managed to qualify for finals in 5th place. Connor was really unlucky with a foot slip not to make finals after qualifying for semis in joint 1st. 

It was obvious to me in finals that I had not been training routes enough as I rushed through the climb to stop myself getting pumped so fell because I had not placed my foot properly. I was still pretty happy with 6th place though, and was really pleased to have properly enjoyed a lead comp without getting too nervous. 

Poland was one of the best comps I have ever been to, it was great to climb in both disciplines and competing against students made it a really friendly and social atmosphere, and meant there was a great after party. 

Bouldering - flashing problem 3

Lead semifinals 

Lead Finals

Photos by Oborzynski Photography

On the way home from Poland I went via Malmo in Sweden where I met up with the family and went on to Copenhagen. Was a great place to rest up after the comp. 

Poland being my last big comp of the summer I had set aside a couple of months to climb outdoors instead of training. My mum had a conference in Kos so we obviously used that as an excuse to have a trip to Kalymnos. This was my first proper sport climbing trip and what a great place to have it! Every line looked awesome though quite intimidating at first. With it being so hot there wasn't time for loads of climbing but we had a lot of early starts to make the most of it. 

I was pretty psyched to get my hardest route outdoors - Alfredo Alfredo 7b+. I didn't really want to get too involved in a really hard project when it was that hot and there was so much to climb so I stuck to 7bs, I managed to get one a day, every one of them on my second go, hopefully one day I learn how to onsight.

We weren't home for long before leaving for Exeter for the deep water solo event The Quay climbing centre organised. I was very doubtful about this event as i'm not the best swimmer but it turned out to be such a good laugh! I managed to get into finals where it then became a speed competition on a long boulder that wiggled around the wall. The 6 finalists all had a go, then the 3 slowest were knocked out and the three fastest went again to determine positions on the podium. I managed to get the fastest time on the first run which left me absolutely spent for the second round so I finished in 3rd. I can't wait to do this comp again next year, I was amazed how fun falling into freezing water can be.  

Here's a video of a few climbs from the comp:

My mum then had another conference in Portugal, another great excuse for a holiday. This time the whole family came so I was lucky to get any climbing in at all. I only tried one route, a 7c+ called kind of magic with a very bouldery crux. So happy to get it as I only really had an evening. 

After such a great summer i'm pretty happy to be back in Sheffield and training for the comps ahead. 
I'm doing my first lead World Cup in Puurs next week which I am pretty terrified about but was really happy to be selected for. Then its the British Lead Champs before getting back to bouldering for the winter. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Build up to BBCs

Since working my bum off before and during exams I've been playing catch up on training. Having coped a lot better with work than in January I didn't have as much to do this time round. I had managed to get to the gym and the Uni wall a fair bit in between revision (both a lot closer than the Works), mostly doing strength training with a bit of power endurance. So once my exams finished I only really had to learn how to climb comp problems again.

On Saturday I went to Awesome Walls Stockport for the Summer Psyche competition, it's always a fairly chilled comp but it has a proper final so I find it's always a good one to do to get back into comp mode before the British Bouldering Championships.
Although very sweaty the qualifiers went pretty well, I managed to fight my way up 18 of the 20 problems, though my score of 154 didn't really reflect this having greased off quite a few problems first go and getting a couple of the problems 4th go.
A qualifier problem i took a while to top, photo:AwesomeWalls

The final problems were on the steep side of the wall and were hard work in the heat. I was pleased to top all 3 of the problems to get 1st place and an awesome trophy.

Podium, Jules 2nd and Emily 3rd 
On Sunday, feeling a bit sore, I went to the Depot Leeds for the 3rd round of their Summer league to get a bit more practice with comp problems and trying to flash them.

I'm feeling pretty strong, apart from a minor finger injury that seems to be slowly recovering, and can't wait for the BBCs at Cliffhanger next weekend. A week of stretching, fairly easy climbing and Probalming and hopefully it will go well.
After that I'm off to Kalymnos for some chilled climbing then back into training for the European University Championships in Poland and hopefully the World Cup in Munich in August.

See ya next week !

Monday, March 2, 2015


January was a massive struggle this year and not just because my house in Sheffield doesn't warm up. My exams were super hard and it was a bit of a shock to have to put climbing aside for a while to revise. I tried to keep training  a bit by getting down to the uni wall for a speedy sesh every other day or hanging off a fingerboard at home but I was just stressed all the time so it made staying psyched hard. But my exams were at least over pretty quickly, and I think they went sort of ok ...
I had a week off before starting Uni and I think I climbed every day of it to make up for lost time, which i'm pretty sure caused this achiness in my elbows.  I'm managing to control it by climbing a bit less now and doing loads of theraband things so hopefully it will be all good for CWIF.

The comps came pretty soon after exams and I struggled a bit. Rocfest qualifiers went pretty well, I think I did all the problems I could have, though it took me a few too many goes to get a dyno problem. Semis didn't go as well. They were hard problems and I found it hard to get stuck in, I finished 7th for the 3rd year running, missing out on finals by a bonus. But it was a good comp and a much needed kick up the arse to learn how to try hard again. Unfortunately Superbloc the week after in London went quite similarly. It was straight into semis format and my head let me down. I really struggled keeping calm and just getting on with climbing. On a happier note it was awesome to meet Tim from Chia Charge at the outdoor show and stock up on flapjacks and their new protein bars. (If you got to try a sample and loved it use the code JWC10 to get a 10% discount off all their products online).

Another week and another comp. This time it was BUCS the national universities championships. I was pretty excited for this as I thought it would be a lot more low key and just what I needed to get back into comps. It was very busy and I was manically running round the problems the whole time but the problems were cool and I managed to get up quite a few of them. I actually finished early as well, which never happens! I was really happy to find out I had qualified in 2nd behind Micheala but surprisingly for me I was way happier to see Sheffield Uni team had smashed it! It was great to climb as a team for a change and I really got into it, it felt great to want to do well for the team instead of just worrying about my own position.

Finals were a pretty serious affair compared to last years circuit problem. We had 3 blocs on the comp wall and the normal 4+ format. I knew the two girls before me had topped the first problem when I went out so really wanted to flash it. But I was spat off by the smallest hold I have ever seen, after warming my hands up a bit I managed to get it second go. The same happened on the second problem so again i went out really needing to flash and I actually did, I did a dyno ! It was 9.30pm when i pulled on to the last problem in the roof (I'm normally snuggled up in bed at this point watching Broadchurch or something) but I fought through to the last couple of moves but was too tired to top.
I ended up in 2nd after Micheala breezed up the last problem.  I'm really happy with how I did mainly because I was actually relaxed and enjoyed every problem. In the boys Joe won and Connor was third so Sheffield Uni really did own it, hopefully we can go to Poland for the European Universities Championships in August.
I'm now in training for CWIF in this weekend and trying to sort my elbows out properly.

All Photos by James Mcillveen

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nanjing 2014

   This year has been a big one for my climbing. I made the decision to switch from route climbing to bouldering and it has really paid off. I noticed improvements straight away by focussing on bouldering and getting stronger and now nearly a year later I have put my harness back on and I am much better at routes too.

   Since deciding to be primarily a boulderer I've been to two World Cups. My first was in Baku, Azerbaijan. I am not sure why I thought this would be a good idea for my first senior international as the travelling was hard work, eating was hard work, and then there was the climbing. But I don't regret it all, it was a great experience and I've been to Azerbaijan !
I came 27th with 1 flash and a massive flapper, definitely a result to be improved upon but not a bad debut.
Baku- photo by The Circuit Climbing
The Second Problem fought back

   My next World Cup was Laval in France. It was much easier to get to and slightly easier to find vegetarian food. It was also after my exams and I had been the previous year for the Junior competition so I felt much more relaxed. I topped 3 problems in 4 attempts and got 4 bonuses. I was really happy with how I had climbed. I kept making progress on the second problem and think I could have topped it with a little more time. I felt really comfy on the third problem and also flashed the last one, a dyno ! I needed to be a bit stronger for the 4th but I'm working on that. I finished 33rd (in a bigger field than Baku).

   The biggest part of my year was going to Nanjing, China for the Youth Olympic Games.
I have always wanted to be in the Olympics and even more so after getting to go to watch some of the events in London, so when I got the call from Rob saying I had been picked by the IFSC to be the British representative for the youth Olympics I was very happy! I know it isn't the actual Olympics but it is a step closer.
  Climbing was part of the Sports Lab with 3 other sports (Wushu, Skateboarding and Speed Skating). These sports were not run as a competition but as an exhibition to try and impress the public and the International Olympic Committee. There was also initiation time where the public and other athletes could have a go at the sports.
   The 16 climbers from all over the world were in Nanjing for 11 days and did 30 minutes exhibition time twice a day everyday (with 1 rest day), we also did a lot of climbing before and after because the boulders and routes were so good, and then a lot of the initiation time was pushing children up the wall so it was hard work (all in 40 degree heat). All of us were aching a lot and in need of a physio by about the 3rd day and skin was running low (though thanks to Probalm my wasn't too bad considering) but it was still the best experience of my life.
   We were treated like Usain Bolt signing autographs and featuring in many selfies. All of the climbers got on really well and I really hope we get to see each other again, and we really showed how good climbing is. Everyone seemed to love it and it was the busiest sport during the initiation time with many people coming to climb on multiple days.
The Wall
Not psyched for skateboarding

The last meal

                                         One of the Boulders for the exhibition 
   Since I got back from China I have mainly been training for the British Lead Climbing Championships. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get fit enough in time but I'm really enjoying being back on a rope and it's nice not to take a comp too seriously.
  The Depot Leeds summer boulder comp recently finished, it was a great comp with really nice problems and I really had to try hard to get the win.
the Depot Leeds

   I have also recently been sponsored by Chia Charge! Their flapjacks are amazing and the added chia seeds means more potassium, iron, fibre, protein and many more good things than a normal flapjack. I'm finding my training sessions last much longer and are better quality when I have a Chia Charge flapjack to nibble on.
If you want to try them click on the image of the flapjack to the right and use the code JWC10 to get a 10% discount.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Off to Baku

Today I start the journey to my first ever senior World Cup. Catching the National Express to Heathrow then flying to Baku, Azerbaijan at 10 am tomorrow morning.
Now all the planning is out the way I'm just excited to get there and compete with the best climbers in the World. I reckon it's going to be flipping hard but finding out what I have to do do compete at this level will help me train this summer so I'm ready for the next World cup i'm going to in June.

Over the past couple of months I really increased the amount of training I was doing, hoping to get much stronger before Baku, though it has been hard having to revise for my exams at the same time. I did have a little break over Easter and went to Mallorca, to sport climb outdoors for the first time. I spent most of the trip getting used to it and doing easy stuff, pretty much just 'active sunbathing', though on 4th and last day I had a go at a 7a+ and surprised myself. Once I had had a go finding all the holds, I didn't find it too hard at all and I was much less scared on a climb I actually had to think about. I really want to do more now and try some hard stuff.

I also recently got sponsorship off Beyond Hope for prAna and Metolious!! So happy to represent both these awesome companies.

                                            short video of me getting some comp prep in at different walls.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


A couple of weekends ago was the Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF). Last year I had been really ill on the Friday and still made it into semis but this year the competition looked much harder! There were many more climbers from other countries, especially in the womens, but fortunately this year I was ill on the Sunday before instead. I was still a lot lighter than normal for the qualifiers on Saturday but after a massive breakfast at the Premier Inn I wasn't feeling too bad. I was climbing in the morning session for the first time because of being in Sheffield now which suited me a lot better. I am definitely a morning person and I find it easier to sort out my nutrition in the mornings.
The qualifiers didn't go very well at all. I made a lot of mistakes from being nervous and failed to flash some of the easier problems. I did a couple I was pleased with and I really enjoyed the climbs but I have never not been in the semi-final of CWIF since I started doing it a couple of years ago and I really wanted to make it again but was very aware of how hard it was going to be.
After qualifiers I decided I probably hadn't made it and went for a picnic in the Botanical Gardens. I didn't even go back to the works to check the results after the pm session. While we were eating dinner though, I got a text showing the picture of the provisional results and I was in 19th! (20 make it into semis). I still didn't think i would be in the semis, I thought that was far to close to trust the provisional results. I checked the climbing works website about every 5 minutes for 3 hours waiting to see if I had definitely made it. When the results were eventually finalized I was in 20th, by 1 point. I wasn't too fussed about only just making it in, I much prefer the format of the semi-finals and have always struggled in the free for all 30 problem format.

Qualifiers. Photos by Dom Worrall

On the Sunday morning I went off to isolation. It was pretty cool to be warming up with loads of climbers I had only watched climb on the World Cup live-stream.
The first problem was pretty hard compared to last years first problem. I felt pretty rubbish on my first few goes, trying to go slowly and in control when i needed to just launch my leg out. I realized this on my 5th go and got the bonus and was moving up for the penultimate hold. I may have got further if i wasn't so stupid on my first 4 goes but then a lot of climbers better than me didn't get this bloc either.
I couldn't work out the second problem when i was on it, I probably just needed to be bendier.
Photo by Dom Worrall

And basically I embarrassed myself on the 3rd problem, reading the sequence wrong. The 5 minutes before the last problem I started very miserable, I have always improved my position loads in semis and I had only moved up 1 spot this year. By the end of the 5 minutes i was feeling determined, hoping to finish the comp well. And the wall was vertical, which is in my favorite range of wall angles. On my second go I was flinging myself at the last hold but my foot slipped. On my 4th go I held the last hold with one hand and couldn't match. By my fifth go I had about 15 seconds, I managed to grab the last hold with one hand with about 2 seconds to go and desperately swung for the match and managed to stick it! I have never been so surprised to top a boulder in my life! (this was quite obvious too).

the last boulder

I ended up in 15th (or 16th behind Molly, the results have changed since I last looked). Anyway I was really pleased to do the last boulder and improve my position a lot.
Obviously I stayed to watch the finals, which was awesome as always. Well done to all the finalists!

In the week following CWIF the bouldering team had the chance to climb with the Slovenian and Dutch team as they had come over for CWIF. There were loads of world cup blocs set around the works for us to try. I struggled a lot, I felt too weak for some of the climbs but noticed big improvements on my dynos which I have been working on a lot. It was a great experience and got me pretty psyched despite being shut down on the day. I'm now training hard getting ready for my first ever world cup in Azerbaijan in 5 weeks !!

As well as training i also went climbing outside yesterday !!! I still hardly ever get outside but I'd love to do it a lot more because every time I go out i'm surprised by how much i enjoy it.
We went to Rubicon and i flashed A Bigger Prize 7a and got Kudos 7b. Good day considering I'm such a punter outdoors.

Next week is Varsity too ! Should be a fun comp and a nice way to end what feels like such a long term. And hopefully Sheffield Uni will win!
Go Hard or Go Hallam !

Then next weekend I'm off to Mallorca with the family for a rest and some sport climbing :)