Sunday, 14 October 2012

The BLCC 2012

The BLCC had come back around, once again being held in the depths of the Ratho wall. Equipped with layers of clothes, including my new PrAna trousers and an opportunity to get selected for the last European youth cup of the year in Kranj I was psyched to get my boots on!

I was up about 10th on my first qualifier, I was feeling good, I had warmed up well, and even my hands were immune from the biting cold of Ratho. This is a problem that many competitors have - losing sensation in their fingers. The climb worked its self round the corner of the old comp wall, looking a bit sketchy at times, technical at others and powerful at the very end.

On the long journey to Scotland I was so bored and cramped I decided to listen to a deep relaxation tape and it turned out to be a very valuable decision. After 20 minutes of relaxation I opened my eyes and experienced the calmest, most relaxed feeling I have ever had.

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. What has it to do with climbing? In fact, I feel it played a big part of understanding my head and learning to control my nerves. I could relate back to that feeling while climbing to control my unease.

I got on to the climb feeling confident and set off with a good start, clipping well and going smoothly. After unbalancing a little I readjusted my position, greatly helped by my sick new shoes doing their job. I surprised myself as I found I was a hold away from the top. The last move was big and felt even bigger as my arms were slowly got more pumped. I finally went for the move, after spending a little too much time ‘preparing’ myself for it. The hold felt my palm willing me to grab hold of it, but all too soon the chains were flying away from me.

Meanwhile, as I was undergoing my qualifier, the first ever category of the female veterans had started their climb. With their entry fees donating to epilepsy action and a cake sale running throughout the day as well, they had a great atmosphere. I believe the vets will write up their experience.

With qualifier 1 down, I was feeling confident. This climb was still on the old comp wall but on the more slabby section. The Youth A boys had been up before us so I had a good idea of the route. It too looked technical and sketchy. I was 4thup this time; I felt, a good position to be in. As I had finally sussed out my nerves on the last climb I was sure that this would no longer be a problem, it wouldn’t affect my performance. I was, with great relief, right. I now feel much more confident, un-sketchy and have found a new enjoyment to competition climbing. My head was focused on the climb, on every move, on my feet, on my hands. I worked up most the climb with ease, finding a good shake out just before the final powerful steep section; going over the lip. I pulled on and set off for my final battle. With some awkward heel hooks I managed to pull my self over the lip onto a volume. I knew I had little power left, so with one last effort I locked off to get the 4th last remaining hold. I tickled it, teasing myself, I thought had got it but the tickle wasn’t enough and I came rapidly down.

From my performance in my qualifiers I got in the final in 4th place. Unusually our Youth B category had 7 in the final, instead of the normal 6 due to a draw in 6th place. After half an hour in isolation we were sent out for our 8 minutes viewing time. Our final was also on the old comp wall, however this time looking much more powerful, with, what it looked like, cruxy sections on the over hanging parts. Back in isolation, I started to slowly warm up, psyched to get on the route. I was finally called to go. With all my gear in hand I set off for my final.

I got on the rout feeling slightly more nervous than I did in my qualifiers, however I still climbed alright. I reached the end of the first over hang, jumping to a hold and only just holding it, my arms were at full stretch and I was unable to get a good enough grip to pull up and get my leg across to a vital hold to be able to do another long and powerful move. As I came down I knew this wasn’t the result what I was hoping for and was even more disheartened when I found out that I came 6th over all.

However although the out come was not what I wished for I had sorted my nervous, performance knocking head out and replaced it with a controlled, confident and even more psyched head, ready for competitions!

I would like to say a massive thank you to my new sponsors, Evolve, PrAna and Metolious for their gear and for inspiring me to climb that little bit harder!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Team Crush trip up North (with Derek the pigeon)…

So the time had come around for another trip to Kilnesy and after last year spending all my time on ’50 for 5’ 7b+ (which took me a shameful 13 goes) I was quite psyched to have a go at the rest of the crag. A group of nine went including Me, Naomi (who was unfortunately injured) and Flo Tilly, Billy Ridal, Gracie Martin, Tom Bonnert, Orrin Coley, Tara Hayes and Tash Allcock. We all made our own way up either by car or train on Saturday and got settled into the Bothy – An outhouse with beds in at Naomi and Flo’s grandparent’s house it was going to be a very cosy week in the small living conditions however the short walk benefited us all… it was now time to get crushing!

Team Crush
The first afternoon saw Tom and Billy getting on ’50 for 5’ however unlike me it took them both only two goes, it involves about 7a climbing up to the break then a horrible V4 Boulder problem to get the chains. While this was going on Gracie was busy getting all the moves on the very bouldery and powerful ‘Pantomime’ 7b+. I then had a go at ‘the Ashes’ 7c+ with a very scary first clip which would have seen you top out leading at the Nottingham wall! The climbing after this was ok however I got stuck at an evil crux section which involved going out to a bad side pull getting your feet sorted then… jump? I couldn’t do this so Billy gave it a go, however got stuck at an even harder crux section a few clips up, in the end after spending around 30 minutes on the rope decided to bale, I wish I’d used a gri gri. After Billy was finally on the ground we decided to go for a swim in the freezing river, where the guys set up plans to try and get a slackline across.

Tash on Ground Effect 7b
The next day the crag was absolutely packed, me and Gracie aimed to get on ‘Dominatrix’ 7c however that line was taken so tried to get on ‘Metal Guru’ 7c+ but that was also taken, so instead we tried ‘Biological Need’ 7c which was unbelievably scary and we both ended up shamefully bailing on the second bolt. Tom and Billy had set their sights on ‘Dead Calm’ 8a which was an extension of the 7b ‘WISYWYG’ which Gracie was working after the ‘Biological Need’ attempt. Flo, Tara and Tash disappeared for a bit, who knows what they were doing… as it turned out they were working a 7a+ called ‘Smooth Torquer’ (Which is 7b in the new guide books however I think it should stay as a 7a+) which Tara managed to get onsite and Tash and Flo still busy trying to work it out. At the other end of the crag Orrin had been busy working ‘Pantomime’ 7b+ and finally ticked it later that day, Tom also ticked ‘Dead Calm’ 8a then Gracie came back with news that she had ticked the 7a+ ‘Smooth Torquer’ which was a good effort from all of them. Later that day people started working ‘Ground Effect’ and ‘Sticky Wicket’ both 7b, Gracie also got back on the 7b+ ‘Pantomime’ determined to get it. ‘Ground effect’ suited me after the first crux it was quite sustained and technical, the first bit seemed impossible however luckily a pinch got pointed out to me which made the start possible I was psyched to get on this the next day and send it!

In the morning wasting no time I got back on ‘Ground Effect’ 7b my first attempt of the day I put the clips in and refreshed myself with the sequences, I knew I could get it if I managed to get passed the first crux; after a quick rest I got back on and did it! In the same morning Billy finally managed to tick ‘Dead Calm’ 8a which he was very pleased with, Flo also ticked ‘Smooth Torquer’ the 7a+ which she had been working yesterday then I managed to get the flash on it, I was even more psyched now! Just before this I saw Tara Flash ‘WISYWIG’ 7b. I belayed Tash on the 7a+ she was so close to getting it then unfortunately dropped the last move, desperate to get it she got on it again however falling off on a big dynamic move up to a jug which sent her swinging towards me, after a very painful collision I decided to stop climbing for the rest of the day. Billy later got this route on his second go after unfortunately messing up his flash attempt on the first few moves. Tash was still trying to get this however she eventually got too tired which was unfortunate as she had to leave in the morning to go to France.  As all this was cracking off Tom was working his long term project of ‘the Bulge’ 8a and looked comfortable until the last clip falling on the last move, however he still had a few days to go.

The 'Hero'
Later that day we returned to the river and after even more rainfall it had a considerably stronger current, the guys now carried out their very stupid plan to get the slackline across the river, it started off well, they got it to the other side of the river and spent a while trying to get it onto the tree. Then came the real problem first Orrin and Billy tried to get it across which I have to admit was very funny, they got half way across only to find out that the current was to strong and ended up clinging on for dear life. After a revaluation of the situation Tom attempted it and this time went with the current. Everything was going according to plan until we realised that the slackline just wasn’t long enough so after sitting on the bank shivering for about ten minutes it then occurred to us that someone had to go and fetch the slackline. Tom nominated himself for this; he was now the hero of the trip.

The crag felt rather empty on Tuesday as Tash had left and Flo was ill however the crushing did not stop. Me and Gracie got on ‘WISYWIG’ I ended up messing up my flash attempt with the wrong foot position on the very last move, Gracie did it after me which put the pressure on me to get it and to my amazement I did. Tom was still attempting ‘The Bulge’ and kept missing to the last hold much to his annoyance. While this was going on Gracie stumbled across a 7b ‘Nerve Ending’ with a very hard first section, unluckily Gracie didn’t manage to get it however afterwards Orrin, Tara and Billy flashed it. Climbing for the day sort of finished after this however Derek the pigeon was there who the guys tried to befriend, this didn’t happen as he just growled at them so got the formal name of Derek Graham Growler.

Taking a rest from all the crushing
The last day at the crag was a short one for some of us as we had to catch the train home, so not wanting to get on anything serious me and Gracie went on ‘Highway 395’ 6c+ however after not bothering to warm up we both ended up with flash pump but as we were both determined to do it as it was only a 6c+ we managed to fight our way to the top horribly pumped. Orrin, Billy and Tara  all ticked ‘Ground Effect’ the 7b I had got earlier in the week. The top of the Bulge was too wet after last night’s rain for Tom to have another go however I’m sure he’ll tick it soon enough.

Thank you to Naomi and Flo’s grandparents for letting us use their house and to Naomi for been ‘the mother of eight children’.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Crushing the Crag

So a year has passed since Team Crush’s last Kilnsey trip and Naomi, once again had taken the challenge of organising the rabble. After inviting themselves to stay at our Grandparent’s‘Bothy’ – an out house my Granddad redid into a bunk room. Another year to send some hard routes!

Day one and Tash and I were out at the crag before the others had even arrived. We had warmed up on the Bulge-let; 6b+, finding that we needed a little more time to get used to the limestone. An hour later, after working out the rock on the few easier climbs, the rest of Team Crush appeared. They were just in time to witness my feeble attempts on Pantomime; 7b+; a powerful, steep and bouldery route, and if you know me, that’s not my style. Feeling now that the limestone was slowly beating me, I moved to Directissima; 6c and a top roped trad; 7a neighbouring.

Gracie on Pantomine
Day 2 we were off straight to the crag, a whole 2 minute walk away. The day started off much better than yesterday, this time, flashing a 6b+!!! After our warm up, Tara, Tash and I, got on Ground Effect; 7b. After pulling past a bouldery hard start I worked it to the top, the crux, being half way up needing a deep Egyptian and determination. This climb would go! Feeling more Psyched, Tara and I decided to get on the classic Sticky Wicket; 7b, a vertical technical climb. Tara went first, she worked it to the top, found it good but she had felt that her fear of falling outside had prevented her from going for moves and for the flash. I got on, working it too and finding the same problem of falling, definitely a part of my mind I need to fix! Later we made our way over to Gracie and Tash, we found them giving Smooth Torquer; 7a+/b a go, another, short and powerful climb, with another tricky start but jugs straight after. Gracie told us that she had got it in two, falling off not at the cruxy start but a dynamic move just after. I had to give it a go! I watched Tash repeatedly try the bouldery start swinging off after dynoing for a hold. Before I got on, Ian Dunncame over and gave me the beta for the less powerful people. My attempts were similar to Tash’s, catching the hold then swinging off, I was tiring and my finger skin was fast departing but I had to do this move, I finally got it, sticking my feet, but then in my exhaustion forgot the next hold and came off. Now I had that move, I knew I could do it, tomorrow would get some sending! Gracie, psyched to get a send, got back on and beasted it!


The sun was shining and because we are Team Crush and we are crazy, we all decided to go swimming in the river; well most of us, Tash and Gracie whimped out and watched at the edge. It was FREEZING! I would have been out first if it were not for the motive of; it will make me climb well tomorrow…

Gracie and Sara having a break from climbing...
After earning our let at my grandparents; doing the gardening and in mine and Tara’s case, scraping weeds out a drive way we were back on the crag. Today would be the day I get a route ticked. I warmed up on a 6b+ then got straight on Smooth Torquer, I was not planning on getting burned out for it this time! I watched Taraget the flash but it still took me a couple of goes to get the first moves again and I was starting to get worried that I would get too tired. So I rested for an hour or so while I watch Billy try an 8a and Tom Red Point it! I finally got back on Smooth Torquer and got the red point, my best outside route yet at Kilnsey! While Billy was resting I got a belay up WYSWYG; 7b, the first part of the 8a. I worked up it, I found many of the moves big but knew, maybe not to day but another, it would go.
On the way back from our adventures in the river.

Second to last day and it was not good. I woke up feeling awful, getting out of bed I knew I wasn’t right and after throwing up, blacking out and spending the morning sleeping on my Gran’s sofa, I knew I wouldn’t be climbing that day. I managed to get up to the crag however and sit with my sister, Naomi, (she also wasn’t climbing due to a shoulder injury) and watched the others get on hard routes.

The last day had arrived, still tired and kind of better, I made my way up to the crag with Team Crush. I knew I wouldn’t get on anything hard, so I tried the 7a top rope I tried the first day. Managing to get a couple of moves then coming off feeling exhausted and unable to pull, I decided it was a day and joined Naomi again. About 30 min before I had to leave to get the train, I had worked up some energy to get back on Ground Effect, I pulled past the moves I had struggled with but then fell off, forgetting the next beta. Being so late on the climb I couldn’t work it again and Gran was calling and the rest were packing up. The week was over, time to go home.

This year I didn’t get many ticks, (the illness didn’t help!) but I have a plan for next time, so no dawdling at the beginning, straight to the lines!

Finally good luck to Tara who is currently in Singaporefor the Junior World cup! I’ve got high hopes for her, ticking 4 7b’s, flashing 3 out of the 4 and 6 moves off an 8a, she’s beasting! And thank you Granny and Granddad for letting us use your Bothy, hostessing and looking after Team Crush! And lastly thank you to Naomi, ‘team manager’ for organising, mothering and cooking!!!

The Crag its Self

Thursday, 16 August 2012

As Strong as a Mountain and as Dynamic as a Flower

the Comp Wall
A few weeks ago I had my 3rd European. It was held at the Kletter Zentrum Imst, Austria. Its comp’s wall is placed outside and is AMAZING. If you’ve ever been to Ratho, it makes it look small. But to make it even more impressive it is surrounded by snow sprinkled mountains.
          We had another display of the British Team’s strength. Again we got 3 finalist: Luke Tilley, Alex Waterhouse and William Bosi and some pretty awesome climbing from those not reaching the final!

Qualifier 1 looked reachy, pumpy and fun. Unfortunately, I was 35th on, although giving me plenty of viewing time, it also gave me time to get shaky and nervous. I had watched both Gracie and Molly reach the first crux; a long and powerful move which spat both of them off. But I was determined to stick the hold and climb on.
Qualifier 1
As I got to my chair to start tying on, the sun was beating down, not helping my ever rising nerves. It was my turn to face the climb. I was too nervous to climb at my full potential but I tried to push this thought away, just focusing on the next move, trying to get my feet right and to make my clipping good.
However my nerves got the better of me. I come off because of a misjudged foot sequence. I came down, frustrated, knowing this was not the best performance I could have done.

After having lunch back in our apartment and a good long 5 hour rest we made our way back to the wall. Here we discovered that my 2nd qualifier was the Junior Female’s qualifier 1.

Qualifier 2
I knew I couldn’t let the previous climb faze this one: this would be a new start. Being 15th on, it also meant I had enough climbers to get me psyched and ready to climb but not too many to get me quite as nervous.
I felt more calm and composed as I stepped on the climb this time. I kept breathing deeply and concentrating. I felt like the climbing was going OK. I wasn’t climbing too smoothly but I had remembered to rest and so far hadn’t gone wrong. Finally I reached a big throwy move out left, a move I could have done if I was fresh and had my foot in the correct place. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. So, after just scraping the hold I fell.  I fell in quite an unnerving way; smashing into the wall. This made all the spectators and competitors look my way and draw in a breath. At least I got my moment of fame…
As I was lowered, by a slightly shaken belayer, I felt happier.  However I still knew that my two climbs had not witnessed my full ability!
Knowing that you haven’t climbed your best in such a big competition when you’ve put in so much effort training is hard to get over. Luke however, made this so much easier.

Qualifier 2
He had seen that I was nervous on both qualifiers, especially my 1st. Being my brother, he often sees me climb and therefore knows my full ability. He knew this wasn’t it.
Luke explained that it isn’t my actual physical ability letting me down: it’s not being able to control my head.  He explained that he meditates, meaning when he is climbing he can keep his head and body calm. He said when he is climbing he repeats, ‘I’m as strong as a mountain and as dynamic as a flower’.
Meditation obviously works wonders as he climbed awesome in the qualifiers. He made the final in 9th and then beasted it. He ended up finishing 7th!

Talking to Luke helped me understand that I still have lots to learn, and even if I don’t do my best in a competition, it’s still worth it just for the experience. He also reminded me that I still have plenty of time to improve!

Over all I finished 37th, not such a great result, but as I said, I’m just leaving room for improvement! And I had a pretty awesome weekend!!

(some of) Team GB

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Open Youth Competition

Last weekend Edinburgh International Climbing Arena held another Youth Open competition which showed off ever stronger youth climbers. With some pretty awesome looking routes and Naomi Tilley (my sister) commentating while recovering from a shoulder injury the climbing seemed set to go!
Qualifier 1
My first qualifier was on the comp wall; the climb looked juggy, steep, pumpy and fun! Being 3rd up I didn’t have many people to watch, so, as tied on I watched the first 2 climbers intently. The first climber took it steady and got most the way up getting a couple of moves into the roof before coming off. However, the 2nd climber didn’t reach this far which switched on my nerves, knowing that maybe there were crux moves half the way up. I knew that this couldn’t phase my performance so when my time came to step up and face the climb I kept myself calm, kept breathing deeply, and focused on each move. I stayed positive. The climb was as good as it looked! Most of the holds were positive, with a massive jug before the pull into the roof, perfect to rest on. I knew I had to climb fast through the roof as my energy was fast diminishing. It was going well until I hit a very reachy clip. This drained more of my energy but I carried on. I managed to squeeze in a couple more moves until just before pulling round to the finishing clip. I used my last remaining power for a huge throw which saw me just scraping the hold and the end of my attempt.

The Final
My second qualifier took me to the old comp wall; it was a slabby climb, with no good holds, and no good rests. Less steep and powerful climbs should suit me better; however the long reaches seemed to rock the boat a little too vigorously. After struggling on a dynamic move I began to get pumped and careless and about half way up. I reached out for a clip and missed; I lost most concentration, slipped and fell. I came down knowing this wasn’t the best I could have done but I put this behind me and hoped it would be enough to get me into the final!

I was in luck! I had scraped into the final. Qualifying 6 with only 6 going into the final was a bit close for comfort, but now I had to fully concentrate on the final climb. Running out to route read I found the climb on the far right of the comp wall. They were positive but not huge holds, most of the way up, following the line of the arête. My psyche had risen! Being 6th into the final meant being 1st out of my category, playing to an advantage for me, as I still have the climb fresh in my head, and a whole set of clean holds!

          As I got on the climb I told my self to be calm and enjoy it. I still felt slightly nervous but I focused the nerves into my climbing, hopefully pushing me up higher. I felt I climbed well and steady, I came off slapping for a hold round a volume with my arms completely boxed!

I came down feeling like I climbed my best but because was first out I didn’t know how I’d fare compared to the others. As it turned out I hadn’t done too bad, in fact I’d done quite well! I come 3rd to Tara and Molly with close competition from Gracie, (finishing 4th) only wining 3rd by climbing a whole 5 seconds faster!
On the podium!
Over all a successful weekend and with even more psyche for my third European (EYC) in Imst, Austria next week!

Monday, 30 July 2012

An Epic Journey

My second European competition happened to be held in a not so local location as my first European- Edinburgh; but a 2 and a half-day train journey to Moscow. (3 days returning!)

The wall was specifically built for this competition, in a park surrounded by trees in the center of Moscow. The wall was all of 12 meters high; however I was pleasantly surprised when I saw our routs. Our first qualifier was on a constant 20-degree wall, just my style, and the second, 40 degrees; the style just like at Ratho. The GB team was in luck! I was climbing 4th on my first qualifier and I felt relatively calm comparing to how I felt on my first ever climb in a European in Ratho! I felt I climbed well until I had to do a big reach near the top, unfortunately I tried doing it the tall persons way and consequently fell off! I was psyched for my second rout on the 40-degree wall as I enjoy this style.

However they don’t suit me as well as the less steep stuff does, as I currently do not have the power, which I unfortunately needed for a number of the moves on this climb. To my frustration the climb through me off just I was making head way on the steepest part of the wall. I came down disappointed, as I knew I could have climbed better.
Even though I messed up on a move I still felt I climbed the first part well and calmly but when I got to the steeper section a number of holds up, I had to make the clip but couldn’t quite get it and I knew I had to move on as it drains your body trying over and over again. Crossing over to the next hold I came off after losing some concentration.

Molly Thompson-Smith and Luke Tilley, my brother, however did a storming job! They both toped both their qualifiers! Furthermore they climbed amazingly in the final! Both getting the same spot on the podium, 3rd place!!

Over all team GB did pretty well with 2 out of the 3 on the podium!
I have come back with a whole lot of experience for Europeans and catching trains! Even though I am not hugely happy of how I climbed I know it will come with experience and more hard-core training! “The secret of life, though, is to fall 7 times and get up 8 times” Paulo Coelho. (From ‘The Alchemist’, an inspiring book to read after an inspiring weekend!)

To get to Moscow we came by train. An Epic 2 and a half-day journey! On the way it went swimmingly, going through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus and then to Russia, Moscow! The trains were all on time and we had no problems, however the return journey was a different story!

Because Luke did so well, we just had to wait for the ceremony, which then caused us to run 1km to our train, we had 10 minuets till our train left when we arrived at the station so all was good, until we realized we were at the wrong one! Oh dear!
The guards tried to be very helpful, unfortunately as they had absolutely no English it didn’t help the situation; only until too late did they realize we had the wrong place!

After some hanging around in the correct station we got tickets to Warsaw, it seemed liked things would be alright again, we had a bed and we were going to the right place. All in till we arrived at the border of Poland and had to show our visa’s, and apparently being 6 hours past the expiry is not tolerated.
The visa control with their big hats and authority gave us some trouble, demanding that our visa’s expired all 6 hours ago and had to extend them, throwing us off the train just two minuets before it left. Oh dear!
A quick phone call from a guard, a mad taxi man, Timo, whisked us to the police station where we interrogated by the chief inspector why our visa’s had expired and waited to be ‘freed’. With the help of Timo knowing everyone we got our visa’s made in 3 hours rather than 5 days. We finally made it out of Belarus!
We now had the next hurdle to jump, the train to Warsaw from Terespol. At about 10 at night a train arrived to go to Warsaw but apparently it was a train just for Russians and they were not going to pick up anyone, not even my puppy eyes swayed them. So we found our selves with no bed and the next train being at 2 am. Oh dear!
We had 4 hours in a train station in the middle of the night so it looked like we would be kipping on the benches. I don’t recommend it; with people shouting, trains coming and going and one hard bench there is no comfort!
Finally 2:00 came and we got our train, still with no bed but a compartment of our own and a soft seat to lie on.

An extra night in Cologne, the train to Brussels in the morning, and then finally, to a well missed home.

An extended adventure that I doubt I’ll forget (or repeat)!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Costa Blanca 2012

After a cold winter in England, we decided we needed to go somewhere hot, and where better than southern Spain. A group of 16 went to crush some Spanish sport routes which included me, Jonny White, Tom Bonnert, Gracie Martin, Natasha Allcock (Tash), Billy Ridal, Tara Hayes, Flo and Naomi Tilley, with the rest made up of parents.
Team Crush
 The first day took us to Sella with me and Billy kicking things off with the first multi pitch of the week ‘Cardo Borriquero’ 6a followed by a very scary and exposed 6c+. While this was going on Jonny and Tom got the tick on Kashba 6c+ which is supposedly one of the best routes at Sella and followed that by ‘No me bajes tan’ 7a, a one move wonder which involved a dyno from a side pull half way up the route!

Flo on Paprika 7b
On day two we took a trip to Sierra De Toix in the morning for some  climbing for the adults so we decided to get some multipitch practice in Tom and Jonny set off on ‘Espolón Limaban’ 4 followed by a 5 with me and Gracie doing ‘Green Route III’ 6a followed by 5+. In the afternoon the crushing really began with a trip to Los Pinos where Jonny and Tom got the on-sight of ‘Jog Jog’ 8a! A short and powerful route which went through a roof. Billy also did well by getting ‘Blob Face’ 7c on his third go. And me, Gracie, Flo and Tara getting ‘Paprika’ 7b on our second goes with Tash getting the on-sight.
Tash on 'Route 3' 7a+

The next day we aimed to go to Bernia but due to taking the wrong road ended up at Murla instead, where to be honest not much got done due to the mix of bad weather and sharp holds. Although there was the on-sight of ‘Tendonator’ 7b by Jonny and Tom after that the rest of us stuck to 6b’s and 6c’s until getting rained off the crag. What surprised me most about this crag is someone had bolted holds onto one of the climbs, which was very surprising because I thought we were climbing outdoors and strangely it’s still a three star route.

Tara on Paprika 7b
Jonny on Jog Jog 8a
Wildside at Sella was our next place to visit as people had claimed it to be world class climbing, and it most certainly was. Me, Billy and Tara all getting the on-sight on ‘Si te dicen que caí’ 7a, while Gracie, Tash and Flo were busy working a 25m 7b ‘Todos los caminos’ which I have to say was quite under graded. I also managed to get all of the moves on a massive 25m tufa climb ‘Black is Black’ 7b but it was just too tiring to possibly link all of the moves, but definitely a worthwhile climb. While we were at Wildside the parents and Naomi went back to Sella sector Final, where Naomi did an impressive on-sight on ‘Aqui tampoco’ 6c which was 22m of technical climbing followed by a massive powerful roof.

Billy on Blob Face 7c
Day 4 was the most memorable for me. Me and Tom took on the challenge of the ‘Peñón de ifach’, which was a massive rock face at the end of Calpe and looked out onto the sea. The route we chose to do was ‘El navigante’ a 200m 8 pitch route! The hardest pitch was a 7a at the top. On pitch four Tom veered off route and ended up with his hand and foot hold snapping which left him plummeting 15m down the rock to become level with me! This was most definitely a surprise. Overall the whole route took us 8 hours and I’ve got to say it was extremely tiring but a sense of accomplishment when we reached the top.

Sarah on Paprika 7b
While me and Tom were climbing the Peñón everyone else went to Gandia climbing on sector Hidraulics where the climb to try seemed to be ‘Penqueño saltamontes’ 5 which mixed climbing with caving, as the route went up a tube through the rock. Another climb that got done was ‘Blaniulus gluttulatus’ 7a where there was a massive no hands rest, half way up where you could sit in a hole.

Tom on Jog Jog 8a
The last day of climbing took us back to Gandia this time going to sector Fundicio and Potent and was in most people’s opinion the best place that we went all week, the sun was shining and the routes were all really good. Jonny, Tom and Billy all ticked ‘Enya’ 7b+ with Gracie getting all the moves but unable to link it. Me, Billy and Tara also managed to tick ‘Don Diego’ 7a+ Naomi also got all of the moves but didn’t manage to put them together. ‘Don Diego’ was a very fun and enjoyable route except one move out rightwards to an evil crimp, with a hard pull to another one. One route that Naomi and others did was ‘Pepestroik’ 6b which in the guide book was described as “climb up to the hanging ‘dong’ at 4m.” which we all found quite amusing.
Naomi on Pepestroik pulling off the
hanging dong

Gracie on Paprika 7b
Overall we had a fantastic week in Spain with great climbing and weather. However the one thing I learnt from this trip is never pick fresh oranges from a tree as they’ll probably not be ripe and taste sour.