14th place at Blokfest round 1

I had not planned to go to Blokfest, to be honest I had forgot it was on.

However I was asked by my mate Archie if I was going … ‘when is it?’ ‘tomorrow mate’ … ah right, its already about 11:45pm and I’m half way through a movie with one of my best friends I haven’t seen for a long time.
But I thought ‘hey, why not. I’m already down this way’ so even though I got home at about 1am I decided to go.
At the least it would be a fun day out and I would get to see some friends who I haven’t seen much or competed against since I moved to Sheffield.

The whole day was really really fun, I hadn’t competed since SIBL (southern indoor bouldering league) 2011/12. So almost two years.
Because of this I didn’t have any expectations of performance and in light of this there was no pressure.
Questions in my head started to arise however: Am I as strong or stronger than I used to be? Will all my friends be better than me now?
But in the end I thought ‘does it really matter?’ the only person who is going to care about it is me so I focused on having fun.

I was happily surprised to end up flashing (climbing first attempt) 20 out of the 25 problems and doing one of the harder ones third go.
Unfortunately I was not able to top out the other 4, though I got so annoyingly close on one of them. I fell of from the top with my hand literally an inch away from matching the last hold.

I ended up with a score of 203/250, which from the preliminary results has placed me 14th on round 1.

Having enjoyed myself so much I am now looking at doing the rest of the Blokfest events and finish off a season of competitive bouldering.

This event may have re ignited the competitive side of me πŸ˜›

Wet Wet Wet

Wow, talk about a damp weekend … what happened to the nice cold dry one that we where forecast.

Either way I went out for a walk to check out some possible lines and well … they look possible. Just need to abseil down them to have a better look and make sure they don’t encroach on the neighbouring routes but I think at first glance it should be ok, I’ll keep you posted.

With the weather having bummed out I decided to hit the Climbing Works, had some really good sessions ticking off some of the routes I have been working on so was left very happy.

Hoping for a break in the weather I have checked the forecast but have had the depressing sight of the rain symbol all week so looks like this week is going to be a training one after all.
Not such a bad thing as I need to train for the comp next month down south, the craggy island boulder bash. Should be good fun, plus its a good excuse to go and see my friends and family.

I’m feeling pretty strong at the moment. I think due to A: Playing with the weight vest and B: Working on the opposing muscles in the gym. ie pecs, triceps and more core.
It seems to be working as I feel that I’m climbing better for it. My theory behind this is that I’m no longer using a few select muscles when I climb, I’ve got all my muscles working together.

Well anyway it seems to working and I’ll get a better sense of how its really going in another month.

E6 First ascent ‘Geckomania’ at Curbar. Video and write up :)

Last weekend I was keen to get out to Curbar edge, there where a few things here that I wanted to look at. A couple of head-point possibilities and a potential new route.

The head-points went well but I’m not going to talk about these ones until I decide to go for the lead on them … sorry 😦

My main objective was to look at an unclimbed line behind ‘The End of the Affair’ the classic E8 6c Dawes masterpiece.
The unclimbed section is mentioned in the BMC Froggatt to Black Rocks guide book on page 131, ‘the rounded arΓͺte has been cleaned but remains unclimbed’. It’s to the left of a route called ‘Dirty Sanchez’.

It proved a little tricky finding a sequence up the thing, mainly due to wanting to go up the left side. This did not give me any joy at all, no sequence.
Now you see, I wanted to do it this side because the landing is ok. The other side however … is not.
I decide to look at the right side and found a way up the thing, standing up on the ledge is easy, the climbing off the ledge to the top is not. you rely on slopey crimps and slopers … lovely secure climbing πŸ˜› ahaa.

Having linked the moves on a shunt and feeling good I look down and see how much I really would not like to fall from this point.
A fall from would mean hitting the ledge first, probably crumple and go off it backwards where there are more boulders to welcome you at a downward angle (this is the decent to ‘The End of the Affair’) hmmm. I go home and organise to come back on Sunday with Joe Heeley.

Sunday was the day, Joe had the cameras set up, I knew the moves.
I had spotters as we met a few guys from the climbing works, we put a few pads down (though the fall was still worrying) and I had no excuses not to go.
Man up time πŸ™‚ … I stand on the ledge, psyche up and start the moves. Now it’s only about 7 metres high so there are (for me) only about 5 or so moves from the ledge but they are about Font 6c/7a for my height.
The climb is over before I’ve had time to think about it, short but sweet, but with a bad fall if you where to come off. There is no way of protecting this problem.

It was a toss up weather or not I gave it a high ball Font grade or a Traditional one.
I went for the traditional grade as to me it felt like a solo mindset not a ‘if I don’t like it I can jump off and be ok’ due to the nature of the fall that you would take.
Therefore E6 6b was what I graded it.

Thanks to Joe Heeley for spending the time to come and video me and edit it, I think he did a good job.

Video of new route ‘General Lee’

The title kinda speaks for itself lol this is the video of my new route ‘General Lee’

A friend of mine who has seen the video asked me why it was graded E5.

In my opinion this was on the edge of E4 and E5. So easy E5.
I came to this conclusion because a safe E4 would be E4 6b, as in there should be no chance of hitting the floor if you came off.

However … on General Lee if you where to come off at the crux you would be close if not landing on the floor, and if you came off any of the higher moves (one being a step on a tiny crimp) there would be no doubt of hitting the floor. The height is deceptive on the video due to the camera angle but with all the trees it was the only place to see the whole route.
The landing is not a good one being a bouldery floor.

E5 First ascent ‘Credit crunch’ at ‘Credit quarry’

Having completed my last project ‘General Lee’ I was left full of psyche for the weekend to check out another new route.

It is in the ‘Upper Matlock Quarries’ in a section called ‘Credit quarry’.
I first found out about the route when I was going through the guide book and it said ‘the front face of the tower is an obvious project’ so I thought I would have a look.
It’s not to hard to find just a little further along from the ‘Bank’ section.

Anyway, I went there on Sunday and when I saw it, it did look cool :). A slightly overhanging wall that kind of twists as it goes up … weird. I abseiled down the line to clean it and found that there where some holds though quite spaced out.
Joe met me there shortly after and I soon had a sequence up the thing, I wanted to lead it there and then but unfortunately didn’t have any gear small enough to fit.

Dieing to get on the lead I contacted Pete Whittaker to see if he was available to give me a belay and if he wanted to do the second ascent.
Luckily he was keen to get out on Monday evening after work.

Well, tied in at the bottom of the route I look up, I’m exited πŸ™‚ I love the nervous feeling before committing to a route, and knowing that if I’m successful it will be a first ascent.
I start and feel good, strong. I climb the face on crimps with sneaky footwork to get off the floor and get up to the good hold (flake undercut) so far, so good, place the micro cam behind the flake and prepare for the tenuous rock over move that is to follow. Reaching out at the full length of my span I find the hidden hold and commit to the rock over, find my balance and it is really off balance, all the pressure on the left foot pushing my right hip into the wall.
In ‘balance’ I slowly get the next micro cam place it by my feet, stand up slightly, place a nut blindly in a crack to my left. Is it in right? I don’t know.
Can I do anything about it? No. So I choose to chalk up before the top slapping side pull section. Heel hook … hand to my back … balance lost and grab the crack, glad I grabbed the crack .. could have come off.

Lets go … I make the slaps up the side pulls, not knowing until I watched the video later that I was talking myself up the whole top section.
‘Right edge, toe hook, good hold, YES’.
I make the off balance slaps with my right hand, slap ‘YES’ slap again ‘YES’ lock a good heel in on the left hand side, grab the top and mantle out (carefully).
There is only about a hand width of rock at the top straight into an ivy mud slope, it would be easy to fall if you got complacent and rushed it.
A well done from Pete, an abseil down to retrieve the gear and it’s his go.

He decided to go for the flash, for those of you who don’t know what I mean he did it with no top rope inspection. The only knowledge he has is from what he has seen me do.
Doesn’t help him at all as I am alot taller than he is.

That having been said and knowing the space between the holds it was awesome watching his flash of the route.
He chose to skip the first piece of gear to use the cam next to the nut higher up meaning he did the tenuous rock over move completely unprotected.
He also chose due to his reach (too small) and in typical Whittaker fashion to get his heel onto the same hold he was holding on the upper crux to reach the next side pull. It was an impressive move.
Topping it out he gave it the grade of E5 6b.

I struggled to think of a name and my friend ‘Jon Ryall’ offered ‘credit crunch’ as the crag being credit quarry has a theme.
Deciding the name was a good one I adopted it. Thanks Jon πŸ™‚

Although I checked and could find no access issues I fear that access is debatable.
The next door neighbour told us that it is in her neighbours garden and we are not allowed to climb there.
Though there is a boundary line separating the crag from the gardens I would advise anyone wishing to climb here to find out if the land is actually owned by the people who live close by and if they will allow you to climb there.

Anyway I’ve ranted enough for today :S