Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Winter deluge

Since the start of December the winter, to put it bluntly, has been nothing short of depressing. We have all been in the same boat, in some cases quite literally... But while we get annoyed about not being able to get outside on dry rock, there are people down south that have had their lives turned upside down, with crazy scenes of flooding. So I guess in that respect we cannot complain too much. We have definitely gotten away with the worst of it up around here. I can't possibly imagine having water half way up your front door!

People say always look for the silver lining and one positive to pull from the last couple of months deluge of rain has been training. With nothing to do but climb indoors it has meant I have really been able to focus all my energy into some proper training. Without a doubt I feel much stronger than even just 6months ago, maybe no way near quite as fit but with a bit of luck that won't take very long to get back...
I have to admit though at times it has been a struggle to maintain motivation. Obviously I have goals in mind but ultimately we all want to be outdoors and it can be a struggle waking up every day with the rain lashing down on the skylight.
I think now I've just come to accept it and understand that its important to not let it bother you too much. The days now are getting longer, surprisingly fast, spring is just around the corner and with a bit of luck it'll bring some more settled weather.

When it has come good, on the odd occasion, we have tried to make the most of it and managed one or two fun ticks. Routes have really been out of the question, so I started getting back into my bouldering. Heading out on my own, laden down with a tonne of pads and trying various problems around the Peak.

Huffy's Roof - 7C+
300 Pound of Musclin Man - 7C+
Ben's Wall (Curbar) - 7C
Great White - 7C
Ben's Wall (RHS) - 7C

It has however slowly been drying up since the start of February and it felt brilliant to get back in among the routes at the weekend. The wind was horrific so after a failed attempt to climb at Curbar we decided on seeking out shelter within Froggatt woods.
There is a route here I've known about for ages, Dick Van Dyke Goes Ballistic. I finally went to take a brief look at it with Sam Hamer a few weeks ago and while it was verging on a waterfall we figured it was worth coming back for during a dry spell. But with an armoury of brushes, as it was pretty filthy from top to bottom! It had probably only had a maximum of 2/3 ascents since first being put up by Dave Pegg 20 years ago!

Anyway I won't go into too much detail about it, but if you like something different, away from the main events then go seek it out. No doubt it'll have a flurry of ascents now, with the ground up gang queuing half way down the beck! Have fun.
Indoor Fisherman by the way, situated immediately to the right of this, is probably among one of the best E4's you'll find in the Peak, in a quaint little setting. So if you're looking for slightly easier/safer challenge, then I'd highly recommend it. :)

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Competition Game

Most people won't know me as a competition climber. For me it is all about climbing outdoors and I see indoor climbing purely as a way to train and occasionally a way of having fun messing around with a bunch of mates (especially on those rainy days). However it may surprise a few to learn that 'back in the day' I did used to do a fair few comps around the country. These were mainly lead events with the odd bouldering one thrown into the mix every now and then. I was never very good, but I made finals on a few occasions and used to enjoy the scene.

In more recent years however comps for me have gone off the radar, bar taking part in the odd one here and there. The last one I did was Rocfest last year and while it was good fun it also cemented the fact of why I'm not a huge fan. Queuing and massive crowds! It can be/is a nightmare. Constantly dodging bodies, all vying to try problems that are getting more and more filthy by the minute with sweat and chalk.

However after hearing about the FB0-14 and that Mammut were going to be one of its main sponsors I figured it would be good to show some support and it could actually be a fun day out. Plus the weather was guaranteed to be nothing special. The general theme of rain and more rain seems endless just now and it is hard to keep motivated.

 Morning qualifiers on The Wave

In the end it was a brilliant day out, the qualifiers went pretty good and I thought all the problems were really well thought out and made good use of the limited space available. I made it through to finals in 4th place and was psyched to see what the route setters had conjured up for us all to battle it out on!

 Problem 3 in the Final

The final seem to go incredibly well for me, I felt fresh, focused and in the end totally surprised myself and somehow managed to eventually finish the event in 2nd place. Narrowly missing out on the win by one tiny attempt! A silly foot mistake on bloc 4 ended up ultimately costing me!

A range of emotions hit me afterwards. I was obviously super pleased and stoked to have completely exceeded all my expectations of the day, but at the same time I felt pretty gutted to have come sooo agonisingly close to sealing the win, yet one slip up had let me down. 
It was a great experience though and in hindsight it is all too easy to say 'if only this' and 'if only that' but in the end I'm just very pleased to have competed, had fun and come away with a fresh outlook on competitions.

 Stu entertaining the crowds and getting all funky on the last problem!

A day or so later I found myself watching the mens and womens halfpipe final in Sochi. Competitions in general are a cruel game, no matter what level they are at. It was interesting and also slightly encouraging to see elite athletes such as Shaun White blow it and even Torah Bright not come out on top. Anything can happen in these things.


Finally a big thanks to The Foundry, the route setters and all the events sponsors for putting on a quality day for everybody! Same again next year I hope... Also congrats to all the other finalists, especially Martin and Shauna on their win!

If you haven't had chance to check out the video of the day from Ben Pritchard and Rich Heap then take a look here :)