This will be my first challenge of the year. 52 miles in 24 hours.
Can’t believe its March already. Back in February we had the GBParaclimbingTeam selection day, i am very pleased to say that i have been re-selected for the 2018 team. It’s now time to start training harder as there is a world championships taking place in Austria this September. I would never have imagined that I would still be on the team after all these years, this year will be my 6th and the upcoming world championships will be my 3rd.
|Team training session at Oakwood, with Coach Robin O’Leary
(photo by Gary Phillips)
The competition season began back in July with the first International competition being in Imst, Austria. This is always a great place to go, and was my third time competing there. Even though this is an International competition it is not an official IFSC one, as the Austrians run it with different rules: that each competitor climbs 3 routes on each of the 2 days of the competition, so climbing 6 routes in total, and the winner is the one with the most points.
I narrowly missed out on 3rd place by 1 point.
I was disappointed by this but not too much. The reason being that the team had been given some personalised MP3 recordings to listen to, designed to help with the stresses of competing. Though I had only had it a short time it definitely helped me cope with the disappointment.
During our time in Austria we visited the amazing new climbing wall which will be the venue for the World Championships in 2018.
after a long training session as my shoes are all
nice and fruity smelling,
and the final 2 are;
Andrea Boldrini climbing shoes– having used several different shoe manufacturers over the years, I moved over to AB as my current choice as the no-edge shoes and grip on the Apache5+ gives me the confidence to commit with knowing that the shoes will stick and with no-edge soles I can feel exactly where my foot is.
Talking headsets– not something that you would normally associate with climbing, but as a visually impaired climber this is possibly the most important piece of equipment as I need to be able to hear instructions from my sight guide. I used a Communication device in the past but the problem with it was
This is solved by the Swatcom multicom which is two way, real time communication, and does not suffer from interference like my old one.
(As a visually impaired climber, bouldering outside was something that I had always avoided.)
They took me out to North Wales where I would try my first problem, a good one which was never more than a few feet off the ground, at Paraselas cave, called ‘Left hand wall, pillar start, graded V5’. By the end of the day I had done all of the moves but had run out of energy to put it all together, but I will definitely be going back there to finish it off.
At the time of writing this, the International competition has taken place in Scotland with me narrowly missing out on 3rd by a + point this time. The next International competition will take place at Awesome walls Sheffield, in a few days time.
Well it’s been some time since I last wrote. Since then I have been doing a different sort of training with my new Guide Dog Daisy. It took a bit longer than I expected it to for her to settle in, but we’re there now.
July saw the first International competition of the season took place in Imst, Austria. This comp is such a great one to go to, it is run slightly different to the other ones as it is not an IFSC event. The difference is that there is no final, you climb 3 routes on day 1 and 3 routes on day 2 with your points from both days being added together to decide podium places. After the competition the team went to have a look at the brand new climbing wall, Kletterzentrum, in Innsbruck. This is where the 2018 World Championships will be taking place. We had an amazing team training session.
I write this post at the beginning of August with just 6 weeks to go until the first of the BMC’S Nationals which take place at EICA Ratho, Scotland. This marks the start of a busy few months with a further 3 national competitions & 3 more International ones.
I’m also pleased to announce that I have two more companies supporting me.
The second supporter is Boot Bananas, for those of you who know this one, you know how great they are! They are, as the name suggests, shaped like bananas and you put them inside your shoes. They absorb the moisture and leave your shoes smelling nice and fruity.
Last weekend was my first time outside this year. It felt good to be back out again with Solihull Mountaineering Club. The weather and company were great. It always takes me a few climbs to get back into it after a winter of climbing inside. On this trip I was able to help my friend Anthony do his first lead climb outside. I top roped two HVS’s and lead climbed a V Diff.
The video above is a pink bouldering problem with me being sight guided by Anthony. Good to be back doing proper training after a finger injury that took much longer than expected to get better.
At the time of writing there are 4 international competitions planned for this year, 1 in Austria. 1 in France & 2 in the U.K. I hope to be going to all 4. But before these there will be training days and hopefully more trips outside.
Paraclimbing World Championship 2016
Sept14th-18th saw the World Championships take place in Bercy, Paris. The World Championships are held every two years, The finals of all three disciplines sport, bouldering and lead would be held in the Accord Hotel Arena, Bercy, Paris. This was also the venue for the Paraclimbing qualifiers and Finals.
Preparation for this World Championship had gone well, at the last one I had picked up an injury 12 weeks before the championships, which you can imagine was not good news. This time I was feeling much stronger. this time round the format was slightly different with the two qualifiers being held on two separate days and the Final being on the third day (depending on which category you were in, there was one Final on Saturday and another on Sunday). This time I had decided before I got to the competition that I was going to enjoy it, and not let nerves get the better of me and all in all this plan worked.
Before I got to the competition I knew that I would not have my usual sight guide and therefore would have to rely on the new team manager, who I had not climbed with before, and he had not sight guided me before in a competition. I guess this makes me more apprehensive than actually being in front of a large crowd. Things were going okay. I got kitted up and started warm-up. I then proceeded to put on the radio mic that I use for communication with whoever is calling for me. This is when I first started to notice that I was having a lot of interference with it I thought nothing of it as this has happened before, and thought it would be okay. When we are out in the arena because the caller would be in a direct line of sight there would be nothing in the way to interfere with the signal? How wrong could I have been. Prior to this we had been over the moves quite a few times so that I could try and remember particular points that would be important later on. Then disaster struck from my point of view, no sooner had I gone no more than 2 m off the ground and the radio mic cut out. I have a little bit of sight so if I am looking directly at the hold and it is no more than say a meter away I may be able to locate it. I decided that the best course of action was not thinking about messing with the radio but to just climb! I should also point out that the holds were not the best colour for providing colour contrast, as they were yellow on a pale background, not ideal for visually impaired climbers. Who knows what they were thinking when they set the route. At certain points Robin (sight guide) was telling me to go one way and I went the opposite. I guess it must’ve looked quite comical from the ground with Robin shouting as loud as he could and me shouting down to him ‘I can’t hear you’. Considering all of that, the route went quite well. I did not get to the top, but at the end of the day there were five of us within three points of each other.
Day two was the second qualifier. I had the same issues with the radio, so this time we tried using mobile phones which worked better. The only thing that didn’t go better was my climbing. I’m not really sure what happened, but I didn’t get up as far on this route. But I had made it through to the Final, which was to take place on the following day.
Finals day came and I was feeling pretty good about it. We also used the mobile phone technique for communication. I was much more pleased with how I climbed on this route, and just had to see how well the other competitors did. In the end there was no podium place for me, as I came fourth.
I always get such a buzz out of representing my country. With the competition out of the way I could now enjoy the rest of the World Championships.
A short film of me climbing in the Peak District last month. Promoting Paraclimbing and the work of Guide Dogs.
Photo shows Applewatch with text highlighted using voiceover.
I have had my #applewatch nearly a week now and I am really pleased with it. At first it takes a bit of getting used to as the voiceover gestures are slightly different to that of an iPad, iPhone or iPod.
The other main difference is that the apps are a simplified version of what you would find on an iPhone or iPad. The more I use my watch I’m finding that as a ‘voiceover user’ the commands that you have at your fingertips are the ones that you need, so there is less time spent searching for the correct buttons to press.
The initial things that I will be using the watch for are to keep track of my physical activities, and to use it for navigation when out and about with my Guide Dog Annie. This is one of the features that I am most looking forward to using as I will be notified by haptics when I need to turn, rather than having to hold my phone in my hand. Another really great feature that I like is the fact that I can use Apple Pay to pay for things. So, again instead of having to get my phone out at a contactless PayPoint I can just use my watch, which makes me feel even more safe and secure. So, now I don’t need to use a gorilla grip hold when holding my phone to pay for things as it stays safely in my pocket.
After a long break of 18 months I finally made it back outside. It was so great to be back on real rock.
I had gone on a club meet down to Cornwall where we climbed at Sennen. This is a great place for me to climb as the access is very easy. We walked along the coast path then over a small patch of boulders and then you are at the top of the cliff. We set up the belays and then abseiled in. The weather was good. It was a bit blowy on top of the crag, but once we had abseiled down to sealevel we were out of the wind and the sun was shining brightly. We subsequently proceeded with the first climb which was Civvy route, a HS. Then we moved on to Demo route, which was also a HS.
I hope that the good weather continues and I can get more climbs done outside this year.