Mini adventures.

Well its been a busy couple of months, not only with the climbing but with having adventures of a different kind too.

It started with me going ice skating and as you can imagine, I was a bit apprehensive about it. The last time I had been ice skating was 25 years beforehand when my sight was still reasonably good.

I held on for most of the first lap but after that I didn’t need to hold on again. It did take a few laps to get used to where the corners were too but it was great. My friend Lauren said I looked terrified but it was me being super concentrated on following her and hoping that no one came between us.

The next little adventure was to a swimming pool that had water slides (this was a first for me). Now you may think ‘where is the adventure in that!’ When you can’t see, water slides have a whole new dimension. On the bigger slides that have a drop at the end, the big question is ‘how do I know when to hold my breath?’ The answer turned out to be ‘hope I can hear my friend call my name’. Whenever I do anything with where water is involved I have to take my hearing aids out so this made it extra exciting because I wasn’t sure if I’d hear anything at all!

Then came another new one for me, this adventure involved a night ropes course. We started on the first level and then moved up on to the top one. I imagine some people are scared of the height but for me this is not an issue as I have no depth perception, and I can’t really see how far off the ground I am. I also had a try at a power fan which was a little more challenging as the drop was pretty quick and I couldn’t really gauge when I would land.

July saw the first IFSC Paraclimbing competition of the year, I went into this competition without having done any training as I had pulled a pulley in my left hand, so I wasn’t expecting great things at this one. I came sixth which was last but I was pleased with how I had performed; the points difference was only 7 points between me and first place. Since coming back from that competition I have now started training again for the world championships which take place this September in Austria, this will be my third world championships,


Sunny days.

Last week saw some great weather for climbing outside, it wasn’t the first time i had climbed outside this year but it was by far the warmest which made a change. Me and my friend Lauren headed up to the Peak District where we climbed on the grit for a bit of trad, then for the next couple of days we headed to Horseshoe quarry for a bit of sport climbing. To say the rock was a bit loose at horseshoe was an understatement.

Here’s looking forward to more warm and sunny days outsideūüėé

Another year.

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.

2017 Season

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.

The first official IFSC event took place less than 2 weeks later in Briancon, France. Since there were not enough competitors in the B1 category they were moved into the B2 category, in which I compete. This made it the largest B2/Visual Impairment category to date, with 10 competitors. In an official comp you have 2 qualifiers on day one, then a final on day 2. Route one went quite well with me nearly topping out but it was on route 2 that things did not go to plan. It started ok but I came to a bunched up move and I fell off. I was disappointed, as a result my final ranking for this competition was seventh. After the competition the team enjoyed a great training day outdoors.
There was then a break from International competition climbing with the next. competition not being until the end of September, but there was no let up in the training with the National season due to start at the beginning of September.
While all this is going on I am always looking out for new sponsors/supporters to help me, and this year I am pleased to say that I now have 5 sponsors.
plug coming, they are:  
           Boot bananasРhelping me keep my friends
           after a long training session as my shoes are all
           nice and fruity smelling,

Bison grips– which do great hand made training aids out of wood,


Monkey fist– cream to look after my hands after a training session

and the final 2 are;

Andrea Boldrini climbing shoesРhaving 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.


the last sponsor 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

that it was only one way communication so my sight guide could not hear me.
This is solved by the Swatcom multicom which is two way, real time communication, and does not suffer from interference like my old one.
I’m still looking for more sponsors/supporters if anyone is interested, eg clothing, new harness, and a supply of chalk balls.

In August, between the two International competitions,  I did or attempted to do my first outdoor bouldering session with my good friends Phil & Phil.

(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. 

I am extremely pleased, but surprised, that at the Birmingham Sports Awards I won
Amateur Sportsman of the Year




Update August 2017

What’s been happening…

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.¬†

I was still keeping up with doing my personal training while we were working on making it a good partnership.


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.

Then less than two weeks later we were in Briancon, France for the first IFSC event, this one was also different in that qualifiers and the final were on the same day. After the competition the team had a fantastic day of outdoor sport climbing in the local area.

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.¬†¬†

They are Talking Headsets, this is a Communications company that is supporting me with a Communication headset which now means that I can now have a two way conversation with my sight guide, all without having to press any buttons, which makes a big difference.



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.


What’s been happening.

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 Championships 2016

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.

Working out with AppleWatch

Well I’ve had my Apple Watch for about six weeks now and I am fairly familiar with it. My main aims with the watch were:
 1) to get out and about with it by using a suitable map app and using it for navigation with the haptics to guide me left or right and 
2) to help me monitor my physical activity levels.
Suffice to say I have done more of the latter. I have been learning to use the watch blind (if you pardon the pun) without looking at any instructions on the Internet. I chose to do it this way because I wanted to see how accessible it was to a blind user.
I pretty much use the ‚Äėworkout app‚Äô which is native to the watch to monitor my physical activity levels. So far I have tried a couple of other apps but some of them are not fully compatible with voice-over and others want to share too much information with everyone else (you may be able to turn this feature off but I suspect you would have to use your iPhone). I find that this is a great little app, and you select which workout you want whether it be outdoor or indoor walk, indoor or outdoor cycle, elliptical or even other. For me as an athlete this is great especially since I can use voice-over. I choose the activity I want then scroll through the pages and press ‚Äėstart‚Äô and away I go. The three main activities that I am using it for at the moment are elliptical, indoor cycle and outdoor cycling.¬†
The latter being on a tandem which I am very grateful to have been loaned from a charity called ‚ÄėCharlotte‚Äôs Tandems‚Äô. Without this I would not be able to experience outdoor cycling as I am far too dangerous on a mountain bike by myself.¬†
Charlotte’s Tandems is a charity that loan tandems to disabled people, free of charge.  Please have a look at their website:
The benefit of the applewatch talking is that whilst I am doing an activity (so long as I am in a quiet environment) I just touch the screen, find the page I want, and I can get the information about how well I am doing, e.g. this could be how many calories I have burned, my heart rate or the distance I have gone. 
I also use the ‚Äėactivity app‚Äô. Some of the benefits of the activity app are that you can change your ‚Äėdaily move goal‚Äô, which is how many calories you want to burn in one day. You can also set it to tell you to move every hour. Another brilliant little feature of the activity app is that it will tell you how much activity you achieved in the previous week. I find this a great little feature as I can monitor how much exercise I have done and make sure that I increase it for the coming week.¬†
The other sport that takes up a lot of my time is climbing, so far I have been unable to find an app that is specific to climbing, e.g. in that it measures the height that you have climbed up and down the wall, and how long you spend on each route. 
The other thing that I would be worried about is banging the watch on the wall and holds indoors, or on the rock face, if I used it outside. I know the watch has strong glass but i’m not sure it would survive a direct hit, but I guess I could wear a large wristband with something sturdier covering the face to protect it.
I have also had a little play around with the clock faces on the watch. I am currently using the modular face, which I find is perfect for what I need, to give me the option to put specific information on the clock face so as I turn my wrist the information is there (saving me having to go into the apps or using glances).
As I mentioned in a previous blog the watch uses a simplified version of what you would find on the iPhone. Having now used it for a few more weeks I find that it is very useful. I think also that other members of my family like it because I do not constantly have voiceover on my phone announcing that I have a new Twitter or Facebook message. I also use several other apps on the watch, and found that some work better than others with voiceover.  As time goes on I will explore more apps and use the ones that work best for me. 
But, all in all, I am very happy with the Apple Watch.  In the past all I had was a talking watch which obviously told me the time and had a stopwatch but that was it. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be able to use a watch the same as a sighted person I would not have believed you especially one that has all the features that the Apple Watch has.