Short Film.

Have a look at this 1min film of Me & Mark on the BBC website.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-34136728

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The Eiger vs Blind Man

The journey started way back in January of this year. There was lots of training which inclued exercise bikes, cross trainers and even me doing some running for the first time in 30years. All this time I am also still doing all my usual training for my climbing competitions. We then started to contact suppliers who may be able to help us with equipment. The ones who supported us can be found at http://www.eigerparaclimb2015.blogspot.co.uk
The day came when we finally left the uk and headed for the Swiss Alps. I was sure all the training would pay off, but I had to wait and see.
We arrived on the 18th July. Team sprits were high.  We arrived at the campsite later that afternoon the weather was great.

We set up camp and started weather watching.

 

We decided to do a rece to get used to the altitude.  All went well with nobody having any problems. The weather was also great on this day. We returned to camp.
All we needed now was a three day window in which to do the climb, we waited and waited.
Day 1
The window finally came on Sat 25th July. So off we set.
We arrived at Eiger station at 8.50am. This time we pushed on much quicker. We reached the previous high point and pushed on to the first bivi site which we reached at 13.40. The decision was reached that we should go higher.  So after a short rest we moved on. We found another bivi at around 3,450mertres. This was home for the night. We had dinner, then bedded down for the night.
Day 2
We woke, had breakfast, then started up again. The weather was good again, but because it was the west flank it took longer for the sun to warm us up, but eventually the sun appeared, warmed us up and melted any remaining ice. It was to turn into a very long day.
As we got nearer to the summit the winds picked up and the clouds came in, but visability was still good. We finally reached the final ice field, although i forgot to check the time, crampons were put on and me, Mark & Jay were roped together, and off we set. It was at this point I realised that I had a blister on my right foot, which meant I would feel every kick more than normal. Off we went. The 3 of us moved well together.
The summit was getting closer all the time, and I finally summited at 14.53.  I know this was the time as I have since checked on the selfie I took.

I was over the moon. Shortly after Colin & Alex joined us. But this was only half of the journey the hardest part was still to come, which was getting down.
We started the descent. At first it was by abseil just to get off the top icefields. Down we went all the time the wind was still blowing. It then started to snow. We then did quite a lot of abseils to descend quicker.  After some time the snow turned to rain and it started to get dark for me. Again I lost track of time and during one abseil it went dark for me, this was not a big problem it meant I went even slower. After another abseil it was decided to have an emergency bivi for the night. This was rock protected but was on a slope, so we all slept with our harness’s on and were secured with slings and screwgates.

Day 3
After what was one of the most uncomfortable nights I have ever had it was time to get up. We woke to frozen backpacks. Thanks to Rab, for the bivi and sleeping bags, I was dry and warm. All set for our day ahead. More abseils were to follow. We arrived at the second snow field at about 14.45, at this point we knew the worst was over as we had been at this point before on our rece, the end was now in sight.  After some more scree slopes, some slabs and the final hand over hand sections the end was in sight. Me and Mark were slowly making our way to the train station when we noticed a train coming so we had to make a dash to catch it. Luckily we did. So after a long 3 days on the Eiger the Eigerparaclimb2015 had been a success with all 5 members summiting along with @finalcruxfilms who filmed our journey. This was the first time it has been summited by a blind man, a first for a sight guided ascent(Mark McGowan).
I want to thank all involved with this project, but a big thanks to Mark whom without his help this would not have happened for me.

1st International paraclimbing comp of 2015

Last weekend was the first International paraclimbing competition of 2015.
The format was the same as last year with 3 routes on both days. The comp was well attended with 12 federations being represented.
The atmosphere was the most relaxed one i have been to yet. Day one went well with me finishing in 3rd place by one point. This was with one route being moved because of heavy rain, the route i did was not for my category.
Day 2 started earlier, things went very well. I topped 2 of my routes. With these results being added to day 1’s my final position was 2nd.  I was very pleased with this.
The next comp is in less than 2 weeks, in Chamonix, France.

Busy times ahead…

For the last 5 months i’ve been doing extra training. This has involved doing a lot more aerobic workouts. I also did some mountain training in North Wales with a succsseful ascent of Tryfan. Most of which was done in a storm and temperatures of -1 and lower. The main aim of this was to get much fitter to do the Eiger, the plus side of this is that it has helped my climbing.
An unexpected outcome of this was i started to run with my coach and good friend Mark, a pleasant surprise was that i can run much further and longer now than when i was at school.
It’s busy because over the next 3 months i will restart the international comps, Summit the Eiger with some great people, Take another friend Jake up Snowdon(He wants to try it in a blindfold) plus there are other things in the pipeline like a paraclimbing comp in the west Midlands next month, a first for the area and lot more.
I’m still training hard for the comps, always aiming to be able to do that crimp or sloper on an overhang, slowly getting there.
So first comp is in Imst at the end of June so still have a few more weeks of hard training.

2014: What a year.

2014 Started just like any other year, with lots of training to be done for the National para climbing series which started in March. This year i entered two of the comps I (missed one due to pre-booked family holiday). These went well, i finished 3rd in the first one and 2nd in the last one. As a result i was reselected for the 2014 team. well pleased. Then more or less straight away it was off to Imst, Austria for my First away IFSC comp. The nerves were still there a bit, these were made a bit worse by the fact i was last out of everone, and most people had topped out. This would be the first time i would have Mark McGowan as my caller.

Mark McGowan @markmcgowan01

Things went well and i topped all 3 routes on day one. Day two went well. Overall i came 3rd. Then it was off to Arco, Italy. This time only 2 routes. Luckily the weather was not too hot. I came 2nd. Then less than 2 weeks later it was off to Gijon, Spain, for the world championships. Once again i would have Mark as my caller, Like in Arco i was not sure how i would manage as i had hurt my arm and only climbed about 8 times in 7 weeks. I was ok with how it went, but felt I was not at my best. Came 3rd and now have a world ranking of 3 in the B2 category.

Podium positions

Back home for more training before the last comp of the season in Sheffield, England. This was my best one so far as i came within 1point of being first. While all this was going on i was still climbing and leading in the UK. Earlier in the year I had attended 3 of Crack School Masterclasses with the Wideboyz, as these events support the GB Paraclimbing team. Thanks Guys. I will be back in  2015!

After the Lead season had finished I decided to try my hand at dry tooling. This is even harder as i cannot see where the end of the pick is, so you can imagine how slow and still i have to be while waiting for my caller to tell me where it is so that it can go into that moving bit of chain, whilst on an overhang. But as a result of entering the BTS  i hope i have put myself in a good position to be picked for the first GB Para ice team.

Dry tooling at Rope Race

Then in early December i went to the French Pyrenees with Mark and Jamie Owen @Jayowzen, this was to be a week of sport climbing. I’m always a bit nervous about going to new crags. It’s not the people i go with but the walk in. I’ve been to crags where it can take me an hour or more to get there. No fun at all for me or the person who is guiding me. No prooblems this time a straight forward walk down a track and 15min later we are there. I must admit sport climbing was not high on my list.  It seems scary, in that i have to clip where the bolts are. I find trad climbing easier, and less scary, even if there is more than a few metres in between nut placements. I guess i feel more in control.The weather was ok, some days were wet but all days were cold. We even had snow. We started with a 5c as our warm up. This went well and after working this one we then went on to redpointing it (me and Jamie).  We then moved over to a 6a, and we did the same with this one and after a day or so, and weather permitting,  i managed to redpoint this as well.  I was very pleased with this, as this is my hardest lead to date. We then moved over to a 6a+ but by now the weather had turned. I hope to go back and do some more.
So that brings us to the end of 2014. I would like to thank all the people who have helped me over the year, especially those who have called for me, driven me to where I needed to be, the members of the Solihull Mountaineering Club, @wildcountryuk, @CraphoppersUK and @BearGrylls for my clothes, to all my followers on Twitter and Facebook, also the people who visit my Google+ page, a big shout for Jake @climb_out_of_it, but my biggest thanks goes to my wife for having to put up with me rambling on about my climbing for hours on end, thanks Anne.

So what will 2015 bring-hopefully a financial sponsor, more International comps, complete some climb 365 challenges for climb out, and some more great outdoor climbing where i push my grades higher and I also hope to attend some several of the WideBoyZ crack school masterclasses.
Oh and lots of training with my Coach and Caller, Mark. Bring it on dude! 🙂