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! 🙂


Dry Tooling

Busy couple of weeks. Been preparing for some of the British Dry Tooling events. Entered Round 4 of the BTS at Rope Race, Stockport. A very well thought out event. Some ingenious problems. Everything from screws on a traverse, mortar chipped out of a brick wall to a hanging log.

Only attempted a routes, so consequently a low score. Still getting used to using the axes, only fourth time.

Returned to RopeRace a few days later and attempted the problems again with more success. A great training session with Phil Leng. Technique improving!

Off to The Leeds Wall for Round 5 of BTS on Saturday.

Got re-selected to the GB Paraclimbing Team for 2015 series.

Back outside.

I finally made it back outside after many months of trainging for competitions. With comp season over i managed to get out back onto real rock. I went to Yarncliff where i seconded 2 routes and lead a severe. It felt strange at first but it soon came back to me,climbing outside is much easier since there is nobody telling me to get off that hold which is not part of my route.

Also this weekend i took part in a drytooling comp at the Buxton adventure festival, this went ok but was hard work as everything had been sprayed white. I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Emmett there as well. So in all a good weekend.

Gijon, Spain

Wow what a week!
I headed off to Spain on Sunday 7th September for my first World Championships. Arrived mid afternoon, to warm but rainy conditions. Wasn’t prepared for rain.
Registration and medicals on Monday, a 3 hour wait for a few minutes consultation. No problems with my categorisation.
Free time to explore and relax.
Tuesday had a training session to focus on the communication between my sight guide and myself. It was very hot, but we managed a productive session.
Wednesday was a rest day.
Thursday were the qualifying climbs, 2 routes.

 2nd Qualifier
Had some problems with my radio-microphone as it kept cutting out, making it difficult to hear my sight guide. An added complication. Necessary as I wear hearing aids.

Friday, another rest day, then Finals on Saturday.
See http://www.ifsc-climbing.org for video of my final climb, as well as all the finals and results. I came 3rd, pleased with my performance. The route had good holds, but the overhang was immense, and the route seemed to go on forever!
More training needed.

With my medal. 
My sight guide, and coach, Mark McGowan
Only 2 weeks to go before next competition.  The Paraclimbing Cup, in Sheffield on 4/5th October.

Arco – Rock Master 29th August 2014

Set off for Arco earlier in the week to arrive in a very hot Italy in preparation for the competition at the Rock Master Festival. My nerves were much better this time. Route 1 went well until 3 holds from the top when my radio mic system became switched off accidentally by the rope. I could no longer hear my caller to tell me where the next hold was, and was not in a steady position to turn it back on straightaway. I had to make the decision first to try and find the next hold up, but this was not  successful. Then I had to turn the mic back on so that I could hear my caller, but I had held on with one hand for too long and peeled off! Disappointing when so near to topping out. 😒

After short break it was on to Route 2.
This started with an overhang. Route went well and I finished less than 2 points behind the winner.

Time to get some more training in before the World Championships next week!

Campus board session.

Yesterday i went to The Beacon climbing centre in North wales for a climbing session with Mark Mcgowan. We started with warm ups on the fingerboards. Then we moved onto the campus board, previously i had only done little bits on a campus board so was looking forward to learning how to do structured training on one. In total my session lasted 2hours which was long enough as i have just got
back into training as i hurt my arm and could not train for over 3 weeks.

Dry Tooling

On 2nd August I went to Rope Race, in Stockport, to do some Dry Tooling. We were made very welcome by everyone. 

I didn’t know what to expect as my only other experience was at a local wall using ice axe handles with rubber loops. I was pleasantly surprised when the GB Ice Climbing Team Manager, Andy Turner, said that we would be using real ice axes. For those of you that don’t know what Dry Tooling is, its the use of Ice Axes on an indoor climbing wall, or outside on certain crags. Usually done indoors with rubber loops. 

Myself and several of the GB Paraclimbing Team went along to have a go. There we also met GB Junior Climbing Team Member, Emma Powell. 
Thanks Andy. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to learn a new skill. It is a lot about trusting that the ice axe will hold. By the end of the day I felt like I had got into the swing of it. Looking forward to next time.
I thoroughly recommend people going to Rope Race to give it a try. 
Another first for me was using an auto belay. 

Imst, Austria. Paraclimbing Competition July 2014

Nine members of the GB Paraclimbing Team travelled to Austria to take part in a Paraclimbing competition. This is the first time that Austria has hosted a paraclimbing world cup.
Imst was the location for this outdoor climbing event.

Day 1
Started out warm, but cooled down which was better for the climbers. I was feeling a bit nervous as I had never climbed on a wall like this! The competition started at 2pm. I was the last to climb of all the competitors. Knowing that most people had topped the routes, the pressure was on.
Successfully topped all 3 climbs for day 1. By the end of day one the weather was blowing an absolute gale and the climbing structure was rattling well! 
Caller – Mark McGowan

Day 2
A cooler start to the day, better climbing conditions.
3 more climbs today. Unfortunately I did not top out any, although got very close on two of them.

Results for Visual Impairment category, B2
1st.        Mathieu Barbe.       France
2nd        Gwynfor Roberts.   GB
3rd.        John Churcher.      GB
A very successful competition for the GB Team.  Pleased with my performance only dropped 20 points overall. 


Quite a bit of extra weight to bring home. 
Looking forward to next event at the end of August, in Arco, Italy.

Friday Training

Had a great afternoon session today at Birmingham bouldering centre. big thanks to Ste. learn’t a new move it made the problem much easier. Off to Austria next week for the second paraclimbing cup, my first this year. need to get some more sessions in but take it easy on the very hard stuff don’t want to pull anything.

Mid week events

On Wednesday I went to see Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Birmingham Town Hall. Great talk, thoroughly enjoyed it. Would go and see him again.

Thursday I went to Beacon Climbing Centre in North Wales. Had my first training session with Mark McGowan. Had a great time. Looking forward to the next one.  A really great climbing wall and friendly staff. I would highly recommend you visit.