Friday, 1 April 2016

Perfectly Unexpected by Jen Wilby

The day my world changed. 

There are only a few moments in life which are truly life changing. There are those which have a temporary impact and those which have a permanent one, but then there are those which smack you straight in the face and turn your world upside down. From these moments, you can never go back, they have changed you forever. Your soul has shifted and molded, twisted and turned. It all began driving down the Buttermilk road when the perfectly unexpected began to unfold. 
Had to get the classic photo
I always said I had no expectations for this trip and I meant it, in terms of my climbing. Preferring to see what happened with the climbing. Sure, I had a "too look" at list, but nothing more. However, there were some expectations which I didn't really think twice about. Such as , two days climbing one day off and on the rest days we would go visit places such as Death Valley, Rock Creek etc. The expectation that we would likely to be climbing alone for most of the time, joining in when pads were needed but nothing more.

Photo By Adam Newbery
We drove down the Buttermilk road wondering where the climbing was. There were blocks left and right, which in England, would be a prime bouldering destination. Scanning the guidebook, trying to see if I recognised anything, it was then that we finally turned the corner and spotted the Peabody
Photo from Nina Williams
Just wow, these boulders are huge, you can try and describe them to someone, but unless you have been there I don't think words can do them justice. Those first few glimpses of the Buttermilks made me a little numb. I'd watched countless videos of Bishop and it looked like dream land and honestly somewhere where I thought I would never go, I have no idea why. Maybe the climbs and climbers I saw in the video's set the Buttermilks in my mind as a fantasy land which could not be touched. I remember seeing the photo of Nina Williams on Footprints a few years ago and always said that was the line I wanted to do, not this trip, but at some point and standing underneath it this time that has not changed. 

The Buttermilks are surrounded by the most stunning back drop and wondering around the sandy walk ways meandering through the boulders I've never felt so calm. When climbing in England, I tend to go and project something as I've been climbing for a while and done many of the mileage problems around Wales, Lakes and Yorkshire. So going out always had a little bit of pressure attached to it, I was going out to do something. At the start of this blog I said I had no climbing expectations, however, we wouldn't be human if deep down we didn't think we would accomplish something which we found physically and mentally demanding, after all, its inherent in all of us. Yet here, in the milks, within thirty minutes that all washed away and I felt nothing but peace, I knew then that something inside of me had changed and that I would be leaving a part of my soul here and taking away a part of theirs.

Taking it all in 
We spent the first day, totally jet lagged and just wondered around seeing what was what and testing out how sharp the rock really was. To answer that question, its sharp, but it's not as bad as we first thought. 

The warm up's here are of an amazing quality
One of the first things that struck me was how clean this place was, there was no litter in sight and something which I think the Brit's should take note of. If you like your crag, don't mess it up! 

The second thing that struck me was how nice everyone was, no one minded if you jumped on a climb with them. In England, people are so pessimistic about people joining in on a problem with them, you get a look and you get the feeling of eyes staring at you wondering if you'll fall off, how you did a move and it rarely feels like it's in a positive way. In Bishop, everyone loves climbing with everyone and everyone is so psyched to see you climb something, whether its a V1 or V14. No one cares - and this was such a welcoming relief and very addictive. It made for such a positive climbing experience and something which is hard to walk away from. 

Everyone chipping in on High Plaines
We knew after a couple of days there the snow was going to hit, and everyone told us it never hit Bishop. did, which meant that climbing was out for a few days in the Milks but it was stunning to look at. 
Still trying despite the snow
I also managed to get a really bad cold, which basically meant I could barely climb for a few days and then felt super weak for the rest. To say I was gutted was an understatement. to have gone all that way, to be in this stunning place and I was ill. Then I managed to pop my finger on Stained Glass, which meant for the last week I was trying to climb quality over quantity - got a great tan though! 

Calm before the pop
I wrote a blog at the start on this, as the plan was to blog on rest days, but I deleted this as it was wrong to post it. Given the nature of this place, it was wrong to post such a negative blog, despite how I felt at that moment in time. After all, there were worst places to be ill! 

Snow over the Tableland
You won't get lost.
We ventured out to the Happy's and Sad's whilst waiting for the snow to leave the Milks. I had heard mixed reports about both, but I have to say, in my opinion, they are fantastic. Sure, they are not the Milks, but if you compare every crag to the Milks, you'll be in for a rough ride. Both the Happys and Sads have some amazing problems and all you have to do in the Sads is go wondering, go and get lost and you'll come across some fantastic climbs! 
Warming up
Action Hero V6

Go for a walk over the top of the canyon, you won't be disappointed
I've found it hard to write this blog as it's really hard to put into words the experience I had. What I can say, is that after the snow and the illness and after meeting some awesome people who we ended up spending the full three weeks with - all expectations left me and what came was the perfectly unexpected. I began to live in the moment again, something which I'd not had since our 12 month trip. Began to take every day as it came, to let go and to enjoy every moment, no matter what it brought. I stopped with the photos, stopped taking video's of the climbing, because none of it mattered. We ate, we drank and were merry, on more than one occasion and possibly on too many occasions - and if we had been wanting to "crank", it wouldn't have been a wise choice. I don't regret any of it, sure I've come back with a slightly worn out liver and added a few lbs, but I don't regret any of it. It was a blast. 
Fire at the Pit
Rusty's - it's a must visit place if you are there
Standard snow play
 Adam, one of the nice Canadians : ) (shout out to Sam who endured us for three weeks!)  we climbed with had this to say after we left: 

"Hey you crazy Britts!

I really enjoyed your company over the last few days, a fresh bit of realism and raw unfiltered humour, certainly a trip I won't forget anytime soon! "

This made me laugh so hard and smile so much, it's possibly one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to us and I won't forget that any time soon. It's not about the grade, or who crushed what, it's about being in that moment with the people you are with and not thinking about tomorrow. Such is the timeless beauty of the road and what seems to be totally lost in the UK.

Driving to LA, I'm not going to lie, I was super emotional, not in a crazy hysterical way but emotional non the less. The last time I had that sinking feeling was when we came back from the 12 month road trip, but this was different. I had just sold my house in the South the day before, and I began to wonder if this was one of those cross road points that happen in life and I could literally stay or go. I thought about it, long and hard.. I had the chance...but then I also thought back to when I had to come back from the 12 month trip. Having to go back to work was awful, so I knew, that the plan that was already in motion was the right one and I needed to head back. That still didn't stop the near panic attack on the plane! 

Bishop has changed me a lot, but when I got home I got some devastating news, for reasons which I can't disclose what, but this news also threw another curve ball my way and do you know what if I had heard it out there, I really don't think I would have come back. 

At the end of the day, we all cease to be here, it all boils down to one outcome for us all, so I would say to you, don't wait until you lose it, treasure what you love each and every day, go and have fun, throw caution to the wind and do what you love! 

So I've taken many things away - and given part of my soul to that place, thankful for what it has taught me and there are going to be some changes coming to help me be the person I want to be and to get back out on the road. 

So that is all, well done if you made it this far - if you are not asleep yet! I'll leave you with some photos - Happy Climbing! 

Molly v4

Strength In Number v5

Morning Dove White V7

Morning Dive White V7

Heavenly Path V1

Bowling Pin Sit V6

Bowling Pin Sit v6

Juniors Achievement V8

Juniors Achievement V8

Juniors Achievement V8
For now, its back to the grit and it was amazing to come back to cold conditions and an empty crag! 

Back on the grit all wrapped up! 
Happy Climbing...and if it's's not the end of your world.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Brief 2015 round up by Adam Jeewooth

2015 was a successful year in all aspects of life. An early season training indoors at BoulderUK on circuit board paid off with me flashing “Parasite” French 8a and ticking “Mussel Beach” 8a 1st redpoint. So that was a great day out. I also managed to climb my annual V11 tick with Lou Ferrino without the pocket. 

Ruby Keeping warm at a cold Malham

Adam Jeewooth climbimg Lou Ferrino sans pocket V11


Moving forward 6 months I'd also had a number of 8a ticks at various crags but was still waiting for the big tick. I'd also ripped my house to bits and was physically knackered.
Adam Jeewooth climbing  RB&D 8c, Photo Peter Wilkinson

Adam Jeewooth RB&D.  Photo Peter Wilkinson
Adam Jeewooth RB&D.  Photo Peter Wilkinson
So, September 2015 arrived and the project was dispatched. “Raining Bats and Dogs” 8c at Malham. I was so so happy with this route. The hardest route and best route I've ever climbed

 Following this once again work continued and I did the BoulderUK “plywood masters”. However, I wasn’t really prepared to this comp physically and despite getting into the finals and coming 6th I endured some sore fingers and a bad shoulder!!! 

John Ellison and Ruby
Adam Jeewooth, Prana T, Prana Pants and Evolv Bandits
Then there was a really nice Spanish rock trip to Margalef for a week to conclude the year onsighting.  And the loss of one of the nicest men I knew - John Ellison RIP

2016 should be a good year all being well and I’m looking forward to an easier year, lowering the grade and ticking along nicely. Oh and I've also got my final year of my degree to finish!

Big thanks to the beyond hope crew and good luck to everyone for 2016!!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Spain Game by Peter Dawson

Over the past few months I have been waiting, anticipating, preparing for one thing, going back to Spain. Catalonia is the centre for sport climbing in the world and every aspiring sport climber has come to face the challenge of the areas hardest routes. Last time I had gone was two years ago and the hardest I had climbed was 8b+ but could I do one better? 8c?

The first two days were a shock but I'd expected that. I was just getting into it. On the third day things clicked. We travelled to Oliana, which is a really futuristic crag with endurance routes up to 50 metres! The route I tried was called China Crisis, about 35m of slightly leaning wall guarded at the bottom by two fierce boulder problems.  On my second try I climbed shakily with my arms almost giving in on every move. I was at the last clip but I fell going to a crimp, 35m of climbing  and I'd have to start from the bottom again. Next go I climbed well and efficiently reaching where I fell the go before and easily doing the moves. Yes I got it! In the evening I tried Fish Eye but got shut down by a move at the top which was pretty gutting! However next to China Crisis was an 8c called T-1 full equip.
The next day was going back to an old enemy. Rollito Sharma 8b+, this route was the opposite to China Crisis. It was about 20 metres long and really hard the whole way up it. On all the goes that day I made it to the crux but wasn't anywhere near doing it as I was just too pumped.

Ok now it was back to Oliana, to try T-1 full equip. My first go I did all the moves but up high was some desperate moves on tiny holds. Next go was a little better and I managed to do the boulders at the start where the second felt about 7B. I also managed to find a better sequence on the top although it was still hard. I wanted to do something that day so I sent La Marroncita 8b second go. With the sun dying and the air chilling off I decided to give it an all out attempt. The Spanish have a phrase a muerte which means to climb until death giving it everything and holding nothing back. I was going to go a muerte. I wasn't surprised when I got through the boulders at the bottom but I wasn't very pumped at all. I set up for the first hard crimp sequence and it went! Now I was panicking the next one wasn't as hard maybe I could do this, I slowed myself down and chilled out. I knew I could do it. Moves where previously I had slapped I now grabbed static and before I knew it I was clipping the chains! My first 8c! I was over the moon.

I didn't want to stop there though, I still had Rollito Sharma and I wanted to try to climb 8a+ first go. The next day we went to Terradets. The climbing is unreal there. A 35m leaning wall dripping with tufas situated in a gorge full of 600m walls. I started by climbing 8b which was one I'd left unfinished from the first two days. When it felt loads easier it might have been foreshadowing a great day. Next I flashed an 8a Luke had tried a couple days ago. I was just getting going next came an 8a onsight where I fought like a savage through the final crux. A friendly Spanish man was trying a 8a+ and I watched him to get the beta then I would try to flash it. I managed to get through the boulder problem start now I thought maybe I could do it. I climbed into a big pocket and pulled onto two bad crimps above it. I was stuck with a heel in the hole, above my head a huge spike! Just out of reach to get it comfortably, I jumped and felt my feet swing out wildly but the spike was good enough for me to control the swing and I stuck it. From there I was in and I climbed to the top of my first 8a+ flash!

Now the only thing left was Rollito Sharma and I took a rest day to recover. This was going to be my last chance. I was lucky the moves felt easier and I knew I had a good chance of doing it. My first go from the start I stuck the crux move but was too shocked to keep myself together and get to the end of the crux. Right I just needed to keep my head together. The next time I got through the crux but only just and now I had a brief rest. I thought that I might not be able to do the crux again so I was really nervous for the final hard move, probably the hardest move on the route. I set up and jumped for the next hold. I held it and had the power to match in to the pocket. I got the bat hang rest which was super comfy because of my Evolv Shamans and felt psyched that I was going to do it! I clipped the chains after probably doing one of the hardest routes I'd ever done.

The last few days I took easy and just enjoyed the climbing still I managed to flash Mon Dieu another 8a+ at Oliana and I dropped the last move on a 8a+ onsight so maybe that'll be the next goal!  

Sunday, 4 October 2015

" autumn and winter, they gradually pass away" By Jen Wilby

We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. Zhuangzi

A view from one of the crags this Summer
If this sentence was the only one in this blog, and this blog was the same one for three months running, would you bother to read it any more? No! That's why there have been no blogs for the last few months. Who wants to read about nothing? Is it even possible to read about nothing? I digress.

2015 has gone so quickly, if I think about it too much it's terrifying. May was the last time I touched grit stone and ended the season with Sweet Dreams (stand start) and it marked the end of the Grit season. Although one can argument this, it is never truly the end of the Grit season, you just have to go looking for the conditions. So, I shall rephrase the start of this paragraph...I ended my season. 

Catching the last of the cooler condition up at Ilkley
The last blog mentioned how, following the marked end of my season I was going to sit back, chill and not train. Sitting here, thinking back, I honestly cannot remember doing that! Although I must have done, as the summer was filled with so many weddings leaving little time to do anything else other than work, travel to the weddings (all in the South!) and then recover before the next one. It was fantastic fun and it was ace catching up with distant friends, however, it was soon time to knuckle down. 

Normally, my summers are all about getting out to the Lakes and North Wales, exploring new crags and training. It's always been hard in the summers as training has always taken priority over resting for the weekend. So most of the time, I would turn up to the Lakes or Wales and be far from optimal. The mental battle during this time is huge! After all the partying it was time to make a plan for the remainder of the Summer. The last few years I've experimented with my training, and made some epics mistakes along the way. It's all about trial and error! I've under trained, over trained, been plain lazy and trained the wrong things. The hardest part of this, is that the trial and errors takes time, three summers in, that's a whole three years, I feel like I have finally cracked it. SHOULDERS!!! It's not rocket science, the shoulders are the Achilles heel of the torso. Screwed shoulders means screwed mobility and injury. This is something I've battled with for years. 

This year I promised myself I would learn from the mistakes and work on the shoulders, their mobility, flexibility and strength, no matter how long it took. I swapped my training around and reduced the intensity and did a lot more yoga. So far ... (touches wood) I've been injury free, shoulder wise :D this is a HUGE improvement and feels ace! 

2015 has also been a year of changing the mental aspect of climbing. Climbing is not just physical, it's a mental battle and sometimes, most of the time, its the head which is the limiting factor when it comes to trying to do something. I worked hard last year but still didn't quite have that belief of myself. This year, I've managed to crack that also :D I've learnt how to empty the mind, let go, and figure stuff out. I go to a bloc or into training with no intentions, to just climb each move the best I can. It's a very liberating experience and makes climbing so much more fun and free! 

So in a nutshell, this summer has been about working hard, mentally and physically. I'm not where I aim to be...yet...but I am on the way and enjoying the ride. 

Up in Yorkshire we've had a few cold spells, I was so excited, I thought Summer had finally left us and the "season" had started. However, it's been coming in waves! It's been so hard to prepare for the week ahead when everything has been changing so much. So we've been spending more time in the Lakes and Wales and tried some awesome lines. 

I did have a video of some good blocs at Woodwell, however, and I am sure many of you read the UKB thread, it has been removed, for the right reasons. Woodwell is an ace little crag to go to and worth a look if you are across that way.

Then I ventured out on Grit for the first time and went back to Widdop. I forgot how stunning that place is...I also forgot how different and special gritstone is. Que the foot popping, barn dooring (<- not sure that's even a word!) and general hilarity that is Grit Stone. I had to go back during the week to get up Fight On Black at Widdop and brave the midges! Its a quality line and worth trying if you are across that way:

Then the temps started to drop again and we went to check out what can only by described as one of the best lines on Gritstone....
Heaven in Your Hands
You cannot miss this arete as you walk across the moor and up to the crag. It shoots up out of the ground with the white specks of chalk showing you there is a way. When we went to this, I had no intention of getting on it. However, Marco sent it quickly that evening

So I decided to see if I could at least get off the floor - I knew I would not be able to get it that session, this style of climbing is not my forte, however I really want to climb this line, it is stunning. So I'll keep going back, when the wind is blowing, and just keep trying, it's so enjoyable.

Starting Heaven in Your Hands

Beautiful Line
Then the wind did change direction, so it was time to head back to something which I knew I could do, Road House at Nettle Crag. At first glance, the crag does not look like much, but when you get up there and start climbing, it has some cool moves, you won't see another climber up there and the views are stunning. I was very pleased to do this, as it shows the focus on the shoulders and mindset is paying off ... just got to keep going. The guidebook states 7c+ without the bloc. On the first visit to this, I tried, alot to use the bloc and found it way harder! Either way, doing this, lets me know I am on the right track and the moves were ace! 

Just passing the crux on Road House

Last tricky move

So the start of Autumn has been a good one and a fun one, with this weather, its about taking each day as it comes...until our next adventure...

If you've made it this far, fear not this is the end and you can go back to doing something productive...and thanks. 

Happy Climbing!

Friday, 4 September 2015

A Successfull Summer- By Flo Tilley

This summer, like the rest, has flashed by and has been busy and successful with my climbing. I started it off with 2 weeks in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Sarah chauffeured me and Naomi, driving us from derby to Bodhi Camping, covering a total of 1600 miles. What a Hero. 

Washing facilities

For those who have not been, it is, as the names suggests, a wood in a valley with a mystical kind of feel. The floor is a lattice of roots and meandering paths, with boulders that spring up as you walk through. 
Naomi enjoying the wood
The campsite is about a 5/ 10 minute walk through the wood to the closet boulder, Bruno block; best if you’re climbing higher grades. To really get stuck into some of the best problems, in my opinion, are further along in the wood. For me, some of the most memorable climbs I did were Grit de Luxe 7b, a climb right on the river side, involving a mantle to start, leading to more crimpy moves to the top. Hohenrausch 7b+, a crimpy face with  big committing moves.

Grit de Luxe 7b photo credit: Sarah Pashley
Exclusive 7b Photo credit: Naomi Tilley
Exclusive 7b was another great climb, a more powerful problem, with a tricky start and draining last few moves. I also tried Intermezzo 7c and Foxy Lady 8a both crimpy, technical problems, both of which didn't feel so far from my ability which felt pretty good!
Supper Crack 6c Photo credit: Sarah Pashley

After a couple of days back home I headed up to Kilnsey, to spend time with my Grandparents, who live handily close to the crag, fill up on some of my Gran’s cake and of course, get a few days in of climbing. My aim was to do The Ashes 7C+ which I had had a play on a couple months before. After working the crux; a large dynamic move to two eyes and falling frustratingly near the top on my red point attempts multiple times, I got the tick on my 2nd day of working, 3 days in total. Pretty Psyched!

The start of The Ashes is to the right of the second tree and finishes at  the break before the roof. 
Straight from Kilnsey I headed down south, helped Naomi to move into her new student cottage in Falmouth, had some fun on some easy Trad and tried to surf (tried the important word there).

After surfing selfie

All this fitted in nicely to go and compete at the Deep Water Solo competition in Exeter. Like last year it was a fantastic, well organised event with a great atmosphere. On the Saturday I got away with only getting wet once, managing to top all 3 of my problems. Unfortunately on Sunday the weather was not on our side and for my first two climbs in the semis, it rained and due to the wet conditions slipped off fairly low on my second climb, after topping the first. Despite this, after an hours brake to dry thing up, we were back climbing and I had a good attempt on my last climb of the weekend. I finished 9th overall.

 The final was a great watch, it was speed format. 6 finalist raced up the climb, and then the 3 fastest went through to a super final in which they would do the climb again, deciding podium position on their final speed time. This format worked especially well for the general public watching, the aim of the game was obvious, how fast could they go!

I am now back to the reality of life- back to 6th form to finish my last year of school. Scary stuff! However I have lots of training for up coming comps, including the junior lead cup and the BLCC’s, to take my mind off the scary prospect of exams and adult life!
Zilliman 7a