Peak f8a in a day!

23rd Jun 2014

Moat Buttress Buis and Tayo Cheedale Intrepid Chee Tor Sam and Michaela British Bouldering Champion 2014 Buis drool

Peak f8a in a day!

After about 4 weeks of nursing my cracked rib, I was gradually able to up my climbing level and in the last week have felt happy to lead again. If I’d taken a fall too early, I was definitely in danger of re-cracking the rib just because the harness was lying on the exact wrong spot.

So having managed to avoid re-injury; a few days ago I had two great climbing outings on the limestone.

A current favourite venue has been Moat Buttress in Water-cum-Jolly. A great crag which has had some rebolting attention over the last few years and has a handful of two star routes well worth visiting.

I managed to flash a f7b+ there called Moat People which I was pretty pleased with, as the last hard move in the crux sequence is quite a stretch and it required the use of some rubbish footholds to give me the required height. It was one of those situations where you put your foot on something and thing well it’s not going to stay there but it’s all I’ve got to use, so I’ll give it a go anyway. And somehow, the feet stayed and I managed to latch the hold! So that was pleasing. 

Then I tried a f7c there...I didn’t quite manage to get it in a day like the other five I’ve done recently, I guess the rib issue and resting had meant my level dropped a little. The route called ‘Let the Tripe Increase’ is a bouldery f7c with a very long move at the end of it (funny that, yet another one!). And this sequence was really testing my power endurance. I could do all the moves individually quite easily including the long one but to try and piece it all together and do that move at the end of a bouldery sequence, proved to be quite a tricky one for me.

But I managed to do it finally and really surprised myself. It was on a day where I felt zombified (for some reason, I’ve not been sleeping that well recently, I think it’s a combo of the heat and the light mornings) and the energy levels weren’t high, in fact Katherine was having a low energy day too--so we were both commiserating with each other. But somehow I pulled the route out of the bag but as soon as I got home, I collapsed on the sofa. I was meant to be going to yoga but just couldn’t get up. In fact I actually fell asleep in situ which is something I never do. I’m just not a daytime sleeper but it just kind’ve overcame me. It was quite a nice feeling actually, I just wish I would get it when I actually go to bed! 

If anyone has any insomnia cures, let me know!

Anyway the next day, I was thankfully feeling refreshed having finally slept well and I felt like a different person. Simon and I went down to Cheedale and waded across the river with Buis and Tayo to Two Tier. Everything is in pretty good nick now, so there was a good choice of routes to go at.

I was feeling so buoyed by my upped energy levels, I thought it would be a good day to venture out of the f7c comfort zone and try an f8a. So I got on a route called ‘Aberration’. It says it’s quite low in the grade, so I thought it sounded like just the ticket. Not because I want to climb soft-touches but because I don’t think my body is yet ready for desperate crimpy pulling.

So I headed up it putting the clips in on the way. I actually got quite a way along the traverse before I fell, I just really struggled to get one of the clips in. It’s a route that I could imagine if I’d been fitter and stronger, I might have had a good chance of onsighting. But I’m not, hence falling off!

But it all seemed ok. I spent quite a bit of time on the crux just getting the moves sorted. It’s very technical and there were a lot of bad holds to choose from, so it was a case of working out the best way for my body to get across it.

After a rest, I gave it a very good redpoint go and fell off at the end of the crux because I kind’ve messed up my feet. It was slightly annoying but also very positive, I wasn’t expecting to do anywhere as near as good as that on my first day. So after another rest, I decided I still had enough juice in my arms to give it another go and wouldn’t you know it, managed to do it fine! It felt great, to be climbing well and remembering tricky sequences feeling tired but managing to hang on long enough to keep doing the moves.

Intrepid climbers (left) fighting their way across the classic E1 traverse on Chee Tor--more gardening than climbing? It actually looked fun.

So that will be the end of my climbing for a couple of weeks, as I’ve been judging the British Bouldering Championships all weekend and tomorrow Tim and I are heading south to go to Glastonbury festival with my sister and two of her kids. Really looking forward to that but it sounds like the weather forecast is bad, so just hoping we don’t end up swimming in mud for six days! 

The routesetters resetting for the women's qualifiers on Saturday

Back to the BBC 2014. It was a good event hosted at The Climbing Works here in Sheff and it was great to help out by judging on both days. It’s nice getting involved in comps again, I do miss them and it’s a good way to see how things are progressing. There were some awesome problems which is always good for the crowds and it was especially interesting in the women’s event as Shauna Coxsey and Mina Wujastyk weren’t competing, so the title was a little more open this year.

Youngster Tara Hayes (on the podium in 3rd on the picture to the left) qualified very impressively in first place from the semis but in the end it was a very on form Michaela Tracy that took the title. Tara seemed to tire while Michaela just seemed to get stronger, it was a great contest. And the men’s was won yet again by the slowly becoming elder statesman of bouldering comps, Dave Barrans. Although he is one of the shortest males out there, he seems to overcome a lack of height by having incredible power, especially his pinch and contact strength. He really looked a league above the rest on some of the problems. But it was good to see that there were so many awesome teenagers getting into the finals. They will only improve with all these experiences.

(left) Sam Whittaker (co-owner of The Climbing Works) with possiibly the biggest biceps in climbing, presents Michaela Tracy with her 1st place prize.

(below)Having a break from judging in between the semis and the finals on Sunday.


When I get back from Glasto, I am heading away tradding which will be great but I am planning to do some bouldering too--I just hope I don’t break myself, that’s always the danger with me. I definitely need to up my power levels if I want to do more f8’s but the thought of training indoors when the weather is nice just seems a bit wrong but when you are looking to achieve something specific, you have to work out the best way of doing it. So I may be spending a bit of time on The Wave down The Foundry in the next month or so, we’ll see.

So I’ll sign out for now to get packed for Glasto! Now where are those wellies?...

(below) Tayo and his gigantic tongue, which matches his scarily impressive set of gnashers!

(left) Buis had a lovely time at Two Tier watching sheep on the opposite hillside, I call it Sheep TV. She sat there happily creating her lovely drool necklace for hours at a time. It's amazing how patient dogs can be. I could learn a lot from her!