BMC Coaching Symposium

I Have just returned from a long weekend in North Wales where I was attending the annual BMC coaching symposium. This event is organised by the BMC to get a whole load of climbing coaches together to discuss best coaching practice, new ideas and techniques. Many of these coaches are also very keen climbers which makes for some good climbing sessions squeezed in around the course.


On Friday morning Ben West did Roof of Baby Buddha 7C+

Ben West on Rood of Baby Buddha

In the afternoon a whole group of us headed over to the little Orme to look at Rob Lamey’s DWS Heel Hook Look. We were supper psyched and supper unprepared which meant I ended up climbing the wrong/a variation on the original line at about 7c. We have called this variation “We ‘ad a Look”.

Mikey G on We ‘ad a look


As the tide dropped and the water became too shallow to solo we headed over to the Diamond to see what all the fuss was about. The via feratta approach was fun, and the routes where just as good! Both Ben West and I managed to onsight the classic Boat People 7c and I finished the day off with a monumental battle up the 35 meter Wall of Evening Light 7b+.

On Saturday we dragged a bunch of Britain’s finest climbers and coaches out for a night session at Elephantiasis cave. I’d told them there was a 4 star 7A among other problems to go at. It turns out my knowledge wasn’t completely up to scratch and we ended up being eaten by Midgys in a hot sweaty cave. I did manage a cool ascent of Going Down on an Elephant 7B+ in far from ideal conditions.

Sunday was the final day of the Symposium and it consisted of practical sessions at the Beacon climbing centre. We started with a session on on Drills and System Boards with Si Rawlinson. This session was great and really showed me that many climbing centres are missing a trick in this department. Expect to see changes in the way core climbing skills are taught in centres all around the country soon. The next session was Training vs Performance by Victoria Hadnett. This was about the way the mind deals with pressure and anxiety in a training and a performance environment as well as teaching us about how the mind learns new skills. Very interesting. We finished the day off with a session from Tom Greenall and Lucinda Whittaker about Building the Athlete. In this session we learnt about how to train and coach a climber to become and all round athlete and one that will be able to participate in our sport for a long time without the fear of injury or burn out.

Today was a day of trad. I have not done much trad climbing since taking a ground fall from a hard route back in the Summer of 2013. What better partner to go out with on a trad day than Mike Goldthorp. We had our eyes set on Pretty Girls Make Graves which is an E6 6b up on Cwm Glas Bach. We warmed up on El Guide Direct E3 5c. I was expecting this route to feel tricky and a little scary as my head really hasn’t been in the trad game. It went like a dream! We moved onto Rimsky Korsakov, a soft E5 6a just to the left. This route also went down smoothly with not much of a fight. Next up was Pretty Girls, but on the way round we became distracted by a line of chalk up a small blank wall just to the right. This route is called Ring my Bell. After a fall or two from us both we each lead the route ground up. We had thought the route was E6 6b but it turns out it has been upgraded to E7 6b, happy days! Next up was the main event. Pretty Girls Make Graves. This route had a reputation for being fiercely pumpy on good gear. I was up first. I was feeling great, all but no trad for 18 months and here I was having an awesome day. I started my way up the crack systems, finger locks and hand jams everywhere and more gear than you can shake a stick at. Had I placed to much? I was getting pumped, I could feel the lactic acid coursing through my veins. On the last move you takes a big pinch with your left hand crank for a jug at the top. I was in. I whooped for joy and pulled my sweaty coursing body over the top into a crumpled heap.

“This is what trad is all about” I thought to myself.

I’m back in the game! (Just in time for bouldering season)