Over the summer I seemed to suffer from a lack of form. I have been trying to understand why this may have been. It is possibly down to the fact that I climbed hard for 16 days in a row in August and suffered form a bit of burn out or, perhaps it was the fact that last winter was my best climbing season yet where I achieved many of the goals I had set for myself and therefore my desire was a little lacking. What ever the reason was it had had an effect on my climbing.
I had two weeks of climbing in Spain where I didn’t achieve the things I wanted to, partly down to uncontrollable circumstances such as bees, wet weather and tweaky monos. Don’t get me wrong I still did plenty of climbing but just not to the standard I had set myself.
The winter season came about and with it the start of the competition season. I really enjoy competitions. There is a great social aspect to them and well as the fact that they push me to try really hard. I used to view them as great training but now I seem to enjoy them for what they are. To start the season I did a few local competitions as well as two rounds of Blokfest. My results were not very pleasing with me placing around 20th position in both rounds of Blokfest. I was slightly disappointed with these results as last season I made a few finals and was always in the top 10.
Mammut had asked me to compete at this years FBO. I wasnt really looking forward to competing as I didn’t think I was in the best form, I decided to just go into the qualification round with no expectations. The setting for the FBO was excellent with many varied and interesting problems and before I knew it I had flashed 24 of the 25 qualification blocs. This put me in 1st place heading into the finals.
The final was great fun to be a part of with the vibe in isolation being friendly and fun. Sam Whittacker, Ben Moon and I were matching one another bloc for bloc until the last problem. Ben Moon completed the last climb where Sam and I could not, crowning him “King of the wave”. I finished in 2nd position which was really unexpected and a great confidence boost. Perhaps I was seeing a return to form.
The following weekend saw the first Rab Superbloc Masters competition take place in the EXCEL centre in London. This event was an invitation only competition with all of the best competition climbers in the UK taking part. Someone (Alex Hazelhurst) probably though it would be good entertainment to invite me, perhaps he thought it would be funny to watch me flounder.
There were 20 female and 20 male competitors. My goal was to not come last (gotta be optimistic). The competition was run in an IFSC world cup format so effectively our first round was the semi final. I was out 4th. The running order had been established by taking the British Championship results from last year, as I was the highest ranked non GB team member in that event I had a pretty good position in the running order. The problems were hard. Dave Barrens was out first and we could hear from the crowd and the commentary that he had only achieved one top. Out of the four problems I got three bonus’, usually this would be a pretty poor score in a competition of this calibre but, as all of the competitors completed their rounds my name was still sitting in 6th place on the scoreboard just scraping me into the final. Three of us qualified for the final without even climbing a problem, the climbs really must have been hard.
I was absolutely buzzing to have made the final, having surpassed my ambition of not coming last by 14 places.
In the final I climbed ok but thin skin and the skill of the other athletes meant I finished in 6th position. A placing I was very happy with.
As soon as the superbloc finished Ben West and I drove to Font for eight days of bouldering. Unfortunately the weather for our week away was far from ideal. Out of the eight day trip we managed a meagre three and a half day of climbing. Despite this I still had my most successful trip to the forest climbing a number of hard boulders in quick time. Because our weather windows were so short we crammed in as much climbing per day. My tick list for the week is below:
Day 1 (half day):
- Belle Gueule assis 7B flash
- Pancras assis 7C
- Fourmis Rouge 7C
- Big Boss 7C
- La Directe du Surplomb de la Mee 7C+/8A
- Haute Tension 7C+
- Hyper Tension 8A
- Imothep 8A