I have been meaning to write a blog for a while but haven't got around to it. When I got on to the GB climbing team recently, I decided that it would be a nice idea to start now.
On the 21st November I went to the Leeds Wall with my mum to climb in the British Youth Open Lead event. Having come 3rd and 2nd in the previous two Lead Cup rounds, I was eager to place highly, even by pipping my record and winning. I got to the wall roughly 2 hours before the climbing started to give me time to look at the routes and demos and get warmed up. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my first qualifier was a nice vertical route with a combination of crimps and slopers and no especially huge reaches. I watched the demo and warmed up on lead, probably too soon as I was climbing 12th and the first climber hadn't gone yet. However, what concerned me the most was my inability to stop shaking with nerves! When it was my turn to climb only one girl had topped the route and I was starting to doubt my initial self confidence. The start of the route was harder than I had assumed and took a lot of careful foot placements to get right. Nevertheless I soon found myself at the crux and with a few deep breaths I climbed on and got to the last few moves on nice crimps. I was relieved to top out after having climbed so shakily, but I pushed the experience to the back of my mind and watched my 2nd qualifier demo.
I felt slightly more at ease for this route as I knew that I was in joint 1st position from the previous route. However, this route was on a steeper gradient and less suited to my style. Climbing 4th I didn't have much time to worry and got on the route feeling determined. The holds were mainly good crimps but as I moved towards halfway the moves started to get harder, with wide bridging and cutting loose required. By the time I got to the crux section I was feeling moderately pumped and in this part of the route the footholds were sparse and at awkward angles so I kept cutting loose, losing energy quickly. I got to the high point which was a long move going to a crimpy undercut from some lower down crimps and high feet. Here I fell off but I was a little disappointed as I felt I could have climbed higher had I not known the high point. However I was still pleased to qualify in joint 2nd place.
In preparation for the finals I watched a couple of demos for other categories' routes in case I got these for my final. I spoke to others in my category and we decided that it would probably be one of two routes, both of which were steep and long moved. This worried me and I decided to go away to have lunch and go for a walk outside to clear my head. At 3.15 I went into isolation which was not an ideal place for this. The area itself was very small and cramped and the only surrounding walls were top rope with no mats and very few poor holds to practice on. Nevertheless I made the most of what was there. When we went to observe the routes I found to my dismay that our friends ball route was one of the ones I had thought it might be but that it was also the one I least wanted to get. It has been boys A qualifier 2 as well as boys juniors qualifier 1 and I had seen many boys, even tall ones, struggle with some of the long moves off poor holds.
I came out to climb 5th feeling determined if not very anxious. The first section of the route was pumpy and powerful but I used the best technique I could to get through it. I got to the first crux section where I moved out sideways to some crimpy undercuts in a long move. Having done this, I set up for the next move-a dead point over a volume to a small slopey crimp. I gave the move my best effort and almost got it. The next thing I knew I was off the wall and shouting in frustration for I knew I could have got it and that other, taller climbers would get further.
The next climber, Hannah Slaney climbed beautifully, pulling through the first crux section with what looked like ease and coming off higher up at a long move to a crimp. Looking at the results board I was annoyed to find that I had missed a podium place by 1 plus point!
My mum told me that the girl who came third, Rebecca Kinghorn, had got to the same place as me but had tried reaching up with the wrong hand to get a feel for the hold, before setting up to go with the right hand. She fell going with the right hand but had scored higher than me for touching the hold first. I learnt a valuable lesson from this- if you think you are going to fall off, try by any means to touch the next hold, before setting up to do the move in sequence.
I was not best pleased with my 4th place but speaking with my coach I was able to acknowledge that I had climbed well and had taken a valuable lesson away from the experience.
I hope you enjoyed reading my first post,