Category Archives: Bouldering

Feb 12th: F-BO14 – not just another boudering comp…

Saturday the 8th February saw a fair few of the UK’s bouldering elite gather at the Foundry in Sheffield for the F-BO14 bouldering competition. Since it first opened its doors, the Foundry has long been the scene for climbing comps – those of us who have been regular visitors over the years will remember the then sixteen year old Chris Sharma appearing in a Foundry bouldering comp back in the 90’s! F-BO14, is the latest in that series, and what a cracking event it turned out to be too…

The morning qualification round saw the elite, the good and the would-be’s all rubbing shoulders on no less than 25 problems – all carefully devised and crafted by the setting team which comprised the regular Foundry setter, Rob Napier, Percy Bishton (on sabbatical from The Works) and guest setter and strong-man/ex-British bouldering champ, Ned Freehally; nothing if not a strong, stout and sly setting trio! Collectively, they served up a veritable cordon beau menu of problems. One problem had just three holds arranged in a horizontally manner rather than upwards! Challenging the paradigm indeed!

Emerging from the quallies as the lady finalists were Shauna Coxsey, Michaela Tracy, Diane Merrick, Katie Maxwell, Gracie Martin and Ella Russel. The six-man testosterone-laden crew comprised Thom Arnold, Nathan Phillips, Cailen Harker, Martin Smith and Ben Moon. Yep, that’s THE Ben Moon who is back on the scene and pulling down with remarkable determination once more. The stand-out performance from qualification was supplied by Shauna who flashed every single problem to return a perfect score-card!

The finals were run using the familiar bouldering comp format – two climbers (one male, one female) both climbing at once on two problems over a four minute slot before back to isolation. Both legs were pretty closely contested. Shauna Coxsey emerged in top place – though she was pushed hard by Michaele and Diane. Shauna dropped the very last problem of the day on her first attempt (her only mistake of the day). Michael came second with Diane in third. Sadly Ben Moon sat the final round out but Stu Littlefair stepped into Ben’s place and provided some great entertainment climbing bloc #4 by starting upside down! Unconventional, but seemingly effective and a definite crowd-pleaser. Martin Smith came in first with Ethan Walker in second and wild-card Stu picking up third.

A cracking day all round – here some snaps…

DSC_5538_low res.jpgDSC_5588b_low res.jpgDSC_5565b_low res.jpgDSC_5531_low res.jpgDSC_5567_low res.jpgDSC_5575_low res.jpgDSC_5609_low res.jpgDSC_5620_low res.jpgDSC_5624_low res.jpgDSC_5629a_low res.jpgDSC_5643_low res.jpgDSC_5646a_low res.jpgDSC_5655a_low res.jpgDSC_5653a_low res.jpgDSC_5671_low res.jpgDSC_5682_low res.jpgDSC_5694_low res.jpgDSC_5700_low res.jpgDSC_5706_low res.jpgDSC_5709_low res.jpg

 

Also posted in Events

Nov 19th: It’s started…

With five weeks to go before Chrimball, the blue skies and crisp ground frost on Sunday morning signalled that the weather had definitely turned and that the 2012/13 grit season was on us. And for most folks it’s not a moment to soon given the lousy wet summer we’ve just had to endure…

The fabled minty conditions were wide-spread in the Peak yesterday and hence the car-parks and crags were (not surprisingly) pretty busy by mid-morning. In search of a bit of solitude as well as some early season, confidence-boosting, never-done-before ticks, I headed for The Walnut below Baslow Edge. I’d been wanting to get there for ages but it had never quite happened. The bouldering bible (Peak Bouldering by Vertebrate Publishing) warns of a difficult approach through bracken to get to The Walnut. Boy, they’re not wrong! Thrashing through (at times) chest high undergrowth my legs were soaked by the time I’d got there – not quite the start to the day I’d planned but not the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Next time I’ll read the guide a bit more closely, that way I’ll stand a fighting chance of finding the path on the walk-in.

  

There’s only 15 odd problems at The Walnut but most are well worth doing. The Walnut is in fact two boulders scrunched up close together giving the impression that it’s a single bloc.  The easier problems are on the (then) sunny south-facing side of the southern bloc with The Walnut (Font 6c) taking the best-in-class prize. It’s something of a gift at that grade – but let’s not tell Ru that or he’ll knock the grade back in the next guide! All the other problems on this face are straight-ups – typically from sitters. The rock is as rough as it gets too so if you’re popping for holds aim well. The hardest problem on this face, Whip Me, Whip Me (Font 6c+) from Mark (Zippy) Pretty starts by tunnelling in right underneath the hanging groove. The hardest part of this problem TBH seems to be keeping your ar*e off the floor whilst swinging around on sloping shelves and it’s definitely NOT a gift at this grade. And don’t worry, I will be having a word with Ru about this one when I see him next.

The north-facing side of The Walnut houses predominately harder problems – up to Font 7c+ – and it climbs quite different too. Little Richard (Font 7a) is short, hard and surprisingly snatchy and a great little problem. The harder stuff on that face all involve slopers and small crimps and needed way more skin than I had left. Least that was my excuse for leaving for an early bath. Surprisingly, two other teams rocked-up whilst I was there so it’s obvious that The Walnut is more popular than I’d thought. Satisfied that I’d got a few ticks and clicks, I headed home as the sun started to sink. I felt I’d gotten my grit season off to a half decent start and hope you did too…

 

Looking north from The WalnutThere is a path in there somewhereNutjob (Font 6a) #01Nutjob (Font 6a) #02Nutjob (Font 6a) #03The Eliminates Area, Curbar

Cliffhanger 2012: Two Tickets to the Gun Show…

Far from being somewhere between a damp squib and a total wash-out, the British Bouldering Championships over the weekend in Sheffield produced some thrilling climbing. Sadly, the near biblical rain which poured down last week forced Sheffield City Council to pull the plug (sic…) on Cliffhanger 2012 at the eleventh hour on Thursday, the day before the gates to Graves Park were due to open for the weekend. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook the word got out very fast but the ‘Cancelled’ notices posted over the Cliffhanger hoardings around the city made very despondent viewing for many of the Sheffield residents who have really gotten behind Cliffhanger as an event in recent years.

Being British must count for something though and despite reports earlier in the week of water pouring through the marquee and running down the bouldering wall whilst the setters were hard at work the bouldering comp survived the deluge – just. Come Saturday morning the Senior and IFSC Junior competitors arrived for isolation – under stormy skies of course! Recent Cliffhanger events had featured international World Cup bouldering events but the comp this year was strictly a home-grown affair with the British Bouldering Championships riding on the event. And given the circumstances, perhaps it was just as well.

Following the well-contested Qualifiers, which saw all the usual names get beyond the cut-off, it all came down to the four problems in the finals. The 2011 Champs Ned Feehally and Shauna Coxsey were not only through to the finals  but led their respective packs. Could they retain their titles? As usual the setters had concocted a wicked mix of problems to catch the competitors out – more slopers and volumes than ever it seemed; the simple crimp all but banished to the spare holds bin behind the wall. Two of the women’s problems took gnarly groove-lines as well.

 

As if the problems weren’t hard enough, further difficulties lay ahead for the would-be champions as head-setter, Percy Bishton, ditched his cordless impact driver for a cordless radio mic and started barracking competitors in a double-act with the official MC, Ian Smith, who valently battled the BBM (Bishton Banter Machine) all afternoon to keep the loyal crowd up to speed with the action and the whole ship on an even keel.

Whilst the male Senior Quals were especially tight, with no less than four climbers coming in joint second, the finals were real close. Gaz Parry, ex Spain, turned in a very creditable performance to come in 5th. The 2011 champ, Ned Feehally, couldn’t quite match his previous form and slipped to 4th. Messrs James Garden and Adam Watson equalled Ned’s number of top-outs of three but took fewer attempts and pulled 3rd and 2nd respectively leaving the power-house that is Dave Barrens to take top slot with successful attempts on all four problems. IRSC Male Junior’s were Nathan Phillips (1st), Luke Tilley (2nd) and Ben Norman (3rd).

The female Senior Quals by comparison produced a nice spread of positions with no ties – a setters dream. Likewise the problems in the finals split the leaders across the board as well. Sheffield’s own ladies, Katy Whittaker, Diane Merrick and Mina Leslie-Wujastik (placed 6th, 5th and 4th respectively) couldn’t quite muster the power and athleticism that Leah Crane (3rd) nor Alex Puccio (2nd) brought to the boards. However, it was Shauna Coxsey that topped the table with a maximum of four tops to maintain her current good form and scoop the top place for the second year running. IFSC Female Junior’s were Shauna Coxsey (1st), Charlotte Garden (2nd) and Jennifer Wood (3rd).

Paradoxically, Sunday saw another day of OK weather for the IFSC Youth Categories comp which was well-attended and well-contested. For a full breakdown of the result s see the BMC website http://www.thebmc.co.uk/british-bouldering-championships-2012–results.

 

Cliffhanger 2012 - Gaz Parry on his was to topping out on problem #1Cliffhanger 2012 - Dave Darrens on the final 'rock and pop' move on problem #1Cliffhanger 2012 - Leah Crane getting into the groove on problem #1Cliffhanger 2012 - Diane Merrick on the 'blue sloper volume' problem #2 from hellCliffhanger 2012 - Leah Crane taking a campus approach to problem #2Cliffhanger 2012 - Alex Puccio hiking problem #2Cliffhanger 2012_Adam Watson hanging-in on problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Ned Feehally heading north on problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Alex Puccio eyeing up her options on problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Leah Crane focuses on closure on problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Alex Puccion again closing out problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Shauna Coxsey stretching for the title as well as the finishing hold on problem #3Cliffhanger 2012 - Gill Peat lost in the blob-lands on problem #4Cliffhanger 2012 - Ned Feehally cranking hard for closure on problem #4Cliffhanger 2012 - IFSC Junior Female PodiumCliffhanger 2012 - IFSC Junior Male PodiumCliffhanger 2012 - Female Senior PodiumCliffhanger 2012 - Male Senior Podium

Also posted in Events, Photography

June 26th : Nuda’s Tartan – esoteric bouldering at it’s best…

Having climbed for nearly forty years in the Peak it’s a rare day that I get to visit a new venue. After the two-day monsoon at the back end of last week my gut said, and the word on the tinterweb confirmed it, that the Peak was a wash-out. Choices seemed limited – go indoors or play a wild-card and gamble. We chose the latter which just happened to be a new venue. “It was dry yesterday” Tom offered. That was enough for me; I was persuaded. Nuda’s Tartan it was then…

It’s obvious from the get go that Nuda’s Tartan is small – there’s only a dozen problems – and in truth it certainly isn’t much to look at. Nuda’s is nothing if not steep though; in fact there’s not a single problem that doesn’t involve a roof at some stage so pack your best guns with you if you’re gonna venture down there. It has the strangest rock as well, a bobbly limestone which is pretty darned sharp. Slapping definitely isn’t recommended as you’ll soon be heading home with blood dripping from ripped fingers. There’s plenty of pockets knocking about so it’s not a bad spot to get a bit of pocket-pulling in if you’re off to the Jura. Some of the problems are currently generously graded – read soft – but others aren’t so it makes for an interesting day. There’s even one problem, Slot Machine Font 7a+, that is mainly (or should that be manly?) on jams – a gift at the current grade, assuming you’re a time-served grit git.

Interestingly for such a small and off the beaten track venue, there were a few other teams there at different stages of the day. The vib was that the problems (generally) all climbed pretty well. Nuda’s is classic esoteric venue but (apparently) it’s generally dry and as such it’s well worth adding to the list of possible venues if it’s been dumping. If you’ve not come across it before Nuda’s is covered in the new Peak Bouldering guide. Please read/follow the access info though.

Joe and Tom demo the hanging prow that is the classy Tarantula Font 7c…

 

DSC_1487.jpgDSC_1480.jpgDSC_1454.jpg

 

Also posted in Photography