Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fail Running

To skip the scene-setting whinge, scroll down two paragraphs…

As many people who read this blog have probably gathered from the silence, I’m not competing in climbing any more. Unfortunately it’s not been exactly on my own terms, which is how I would’ve liked to go out, but that’s injuries for you.

However, I’ve started to dabble in a few other things over the last few months. Though I do actually prefer it, it’s strange showing up at an event and being completely unknown. Where a few people barely know your name, as opposed to hundreds knowing half of your life history (sometimes including what you had for breakfast last week). Though I miss competing a stupid amount, I’m  happy with things the way they are. No pressure, no sponsors (not that they were ever anything other than supportive and unpressurising), no chance of coming even remotely close to winning, basically - no clue! Anyhow - life's changed to the point of being unrecognisable from even 6 months ago but I'm being bullied into keeping the blog going from a few different quarters, sooo.....

It’s the end of April and Winter’s flicking a final two fingers at what really should be Summer weather by now. By this stage I’ve been wildly rallying the poor car along this single track road for what seems like forever. According to the satnav, it doesn’t even exist and I’m cursing not leaving home a quarter hour earlier or possibly having considered bringing the correct OS map instead of the one ending twenty miles to the South. In fact, the only reason I know I’m probably in the right place is the clapped out Ford Escort I’m chasing has an FRA sticker on the back and a similarly (late) crazed driver behind the wheel.

Registration goes by in a flustered blur.  S@*t, have a I got everything?  Shorts or thermals??  Christ I'll freeze to death in shorts!  I really need the Loo!!  Am I even wearing shoes?! No time to warm-up, everyone’s at the start line… 3, 2, 1, GO!!!  And relaaax. For 100 yards that is, then the pack swings off the road and out onto a rough, boggy trail leading up the hill that leads to the hill with the really big hill on top of it. I console myself with having already passed a few people (twice my age) before having to resort to a fast walk, then hands on knees, then a gasping, wheezing slog. Every now and then the angle relents enough to force myself into a pathetic jog only for it to be arrested after a few steps by ankle deep bog.

Towards the top the ground takes on a light dusting of snow with the aforementioned bog having given way to intermittent scree. The freeze seems to stabilise things a bit underfoot making upward progress marginally easier, not that the taste of blood in my mouth and what’s left of my screaming calves would have you think it. Suddenly the race leader appears from nowhere. I start doing that little dance you do when you don’t know which way someone’s going to go on the footpath, only this time there’s no footpath, and my fellow pedestrian is careering towards me far too quickly for my addled brain to react or for him to have any hope of stopping. He shoots by the cowering mess (me) thankfully avoiding a head on. It’s like getting lapped. How could they possibly have made the summit and be on the way back already? I hate this!

Somewhere in the freezing mist I stumble once around the summit cairn and catapult myself back towards the finish. To be honest, I couldn’t give a crap about the finish line any more. I’m vividly fantasizing about the king sized Mars bar that I’ve left sitting on the passenger seat and the dry clothes in the boot. But then suddenly - I’m. Actually. Flying.

Gravity has taken over. The wind’s blowing so hard and the intermittent hail stings my face to the point that I can’t so much see out of my eyes, more just make out shapes that I hope won’t slide from under my feet the moment I land on them. I just lean forwards and for the next 5k my legs are on auto pilot. I remove the psychotic grin that seems to have formed, stop scream-babbling at myself and generally pull it together only while I pass the small group of mountain rescue volunteers huddling by a fence halfway down.

Once over the style, mayhem is unleashed again and one by one I manage to pick off a few more victims (they can't hear me sneaking up behind them with all the wind :D ) presumably down to my youthful recklessness in descending rather than athletic ability. I hit the road and blast it for the finish, cross the line and carry straight on to the sheep pen wall in front, to quietly vom behind it.

37th. I want more NOW!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 World Championships, Arco

Very last minute that I've been able to attend this, but leaving in the morning!

Video stream possibly here, not sure: www.ifsc.tv otherwise on Italian TV.

Qualifiers on Friday afternoon. Its going to be HOT!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Everything still hurts today. But this time I don't want it to go away as right now, it's reminding me of what so far was the performance of a lifetime (though actually the pain in my neck I could do without). Finally after a string of terrible results in Internationals I've had a decent one. Everything was different about this comp and I know it's down to the experience gained last year and a winter of getting my head around things. This weekend, the podium (as for the 19 others in the semi-final) was so close you could taste it! One more top would've been the ticket into the final and on a different day... It feels more than just a 'maybe'.

 Problem 4 in the Semi-Final - Thanks to Heiko Wilhelm for the use of the photo.

Most of the pain today seems to be stemming from the full body whiplash I gave myself falling sideways off problem 1. As I crawled off the stage all I can remember was being told the dismount "looked well cool". No worries so... :o) Only a few thousand people watching anyway.

Everything's clicked into place a bit more this year, it's just a real shame I've not been able to do more events.

Otherwise, the week continued to get better... Planning for our new climbing wall in Dublin came through, so we've finally been able to release the location and rough opening date. www.gravityclimbing.ie

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Paddy vs. The World

An Irishman has qualified for a World Cup semi-final at the Sheffield round.  Am currently sitting in 9th (before the semi's) beside Daniel Woods from the USA.

Watch it or else!!!  www.ifsc.tv

Starting at 10.30am


Monday, May 2, 2011

Time is running out...

Brilliant 5+ arete in Glen Sannox

Been in Scotland for the last month or so and currently on Arran. Not been climbing much so a bit unfit at the moment. Did manage to squeeze two sessions in at Dumby while I was in Glasgow being shown around by Will Atkinson

Managed to tick Malky (7b+) - really good thuggy line and also Sabotage (8a). Keen to head back up soon.

On Arran it's all about new problems, have a fanastic project at the moment, unfortunately it's nails. I've only managed to unlock about one move per session on it and time's running out, it will be a class problem on lovely sandstone once it's done though, probably about Font 8b or so. Unfortunately I'm only here until the weekend...

In the evenings after work I've been out exploring - ticking a few lines on the 'Project Boulder' in Glen Sannox, the easy left arete and the main prow of Chasing Daylight being the best of them at about 5+ and 7a/b respectively. Wouldn't be surprised if these had been done before.

Some vids to follow at some point anyhow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Massive New Bouldering Wall for Dublin!!

Wow - Dublin, you're in for a treat!  gravityclimbing.blogspot.com


GRAVITY CLIMBING CENTRE - Coming soon to Dublin

Good morning Dublin! We are very excited to announce the imminent arrival of Dublin's newest and largest climbing wall.

Behind the development is one of the most experienced teams in the climbing world; joining the Irish partners (to be disclosed soon) are two of the team from The Climbing Works - the Worlds Biggest Bouldering Wall. www.climbingworks.com

On offer will be a massive variety of climbing surfaces, angles and features. This, combined with regular route setting, will ensure there is something for everyone right from complete beginner, up to international competitor. Beyond the huge array of bouldering, the centre will also feature a separate kids area, the cafe and much, much more. In other words, we're bringing you an amazing wall which we hope will become central to the Irish climbing community - somewhere you can call your own even.

To keep track of things as they happen, check out www.gravityclimbing.ie or why not join us on Facebook.

The Gravity Climbing Team

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, this past year hasn't run from or to January 1st. It's run from CWIF to CWIF. It began in March 2010 with being asked to step in for Andy on the ClimbNewcastle team. Next thing I knew I was in the Semi-Final with 15 other individuals who can often be found sneaking into the world top 20. I didn't expect to be there and performed like the amatuer I was, in my first International event.

The year then led through some serious Ups and a couple of Downs most chronicled here. Then came March 2011 and we were back at the beginning again. Except this time I had a little more experience under my belt and just scraped into the Semi. On this occasion however, I came out like the rabid little badger I imagined I was (in my head anyway), and qualified for the final in 5th place. Unfortunately, by the final I'd lost a bit of momentum and a pretty weak performance followed, 6th it was. However, it was my first International final and I'd managed to put a few big names to bed to get there. A little experience goes a long way and from here I can't even see the horizon...

Working Class (Font. 8a+/b)   Photo: Naomi Hart

I tweaked my shoulder at the comp so took a couple of weeks off before finally cracking and heading to Bowden. Having tried it briefly on the previous evening and a good few goes flapping around in the heat the next day, the clouds rolled in and conditions got better. Working Class Font. 8a+ was in the bag. While getting a few pics later in the evening I went for broke and tried it from the sitter, dropped the last hold on the first go and with it the Font. 8b. Arse!