31 Oct 2012

Wall Street

In 1987 Wolfgang Güllich established the World's first 8c with 'Wall Street' in Frankenjura. 1987!
Sabby and I met my Dad in Frankenjura for a short climbing trip. We'd hoped for perfect conditions and to get loads of climbing done. What awaited us was quite the opposite. On Saturday it snowed and we ended up at the 'Fight Club' bouldering wall in Betzenstein. On Sunday we awoke to beautiful weather but freezing temperatures. We were optimistic and decided to head to the crag. After a really cold uninspiring warm-up, we got stuck into our routes on the Krottenseer Turm. I clipped up 'Wall Street' and worked out the moves again. It felt really cold and I was pretty close to giving up. I gave the route 2 attempts and fell both times on the last hard move due to freezing fingers. My skin wasn't looking good and I knew I had just one more go left. I gave it everything and clipped the chains in relief. My skin was destroyed. Sabby and my Dad battled it out on the Turm for a another few hours before we retired back to a warm gasthaus for some Weissbier and steak.

20 Oct 2012

Don Pedro

Niederthai in Oetztal never seems to stop giving. Every year there is something new to climb. A few months ago I went up to Niederthai with Hansjörg Auer. He was trying a route, and I wasn't sure what to try. We started to talk about some projects in Niederthai and 'Don Pedro' became the obvious one to attempt. Local legend Markus Haid bolted and named the route after a speciality found in South Africa. Don Pedro started to build a reputation as this extremely hard short bouldery route next to Markus's classic Brandy Tarte. The route revolves around one really hard technical/powerful all-out dynamic move to a narrow pocket. I needed a good few attempts just to complete this move and realised that the route was possible. It took me many attempts to learn the strange body movement involved and after 6 days of effort this year I was able to make the first ascent of Don Pedro. I think the route is a hard 8c+. Hansjörg gave the route the nickname 'Hubble/Humble', it would be awesome if it became the Austrian equivalent of Ben Moon's classic Hubble. Time will tell. 

Here is a video of the ascent.

Don Pedro

2 Oct 2012

Frankenjura Sep'12

A 3 week trip to France was planned but due to a busy practice the plan had to change. Living near Innsbruck is actually really good. One is pretty much in the best location for climbing in Europe with some of the best climbing areas just driving distance away. With Frankenjura just 3.5 hours away, Sabby and I decided to spend a week pulling on pockets. The first few days were really cold with our fingers freezing half way up the routes. After a day mountain biking on some of the best single trails I have ever experienced, the temperatures improved, and we started to really move on the rock. I climbed some awesome routes including Markus Bock's Paroli (8c), Morlock Shocker (8b) and Odins Tafel (8b). The climbing in Frankenjura requires a certain amount of control and there doesn't seem to be room for mistakes on the harder routes. I really like this style of climbing and I am going to work on a few weaknesses before returning for a long weekend at the end of October.  

3 Sep 2012

BWC Munich

The final round of the 2012 bouldering Worldcup was held at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. The location of the event was incredible with a huge glass roof sheltering the blocs and crowd from the thunderstorms that hit Munich throughout the weekend. 

Since the Adidas Rockstars event I really focused on training.  I went running, mountain biked to the boulder room and worked on my core strength. I wanted to do well. I really wanted to be able to give everything and I felt really prepared going into the event. The qualification round went well and I qualified for the semi-final. 
The Semi-final was going to be hard. I knew that I had to just try and flash as many blocs as I could to stand a chance for a place in the final. The first bloc went ok, I managed to get the bonus 1st go but powered out higher up. The next 3 blocs suited me perfectly and I managed to flash them. I looked up at the results table and saw that I'd qualified for the final in 3rd place!
The final was unbelievable with the crowd pushing the athletes up the athletic boulders. I felt strong but on the very last boulder after a good flash attempt I found a flaw in my fitness and was unable to recover for another good go. I finished 6th.

13 Jul 2012

Ganesha, Elefanten Wand

Some time back Hansjörg Auer and Heiko Wilhelm found a new wall in Ötztal and named it ‘Elephants Wall’. Hansjörg had bolted one particular line that slowly built up a grand reputation as one of the hardest routes in Ötztal. He eventually opened it for others to try in 2011. Lukas Ennemoser and I started to attempt the project towards the end of last year. We were both making good progress before the winter arrived. We often talked about the route on dark wintry training nights and deep down we both wanted to claim the first ascent.

A short break form the Bouldering World Cups allowed me to climb more on the rock and I worked my way through some routes and boulder problems that I’d planned to do. I wanted a challenge and I became really psyched for Hansjörg’s project again. I had a few sessions on my fingerboard to improve my open hand strength and a few sessions at the wall to improve my boulder strength. After a few days work, I was able to complete the project on Saturday 7th July and named it ‘Ganesha’ and estimated the grade to be around Fr8c/+. It certainly feels harder than the routes graded Fr8c that I have climbed.

There is an extension to Ganesha that I am going to start trying as soon as I am back from the UK.

2 Jul 2012

Moria, Niederthai

It was 35°C in Längenfeld on Saturday. The only place to climb was Niederthai. We walked through the forest to the wall where cold air shoots up through the gaps between the boulders. Niederthai always feels special. It's a place that's filled with history and is often a good place to escape.

I had tried Moria (8b+/c) a few times but never found it in good conditions. The route was first climbed by Heiko Wilhelm in 2005 and was originally named 'Wilhelm's Platte'. The route was totally dry and after placing the quickdraws and refining my sequence, I climbed it. I have never climbed a route of this difficulty that is as technical as Moria. 

12 Jun 2012

Drill Addiction?

With the unexpected discovery of a virgin granite wall in Ötztal, I have discovered a new side of climbing. On Sunday I made my first pure first ascent of a sport route, experiencing the whole process of defining the line, bolting, cleaning and eventually climbing it. The route is named 'Behind the Tree' as it was originally hidden behind a dozen of huge pine branches before I exposed the line. The route route is graded 8b. The wall is now full of projects from various climbers in Ötztal and it's a real joy helping to develop an amazing crag.

2 Jun 2012

La Coka Nostra 8A (sit down start)

Had a great day at Tumpen today. The Ötztaler Ache flowing through the valley is full with melt water at the moment and as one boulders the deafening sound of the river behind is awesome! I'd heard about a new boulder 'La Coka Nostra' 8A and was keen to give it a go. It's a link up of two boulders that I did some time ago, 'Crocodile' and 'Diamonds are Forever'. I worked out the moves and after a short rest climbed it. A fantastic boulder with some powerful clamping between slopers and crimps. Definitely one of the best blocs in Ötztal and a solid 8A.

24 May 2012

BWC Innsbruck

On 18th and 19th May Innsbruck held the fourth round of the 2012 IFSC Bouldering World Cup.

Innsbruck is possibly the perfect city for mountain people and with the competition being held in the central market square with the awe-inspiring ‘Nordkette’ mountain range as a backdrop, the competition was bound to be well supported by the local population.

Innsbruck has built up a solid reputation as the World’s capital of competition climbing and expectations for the event were high. Athletes from all around the World battled their way through the difficult qualification round on Friday. Shauna Coxsey, Ned Feehally and I made it through to the semi-final on Saturday. Dave Barrans and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk just missed out on qualifying.

Saturday morning soon arrived and the athletes made their way back into the isolation zone situated next to the River Inn. I was out first and although I was relatively relaxed, I still wanted to do well and secure a much sought after top-10 placement. After a good warm up session with team mate Ned, I felt prepared and managed to flash 3 blocs. Ned was soon out and managed to top 3 blocs. We discussed the blocs after and realised that we may have secured a place in the final that evening. Ned had a nail-biting wait as the World Champion, Dmitrii Sharafutdinov, attempted to climb the last semi-final boulder. He needed a good few attempts to start it meaning that Ned had gained a place in the final. Shauna Coxsey put in a strong performance on the semi-final boulders securing a place in the final too.

Three British climbers were going to be climbing in a Boulder World Cup final that evening!

The bars and restaurants surrounding the market square soon filled up on Saturday evening ready for the final. The athletes were called up one by one for the presentation in front of a sea of 3500 spectators. The atmosphere was fantastic!
Shauna Coxsey looked as though she was going to take gold until a few mistakes on the final boulder left her in 2nd place behind the local girl Anna Stoehr. Kilian Fischhuber took first place ahead of Rustam Gelmanov and Sean McColl. Ned and I ended up with 5th and 6th places respectively.

The competiton was shown on Austrian national TV, check it out here

The next round of the 2012 IFSC Bouldering World Cup will be held on 1st and 2nd July in Vail, USA. Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Shauna Coxsey, Tyler Landman, Dave Barrans and David Mason will be competing.

I have a short break from competitions now before the World Cup in Munich in August. I have a few projects planned for the next few weeks and a trip planned back to the UK for my brother's graduation day.

Thanks to Heiko Wilhelm for the images.

10 May 2012

Peak to Creek

As I often do, one evening I was staring up at the mountains contemplating, when my phone rang; it was Lukas 'Sir' Ennemoser.
A short silence.
"Yes Lu, what's up?"
"What are you doing next Monday?" 
"There is this event in Oetztal, Jan Ullrich will be there and loads of other famous athletes, we just need to climb a route, it'll be easy!"
I was obviously keen on taking part and checked out what Lu had got me into. It turned out to be a relay race from Soelden to Oetz involving most of the outdoor sports that Oetztal has to offer. Some big names in alpine skiing, mountain biking, mountain running, cycling, ski-touring, para-gliding and kayaking were involved and I felt privileged to be a part of it. We were split into 3 teams involving one athlete from every sport in the race. My team consisted of Guenter Mader (alpine skiing), Simon Scheiber (mountain biking), Markus kroell (mountain running), Jan Ullrich (cycling), Alexander Fasser (ski-touring), Thomas De Dorlodot (Paragliding) and Jakobus Stenglein (kayak). As the teams raced through the valley of Oetztal, locals were confused by the chaos and the deafening noise of the Red Bull helicopter following the athletes. The teams ended up in rafting boats in Oetz and we all paddled like mad men to the finishing line at Area47 to be greeted by a beach party with a Red Bull stunt plane flying over-head. A fantastic event.

1 May 2012

BWC Vienna

This year's competitions are not going too well so far. I can't seem to get into the all-important mental zone at the moment. I feel stronger than I have in previous years but seem to have lost confidence. The field is, as always, very strong and one is unfortunately left no room for mistakes. I have just over two weeks before the next event where i'll be attempting to climb on the rock as much as possible and regaining the invaluable confidence an athlete needs in competitions. The competition season, however, is going very well for some climbers. Shauna climbed exceptionally well and finished in 4th. Dave Barrans just missed the semi-final and the Austrian Team are on fire. The next round is in Innsbruck. It's going to be a mega event.

24 Apr 2012

BWC Log-Dragomer

The 2nd round of the 2012 Bouldering World Cup was held in the small Slovenian village of Log-Dragomer just outside of Ljubljana. Jacky Godoffe was the chief route setter so some interesting blocs/puzzles were to be expected.

I went into the event physically well prepared but just couldn’t get into the all important mental zone. The competition field is so strong at present and there’s literally no room for mistakes. I was having a bad day and that cost me a place into the semi-final. I finished 23rd.

Dave Barrans was climbing very well and made it into the semi-final on Sunday where he climbed 2 blocs finishing in 17th.

A real highlight of the event was watching Shauna Coxsey cruising through the qualification and semi-final into the final where she climbed incredibly well finishing 2nd after an awe-inspiring performance from Mina Markovic.

The next event is in Vienna starting this Friday. Tomasz Oleksy is the chief route setter, so powerful moves between crimps are to be expected! 

More info on the next event can be found here IFSC BWC Vienna

29 Mar 2012

Austria-Cup Hallein

The second round of the Austrian Bouldering Cup was held in Hallein. It was a great comp to test how my training is going. I felt strong on some certain styles and less confident on others. I ended up in 4th behind Jakob, Kili and Lu. Lu and myself have some ideas for the next few weeks to finely tune our training ready for the 2012 Bouldering World Cup season. This year's training has gone incredibly quickly. I think it's due to trying a few new ideas throughout the different phases and doing lots of cross-training i.e. back country skiing.

The first round of the BWC is in Log-Dragomer (SLO) 21st April, but in the meantime we'll be heading up to Munich for a training weekend and over to Tessin for some granite bouldering.

5 Mar 2012

Fontainebleau Trip

Back from a week in the magical forest of Fontainebleau. The weather was on our side as we moved from area to area climbing some of the most inspiring lines around. We worked our way through some incredible boulders such as Kheops, L'Apparemment, Partage, Hot Line, Lady Big Claque and many more. 

We spent one day at Jacky Godoffe's bouldering wall at the military station in the old town of Fontainebleau to train on some competition style blocs set by a group of route setters including my good friend Jamie Cassidy. 

I am looking forward to 2012, competing in the bouldering circuit and making inspiring trips like this one.

Here are a few images from the trip captured by Heiko Wilhelm.

8 Jan 2012