Just what you need to hear when you have a journey to Newcastle to make for the final round of the BmC Paraclimbing comps for 2017.
So, to cover all eventualities a pup sitter was sourced for both Vicky and Fizz (us humans getting stranded in the snow is one thing, but not at all suitable for a dog; extra layers and clothes packed; along with extra car supplies SHOULD we end up stuck.
Driving up wasn’t an issue, apart from the odd icy patch, we managed to make good time.
Saturday morning we awoke to frost, but thankfully NO SNOW.
But the temperature was too cold. It would actually have to warm up to snow. And I am sure I have mentioned before how cold weather and climbing centres don’t really mix?
Especially when said climbing centre is inside an old church….
So, base layers, t-shirts, jumpers, coats AND hats at the ready I was warm. (But totally unable to climb with all these layers.
Newcastle Climbing Centre had restricted entry, it was only available for the competition, which made for a much quieter and less stressful day, but it was really REALLY really COLD.
The first top rope route was long, it wasn’t technically difficult, but such a high route in a cold setting and about 2/3rds of the way up I found myself having to move quickly from each hold, while at the same time unable to move quickly because of the temperature.
This very problem caused me to come off rope rope two at a move that I should have had no trouble with.
Top rope three was quirky, it saw me challenging my climbing style and making moves that I wouldn’t normally do, but these moves saw me reach higher than I ever expected. I was proud of this route, even though I didn’t too it.
The bouldering problems were much easier to warm up for. Boulder problems are set on lower walls, with bigger crash mats underneath and as such, this area of the centre appeared warmer.
Route one on the boulder saw me miss out the top hold for fear of sitting down and pulling up. Route two was more of a traverse around a corner and then up on a diagonal, a route where I managed to get the start of on my final try, but then slipped further on on it.
Route three was a pig! I am being kind here because it would be rude to swear. It was a route that started in an almost horizontal laid back position and then you were to climb backwards before moving upto a standing position of height. I was put off this route by watching some of the climbers I would count as ‘elite’ not managing to get past the backwards climb section of the problem. Not surprisingly I got to the starting golds of this route (where all my body was off the floor) but only managed to move one hand before coming off.
My efforts were not in vien, these little ‘extra point’ moves saw me gain silver for this round of the competition.
And accumulatively see me awarded with Silver for the series.
However, the results of these competitions is not how the 2018 Paraclimbing team will be selected. This time around there will be a selection day in February in Sheffield.
So watch this space …. My climbing has changed dramatically in the last year, but will it be enough?
Round 1: Paraclimbing competition for 2017 (2018 team selection)
EICA – Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, hosted by BMC and MSC.
One year and one week to the day of my first ever competition and I was back to do it all over again.
And in that one year and one week many things had changed. I have most definitely changed; my climbing has most certainly improved and although my sight and hearing have had their setbacks (as detailed standing alone) I thought I was in a much stronger position physically and mentally for this competition.
I wasn’t sure though, why I hadn’t been as prepared for the 13 hour drive that had seen us be diverted off the M6 and not arrive at the hotel until after 1am on Saturday morning. After all, thanks to said sight and hearing impairments, I wasn’t able to share the drive with my CPC (Climbing Partner in Crime). The whole horrible job had been left to him to endure and in turn exhaust him mentally in ways, that as having never been a driver I can’t quite understand; yet one I can fully empathise with.
This year was different, this year I didn’t have the apprehension of a new Climbing Centre, the apprehension of never having competed before.
This year I had a bench mark; a place to beat and a score to improve upon.
This year I always wanted to EARN my podium place (not just get it by default-having been the only competitor last year!) Which although I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t have competition I was setting myself a personal goal to get me up on the podium.
After a bit of a wobble I found myself ready to set about the day. My first move was a bouldering problem which was actually marked as the hardest of my 3 problems, but it wasn’t something I was aware at the time.
it was to start from a sitting position, it was also then I realised that my routes where only to cover 2 categories; interestingly the 2 categories where VI and Upper-Body Amptutee.
It happens some times that some routes are set for particular categories and not others, for example a route set for lower body amputees would probably not be suited to an upper body amputee. And for a reason I do not understand it is often that the Vi and Upper-amputee are grouped together.
All competitors (from each of the 9 categories) had the same Boulder 1 and 2, in addition to Climb 1 and 2, but when it came to the 3rd of each problem this was where the VIs and Upper body amputees had a different problem on each.
This meant that the queue of competitions on these routes were much smaller; hence my school girl error of actually doing my hardest first.
So, going backwards I then completed with a flash (getting to the top on 1st attempt) Boulder 1.
I wasn’t as successful on Boulder 2, where I misread my footings and started off all wrong, a silly error I repeated on my following attempts.
Time for lunch and freshness break for Guiding girl Fizz, who had made herself lots of friends while benched as I climbed. And was sporting a slightly grey colour around her ears; afyerall a black dog around all that chalk isn’t the best mix!
Then it was onto the climbs. (Which unlike the Boulder, you only get one shot) Climb 1 was over before I realised, it was a great warm up climb and one I didn’t need any guidance from the ground on.
Climb 2 was a busy climb, with each and every Climber using it I got to enjoy watching (through the camera on my iPhone) the others who went before me. It was a much higher climb, with a column and yellow holds on the grey wall. It was time for me to climb, just as my CPC had returned from completing his 3rd Boulder (not the same as my 3rd Boulder) he told me how he had scraped his knuckle on the wall and would just need to sit and rest. (I later discovered that he had popped a tendon and actually had to have it strapped up and imobilize his middle fingers)
So, off I went and got myself tied in for the climb. I was about 2 m off the ground when I realised I didn’t have the support. My ground support wasn’t there, I was on the climb alone and had to up my game and concentrate on my hands and feet. I heard no instruction, I just had to focus and more importantly; remember to breath !!
….. Something is very easy to forget when I climb…..
It was a long climb, it was a climb that went from left side to right side and back to left, it wasn’t easy with the little contrast, but I did it. Or I hoped it had! When I got to the rope top (the rope didn’t finish at the top of the wall) I reached around but couldn’t find another hold, I had to just hope I had the last one, but I was worried I had missed it!)
Thankfully coming down I confirmed with the judge, I had got to the final hold and I had flashed the climb.
Phew….. I could relax.
It was then I discovered my CPiC’s injury and worked with him to support his injury to enable him to finish his own last two climbs.
And given the shortage or judges, there was a fair wait for me to finish my final climb. I was however able to watch two of my fellow competitions complete the climb (yet as they were both upper body amputees, their climb was different to mine…….. Even though it was the same route and wal)
It also gave me the opportunity to watch my CPiC complete his climbs too.
Then it was time for my final climb; just in time too as they announced it was time for the last climbs.
And this climb looked like a great contrast; black holds on a light grey wall. I hadn’t worked out why my fellow climbers had ignored several of the obvious holds, that was until I got on the wall.
The ‘obvious’ holds were in fact not holds at all, they were black gaffer tape taping over quickdraws and other such climbing accessories. A feature that had apparently been on the other walls too. But as the holds on those routes weren’t black, I hadn’t even noticed them.
I took on the climb, it was most certainly a challenge. But a fun challenge at that.
I had a move planned in my head, I moved my feet to make it an easier set a ste and then ….. OUCH!
I had missed it, it was such a simple move, but one I never made, instead I scraped my elbow off the wall as I dropped quite far. (My belay has been getting ready to take up my slack, which gave me more rope, sc I when I missed the move he found himself unexpectedly giving me more rope-which was no issue as I was fairly high up the wall!)
It was the final climb though, I had no second chance and one I am proud to say that “I climbed until I fell.” Not something I had done in previous competition; not something I had been doing while climbing in general until very recently.
And yes, I fell….. But it felt AMAZING !! I climbed until I couldn’t climb anymore.
And it got me a Silver Medal!
Out of the 4 competitors in my category I came second. A medal I am more than proud of. And can’t wait to improve on at October’s competition!
Roll on round 2, when I get to climb at The Castle !!
It’s a simple question; but honestly not one I can answer.
Simply put, it doesn’t matter about ‘can I?’ ‘Would I?’ or even ‘Should I?’ Because I can’t see and I can climb.
My sight & hearing loss has made me who is here today, it’s not about what I can’t do.
it should ALWAYS about what I CAN DO.
Yes I like most have wishes and hopes of things I want to do; but as yet haven’t. I am also human and long for the day that I can see and I can watch my children playing on the other side of the park. But, I am a realist and know that there are some hopes and dreams I will never have come true.
But life is for living, something that I can’t do if I sit too long and dwell.