After all the awful weather in England, I couldn't wait to go to Spain! I was to fly on the Sunday morning and the day before was my British Team medical at a hospital in Sheffield. The journey over the snowy roads to Sheffield was proving treacherous! We spent 20 mins pushing a big van up a hill then we were on our way. I spent the day catching up with the team and doing various health checks required by the IFCS to show I was physically fit enough to compete. I had a late night packing and an early morning flight so Sunday was spent digging my toes in the sand and picnicking on the beach, which was an enjoyable contrast to driving over snowdrift-covered roads.
On the first day climbing, we went to Wild Side, a crag that is in the shade all day. This is such a good crag because it has loads of hard routes in the 7’s and above. There is a 6c+, but our old guidebook didn’t have this route in it, so I warmed up by traversing along the bottom of the crag then onsighted a 7a called Sit e Dicen Que Cai.
I then started to look at Ergometria, a 26m 8a. Good job I was keen to test my stamina!
The route can be broken up into 5 sections;
-A V5 boulder problem start,
-Followed by super easy juggy tufas to the first comfy knee bar.
-Then the heat picks up with another harder section with lots of useless chalked up holds to confuse you leading into a painful knee bar.
-Bridge style climbing takes you to another painful no hands bridge rest,
-And a steadyish burn to the top has a hard, awkward cross through move that finishes you off!
Figuring out the boulder problem beta took me a while with various Spanish makinas (machines) shouting various powerful methods at me, which I had to modify to make work for me. The trick ended up being to step right through next to a left heel hook. I loved this foot sequence! Sieving through the many holds was my first challenge and it took me around 4 goes over a few days to figure out the moves; and nice moves they were! :)
I took a rest day then found myself climbing the boulder problem crux first go which surprised me. Now I had to concentrate, and execute the moves I had practiced, reading the route a few moves ahead when I could. I started to flow through the moves, knowing exactly where my next hand and foot were meant to be. I only broke focus when I was at a knee bar rest and while I had time to think, the grade and the possibility of success starting to creep into my head. I told myself to ‘shut up and concentrate’ ‘hold it together’ ‘you can do this!’ A few deep breaths and I got back into my zone. I found myself clipping the chains with a massive grin on my face!! My first 8a, sent on my first proper red point!
The same day I flashed a 7b+ called Oceano. I was absolutely buzzing! I had climbed my first 8a and flashed 7b+ after just coming back from an injury :)
After one week back home, I went up to Ratho, to the EICA (Edinburgh International Climbing Arena) for a training weekend. This is the venue for the first European Youth competition at the start of June so it was good to get some practice on their steep competition walls! I was training with 5 other guys who were all just as psyched as I was to work hard. The weekend gave me an opportunity to give some technique tips and help them out with their routes. Having received so much help over the years, it was nice to give a little back. It was an awesome weekend, I managed to pack in 3 days of training, at the end of which, my skin was trashed!
So my injury had completely stopped troubling me, and I had climbed my first 8a. I felt like I had a strong clean slate to start training from. I’ve got the Europeans to look forward to and my next trip to Ceuse!!