Friday, 2 September 2016


The best laid plans can still go awry. I planned to climb outside lots, trying hard problems. I haven't tried any hard problems this year because I sustained an arm injury. There was also a lot of things going on that meant climbing had to take a back seat. Now, months down the line, I am starting to be able to pull hard again and might tentatively start doing a little bit of training.

I have carefully competed locally, as I'm a sucker for a fun competition, at the CWIF and BBCs. I've been surprised at how there are ways around doing moves to avoid particular motions that have not been possible for me. I wouldn't advise competing on an injury though. It's a wee bit silly to do, as the tendancy is to push to your limits when competing and therefore risk doing more damage.

I have been outside lots. I had a fantastic three weeks sight-seeing, climbing and walking around the Peak District and North York Moors (and Parisellas Cave when desparate for dry rock) with a Canadian friend. We visited gritstone classics such as Trackside and scrittled around trying to do things like Strawberries and other apparently approachable graded boulders on a warm greasy summer afternoon. It was great! I'd recommend it.

I've also taken up road cycling. I was missing trying hard and pushing myself to see what I was capable of. It's exhausting, exhilarating and a vantage point for the spectacular Peak District scenery. Will I still be able to haul my developing cycling legs up boulders? Time will tell.

Monday, 8 February 2016


It's proving to be a bit of a damp winter. Whilst weather windows for climbing on rock are not forthcoming, the plastic remains in perfect condition!

The Foundry Bouldering Open 2016 did not disappoint. Familiar, friendly faces and a really good mix of problems provided a fun day out. I qualified for the final in second place. A slip and loss of focus, leading to a lack of commitment on a dynamic last move catapulted me in slightly the wrong direction on the second problem in the final. After that it was mainly damage limitation. I flashed the first and last problem and swung around on a hanging ball for an exceedingly long time to gain 3rd place!


Monday, 23 November 2015

Moving On Up

With some really good competition results under my belt in the UK, it was once more time for the international season.

The calendar did not look the most inviting with events in America, Canada, two in China and only one in Europe. I was pretty sure that I didn't want to do all the events but was tempted, due to indecision about which ones I fancied (if I was selected). I wanted to do a couple of events, but did not want to travel a long way. This was not possible.

I was selected to enter the long distance competitions and once again set off for North America. I was excited about competing, but felt exhausted from the travel. I'd experienced this before a little, but it was worse this time.

I felt ok in isolation for both competitions, but performed atrociously when it counted. It was not my overall results that really mattered to me the most (although being close to last was deflating). What mattered is that I did not climb anywhere near as well as I knew I could. I didn't manage to pull off moves that I knew that I was more than capable of. It's like I didn't turn up. Was my head letting me down, had the travelling taken it out of me, or a bit of both? The trip, on the whole, wasn't fun.

I returned to the UK and made the long overdue decision to stop competing internationally. The season was not over, but I did not want to do the last event in Munich. So this is an end of an era for me. Time to hang up my Senior GB Bouldering Team hat and head outside!!

I have spent a lot of time playing outside on the limestone this summer and autumn. I aim to see what I can achieve outside, but mainly just enjoy the wonderful thing that countryside is. The playground it provides.

I'm still going to compete, but at home were it's just a day out. I almost didn't enter the British Championships. I'm glad I did. I had a blast and managed to pull off a 4th place (3rd Brit) :-)

Since hanging up my competition hat I've also competed in the Red Goat Rampage (York, 1st), Big Flash (Highball Norwich, 2nd), Battle of Britain (Depot Leeds, 4th) and Blocbuster (Depot Nottingham, 2nd). The route setters keep on providing plenty of entertainment.

I've also tried my hand at setting at Boulder Brighton in the battle of the shoe brands with fellow Boreal team member Andy Turner, and helped out coaching and supporting events with Boreal and the GB Youth team. Exciting times with new talent coming through the ranks.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The in-between season

I’ve been working on movement, learning how to stand on two feet again. Trying not to pull myself off the footholds and applying technique on the vertical walls and slabs. Learning how to balance, how to trust my feet, how to use the right muscles for each movement, playing with movement. It was a battle to start with, but so satisfying when things started to come together. It’s also helped my steep wall climbing. There’s always so much more to learn.

During the winter, local competition season, I’ve also been playing with nutrition. That is eating snacks/drinking chocolate milkshake more during climbing. Then eating as much as possible between competition rounds, whilst trying to avoid feeling stuffed, rather than just the normal meals. I have to work hard to remember to snack when I’m active as I find I don’t feel hungry until it’s too late. I’m the opposite at work, where I struggle not to dip into the biscuit/cake pile. My job is a sedentary.

The extra eating in competitions seems to have helped give me an extra edge. It’s easier to have something left in the tank at the end of the day when you’ve put more in to start with! This may seem obvious, but I didn’t think I was running out of fuel previously on the usual 3 meals and occasional snacks. I thought I was just getting generally tired from the exertion. Experimentation proved fruitful.

I tried to apply this at the Superbloc competition at London Excel. However, I couldn’t seem to stay hydrated. The atmosphere was oppressive and I felt weary. I climbed OK and battled hard. I came close to some tops, but didn’t manage to finish anything, even though I felt I could. I came close to making the final 6 (one attempt on bonus), but ended up joint 8th in good company. I took quite a while to recover, after coming down with a cold.

The time for CWIF came round so quickly that it took me by surprise. I chose to do the morning session as it is good practice for me to try and pull hard early in the morning. I didn’t get up really early as I valued my sleep more than having my body ready to get going (studies suggest that the optimum time to exercise is around 6hrs after getting up). I had a shaky start, but got going before dropping too many problems (aided by chocolate milk and fruity snack bars). I qualified for the semi-final in 11th (breakfast and lunch before, chocolate milk during, full chicken and rice meal after), just scraped the final in 6th and pulled out a podium 3rd. I tried really hard and felt pretty good (understatement). I celebrated by going out for dinner.

We trained with the Swiss team two days later. Everything caught up with me and I had a ‘higher gravity day’. However, it was short lived. The good CWIF result has made me feel stronger mentally. It’s given me a ‘can do’ attitude and I can’t get enough of this climbing thing. Long may it continue!

font vert

Fontainebleau holiday bliss at Isatis


Spring evenings at Curbar – Dan’s Wall

Friday, 6 February 2015


After the 2014 World Cups, I got into the Peak Limestone. I discovered the delight of Rubicon first thing in the morning; the peaceful, cool next to the water before the heat of the day. The hook of moves at Blackwell Dale and other roadside caves; cool, dank holes next to roads! Here’s one I topped - Paint it Black (7c).

Paint it Black - Sean's Roof from Peter Jeffery on Vimeo.

Then, suddenly, my projects were wet and it was time to start training for the 2015 season.

I entered some local competitions as they are always fun. At Leeds Depot, Battle of Britain, I was ahead in the final and got a bit too focused on the last hold of the last problem. I didn’t set up properly, my elbows winged as I hesitated and I missed the hold and with it first place. At the Nottingham Depot I was beginning to let negative thoughts creep into my head during the final. I was tired and not able to give the big moves the strength required. I wondered if I’d developed a mind-set that stopped me performing to the best of my ability when it mattered to me the most. Ultimately I was starting to overthink situations. I came 2nd in both competitions which I’m pleased with, but for me it’s more about how I competed with the problems, so not so happy!

The next competition was the legendary Plywood Masters at Boulder UK. I love this place, with the funky moves normally set in the low room upstairs for the final. However, they changed it up and set the finals downstairs. The air was thick with chalk and I was struggling to breath, but enjoying the problems. The distractions of change and conditions helped. I just climbed. I made a couple of mistakes, but I was pleased with how I climbed. I managed to win – chuffed.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

From Europe to North America

After the promise of Grindelwald, the World Cup round in Innsbruck, Austria was the biggest climbing spectacle I have ever witnessed. Shauna won her second gold and the atmosphere, crowd and climbing was amazing. This was in strict contrast to my climbing performance. I climbed like a new born foal trying to work out how to stand up on shaky legs that had never been asked to be stood on before and achieved my worst result to date.

I had to leave all this behind me and move forward, as ever, to the next competition in Toronto (Hamilton), Canada. I felt good despite the heat. I really like the venue for this competition as the form of the wall is quite suited to the creation of interesting problems . Also, it is quite intimate with the crowd, making for a good atmosphere.

I battled and did a lot of climbing, possibly a little too much, and came tantalisingly close to two tops among other things. However, I did not hold either top hold and came away with almost nothing to show for all my climbing. I finished the qualification by almost holding a final hold and crashing down into the chalky mat in a heap. I took my shoes off, packed up my kit and congratulated Sol Sa who had climbed just after me, as I knew she had climbed ever so well (5 tops). As I walked away from the scene I felt my eyes well up, the emotion of the competition surfacing. Shauna and Nathan collected me from the back of the tiered seating. A few words, good team support, and the moment passed. It was time to find out how we had all got on, watch some of the remaining competitors, prepare for the following day when Shauna would climb again. Onwards and upwards.

toronto quali

We had a little bit of time around the competitions to have a look around. We returned to Niagara Falls in Canada so that Nathan Phillips could experience the wonder, and Nathan Phillips Square for obvious reasons. Shortly after the Toronto competition we flew to Colorado and spent a few days in Boulder whilst gaining some adjustment to the altitude. We visited Mount Evans on the way to Vail (the next competition venue) and I felt on top of the world.

Mnt Evans Jump

In the beautiful setting of Vail, we entered the next round of the World Cup. I battled hard, but couldn’t run sideways in enough balance, forgot to jump a couple of times, then finally got to grips with the fourth qualification problem. Phew. I came away to praise for my efforts on this problem, but overall, not too happy with my performance. I felt like I hadn’t trained enough and wasn’t powerful enough to be competitive. There were a lot of impressively strong, talented, powerful girls competing. Small mistakes count for a lot at this level of competition. I need to get it right and have more conviction. I came 33rd in Toronto and 31st in Vail.

vailquali eddie

Thanks to EddieFowkePhotography for the climbing World Cup photos: If you haven’t already purchased your copy of The Circuit issue 1 get it now from (worldwide excluding North America) or (North America)

independence passice cave

We had a day to play before leaving the mountains and went to Independence Pass. We managed to do a little bit of climbing on rock between hail/snow/rain storms. I’d love to explore this area more at some point and climb in the stunning looking ice caves.

The drive back to Denver ready for the long haul home was epic. I battled with poor visibility as we experienced snow on the mountain passes, followed by heavy rain and spray on the lower ground (and a really worrying moment when we lost power and thought we’d broken down until Shauna noticed that the automatic had been knocked into neutral, phew).

hmc mdphoto 1

One weekend off back in the UK, during which I climbed with the Hillingdon Mountaineering Club on a fun bouldering weekend in the Peak, then it was competition time again.

The British Bouldering Championships was missing the defending champion, but there was still plenty of good competition to be had. I thoroughly enjoyed the problems and pulled hard to gain 4th over three rounds, just short of the podium. I made some mistakes in the final, with a slip near the top of one problem, some rushing, and getting too tired during the final problem to finish it off (tickling the last hold). So close, and lucky that my mistakes, this time, did not cost me so dearly having already made the top 6. Congratulations to the new champion Michaela Tracy and 3rd time champion Dave Barrans.

I wore a new style of shoe for the British Bouldering Championships: the Boreal Dharma. I was so impressed with how good these shoes were after wearing them climbing twice, that I was really keen to use them in during the competition. Thank you Boreal.


Many thanks to Carol Hayes for the Photos from the final of the British Championships 2014.


Monday, 12 May 2014

The Big Weekend

Where to start after such a big weekend. Dive right in I reckon!


Shauna Coxsey won her first gold medal, the first GB female gold medal in bouldering. It was an awe inspiring final. I'm not sure how Shauna held it together so calmly afterwards, especially when the national anthem was played. I think she was maybe already starting to focus on next weekend's World Cup!

We were competing in Grindelwald, Switzerland. A stunning town that nestles below the Eiger. The competition field was the biggest ever (although this record will be beaten come next weekend and the Innsbruck round of the 2014 World Cup series).

Matt Cousins entered his first World Cup ever, and came a solid 49th with 2 problems topped. Dave Barrans, a GB veteran on the World Cup scene, just pipped Matt and was close to gaining the tops required to make the semi-finals. However he 'dropped' a further two problems (dropped = close to topping!).

Michaela, Mina and I all came in the top 30 so gain ranking points. Michaela also 'dropped' a top that would have likely seen her into the semi-finals, but left her in 23rd after an appeal by team NED moved her down from 21st. Mina topped an impressive 4 out of the 5 qualification problems in her group to leave her in 21st due to the number of attempts. So close to the top 20 and semi-final.

I topped the same problems as Michaela, with one additional attempt to leave me in 29th. This may be far from my best result on paper, but I'm really pleased with it as, compared to last season, it's a really good start against a big field with depth of talent. It's also only the second time that I've gained points in the first European comp of the season.

I felt more nervous than usual when leaving the UK, but I busied myself with packing. This included neat little parcels of rice and couscous to save buying more than required when away! We stayed in self catering apartments, which is great when preparing for a comp as we can eat what we need to. Much better than excessive restaurant meals (especially as I'm really bad at stopping eating when I've had enough).

Warming up in isolation was not fun. It was initially, but I quickly overheated in the cosy enclosed boulder room we had to warm up in. I went back to the slightly cooler hall, populated by those competitors yet to warm up, and laid down until I felt a more sensible temperature. I didn't think that a return to the boulder room was a good idea for me, so I finished preparing for the competition on a 6ft high, and similar width, free standing board in the hall with one or two moves at a time.

I was just getting my head set for the competition when the lady calling the competitors into 'holding' asked me if it was hard competing with people so much younger than me (the start list has birth years on it)! I laughed and asked her if she thought I was old, before giving a more considered answer. The competition is getting harder, but not due to my age as yet. It's due to the evolution of the sport.

I felt relaxed in holding and was once again surprised and amused to hear one of Rage Against the Machine's more explicit numbers being played full volume, full content. The same tune that was playing when I started climbing in my first ever World Cup in Brno in 2007. What's the chance of that?

I flashed the first block with a nice shoulder move. I didn't realise how important it was for me to do this until after the comp. I was focused for the next problem - running/stepping right on a slab. I couldn't get enough momentum to latch the bonus. I fought on the next two problems, got another bonus and came close to a third on steep terrain that I couldn't quite get into.

The fifth block was a jump to the left, with a big barn door swing and foot plant for the bonus catch. I didn't see the move for a while on my first go, but came close, then took a further two goes to get it. Two locks on small greasy crimps saw me to the top. Sweet.

Doo be doo, I won't do what you tell me. So much has happened since I last heard that song. I find it motivational! I think I've broken the mould a bit, suffered a bit, enjoyed a lot, and it's allowed me to continue to complete.