Happy New Year! A couple of days late but we’ll get to that. This is a bit of an interesting one this year, with lots having happened and lots about to kick off. Time to take stock and figure out where we’re going from here.
Well, we always knew this was going to be a funny old year and it has definitely been the year of #babyatthecrag. More than anything, i’ve wanted to promote and champion the idea that having a child doesn’t finish your passions and judging from several conversations about my various social media accounts, it would appear i’ve been at the very least a mild success.
Loving having a spectator on our day at #casegfraith yesterday! We left in a bit of a hurry after someone decided she was getting a bit fed up but that doesn't matter, it's such a great feeling to have #babyatthecrag! Some retro ticks for the new guidebook and hopefully a great experience for my #daughter as she's learning at an incredible rate right now This is me on Skunk X 7a/+ taken with a timer #snowdonia #worldclasswales #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #baby #babiesofinstagram #getout
This post is normally a tricky one to write – after all, thinking back over an entire year is not easy. Of course, this time last year i had not long become a father and as expected, that has drawn my focus away from climbing. Juggling the two has been a tremendous strain and to be honest, i think, looking back, i’ve done admirably. Many people give up their hobbies with the onset of a family so the fact i’m still going, at any level, speaks volumes. Showing this to people has been just a much a goal as actually getting out. I’ve even managed to have pieces published on the subject, including one at The Project Magazine and have another couple lined up too.
A large part of this ability to carry on has been my fantastic partner, Emily. She has encouraged and supported me throughout this past year and deserves great thanks for that and no better has that been highlighted than by continuing the Birthday Tradition last June in Ireland. While not a resounding climbing success, it was indeed a climbing trip and a great family adventure.
Great first proper day in #Ireland, checking out #glendalough and some quality #irishbouldering! Got loads done, albeit nothing too hard but some lovely #climbing including this peach, with @emks93 repeating for the camera – her first Irish boulder problem! Another year done and I can't quite believe we've kept the birthday tradition alive for an eighth installment. Having a family doesn't stop you doing what you want to do, it just changes how you do it. And it's amazing having my family here. #babyatthecrag #irelandbouldering #wicklow #wicklowmountains #wicklowbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #meclimbing #thisgirlcan
Moving house in the autumn put paid to any trips then but again, thanks to Em’s encouragement and support, last week saw one of my lifelong dreams come true: to take my family to Fontainebleau.
What i have found is that it is nigh on impossible to perform to a high standard in these conditions. Climbing is never a priority with young children in tow and on both occasions, i failed to climb even a single 7a – a grade that has become my bread and butter now. An inability to complete just one shows just how hard it can be.
Still, i have been getting out and have indeed been climbing, predominantly indoors and have managed to compete at this winter’s Indy Aggregate Competition. Last count saw me at the unexpected standing of third in my category, or sixth overall. While the final results haven’t been published at time of writing, i don’t expect this to be any different and, save for February where i dropped nine points, i don’t think i could’ve done much better. I’ll take that for sure.
What's more boring than pictures of #indoorclimbing? A picture of a list of indoor climbs that I've done since the back end of September… Still, this is my aggregate sheet, a record of my ticks this winter to date for the #indyclimbingwall aggregate #competition. It's been the only real #climbing that I've done this season and despite 3 weeks out in the middle with a tweak in my back, I've not been doing that badly. Got a potential 4 more problems I could realistically finish before the next reset so need to get down there again soon. With the rain continuing to fall, it's the best way to get stronger! #northwales #northwalesbouldering #climbing_is_my_passion #bouldering
A large proportion of my Indy time has been thanks to my coaching and this is itself has been going incredibly well. My private coaching sessions have continued steadily, leading me to wonder about pursuing this with other clients, while my regular Friday night sessions with the Anglesey Adventure Club have managed to get me the respect and admiration of my peers. A few weeks ago i was shadowed by another volunteer, such is the desire of others to learn about what i do. I’ve certainly found that an honour and hope to inspire coaches and climbers alike.
This has, in turn, led me to think more about coaching proper. I’ve developed more theories (to be published on here in due course), restructured the blog to accommodate new ideas and, astoundingly, am hopefully soon to be embarking on a Professional Masters in Elite Performance with the University of Central Lancashire, focusing on coaching in rock climbing. Now there’s something i didn’t foresee last spring!
Last Season’s Goals:
- Find out how to climb with Rosie around
- Go climbing and make the most of the chances
- Reset the list and get rid of the dross
- 7c outside – most likely Nazgul’s Traverse
- SPA Assessment
- Another 7c+
- Top ten yearly average around 7b/+
- Continue the birthday tradition
- Get to Font
- Start to develop the coaching into something more
- Don’t jeopardise your relationship for climbing…
- Top 5 Aggregate finish
- 6 outdoor sessions with at least a new 7a completed
- A weekend climbing out of Wales
- Continue to develop coaching and formalise what i offer
- Plan trips to Font and Germany
And how did it go?
Again, we always knew this was going to be tough and that these goals may or may not be sensible. With a baby now in the picture, it was impossible to know which way it could go. The list above is of all the goals, short and long term, from last March and October so let’s start with the easy ones.
What a day to be alive! First touch of rock in as long as I can remember and first time out for ages with my good friend @pablo.sordo too. Shame the choice of venue was in the shade, the temperature a nippy 0C and the top outs scarier than I am used to lately but fantastic to be out on rock again and great to tick some #climbing at the pit at #milestonebuttress. Definitely on my radar again. #worldclasswales #snowdonianationalpark #snowdonia #northwales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram
The first four points were addressed in the Autumn but have left them there to add two points: one The List is done but needs a new home in the new house. The kitchen is no longer suitable but we really aren’t settled yet and this needs addressing. Two, figuring out how to climb with Rosie around me is all well and good but as any parent will tell you, the little blighters keep changing so you have to constantly change how you do that. Think that just shows my naivety there; it’s an ongoing challenge.
Completing my SPA was discussed previously and is on hold for longer days and better weather. 7c+ is permanently on hold until, well, quite frankly until i come to my senses and realise it won’t happen for a few years. Not until i get my act together. We’ll look at this another time.
Continuing the birthday tradition and getting to Font both happened and i’m so pleased about both. I need to figure out how to climb harder when i’m away but at least we’re getting away so that’s the first major hurdle done. Keep it going.
She's getting good at these #climbing_pictures_of_instagram is @emks93! I nicked this one from her phone from yesterday at the nearby Chateauveraux (not sure on the spelling there). Actually, it's a crag that doesn't appear on the @27cragsofficial app, not sure if it's online, I'll have to have a closer look. We were both absolutely hanging after travelling through the night from North Wales to #Fontainebleau with a one-year old in one long drive. Totally worth it. #font #fontbouldering #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #iloveclimbing #climbing_worldwide #climbing_lovers #boulderingisbetter #rockclimbing #bouldering
6 outdoor sessions since October simply wasn’t feasible as i don’t think there have been six dry days since October… As such, 7c outside was also never going to happen. Likewise for 7b Top Ten Yearly Average. There was nothing i could do about this, it hasn’t been my fault and there’s been nothing i could do about it. Keep it going for next year.
Frankly i’m amazed i ticked off the Aggregate goal, although this year has made me realise it is entirely dependant on who else shows up. So i think i’ll change this for next winter and say “don’t drop any problems you think you might get” or something like that. After all competing against myself means more than competing against factors i can’t control.
When is it too cold to be good #bouldering conditions? When there's a sheet of ice over the entire top of the boulder… With an afternoon free after attending the inaugural adventure sports coaching conference at @plasybreninstaff I opted to head a few miles down the road in the #ogwenvalley to the #galltyrogof bloc. I'd always been put off by this before but now with fresh eyes and photo topos in the #northwalesboulderingguide the problems seemed immense and impressive. So I started to at least try and warm up, only to find the top out dodgy as sin! An entire sheet or verglas meant even if I had pulled over the top, it would've been rather treacherous to say the least. Nevertheless, another #beautifulday in #northwales! #worldclasswales #snowdonia #northwalesbouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram
A weekend away is something i’d forgotten and as life ticks along slowly, i think it’s more and more important. I’ll be discussing this with Em very soon. Time to yourself is important in any relationship and even more so with children. I just want to make sure it’s done the right way.
Finally the coaching and i don’t think anyone could argue with the progress i’ve made there. This masters degree could be huge for me and while i’ve fallen foul to my own hype in the past, i feel strong and determined about this and i cannot wait to get started – so much so i’ve begun already. Even if i don’t end up on the course, it’s already making me a better coach.
2018 Spring/Summer Goals
Climb? Study? Coach? Parent? All of the above? Of course but to go into more detail is much more difficult. I really have no idea what i want any more as my inability to climb at my limit for the first time in many years and begun to make me question my motivation.
The clocks went back last night and that has consequences. And the biggest of those consequences is that it gets dark an hour earlier than yesterday… The good news: the lantern lives in the back of the land rover. The bad news: after six months without use, the battery quickly died. Still had chance to tick Split Infinity 7a+/b and get this awesome #nightbouldering shot. So good to tick outdoors again! #greatorme #Llandudno #northwales #parisellascave #worldclasswales #northwalesbouldering #bouldering #rockclimbing #climbing #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #meclimbing
So this could well be a period of transition or a stagnant period, where all i’m trying to do is maintain my current standards until such time as i’m able to start pushing myself again. Or it could be that as a consequence of coaching more, i find myself improving again. Or it could be the start of a slow and steady decline. Who knows, place your bets now.
For the next few months, i think the climbing focus must be on maintaining. Anything other than that is a bonus. The area to push my standards is most probably with my coaching. And of course, it will be crucial not to allow this to get in the way of being the best father and partner i can be.
Most importantly of all, now is the time to begin to be more intelligent with my time. Every minute counts now and that lunch break you never used to take is now precious time i can’t afford to waste. It’s time to start using that brain to coach myself and make the most of what i have. If i’d never say to a client they need to put more time in to climbing in order to improve, i need to start saying the same to myself.
- Go to Germany
- Start the Masters degree and REALLY work at it
- Be more productive with my time
- Actually train, don’t just boulder. 1 in 5 sessions
- At least one weekend away climbing without the family
2018 Year-long goals
This is even harder than my short term goals! After all, the rate things are changing around here, who could possibly guess what situation i’ll be in this time next year!
- SPA completed (yet again)
- Try and match Top Ten Yearly Average of 7a+
- Make big strides into Masters Degree
- Don’t drop any potential climbs during the Aggregate
Will it all happen? Will it all fall apart? I choose my words carefully when i say: fuck knows. What i do know is that there’s a lot at stake this year; my family, my career, my chance at redemption for past failures, my entire lifestyle. All i can do is line everything up and give it my best shot. But then, i guess that’s just life. Let’s see what happens next.
Happy New Year!
It's a funny old day today: we're moving house! It's a real mix of emotions, with the excitement of going somewhere new but it's quite emotional as well. Eight long years I've been here, so much has happened. My dog came here to live with me, my girlfriend became my first partner to move in and it's where I brought my daughter home for the first time. It's been where I've returned after so many trips, so many adventures. I guess now it's time to reset the clock and start some adventures from scratch. Something always happens next