By James Squire, 22-Nov-2013 21:12:00
The last month hasn’t been too productive in terms of bouldering outside due to comps, rain and injuries. Lots of injuries. Including my ‘lats’, elbows and chest! Lovely. The injuries weren’t fun the completions defiantly were!
First point of call was Blokfest, a great series of bouldering competitions around the country which I hope to compete in most of this season. The first round was at Mile End in London, an old school wall but recently rejuvenated for modern training and competitions. After a busy drive over we soon got started on the 25 qualifier problems. As expected the setting and competition was super fun with some great problems and big volumes but I made a few mistakes here and there and narrowly missed out on the final, but all in all a good day had.
Another more successful competition I competed in this month was Bristol’s Undercover Rock annual climbing festival, always a busy and fun event – for route climbing and bouldering. With the La Sportiva/Lyon Outdoor shoe demo, as well as the event supporting Climbers Against Cancer. Also there was the first ever bouldering final! Luckily I did sound enough in the bouldering qualifiers to scrape into the final with Ellis Butler Barker and Cailean Harker. The final was the classic world cup format of 3mins per problem on 3 problems with a big crowd. All 3 problems were spicy and cleverly set with slabs, sideways dynos and a massive volume press! Ended up finishing 3rd which I was happy with and won £50! Congrats to Ellis in 2nd and Cailean in 1st.
Last weekend I competed in another local comp, this time at The Climbing Academy in Bristol. It was the first round of the winter bouldering comps consisting of 4 rounds, each round having a different style - this round being classic format. The 20 qualifier blocs were VERY spicy and droppable seeing many people making stupid slips; I almost fell off a desperate mantel and had a mini heart attack. Despite this I was feeling strong (and a bit lucky!) and managed to flash 19/20 blocks and climb the last bloc 3rd go, meaning I was in the final.
The finals were once again world cup style with funky problems in front of a big crowd. I didn’t get far on the first problem, the second problem I got close to sticking the crux and on the 3rd I got to the same place as Phil Rose but couldn't finish it off. Resulting in coming 3rd. Well done to Max Ayton for 2nd, and Phil Rose for winning his first comp final! Also special mention to Alisha Garside, still in the youth managed to win the adult final!
Weather has finally been getting better recently and my injuries have finally gone, meaning I’m looking forward to this winter and a few projects around Bristol and South Wales to get too, including The Carpenters Apprentice V12 which I’m getting close too. Watch this space!
Thanks for reading and thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic!
James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)
By James Squire, 15-Oct-2013 20:34:00
Yes, you read correctly; I have finally had my first trip to Fontainebleau! Being the world’s best bouldering destination and a place I have dreamed about visiting for a while, I was quite looking forward to my first time in the forest… being joined by all the other original members of The Climbing Academy Youth Squad we planned the trip ourselves and headed out together for what we would hope would be an awesome week of climbing…
We flew out there and planned to have 8 days’ worth of climbing in the western region of Fontainebleau, where we climbed pretty much every day except one, which was because of rain. The trip was one of the best weeks ever and one I will remember for a long time, I could go on forever talking about it but here’s the ticklist from the week:
Day 1: Flight over!
Day 2: First Day in font at Gorge Aux Chats, had two sessions one in the morning and an evening head torch night session.
La Ritournelle (font 7a) FLASH
Sa Pelle au Logis (font 7a) FLASH
La Tour d’lvoire (font 7c)
Peter Pan (font 7a+) FLASH
Plats De Saison (font 7a) ON SIGHT
Rubris Sur L’Ongle (font 7b+) FLASH
Day 3: Lots of Rain!
Day 4: A short session at 95.2, did L’Ange Naif (font 7c) 4th go, then if started raining again, a big thanks to a British couple who gave us a lift back to the campsite, saved us getting soaked for 30mins.
Day 5: This was probably my best day in font, climbed at 95.2 and Rocher des Souris.
La Totale de l’Ange Naif (font 7c+)
L’Ange Naif Gauche (font 7a+) but felt harder that the original 7c!
Tim Tim (font 7a) FLASH
Les Sabots d’Helene (font 7a)
Yogi (font 7b)
Yoguignol (font 7b)
Day 6: Day spent at the very popular and quite polished Cul De Chien.
Le Toit du Cul Chien (font 7a)
Crampultime (font 7b)
Unknown (font 7c)
Unknown (font 7a+)
Day 7: A quite day at Gorge Aux Chats with one of the best night sessions from the trip. I tried Finalite san Fin (font 8a+) but didn’t quite complete it, however did manage a variant finishing strait up at halfway which felt a bit easier. Other ticks for the day included:
Stormroc (font 7a+) Team send!
Ric Rac (font 7a)
Un Franc du Kilometre (font 7a) FLASH
Humerous Clausus (font 7b)
Day 8: Another day at Gorge Aux Chats, nice session in the evening dusk.
De la Vie dans l'Art par le Haut (font 7b+)
Neige d’Automne (font 7a)
Presomption d’Innocence (font 7a+)
La Pare Dessus Gauche (font 7a+)
La Pare Dessus (font 7a)
Day 9: Last day climbing in font, we started off at a slightly lesser known area of Gros Sablons (near 95.2) where I climbed a stunning 7b which was great fun and a few highballs then stopped off at Rocher des Souris on the way back.
Fatal Bazooka (font 7b)
Yoda (font 7a)
Vis-à-vis (font 7a)
Extraction Terrestre (font 7a+) FLASH. The last climb in font, a great moment topping out in the evening sun. Great end to a great week.
Day 10: The flight back home to Bristol!
Check out the font video here https://vimeo.com/74475581
The next weekend I once again joined the TCA youth squad but this time with TCA staff as well as we went on a team trip to North Wales for the weekend. After a long mini bus drive up there we arrived at Ben’s Bunkhouse overlooking the Llanberris Pass below Snowdonia.
On Saturday we were hoping to go to the Cromlech boulders but it was raining (pretty rare for Wales) so we went to the classic Parisella Cave – a massive overhanging limestone cave roof full of hard problems and polished rock where it would be a bit more sheltered.
I and Hamish soon got warmed up and both sent The Pillar Start (font 7a) and Clever Beaver (font 7a+/b) which Laurie also climbed. Hamish then went on the climb Rock Atrocity first try but he said he had tried it a few years back so basically a flash. I soon followed sending it 3rd go. Hamish then did Lou Ferrero (font 7c+) and I did Rock Atrocity Wobbly Block Start (font 7c+) involving falling from matching the finish hold on my first go! All in all, a top session in the cave. The Base Cubic Velocity 5 pad helped pad out the cave and gave an excellent landing went taking bad falls off the roof.
The next day on Sunday it was raining heavily (again) so just decided to all go indoors at the Beacon climbing centre for a session, and then the long journey back home.
South West Stuff:
I had a cool session at Dinas Rock the other day at the Kennelgarth Wall, had a little bit of a tweeked finger but its heeling up quickly and managed to send:
Fat Cat Roof (font 7c) REPEAT 1st go
Saluki (font 7b) REPEAT 1st go
Fat Jess (font 7c+/8aish linkup)
The Boatman (font 7b) an awesome problem, one of the best boulders as Dinas – despite having to build a slight landing!
I also managed to seek out a new secret cave and flash a cool font 7c traverse, being my first 7c flash just a shame the crag has a few access issues – a lot of people trying to get it unbanned at the moment but no luck so far.
On another note I have finally finished putting together another summer video, this time of my bouldering in the south west and UK, check it out here: https://vimeo.com/76252889 the last of the summer videos for this year. Looking forward to next summer, but first I might make a winter bouldering video.
Got a busy winter of competitions and projects planned, so very psyched for that.
Thanks for reading and a big thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic.
By James Squire, 21-Aug-2013 12:00:00
The last two weeks have been pretty awesome. Competed in the British Bouldering Championships final, The Climbing Academy BBQ comp final, got close to a hard project at Dinas Rock and had a few other outdoor sessions.
British Bouldering Championships and Peak District
I never do too well in competitions and I couldn’t find a lift to get to the 3rd and final round of the British Boulder Champs in The Depot Climbing Centre, Leeds. So all wasn’t looking too good a few days before, but luckily I very kindly got a lift with Hamish and his dad John Potokar and all was good to go. We drove up on Friday. Stayed the night at Premiere Inn. Woke up early the next day and headed over to the wall.
As usual, a big bouldering centre full of young and psyched climbers. The qualifier round soon got going and I had 8 problem to climb in 2 hours with a max of 3 attempts per problem. I quickly went through the problems, flashing 6 out of 8 and then climbing my 7th boulder on my 2nd go and not being able to climb the last one. Feeling confident I and Hamish both made it into the final, me in 2nd and Hamish in 3rd, we then had to wait it isolation whilst the final 3 problems were being set.
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long as we were the first age category out. In the finals you have 3 problems, 4 minutes per problem and as many attempts as you like in that 4 minutes in front of quite a big crowd.
I did well on the first problem climbing it first go. The second problem I got to the last move – which put me in 3rd/4th but then I couldn’t quite manage the last problem, putting me is 7th! Doh! Oh well, it was still great fun and learnt a lot for next year.
That evening I, Hamish and John headed over to Caley (not Cally) for a short session for John to try New Jerusalem, a classic Yorkshire 7a. At first he couldn’t pull on to the start but after about 20 minutes he had done it! Congrats to John, apparently one of the quickest font 7a’s he’s done.
The next day we went back up to Caley for me and Hamish to also have a climb. We both managed New Jerusalem (font 7a) and Pocket Wall (font 7a/+) and Hamish managed Ben’s Grove Stand Start (font 7b) but I fell of the scary top out. Hamish also got close too Zoo York (font 8a) but started getting tired, next time for sure.
That evening we put up our tent below Stanage and went up for an optimistic climb. It was a bit misty/rainy but we sheltered below a big tree and me and Hamish both repeated The Green Traverse (font 7a) and did some easy fun stuff.
Thinking everything would be wet the next day we woke up, packed everything up and headed over to see if any of the limestone stuff would be dry. After finding Tom’s Roof to be soaked we went on to Raven Tor which was completely empty and almost bone dry. Happy days. I surprisingly liked Raven Tor and mine/Hamish’s ticklist for the day was Undercuts to Crimp Problem (font 7b+) 2nd go, Cave Problem FLASH (font 7b+), Weedkiller Traverse (font 7a+/b) FLASH and A Little Extra Direct (font 7a) and Hamish also did Rattle and Hump Start Hard Way (font 7b). The Cave Problem 7b+ being my hardest flash to date. I’m very psyched to head back to Raven Tor someday.
All in all a top weekend and thanks to Hamish and his dad John for giving me a lift and letting me join them climbing.
The Climbing Academy BBQ Comp
Once again it’s the time of the year for the Climbing Academy BBQ comp. It’s always a great event with almost all of the locals and some famous climbers turning up, and this year defiantly didn’t disappoint. The comp consisted of 15 problems with one attempt on each. The top three male and female climbers would make the final later that evening. Having never made a TCA comp final before I just hoped for the best, no expectations. The problems were luckily to my style and after climbing well managed to place 1st in Youth Male (won a pair of shoes) and 2nd in the adult final with Ben West (GB team member) and Max Ayton (strong guy recovering from a finger injury!).
The finals were once again fantastic fun and finished in 3rd with some great problems full of volumes and funky moves. Ben West came 1st and Max Ayton came 2nd.
Thanks to TCA for hosting the comp and some nice burgers on the BBQ outside!
A few days later I headed over to Dinas Rock once again for some strong limestone action next to a beautiful waterfall in south wales. I was Interested in protecting The Carpenters Apprentice V12, south Wales’s hardest boulder problem. I had previously had no progress on it but this session I finally worked out the crux and managed to climb from standing at about V10/11ish and got very close to the link up, defiantly will go, just a matter of time. Here’s a video of a close fail attempt https://vimeo.com/72304097. Also on the ticklist for the day was Saluki (font 7b) 2nd go, Launch Pad LH (font 7a) FLASH, Launch Pad (font 6c+) and Gentle Jess (font 6c+) FLASH.
Ladye Bay and Huntsham
Had a few more local sessions recently, one at Ladye Bay where I sent a cool little font 7bish roof, which will be in my summer bouldering film and repeated Rocket Roof (font 7b/+).
I also had another session at a very overgrown hill in Gloucester called Huntsham. After wading through the undergrowth with my Dad (sorry dad) we made it to the cool sandstone boulders where I did Golden Bicep (font 6c+) and Ames Low (font 7a+) first go, which I had struggled on 3 years ago, how times change.
Then we went up to Bivi Buttress further up the hill and I climbed Between the Lines (font 7b+), Bivi Buttress Traverse (font 7a+ish) and repeated the moves on The Hunters Roof (font 8a) for some film for my summer bouldering video. I also tried a sit start to Between the Lines coming in from the left but got a bit tired – did all the moves but will be a brutal link (font 7c+?), one for the winter.
All in all it’s been a pretty epic last two weeks. Really psyched for what the future holds as I’m off to Fontainebleau this Friday and the weekend after that I’m off to north wales. Exciting times.
Thanks to my parents for taking me to all these crags recently and thanks for reading. Also even bigger thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic!
James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)
By James Squire, 31-Jul-2013 22:01:00
I’ve been traveling around a bit for the last 3 weeks, climbing in the Peak District and Sardinia…
First up was the TCA youth squad annual weekend trip to the Peak District, and before we set off we knew it was going to be very warm, 26 degrees to be precise. Maybe not ideal for grit stone bouldering. Never the less we set off with a load of enthusiastic young members of the squad and lots of boulder mats!
On Saturday morning we went to Curbar, where I managed to find some shade in a really cool trench and climbed 1st go, Gorilla Warfare (font 7a), one of the best 7a’s in the peak. Soon after, I headed over the Bad Landing Roof boulder, which defiantly lives up to its name. I flashed Bad Lip (font 7a) which felt pretty soft for the grade and then soon started work on the sit start Huffy’s Roof (font 7c+). The sitter adds two moves, starting on a rail under the roof, slap out to the lip, then slap into the good edge and finish as for Bad Lip. The first move wasn’t as hard as I was expecting and I was mainly falling off the second move, but after a bit of rest it surprisingly went! One of the hardest things I’ve climbed on grit.
Then that evening we headed up to Stanage, where I was feeling a little tired but managed to climb Captain Hook (font 7b), despite slipping off the topout on one attempt.
The next day we all headed up to Cratcliff and Robin Hood’s Stride, two awesome crags right next to each other. I felt quite tired in the heat but managed to climb two classic problems, The Cave Problem (font 7a) and The Blobs Eliminate (font 7a+) both of which I would recommend. All in all a top weekend. Thanks to Sam, Paul and Betty for taking us up there.
Next up was a two week trip to Sardinia, what I thought would be a nice relaxing holiday after my GCSE exams… it was far from it. We were originally planning to go somewhere with a famous climbing area like Font or Swiss but apparently there only 28 degrees in summer which is “far too cold” for my Mum and Sister. So instead we went to a tourist island off the coast of Italy called Sardinia, about half the size of Wales with some granite bouldering in the centre of the island that was apparently quite good and only half an hour’s drive away.
So after a 3 hour flight there and 2 hours of driving to our apartment we were finally here, welcomed with mad dogs and a rain storm to get things started. I didn’t get very much time to climb in the two weeks there, but managed to have 3 short sessions.
First up was a place called Orani (meant to be Sardinia’s best bouldering area), after spending a day trying to find the place and having no luck followed by a 1.5 hour drive there. A few days later we managed to find the place at last. The guide book was completely out of scale and although climbing is permitted, you have to climb over fences and dodge guard dogs to get to the boulders. After a lot of fifing around the ticklist for the day was Ciclope (font 7b/+), La Grande Muraglia FLASH (font 7a+) and Kabul into La Bistecca (font 7a). I also tried a cool looking 8a but was in the sun and being a slab it was very greasy, so soon moved on.
The next place I went two was called Ollolai, a really nice little spot located at 1127m A.S.L meaning the temperature cooled down from 35 degrees to 19 degrees! Loads of granite boulders really close together on top of a hill. According to the 2004 guide book it didn’t have much hard stuff, just lots of “beautiful” projects. However, upon reading a climbing magazine/logbook in a local shop it said that someone had climbed one of the projects - an 8a called Kamikaze. Feeling more psyched I went up and seaked out the boulder. It was amazing, and after about an hour I did it, topping out into a rain storm! Other problems on the ticklist for Ollolai include Prana Yama (font 7b+/c), UFO Robot FLASH (font 6c+) and Samsara (font 7a). All of which will feature in a short bouldering film that I have made and will be coming out soon.
Despite the cool boulders, I think it’s safe to say I’m glad to be back in Britain!
Thanks for reading and big thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic!
Got loads of boulders around Bristol and South Wales to get to, the British Boulder Championships this weekend and Font in a couple of weeks’ time, so feeling psyched for all that!
James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)
By James Squire, 04-Jul-2013 22:06:00
I’ve been pretty busy climbing mostly down the southern end of Britain recently, south west and south east, so got lots to report.
First of all I headed to local coastal limestone crag at the Toll Roads in Weston-Super-Mare to finish off the last remaining projects. The first was in a big cool looking cave halfway along the coast; on the left-hand side was a highball slightly overhanging pillar which took me a while to work out the beta but when I did it felt about 7b/+. Also that day I did a superb problem to the right called ‘One Hundred Per cent Pain’ (font 7a+) which goes directly out of the cave roof.
I also came back for another session at the Toll Roads to finish off the very last project on a 45 degree wall below the café. After a while of fiddling around with beta I managed it being ‘Forced Entry’ at hard font 7b. There was also a wall to the left which I had tried almost 2 years ago and thought was impossible, but I’ve grown a bit since then (surprisingly!) and thought it would be worth a shot despite the ever increasing tide. I soon got to work and worked out all the moves. Knowing the tide would soon cut me off I turned my camera on and had one last attempt. Pulled on, hit the middle crimp then out again and stuck the crux with a disturbing amount of screaming. Not the best problem in the world but for me quite hard and a good adventure! Named ‘Tide of Screams’ at about font 7c, although may be easier for people with a bigger arm span.
In-between climbing outdoors and training I was invited to go help my friend David Cross from Base Cubic help set some problems at local climbing wall The Warehouse for a summer bouldering comp. Despite feeling a little tired from school Prom and house party the day before it was great fun setting with some fantastic wooden holds from Pumped Holds, which I would defiantly recommend. We set 15 problems of all grades and styles. You have 25 days to enter so get too it!
A week ago I went over and visited my aunt and uncle who happen to live close to High Rocks on Southern Sandstone, happy days! Unfortunately it was lightly raining beforehand but never the less I paid £10 to get in (yes I paid money to go climbing outdoors, I’m still recovering, well my parents are) have to say I think it was worth it though. The sandstone boulders are in a very nice location with well-kept paths between the rocks and there are some surprisingly nice problems. Ticklist for the day included two font 7c’s, ‘The Crimps’ and ‘Kinda Lingers Sit Start’ both of which were great fun.
More recently, yesterday in fact, I went back over to the sandstone boulders at Huntsham in the Forest of Dean to try the hard project which I had previously failed on. It’s a fantastic looking head height roof located on Bivi Buttress, starting on a low sit start jug and pulling out the roof to a techniqual finish on pebbles. I had previously done it in two overlapping half’s with the two powerful linking moves being the crux involving matching an undercut and jumping out to catch the slopey lip of the roof.
For some reason today the moves didn’t feel as hard as before and I could do them first go in isolation which just left trying it from the start. After a few stupid slips I pulled on from the start and did it! A very unexpected ascent which left me feeling rather psyched.
After 3 sessions I have to say it’s one of the best and hardest first ascents I’ve done. Thanks to Cailean Harker for telling me about the line. I named the line ‘The Hunter’s Roof’ and have suggested the grade of font 8a as it feels harder than all the other 8a’s I’ve done (which doesn’t really say much) and harder than two 8a/+’s I’ve done. Would be great to see some strong locals like Hamish, Ellis, Cailean, Rory, Duma, Tom, Ben etc get on it and see what they think.
All these problems and more will be featuring in my summer bouldering video which will be coming out early September so stay tuned for that.
Thanks for reading and an even bigger thanks to my parents and my sponsors: La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic!
James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)
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