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  • Spring Outdoor Round Up

    Had a few sessions out and about in the South West this spring, check out some videos I put together here: vimeo.com/beastlysquirrel. Below are some photos and descriptions of some of the best stuff climbed this spring outdoors.

    A powerful limestone link up, put up by Tom Headly. I have had 3 sessions on it this year, where in my second session I dropped the finishing moves after the crux. I told myself I would never come back, and well I did, and finally dispatched it, making it the hardest of the grade I’ve climbed.

    It’s a very unique problem in the sense that it leaves you completely out of breath when you pull into the finish, even though it’s on a fairly vertical wall. Mainly due to the fact that you have to pull so hard on two slopey undercuts. Nemesis complete.

    I had another local session at the Bath ford boulders, in Bath. Tom Randall had famously climbed One Infinity (font 8a+/8b+), a mega roof crack into a crimpy finish. Unfortunately most of the roof was a little damp. But I was able to link some of the roof moves, from a pod, punching out to the lip into the crimpy traverse, making To Infinity and Beyond (font 7c+). Check out the video of this in the link above. Hopefully one day I will be able to climb the whole line…

    After hearing that Hamish Potokar had climbed Mako (font 8A/+) at Hound Tor in Dartmoor I was really psyched to try it as well. So me and my Dad drove over there for a day trip, taking a super sketchy short cut across the moors but we eventually arrived at the crag. Conditions were sunny and warm in the car park but when walking up to the crag it was really windy and friction was good.

    Mako despite being a traverse is a surprisingly good boulder problem involving a thin traverse on crimps to start and then a large sideways dyno! I quickly did all the moves but found it hard to link, with my feet repeatedly popping off a blind foothold. After about an hour I was getting close, falling off the dyno with jug in hand, but soon got frustrated and cold.

    I rested for 20mins then re-warmed up, brushed the holds and then sent it a few goes later, very happy!

    Thanks for reading and a big thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Tip Juice, Padstar Climbing Holds and The Climbing Academy.

    Stay tuned for more blog updates this summer, will try and bring them out more regulary!

    James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)

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  • Spring Comp Round Up

    Either a lot has happened in the last month or I’ve just been very lazy updating my blog, probably a bit of both! There’s a blog post about some competitions this spring. I will hopefully get some more blog posts about my outdoor bouldering this spring and summer up soon!

    Climbing Works International Festival and Peak Weekend

    The CWIF is a massive event and one of my favourite climbing comps that took place just over a month ago at the Climbing Works in Sheffield. Famous climbers from all around the world travel to compete as well as almost all of Britain’s top competition climbers. There at 30 qualifiers and the top 20 go through to the semi-final. Last year I came 21st and I have gotten a lot stronger since then so as hoping to make the semi’s but after hearing about the amount of strong people going it was more of an aim to make top 50!

    After a great morning of competing next to many famous climbers on 30 qualifier problems, I had come 2nd in the Juniors and 33rd in the adult male which I was happy with even though I hadn’t made the semi-finals.

    Later that day I headed up to Stanage with the Tom from Banana Fingers, where I managed to fall off the top out on Brass Monkeys, a strong lesson learnt, always try the top out and never say “ah the top out looks like 3+ piss” even if it really is 3+.

    The next day I went over to Robin Hood’s Stride for some more grit action with Hamish Potokar where we both got a quick 15min ascent of Ben’s Wall (font 7c) as well as a few other good low 7’s.

    All in all a good weekend in the Peak!

    Junior British Bouldering Championships R2

    Having previously been ill during the last round of the Junior British Bouldering Championships in December and missing out on the GB team trials, I was keen to have a good performance this round, at The Climbing Academy in Glasgow, however I had injured my left “Oblique” 3 weeks before the comp meaning I wasn’t in the best shape.

    Never the less I, Sam Mitchel and a few kids from the TCA youth squad flew out from Bristol to Glasgow. Thanks to Alan Cassidy for letting I and Sam stay in his flat for a few nights.

    The next day we headed to the wall for the comp. There were 8 qualifier problems, which I managed to flash all of except 2 which I managed 2nd go and 1 which I couldn’t do. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve ever done but it put me through to the finals.

    The finals were a really good set from Alan and the TCA route setters.

    The first problem I unfortunately missed the bonus hold on and didn’t compete the problem, classic rooky error!

    The second problem was a hard green slab and no one competed this bloc, most people, including me, falling from the hard dyno move out left.

    The third and final problem was a powerful over hang on crimps, more my style, and even managed to top this problem, third go. Glad to finish on a high!

    I overall finished 5th. Although I was injured I thought it could have gone better I was still happy with result. Well done to Joe Swales for winning! Still a fun competition and an experience that I won’t forget. Thanks to The Climbing Academy, Helen and Alan Cassidy and everyone else involved!

    South West Schools Bouldering League

    Over this spring and winter there have been 4 rounds of the South West schools bouldering league all held at The Climbing Academy Bristol. After all 4 rounds I somehow managed to win by a narrow 2 points (one hold!). Look forward to next year’s rounds.

    Bloc Climbing Comp

    With there being many centres to climb at in Bristol, I don’t often climb at Bloc, but thought I best head over to compete in one of their summer comps.

    The 20 qualifier problems were an interesting and volumey set of problems taking many people off the easier ones. Luckily I managed to flash 18/20 and was into the final with Hamish Potokar and Oliver Cain.

    The final was a classic style of 3 problems in front of crowd.

    The first problem was a techniqual wall which we all flashed.

    The second problem was a powerful slightly overhanging wall involving knees and a big press move. Hamish flashed, I got 2nd go and Oliver got to the last move!

    The third problem was a steep roof which only Hamish managed.

    Overall I finished 2nd. Well done to Oliver for finishing 3rd and Hmaish 1st.

    Thanks for reading and big thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Tip Juice, Padstar Climbing Holds and The Climbing Academy!

    James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)

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  • The Joker and Snatch

    Last weekend was a trip that I had been waiting for, for a long time - a trip to the peak district! I don’t often go up to climb on the Peak gritstone as it’s a long trip from Bristol and my parents don’t climb. Luckily my aunt lives in Hope, in the heart of the Peak District, so me and my family went to stay with her for a weekend.

    We drove up on Friday and the weather was looking really unpredictable, but luckily there was a weather window on Friday afternoon so I and my Dad headed up to Stanage. My main aim of the weekend was to climb The Joker (font 8a) at Stanage, a famous and historic one-move-wonder put up by Jerry Moffatt and featuring in the film Hard Grit. Fellow southerners Cailean Harker, Ben West and Hamish Potokar have all climbed the Joker this winter and I was keen to join the Bristol send train.

    Stanage that day was completely empty, bone dry and VERY windy. After a suitable warm up and a few laps on The Green Traverse, I started trying The Joker. I decided to use the campus method. My first few attempts were rubbish, only getting half the distance from the crimps to the top, but every go I got closer and closer. Whilst resting after 10 mins of trying I turned around to see a huge black unappealing rain cloud over the other side of the valley. Feeling rushed I jumped back on, pulled, and got my hand in the finish jug, so surprised I let go!

    I knew I didn’t have much time so I gave the boulder a quick brush and the next go I did it. Yes! Very pleased to send it 15mins. Followed by a quick pack up, run back to the car park and of course a rain storm.

    The next day we headed back to Stanage, the crag was very busy and weather was better, rock all dry once again. This time I was hoping to get on Snatch, another one-move-wonder 8a but a more recent addition to the crag, being climbed by Paul Bennett only a few years ago. It involves once again dynoing from two crimps too a good hold on the top of the boulder, but this felt slightly more powerful. I had previously tried it 11 months ago, after last year’s CWIF and remember getting close.

    Today I was once again getting close, but decided to change beta and put a right foot on instead of a left foot and use a different crimp for the right hand, jumping to the finish hold with my left hand (not out of bounds for this problem).

    In order to do the move you really have to pull on and just explode upwards. After 30mins I had done it, involving a very cool cut loose on the finishing hold. Happy.

    Then I topped it off with a very fun ascent of Not To Be Taken Away, a highball 6c and one of the best boulder problems of its grade in Britain.

    All in all a good two sessions climbing in the Peak and very keen to return!

    Thanks to my aunt for looking after me and my family and thanks to my Dad for spotting me in the cold wind!

    Thanks for reading and big thanks to sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice, Padstar Climbing Holds and The Climbing Academy.

    James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)

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  • Too much plastic!

    So the last month or so has been pretty busy. Unfortunately not on rock, it’s rained almost every weekend since the start of the year but I have been competing in a number of amazing comps and I did manage to finish off one project. Where to begin...

    TCA Redpoint comp:

    At the start of January was the 3rd round of The Climbing Academy’s boulder comp league. Each round has a different comp style or a twist which made things interesting. This round was ‘redpoint’ style meaning you have 3 hours to climb 20 boulder problems with as many attempts as you like, without it mattering how many goes you have. I had just recovered from an illness a day before and was feeling a little rough on the day but never the less continued to compete and would just see how it goes.

    After a long warm up I didn’t feel too bad and soon started ticking off the blocs, with a super small edge traverse being climbed I was feeling good as this was one of the hardest qualifying problems. After 2 hours of climbing I had ticked all but 2 problems, putting myself in joint first with Hamish Potokar for the youth male, and bagged myself a place in the adult final. The other male finalists were Pete Dawson, Phil Rose and Hamish.

    So the final was soon under way with 3 mins per problem per person in front of a big crowd and disco lights. The problems this time round felt hard! The first bloc was involved a gaston lock off move low down and a slopey top out, all of us fell low down apart from Hamish who topped the problem.

    The second problem involved toe hooking out of the roof and a pinchey powerful finish with all of us dropping the upper moves.

    The third problem was mega steep on wooden holds going straight up the middle of the wall. This being the hardest it also saw no tops with us all falling off the middle move into an undercut.

    Never the less it was another fun final with Hamish taking the win, Phil Rose 2nd, I was in 3rd and Pete 4th.

    Thanks to the TCA for hosting the comp and well done to Hamish for winning.

    Blokfest:

    Once again another round of Blokfest, one of my favourite comps with loads of volumes, cool setting and cool music - as per usual!

    This round was at the Depot in Nottingham, which meant a long drive from Bristol, with the TCA youth squad, but was worth journey. On arriving the younger members of the TCA squad were competing in the morning and all adults (including me) competing in the afternoon. After a bit of lunch and beta reading our 25 blocs, we got warmed up and the comp began.

    The qualifiers contained harder problems this round in my opinion but still of great quality. I quickly fired through the blocs with 22 flashed in about an hour and a half. This left the 3 hardest blocs remaining. One was a dyno, one was a steep prow and the other was a powerful roof. By this point I had realised that I probably wasn’t going to make the final, but never the less continued and kept the hope!

    I started on the prow and the dyno, falling off the top sections of each. I thought the prow would go quickest so put my main focus on that, but I got a bit tired so moved on to the dyno after about 30 mins of working. The dyno I had fallen off the last move off over 6 times and the slopey volumes at the top were getting greasy after a lot of people had been trying it. So I decided to have one last attempt… and to my surprise I stuck the last move. Boom!

    So I then moved back over to the prow and after a few minutes rest I topped that block as well. Almost dropped the finishing moves though so felt lucky to get this one.

    My final qualifying bloc was a steep roof with a massive doughnut shaped volume in the middle and a techniqual vertical finish. John Partridge and I were both trying this bloc and both getting close, John even fell off the last move, and I had just found some confident beta. However we were both tired. As we were both about to have attempts from the start, Mike Langley and Gaz came over and explained that John and I both had the same score, and we were both in joint 5th – meaning if we both stopped, we would both have just made it into the final. So we made an agreement, both stopped and both of us had made it through to the final. Some form of god must have been with me that day.

    The finals soon began after an hour or so’s wait in isolation (including a quick power nap) and the observation period of the 3 problems that everyone would get 3 minutes on. I was the first of the 6 finalists out!

    The first problem looked mega. A big sideways dyno followed by a crimpy looking finish. I fell off the dyno about 5 times but I finally stuck the move and held a big swing. Then I matched the high crimp where you had a sketchy move out to a pocket, I went to reach once but then retreated, then went again and stuck the move. Foot on and slapped the finish! First Blokfest final top, very happy.

    The second bloc was the hardest final bloc in my opinion, involving a double upside-down leg hug and a slopey finish. I managed to get past the leg hug but fell moving off a small crimp to the slopers.

    The third bloc was a powerful pull out of the roof involving a big move to a hold on top of a triangle volume, however on my last go I got a double toe hook instead of a toe clamp under the roof and fell, but should have been topped. Although it was inspiring to watch Hamish top the bloc afterwards.

    Overall I had finished 6th (again!) but was still psyched as it was one of the best comps I had ever done.

    The male final positions were:

    1st Dave Barrans

    2nd Nathan Phillips

    3rd Matt Cousins

    4th Hamish Potokar

    5th John Partridge

    6th James Squire

    Thanks to everyone from the Blokfest crew for an amazing event and I am looking forward to the last round at The Castle in London.

    Under Cover Rock Schools Comp:

    Another more local competition I competed in recently was the annual Bristol schools climbing completion. Held at the original Bristol climbing wall of The Undercover Rock (or the big church as most people know it as). All the major private schools from around Bristol turn up to compete, with 4 events to compete in – bouldering, speed, top rope and circuits but you can only compete it two. As well as the open lead event.

    It was a great afternoon of climbing where I won the bouldering and won the open lead route which weighed in at about F7b so it wasn’t too bad. Great effort to the rest of the Bristol Grammar School team, where we won the senior category – the only category we entered!

    New climbing development – at a secret cave:

    Weather has been utterly dire this month but I managed to get out on the only nice weekend we had at the start of January and climb a secret project called ‘Tears of the Angles’ at about 7c+/8a which adds a cool extension to an existing 7c. The access is currently 50/50 with some people saying its ok but others not. Anyway I am currently speaking to Natural England and soon to have a meeting - so things are looking promising, so will hopefully bring news and info out later this year!

    Since the access is getting better here is the ONLY photo I will release until access becomes fully public.

    New stuff:

    Big thanks to Lyon Outdoor for sending me a new pair of La Sportiva Futuras at the start of the year. By a mile my favourite shoes, use them for climbing on any angle or style of wall! Can’t wait to get on more projects and compete in more comps in these.

    Thanks for reading and I would like to say an even bigger thanks to all my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Padstar for their support.

    James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)

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  • 2013 Round Up!

    2013 has been an amazing year, deffinatly the best year so far! From bouldering in the Peak District and North Wales to seaking out local first ascents and climbing abroad in Fontainebleau and Sardinia, as well as many super fun comps like BlokFest and the British Bouldering Championships.

    Heres a selection of the best places and problems I have climbed this year, enjoy!

    Big thanks to my sponsors La Sportiva, Lyon Outdoor, Tip Juice and Base Cubic.

    Happy new year!

    James Squire (Beastly Squirrel)

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