Saturday, 3 September 2016

European Lead World Cups 2016

It is such an unusual feeling looking back over the last few months of travel, training, five Lead World Cups and one Boulder World Cup competition. In recollection, these last few months seem to have flown by so quickly, yet so much has happened that it also feels like an entire year has been packed into just 10 weeks. My trip however, is far from being over just yet, with my first ever Open World Championships taking place in Paris in only a few weeks’ time! I am super excited for this upcoming comp, but already I’ve had a tremendously successful trip and learnt so much more than I ever imagined.
Lead World Cup 2016 - Imst, Austria - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine
I’ve been incredibly lucky to travel, train and compete with my fellow Aussie Team buddies; Campbell Harrison, Roxy Perry, Alistair Earley, Ben Abel and Yossi Sundakov-Krumins. Together we’ve shared so many awesome adventures, met so many interesting people, made new friends, discovered much about ourselves and acquired so much knowledge about training and our weaknesses. My headspace, mental approach and familiarity with World Cup level competitions are the most important things I believe I’ve gained so far. I’ve had highs and lows, good climbs and bad climbs but I can confidently say that the competitions I saw as ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ were definitely when I learnt and progressed the most.
Me, Roxy, Campbell and Alistair - Munich, Germany 2016
 Lead World Cup #1 – Chamonix, France

Back in Chamonix, when the lead World Cup season kicked off in July two and a half months ago, it felt like my first ever World Cup again back in 2015. Last year I was fortunate to be able to get a small taste of the World Cup Circuit atmosphere after competing in my first two World Cups ever (Chamonix and Briançon, France). It was however, a relatively short month-long trip and I unfortunately had a minor shoulder injury which definitely complicated my headspace leading into the first competition in Chamonix. The trip was incredibly beneficial, but I felt so incredibly overwhelmed and intimidated by it all last year that it was hard to comprehend what I had learnt, and where I needed to go next with my training, etc. All I knew was that I needed to come back for a full European Lead World Cup season of comps and training to really see significant gains in my performance at an international level. So here I am now, doing exactly that…
Lead World Cup 2016 - Chamonix, France - Sytse Van Slooten
This year, the first Lead World Cup in Chamonix was again the most overwhelming. I was a bit of a nervous wreck and although I knew I needed to relax to perform well, I had no idea how to let go of the pressure and expectations I’d inadvertently put on myself. I didn’t feel at all like myself on the wall... I over-gripped the holds, restricted my breathing and in turn, fell off only a few quick draws from the start. As devastating as it was at the time, the shock of my performance did however make me come to terms with the reason I am over here in Europe, which is to learn and improve my competition mindset through experience and familiarity.

Lead World Cup #2 – Villars, Switzerland 
Lead World Cup 2016 - Villars, Switzerland - Eddie Fowke

After my ‘low point’ in Chamonix I was better able to let go of my ego-driven expectations and climb the qualification routes at the second Lead World Cup in Villars, Switzerland, without as much pressure clouding my head. I guess I had already hit what I felt was ‘rock bottom’ in Chamonix and I knew I had so much more to give. My climbing performance improved significantly in Villars and I actually surprised myself with my ability once I committed to every move and accepted the ‘negative possibilities’ as having little to no significant consequence. I could finally just climb my own climb. Unfortunately, I made some mistakes with my foot sequence on both routes that I was unable to recover from and I fell off… But I was stoked to have felt relaxed and more like myself on the wall. I managed to make it a lot further than expected on my second qualifier, boosting my confidence significantly. I began to recognise that I actually had the strength to do the routes. Acknowledging this progress in itself was enough to keep me in positive spirits for the competitions ahead of me. It would be a long road ahead but I was ready to take it one step at a time and enjoy every moment. I also had an unexpected yet absolutely awesome opportunity arise in Villars helping Charlie Boscoe do the live streaming commentary for the Finals round of the competition. Although it was way out of my comfort zone, I enjoyed it so much and was incredibly grateful to have been offered such a rewarding opportunity.
Lead World Cup 2016 - Villars, Switzerland - Sytse Van Slooten
Commentating the Lead Finals with Charlie Boscoe in Villars, Switzerland - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine
Lead World Cup #3 – Briançon, France

My performance at the Lead World Cup #3 in Briançon was just as positive as Villars, but with even more progress. I had begun viewing the routes with more self-confidence and visualised the majority of each route as achievable before I’d even hopped on the wall. I found this visualisation technique to be very beneficial and gave me more of the confidence I needed to commit, fight harder and put that extra ounce of effort in to every move. My ranking against the other athletes was improving slightly over the course of the three comps so far, but this was not something I wanted to concern myself with too much. I decided it was important for me at that stage to not pay too much attention to my ranking after each qualifier, but to measure my progress on how I felt on the wall and whether the main reason I was falling off was mental or physical.
Lead World Cup 2016 - Briançon, France - Sheila Farrell McCarron

Lead World Cup 2016 - Briançon, France - Sheila Farrell McCarron
Lead World Cup #4 – Imst, Austria & Boulder World Cup – Munich
Training in Munich - Kletterhalle High East

There was a fairly long break between Briançon and the next Lead World Cup in Imst, Austria which we spent training in Munich. I also competed in my first ever Boulder World Cup which was an incredibly amazing experience and because of its significance to me, I have to dedicate another whole separate blog. But in short, I went to the next Lead World Cup in Imst with a newfound confidence in my physical strength and ability to commit to dynamic and bouldery moves. My new approach was to tackle every climb like a really long boulder problem. 
Lead World Cup 2016 - Imst, Austria - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best of ‘luck’ in Imst however… I managed to time out on my first qualifier which was heart-wrenching to say the least. I had finally found a route I felt I could possibly top and all of a sudden I was pulled off the wall just when things started to get interesting. It messed with my head a fair amount after that, and although I was happy to have had the strength to do the route, I was angry that I couldn’t ever have the chance to prove myself on it again. I tried my best to not let it affect my second qualifier but hoped that I could use my frustration to fuel my power and commitment for the next route. This technique didn’t work very well for me however, and I was over-psyched and probably rushed at the route with too much confidence, making it easy for silly detrimental mistakes to happen like my foot popping off at the third quick draw. I was devastated immediately afterwards but it didn’t take long for me to pull myself together and focus on the positives.

Visualising with Roxy Perry- Imst, Austria - Photo by Rick Perry
Roxy Perry, Eddie Fowke and I in Imst, Austria - Photo by Rick Perry
 We were incredibly lucky to be able to come back and climb on some of the routes after the competition which was a really beneficial experience and confidence-booster for me. I got back on my second qualifier and did significantly better and I even took the opportunity to have a try on the Women’s Finals climb. I wasn’t expecting to do very well on it, but I fought hard and ended up surprising myself by making it about a third of the way up the insanely long route.

Lead World Cup #5 – Arco, Italy

After a few busy days of post-comp Austrian mountain adventures, we began our beautiful journey of transit over the Italian border and across alpine passes, around endless fields of beautiful apple and grape plantations and through a huge mass of skyscraper limestone cliffs. This beautiful drive lead us into the romantic cobblestone town of Arco, Italy where we competed in the last IFSC World Cup of our trip and was the best performance I’ve ever had in a Lead World Cup before. I was really excited with how I performed on both qualifier climbs, making it up most of the way on both routes, but especially because the reason I had fallen off each route was primarily physical rather than mental. I had finally gained enough familiarity with the competitions that I had found an optimal headspace to perform my best physically. Overcoming these mental barriers meant I was relaxed and ready to just fight hard and climb my own climb, leaving everything on the wall. I was able to recover from small mistakes and continue climbing, focused on the route ahead. I climbed so much further than I’d ever expected to and was pleased to maintain my positive headspace into the second qualifier as well. It was difficult for me not to notice the sudden jump in my ranking against the other athletes in the competition... I placed 36 out of 57 females which was a very pleasant surprise after an already rewarding two qualifier routes.
Lead World Cup 2016 -Arco, Italy - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine

Lead World Cup 2016 -Arco, Italy - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine
It’s taken a fair while to untangle it all within my mind, but after all the World Cups this year I’ve finally prepared a personal list of key words and phrases that I believe will help trigger my own best mental approach for optimal climbing performance. It summarises most of the things I’ve learnt firsthand over the last 6 World Cups of 2016. These particular words mean so much more to me now and trigger significant experiences I’ve learnt and drawn from not only in the past few months, but my entire climbing career so far.

Lucy’s Mental Approach to her Best Climbing Performance:
1.       Let Go of expectations
2.       Accept “negative outcomes” as inconsequential
3.       Embrace uncertainty
4.       Believe in your strength for the route as a whole and for each individual move
5.       Cease comparing yourself to others. How they climb is irrelevant to your performance.
6.       Picture yourself just at training
7.       Have Fun and Enjoy the route. Be Yourself on the wall
8.       Commit and pull hard!

Now I only have one competition left before I head back home to Australia… The World Championships in Paris! It’s the biggest event I will have ever competed in and I’m registered for both Lead and Boulder. I can’t explain how excited I am for the Paris World Championships… It’s going to be such a massive event and I just hope I can steady my nerves enough to maintain my optimal headspace from the last comp in Arco.
Lead World Cup 2016 - Briançon, France - Sheila Farrell McCarron
I am so grateful to have had this incredible opportunity to travel, train and compete Internationally this year. It’s been such an amazing trip so far and I’ve learnt and progressed so much more than I ever thought with my climbing and headspace. A massive thank you especially to Flight Centre Sports & Events for their incredible ongoing sponsorship support and for making these amazing opportunities achievable for myself. I am also tremendously grateful to have CLIF Bar, Pinnacle Sports, REVIVE Ashgrove, Climb ICP, Evolv and Osprey supporting me every step of the way. Their sponsorship makes such a huge difference and I can’t thank them enough. But none of this would be at all possible without the amazing support of my amazing friends and family… Thank you all so very, very much, you mean absolutely everything to me. :-) 
Lead World Cup 2016 -Arco, Italy - The Circuit World Cup and Performance Climbing Magazine

Monday, 25 July 2016

2016 IFSC Lead World Cup Chamonix – A Turning Point

When you’re a big fish in a small pond the transition to becoming that same fish in an entire ocean is by no means easy. It’s a physical, mental and emotional battle, and can be a very humbling experience to say the least. It is a test of character, passion and your ability to pick yourself up after failure, learn from your mistakes and to have the maturity to accept that ‘no true success comes without failure.’ That saying is easy enough to understand, but the very meaning of it signifies that actually going through that failure is easier said than done.

Failure itself can make or break anybody. It would be so easy to quit when you’re the only one pushing yourself to begin with… To just throw the towel in and say “I’m just not good enough for this.” But I believe that true success is understanding that failure is actually just a stepping stone from which you can learn and become stronger. The more ‘failures’ we pick ourselves up and learn from, the stronger we actually become. These past few days over the course of my first Lead World Cup for 2016 in Chamonix, France have certainly been a test of my maturity to overcome such ‘failure.’ I can say with all honesty that to begin with I wasn’t very mature about it at all...

Chamonix IFSC Lead World Cup 2016 Qualifiers - Photo by Campbell Harrison 
I went into the Chamonix comp this year with the same nervousness as if it was my first ever World Cup again. Without meaning to, I had built a massive cloud over my head full of intimidation, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence along with very high personal expectations and pressure. I could somewhat sense the cloud’s presence but didn’t do a good job at all of removing it. Instead, I tried to force myself to relax for the climbs ahead without changing my mental approach. How can one possibly relax when an ominous cloud looms above, making you question whether you deserve to be there, whether you’re at the right level to compete or even just strong enough to do the moves? Hindering questions begin to pop into my head like; “What happens if I fall off too low and embarrass not only myself, but my country?” I’m not entirely sure how I’d managed to develop such a horrible storm of self-doubt, but as I climbed my first qualifier climb at the Chamonix Lead World Cup, the first comp in the Lead World Cup circuit, that storm of doubt did nothing but rain on me. Every move was hesitant, every hold was over-gripped, every breath was swallowed and before I knew it I was off the wall.
Chamonix IFSC Lead World Cup 2016 Qualifiers - Photo by Campbell Harrison 
Initially I was incredibly upset with how I had climbed and my first thought was that I was just not good enough to do the climb. The initial shock of it all took a little while to wear off and for the feelings to mull over before I could gain some clarity and perspective. By the time my second qualifier had come around, I managed to let go of my ego-driven expectations and embraced a ‘nothing to lose’ mindset. I also now had a point to prove to myself that I was worthy of the climb and had the strength to do it. I took a moment just before I hopped on the wall to close my eyes and just picture myself at training, where no pressure or expectations exist… just myself and the wall. I began the climb so much better on that second qualifier, but there was still a lingering cloud above my head with a touch of disappointment added to the mixture. As I climbed and approached a big intimidating move, I had a momentary lapse of doubt and hesitated, almost making all the same mistakes as I had done on the first qualifier. I’m quite proud to say that in that moment however, I managed to pull myself together, take a deep breath, relax and clear my head. I committed to the move completely and believed in my ability to do it. I kept going and managed to do a lot better than quali 1, but I knew deep down I still could’ve done a heck of a lot better. I just had to believe in myself... I know it sounds ridiculously corny but I honestly just had to truly believe in my ability to do the moves and fully commit with no hesitation or self-doubt.

Even after the comp was finished for me the initial feelings of disappointment still took a little while to wear off. However, by the next day the cloud had finally cleared and I was ready to make a fresh start. We decided to head to the gym in Les Houches and I was sick of the self-pity I had been mulling over since the qualification round the day before… I knew I was better than that. I evaluated my weakness and concentrated on what needed to be done. I decided the whole climbing session would be focused on committing to moves completely, getting on the routes I had previously thought too difficult and believing in my strength to pull every single move. I was incredibly excited to immediately see a massive improvement in my climbing and began to recognise the strength I forgot I had, just waiting to be used.
Chamonix IFSC Lead World Cup 2016 Qualifiers - Photo by Sytse Van Slooten
Changing my attitude and mental approach to climbing such elite level routes amongst World Class athletes is going to be a massive turning point and learning curve in my climbing and competition performance. The most important thing I’ve learnt from my first World Cup of 2016 in Chamonix is to stop comparing myself to other competitors. Yes, the routes and the climbers can be intimidating – they’re the best in the world… But I can use this to inspire myself to push harder, learn from my mistakes and recognise that I am there for a reason, I deserve to be there and compete with the top climbers in the world. I am competition. Once I had let go of those hindering thoughts and expectations and climbed my own climb with purpose, determination and just enjoyed the climb, I amazed myself with what I could do.

I cannot wait for the next competitions and the long, exciting journey ahead of me. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Nationals & Oceania 2016 and Onwards to Europe

I’m sitting in a plane en-route to what will be the longest overseas trip I’ve been on…ever. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. Do I actually have any idea what emotion I’m feeling at the moment? Not a clue. The truth is, I’m about to embark on a huge journey which is way out of my comfort zone... Away from my family, Alex, and the emotional security of those closest to me. Let’s be honest, I don’t like the idea of change that much. I am a creature of habit, but was also born with a thirst for adventure… It is an odd combination, I have to admit. I am however, really lucky to be travelling with fellow climbing and comp buddy, Campbell Harrison who has become a great interstate friend after the years of Aussie comps we’ve been in together.

This plane will (hopefully) be landing in Munich, Germany where Campbell and I begin a 3-month trip across Europe. We will be training at all sorts of cool gyms across the continent and competing in 5 Lead World Cups, 1 Boulder World Cup and both Lead and Boulder at the World Championships in Paris…that’s 8 comps in total!!

One of the goals I’ve set myself for this trip is to work on controlling my nerves and head-space by doing as many international competitions as possible. I figure the only way to better my performance at an international level is to expose myself to that type of pressure and atmosphere as much as possible and gain the experience I need to make the unfamiliar, familiar. Basically my aim is to transform what is out of my comfort zone, into familiar turf where unfamiliarity can no longer hinder my performance. It also excites me incredibly to have the time and opportunity while on this trip to train really hard between comps and learn as much as I possibly can through talking to other climbers and also by experimenting with trial and error.
Chamonix World Cup 2015 - Photograph by Ciro Tracey
The adventure ahead of me is really only just beginning to sink in as I’ve been so focused on Nationals and Oceania Lead Champs (which were only 2 days ago at SICG Villawood, Sydney). It was another great comp and I’m really happy to come away from it as the Open A Female National and Oceanic Champion. While I’m incredibly thrilled about the title, I’m not 100% pleased with my performance this year. I feel I did not climb as well or as confidently as I did at last year’s Nationals and for some reason my head just wasn’t in the right space. Although it’s been a clean sweep for me this year, winning every Australian Lead State Title in Open A’s, some comps have definitely been better than others in terms of my performance. I understand it’s crazy to expect my best performance at every single comp… but as an athlete, I feel like I have no choice but to put that pressure on myself. I believe it is a healthy type of pressure though, if I continue to go about it the right way. It’s just important for me to remember to understand and continually focus on how I can always improve even if I won the comp. Likewise if I were to not win at a comp, I would focus constructively on why I fell off as opposed to dwelling on the lack of title.

I am really keen to work on my self-confidence over the next 3 months and return to Australia not only stronger, but mentally refreshed, confident and as psyched as ever! I can’t wait to see what awesome things Europe and these next few months have to offer.

James Kassay and I on podium as Australian National and Oceanic Champions for 2016 
Chamonix World Cup 2015 - Photograph by Rob Parer

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A Year In Review and The Journey Ahead

2015 in Review                                                                                           March 2nd, 2016

It’s that time of the year again! It’s the week before the first Lead Climbing Comp of 2016 and I have to keep reminding myself to take it easy over the next couple of days. I’ve just been in constant training mode for the past five months, and it’s so easy to forget I have to zone into comp mode again. I know that rest and recovery should be two of the most important aspects of my training program at this point in time. However, the subtle ache of muscle fatigue in my arms right now tells me I should probably be focusing a little more on this before this weekend comes around and brings with it the Tasmanian State Lead Titles.

It’s funny looking back to this time last year. It seems like so long ago because so much has happened since, yet for the same reason, the time has passed by so quickly.

"Sail Away" (26), Blue Mountains 2016.
Photo by Cuskelly Photography
Tasmanian Lead State Titles 2015. Photo by
Cameron Johns Photography

For me, 2015 was a big one. I competed in all five Open State Lead Comps across Australia and was really happy to place 1st in every single one of them. This put me in a fantastic headspace for Nationals and my upcoming international competitions.

Open A Females Finals Climb at Lead Nationals 2015. Photo by Climb Media
Lead Nationals in June was an amazing event and definitely one of the highlights of the year. I had an incredible amount of fun at this comp. I felt absolutely top of my game and everything seemed to just fall into place. It’s hard to describe the ecstasy I felt as I topped out on that Finals climb. As I came down, my heart was racing with excitement and happiness, being the only person to top the Finals route at Nationals by a fair way. However, unfortunately I was called off on a technical error which meant I could only place 2nd in the Open Women. As devastating as it seemed at the time, I grew a lot from retaining perspective and shifting my focus to the international World Cups ahead of me.

World Cup Chamonix, France 2015. Photo by Ciro Tracey
In July, just a week after the Nationals competition, I left Australia for a month in France. While here, I competed in two of my first ever Open Lead World Cups! It had been a huge goal of mine to make it to that point and I really wanted to just know that I was at the right level to compete against such strong athletes. Of course it would have been a dream to go into my first World Cup and surprise everyone by completely blitzing the climbs and making top 3… but that’s just not how things work, and putting those expectations on myself would have been naïve and hindering to my performance. Unfortunately I was also carrying a bit of a shoulder injury in the week leading up to the first World Cup, which shook up my confidence a fair amount. My primary focus was to get a general idea about where I was standing amongst it all and learn what I need to train the most to raise my level on the international stage.

Realising I was definitely on the right track and not way behind the rest of the athletes was a huge confidence booster for me. I felt strong enough physically, but my headspace needed significant improvement. I’ve now come to the conclusion that if I want to get better, I will need to compete in as many World Cups as possible and gain the experience necessary for me to compete confidently in that environment.

So, what’s coming next?

I remember in the month before I left for Europe last year, I was so focused on getting myself to those World Cups that I had no idea what would come next. I didn’t even know what I was going to do for the rest of the year, let alone in 2016. But upon returning home and over the past five or so months leading up till now I’ve had a huge think about my long term plan and goals over the next five years.

On hearing that Sport Climbing is almost definitely going to be in the 2020 Olympics as an invitational sport, and realising that I won’t be ancient by then (but 27 years old), my long term goal has been set. What athlete wouldn’t be excited to represent their country at the highest level of competition the world has to offer? 
Opening Ceremony at World Cup Chamonix 2015. Photo by Rob Parer

It does scare me a little how much work I need to do over the next 4 years to make this goal of mine happen… But my determination and excitement for this challenge overrules by far.

Similar to 2015, this year I plan to compete in all the interstate Lead Competitions and Nationals and then head to Europe for the Open Lead World Cups. This year however, the plan is to live, train and compete there for three months as opposed to one. This time I will also be competing in five Open Lead World Cups and will finish off the trip with the World Championships in Paris in September.

I thought 2015 was big… but this year is going to be massive! Every year that follows is going to be bigger and better than the last and I am determined to push through all the obstacles and challenges I may be faced with.

I am incredibly excited to have such an amazing group of sponsors to support me along the way. I really can’t describe how grateful I am to Flight Centre Sports & Events, CLIF Bar, Pinnacle Sports, Evolv, Revive Ashgrove, Climb ICP, Feeney Family Law and all of my amazing friends and family for their support… Because without them, none of this would be possible.

 
"A Space Odyssey" (30), Mt Flinders. Photo by Set In Stone Photography

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Annual Blueys Trip (2015-2016 Edition)

January 2016


What better way to round up one awesome year and begin another, than with a trip to the good, old Blue Mountains? Over the last few years it’s become an annual road trip event for Alex and I to join the hordes of Queensland climbers doing exactly the same thing. It’s such a great vibe with everyone there simply to have fun, celebrate the coming of the New Year and climb as much as physically possible… Which is generally until our fingertips bleed, tape becomes our best friend and yet we still refuse to stop climbing.
Me working on "Hairline 2000" (28) at Diamond Falls. Photo by Slavik Titov

At just under two weeks, this year’s trip was a slightly shorter one for Alex and I, but we had an incredible time regardless. On the morning of our arrival (a few days post-Christmas) like keen beans we headed straight to the nearest crag, Centennial Glen’s Main Wall to get some much craved rock under our eager fingertips. After a half day of climbing, we set up our tent in the Blackheath Caravan Park. The place was packed to the rafters with all sorts of caravans and tents, some small and modest and some which looked like the size of a small house. With many young families around the place it certainly wasn’t the quietist of campgrounds, but the hot showers were amazing!
Rainy day at the crag with Alex Turnbull

Sore hands!
Week one of our trip brought perfect weather with sunny blue skies and cool breezes which was a stark contrast to the weeks before we’d arrived. Lucky us! …or so we thought. Our luck seemed to run out as week two came around with torrential rain and strong winds diminishing our climbing area options and making the campground drenched and miserable. The creek behind our tent was rising, things were leaking everywhere and tent pegs were pulling out of the now soft, muddy soil. All of a sudden the once packed campground was now almost completely empty, with only our tent and one or two others sticking it out in the miserable conditions. Amongst all this, Alex and I were unfortunate to catch a vomiting bug which seemed to be making its way around Blackheath. As unpleasant as it was, it kept us occupied over the two worst days of weather, and thankfully we were back to our old selves once the rain began to recede. 
Me on the onsight of "Paint God" (25) at Bell Supercrag. Photo by Sam Cujes

Throughout the trip I was really keen to head to some new areas we’d never been to before and just have fun pushing ourselves to onsight or flash as many routes as possible. It’s my favourite type of climbing, onsighting… I find that I use my whole body and mind as one element to keep myself on the wall, and everything seems to just fall into place. I push myself harder and I seem to be able to hold on for that little bit longer. It’s those magical moments when you seem to pull strength out of nowhere and pull a move you never thought possible, or when you happen to catch a dyno in the perfect spot, as if you knew the climb without ever even seeing it before. It never ceases to amaze me how much strength your body still has in reserve, even when you think you can’t possibly hold on any longer. The more I challenge myself to push past this mental barrier, the more I understand myself better as a climber and what my body is capable of.


Cuskelly Photography: One rainy day at Sublime Point, Binary Cave

My most memorable climb of the trip was a long, tough route called “Parallax Error” (27) at Bell Supercrag. I didn’t onsight the whole climb as one because I had some insight into possible beta for the boulder crux start. Past this point however, was another 25 metres of completely new rock for me to work my way through. This was one of those magical climbs that just happened to all fall into place, where my mind and body were challenged to their limits to keep me on the wall, and somehow I managed to pull moves I didn’t think were possible for me…

It was our first day at Bell Supercrag, and also Alex’s birthday!! Alex had just managed to strongly onsight “The Reality Dysfunction” (25); a very long pumper of a climb with a tough finish. I was very pleased to flash it before we shuffled down a few climbs to the left where the daunting yet alluring “Parallax Error” stood before us with what looked like a very bouldery, cruxy start. Warning: Beta alert ahead! Alex jumped on first and tried working out this difficult boulder problem which began the climb. He managed to pull the massive move after only a couple of attempts and put the first couple of draws on, but decided to come down and rest for a bit so I could have a go. He pointed out a few small crimps which might be useful to get through the cruxy boulder problem… So I whacked another 10 or so draws onto my harness and decided to give it a try. To my delight, I managed to get through the bouldery start on my first attempt with some sneaky, crimpy short-person beta. Now with very pumped arms, I continued battling for the next 25 or so metres of onsight climbing ahead of me. Once I was past one crux, there seemed to be another just ahead. It was the climb that just kept on giving. At one point I was sure it would have to ease off in difficulty, but instead I was confronted with a crazy slab with no foot holds and tiny crimps. I don’t know how long I was stuck at the next undercling trying to figure out how I could possibly reach the next slopey rail way above my head. Eventually I figured the only way would be to do a full cut-loose dyno from a slabby undercling to this diagonal slopey rail. With feet numbing and arms screaming, I managed to stick it. It felt absolutely amazing! There was no giving up now… the thought of having to do it all again after this much effort and desperation was almost more painful than my forearms at the time. Thankfully there were some larger holds after this crux but the climb had not finished with me yet… Just before the anchor, with a tremendous amount of rope drag almost pulling me back down the climb, I was forced to do another full cut-loose dyno to reach the clipping ledge. I couldn’t believe I had actually stuck it and was thrilled to clip the anchors bagging a flash of this epicly awesome fun climb.
Going for the dyno on "Hairline 2000" (28). Photo by Slavik Titov

We ended the trip on a high, spending our last day at the lovely Porters Pass where we jumped on a few of our past projects and spent the day hanging at the crag with a bunch of our lovely Queensland mates. I was super happy to find some new but very painful beta for the crux of “Sail Away” (26), and managed to tick it on my second shot of the day. After bruised knuckles, bleeding fingers and a profound lack of energy left, we decided to end the day and head to the pub for a beer. It was a stunning evening and a lovely way to round up another awesome trip and another incredible year.
A very sore and exhausted me after the send of "Sail Away" (26) at Porters Pass

Thanks so much to Flight Centre Active Travel, Pinnacle Sports, ICP, Revive Ashgrove, CLIF Bar, Feeney Family Law and all my amazing friends and family for supporting me through 2015. It was a massive year for me and I could never have done it without the incredible support from you all. I have very exciting plans for 2016 underway and look forward to spending 3-4 months training overseas and competing in 6 World Cups across Europe, finishing with the World Championships in Paris this September!