DoB: 15/03/2005 | Youngest Brit to climb 8a (Raindogs @ Malham Cove, aged 10 years 7 months) | Wall: Craggy Island
I started climbing aged 7 (January 2013) and climbing quickly turned into an obsession!
In the near 3 years that followed I climbed 7a lead at 8 years old (at Westway) and then 7b lead at 9 years old (at Surrey Sports Park) and at 10 years 7 months I became the youngest British person ever to climb an 8a when ticking Raindogs at Malham Cove.
I won all 3 regional rounds of the Youth Climbing Series in 2015 and was happy to make the podium in 3rd in the finals whilst being in the younger age category.
I went to Imst for the European Youth Colours festival and came second overall when in the lower age group only missing out on joint 1st by 3 seconds after topping all my routes which included onsighting a 7b – again from the lower half of my age category at the time (Youth D).
I started climbing at my school (Edgeborough) as part of an after school club at the end of the sports hall which has been turned into a mini-climbing wall.
I entered the BMC Youth Climbing Series in 2013 and in the first regional round (London & South East) I came second last and not much better in the second round. By March 2013 I knew that I would need to come 1st or 2nd in the 3rd qualifying round to qualify for the National final at Ratho.
I started training hard and managed to come 2nd in the 3rd qualifying round and qualify for my first National finals.
2013 Nationals – Youth E (Lower half of age group)
It is safe to say this was a bit of a learning experience at the initially daunting but very impressive Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) in Ratho. I came 12th overall in Youth E bumping into some impressive climbers along the way. I knew if I qualified the following year that I would still be in Youth E.
2014 Nationals – Youth E (Upper half of age group)
In 2014 I had been training really hard and felt I was climbing well. Qualifying was a lot more difficult as after 2 regional rounds there would be a regional final where the top 3 climbers would qualify. Qualifying went really well though and I also won my first regional qualifying round at Craggy Island in Guildford. The regional finals were at the Castle and I came 2nd to qualify for the National finals again.
This time I came 4th overall which was a little frustrating to miss out on the podium but it made me more determined than ever to come back stronger.
2015 Nationals – Youth D (Lower half of age group)
I qualified for the 2015 Nationals by winning all 3 of my regional rounds at Craggy Island, Surrey Sports Park and the regional finals at White Spider climbing. The 3rd qualifying route at White Spider was a very hard 7a on small crimps on an over-hanging wall (near the cafe!). I was the only boy in my category to top the route!
In the National finals I was climbing well and got the joint highest point on the 3rd route however on the second route several holds were out of my reach and I had to dyno for them which took me a while to get set. I didn’t think about the time limit and was timed out a few holds from the top. I was gutted!
I still came 3rd and made the podium which I was happy with although I knew things might have been different if I wasn’t timed out on the 3rd route. The 1st and 2nd placed boys both climbed really well.
European Youth Colours 2015 (Imst)
In June 2015 we went to Imst which is a spectacular climbing wall in the Austrian mountains. I was told how tough the competition was and I knew I was in the lower half of the age category and up against climbers a year older than me. I went with the aim of having fun and enjoying the competition.
I managed to top all of my climbs which I later found out included a 7b – which was my first 7b onsight – although I later found out that 1 of the harder climbs was completed in 3 minutes 3 seconds which was 3 seconds over the time limit.
That meant that I came 2nd overall and was only 3 seconds of coming joint 1st! I was really happy to have made the podium and apparently was only the 3rd British person to ever do so – with the other person being fellow Craggy Island Youth Team member Matilda Collins who also came 2nd!
I think Craggy Island is the only Youth Team to have such high finishes in a European competition!
On Sunday the 25th October 2015 I was very happy to complete the youngest ascent of Raindogs (8a) in Malham Cove aged 10 years 7 months. Full blog write up, photos and video here: