Monday, 17 February 2014

Sochi - photoblog!

Andy hasn't got a computer with him out in Russia - so here's some pics to whet your appetite for when he gets back and writes up the trip…….

Today the ice wall is closed to be repacked and Andy had a visit from a couple of our cycling friends!
He also met Zoe Gillings the boarder-crosser although he didn't know it was her until he was chatting to her brother afterwards! Maybe she'll go back for a go on the ice wall???

Thanks to Jen Olson for sending me the pics.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Saas Fee…….a few thoughts.

Saas Fee is always a massive round of the World Cup circuit - the entries are huge and it's always well attended by spectators. The venue inside the atrium of the multi-storey car park is really cool, but also feels quite intense.
My first experience of World Cup climbing back in 2008 was at Saas Fee and I suspect that's why I didn't try it again until 2013! It's hard and it's about as far away from Scottish winter climbing as it's possible to get and still be using axes and crampons (well fruit boots!)
This year I had hoped to come out fighting and put in a decent performance but almost from the first hook of my axe I could feel it wasn't my day. I just didn't feel comfortable or relaxed or smooth or strong or any of the things you need to climb well.
It was no surprise that I came off low down from a position that really wasn't that difficult. Frankly I was absolutely raging with myself and it took me a little while to calm down and reflect. All those thoughts of it being a waste of time and what have I been doing all year were very much at the forefront of my mind.

Mojo re-ignition required. I always find that unless I feel like I'm climbing well and have been doing a lot I struggle - so it's a really good thing that the major travelling sector of the world cups is over. I'm spending the next couple of weeks staying out in the alps in between the competitions and hoping to get some good climbing in. A little bit of time to enjoy it and not think so much about the pressure of competition.

On a positive note it was amazing to have such big team for Team GB at Saas Fee, there were 6 members of the senior men's team plus an extra, debuting were Andy Inglis and Pete Holder, Harry Holmes is practically an old hand now and Stevie who climbed well.  For the women's team we had Katy Forrester competing in her first world cup.
That's absolutely phenomenal - bigger teams than lots of the other countries that have traditionally fielded a team - although still a long way behind Team Russia!

For all the results from all the rounds so far you can find them here.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

World Cup's so far...

Half way through the world cup whirlwind now and I'm not finding it any easier! Will write more at a later date but here's a few photos to give you all a flavour of the last couple of weeks - it's been pretty full on. First stop was Cheongsong in South Korea - what an amazing event - so well organised, great venue and we were all well looked after - the only thing not ideal is the time difference and the lack of a bed…….. floors all the way and that's in the hotels!

Opening ceremony - amazing!

The structure - not too steep but still tricky!

Ice sledding - AKA a way to break the climbers!

Ice sculpture

Some interesting food choices in Korea but tasty.
South Korea saw just Harry and I headed out and it was Harry's first World Cup - he was brilliant did really well and looks like he'll be a bright prospect for the future (damn these people with youth on their side!)
We even managed a bit of training at a climbing gym in Seoul before we came home, so hopefully not de-training too much.

Less than a week later and with a stopover of around 12hours at home it was on to Busteni in Romania.  A bigger team this time with Harry and I being joined by Stevie  and Anna - Anna's first world cup and she has an injury at the moment and was only climbing with agreement from her physio that she would just do the one comp. Would you believe she qualified for the sam-final - what a great start to a World Cup career!!
I had a frustrating qualification getting to within a move of topping out the route, which is what was required to go through - even more frustratingly I'd climbed fast enough to be almost a  minute ahead of the person who did go through in the 9th spot - ARGH!! So whilst happier with my performance than in Korea - annoyed with myself for blowing it so close.

Was great to have a team out in Romania and we all hung out together and even had a day at a local crag on the sunday. The local climbers had been super keen for us to visit the crag and get on their project, which we duly did and I managed to send it too - I called it "Grandad" after the guy who sent us to the crag as this is his nickname and it seemed appropriate!


Nearing the top of the qualifier - i.e. the long quickdraw just to the right with a blue hold.

Team GB -Romania

Harry on what became Grandad

Harry climbing

Enjoying watching the finals

The best thing about the Romanian comp was the men's result - the top 2 places were predictable with Maxim Tomilov and HeeYong Park, but the last spot on the podium went to the elder statesman of the Ice World Cups Sergey Tarasov at the grand age of 47 he took his first podium position - there's hope for me yet!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a MASSIVE THANK YOU

Christmas is finally up on us us once more and I’d like to take the chance to thank my sponsors who’ve supported me and kept me alive over the last year. (That’s Lyon Equipment with Petzl, Beal, La Sportiva and Julbo and Marmot clothing a recent  exciting transfer - so a thank you to Mountain Equipment too for their support over the last few years)

The Ice World Cup events and the chance to go to the Olympics in Sochi have been a major goal for me over the last 8 months. It’s a totally new challenge for me to compete with some of the best competition climbers in the world. A totally different experience to suffering for hours on end in Scotland.
To help me get my aging body into shape and keep it that way I’ve had to enlist several amazing friends who’ve given their time to help me with my dream.
In no particular order they are....

Tim Budd: who’s put me through my paces to build my strength and fitness up and has refrained from laughing too much when I’m struggling swinging kettle bells and the like around.
Matt Pigden: The whole of last year and the start of this one ive struggled with neck and shoulder problems with my climbing often resulting in many days off with bad headaches. I was referred to Matt by Becca Dent who I’ll mention in a minute. He’s dealt with several of the GB bouldering team over the last few years with massive results, Shauna Coxsey being one of them. After having dental treatment the problems eased and finally allowed me to train to my full potential.
Rebecca Dent, when I first started seeing Becca a few years ago I’d just come out of a winter season where I felt wasted. I was just on my knees walking in to climb. Since then using a controlled diet and careful monitoring I’ve put weight on which has enabled me to recover way better and faster than before and so has helped me train more.

I’d also like to thank the BMC who have recognised Ice Climbing as being an official GB Team alongside the bouldering and lead teams - a big step forward and one that has really helped to get some momentum behind us - there are 10 members of the team including 2 youth climbers and we are all going to attend at least one round of the World Cups - amazing.

Leading up to this season it became apparent that it was going to cost me a fair amount to do all the World Cup events plus the Olympics. Way more than I could ever afford. I decided I needed help. I reached out for corporate sponsorship with some success - a big thank you to DryICE Tools, Jagged Globe but after a little bit of nudging from various friends I then started up a donations page on the web which had great success. It started off pretty slowly but once people were aware of the page the donations flooded in. An incredible response from friends new and old, total strangers and extended family too.
There are way too many of you to thank individually on here but a massive THANK YOU from me as you’ve help me realise my dream.

The season starts in South Korea and I'll be flying out on the 8th January ( well so long as my passport reappears by then) - then it's going to be an action packed 8 weeks with hardly time to draw breath - so wish me luck folks and I'll try and keep you updated as I go along - you can follow me on twitter @andyturnerclimb

Final Preparations

Training at Rope Race

As competition season get’s rapidly closer its time to put the finishing touches to my preparation. All summer I’ve been looking for a venue to add the comp style prep I desperately need. We tried Blackpool, which was amazing for the length of routes and angle but the holds kept coming loose. The wall really needed to be ply clad and with t-nuts to make it work. That way we could kick in as well. Lots of sessions at the Works and White Goods followed just trying to get the mileage in. I was still seeking a venue close by though that I could use anytime of the day so once the dark nights started creeping in I could step up the pace. Stand up Alan and Sharon at Rope Race in Marple, Stockport. The wall where I first started climbing 15+ years ago. They had a downstairs bouldering room which wasn’t getting used that much and were happy to hand it over for us to dry tool in. The added bonus for them was it was something else for their customers to use.
A few furious hours of setting and the wall was ready to go. 

As if by magic an old friend of mine Scott Muir got in touch shortly after. He’d just designed a set of wooden holds for his climbing company ‘Dream Climbing Walls’ and wanted someone to test them and give some feedback. I’ve known Scott for getting on ten years I’ve never seen anyone like him for the psyche to train, he developed prototypes for what became these holds when he was training to compete.
The holds came through the post in 3 big boxes a couple of days later. Unwrapping them I was gobsmacked at the amount of time and detail  he’d put into making these holds. They were things of beauty which is hard to believe for something made out of ply. I was scared to use them they look so nice. I must say I was a little reserved at first how well they’d sell, as surely it can’t be that hard to make wooden holds at home yourself? But after 5 weeks of using them there my favourite holds on the wall. They give you so many options with stein pulls, side pulls, slots etc and the beauty is if you really want to get worked these things are what you need. The placements in the holds are so positive the first thing to go is always your arms. Why is that any good? Well if your trying to get really pumped the last thing you want to do is fall of a marginal hold a few minutes into your circuit and loose all the pump you’ve built up.

The holds are now starting to look a bit less shiny and perfect, they’ve shed their  sharp edges - now there bedded in you can really go for those big moves with confidence and get pumped out of your tiny mind. I can’t wait for the World Cups now!

Monday, 25 November 2013


andy t marmot (3 of 20)
On Powerdab - photo Andy Rutherford

 After climbing my own Guardian of the Underworld last year at The Works  I was keen to try and go one harder. I decided to try and extend Guardian by coming out from the very depths of the cave to join the existing route half way through the roof. This job was postponed when the roof just became too wet to hang under. As much as its amazing to create new routes to climb its bloody hard work hanging upside down for hours on end drilling and bolting the things. At the same time I was drilling the extension Greg and Paddy were creating what was to become Powerdab.
This was right before the winter came good so I gave up on the extension choosing to wait for sunnier days whilst Greg managed to squeeze in a few sessions on Powerdab before he too concentrated on icer things.
Next came the Bolting scandal that saw most of the works stripped, with all except my extension and Guardian being vandalised. Must have been too hard for the perpetrators to get to???? Powerdab got all its draws stolen and unlike the rest of the gear they were never returned. This did not deter Greg who kindly donated more of his draws to the cause.
On the weekend of the meet I'd organised to get folk psyched to compete in World cup events the whole of the Works was a flurry of activity with routes getting sent, left, right and centre. Greg was keen to get back on Powerdab and disappeared with the Scottish contingent. Coming back a couple of hours later with the route in the bag but non commital on the grade.
Having recently joined the Marmot team they were keen for some photos for some posters they were doing for Kendal film festival so I agreed to meet Andy Rutherford down at the works a few days later. Whilst waiting for him to turn up myself and Pete Holder thought we'd have a quick explore of the holds on Powerdab. After a quick bolt to bolt lead I was surprised to climb the route in 2 halves on only my 2nd go. Walking away that day I was keen to get the route done on my 3rd redpoint attempt. Coming back a week later this wasn't to happen, for some reason I was in a really shitty mood and totally wasted 3 goes getting no where. Not happy.
Around came the film festival weekend. I'd arranged to meet up with Pete and Harry Holmes again just to see if I could work the crux before disappearing for duties at the festival that night. Having had a massive week of training and feeling totally wasted I warmed up then managed to fire the crux long reach first go so that only left one thing, I had to keep climbing and finish it. Shortly afterwards saw me shouting a girlie scream at the lower off. Really pleased to get the route in the bag as its now a Marmot poster. Always bad karma I feel to be photographed on a route before you do it.
To get the route so quickly came as a complete surprise, maybe its more my style than long enduro routes?? Time now to get on a euro route and see how the fitness fairs and then the World Cups.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

DryICE Tools

My latest blog is actually as a guest on the DryICE website blog. These guys make some brilliant training tools - you know the kind with ice-axe style handles and loops of rubber to hook over holds a the wall.
They are also one of my new sponsors - so I'd like to say a big thank you to them for their support and go check out my blog about the Ice Factor comp and my profile on their page.

Enjoy and I'll be back soon with more tales.