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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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Review | Scarpa Vapour V Womens Climbing Shoe

I bought the Scarpa Vapour V way back in August when I was looking a comfortable, downturned boot. The price of the older style dropped considerably when the new model arrived, so  I managed to pick them up cheaply. I was still trying to break in my second pair of Five Ten Anazasi LV boots at the time so the Vapours unintentionally took a back seat for a little while, until more recently!

 

vap-1Fit –For someone with wide feet these are a great fit. I wanted a more comfortable shoe so I didn’t go with bouldering fit when sizing. Instead I went to a store and tried a few different sizes on around my normal size, which resulted in me going up half a size from my street shoe (UK 3). There is still good toe pressure and heel fit with this sizing but much less pain! They don’t seem to have stretched noticably but that could be because they are still breaking in. I have read some reviews that say the Vapours are particularly painful on the Achilles tendon. The only time I experienced this was when the small, blue leather tag inbetween the pull tabs was rolled down into the shoe, but as soon as I flattened it out it was fine.

 

Specifications – The Vapour boots have an asymmetric toe box, a full boarvap-2d sole and are moderately downturned. I can really feel the benefit of these features when I’m climbing on a steep angle or on a roof. The downturn makes it feel like the toe ‘clips’ onto the holds, and the full board gives my feet solid support. One of the main things I really like about the fit of this shoe is the half sock/mesh tongue. It’s really comfortable on the top of my foot and makes getting the boot on and off particularly easy. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is a decent all-rounder but not as sensitive as other brands that I have tried, however I think the overall shoe build compensates for this.

 

Performance – The Scarvap-3pa Vapour shoes are great on all types of climbs, but I find that they perform particularly well on roof/cave and angled walls due to the downturn and solid toe box. They edge well and have a decent amount of sensitivity, I never really worry about standing on small holds when I wear these shoes. They seem to be breaking in nicely and I’m happy to report that downturn is still there and they have not flatten out. I would like to try these outside though, as I have only climbing plastic in them so far.

 

Aesthetic – I’m a big fan of the blue and grey colour pallet as it’s gender neutral and understated. Even the new version which have yellow piping detail are easy on the eyes.

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Conclusion

After bouldering in these boots for about a month I am really impressed with how they fit, feel and perform, and I can see myself sticking with the Scarpa brand for future shoes. They are a versatile shoe for a beginner or advanced climber as they perform great in every department. Personally, I’m happy to have found a comfortable fitting shoe which is easy to get hold of and I feel has helped me improve my climbing skills.

I don’t think you can ask for much more from a boot!

 

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Slopers | How To Climb Them

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Notoriously slippery, rounded and very tricky, slopers are something I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now. There was a problem in the gym that was full of them which inspired the training, as the route quickly became a project. I made it through in the end, and so here we are with very sore fingertips and some pointers to share!

So, how do you climb slopers?

 

What I’ve found to be the most important element of climbing on slopers is body position. E.g If you can hang directly under a sloper with your arm relaxed, you can suddenly find some friction. It’s all about learning where you need your body/weight to be, in order to create the most positive hand hold, which will all depend on the problem flow/direction.

Secondly, how you hold the sloper is also important. This will differ from hold to hold, plus route and wall angle, but looking for the part with the most texture isn’t a bad idea. I also found that half crimping the hold helped me out too.BM

Lastly, it’s commonly known that slopers can sense fear. If you don’t fully commit to holding that hold whilst trying hard, it will reject you and make you slip off!

If you follow me on social media you might have seen a video of me having a crack at the Beastmaker 1000 slopers. As frustrating as it was repeatedly falling off these holds, it was equally amazing when I got a little further and held them a little longer.

You can always do more than you think you can! I would love to hear your tips for holding slopers, leave them in the comments 🙂

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Learning and Improving | Every Little Helps

I’m not what you could call a ‘natural climber’. I’ve never been particularly outdoorsy, I didn’t start climbing from a young age, or have the built-in bouldering knack at my first session.  In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. I was scared of being up high, terrified of falling, and struggled to get my limbs to co-operate (the latter is still an issue). Yet there was something about bouldering which had me hooked, most probably the challenge.

A couple of years down the line and I’m still working away at bettering my climbing-self, which in a very long-winded way brings me round to the point of this blog post.

There is always time to learn and improve.

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One of my draw backs at the moment is flexibility, which is arguably the easiest thing to improve. I’ve been extremely lax with yoga, so I’m here to make a compromise in the form of weekly stretches tailored to climbing. I’ve said it before, but the hardest thing about yoga is actually rolling out the mat to do it. Stretching however somehow seems more accessible, and Netflix friendly. This small exercise will hopefully morph into a full yoga session at some point.

Specific areas for me to work on for climbing are shoulders, hips and legs.

So here’s the plan at a minimum:

-Low intensity jog on the spot to warm everything up

-Cow pose for shoulders

-Frog pose for hips

-Seated forward fold for legs

Hopefully stretching like this at home at least once a week will help me out on the walls, as I know I can definitely fit this into my week somewhere. It’s always a good pre-climb warm up if you throw in some dynamic stretches too.

As the title says, every little helps.

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Grade Yourself | Part 2

Let’s face it, being up high with odd-shaped holds to cling onto is a little crazy, even more so when it’s by choice. Countless times I’ve written about how it’s okay to be scared when you’re bouldering, and I still belive that it is. However, the fear shouldn’t stop you from trying hard, it should push you. This is something I’ve known for a long time but only just started acting upon. A couple of months ago I wrote about ‘Grading Yourself’ which you can find here, and after a quick review it now looks something like this:

Confidence : V1 V2

Grip : V4+

Footwork: V3

Movement: V3

Dynamic: V2 V2+

Eight weeks down the line and a bunch of climbing session later, I feel like I’m making some progress and starting to level out the factors. Obviously the main thing here for me is still confidence, which I have found is getting better as I try to be a little braver each time I climb a problem. Also the fact that I can do a pull up now has helped so much on the metal side. Being more dynamic has been easier as my confidence in myself has grown too, it’s good to see how one thing can have a positive impact on another.

So now it’s all about keeping the ball rolling and staying onboard with the progress, plus listening to people when they tell you that you can do it! I’m starting to make a conscious effort to climb on holds and angles I would normal avoid, because ignoring them won’t help me improve in the long run 🙂

 

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How To Do A Pull Up | A Newbie’s Journey: Part 3

After working on negative pull ups for around eight weeks, the time finally came when I did a pull up! In fact I did a pull up on a campus rung, on a bar, and just to make sure I did one last one on the nice holds of a Beastmaker. It was all with close grip but it was awesome, and there will be video footage to follow! It’s still a difficult motion to do as I can still feel the sticking point, but now I can just about push past it. I think a mixture of climbing twice a week, plus working on negative pull ups has helped strengthen and hone the muscles required to pull myself up.
It feels good to reach a goal after working at it for so long, I’m still psyched about it a week later! Knowing I can haul my body weight up has defiantly boosted my confidence on the wall.
So what’s next in the pull up adventure?
– Completing 5 pull ups with good form
– Work on wider grip
If you’re working on pull ups, keep going and it will happen.
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P.S You can find Part 1 here, and click here for Part 2

Victoria Park Boulder | Widnes

When you have lived in the same town your whole life, I think it’s easy to become immune to what it has to offer. The artificial climbing feature has been in Victoria Park for years, and I always deemed it as something ‘just for kids’. However, since climbing has been in my life
I have started to see things in a whole new light. So after dinner last night, I went over to the park with A Boy Who Climbs to investigate the boulder. Naturally we had a little climb on it too!

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Firstly I was really surprised by how authentic it was, the texture is great and somewhere in between an indoor hold and real rock. As you can see from the pictures, this boulder has some great angles and is packed with pinches, crimps, jugs and a bunch of interesting details. It’s obvious a lot of time, knowledge and money has been put into this rock feature. There are so many climbs you can plot on this one boulder,  I’m planning on going back with my chalk bucket and climbing shoes at some point very soon. I can see this becoming a great venue to have a fun session on over the Summer.

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I was considering taking some more photos at some point to visually show any problems we end up making on it too. There are already some lines set which you can find here on the UK Climbing website if you’re interested.

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I think these boulders are becoming more common across parks now, and if there is one near you, you should definitely go and check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good it is!

 

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How To Do A Pull Up | A Newbie’s Journey: Part 2

I’ve been practicing negative pull ups for about four weeks now. Although I’ve not been as consistent as I would like, I have started to see some improvements. I can actually do a full negative without flared elbows, I just imagine trying to bend the pull up bar into a ‘U’ shape. Thank you to ‘@adventurepursuitsptandsp’ on Instagram for this visual aid, it really helped! In fact I can perform 2-3 negatives with fairly good form before it feels like my arms are going to fall off, which is definitely a huge improvement from a wobbly, half negative.

I’ve pasted together the first and most recent negative pull up videos, and during the edit I was shocked to see how slow I was going at first! I think it was because I didn’t feel controlled, but now it’s much easier. The next crux is towards the end of the negative, which would be the start of a pull up. I can jump into that position and pull up from there, I can even get a lock off! However getting that initial engagement to pull me into that position is the hard part.

So even though ‘Pull Up Day’ is still far away, I think I’m making steps in the right direction. At the very least it’s all starting to make sense 🙂

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A Girl Who Skates…Kind Of!

After watching ‘Whip It’ a few years ago I became pretty interested in roller derby. So last month when I discovered there was a local team taking on fresh meat new skaters, I signed up. It was a brave moment that quickly dissolved into panic when the first day of training came around! But like most things in an anxious mind, the situation is never as bad as you imagine it to be.
Skating is tricky and the training has been very challenging, I was not prepared! Yet I love it as much as climbing. Since skating is all about your leg and core strength, it’s easy to see how working these skills can benefit bouldering, and I have definitely seen some positive changes. I feel much more confident in my foot placement, especially with high feet. Plus I notice I can tense and steady myself if I pop off the wall on an overhang/roof problem, and bring my feet back up to carry on. Small things, but they have made some big differences. Also, I’m not familiar with having set times and days for a hobby, as with bouldering I just turn up and climb some stuff whenever I feel like, but I’m enjoying having a schedule. Once I get sorted I think I’ll plan fixed bouldering sessions too, as this has given me the motivation to start taking things a little more seriously.
I think joining roller derby has been a big confidence boost overall. I realise that this post is slightly off topic, but since it has had an impact on my climbing I figured I would share.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments 🙂
Happy climbing/skating!

Grade Yourself

The conversation all started from talking about our weekend climb at Kendal. I absolutely loved the training board pictured below, I even caught a quick clip of me climbing it on my Instagram feed. It was kind of like a home climbing woody packed with great holds and movement, it made me want my very own! I spent more time playing on the problems set on that board, than I did bouldering in the whole centre. The angle was deceiving as holds were further away then they first appeared, and it was steep enough to make you work for each move. It wasn’t particularly high which made me feel happy to try harder because I wasn’t scared of falling.  I was as surprised as anyone when I flashed a few problems, but I guess it was because I had found my prefered climbing environment. Instead of accepting the congratulations, I made excuses such as: they were good holds, it was a short sequence, it’s easy because I’m shorter etc, to which A Boy Who Climbs told me off.

Board Kendal Probs
I’ve plotted some of the problems I climbed

I think I find it hard to recognise achievements because I feel unbalanced in my climbing abilities, and it seems to make everything feel muddled. I’m genuinely not bothered about what grade I climb, but I would like to know where I currently fall on the scale. This is what I find  difficult to grasp and nail down. After much discussion he ended up breaking down and grading my skills so I could understand a bit better of how he saw me as a climber, instead of how I saw myself.

Confidence : V1

Grip : V4+

Footwork: V3

Movement: V3

Dynamic: V2

Having someone assess my climbing from outside my own brain was super helpful, as it’s easy to beat yourself up and not acknowledge when you do something great and strong. From this it’s also easy to see my biggest weakness and strength. Working on my confiednce and movemet will hopefully help me level out so I become a well rounded climber. I’m still not sure what I’m capable of and I know it’s going to be a long journey. Out of everything, confidence is the hardest thing to train and the only way to do it, is to do it! It could be worth asking your climbing partner or someone close to break down your climbing elements in this way too.

Happy climbing!

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