How do you feel about not being on the British team and can you see a return to the squad in the future?

Tough first question! Being on the British Team was an incredible experience; being surrounded by such a strong, skilled and motivated group of people was invaluable to my development as a climber. Now that I’m not on the squad, it’s quite nice to not feel so much pressure and just get back to enjoying climbing and not taking it too seriously.

What is Catalyst climbing?

Catalyst Climbing is a team of coaches and a network of climbing centres, working together to provide easy access to a variety of lessons all over London. All of the coaches are experienced climbers, incredibly friendly and can’t wait to share their knowledge with everyone they can!

You are known for your great climbing strength not your technique do you think this will effect Catalyst?

                         

Each of the Catalyst Coaches will have a slightly different approach to climbing, so it’ll vary. I’m always careful to explain that there is no correct way of climbing, just ways of making it easier for yourself if you want to. I think having been lightly teased about my horrendous technique for a long time, I’m always open to letting people try a given climb however they like, discussing afterwards that “no, that definitely wasn’t the easiest way to do it, but anything less than the easiest method can be viewed as strength training!”

Your competition performances in the past have been a bit hit and miss, how are you approaching your preparation now?

Bah! I have a love-hate relationship with comps. When they’re going well, they’re the best thing ever, and when they go badly it can make me want to quit comps for good (I never feel that way for long though!). My tactic nowadays is kind of in-line with my whole approach to climbing; don’t take it too seriously! Some people do really well under pressure, but I’m not one of them; so long as I relax, enjoy the climbing and basically pretend I’m not at a competition, I end up doing far better than usual. I’m strong enough; so long as I read the routes correctly (slowly getting better at that too!) and climb calmly, I do ok 😀

In David Petts Reach film you sent a bloc in Magic wood after numerous attempts, what was the psych music you were listening to when you finally got it?

“Take Me Home” by Brother Ali. Great song about perseverance and eventual success. It had just started to rain and I had actually given up hope that I would finish the climb that trip. I hopped back on just to relax and enjoy the moves one last time before the rain set in, and as with my new competition tactic, having no pressure or expectations seemed to be the trick!

                                   

You have had recent trips to Canada, Magic wood and Morocco, do you have any other adventures planned or is it all work now?

It’s going to be lots of fun working on Catalyst and attending a few coaching events (I’ll be teaching at the first Youth Climbing Seminar in November!) as well as competing and training as usual, but will FINALLY be getting my driving licence in a few weeks time, so looking forward to whizzing about on short trips to spots in the UK 😀

What’s the 5 year plan with Catalyst?

I want to find more ways of getting people who’ve never climbed before to try it for the first time, and hopefully find the same joy and fulfilment that we all get from it! Hopefully a few years from now we’ll be operating at a load of centres around the country, not just in London!

You have been on the comp scene for a while, is retirement looming?

Why on earth would I do that!? I climb because it’s fun, competitions are still as fun as they’ve ever been, so I’ll keep going until I stop enjoying them, which I don’t really see happening any time soon 😉

How do you juggle coaching, routesetting and training?

Haha, very badly. It makes it hard to stick to a scheduled training plan, so instead I just end up climbing all day every day and practicing all the time. If I start feeling a bit achy and stiff then I’ll book a couple of days off, but mostly my body seems to have adjusted to the intensity!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to push their climbing grades?

Stop paying attention to the grades; it’s not a good measure of progress. Climbing is about the process of improvement, not getting to the top of the blue V4. If you learn to look at every experience you have on the wall in close detail and honestly assess your weaknesses rather than focusing on the grades, it’s easier to stay motivated and you’ll constantly see improvement. It’s difficult to give specific advice because almost anything you do will make you a better climber in some way. If you focus entirely on technique, you’ll make better use of your strength and end up making the climbs you want to do easy enough that you don’t need to be any stronger. Or you can do what I did; climb terribly until you get strong enough to make it work 😉