I don’t know about you but I can’t get over the fact that it’s already Christmas when my epic trip to Brazil last February still feels so fresh in my mind.
On February 5th, myself, David and our friend Simon Fowler from Karma Climbing set off on a 5 hours road trip through Brazilian countryside from Recife (my family town) to a little village situated on the margins of the São Francisco river called Olho Daguinha just off the town of Delmiro Gouveia, in the state of Alagoas.
Seated in my mum’s kitchen the previous year something caught my eye on TV. Some guys practicing psicobloc, this new crazy sport Brazilians don’t know much about, on the canyons of this river and I thought to myself, ‘this looks wicked and I must go there’!
So here we were and to our surprise, except for the locals, we were only the 3rd group of climbers to ever set foot there. The previous people being the guys from Rio’s Escalada JPA and then the Red Bull Psicobloc tour.
We stayed in this lovely family run place called Pousada Mirante do Talhado, where we were very well looked after by Seu José Francisco, Dona Inácia, their daughter, her husband and their little girl and their many farm animals.
We hired a boat from the local Restaurante Castanho, and along with our guides Iran and Tony, we went on exploring the canyons.
On the first day, the guys took us through the routes already climbed by Felipe Dallorto and Flavia dos Anjos, from Escalada JPA. But it didn’t take long for us to realise that they only covered a fraction of what is available. So, our group went on to discover new routes and exciting new places further afield. The pictures speak for themselves:
We discovered many fine lines (and maybe a new modality – deep water bouldering ;-)). There is a multitude of untouched rock. A lot of it unclimbable because of the trees left under water when the big hydroelectric dam of Paulo Afonso was built. We found many interesting inland boulders too. The 3 days spent there were definitely not enough and we left with plans to go back with a bigger group formed by some hardcore climbing friends back in England and a hacksaw!
We got back to Recife just in time for carnival week. And then a week of chilling out in the unspoilt surfing paradise, Maracaípe beach. What a holiday!
We flew back to England end of February and God, it was cold!
In May, I left my full time job as Duty Manager at High Sports Crawley and have been enjoying working again as an instructor/coach at different venues (mostly at White Spider and The Reach) in London and Kent. I also, started teaching outdoors on the sandstone, which was great during spring/summer, but not as much fun at this time of the year!
This Summer, I tried to boost up my number of trad climbs for my SPA with a few trips to the Peak District. As a sport/boulderer sort of person I really started to enjoy trad and I just love the Peak District!
As a climbing mum, I do try to take my little Louis to trips with me as often as it is possible. On one of those trips, Simon Fowler, took this amazing shot of Louis climbing. It was very popular on I Love Climbing Facebook page, and I was a proud mum 😉
For someone who lives less than 10 minutes away from the most popular sandstone crags, it is embarrassing how little I climb sandstone, even though I love it! My favorite tick on the sandstone this year was definitely Fandango. A great pumpy line at Bowles rocks. Check out the link for the video.
I always wanted a tattoo and this year I finally made up my mind on what to have done! This bad ass Brazilian indian means a lot to me. It represents part of my heritage and I am very proud of it!
Taking a friend who has a decent camera and lots of talent on holiday paid off this year as I decided to enter this picture on the Women’s Climbing Symposium poster competition. It won with 68% of the public vote and It was quite nice seeing this poster in every climbing wall I went. It was a constant reminder of my brilliant time in Brazil this year. Well done, Simon. Epic!
This year I discovered a new love, route setting. I have started some setting at The Reach and I am really enjoying it. Feedback has also been good and it is definitely something I will be pursuing in 2014.
In September I went to Fontainebleau. It wasn’t amazingly successful ‘ticking’ wise, managed a 6a whilst last year I did a 6c, but it was great fun as always. I am sure the previous week in Bergerac drinking wine and eating cheese by a swimming pool didn’t really help with my performance, but hey, you only leave once and as Alex Lowe famously said: The best climber is the one having the most fun!
My lack of power and fitness meant I should try new things. So I decided to venture some classic highball problems at L’Elephant. Something I’d never tried before. Here is one of my favorites.
In November, I managed to hurt my shoulder which meant no climbing for a month. Even so, I decided to go ahead with my last trip booked for this year, Albarracín, in Spain. I went with two good friends of mine from White Spider, Evie Cotrulia and Bronagh Cairns, and some of Bronagh’s friends. The loveliest bunch of people! It was her birthday and I had to go. And I’m glad I did!
Albarracín was cold. Very cold! We were bouldering at -6˚C at times. My injury only allowed me to tick up to 6a+ (2 flashes tho 😉 ), but it was worth the first visit. The place is full of really cool problems, the people there are super welcoming and the food is brilliant. I can’t wait to go there again when it is a little warmer next year.
So, this was my year. Looking back helped me to realise how much I have changed. How much climbing has taken over my life (professionally and personally) and I don’t mind it at all. Even with injuries and virtually no training, but climbing and yogaring at least twice a week, I am now a better climber than I was in January and I will keep progressing. I think it is easy when you love something so much and thoroughly enjoy yourself doing it without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Bring on 2014! xx