At the age of 5 my family and I went on a camping holiday to the Isle of Wight. While we were there we went to a garlic festival. Amongst the garlic and beer tents there was a mobile climbing wall. I had never been climbing before so me and my dad had a go. It felt good to get to the top of my first ever climb.
A couple of months later we were driving along Rover way and my Dad spotted a new climbing centre opening called Boulders. We went in and as I was only 6 it seemed massive. In Boulders there was a kids club and because I enjoyed climbing on the Isle of Wight so much my Dad booked me into a session. I really enjoyed it so I carried on with kids club, continuing to improve until Dad asked if I could start NICAS (National Indoor Climbing Scheme). The instructor was unsure because I was so young but agreed to give me a trial.
On my first day at NICAS I proved that I was able to keep up with the others. In two years I passed my level 1 and 2 and had completed all the tasks for level 3. Just after I passed my level 2 my dad was persuaded by one of my instructors to go on the learn to climb course for adults so he could belay me. Before I could have my level 3 signed off I had to go to a graduation day where my parents were informed of the hazards of lead climbing.
At this point I started mock leading, which is basically top rope climbing and lead at the same time but we get to practice our lead belaying and clipping with the safety of the top rope, so if anything were to go wrong then we would be safe. I enjoyed this very much and kept practising clipping until I was good enough to lead properly. This is when my Dad decided to do the lead climbing course so I could get more practise for level 4. The extra practise helped me a lot and I improved quickly completing all the tasks for level 4 in a year!
In 2012 I entered the BMC youth climbing series for the first time. I was in category D but was the youngest out of everyone in my category. I was a little bit nervous in the first round at Boulders but really enjoyed it and managed to get first place after a being the only competitor to top my last route. In the second round at Dynamic Rock I felt more confident and I got first place again. My parents were proud that I got to the Welsh final and I was a lot more nervous because I was competing against climbers from the whole of Wales. The competition was held the Summit Centre and I did really well until the last bouldering problem where I fell off 2 holds from the top. I was upset because I thought I had come second. But I had the last top rope climb to go and I got the furthest so I moved up to first place. It felt amazing to win my first ever climbing trophy! This meant that I was invited to go to Ratho, Edinburgh and represent Wales in the British final.
After the Welsh final my Dad looked on the internet for a climbing coach and booked me a session with Paul Walters to help improve my technique. I progressed well under his tuition and he was at the British Final in Ratho which gave me extra confidence. The centre was very daunting as it is 100ft tall and build in an old quarry.
In June 2012, me and my family flew to Edinburgh a few days before the competition so I had time to check out the centre. On the morning of the competition I felt more nervous than I had ever been before because I was against over 20 climbers in my category.
The first two routes and bouldering problems were fairly easy. But again I had an issue with the last bouldering problem because I was only small and not able to reach the halfway hold. I had three chances to get the hold but I was just too small. I didn’t get upset this time I just did my best in the last climb and I got to the top. I finished in 5th place and wasn’t very happy because I thought I could have done better.
Over the summer I continued climbing hard and entered another competition in November in the summit centre. This was the Open Welsh Climbing Championships. I did 5 climbs and got into the super final, in the afternoon. But annoyingly my foot slipped on the last climb which meant I dropped to fourth place. I was really disappointed!
For the rest of the year and over Christmas there was no other competitions so I kept up my training. The following year I decided to enter the BMC youth climbing series again so I focused all my hard work towards it. Before round one I managed to get a place in the Boulders academy along with Sophie and some of my other climbing friends.
The first round was held in Boulders and I was in category D again, however this time I was one of the oldest. Sophie and I both got in the top three and I managed to get first place.
The second round was held in Dynamic Rock, Swansea. In the competition, for the first time, I got full points for bouldering and top roping. I was really pleased and this motivated me to train harder and go to the Welsh final in Caernarfon with a positive frame of mind.
All this climbing meant my toe was poking out the end of my climbing shoe and I needed a new pair. Earlier in the year I tried on a pair of La Sportiva Katana shoes at the shoe promotion at boulders.These shoes were amazing because they had a slightly curved toe which meant it was easier to keep my toe on the holds for longer. I managed to persuade my Dad to buy me a pair! When my mum found out how much they cost she nearly climbed the wall too!
In the Welsh final I was a bit nervous about the new climbers I might come across. Although I had a good feeling about my bouldering after getting full points in Dynamic Rock. I managed to achieve full points again and win the Welsh final. My friends Vivienne and Sophie also got a place and will be going to Ratho in June. My little brother Oscar came second and will also be going to Ratho with me.
Because Sophie, Oscar and myself go to Boulders we have been invited to go to a training day at Ratho with all the other competitors from Boulders. I am very excited about this and I hope the plane is not delayed as it was when we went to the finals last year.