We are delighted that Amy Fenton is making it back again for this year's festival. Last year she came in third in the open men's and women's division, so we are looking forward to seeing if she can do even better this year. For those who don't know much about Amy, she is one of the first Australian women to climb the stratospheric grade of V12, with her ascent of Deep Blue Sea, a very hard roof problem in the Black Cave in Sydney. She is once again putting on a clinic, this time focussing on roof climbing. We spoke to her about her plans for this year's festival.
You’re running a clinic this year called Intro to Roof Climbing, what are some of the main components that you’ll cover?
The efficient use of your feet! Why get stronger when you can put all of your eggs into one heel-hooking basket? We’ll be doing lots of techy toe hooks, heel hooks, drop knees and work on climbing smoothly and efficiently in a roof. Otherwise there will be some round table discussion on different styles of roof climbing and ways to strength train for roof projects.
You need to be able to boulder reasonably hard to qualify for the clinic, why is that?
Roof climbing requires a pretty high baseline level of strength, keeping your body moving while horizontal can be really tough work. Hollow Mountain Cave is an amazing place but unfortunately there is very little climbing there below V5 and in order to make the most of the area we’ve put on a minimum grade.
What aspect of training do you think is most important for success on roof problems?
The obvious (and of course correct) answer would be core strength and the ability to keep tension but I do think open hand finger strength in particular can be a surprisingly large limiting factor in roof climbing. The ability to open hand hang on holds with enough gas left in the tank to generate subtle momentum and ‘swing’ between holds is quite important, there are a lot of roof moves that locking and pulling just don’t work on.
What’s your favourite Grampians roof problem?
Cave Bitch! So good. I haven’t finished it yet but any problem that has me smiling after punting off the end is a good one. It has a bit of everything, a hard start, juggy mileage and then a dynamic crux with enough tension to send you running down Hollow Mountain to the car park toilet.
Since you’re so good at roofs does that mean you are rubbish at slabs? Or are you one of those obnoxious people who are good at both?
Absolutely rubbish. Beyond rubbish. One could even say that I redefine rubbish and that in itself is a talent. For every angle less than 70 degrees my climbing goes down at least one V grade – I think that puts my slab ability somewhere in a Year 7 math class.
In last year’s comp you placed third in the Advanced Division, are you doing any special training to be Numero Uno this year?
I’ve been so busy with 9 Degrees Lane Cove that I have hardly been climbing but I do believe Nalle rested for three months before sending Burden of Dreams (V17) so I have high hopes for the win this year. Backup plan is to do a Steven Bradbury via some underhand tactics with Dierdre’s Cafe.
Given your success last year, what tips do you have for people competing?
Get on your harder stuff early, skin and energy are precious resources. It is good to be self aware and know when to call it quits on a boulder, spending an hour working on something you may not finish is a sure fire way to burn out your muscles and your confidence. Respectfully latch on to people who have a similar climbing style or grade range and work out sequences as a group, conserve your energy via teamwork and share beta like gospel. If all else fails, a thermos full of coffee.
Do you have a special sending diet?
Carrots are so 2017 – I found this great online delivery service called Jimmy Brings and I’ve started basing my meals around that, it’s been life changing.
You can read more about Amy's ascent of Deep Blue Sea here.