- Climbing - Dan Varian
- Climbing - David Mason
- Climbing - Katy Whittaker
- Climbing - Mina Leslie-Wujastyk
- Climbing - Ned Feehally
- Climbing - Neil Mawson
- Climbing - Pete Whittaker
- Climbing - Ryan Pasquill
- Climbing - Steve McClure
- Climbing - Tom Randall
- Show all
We have just returned from our three month trip round California which obviously was amazing. Our first stop was the Needles which is in the Sequoia National Park it is at 8000feet in the middle of no where. The nearest town is about 45min drive up a big windy mountain. It is so beautiful up there, you camp amongst the massive fir trees then have an hour or so walk to get to the rock. Unfortunately I didn’t actually manage to climb here because I was ill and just lay in my tent most of the time but the last day I walked to the crag and it looks ace!
View of the Sierra's from the campsite
Next stop (when I was better) was Tuolumne meadows that have loads of granite domes sticking out of the valley, you can do anything here, from single pitch cragging days, to big multi pitch days out. In the area you can crack climb, do some hardcore glassy granite slabs or some cool conglomerate climbs.
View across the Tuolumne valley
We did loads of amazing multi pitch crack climbs, the best bit being when you top out and get to see the view down the valley. One of the best routes was Oz 5.10d and got 5 stars, the classic pitch being a massive corner crack climb.
Ryan half way up the corner pitch on Oz
After some pottering here, we went over to the Incredible Hulk in the High Sierra near a town called Bridgeport. The Hulk is situated up in the mountains at about 11,000 feet with a pretty big walk in (it felt big anyway compared to the Peak District walk ins). Myself, Pete (Hurley) and Ryan (Pasquill) set off the day before so we could get up at first light the next day and start climbing. It took about 4hours to walk in, most of it uphill and carrying big packs. It was worth it though, it is such an amazing piece of rock. We got there just as the sun was setting and ate our tea and kipped at the bottom.
View of The Incredible Hulk from our bivy spot
We set off the next day on a route called Positive Vibrations 5.11a, climbing faces and lots of cracks, a good (and hard) introduction to the world of granite jamming. It was my biggest multi pitch so far at around 13 pitches and even though we were up at first light we were still rapping off in the dark and then had to do the long walk back down to the car. All in all it was an 18hour day and had very sore hands (since I didn’t tape up) and were absolutely knackered. We had a few days in Yosemite then went to visit some friends in San Fran for the weekend, which was a nice break.
Following Pete up one of the pitches on Positive Vibrations
Ryan climbing the exposed 5.10a hand jam pitch
After San Fran it was back to the valley and this time for a month in total. I have obviously seen photos and read articles about Yosemite but until you visit it nothing can describe how massive the cliffs are and how beautiful it really is.
Topping out on Higher Cathedral Spire, one of the best view ever of the valley (photo by Ryan Mcconnell)
Now I didn’t have any big goals as I knew I was going to find the climbing tricky in Yosemite. I just wanted to do lots of big days out on classic routes, potentially go up a big wall and do Midnight Lightening. I managed 2 out 3 of these things, we climbed routes like The Nutcracker, East Buttress of El Cap, Higher Cathedral Spire, Drive by Shooting, Royal Arches etc.
Team at the top of Royal Arches
I also did a big wall and went up Regular Route on Half Dome, unfortunately not free but it was an amazing experience. Four of us spent a squished night half way up the wall on a rocky little ledge then pushed on to the top the next day, we topped out in the dark! It feels really distant and peaceful up there, compared with the busy tourist valley down below. The experience was really tiring and in my last week in the valley I decided just to boulder and managed a couple of classics; Bruce Lee and King Cobra. I didn’t though managed Midnight, I made it to the mantel once but was boxed out of my mind and could barely hold on.
Ryan at 'Thank God Ledge' on Half Dome at sunset
Climbing King Cobra V8
A storm was due to hit the valley in the next few days so we sacked it to Joshua Tree, which I have to say is slightly over rated but maybe that was because we had just come from one of the best places in the world. We did do some cool stuff like Ionic Strength 5.12a, White Rastafarian V3 (highball), Slashface V3 (highball), The John Bachar Memorial Problem V5 and Caveman V7 but if you strayed from the classics everything seem quite scrittly an crumbly. We didn’t stay long here maybe a week max and then headed to the Buttermilks.
Flashing Ionic Strength 5.12a (Photo by Hazel Findley)
The Buttermilk boulders are situated up in the Sierra Mountains and have the best boulders I have ever climbed on.
View of the boulders from our camping spot
The climbing is often balancy, requiring technique and body positioning rather than pure strength. It has some amazing highballs from V0 to V13! I wanted to climb everything here, it all looked so good and I didn’t want to get involved with a project and miss out on everything else.
We stayed here for a month and the highlights include climbing Soul Slinger V9, Checkerboard V8, Fly Boy V6, Pope's Prow V6, Seven Spanish Angels V6, flashing High Plains Drifter V7 and doing various easy highballs.
Cool little V3 at the Pollen Grains
Pope's Prow V6
5.9 highball on the Peabody
Attempting Stained Glass V10
Contributed by: Katy Whittaker
A couple of photos of the first runs of the year... The Gamma MX hoody in full use last weekend - skied off Blencathra, Martin boarded & the kids head first on sledges. Mad but fantastic. Snow going quick!
The last few months have been training, training, training. I come from a background of not really training at all, just climbing lots and the occasional pull up....so I have been surprised by how much I am enjoying it! I have done bits and bobs – 6 weeks here and there – in the past, but nothing as full on as this. Part of my decision to immerse myself in training was because I am now a student again. I am studying part time for an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy and it is a lot easier to do training sessions around uni work than it is to go out climbing for the day and the course also means I am at home in Sheffield, not gallivanting around Europe. The other part of the decision came from a desire to do better in the Bouldering World Cup circuit this year. I have done a few events in the last three years but I have always competed in them off the back of long outdoor trips – which isn't necessarily bad – but isn't the perfect preparation..... Thirdly, after the comps are pretty much over (after the Vail event) I am going to stay in Colorado for a couple of months to get my outside climbing fix for 2012. So, all in all, lots of reasons to get psyched and get better.
So the training. Essentially I have been a pupil of David Mason who has been helping me out with a training programme. It all began in September with 8 weeks of conditioning. This was a bit of a trial and error phase and I was a guinea pig for ideas. The guinea pig expired. I overdid it and began to fatigue. I have never experienced real fatigue before and it was an odd experience for me. I was tired all the time but the oddest thing was that I began to cry randomly for no reason (quite often during or after any kind of training). I had nothing to cry about so this began to ring alarm bells and I cut the training down. At this point I began to look more closely at my nutrition. The British Team trainings were just beginning and through the team I received a lot of help from Rebecca Dent (the team nutritionist) who has been brilliant. I also got in touch with Optimum Nutrition and Nick and Sara have been really supportive too, providing me with supplements so that I can recover better and get the most out of my training. The crying stopped! Now I have moved onto my strength phase which is more my kind of thing and I am really enjoying it. At the moment I am doing two fingerboard sessions a week (which are made up of assisted one arm pull ups, weighted pull up pyramids and pull downs), two weights sessions a week (exercises like bench press, bicep curls, squats, roll outs and flies), two or three climbing sessions a week and three runs a week to help my fitness. One thing I can really recommend for training is keeping a diary; it helps you stay organised and (more importantly) keeps you psyched as it shows your progress right there on the page in front of you (even if it's minute).
I'm looking forward to a bit of a break over Christmas in London with a couple of WestWay sessions, New Year in Fontainebleau (!!) and then into a power phase in January......
Contributed by: Mina Leslie-Wujastyk
High in the Canadian Arctic, 5 friends venture to the frozen fjords of North West Baffin Island during spring time. Ancient and colossal, these branching hallways of rock are the domain of seals and polar bears, and relied upon by local Inuit hunters. For visiting skiers, the fjords are nothing short of a dream. In every direction, giant couloirs ascend thousands of feet above the sea ice, weaving in between some of the tallest and cliffs on the planet. Baffin Island: A Skier's Journey EP2 [Season 2] is a step through these magical spaces.
Lately the dreich weather up North has been forcing me to twiddle my thumbs alot. I also needed to clear out some shoes so some old daescents of mine volunteered as donors after having a horrific bandsaw accident. a new set of anasazi velcros became the grateful recipient to create this awesome shoe. Now any fan of the velcro will know their only weakness is their uppers, as toehooking and scumming used to hurt and it'd wreck the cowdura fast. The trouble is that the shoes are so great for everything else that i end up wearing them all the time, so hopefully these shoes will work well to bust out on the specifics. I've lost my kneebar pad too in the last 2months somewhere so i made another one quick smart, and its actually far better than the last. Another old velcro saved from the bin!
To this in 10 mins and for about 50p, it works as well as any other kneebar pad i've used on boulders.
Contributed by: Dan Varian
A really nice article from North Shore Outlook
Known for creating some of the most high-tech and costly outdoor gear on the market, this holiday season the designers at Arc’teryx Equipment are training their scissors and fabric pencils on making simple, emergency outerwear for those who can least afford it.
It’s the third year of what Arc’teryx staff have dubbed the Birds Nest Project, wherein employees of the North Van company volunteer their weekends to make rain gear for the homeless and those in need.
This Christmas season, Arc’teryx staff have designed and assembled Gore-Tex capes of varying colours to hand out for free at North Vancouver’s Harvest Project and at the Salvation Army Harbour Light centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
“The idea was first talked about by our Green Committee to deal with our excess fabric and not throw it in a landfill,” Birds Nest volunteer and Green Committee chair Joanne Mayzes told The Outlook.
They began by donating the hundreds of metres of end-of-roll fabric left over from the season’s product run to local design schools.
“But then we came up with an idea and a prototype,” Mayzes said.
The small band of volunteers took their initial cape idea to the Downtown Eastside for feedback, made the necessary adjustments, and then took it to the management who gave it the green light.
That was three years ago, and today the volunteer group of cape crusaders has expanded to 70 staff who donated their weekends at the company’s Burnaby garment factory to crank out the capes in time for winter.
One of those volunteers is Nancy Fedoruk, who, in a nice bit of reciprocity, was actually a design student at Kwantlen last year and used some of the donated Arc’teryx material in her final project before graduation. Now she’s a full-time pattern designer at Arc'teryx who signed up immediately for the capes-for-homeless initiative.
Fedoruk said she never expected to be designing clothing for the homeless when she got into fashion design at Kwantlen, but she’s happy to help.
“The main reason I like doing it is the opportunity to get out to the factory and work with everyone that I wouldn’t normally see,” she said.
When it began in 2009, the project was called Phoenix and it took volunteers more than an entire day to make their very first cape. That year they completed about 300 of the give-away garments.
Last year, they’d refined their manufacturing process and were able to make about 560 capes to give out in Vancouver and North Vancouver. This year, with further tweaking and streamlining in the assembly, volunteers made 705 capes over just three Sundays in October and November.
About 200 of those capes will be handed over this Friday to the Harvest Project in North Vancouver, while the rest will go to Harbour Light just before Christmas.
Harvest Project development officer Kevin Lee and executive director Gary Ansell said the local non-profit received a similar number of capes last year which disappeared out the door just as quickly as they came in.
“Within 10 days they were all given out,” Lee said. “There’s a bit of denial in West Vancouver that people have less than they need, but we see clients all the way from Squamish to Deep Cove.”
Most of those clients come in by appointment and if they appear to be living outside or are otherwise under-equipped for the wet weather, they will be offered a cape, Lee said. But walk-ins are always welcome at Harvest too and anyone who needs a warm, waterproof cape can come pick one up. Lee added that, with the number of homeless on the North Shore this year seemingly on par with last, they expect the free capes won’t be available for long.
For Mayzes, Fedoruk and Kristi Birnie, one of the founders of the capes program, the real payoff comes without warning on a wet winter day.
“I saw one of the capes being worn downtown last year,” Mayzes recalled. “We gave them out on Christmas Eve and a month and a half later I saw one.”
They agreed that for a company that grew out of the wealth of the North Shore, selling outerwear that retails for hundreds of dollars apiece, the opportunity to help people less fortunate while also helping the environment is a win-win.
And they hope other companies will follow suit.
“I’m hoping that it might incentivize other companies too to take a look at what they’re doing and what they’re throwing into the landfill and maybe get creative and think of what they might do otherwise with it,” Mayzes said. “And to be socially responsible and to get out there and help somebody who maybe doesn’t have all the luxuries we do.”
Birnie said that, for her, when the capes program was first getting off the ground, it hit especially close to home because her partner at the time was slipping into addiction and into the pull of the Downtown Eastside.
“You start to recognize that people drawn there aren’t there by choice,” she said, adding that it was also a time in her life when she felt increasingly compelled to volunteer to serve the needy abroad. “I thought, ‘why not help people in your own backyard?’”
The Gore-Tex capes are one-size-fits-all and come in an array of colours. About half of this year’s capes are insulated, half are not, and all are fastened with a drawstring and Velcro and can roll out into a blanket and pack up into an easy-to-carry bundle.
Danny Hart and Sram come together to create this awesome article over on Pinkbike.com
Some great photos and video by the Sagerian media crew.
Check out the link here:
The Young – E8 7A - Callaly
Dan had said this was both amazing and really hard. He was right! The wall is incredible, one of the best walls in the country I reckon – 8m of just off vertical, totally solid sandstone covered in weird flattened chicken heads (spatchcocks).
(photo: video still from Nick Brown @ outcrop films)
After a brief go ground up we sacked that idea off and abbed it to work the moves. Eventually a sequence came together that finished with a pretty full on font 7b sequence right at the top (where you really don’t want to be falling). This felt too risky to commit to so I opted for shuffling off leftwards along a line of chicken heads after the crux rather than pushing on straight up the wall. It didn’t feel like it was worth risking the 40 min walk out with broken legs especially considering it was hard enough getting there with both legs working. It would have been nice to do Andy’s original version but it was also nice to leave having done a quality bit of climbing and not got hurt.
The prow - HXS 7a (a brilliantly ambiguous grade) - Kyloe
Apparently the County’s most serious route. Font ~8a climbing at a point where you really don’t want to fall off, even with a pile of 10 mats and some very big guns spotting. It took me 15 mins on a rope just to find the holds and another 2 hours of working from various strong technical types until we had a sequence, a lovely set of moves on little pockets with rubbish footholds in the wrong places. My first go started well but soon came to an end when a foothold crumbled and I took the ride. After finding out the fall was manageable, if a little big, we started committing properly. Dan did it soon after, then eventually after taking a few more biggies I stuck the crux again panted my way to the (damp) top.
(photo: video still from Nick Brown @ outcrop films)
I can’t imagine how scary it must have felt to Andy when he did the first ascent back in 2003, when pads were not a whole lot more than a beer towel. Today’s highball approach has meant that routes of this style (really hard but also really scary) are no longer the domain of bold trad heros, now us punters can have a crack without doing ourselves some serious damage. Great.
Good effort Andy, get well soon.
Contributed by: Ned Feehally
If James Bond needed skiing or climbing gear, let’s be honest, he’d get it from Arc’teryx. Arc’teryx are the brand with the newest fabrics, the cleanest cut designs and the achingly cool logo; they are the closest thing in the outdoor industry to a secret society. But while on the ground in Vancouver, Canada, I was lucky enough to get a peek inside their headquarters. I can tell you what I found, but then I’m going to have to kill you.
Vancouver’s North Shore, where mountains flank the ocean, is the place to be for people who want to play outside. Leaving the view behind, once you’re inside you realise that Arc’teryx is filled with people like that; the bike room is packed to the ceiling with road bikes, mountain bikes, commuter bikes and every variation thereof. There are pictures of employees out in the waters nearby, paddling and sailing. In the winter, Arc’teryx’s media manager Jo tells me, lunch breaks often turn into an opportunity to head up the nearest hill for a session on the ski slopes or a hike with snow shoes. And if it’s raining or snowing outside (this is Canada, after all), there’s an indoor bouldering room to get you away from the desk.
So it makes sense that every product they produce is tested by their staff, lovingly tweaked after being put through its paces. Anyone who has owned an Arc’teryx product will recognise the quality levels that the company achieves, and it all becomes clear once you realise that anything less than perfect will mean that designers have to answer to cold, wet or unhappy colleagues.
The second thing you realise about Arc’teryx is that their high standards in production can also be found in everything else they do. Want the best photography of your products? Build a photographic studio in house, and employ a top notch team. What about making sure the manufacturing’s up to scratch? Well, even in these outsourced days, Arc’teryx maintain a manufacturing site in Vancouver, allowing them to pilot new ideas quickly and enabling them to make sure that the most specialised jobs are done by those with the best craft skills. Even the IT system they use has been crafted to meet their precise needs. I find myself wondering if this is what it’s like within Apple: sure, the products aren’t the cheapest on the market, but everything is beautifully designed, and it just works.
Like Apple, Arc’teryx recognise and connect with their community, the people who are out at the crag, on the slopes or on the hills. The company are exploring how best to engage using social media, to share stories of their athletes, and have a direct connection with their users. And beyond the swishy website and the nice photos, Arc’teryx support a range of creative endeavours, such as The Season (previously reviewed here on Rock Climbing UK, currently midway through its second series), and the environmentally aware ski film from Sherpas Cinema, (worth checking out that jaw-dropping trailer below if you can spare six minutes).
The Season’s second series features a familiar mix of climbers, bikers and outdoors adventurers. One story is that of Thomasina Pidgeon. Canada’s top female boulderer, she lives an archetypal ‘dirtbag’ lifestyle, sleeping in her van, following the good weather around North America. But behind the stereotype, Thomasina is also mother to a cute five year old girl called Cedar, who travels with her. While the short films show her working on a problem in Squamish, BC (The Method), they also show that the mental skills Thomasina uses to unlock bouldering problems are also put to good use resolving how to balance her passion for climbing and her responsibility as a parent.
When I chatted to Laura, Arc’teryx’s athlete programme manager, she told me that Thomasina’s situation isn’t unusual: “We’ve got athletes who are parents, who have careers, who are science teachers. It’s all about working with people who connect with us, and who have great personalities”. Although Thomasina’s achievements dwarf anything I’m ever going to achieve on rock, Arc’teryx have deliberately chosen to work with athletes who have got more in common with the average weekend warriors, who have to juggle their other commitments to make time to be outside.
It’s clear to me, from even a short visit to their HQ, that it is the people within Arc’teryx that make it a special place to work. The whole building buzzes with enthusiasm for what they’re doing, and with that view from the car park, it’s no wonder they feel inspired to keep improving their tools for playing outdoors. Arc’teryx show that you don’t have to compromise your ethos to be successful, and that’s a gratifying lesson for anyone.
Big thanks to Jo Salamon and Laura Fergusson at Arc’teryx for showing me around and taking the time to chat with me, and to Jojo Cook at Soulsports for putting me in touch with them.