- 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
The Atom SV is a warm and well-made jacket and is comfortable as a layer or even for climbing in. The fabric is water and abrasion resistant even though it feels very light and soft, so this jacket is durable even though it is pricey. It works better as a stand-alone layer than most of the other jackets in this review since it is the thickest and it is also one of the most stylish. Of the two hooded jackets reviewed, this one and the Mountain HardWear Compressor, I am more likely to grab this one to to wear around town on a chilly day and grab the Compressor to pack with me on a long day since it is slightly lighter. If you prefer something less expensive, the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket - Men's and the REI Revelcloud Jacket - Men's are both excellent jackets, though they are much thinner. If you want a jacket to stuff into itself, The North Face Redpoint is the thickest jacket that still folds into a pocket.
Check out our complete Men's Insulated Jacket Review to see how this jacket compared to others.
World Cup Round 1, Pietermaritzburg
This was my first time racing at a World Cup, and only my second time going on a plane with my bike so when we got to check in our bike boxes were way over weight! So had to ram some Five Tens, race jerseys and race pants into my hand luggage.
Walked the track on Wednesday, top looked good and the bottom looked good, only thing that looked bad was the huge sprint in the middle of the course but it was the same for everyone so just had to get on with it!
First day of practice went well, started off pretty moist then slowly dried out as the day went on so by the end of the day the course was a lot faster. Got all my lines sorted out within a few runs then gradually built up speed on them.
Friday, qualifying day! Managed to get two good runs in before qualifying so I was happy with how I was riding. My run went well, it was my first full run of the course so I didn’t really know how hard to go on the pedalling, I came across the line into 74th position which I was super happy about! Was a really cool feeling qualifying for the first time.
Had four practice runs on Saturday, changed a couple of lines to ones I was more comfortable on and overall just picked up some speed.
Race day, it had been dry for the last two days so the course was baked solid. I went up for my race run feeling pretty good, it was one of the hottest days so when I got to the top I went straight for some shade to warm up. My race run went better than qualifying, went a lot harder on the pedal which was so hard to keep myself going, thought it would never end! I ended up 64th so it was a good start to my world cup season.
Ireland; home to leprechauns, Guinness and more unclimbed rock than you can shake your stick at! A friend Ryan said he was heading over there a few months ago and I thought it would be a nice break; a chance to visit somewhere new and check out some bouldering of the rock variety!
We were lucky enough to get a bed at Casa Bell. The hospitality we received was of the highest quality; not only comfy living quarters, training facilities and guided tours of Fairhead but gerbils to entertain us as we sipped (downed) Jagermeister!
Now to the climbing... there seems to be a LOT of rock in Ireland, I only visited Fairhead; this was reckoned to be the area in best nick at the time. I climbed 3 days whilst there and was pretty impressed. Bouldering in Ireland is definitely not as popular as routes and this means there is a tonne of projects to climb. The boulders that have been established at Fairhead tend to be the cream of the crop; tall lines on super good rock. I would go as far to say that the few things I climbed would not be out of place in Fontainebleau! Quite a bold statement but in my eyes true. I would also say that only 5-10% of Fairhead has been developed; it will take effort but for the explorers out there the potential is endless. I was lucky enough to climb most of the existing blocs there and add a few delights to the area as well as being coaxed into abseiling off the top of Fairhead, quite a scary experience and needless to say I won’t be swapping foam for ropes anytime soon!
I have done relatively little development of boulders in my time climbing and so the opportunity to add a few things to the area was really special. I can see why people get such a buzz from doing a first ascent. Ricky was nice enough to show me a wall he had brushed last year; we gave it another clean and had a play but didn’t have enough pads to make it safe and so returned a couple of days to finish it off. Now being from the Peak when someone tells you about a project I never hold my breath. So when I saw what later became known as Homme Jomme I was pretty blown away! A 35° overhanging wall with just a few holds and a spicy, slightly technical top out! The next time we returned it was pretty humid; I Abed down and chalked the holds, we had six pads this time so the landing would be transformed into a big hug! I then proceeded to wait for it to cool a little, after 20 minutes I was bored of waiting and pulled on my boots. Holds brushed, hands chalked and even a tops off 4POWER moment, I pulled on. I think after the first move I knew I was in, I just felt good, although a foot pop at the top nearly ended it all I managed to stay on and proceed to the top. Probably only 7c but so good; a mixture of power and technical climbing!
On our last day we headed to try a problem called The Penitent Man Shall Pass (points for naming what film this is from)! This is probably the best line at Fairhead; a tall, slopey arête with Fontainebleau style holds and climbing, and of course a compulsory scary top section. After doing the stand, I decided to look at the project sit start. Now normally I don’t think it is necessary to add sit starts to tall lines but this is the obvious place to start this boulder. A good finger jug allows you to pull off the deck and do a big move to a slopey edge; from here a throw to a good hold puts you into the stand. The nice thing is that it adds a dynamic two move 7c into a technical arête climb; variety is the spice of life after all! I stuck the first move but managed to drop the crux of the stand, a few goes later I managed to do the move again, and sticking the crux of the stand I just had one more scary move to do, I switched off my brain and went for it, catching the penultimate hold with two fingers was luckily enough and I topped out! This is probably one of the best climbs I have ever done and is definitely a world class bloc, doing it first also adds a little for sure!
A perfect end to a really good trip and I will definitely be returning to explore a few other areas of Ireland’s bouldering. Big thanks to Ryan, Rob, Ricky and Magek for making everything nice and easy!
A few snaps of David Mason on a recent trip to Fairhead in N.Ireland
FA Homme Jomme 7c
FA The Pentient Man Shall Pass Sit Start 8a
FA The Pentient Man Shall Pass Sit Start 8a
The Pentient Man Shall Pass Stand 7c
The Spastic 7c
'I found myself back in Pembroke again only 3 weeks after returning home from there. I had such a good time last time I couldn't stay away and getting 2 weeks off work with no foreign trips planned I went straight back.
I met up with Hazel again in Bristol and drove over to Pembroke on Saturday. I had a good first day by flashing the run out Ghost Train E6 in Stennis Ford and Hazel had a couple of top ropes, to refresh the moves, on San Simeon E8 that she got close to last time we were there. On arriving I'd heard a rumour that on James recent very impressive trip to Pembroke he had done a new route in Huntsmans Leap. I worked out from the various lines of chalked holds it was the direct start to Dave Pickford's E8 from Dusk till Dawn. Dave's route starts up Terminal Twilight E7 then breaks out right onto the very impressive scooped red wall quite high up.
We planned to climb in the Leap on Sunday so I couldn't resist abseiling down this new line. After Hazel on sighted two E5's including the supposedly reachy Minotaur that she dispatched without any problems I decided to try James route on a top rope. This started up a bold E7 called Black Lagoon but moved left on to the red wall much lower than Dave's route. I managed to link all the climbing on my second try thinking the whole route to be about F7c+. I was very surprised how easy the climbing on the top bit was, the Dusk till Dawn bit, and didn't understand how this could get E8. It climbs Terminal Twilight but moves out right before it's English 6c crux at the top and the new bit of climbing is no more than E5 6b on it's own!! This can't add up to E8!! It has loads of gear on it too with even a Cam 4 placement. This means Dusk Till Dawn is probably an easier finish to Terminal Twilight and could even be E6! James new route pulls out left of Black Lagoon at the base of it's first runnel and adds a very good, sustained and run out crimpy 6c section above a bomber RP 3 placement passing an old tied off peg. I didn't get a chance to try it that day as the tide was in but was keen to give it a go at some point.
On Monday Hazel was keen to give San Simeon a go before she needed to leave for Bristol. After an unsuccessful top rope go and a bit of deliberating we abseiled it for her to have a lead go anyway. She totally cruised it and there was never any question that she was going to fall off, impressive. Unfortunately the tide came in quicker than we expected and I didn't get chance to have a lead attempt on James route again. I arranged to stay in Pembroke to climb with a friend Trevor Messiah who lives near by and on Wednesday got to lead James route. The lead went well and I topped out without any problems thinking it was easier but slightly more run out than San Simeon so E8 seemed fair. This is a stunning addition to the West wall of Huntsmans leap and later found out James has called it 'Do you know where your children are?'. What a terrible name especially along side all those great names on that wall!'
Well it’s been a busy week for me. I have been secretly hammering a project into submission (metaphorically not literally) for the last 2 months..ish. I’ve gone from finding the crag, to noticing a possible line, to holding the positions, to doing the moves, to doing the problem, which is now called Dandelion Mind. Start to finish it’s been the most enjoyable project process of my life and one which i feel privileged to have been allowed to fulfill. I don’t like talking about projects to much especially in public as hyperbole can whisk you along, it creates expectancy and you can get nervous. I had none of that on this. I knew i was shit ; it was hard. Those weren’t going to change fast, but if i worked hard then there might just be an overlap between the two which i could cross and sneak up the problem. So over the past 2 months i’ve been running, eating right and training hard, and most importantly resting alot. I feel like the last 6 sessions have flown by in a blur of learning, squeezing and tiredness. I did the problem yesterday on my 7th session on it this year (i fondled the holds last year to get an idea of whether it was possible but i wasn’t in the mood for this then. This year i wanted to step things up more and take some risks, last year i just punted about in the low 8′s getting about 50 of them done but none took more than 3 sessions, this was mental collateral in a way against future injury, because my finger injury at the end of 09 properly screwed me). In a way yesterday was a big return to mental form for me. The end of playing it safe cotching along and the beginning of taking more risks with difficulty. 7 sessions isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, my mind is happy upto 50+ on a problem so long as i am making minute progress.
Regardless, the last 7 sessions have been some of the funnest of my life, the problem drip feeds a happy feeling inside me as i bounce around through its bizzare moves, footless swings, kneebar! and brute power crux. It’s not sharp and it is simply a matter of crushing it. It’ll feel easy to world bouldering beasts as if you are comfy on the crux holds it’ll come together fast. Initially I wasn’t comfy, far from it, the crux holds felt small at first and way too close together. Half pad sidepulls which are barely incut would be mean at rubicon, but this crag is waay meatier and the wall is just over 50 degreees overhanging i think. Sufficed to say they required some manningTFU. As a result there’s now 5% less of me walking round the world since i first tried this (and i’m still far from ripped compared to my contemporaries). 4 weeks on the fingerboard helped a lot too. Suddenly the sidepulls were crushable, and i was bloody loving it.
The Kneebar on this problem also heralds a new era for faggotry (and a BIG thankyou to Busby and Pete Whittaker for sorting me out with a fiveten prototype kneebar pad, which is wicked), As without the kneebar the problem would qualify as UK font 8C, and that is not a grade which should ever be bandied about without acknowledging the mighty G. With it the problem is not only possible but it could even be 8B. As yesterday Ned (Beta Destroyer) Feehally found some slightly easier beta for the last move which was the secret to success (that and perfect conditions and the fact that I felt well light) but this has certainly dropped the problem from mid-high 8B+ (the last attempt in the video shows me getting painfully close this way) to low 8B+ possibly even 8B. All i am waiting for now is the opinion of the Dark Lord of british bouldering, the mighty Adams (we have a history of ruining each others problems with better beta). Between the 3 of us we have done 95% of the peak 8′s and we are differently skilled so if it has any more secrets they won’t hide for long. Unless new beta comes to light, this is a safe bet for the hardest problem in the peak. And more importantly it’s massive, steep, totally independent and not even a sitter.
In other news, me Ned and Luke nipped out to burbage on tuesday the day after my last session on this and my ticks for the day include happily ever after (7A+? flash) Nefertiti (7A flash) Navana (7A? ground up) living in oxford 7B? bouldered ground up above pads. Ned’d trained in the morning and left to go back for some more training in the avo, i stuck about and spotted Luke whilst he walloped Boyager, this gave me the inspiration i needed to wallop Voyager, first try of the day, i’d had 3 very short (3-5goes) sessions on this in predominantly bad conditions (think shirts off and shorts) before going to Italy 2 weeks ago and had ripped a huge flapper. But sufficed to say it felt rather different to Dandelion Mind, it is only hard due to its sharpness, the actual physicality of the moves is nothing special. SkinB more than 8B. which is gritstone’s style i guess, skin, knack and luck. Either way it has been eclipsed by how happy I am to have fulfilled a life goal of finding, working and realizing long held personal pipe dream. To me it embodies what hard bouldering should be about. Pulling like a mule and appropriating failure.
The UK waits years for decent, non eliminate, big, independent 8B+ blocs and two come along at once! (7 of 9)
I celebrated with some positive reinforcement via my stomach, after bouncing around the foundry with the warm smug fuzziness of success inside me.