- 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
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Here is a really nice review by Outdoor Magic on the Arc'teryx Phase SL Crew.
The Arc'teryx Phase SL was new for this spring, 2011, but we've had one on the go since last summer - as well as the winter version - and it's become our default, hot conditions, fast-moving simple baselayer for running, walking and even mountain biking. It's quite simply the best-wicking ... Continue reading
We had delivery of a pair of Arcteryx Beta FL sample jackets this week, made of the new Gore Active Shell fabric, so Rich and I have been giving them a full beasting in as wide a range of conditions as possible. Given the weather this week, that’s been fairly easy – so thus far they’ve been underground ice climbing in a cave, subject to plenty rain and snow, worn whilst trail breaking in deep snow, climbing ice routes and mixed routes, plus slogging across glaciers in the afternoon heat, just to see what would happen.
Gore Active Shell Fabric The performance of the new active shell fabric is the most noticeable thing about these jackets, so I’ll start here. The fabric is designed to be a lightweight, highly breathable shell layer – ie for good for ski touring, alpine climbing, high aerobic activity sports etc - as a succesor to paclite.
Given that so far I haven’t yet managed to sweat in it, despite using it in several ridiculous ‘boil in a bag’ situations where I’d never dream of wearing a full shell garment, the new fabric really is a step up on anything I’ve ever used before in terms of comfort and breathability.
Stomping up to the Cosmiques Arete in the afternoon heat after we’d climbed the Chere Couloir, breaking trail in deep wind blown snow, walking uphill on a glacier whilst it was snowing, but still loads of heat coming through the cloud: these are the kind of situations where wearing a full shell jacket just guarantees you’ll end up in a full lather – but somehow we didn’t and without any pit zips either. So all in all, a big thumbs up for active shell!
Arcteryx Beta FL Jacket
Moving on to the jacket itself, FL stands for Fast and Light and the Beta range are designed as technical all rounders. It fills both specs adimarably, being light at around 340g and versatile enough to use for a wide range of sports. The jacket has a nice clean cut design with two chest pockets, quite a short waist (that still tucks into a harness) and well articulated shoulders. Different fabrics are used on the higher wear areas to extend durability, plus the hood has full adjustability and goes over a helmet. The jacket also has a couple of reflective high vis strips on the cuffs and back, so you could use it for biking etc.
I normally look for a jacket with pit zips, but given how breathable the fabric is there isn’t really a need for any, so I’m happy to take the weight saving instead. If you’re after a really minimalist ’alpine climbing’ jacket, then go for the Alpha FL – which has just one chest pocket, a higher volume hood which really locks down over a helmet and weighs 20g less – but if you just want one lightweight jacket to use for most occasions – ie a trip the lakes, a week in the alps, or a ride on your bike – then the Beta FL is the one to get. They’ll be in the shops this autumn.
For more info please find the original post here
The first time I set eyes on Kjerag I knew I wanted to climb it. Perhaps the world’s most famous BASE jumping cliff, this 1000m vertical wall rising straight out from the sea was just asking to be climbed. In most cases dreams like this remain dreams, with logistics, finances and life in general standing firmly in the way, but this time I had my hand held. The Norwegians are such a friendly bunch, and on-it with their organising. As soon as I said I was keen all I had to do was find a window.
This was a ‘non objective’ trip, the way I like them. One of the problems of being a ‘known’ climber is that everyone assumes you have an objective, something new and hard, something that hits the headlines every time you pull on. This trip was just about climbing. We just wanted to be way up there, inching up the wall soaking the exposure. There are things to be done that would be big news, but that stuff could tempt us later.
But the forecast was bad, a whole internet page of black clouds and blue rain drops spreading out for the rest of our trip. Only the first two days had a glint of yellow, there would be no time for hauling, and no chance of waiting it out on a ledge unless we delayed our flights by several months. We drove straight to Lysebotn, the village at the head of the fjord, pitched tents and then got the boat straight to the base of the wall for 6pm. You can’t walk in, so the plan was to bivi, and then leg it for a one day push, fast and light, totally committed! The route ‘HokaHey’ is the classic, E5 and 20 pitches, it seemed the right challenge. Time was on our hands, for now, relaxing in the warm evening light and then sleeping out under the stars with that little bit of excitement knowing that tomorrow would be a different kind of day.
4.30am, no need for alarms. This is Norway, the suns been up for ages! There is something special about having done a load of stuff before everyone even opens their curtains. By midday we were 10 pitches and 600m up and all was good. But Charlie’s i-phone was spreading fear with some blue stuff apparently coming in, but we didn’t really need any technology to see the wall of water moving gradually toward us. There was a sense of urgency as myself and Neil swapped leads knowing that getting down would be no fun at all, but getting up would probably be impossible. Amazingly the wall stopped, it pissed it down less than half a mile away but somehow we were spared. So with the stress over I thought I’d add more, an E4 pitch was soaking so I headed off up some A2+ variation that looked doable. Forty five meters up and the exposure was forcing itself upon me, suddenly evident as I stepped way out of the comfort zone. Wet holds and snappy flakes and hard moves. Some good gear lay maybe just 5 or 6 meters below but it looked far away, far beyond the poor cam I’d just stuffed into a flaring undercut. Moving on I was impressed by my desire to push into this totally unessential challenge that I’d set. But the holds ahead were thinning out and running wet, all of a sudden this was a bad plan, this was not on the agenda and I back peddled with an agonising pump to very tentatively fall/sit on the cam preparing for the inevitable. It held, and an ‘impossible to place on lead’ bommer wire, which will live there forever, took me down and back on route where I should never have strayed.
We hit the top at 10pm, knackered, but not in the red yet. The tent was far away but darkness wasn’t, made more imminent with a cold mist blanketing the summit. We hit a fast march, more of a run, sticking loosely to directions. But what seemed clear on the ground was now far from adequate, and we had a sinking feeling that we were winging it, trying to make landmarks that loomed out of the mist fit the descriptions we had memorised. An hour later it was obvious, we strayed way off. The lunar landscape could give us nothing and with darkness pressing down we knew we’d blown it. We had to stop and sit it out, with no sense of direction whatsoever and absolutely no idea where we were, going anywhere was just pointless. But with no food and not really enough clothes for the biting wind neither of us took the plunge to sit and instead marched on, until by total fluke, after 90 mins of almost running we at last realised we were back where we started! Never has such a screw up been more pleasing! A text from Charlie, now happily scoffing back at camp, gave us more directions. This time we inched on, back tracking as soon as we lost the way. Torches only showed how thick the mist really was but a warm bed was possible and marginally worth the effort. At last we crawled in at 3am. A good day.
By 6.30am the sun scorched us out of the tent. It would have been good to have awoken on a ledge with the vista below. But already the clouds were bubbling and we opted for a sport cliff, steep and weatherproof. Right on queue the rains came in. The wall was finished. We’d been lucky, 40 days of rain had preceded our trip, and since then it’s rained every day. Our ascents might be the only ones of the year. But on the bright side, there is certainly something to come back for.
Contributed by: Steve McClure
Here's a quick vid of some nice problems near Alton Towers/ The first i can only assume was someone's project judging by the cleaning and chalked holds. Unfortunately i only had the one pad and billy no mates with me or it would've been quite safe. After a warm up on the pride I had a play. Considering both these routes just involve pulling downwards on different sized holds they are suprisingly fun, or maybe its just my high boredom threshold. It was a bit spicy as there was a triple stepped (triple threat) landing. Stupidly i put my pad on the rocks and it was at an angle. Meaning that after one of my initial forays i fairly rolled my bad ankle. Luckily it didn't go completely and after a bit of huffing, puffing and a sit down, then walking in circles then sitting down. I was ready to try it again. With the added incentive not to fall off (rocks exposed, pad now on the flat bit) I stuck the awkward slot and fettled to the top. Ground up. I'll leave the naming to whoevers project it was, unless it wasn't and i'll think of something. Dunno how hard it was but somewhere around 7B+/7C would make sense. After that i popped over to Wrights and had a great time. I managed to not fall off Warchild (7C) but this really needs a top out. Jumping off at that height is fanny central, especially with the Pride, Thumbelina and Cornelius all in the vicinity. I was ropeless for the day and couldn't clean it. But next time i go back it'll be getting brushed. It looks like it'll add a bit too which will make it an uber classic highball. After doing a few other classics I got stuck into Quill (i think Cofe named this but its better than Ryan's problem, as the lazy git didn't name it) Turns out Ryans grading of it was almost as fruitful as his naming. I certainly can't think of any harder 7C+s and it seemed only slightly easier than B.O.P at Millstone. From a sitter this'd certainly be solid at 8A, i did the move to and out of the backhand but i'd lost enough skin on the little crimp (which lost a little side notch whilst i was trying it, making it longer but unnestlable and the old bit is still the best). the move from this to the back hand crimp is brilliant. Infact this is one of the best problems i've done in a long time. It's a shame it gets a bit lost in the width of the wall. Finally i had a quick play on Out There. I only had the roaches guide and it's not in this so i started trying it from under the bottom lip. This'd make a brilliant micro 8A+/8B on good rock and 2 brutal moves to get the RH in the nasty pinch slot, and then you get to do a great 7B after that. All in all it was a lovely day out, even if my ankle is complaining a bit.
Contributed by: Dan Varian
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup #4 Mont Saint Anne, CAN and #5 Windham, NY
After missing out on Leogang World Cup through my injury, I was certainly hungry for some good racing. Fort William was a good race and I thoroughly enjoyed being back on a DH bike but I failed to qualify and ended up in 23rd place. I struggled to hold on after 4 weeks previous having a grade 3 separation of my shoulder at the South African World Cup (which my doctor said can take 8 weeks to heal and 18 months to be back to normalish). I decided to stay home, train and rest instead of racing #3 instead. My intentions at Mont Saint Anne and Windham were to go in and get good solid results from where I could then build on throughout the remainder of the season. My confidence had definitely taken a hit too, so getting solid results would be good for me. MSA is one of my favourite race tracks and was looking forward to riding here as I had not been here since 2009. Windham I wasn’t so keen on but I was sure to work hard none the less.
MONT SAINT ANNE
The first day of practice went good and I was really enjoying myself. It had rained and the track was pretty ruined so it was physically tough and I had to work pretty hard to get the lines right otherwise you ended up in a big bog and losing tons of speed.
Come qualifying morning I went to do my practice run only for it to be so ridiculously foggy – visibility was only 5 metres which was eerie on the chairlift not being able to see anything but the three wires above your head and then having to ride blind into stuff! Not ideal! I was pretty nervous for the race. I managed to come down in 14th place, but with the most horrendous race run I have done yet...! I totally underestimated how physical this track was in the weather conditions; it made the race more challenging and demanding than ever.
Practice went pretty good on race day and I was happy with the way I was riding. I was still on the brakes too much which was frustrating me. The race run went good and actually I didn’t make any big mistakes. I could have improved it but the way I was riding stuff I was happy with. I just needed to let go of the brakes. I finished in 13th place. I was frustrated but it was good solid points for the board.
Last year, i finished in 13th place, which was the best world cup finish I’ve achieved. After walking the track, some of the features was made a little easier and it looked much faster than it was last year. I was feeling confident I could do well here but there were a few things that daunted me a little.
Practice day went slowly, it took me a while to get into the flow of the track, it’s hard to explain but at first it’s a very weird track. After doing a run with Tracy Moseley and getting towed down the track, I soon discovered the secret to riding good here – pinned and flat out !!! It required precise riding and line choices. I started to enjoy myself from here on.
Qualifying went well. I was incredibly nervous at the start but I finished in 11th place and was half a second off 10th place and 5 seconds off 7th. I didn’t do the road gap in my qualification so I knew I had that in the bag as that was an easy 6 second gain. But again, I had problems with riding rigid and I was not happy with the way I was riding.
Race day slowly came round and I was in such a great mood. I couldn’t sleep the night before and could hardly eat a thing but I was so looking forward to riding.
The race run went well and for the first time since Vigo, I felt like I was back on form. I wasn’t afraid to let go of the brakes, and I really tried my best. There were a few areas where I could have done loads better, and looking back, I should really have focused more on that in training, but I was chuffed to finish in 11th place and be 1 second off that top 10 and only 11 seconds off Tracy Moseley.
So I finished the USA World Cup trip on a high with some good solid points on the board and more importantly – the confidence is coming back!
A BIG thank you goes out to: All the guys at TREK (Ray, Monkdawg, Sander, Eli) for being such amazing fun and for all the help with making sure my bike was in the best possible condition for racing. 23 degrees, Fionn Griffiths, Emi R, Katy Curd, Tracy Moseley and to anyone else who has helped out in any way over the two weeks. I really appreciate it x
Hi guys, I've just updated mine and Pete Whittaker's blog about our wide adventures and forthcoming USA trip.
Those new 5.10 Grandstones are the shizzle!!
Contributed by: Tom Randall
Life is really tough in the office today! Can you guess who the relaxed figure is? or what he is doing?!
Nina Caprez Climbs Silbergeier in the Raetikon, Switzerland
A story by Nina Caprez
Last week it snowed and hailed in the Rätikon, perfect friction for Silbergeier, I thought?!?
Not really, bundled up like a Michelin Man, it was not so easy to climb my project. I failed at that attempt because of the rain, I was too scared and hesitant due to the wet conditions.
A few days ago this last Saturday, together with the local legend Günter Habersatter, I was climbing with no hope for an attempt, since the last pitch still looked wet. The plan for the day was to show all the route beta to Günti.
I climbed without pressure, with a free and open mind, laughing when snowflakes started to fall on to the holds, this was great for my psyche. The first 8b pitch felt like a 7a warm up, on the 7c+ flat traverse, my feet were like glued on to the footholds, on the 8a+ my fingers felt like they were frozen on to rock, on the 7a I even tried on a new pair of climbing shoes, then rock’n roll the last 2 pitches, the 8b+ and the terribel 7c+ were also a perfect send.
What can I say? No pressure, no expectations….. the climbing was just awesome and it felt so easy.
For me, this was the perfect climb, my big dream, this will for sure be one of the most beautiful highlights of my little climbing career…
Check out Nina's blog here: www.ninacaprez.ch