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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.
A really nice little video of the Winter 11 line in action.
The Original Mountain Marathon 2011 saw Duncan Archer and Shane Ohly take first place in the Elite Category, competitors in this class will often have to take on a marathon per day in the mountains. This year the difference between first and second place was 13 seconds after covering roughly 70km over two days.
Shane is doing a wonderful job at modelling a Fission SL - the only way to get warm after that wet and windy weekend in the Scottish hills.