- 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
Twelve months ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His name is John Ellison. I've known John ever since I got involved with coaching and managing the GB Climbing Teams back in 2007; it's hard not to know him, as he's always there! He has given tirelessly to climbing and to competition climbing over the years and it was a massive shock when he told us all about his illness. It seemed impossible that such an amazing person could have anything negative happen to them. I'd always kind of assumed that the perma-grim on his face was some kind of lucky charm.
Photo: John in his natural environment.... you guess the answer!
His reaction to this news though, has been something that has re-affirmed why he always looks so happy. Instead of running away from the black news and devastation he has ploughed an incredible amount of energy into creating a new organisation called "Climbers Against Cancer." He recognised that climbing and climbers are "special in that no matter what the creed or colour, there is a natural desire to support each other and encourage one another to succeed." He would like climbers to come together as a family of friends who will support John in his cause to raise awareness and funds for research.
As you may have noticed through Facebook and Twitter already, there are some big wad supporters already! John seems to have a strange ability to chat up pretty much any climber, get them in a t-shirt and then snap the photo for the cause! I even saw him with his arm round Chris Sharma and Tom Bolger's waist the other day..... John, you naughty boy.
So what can you do to help share the love?
1. Get on Facebook and "like" the official CAC page
2. Share any photos of CAC supporters.
3. Visit the CAC website in about 2 weeks to buy yourself a supporting t-shirt!
4. In the meantime I know you can buy CAC t-shirts from The Climbing Works
5. Alternatively, you can always get involved with Cancer Research UK
So, just remember if John can pick himself up after this situation has landed on his doorstep then we as climbers are more than capable of getting off our arses to help in some way. I doesn't have to be money - even spreading the word and helping John in his mission will be much appreciated.
Even big wad photographer and all-round nice guy Lukasz Warzecha gave up his studio and time to get John surrounded by 2 of the loveliest ladies in comp climbing, 1 ice climber with massive biceps and 2 jokers with big Friends.
Spread the love!
Contributed by: Tom Randall
I was last out there in Feburary and got really lucky with the weather. This convinced me that the weather would be perfect again for another 2 weeks in December so I got a trip sorted. I was feeling pretty strong (for me) but had not really climbed much on rock for ages and had no idea how I was climbing. Strength and ability to dispatch are 2 very different things…
Day 1 – We stopped off in font for a day to break up the drive. Conditions were amazing and I went and finished off a couple of problems I had tried a few years ago. Ventricule Gauche and Ventricule Droit. Different sit starts into the same problem. I surprised myself by doing them in a couple of goes each. Good start to the trip – it’s hard to climb hard in font as there is so much to wrong. I left for Switzerland feeling pretty keen for some hard boulders.
(perfect weather in font)
Day 2 – Bit of a drive
Day 3 – First day! It was cold and crisp and everything was dry. Winner. I did Serre moi forte and Vent nous portera at chironico, then I went on booglagga for a brief night session. I felt pretty worked but made good progress. I could do the top steadily and was getting closer and closer to sticking the crux - an annoying deadpoint to a pocket. It’s a funny move, you pull on all scrunched up in a ball then throw an arm hopefully towards the pocket and see how many fingers go in. I seemed to get the distance every time but never quite grab it. Oh well.
Day 4 – Rest day.
Day 5 – Warmed up and tried Komilator. The holds looked pretty good and I thought it was worth trying really hard to flash it. I pulled on and soon enough found myself swinging around on the finishing jug (from where it is about 2a to the top) when a helpful “spotter” grabbed hold of me. He must have thought I was in grave danger up there or something. Thanks. Back around! I did it 2nd go then wandered over to souvenir and grumpily did that.
I didn’t climb for the rest of the day but felt like I had a fair bit left in the tank so I went up to cresciano for a night session on the dagger. This was my main goal for the trip and I thought it would be good to do the moves again and get familiar with it. I got pretty close last trip but basically wasn’t good enough and fell off near the end a couple of times. This time I was a little more prepared – I had trained a bit for it and I already had a decent sequence from last trip (there is about a million hand and foot moves to remember). I warmed up on it slowly and re-worked the sequence. The beginning is quite straight forward but very meaty, while the end is physically easier but quite complex. This trip I had my secret weapons with me which would hopefully help on the crucial toe hooks – anasazi velcros with a little addition to the front.
(Cheat shoes - shhhh dont tell anyone)
Anyway after an hour or so i got through the start and found myself questing along the end section – it was a bit of a shambles and I had to do some free styling but fortunately I had enough beans in the tank to finish it off. It’s nice to top out with bit of a fight (and a 360) sometimes. Quality.
(The dagger - photo Jon Butters)
Day 6 – Felt like I had been wrestling. Rest day.
Day 7 – Back to boogalagga. Conditions down there were perfect but we only had a couple of hours before it got dark. Nalle was trying big paw (the sit start) so I got some useful beta off him, then after nearly doing it many times (too high, too far left, too fast, too slow etc..) I finally stuck the crux pocket move and rumbled to the top. Good boulder problem, but it’s over a bit fast. I would love to get stuck into the sit start sometime but I left it for this trip as I had plenty of other stuff to do and I didn’t want to spend my holiday sitting under one piece of rock.
Day 8 – Another rest day.
Day 9 – I wanted to try something easier and have a bit of a chilled day. I warmed up (a little bit) then pulled on le pilier. From the ground it looked pretty simple and I thought I should try to flash it. Fortunately it was quite straight forward – if a little crimpy and I did, despite trying really hard to fall off the top. We went over to another area to have a look at Delusions of grandure. I had a quick go on this and the arête to the right, Kienfisch Klienfisch and got the moves sorted but was too tired to link them so went home and ate a lot.
Day 10 – rest
Day 11 – Went on teamwork. It’s a pretty cool wall on small crimps. Normally the climbing in Switzerland involves decent sized holds that are weirdly hard to use. Teamwork involves tiny crimps in a straight line. I did it in a few goes, fortunately as it punishes the skin, then we headed back to delusions and keinfisch klienfisch. I had a good sequence on both of these problems from the day before and managed to do them both in a couple of goes. Good day.
Day 12 – Rest
Day 13 – We headed up to brione for the day. It’s a beautiful place and the rock is some of the best I have ever climbed on. First port of call was pamplemousse. This is an old Dave Graham problem on some incredible swirly rock. After a couple of pull ups and some arm windmills I jumped on. I got through the crux but fell off when I tried to grab a hold I imagined I saw. Doh. 2nd go I knew where I was going and finished it off. Next up was amber. This is a cool little problem with some meaty shoulder moves and some bad slopers. I quickly did all the moves then remembered what I had heard – it becomes hard when you try to link it. True that, it’s quite long and although none of the moves are desperate they are all hard and it adds up. I got right to the end a few times but fluffed the last blind slap.
As usual in situations like this it’s all about sitting back and having a long rest, even though all you want to do is jump on and finish it off. I sat back and cleaned the holds and let my hands cool down. After 10 minutes I got back on and busted it out. Good problem, good day, good end to the trip.
I am pretty keen to get back to Switzerland next year. Looking back at what I’ve written I think I should train some fitness. I never managed to climb more than 1 day on! Punter…
Contributed by: Ned Feehally
Top 3 this winter 2012
I have been out climbing every weekend since it started getting cold, even going to the Tor when it has been to wet for the grit. I have mainly just been trying to get in as much climbing as possible whilst slowly ticking off my never ending grit list. I have done so many cool climbs so far this year but these are my top three to date this winter:
- Old Friends / E4 5c / Stanage
This has been on my list for years but I have never quite had the bottle to get on it, anyway I decided to man up and give it go. It is an intimidating line up a big wall with a small roof. The most impressive thing about this route is that it was first climbed by a 14 year old John Allen in 1973!!
I found this the hardest out of all three even with the grade being the easiest. It was scary, pumpy and I ended up doing an all out slap to the big break but an amazing climb and very satisfying once I topped out.
- Downhill Racer direct / E4 6b/c?? (not 100% sure on the grade) / Froggatt
Looking up at the slab you think no chance it looks too thin and too high - not going up there! Once you start the climb though you just have to keep going because honestly it is just soooooo good. The direct start adds a few technical smeary moves which makes the foot holds near the top feel like ledges. Topping out after soloing this slab is definitely up there in my ‘best days out on the grit’, I was so pleased.
- A Northern Soul / 7a+ / Hepburn / Northumberland
Yes I did leave the Peak District, and I had a weekend in Northumberland. I haven’t climbed here much so everything was new and it was so cool having all these climbs to go at. Northern Soul was the highlight, a 7a+ high(ish)ball, layback the crack then give it your best shot at the horrendously sloppy top out.
A Northern Soul
Lots of pads for the highballs!!
Contributed by: Katy Whittaker
Great little Arcteryx Article from 'bike magazine' by Seb Kemp
Words and Photos by Seb Kemp
Let me be blunt for a second, rain sucks balls. Farmers appreciate it and ducks supposedly love it (ever heard the phrase “it’s a nice day for ducks” and wondered why there is never a duck to be seen when it rains?) but beyond nourishing the land, filling our rivers and lakes, and keeping the dust down on the trails, rain can straight up get ducked.
You can cast whatever colloquial aspersions you choose upon me, but I have an excuse: I grew up in England.
Most stereotypes are exaggerated and most exaggerations are exaggerated to the zillionth degree, but there can be no overstating how much the weather in Britain really is like an icy poker up the arse of the entire nation of Her Majesty’s people. There is no such thing as seasons, the difference in summer and winter is just the frequency of rain that falls.
In winter the weather is set to Persistent Saturation and in summer it set at a balmy Incessant Drizzling Showers. I feel like I endured enough rain in the first 25 years of my life to dampen and drown the spirits of even the most buoyant of souls. So I left the aqueous Albion…
…and found myself settled in the southwest of British Columbia, where the Pacific sweeps up moisture and upper cuts us with a mighty fist of pissing rain for half of the year.
I’m an idiot.
Or a sucker for punishment.
The worst thing about being a mountain biker who more than occasionally gets called upon to go out in all conditions in a professional capacity, is that I don’t get a choice to say no to staying in when it rains. I hate my bike on days when it makes me go out in the rain—that was until I got a proper jacket.
My first real jacket – something that was more than a logo holder for a mountain bike brand and was made with really clever science materials – was an Arc’teryx Squamish, kindly given to me for my birthday. Immediately I was impressed, after a day riding in the rain and falling in the puddles I was still dry AND not too sweaty. I’ve owned several since and will stick with them till something even better comes along. Which will have to be a giant awning stretched over the land from Dawson’s Creek to Surrey.
Last winter I lived in Vancouver and discovered that Arc’teryx were just down the road from me. In the name of Bike I went to poke my sticky beak around their design and production orifices to see how they made me feel like a duck.
You know, water off a duck’s back and all that…sorry, moving on.
Roll Up, Roll Up.
Arc’teryx was formed in 1989 by founders Dave Lane and Jeremy Guard. They started with climbing harnesses, but began diversifying in 1996 when they obtained a license to use Gore-Tex fabric. Every two days 70-80 meters of Gore fabric gets unloaded and turned into jackets, bags, and pants.
Jo Salman, Arc’teryx’s media trumpet says, “For over 20 years Arc’teryx has worked exclusively with W.L. Gore as its fabric partner for waterproof and breathable fabrics. The value of this long-standing industry relationship is the opportunity to be involved in research and development at the onset, as well as setting the standards and pushing the boundaries for the quality expected.”
In a manner of speaking, building a jacket is like assembling a jigsaw. Stencils are designed inside of a computer’s immense brain, printed out and overlaid onto the fabric to get the maximum material efficiency for each cut. Through the stencils, drill marks are made at critical points so sewers can later align pieces of the puzzle.
The cuts are done by hand because there are no machine exists that can be as precise and careful. Dave Gardner, my chaperon for the day, quipped that human beings are “cutting edge technology”. I’m a good boy so I laughed along at that one, but I nervously watched one chap cutting so close to his own hand that it looked like he was giving himself a manicure with garden shears.
Each piece is assembled from the puzzle of cut outs, but in a zig-zag fashion. For example, once the cuff is stitched to the sleeve, it then moves on to be taped and seamed before returning to the stitchers who then stitch the sleeve to the body, which is in turn passed on to be taped and seamed. It’s a juggling act as well as a puzzle mystery.
The industry standard is eight stitches per linear inch, but Arc’teryx opt for much tighter stitching, 14-16 per linear inch. This makes their pieces tougher and more resilient. This is also helps to explain why Arc’teryx produces goods for various military and law enforcement interests, park rangers, and mountain guides all over the world. These are the people at the very sharp end of nature’s big, ugly stick, and they require the very best equipment possible. Arc’teryx will work with these groups to produce the absolutely ideal products for their needs. While the products that these people want is often very specific and very dedicated, much of the technology and designs eventually filter down to the general public.
Gore Tape is used to seal the seams, making it as weatherproof as the materials. Using less tape is better. Tape isn’t breathable and muck loads of it can makes the garment less pliable and comfortable to wear. In this picture a seam is being pressure tested to check for seal. Three out of every ten items are tested like this. Water is forced at the seal under a pressure of 3 pounds per square inch and, I’m informed, that in 13 years only three seams have blown out, causing a miniature rain storm inside the factory.
Rather than big flashy logos blazing across gaudy fabrics that carry Celtic tattoos prints, and splashes of funky weirdness, Arc’teryx keep it pretty simple. Color blocks are preferred, not just for their looks but because high-tech fabrics just can’t and don’t need to be made to look like a raver’s flashback.
Arc’teryx’s Jo Salman explains, “We very rarely chose patterned fabrics (apart from our casual shirts) because we construct durable garments that last for a very long time – we try to keep colors contemporary and yet with a timeless appeal so you can wear it season after season.”
Some mountain bike jackets are made from second-rate fabrics and compensate for the lack of technology with a smattering of spastic crayon-esque graphics. When it comes to the logo, Arc’teryx go for a teeny, tiny neat embroidered logo. Twelve computer programmed embroidery machines, using fifteen different thread colors stitch in the logo. These machines looks like something from a Thunderbirds vehicle.
The embroidery machines look like something from Thunderbirds. See, all gamma electrodes and interplanetary circuitry.
Can Get the Staff These Days
Fifteen to 20 percent of Arc’teryx’s production still takes place in North Vancouver, British Columbia. That rain-soaked location plays heavily into why Arc’teryx produces the products that carry their emblem and explains why they approach the production process with such rigor. The manufacturing building is located just minutes drive from the Coast Mountain Range, a popular starting point for outdoorsy people, whether they are biking, running, hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or, well, whatever sport gets you hot and wet. Vancouver itself has a population of five million people living in what amounts to the Coast Mountain’s trailhead parking lot. The pool of talent available to companies like Arc’teryx means that they can retain skilled, trained technicians, not just worker bees. This also means that unorthodox design concepts can be attempted and manufacturing processes lead to the highest possible level of quality control.
Quality control measures are taken throughout the production process. At every stage pieces are inspected, as opposed to merely assessing the completed piece. Three out of every ten pieces are inspected at each stage, meaning some pieces may have been checked three times. This, according to Arc’teryx, leads to a very low rate of returns and far less waste.
Return and Recycle
Arc’teryx aren’t cheapskates, they just much prefer to repair before replace. The high quality manufacturing processes and care taken means that a mere half of one percent of products sold are ever warrantied. Of items warrantied, 65 percent are repaired. Dave tells me that “If we can fix it, then why not? This isn’t a disposable product.”
Ripped, worn or broken pieces are repaired in-house (why not if the bulk of the manufacturing happens right there?) and anything that can’t be fixed is donated to charities. Discontinued rolls of material also join the reuse-it pile. Most winters, Arc’teryx has stitched up simple capes for homeless people that live in East Vancouver.
Arc’teryx don’t strictly make mountain bike products. They are quick to point that out. Which is strange because the Arc’teryx jackets I own are by far the best rain repelling, sweat reducing, well fitted, all weather, all riding jackets I’ve tried. Which makes me wonder how good they would be if they did make cycle specific products…
Every Stage is Important
Arc’teryx is a no-compromise kind of company. The function and durability that the company is so well known isn’t, according to company representatives, due to just their high standards of production, or their high-technology fabrics, or the precise fit of their pieces…. What sets the company apart is that their products consistently combine all three of those things.
Those three things are also reflected in the sticker price of the product, which is undoubtedly high. That steep price tag alone will keep some riders from even considering Arc’teryx. Then again, the sticker price isn’t quite as steep as it might initially seem when you consider that an Arc’teryx jacket will likely outperform and outlast several less-quality jackets.
Mountain bikers too often wrap themselves in garish, fragile, disposable garments that make them look like renegade bar mitzvah clowns on holiday. Our first priority should be staying dry when we are sweating our rings out, not looking like a carnival attraction.
Iceland: A Skier's Journey
In Iceland's rough and remote Westfjords region, Chad Sayers, Forrest Coots, and Chad Manley step back in time to revisit a way of life that lasted 1000 years. With the guidance of local friends Siggi Jonsson and Runar Karlsson, they traverse the storied landscape via sailboat, kayak, and ski, exploring what it would have been like to survive there for so many generations. Each ski run begins and ends with seaweed underfoot, while waterfalls, lichen-clad couloirs, and stories of humans past make up the in-between.
Watch it here
Presented by Arcteryx.com & The GORE-TEX® Brand
Since I got back from the USA the time has flown by. October was a month of daydreaming that we had started our trip to the RRG a month later as I witnessed, from afar, just what the cutting edge climbers can do with lots of time and lots of good conditions.
Back here in Scotland I have been busy and ill in about equal doses.
Though the schedule all involves climbing, it is amazing how little climbing it leaves you time for yourself. The playful fun of coaching the TCA Glasgow Youth Squad is balanced out yin and yang style by the paper work that goes on behind the scenes. There has been the regular route setting and the more enjoyable but more pressured organisation and setting for TCA competitions. There have been 3 of those in 2 months. I have also be lucky enough to find myself on a steering group which is going to provide the sport of bouldering in the UK a great foot up in terms of grassroots youth development.
Post trip blues left me unmotivated for indoor training not ideal for the British Lead Climbing Championships that are usually a big motivator for me.
I thought I could improve upon the disappointing performance at home by trying the national championships of another country. Tickets booked for Dublin, I fell ill with a chest infection right in the base of my lungs. Despite a constant cough and no training I did go. Thanks to the relatively low standard I made finals but once I had to actually try hard all energy deserted me and I dropped my podium place to the bottom of the finalists.
The cough resolved and the cold began. The cold resolved and a cough reappeared. Talk about frustration. Ill or not it would be nice to have got out climbing. This is Scotland, I managed about 1h 30. Enough to tick a problem I have never done before. Not enough to satisfy an addict. Why do I live here exactly?
I am probably just frustrated that the last few months of my 20's have been a disappointment. You get reflective at these big number changes and I guess there are a lot of goals that I wish I had achieved in my 20's that I haven't. Of course the goals are still there and 30 is still young enough to achieve them, but it makes you think. Life's obstacles will remain in the way; I just hope I can start managing them more maturely in my 30's so I can achieve the things that really matter to me.
It was a nice confidence boost to win a local boulder comp in the last weekend of my 20's even if the big guns weren't there. A little confidence booster is always nice. The new decade resolutions start on Monday, my birthday, like I mean to carry on, as I walk in to El Racó de Misa at Montsant. 3 days - 1 goal; kick-start the next decade.
Contributed by: Alan Cassidy
So far this winter I’ve struggled and struggled. My two projects have seen sessions of no success and to be honest I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated. It’s not like the training isn’t going well – my fingers (and specific training goals) are the best they’ve ever been and I regularly PB, but it’s still not quite enough for success on the given line. I guess, I’ve got to be patient. The best thing to do when this happens though, is to get out and do something – something that will give you a bit of a buzz and feel like progress. That’s right isn’t it?
I decided I wanted to see how my projects and finger strength compared to something on the hard grit circuit and thus see if progress from last year really was being made. The Zone, E9 6c at Curbar kind of fitted the bill. Nice wall climbing, fairly challenging sport grade (not the usual gritstone 7a+ frightener) and bold enough to the thrill. This route was put up by British climbing legend John Arran and one I remember the first ascent of well, back in the day.
Photo: Gnarly bugger and inveterate soloist. John Arran
This weekend, I finally bit the bullet and called up Pete Whittaker and told him I’d man up if he promised to hold my ropes and carry me to my car if it went pear shaped. As usual he was totally psyched for it – I already felt stronger just listening to the enthusiasm on the phone! It’s way easier to commit to routes like this when you’ve got a good mate who’s going to bring the right vibe to the crag on the day and who knows even less about skyhooks than me.
The first half of the route is a highball boulder problem up to a series of flatty edges where you can arrange some skyhooks. This highball V3 takes a little of the edge off the nerves to start and settles you into a rhythm, which you then immediately break by spending 10 minutes trying to place the hooks. In fact I got totally pumped putting them in place and the ensuing down climb of a few moves was desperate in this state – a big reminder that I’ve not done any AeroCap for about 3 months!
Photo: the 2 poorest hooks – my mind needed them though.
After taking a few hours of resting, faffing, waiting for the holds to stop being warm and procrastinating I finally went for the lead. I’d moaned for the previous 2 hours about how the crux hold wasn’t cool enough, but somehow I felt that I’d probably sketch it out if I really needed. Climbing the bottom section felt reassuringly solid the next time and arriving at the hooks for a shake out, I bolstered my confidence by only eye-balling the good group of skyhooks. I couldn’t face even a glance at the bad ones as I knew they were there only to make me feel less scared.
Photo: the good grouping of hooks – surely these are ok?
Moving onto the top sequence of the route I kept thinking about the mental tricks that I learnt on Century Crack last year. The moves glanced by so sutbly that even when I got the crux hold and it felt terrible I didn’t think much of it. Adjust thumb, sit on right foot, bump right hand up a touch (go further than you think), throw for pebbly-boss…. OH SHIT….. that was nearly off. In someways I felt like I’d actually fallen off the route, but there I was feeling gripped on the last hard move. Pete was telling me I was looking smooth (good liar) and all I had to do was crimp it up. Index finger on, crimp that finger first, adjust hip left a little, feel toes inside boot, move foot across, share feet….. ah. Ok all over.
Photo (Mike Hutton): bottom V3 highball – great problem in its own right. Luverly.
Topping out on the route was such a disappointing feeling though. I’ve never done a headpoint before where I only did it to progress my headspace. I’d always done them in previous years because I wanted the route so badly. This time, I’d taken my obsessive approach to training and self-progression to a headpoint and it didn’t work. Trying dangerous routes in this style for me has to be about how much I want the experience, not just as a tool for progression. A real lesson learnt this weekend. In the end I just ended up thinking about what I really wanted; to do those other projects!!
Many thanks to Mike Hutton for the photos…
Contributed by: Tom Randall