- 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
I don’t normally whinge about the summer weather we get. The last few years haven’t been that bad, I don’t think. Yes it’s not been that hot, but that’s better for climbing conditions. They’ve also not been that dry but at least we’ve always had a dry spring so almost all the routes are dry on the steep cliffs even if it does rain. This year however it has been terrible! No dry spring so everything is wet and then the usual showery and humid July and August. Trying to get anything done in this country has been a real challenge.
To my surprise everything at Kilnsey was dry a few weeks ago so I took the opportunity to get back on True North, the classic 8c up the middle of the very impressive North buttress. I’ve tried True North a few times before over the years and always been stopped by conditions. This route is the last to dry out at Kilnsey and the first to get wet! I’ve been in the position before ready to redpoint the route only to find the next time I’m there it’s totally soaked, it’s so frustrating! This is normally the crux for anyone wanting to do this route, but I was hoping it’d be different this time.
I spent a couple of days re-working the sequences, trying to remember them and changing them a bit. Not surprisingly it had rained heavily for a few days in a row and there were signs it was going to seep again very soon. I had one more long weekend to try and get it done. Friday was rubbish conditions. I was on redpoint shaking out at the rest half way up getting wet from the drizzle blowing in! This is a 30 degree overhanging wall 25 metres high, how was I getting wet!! I fell, not tired, at the upper crux due to wet crimps. I had one more day, after a rest day, to get it done. Hopefully the conditions would be better. Sunday….it wasn’t ideal conditions, quite overcast and humid, but at least the rock wasn’t getting wet! Thankfully I did it first redpoint with out too much trouble. As I expected the cliff was a waterfall once again by Tuesday, I done it just in time!
3 days later I found myself at Raven Tor, this time with very different conditions to Sunday at Kilnsey, it was cold and a strong wind was blowing. I was there to try Mecca Extension, another classic 8c that I’d tried earlier this year but like everything it had been wet for ages. It was now dry and I was psyched. It went the same as True North, first redpoint quite easily. 2 8c’s in 4 days, cool! I’ve got a couple more exciting projects this year that I’d love to finish off, before I go to Spain for a month in November. I’m just hoping the weather allows me to try them at some point!
Contributed by: Neil Mawson
Contributed by: David Mason
Mina on l'angle Parfait at Dame Jouanne.
Benoir the resident cat at The House, Tousson.
Mina climbing La Dalle a Polly, Elephant.
Fontainebleau: A good place to test the smearing capabilities of the Daescent.
Do you know where the 7+8's tree is?!
Contributed by: David Mason
there is little to talk climbing wise over the last 3 months. I'm still trying to come out the other end of some kind of virus. It's really fustrating as I haven't been able to climb or work properly and everytime i've done anything active its set me back. I've just had my best year of climbing ever and was just starting to make even further improvements quickly and to suddenly be knocked back has been difficult. However the last week or two I feel to be making some improvements. I've been at work and managed to do some climbing, even managed to do some links on a project i brushed up when i couldn't climb, which is cool. Certainly don't feel like training quite yet but give it another month or two and hopefully......hopefully i might be able to get back on it.
What i have really learnt over the last 3 months is the dark art of resting. As climbers we are absolutely terrible at it. we get a tweak and ignore it, the tweak becomes a niggle and we still ignore it, then the niggle a full blown injury and before we no it we're out for 2 months instead of just intially laying off for a week. Or in most peoples cases just continuously climbing on an injury and whinging about how they can't get up their latest project. Anyway....i'd recommend to rest at the earliest possible point. although 2 weeks may feel ages, its better then 1 year!
With this virus some of the time i've actually felt like climbing hard, but no as soon as I do that, the next day i'll be wiped out again, so i've had to really learn how to lay off.
Anyway I've been occupying myself with other things like drawing and watching the Olympics :)
hopefully i'm getting there now, I've toproped some links on a new little motivater project, but for the time being lets not get too excited and come back steadily (because i'm too pscyhed to have even more time off) so this stupid thing doesn't shut me down again. yes mate
Chris Hoy, Mo Farah and all Team GB, what legends. if sport pscyhes you up, check the clip: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/19215464
Contributed by: Pete Whittaker
A month since touching back down in the UK and I am pleased to say it has been productive! Colorado was a complete write off for me with temperatures soaring way above averages for that time of year and my complete lack of strength and fitness left me with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had felt good climbing wise before leaving for the States, I knew I wasn't the strongest I had ever been due to niggling finger injuries leaving me unable to train my crimp strength but I felt good on plastic....note to self this doesn't reflect on how you will perform on rock in 40 degree heat!
Anyway negative rant over, I came home and decided to train; my fingers seemed to be feeling good enough to entertain this idea and the English weather played it's part by providing torrential rain or hot and humid conditions that made the thought of outdoor climbing a complete waste of time.
Five weeks into training and it is finally clicking, I think! I finally feel like I am returning to some form of strength and fitness. Most of my training has been pretty normal for me- finger boarding and climbing on the board. The only difference being my addition of a power endurance arm session on the campus board, I hope this will give me a building block for increasing my fitness and in turn giving me better day fitness for bouldering.
I now have a 5 day trip to Fontainebleau coming up for a friends birthday, this is my rest week! Circuiting, beer, wine, cheese and patisserie is the aim and my body is definitely looking forward to it. On our return I will have 4 weeks more of training time before heading back to the States for 3 months. This 4 weeks will be more climbing orientated with a bit of specific power and max. strength training thrown in!
I have to say I haven't trained like this for 2 years but the last time I did this I climbed the best I ever had in Fontainebleau and Switzerland, so fingers crossed it will leave me feeling floaty light and strong!
I had forgotten quite how hard it is- my body has been in pain, my mind ravaged by the need for constant psyche for the pretty dull and monotonous training techniques but I know it will be worth it. So you ask how have I kept going?! The Olympics!!! I have been glued to the computer screen watching all the athletes come out and give it their very best, dealing with disappointments and successes they have all been phenomenal and it has truly inspired me. I have been training for just over 4 weeks, these guys have been working hard, pushing their PB's and vomiting in their hands for nearly 4 years. Some of them only took up their sport 4 years ago and have won gold already, others decided it would help them to get a scholarship for University and of course the historic first appearance of a disabled athlete competing against able bodied athletes. My hats go off to them, I just hope that climbers one day will be able to train that hard and compete on a level that high. The Olympics is a dream for any athlete and it has touched me far more this year than any other; so a thank you to the IOC for giving it to London over Paris, thanks to the organisers but mostly to the athletes who have all worked so hard to get where they are. Good luck to you all, especailly Team GB!
Role on 2016 in Rio and 2020 with the potential introduction of climbing into the Olympics. We all know it should be there!
by David Mason
Nice little review of the Alpha FL by Simon Ingram in the lastest Trail mag...
We recently organised an Arcteryx press camp in the Pyrenees for mountain running.
Ian Corless reports back about the three days he spent there...
Well its proving to be a difficult summer for myself to say the least. The protracted rain which has only relented for a few days here and there has gradually ground down my reserves of psyche to almost zero. I’d say i’m fairly strong minded with bouldering and will often head out even if i’m not in a great mood when i leave the house. With me it ends up being a trust exercise with forecasts. Luckily short term forecasting is getting better and better as the years tick by and i’ve found shower prediction to be fairly accurate given a few hours window. This is literally what its been like. Waiting for bombardments to stop to rush out somewhere quick drying and with a breeze. With the vegetation out the breeze and humidity have really been hard to deal with if its been wrong. Still with a little effort its been manageable and its made me really appreciate the decent weather we’ve had in the past few years.
The Lakes is a real blessing in summers like this. There are a number of venues with quick drying and overhanging rock and lots of different aspects. The latter point is something really important. Northumberland has loads of crags but around 80% of them face west. This means shade is almost impossible at this time of year, which immediately writes them off for hard projects, Ravensheugh, queens and Callaly area all have atleast some north facing sections but this means they get less wind. Where as in the lakes there are alot more options of aspect vs wind. Which then means that with a little forward planning its possible to get great conditions in an otherwise awful summer. I’ve been out trying bits and bats my current favourites being old testpieces with no ascent information other than a yes i’ve done that, how it used to be in the good old days. (e.g. starting holds and vague sequence) Its nice to step back in time on these problems especially when many of them are ridiculously hard. I’ve found a few projects of my own in the lakes to try one of which i’m super psyched for when it gets a bit colder or if easterly breezes come.
Another good point of living back in the lakes has been the fact that there’s some proper trad nearby. Big stuff none of that mostly highball gumpf that gets pedaled about on the grit. I’ve been easing myself into the heights slowly and following the training theory of past lakes greats by going down to Armathwaite and scaring myself shitless onsighting their routes. Armathwaite is a sandstone crag on the river eden. Its got routes over 25m long but the best stuff is on a buttress about 15-18m high but with really nicely weathered rock. The rock isnt much travelled on the harder routes and its got the added bonus of a slopey hillside above which produces a fine layer of rain splash sediment on the rock after rain. So basically for onsighting you tend to come up against some of the finest scrittle in the UK. Its fantastic fun if you’re in the mood especially with the soft rock which might not hold a fall. There is certainly no better training for getting a strong head. To begin with i was on edge the whole way as normally i really like to trust my feet on trad as they are your base. At Armathwaite on dirty routes (and there has been ALOT of rain in june) its all about trusting your mind, knowing you’re capable of dealing with it and trusting that you wont fall off.
I did some classics like Free and Easy and Papermoon with the wrong finish. The last moves being the hardest on both of these facing a soily mantle on slopers. I’ve just finished Fawcett’s book and am a bit gutted there’s no mention of his visit to 70’s ‘Thwaite as without a doubt it had a lot of the country’s hardest routes in the 74-79 years. History has clarified that much. The top roped lines there if lead, when added to the old test pieces add upto a lot of hard climbing. I got sucked into a nice looking line after finishing up the crack instead of the groove on Paper Moon. The line directly below the crack looked enticing. I abbed down it and gave it a clean with a tea towel (best thing for soft sandstone) and tried the individual moves to make sure the right stuff was clean. Once the rock is clean its similar to bowden in hardness, solid enough to be able to pull on some rubbish holds but not hard enough to take small gear, a great combination. It looked fun coming up from new moon across 2 poor slopers and pressing into the flake then running up it to the hanging crack. its probably a 3 move 7B ish boulder problem 4m off the deck with no gear then a few tricky moves to the first gear at 9m which is a good wire, then the crack is easier but not totally piss. Its probably worth E7 6c for a ground up/onsight but i’m not very good with trad grades. Its a lovely looking route anyhow and climbs some really nice rock.
I’ve also been trying to get a bit of volume in outdoors when i’ve gotten out as too much time on the board has a habit of making me more rigid on the rock. Some highlights have been an evening at St bees with Howard where i boshed out some fodder for the scorecard enthusiasts by linking the crap out of a low start on the fishermans dyno boulder. I’d love to do this from lower but at the moment i just cant understand how it’d be possible. Its a fun brace of problems anyway and doing all 3 adds upto one great new one.
On another day Katie and I visited Fleswick bay for the first time. Its a lovely spot and if you’re ever going to learn how to fall off at height then the pebble beach works better than pads for impact absorption (as long as you land on your legs, you’ll break your wrist if you land wrist first due to the way the force dissipates in the pebbles). Having not been before i didn’t know how dry it was. There are some formidable projects there in the bowl cave if they ever dry out then please tweet it to @beastmakers Its a gorgeous spot and the friction is much smoother than the already smooth rock at Apiary etc. It has more in common with cornish shale in texture. Highlight of the day (amongst many) for me was Beach Brawl 7B+ which i accidentally did from sitting at soft 7C+ish thanks to pebble levels and dryness, its now one of my favourites on the coast.
Contributed by: Dan Varian