Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's looking pretty miserable out there at the moment, lets hope it perks up for a frosty christmas......I'm not hopeful!

So anyway


Let's hope 2013 brings us amazing winter climbing.

Doing my best Rudolph impression!

I'm getting super excited because I'm off to Norway on the 30th - heading to Setesdal for some primo ice-climbing. Conditions are looking good at the moment..........

Friday 21 December 2012

Some inspiration.........

Gotta love the Petzl team - just up the road from their factory Erwan and Co. found this gem to climb!
Watch this film and read the story on the Petzl website.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Festival season....

It seems to have come around again really quickly but it's festival season already - Edinburgh has already been and gone, Kendal is this coming weekend - I'm not going for any official stuff this year but heading up for the weekend anyway, looking forward to that.

In a couple of weeks time I'm appearing at the Otley Mini Mountain Festival, introducing The Long Hope, talking a bit about it and answering any questions people might have - within reason!!
So if you are in the area I recommend that you go along an support this event - even if you don't want to come and see me chatter on!!

Then just a week later I've been asked to kick off the Winter Lecture series for The Crag Station, check out the flyer below. It would be great to see as many folks there as possible, should be a good season of talks from the local wads!

Meanwhile I'm still in the process of bolting the uber project up in the Lakes - it's a mission!!

Saturday 3 November 2012

Guardian of the Underworld

The late summer and autumn has mostly been taking up by dry-tooling. I'd given up on sport climbing and switched my emphasis.
My last post was talking about completing the project at Masson Lees, Rob Gibson had put the bolts in a few years ago but never got around to drilling the route so I set about that and after a few days and some jiggery-pokery to get the rope and quickdraw system sorted I managed to send it at the beginning of October. However I already knew that completing that was a warm-up for the main event up at The Works in the Lakes.
Here I had free rein and created a trio of lines, the first was a route that started up the first 2 bolts of Paddy Cave's First Blood and then headed straight-up to finish at the same lower-off as Bloodline which I called Blood Donor. Then came a line up the right arete of the cave,  I started by drilling but didn't finish getting the bolts in due to lack of resin. Brian Davison finished the bolting and Paddy climbed it last week - not sure what he's called it guess it'll be on his blog at some point?? mountain

MASSIVE thank you to Andrew Rutherford for the photos - they were taken a few weeks back whilst I was working the route. Check out his website here Yes I know chalk bags are wrong but I forgot my gloves!!

The other reason I didn't get around to finishing that route was the fact that I'd also drilled and bolted one of the other big lines in the cave (see topo here on Tom Broadbents' blog - shown as project) I'd been trying the line over the course of several visits. Finding some cheeky heel toe locks, and struggling on the crux moves which mostly hung on getting the hand placements on my axes sorted out - I even ended up taking off the second trigger on my Ergo's just to give me a tiny bit extra room to enable the hand swops (I definitely don't have delicate ladies hands!!). After working the sequences out the next problem was linking it all together. The route is approx. 25m long, the first 6m up a steep rib and then into the horizontal world of the roof of the cave. It's long and it's pumpy - so I had been doing laps on the route Sub Rosa at Masson Lees to try and get myself some extra power endurance. It seemed to work.
On Wednesday I got myself warmed up and then got on the route, it went like a dream I was feeling smooth and calm and climbing well, until I got to the lower-off. Suddenly with the lower-off quickdraw swinging in front of my face, I tried to clip if 3,4...5 times but just couldn't get the damn rope to go in.....I fell off cursing - I couldn't believe it - my best go ever and foiled by being unable to clip the chains!
I rested and got back on but everything felt wrong, so knowing I was going to be back there the next day I just lowered off and decided to conserve some energy.

Wednesday night was spent hanging out with family Ashworth in Ambleside - Si and I turned up out of the blue, I think they thought they had some more Trick or Treaters! We definitely got treated though, with Letty plying us with red wine! I figured it might help me relax and sleep, unfortunately Mac wandering around put pay to that theory.

Anyway, morning and November dawned and saw Si and I back in the cave. This was it I told myself, I knew I was on good form and I had also heard a rumour there was a strong scottish team headed down at the weekend - didn't want them nicking my line!! So again after getting warmed up and psyched I set off....... it was a different route!! Gone was the smooth stylish climbing, in came the fighting and sweating and feet popping but somehow the will power was in overdrive, I was not giving up and I found myself again staring at the lower-off only this time the bloody rope went in!!
I think family Ashworth back in Ambleside could probably hear the enormous scream of delight.
Finally the route was completed - I've got the name sorted and it's definitely harder than Marginal Gains, but aside from that I'm not sure I'm qualified to give it a grade, lets see what the next person to climb it thinks.....there's a few folk trying. Answers on a postcard please!

So Guardian of the Underworld is completed I'm ready to start the process of getting another project started - it's Hilti time!!!

Here's a bit of film from Tom Broadbent (thanks Tom) from an earlier attempt on the route - make sure you watch until the end!!!

AT Project Redpoint Attempt.m4v from Andy Turner on Vimeo.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Marginal Gains

Today I finally managed to climb my project at Masson Lees. It's been a bit of a battle but a series of little things has made it possible.

Getting a rest before the lip trip.
  • Step one - was having in-situ quickdraws - mostly because trying to strip them out was IMPOSSIBLE! Thanks to Lyon Equipment who supplied us with a huge batch of quickdraws with maillons.
  • Step two -  not clipping the first 3 draws under the first roof to reduce some rope drag.
  • Step 3 - rope drag still a problem - so decided that a two rope approach might work really well, 1 rope to get to the first lower-off and then a second for the rest of the route - a massive improvement.
  • Step 4 - I managed to get more than half way along the lip of the cave and I was still struggling with clipping the last few draws - too short! So I extended them a little bit and hey Presto - I reached the chains!

I've been trying to think of a name for the route for the last week when I knew I was getting really close.
Marginal Gains M11- (or something like that?!)

Thanks to Simon Chevis and Tom Broadbent for belaying duty.

And good effort Si - he did the first ascent of Blind Luck (M8+) today too - big send day!

Heading towards the chains - 2 clips to go.

Monday 24 September 2012

So close yet so far.......

There's snow on the hills - according to some of them folks north of the border - does that mean it's nearly winter??  I really hope so, because I'm sick to death of this wet, minging, dreary autumn!!! Ok, I admit there have been a couple of sunny days in the last few weeks, but I'm sure I remember someone promising an Indian summer.

The last week of so have been in turn encouraging and a bit frustrating. I've been continuing my training, getting down to Masson Lees and up to the Works at least once a week and the projects are getting so close......

Turning the first roof.....a LOOOOONG way to go.
Friday at Masson Lees saw me get as far as I ever have on the lip traverse route. But managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - by getting 2 clips from the end and letting go (Channeling my inner Keith Ball!!). I think, to be honest, if it wasn't on my doorstep (relatively speaking) I might have been able to power scream a bit louder and finish it off, but having a little thing in the back of your head that knows you can come back anytime might not be the best motivation for me. I'd headed down not feeling super fresh after some training sessions on the previous couple of days, looking at the day as more of a workout so I was a bit surprised to find myself past all the tough climbing and nearly at the chains - next time........

Two more clips - you chump!!

Saturday 25 August 2012

Training for what?

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will be aware that the summers rock climbing ambitions have long ago been shelved and I have turned my thoughts towards the winter season.
The development of The Works has been coming along steadily and looks like it's going to be an amazing venue for dry tooling in the world of the upside down. This will potentially be the perfect training ground for some of the sport mixed classics in the Alps. There is more development going on and I just received a box of shiny Petzl hangers from the lovely people at Lyon Equipment to crack on with my big project from the back of the cave. The downside being that it's 2 hours drive away - and hence not exactly convenient for the daily sessions I'm going to need to get myself into top form, but I am hoping to go up regularly combined with some trips to Masson Lees which is a fair bit closer.

Luckily there are alternatives available. Firstly there is my spare room (I sound like Dave Macleod!!) which has some space for rolling around on the floor doing all that core type stuff and a well appointed pull-up bar with added extras i.e. poles hanging off to simulate hanging onto tools. Unfortunately unlike Dave I don't think I have quite the single minded ability to train in isolation, so I have been fortunate enough to develop a really great relationship with the guys at Rock Over Climbing in Manchester. The guys there are all super keen climbers themselves and equally into winter and so they have been super supportive and allowed me to set some circuits on their wall that I can use my tools on before the centre opens, or on the quiet mornings mid-week when no-one else is around. This is going to be a great help for my training over the next few months.

The two I set today on the 50 and 45degree boards are around M8 for the easier one and M9+/M10 for the trickier one. After a quick go on them both today I think they'll be a good start to get me going, and they will link together for some stamina training too. As the problems at Rock Over get changed about every 5 weeks I'll be able to change my circuits regularly and make them harder as the season gets closer.

Friday 17 August 2012

Lundy plus The Works update

Fear of Faust an alternative to Satan's Slip

The British summer continues in it's usual way, with a brief hiatus whilst we were away on Lundy. Ok we had a couple of days of poor weather, rain followed by a thick blanket of sea mist. But that was sandwiched in between blazing sunshine and on the final day it being too hot to climb.
Dan and I got a few routes in, Ruth only a couple due to weakness - Ok she was having a bad back week.  I think my favourite route of the week was Redspeed a stunning E2 on the back of the Devil's Slide. Brilliant climbing after a tricky move into the base of a hanging groove. But Carole Ann Butler Corner was great fun too and provided a little haven of shade.

Ruth actually doing some climbing on Albion - it's a miracle!

Although the climbing is really great on Lundy it does require quite  a lot of effort in lots of cases, a fair bit of walking followed by some descending down steep grass, then back up when you've gone to the wrong place etc. etc. Luckily as Dan had visited twice before and I've also been once before we managed to avoid getting it wrong too often, but it's not easy to link lots of routes/buttresses together in a single day. Not helped by the current guidebook, in my opinion which although looks really good, with nice pictures and topos, doesn't have the topos in close proximity to the route descriptions and not in a logical place - at least not to my brain!

Back from Lundy it was time to get back involved at The Works. Having managed to climb both First Blood and Bloodline, I wanted to get involved in helping to develop the crag further so out came the Hilti and I spent a couple of days drilling and bolting. Firstly creating a line which starts up First Blood and then heads out left through the steepness to the lower-off of Bloodline. This became Blood Donor (M9ish).  I've also been working on a couple more projects but they aren't ready to climb just yet so I'll be back up north again soon.......once I've gotten hold of some more bolts! Donations are very welcome.
The routes in the First Blood cave are all fully equipped with in-situ draws too which makes life a whole lot easier - thank you DMM.

There is a little video from The Works on my Facebook page thanks to Tom Broadbent for that.

Friday 20 July 2012

Tools 'R' Us

After the trip to Masson Lees I have been feeling quite excited by the prospects of getting strong for the winter - I know it's only July but winter seems a whole lot closer than it should so it's good to be prepared I reckon!
I decided that it was time to take a trip up to the Lakes and check out the developments at The Works ( near Hodge Close Quarry). Paddy Cave, Brian Davison and collective have put in a whole load of work creating a dry-tooling venue - a fine venue they have created.
There are about 20 routes spread from M4-M10 and with a good variety of angles too. More information on Paddy's blog at
I headed up with Si Chevis and a car stacked with pointy sharp things and we had a brilliant day. After stopping off in Ambleside and a call in at the Epicentre to get some more info from Steve Ashworth, we managed to get hold of the man himself, Paddy who met us at the crag, eager to show us around and encourage our attempts.

We started off with the routes on the Industrial Sector (M4-M6+) and then got involved with the super steep First Blood - now this route has been given M9 in the topo - but what I learned was that i had been climbed with heelspurs - dubious tactics!! So it's a wee bit harder than that really - probably about M10. Really good upside-down climbing with plenty of Fig 4 moves to get yourself in a tangle with. Managed to get pretty high on the go I had but I was also super psyched to have a go on the "project". Another classy route, following a crack for approx 25ft before puling into a groove to climb up to the lower off - another steep one and potentially could be joined with First Blood in the future to make a brilliant long line.
By the time we'd all had a good thrash around on these lines, we were both pretty pumped and Simon needed to get home.
Really keen to get back up there in the next week or so and get the routes done - and the best thing is it doesn't matter if it rains!!

Big thank you to Paddy for the photos.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Making Do.

The blog has been pretty quiet these last few weeks - and the reason is that life has been pretty quiet too! As Ruth so nicely mentioned I've been away up in Scotland working for the last couple of weeks and by some small miracle I actually got better weather than down home in the Peak. Typically it was mostly dry on work days and then rained on my days off. So a couple of visits to Ratho, one to Dundee Wall and then a single day out on the rock in Glenfinnan with Kev Shields. Had a bit of a play on one of Dave Macleod's slab routes which whilst not super hard would undoubtedly be super scary. Along with a few rides out on the bike that was my trip up north.
Now that I'm back south the weather has a been well rubbish - as evidenced by Cliffhanger getting cancelled last weekend due to the site being water logged! But in between the deluge I've had a couple of sessions out in the real world. One of those involved the tools and some dry-tooling at Masson Lees. A good venue with some super steep upside down land climbing. I managed to knock off the current crag classic Sub Rosa first redpoint and then managed to fall off the top of a project by having sweaty hands and not being able to grip my axes!! Poor excuse I know, will go back and finish it off sometime soon. I'm starting to get psyched for the winter already - probably because summer isn't much like summer. And I'm thinking that Masson Lees could well be my venue of choice for getting strong.
Mac however is not getting any stronger and needs a lift out over the boulders these days - bless him.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Sleeping Beauty

Just been sent these photos by Mike Hutton - thought I'd share them! Taken somewhere on Lewis when there was some sunshine.............

Ahhh bless, doesn't he look peaceful!!!
Currently Andy is actually working up in Scotland - it's a shock to the system, he'll probably need a month off to recover!

Friday 8 June 2012

Scottish Sunshine

Mike Hutton - the Angel of the North???
When I booked onto  trip to Lewis a few weeks ago I was not prepared for it to be quite so amazing! Not only did we have a full 9 days of sunshine, but because of the sometimes quite punishing wind there wasn't a pesky midge in sight - even the scottish super-midge couldn't fly in that! Result!

Callenish Stones
Before taking the offer of the trip I hadn't really looked into the climbing that much, of course I'd heard of Prozac Link and various friends had been and sent back reports of amazing looking crags and quite a bit of rain! So I cracked out my Gary Latter guide and had a good look at what was going to be on offer......the short answer to that was LOADS!!! Prozac Link I have to admit was pretty high up my list of "must do" routes but there is sooooo much rock to go at.

We arrived in the middle of the heatwave and I was like a kid in a sweet shop! It felt like you were missing out climbing a 3 star route as there were so many 4 star classics to go at. I never had to walk more than about 15 minutes from the car and there were new routes before breakfast! The crags were mostly small yet perfectly formed apart from the Screaming Geo where Prozac Link can be found, which is a whole heap bigger. What a route!! I can see how it made it into a "routes to do before you die" article a few years ago, an incredible journey across the cliff above a huge cave.
Other highlights were Painted Wall, Limpet Crack and then a few handfuls of new routes up to around E4 and even a couple of new DWS's - Ruth would be proud! When I eventually get around to coming up with names and all that I'll be sending them off to the SMC, so I imagine they'll be in a book one day. Also look out for Mike Hutton's photos and words.

Thanks to Martin Kocsis for the invite and climbing with me, Mike for climbing and photo-ing and other members of the Mynydd Climbing Club (Rach, Mitch, Paul, Elaine, Dave, Wendy, Marcus and Steve) who were a bit disappointed when the wrong Andy/i Turner turned up!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

The Old Magic

As mentioned in the last post I've been getting back into some bike racing after about an 18 year break. So in the spirit of this I decided to enter the North West Regional Road Race championship race. Carefully chosen as it was being held near Garstang in Lancashire and hence would be pan-flat! Last time I entered this race was back in 1990 when I was young and fit and bursting to get into the big league. That year it was held somewhere in Cheshire and again was flat and by some happy chance (and obviously a fair bit of sweat and suffering) I won it!! The pinnacle of my racing career and the reason I got the opportunity to head off to the continent to race for the following 3 racing seasons. That year I was racing in the big boys race, category 1 as it was then before Elite was introduced above.
My current Race Licence is for a Category 4 racer, so I entered the cat 3/4 race. It's been both fun and frustrating racing in this level of race. Although I'm no where near fit enough to go in the higher levels I find myself frequently frustrated by the level of riding (ie. weaving and wobbling) and tactics in the cat 4 races.
This race was no exception. The field was fairly large with 60 riders allowed, the not too technical race circuit was around some fairly quiet roads and we were escorted by motorcycle marshalls who stopped the traffic as and when it appeared. Luckily the day dawned dry but a bit breezy which could have resulted in the field being blown apart if there had been a team or individual rider who had put in an attack at just the right moment. I could see exactly where the best spot would have been but I didn't have the legs and fitness to do it myself and no-one else either did, or saw the potential.
Riding around in a big bunch of riders can be alarming at times especially when big sturdy chaps decide they are coming through and barge you out of the way. I'm no stranger to a bit of moving people when needed but I definitely felt a couple of times like it was getting a bit hectic.
The race was 5 laps of a approximately 10 mile circuit having been reduced by one lap on the start line (result!!). For the first 4 laps small groups tried to get away of the front of the peleton but no-one managed to make a significant gap and the group stayed together. I was riding in my Manchester Wheelers shirt ( first time in 22 years) and there were 4 other guys from the club there too. Some of them showed on the front a few times, dragging the peleton along but ultimately not really accomplishing much. I decided staying sheltered in the bunch was a way better idea!! Come the last lap things started to hot up and eventually a group of about 6 riders managed to get away and stayed away until the finish (just!). The rest of the group then just wound the pace up and up and up as we neared the finish. There was no full on sprint finish as the pace was already high. I managed to stay up near the front of the group, my legs were screaming and cramping but I gritted my teeth and kept going right to the finish, coming home in 18th place and as the first member of the Manchester Wheelers team.
I have to say I was pretty chuffed overall, and feeling psyched to get some more racing under my belt as the summer goes on. Maybe the old magic will come back in force with a few more miles in the legs????

Thursday 10 May 2012

A bit of everything.

Ok so mostly in the last few weeks my life has seemed to involve pulling on plastic with the odd bit of rock and some pedalling thrown in for good measure.
Ian Hey back from 18 months in the deep south and cranking again.
This last week has seen a brief respite from the miserable wet-ness and a full weekend of real rock climbing - who'd have thought it?!
Last Saturday (my birthday - yes I am indeed quite old now) Ian Hey, Ruth, Rob Adie (and Buster) and I went for a little trip to the Churnet valley. Now looking at the map it really doesn't look that far from the Roaches but good grief it seems to take forever. That combined with not just 1 guidebook which doesn't make the approach to the car park clear but 3 of them!! (Niall Grimes I think you need to write a better description!) It's all very well saying follow Red Road from behind the pub - but frankly finding the appropriate pub seemed to be the crux. This was my first visit to the actual crags last time I tried to go I failed to find them after flying into a rage whilst trying to drive a large van around narrow lanes where all the junctions seem to be those 45 degree ones where you can see absolutely nothing when driving the aforementioned big white van. On that occasion I left the area before spontaneous combustion could occur!
This visit reinforced with another MIC and an MIA I though nothing could possibly go wrong! Not the case. And after the piss taking I got from Ruth when I returned home without finding it last time it was sweet revenge to see that she couldn't just find it immediately either!
Ian on Ousal High
But find it we did and so we got to sample the delights of some Churnet sandstone. We headed to Ousal Crag for some traversing - topping out definitely not very appealing! Then along to Cottage Rocks, very pleasant. A stop into the Ramblers Retreat - nice pie but how long does it take to bring 3 drinks, a toasted teacake and piece of Damson Pie? I'd hate to be there when it was busy!
Last stop of the day was Wright's Rocks which was more a fact finding mission than much actual climbing as by then skin was thin and it was also getting a wee bit chilly.
I think I'll be headed back there sometime especially when the weather is looking a bit dodgy, it was bone dry down there with reports of rain and wind and cold elsewhere in the Peak - result.

Sunday was a new day and a very different venue I headed off to Malham with Jonny G for some beasting. Jonny was psyched to get the tick on his Upper Tier project Herbie, and I wanted to open an account with New Dawn down on the catwalk. I can safely say that both these objectives were attained - nice one Jonny! New Dawn well it might take a while but I'll be back for another go........if I can just sort out that nasty move at the start!

On a more random note I seem to have gotten back into cycling a bit of late, mostly due to Ruth deciding that she wanted to start having a go at racing. We have both been going to the cycle circuit at Ashton for their tuesday night race series. Ruth has done the last 3 weeks and I missed last week due to excessively tired arms. So anyway the first week was VERY busy there was a field of 55 which is a hell of a lot of bikes and riders on a small circuit, especially as quite a number of them didn't really seem to have quite the control of their bikes as would have been ideal. But not that surprising as it's a race for the lowest category riders (Cat 4), which is what you automatically are until you earn some points to move up through the ranks. I did alright that first week but I was a little bit cautious as I don't really want to get involved in any Mark Cavendish style crashes......what an horrendous move from the other rider (Roberto Ferrari).

This week I was feeling a bit more confident the field was smaller only 22 and everything went more smoothly. The pace was slower despite my best efforts to liven it up, everytime I tried to push things on the group would chase me down and then sit up rather than continuing on at any speed......probably worked out for the best as otherwise I might have been absolutely destroyed and unable to put in any turn of speed over the final laps. As it was I managed to come home 3rd after narrowly avoiding another rider who punctured on the final bends.
Pretty chuffed with that and it meant I won back my entry fee.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

What a difference a day makes..

Tom on Black Wednesday at Ty Newydd

Since arriving back from Majorca feeling all keen and as though I might have some functioning climbing ability it has pretty much been raining constantly. One morning out bouldering on the grit and an evening down the Torrs has been the sum total of my outside climbing in the last 3 weeks.
A failed attempt to visit Raventor at the weekend preceded another visit to Awesome Walls in Stockport!
Me on Girls will Perform at Ty Newydd

However yesterday the forecast looked good, Tom was psyched and I even persuaded Ruth to come out of her climbing hibernation to get on some rock. We headed off early(ish) doors to visit some crags I'd never been too in North Wales, limestone sport crags which are in the latest A55 guide book (nice little guide it is too). We headed to the crags near Dyserth as Tom had to be back by 5pm and they are only about an hours drive from Stockport.
First stop was Ty Newydd, a lovely little spot tucked away in a valley which is used to breed phesant, the crag is gently overhanging and has a number of nice routes between 5 and 8a+. The crag was almost bone dry, with a tiny patch of seepage over on the left end which luckily didn't affect the short 7a+ Black Wednesday, fingery at the bottom and quite powerful at the top, it was very kind of Tom to put the clips in for me!
Tom nearly at the top of Black Wednesday
We then decided to head over to Dyserth Waterfall crag, what an idyllic spot - well it was until the person who lives just opposite the crag decided it was the perfect time to chainsaw down a tree - we feared for the blokes limbs as he wielded said chainsaw with abandon and zero apparent concern for his own safety on a steep brambly banking!
The route to try there was Strawberries Man - it's a Chris Doyle route and I can safely say it's pretty flipping tricky and even having now watched him climb it on youTube I'm not at all sure that I can. The 8a, Madness Reigns looks brilliant and with a cafe at the carpark selling proper ice cream I can see a return visit coming on! Thanks Tom for wearing a bright t-shirt Ruth was complaining about my khaki green number!

Just to finish off the day Ruth and I headed out to the Ashton Cycle circuit for the second race of this year's league, our first. As expected it hurt, although not as much as last time, as they're now running a later, shorter race for 4th category and women - perfect! Or at least for the first few. I did find it a bit alarming with quite a lot of inexperienced  racers being a bit wobbly here and there but at least it was a bit slower! Back next week to try and do better, and hopefully with fewer racers - there were 55 this week which on such a narrow circuit is pretty congested, especially once people start getting lapped and not getting out of the way etc. Still the main aim was not to crash or come last - which we both managed! Result!
Tom on Rhubarb Wall at Dyserth Waterfall Crag

Normal weather service has been resumed to day so it'll be back on the plastic tomorrow I expect.........

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Whilst he's in Dublin....

So Andy is safely on the Emerald Isle getting ready for this evening talk at the University, see post below for details, it means I have free rein to put anything I like in the blog!
So here is the promised Climb article, and if that wasn't enough........

Look how happy Andy is with the new arrival to the household........

But of course he's disappeared off to Ireland with the old green laptop as we didn't have time to convert the talk to Mac format and left me in what can I make the password that he'll never guess?

So here it is the Climb article - Andy is frankly gobsmacked that he hasn't had any banter about this yet - I'd like to declare the floodgates are officially open!

Saturday 14 April 2012

Dublin lecture night

Don't miss your chance for a fun event in Dublin next week, and a bargain at only 5 Euros with a chance to win a Mountain Equipment jacket.
Also Andy will have a supply of Long Hope films available for sale and I'll even get him to sign them - or not if you'd prefer!!

And whilst I'm here.........have you checked out the latest edition of Climb magazine? (May 12) Andy has an article in and even better some highly entertaining photos of him - one involves lycra and another involves flames! I'm not saying another word.................

But I may scan it in the next couple of days!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

I think I'm being converted.....

On the world famous tufas of Buf! - what a route!

Why, oh why have I never been on a sport climbing trip before?? I've been sport climbing as an alternative to the lashing rain/snow in the alps but never on a dedicated trip without a single bit of rack or an ice axe in sight. It's been a revelation! I think I've finally begun to understand the fascination with bolted limestone, especially when combined with perfect blue skies and sunshine.
Using the rock pools at Tijuana for some elbow rehab.
This was my first visit to Majorca, what a top venue - not only is there loads of brilliant climbing all over the island but it's also a total haven for road bikes. Not in all my life have I seen soooooooo many people dressed in lycra - there was definitely a whole host of MAMIL's (middle aged men in lycra) cruising around the place in massive peletons. Strangely most of these peletons didn't really seem to moving at any speed despite some awesome roads. The east side of the island is flat-ish and then there are loads of brilliant alpine style passes on the west side. Ruth and I had taken out our shoes and shorts and were hoping to hire a bike each for at least a day in the middle of the trip when neither of us was working - but neither of the bike hire places in the place we were staying had any bikes free - all 375 bikes were hired out already - well except for a 61cm and 63cm frame - to put that in context Ruth's bike at home is a 49cm and mine is a people that tall actually ride bikes???
Ruth on Buf!

So with bikes out of the equation we were left with acres of perfect limestone - not such a hardship really. Over the course of the 3 weeks we went to a pretty big cross section of crags, the only disappointment was not being able to get to Fraguel, firstly because the road was shut due to a fire and then, if our understanding of the signs was correct, due to shooting going on - didn't really want to risk that particular hazard!
I had decided that I wanted to try and get as much climbing in as possible so didn't want to get myself any big projects, but after having a couple of days of rain and only being able to climb in the super steep crags, I ended up with a couple of routes that I'm going to have to go back for at Les Perxes and Castell de Santueri. I can't pick my favourite crag as they all seemed brilliant so here are my favourite routes.....
The unfinished business at Les Perxes......
Phantomas (7b), Blobland (6c) at Port de Soller
Chorrera (7a) and Columna (7a+) at Puig de Garrafa
Buf! (7a) at Alaro
Psicomambo (6c) at Tijuana
Pasteles de Isabel (7b) at Sa Gubia
Records de Bunyola (6a+) at La Creveta

Now I'm back in the UK and the weather is a bit of a shock to the system although it sounds like it has been for all you people that have been here the whole time I've been away. Fingers crossed for some dryness at least over the easter weekend, maybe I'll sneak a visit to Cheedale, or even Yorkshire, pretty keen to capitalize on the sport climbing roll I've begun - who knows maybe I'll even manage to haul myself up the elusive 8a this year????

Thanks to Vicky Askew for the Buf photos.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Winter of my Discontent

The view from our apartment.
Sitting here in Majorca with not a cloud in the sky and the sun glinting off the sea, winter seems like a very long way away and to be perfectly honest I’m not even slightly bothered!! In fact this winter has had me feeling like that for most of the time. The psyche just hasn’t been there. I’ve been reading other people’s blogs now and again and seeing updates on facebook of the likes of the youth Greg Boswell, Nick Bullock, Pete Macpherson and Guy Robertson getting amongst it and putting in some fine performances and do you know what I had barely a glimmer of FOMO (fear of missing out – in case you didn’t already know).
The autumn had seen me psyched for the grit and really into rock climbing and the oncoming winter was like a prison sentence looming without having done any kind of crime. The last few years I’ve been psyched out of my mind, with plans for a million new routes and repeats of the hardest routes I could think of……. This year I just didn’t seem to have the inspiration despite not having completed my “Repeat all Dave’s really hard routes – in as good a style as possible” challenge from last winter.
Late November and the inevitable flurry of “is there anything in nick yet” messages began to fly around, people were sounding excited…..I had my fingers crossed that the cold wasn’t coming anytime soon. I was hoping to last out until Christmas without having to dust off the tools – I didn’t quite manage that with a sneaky trip over to Wales and couple of new routes done with the ever keen Baggy and belay duty for another of those keen youths Calum on Traversty. Conditions were short lived and I headed home to the Peak with a mixture of relief and a small glimmer of interest. By this time I had booked my flights to Canada and I knew I was going to have to do some kind of training in order not to look like a complete muppet when I got there. I love training and a few visits to White Goods were fun, particularly when accompanied by the irrepressible Tim Emmett.
Dave on Castle in the Sky
Christmas came and went and soon enough I was headed up to Scotland for some work, conditions whilst I was there weren’t great but I did have one good day out with Jen Olson on the International Meet, quality route and great to catch up with her. After that I had a weekend of being a model for Lukasz’s photography workshop which meant a tiny bit of climbing and then finished off my Scottish winter by dragging poor Ruth up The Message – perhaps not the best choice for her first route back since 2010, especially with it getting buried as we climbed! The last day up north was spent with Dave Macleod and Ruth – we headed up to yet another unpronounceable Scottish crag to get stuck into Dave’s Roof crack project. I was feeling particularly rubbish and rundown but watching Dave was truly inspirational – it made me realise that I’d pretty much written off my winter through a simple lack of motivation. The route became Castle in the Sky and looks amazing…….. I started to feel the desire to climb filtering through and I was about to head out to Canada.

Packing for Canada - luckily I didn't need to take ropes or excess baggage would have been expensive

Regular view of being in Canada - a whole lot of driving!
Some of the awesome looking terrain.
The trip to Canada was frankly disappointing. I’d arranged to head out with Lukasz and stay with Gordon Macarthur. I’d like to say a massive thank you to Gordon and his wife Becky for putting us up and looking after us. Gordon had been raving about the crag local to him, Bull River Gorge, he’d been involved with a short film made there last year and the film was pretty inspiring. When we got there the film had shown pretty much the full extent of the quality climbing and it was quite limited. A handful of good routes and a very funky ambience, enough to keep us entertained for a couple of days. 

Lukasz in his usual pose!
Now I had no idea where Gordon lived before I headed out and had assumed that he was quite near to Canmore and the hub of the winter climbing scene, unfortunately he is a bit further out, so we spent a whole lot of time driving around to visit other crags and venues. Lukasz had arranged a photography mission with Petzl for the trip and so he had a whole list of shots that he needed to get and being a total perfectionist getting the shots was not as simple as it might have been and definitely took a whole lot longer than I had hoped. Yes I was getting some recompense as part of the deal which just about covered the costs of my trip but I had really hoped to get more personal climbing out of the nearly 3 weeks we were away. We did manage a small amount of typical Canadian cascade climbing on the Weeping Wall, which was pretty cool and definitely sparked my imagination to come back at a later date. Unfortunately there was a whole lot of snow around and so the big high crags weren’t very accessible and Gordon isn’t exactly a big mountaineer so we stuck to the more accessible crags. We visited the Cineplex – what a venue! Had a blast on Mushasi but after a flake having been pulled off last season (Gordon!! Training too hard!) it needs redrilling to make it possible again. We had a couple of days at a place called Haffner Cave which is pretty steep, was quite pleased to haul myself up Cavemen after a handful of go’s the top out is pretty exciting now that the tree has gone!

Hanging out in Calgary before flying home.
I can’t say that it was the trip I’d imagined before I left the UK but it has served a purpose which is to reignite some psyche for winter, I spent a whole lot of time looking around at a huge number of stunning looking crags and routes and I felt that old familiar feeling of “want”, I wanted to climb them, I wanted to have longer to go and explore, I wished I’d been able to change my flights and stay out there for another 3 weeks, but I had to come home for whistle-stop week of work before jumping on a plane and heading out here to the sun for 3 busy weeks of coaching and climbing.

 Here's a few images of week one in Majorca.

Ollie enjoying some incredible architecture at Sa Gubia.
Vicky concentrating hard at Alaro

Vicky giving it her all on a super thin slab climb at Alaro

Rich surveying the less than helpful holds getting out of the little cave at Alaro.
I’m looking forward to the summer, I’m looking forward to getting back into the rock climbing, I’ve got a list as long as my arm of routes that I want to get done, and this stint of sport climbing will no doubt set me up in the best way. Meanwhile I’ve got a few ideas starting to form in the back of my head……ideas for next winter, plans and dreams. It’s funny I just didn’t feel like this at this time last year, last year I couldn’t bear the thought of winter coming again, maybe this year it’ll be different maybe that old feeling will stay, the want will remain……but will it be for Scotland? Who know, not me!