Posted on March 20, 2016 08:09 AM

South Africa. A country I always wanted to visit, but ending up on the “Love to but probably won’t” list, alongside the likes of Antarctica, Everest, The North Pole and many more. It seemed too far, too expensive and too difficult to travel around. But then I heard there was to be an exchange meet between the BMC and the Mountaineering Club of South Africa. I’d remembered the stories from the exchange back in the 90’s, and how it was a trip of a lifetime. Maybe this was the chance.Read More


Posted on October 15, 2015 06:47 PM

Maybe I’m old now. No, I’m definitely old. But it’s been a very long time since I was happy to sleep on a 6mm thick bit of foam. Thinking back to numerous camping trips laid out on stony floors I don’t know how I managed. Now a crap night’s sleep spells the end of a fun day and totally rules out any kind of performance climbing.
When the thermarest was invented everyone cheered. This was a monumental improvement to comfort. I remember my first 30mm pad and how it felt like luxury.…

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Posted on August 30, 2015 09:08 AM

Having a facebook page thing is easier than a blog, which is why I’ve been lazy and not put anything on this site forever now. But having just come back from Croatia I wanted to put down a tad more info than a few lines on a place that felt pretty special and worth a visit.
Croatia is not really on the map for UK climbers yet, but there is a ton to offer. It’s further than Spain, but different, and just as easy, and as cheap. The venue of Paklenica is most heard about and is great, but…

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Year 5

Posted on March 15, 2015 09:26 PM

“Hard Projects need a lot of time – hours and hours each day. Your lifestyle changes because of it. you’ve got to knuckle down. These routes, they’re an iceberg with all its mass under the surface that no one ever sees”
Ben Moon

How far is too far? When to draw the line and move on? Reading Ben Moons book I was intrigued by many chapters, but was moved by his section on the Kilnsey Project that would eventually become Northern Lights. Not in any way because I would eventually…

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I am climbing

Posted on February 20, 2015 09:57 AM

I was interviewed recently by a pHd student for her project about climbers and risk and identity. She asked me if I felt climbing was part of my identity, or indeed, most of it. I was about to answer, that of course not, that there is more to me than pulling on holds, but I caught myself struggling for an answer, and drifting off in search of who I really am.
Writing my autobiography was an incredible journey. It highlighted my own journey from start to now, how I began and where I ended…

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How to make a climbing movie.

Posted on August 03, 2014 08:00 AM

BMC TV is looking pretty good these days, the one to watch. They have a lot of great material and are making cutting edge stuff for great viewing over our cornflakes and coffee. We figured we could put something together about climbing out in Europe this summer. Everything fell into place; a great team in myself, Mawson, Andy Cave and Dave Hesleden, a professional camera crew of Ben Pritchard and Rich Heap, and a plan for some awesome adventure climbing in The Ratikon in Switzerland.

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No time like the present.

Posted on June 15, 2014 07:41 PM

Photo - Liam Lonsdale - Marmot

“I’m saving it for the onsight”.
Easy to say. But is it an excuse?

Strawberries. One of the most famous routes in the history of British climbing. First climbed by Ron Fawcett in 1980 the quality and difficulty became legendary. The route takes the thin crack splitting the overhanging headwall of the Vector Buttress at the cliff of Tremadog in North Wales. Hanging over the road the line is visible to all climbers as the symbol of hard climbing.…

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It ALways Rains In Scotland

Posted on June 03, 2014 12:20 PM

Pic - Kevin Woods. High on Dalriada

But a good forecast appeared from nowhere! Paul Reeve and I made for Scotland on a last minute decision, leaving Sheffield at 11pm we drove till 2.45, dosed in a lay-by and continued at 5am. We were at Tunnel Walls before nine and scaring ourselves on The Risk Business (E5 6a,5c,6a) well before lunch! The famous sport routes beckoned for the afternoon, strange to have this style up in the mountains, but kind of strangely justified, the rock offering…

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Melloblocco 2014

Posted on May 15, 2014 08:48 AM

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Different people perceive beauty in different ways, and one persons work of art is another’s jumbled mess.

I’m a route climber. I don’t see the incredible bouldering areas through the same eyes as the boulderers. Bouldering does not motivate me like routes do. But The Val De Mello was something truly special. It seemed to have all the ingredients in the right proportions. I’d stayed away from the famous festival of Melloblocco. But now, in…

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All My Eggs In One Basket

Posted on April 21, 2014 08:28 AM

Easter Sunday. I reached into the lid of my rucksack and pulled out one of my many Easter eggs. It squished under my grip, warm and soggy from being sat in the sun. It didn’t look appealing; hardly good crag food.
Malham again. It was feeling familiar this year, despite it being almost three weeks since my last visit. But essential familiarities on my latest project were lost with a combination of work and kids holidays. Today would be another re-acquaintance day, one of many, in fact…

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Almond Blossom

Posted on March 01, 2014 08:17 AM

Some things never change, some things you never want to change. I was back at the Orange House in the heart of the Spanish Costa Blanca. Pushing open the door at 10pm after our flight from Liverpool a familiar chatter of climbers drifted out into the crystal clear night sky. The small group established by the bar welcomed me; some new faces, some old mates. It was good to be back.
I’ve never fancied a holiday home anywhere. But if I had to choose one place maybe it would be The Costa Blanca,…

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new state of mind

Posted on January 30, 2014 10:50 AM

Rich Heap sent me a link to a bit of film that went up on Epic TV recently - his excellent short about my efforts on Overshadow. It made interesting viewing, for me at least, having only actually seen it once before some 6 years ago. Only last year I was in almost the same boat, on a similar route, only meters away, similar style and a similar grade. I’d thrown all of myself in with a similar amount of disgregard to the rest of my life; dropping work, dodging commitments and pushing family…

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Posted on January 13, 2014 01:26 PM

Picture by (Laurence Crossman-Emms //

Its not often that you see something new and unique to the indoor climbing scene. But this last weekend I had both the chance to set on and climb on the awesome Psychobloc at The Boardroom near Chester. This is basically DWS but without the water! Its better! It climbs awesome, the landing is softer than water, and you don’t get wet! This could be the future of indoor climbing,…

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Abella De Conca

Posted on December 01, 2013 10:07 AM

Spain: Sport climbing heaven. Catalunya could boast the top spot in the world. In November the weather is perfect, the crags dry. I’ve just come back from a week, climbing in a different venue almost every day, and barely seeing a soul. Perfect. The routes were amazing, a full spectrum from super hard onsights on 45 degree tufa striped walls to plodding up conglomerate in the baking sun.

But it’s not just about the climbing. It’s all about the package. Maybe ‘climbing’ is a package,…

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Abella De Conca

Posted on November 27, 2013 01:50 PM

Northern Spain is maybe the best place in the world for sport climbing! I was back again, tenth time, maybe more. New place though, Abella De Conca. Totally awesome, beautiful, remote and tranquil spot. My friends are about to open a refuge there, you won’t want to miss it – more of that later.
First day, the warm up – slabs. Somehow I ended up on the famous Diedrie, much tried and said to be 8b. I’d set off unprepared, ‘possibly having a look’, and then after an hour of utterly…

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Posted on September 26, 2013 03:36 AM

With a flight covered for my Arco Rock legends trip it seemed rude not to hang a little longer. So I fitted in a short 5 day-er, squeezing work and commitments to either side to make it fit. Having been to Arco way back in 2004 I remembered the quality, and a two day in and out was never going to be enough, especially having done best part of nothing for the whole summer other than building sandcastles and sampling local lagers. My last climbing had been in the Verdon in early July, a dream trip,…

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Arco Rock Legends

Posted on September 15, 2013 03:34 PM

Arco – the birthplace of rock climbing. That’s what they claim, possibly a bold statement, but the bustling little town at the head of Lake Garda has more rock around than just about anywhere else in the world. Its also home to the legendary Rockmasters competition event, first taking place way back in 1988. Though a stand alone event, it still attracts the heroes as one of the most prestigious prizes.
A while back they added their Rock Legends award, a kind of climbing Oscars, basically…

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Posted on August 21, 2013 11:16 PM

Not ‘The Gower’ as Adrian Berry pointed out, like it wouldn’t be ‘The Pembroke’. Adrian has done a stack of new routes there over the years, high quality and with his trademark of technical and intricate climbing: a true master of the movement, and a bit of an unsung rock star.

Downloading the excellent Rockfax miniguide to Gower written by Adrian I was immediately grabbed by the topo of Shipwreck Cove and its description of ‘quality routes in a beautiful location’. I’ve…

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Corsica bouldering

Posted on August 11, 2013 02:47 PM

It seemed strange to pack for a two week holiday and have no climbing kit at all, especially when heading to Corsica, an island well known for its mountains. So my shoes and chalkbag somehow found their way into the bag alongside the facemask and beach towels.

There is a lot of rock out there, and I spotted some amazing single pitchsport as well as masses of multi-pitch adventure stuff. And a quick net search revealed a few boulder spots, one called Vallu De Saltu near the town of Petreto…

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Posted on August 08, 2013 03:27 PM

‘Incredible beaches and mountain scenery, along with jaw dropping rock climbing far away from the crowds’, the lure of Corsica has been in the back of my mind for some time, though pushed sideways by better known Sardinia and Italy.
But the time came to explore. Not a climbing trip though. Family holiday, all my climbing stuff remained back home and was swapped for a snorkel and face mask. Two week of no climbing – that’s a while for me, plus a week of nothing before due to work,…

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The Shady Side Of The Verdon!

Posted on July 21, 2013 12:32 AM

The Verdon is my favourite place in the world. I spent a few summers there as a kid while my parents battled with the big trad routes, and at 17 years old The Gorge was my first real climbing trip; 7 fresh faced weeks of perfect grey limestone. I’ve been back plenty.
I have heard a lot about the new development of the shady side, the huge caves filling and gigantic walls a constant view from the classic side. Inching up the multi-pitch routes I’d be looking back wondering if they would…

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Tom Et Je Ris

Posted on July 18, 2013 05:34 PM

pic by Tim Glasby

The Verdon is my favourite place in the world. I spent a few summers there as a kid while my parents battled with the big trad routes, and at 17 years old The Gorge was my first real climbing trip; 7 fresh faced weeks of perfect grey limestone. I’ve been back plenty. The route Tom Et Je Ris slid onto my radar many years ago, its line, originally un-apparent in my youth on the impossible bulging walls, became a stand-out feature as I became fluent with the tufa…

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Posted on June 11, 2013 04:47 PM

Its been a while since I was last in the Zillertal, but it was exactly as I’d left it back in 2008, soaking wet and with pouring rain! In 2008 I was on the Petzl Rock Trip, know locally to the visiting climbers as the soaking wet trip as we struggled with soaking crags and wet feet.
This year felt familiar. Leaving a boiling Britain with a week of forecast sun and arriving to Austria’s worst floods was painful. Our first day was spent dodging rain and blowing on frozen fingers. My coldest…

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Posted on May 30, 2013 04:26 PM

“Red-pointing is easy because you can just have another go – where is the challenge in that”?
True, by definition redpointing allows another go, it’s hardly comparable to a competition event with one attempt only at a time and place out of your control, or even to an onsight out on a cliff of your choice. But redpointing is an altogether different challenge. In some cases the outcome is a foregone conclusion, success will come given time, but the climber is perhaps not seeking his…

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Posted on May 25, 2013 02:21 PM

Choosing a name is always tricky. My latest project was a route out of and then back into the classic Malham 8c ‘Batroute’. But since I’ve spent a good deal of my time on various routes at Malham, including this one, hanging upside down by my toes perhaps the name of ‘Batman’ should have come straight away.
But grading is harder. Not so important for me to put a number on it as I have nothing left to prove, except that I’m not totally over the hill, but perhaps that’s only…

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Posted on May 22, 2013 05:12 PM

“It’s all down to motivation”; Ben Moon’s wise words from the TV series Pennine rock. Motivation is the most important strength, but it’s hard to measure, and isn’t always where you’d expect to find it. Success is a great motivator, success in the form of ‘to become successful’, not as in ‘having already succeeded’. The potential of success is what really drives us forward, pushing us to raise our game and make it happen. During actual redpoints there could be many failures,…

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It’s only a game?

Posted on May 21, 2013 04:02 PM

Redpointing. It’s all about the journey. It’s only a game. It might only be a game, but are we just playing with it, or is it playing with us? If it’s only a game then it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. It’s just about the taking part.
I was thinking that, until it got close.
Then it was more than a game.
If I list the 10 most important events of my entire life, probably 4 will be redpoint ascents! This is no game!

I returned to Malham on a bad…

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Is it not meant to be

Posted on May 19, 2013 05:28 PM

“Climbing is about the process. Take a long look at your definition of success; is it only about rattling a chain? If you can afford to let a few get away then it’s likely that your climbing will be a richer and more rounded experience.”
Did I really write this? I read it in my article in CLIMB 99 recently, so I guess I did. Final success is only part of the journey, but to be fair, it’s fairly important. On my most recent project I’m all over it, it’s within reach, I don’t…

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Cop Out Project.

Posted on May 03, 2013 04:32 PM

Picture – Keith Sharples

It feels like the window is closing now. Yesterday at Malham it was too hot to even be there, never mind climb! Conditions got better later, but not great, and nothing like what we have been spoilt with for a few months now. I broke a foothold off my project too.
But the project has changed! The Easy Easy is too hard for now, up Raindogs, the Rainshadow crux and then the 8c+ new climbing section before the 8a of Batroute finish. I won’t do it before I…

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Easy Easy Project

Posted on April 10, 2013 06:43 PM

La Dura Dura (hard hard) is truly amazing. I had a look at it a while back (from the ground) while Chris was working it. There was no point doing more than looking. A taste of the future and inspiration for us all. The fact that Chris got this is really motivating, achieving what he thought was out of his depth.
I’m out of my depth on a much easier project (The Easy Easy Project). Slow progress. Progression on sport routes tends to follow a flattening curve, and in the ideal world you’ll…

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New trainiing venue

Posted on April 01, 2013 03:22 PM

With all these training venues opening up, myself and Gaz Parry checked out a new building that is being converted into a training centre. Close to the city centre (a big city too!), and also close to an established climbing wall, this will be a major addition!!

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Spain just 2 hours away.

Posted on March 30, 2013 02:52 PM

Joe Cook Redpointing Bat Route

Zero degrees, cloudy and a biting wind didn’t inspire as we bundled into the car clad in duvets and hats, But 2 hours later it was T-shirt and shorts and glorious sunshine. Yet again Malham Cove comes up trumps. It must have been the nicest place in the UK on Thursday. Perfectly orientated to catch all of the sun and be sheltered from all of the wind being there feels like you have cheated the winter!
Joe Cook redpointed Bat Route, must have been his…

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How far can you go?

Posted on March 20, 2013 09:39 PM

A taster of Climb magazine number 99 that I have just written, it just seemed pretty relevant right now, with getting stuck into something really hard. I’ve been pushing to my limits for a long time now. But are they my limits? Where is the limit? A true limit can only be found with failure. So far on my redpoint projects I haven’t failed! I’ve invested heavily in things that looked unlikely, only for the stars to align and award me my prize. If I’m not trying something where I believe…

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Finding the balance?

Posted on March 13, 2013 05:13 PM

How far can you go? And how for is too far? Massive questions. I’ve just written about this for CLIMB 99. It follows on from how far can WE go in CLIMB 98. That refers to the ‘we’ as in humans – where are our limits, and where are we going in the near future. Again, big questions. Incredibly interesting, but at the end of the day, just that: interesting. How far can you and I go are far more important. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and to be honest the CLIMB article I wrote is…

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Out Of Balance

Posted on March 05, 2013 08:37 PM

My posture could be better! But it’s nothing like as bad as some peoples, with their shoulders hunched over and their arms dragging along the floor. Still, I thought it was time I had an body MOT, and went to see Tim of Peak Pro Fitness ( I expected he’d point out what I already knew, but within 3 seconds he highlighted a lack of reach due to overdeveloped muscles around my pelvis. My leg raising ability may…

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Argentina Pix

Posted on February 23, 2013 05:43 PM

Seems like a long time now since I was climbing on sun-kissed rock in Argentina. As a nice reminder my friend Will Hummel sent through some cool pix he took of me out there. Nice to have a pro take some great shots. These are on an 8b I onsighted and a hard one apparently. For me its rare to get action shots of the real thing, the camera is usually pointing in the direction of the real stars, so these round off a great trip. Thanks Will

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Roach Abbey

Posted on February 18, 2013 04:24 PM

The busiest spot around Sheffield? Maybe it was this weekend! Busiest and smallest, but a great concentration of problems on good rock, and soaked in February sunshine! My first outdoor climbing of 2013! Bad show really, but I’ve clocked up plenty of setting/coaching/writing in the last month as well as some great sledging and two quality igloos in the garden. It was worth saving the first day out for it to be such a good one. Waddage team to show me the ropes including Neil Mawson, Jordan Buys,…

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Wrong tools

Posted on January 28, 2013 04:16 PM

A less than ideal top out on a boulder in the Peaks!
Sometimes you have to know when to give in and try something different. Swapping 5.10 sticky rubber and chalk for crampons and axes is the way forward!

But its getting warm now, My lovely igloo in the garden is a heap of slush. Soon be out on the rock again!

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Best of both worlds

Posted on January 26, 2013 12:25 AM

When you are five years old snow means tons of fun and snowmen, 6-10 means sledging, 10-15 a day off school, 15-20, no big deal, above that a pain in the backside! Snow for me is frustrating, as I all I can see is skiing, or my lack of it. So with the peak smothered I had a plan. Drive out to the bottom of a 2 mile sloping track I’d spied. Park the car, get the bike out, lock it to a post, then back in the car to drive round to the top of the track up on the moors and park it there and leave…

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Petzl Rock Trip – Piedra Parada.

Posted on December 01, 2012 06:27 PM

Petzl Rock Trip – Piedra Parada.

For the last couple of years the Petzl Rock Trips have just been getting bigger and better. There was Mexico in 2010, that was incredible, and last year the trip to China was on a whole new level, shocking the climbing world not just with the scale of the event, but also with the venue they had discovered and developed for the climbing world. There didn’t seem much room to move after that, but somehow they pulled it out of the bag!

The area known…

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A ray of hope.

Posted on October 09, 2012 04:26 PM

But no spotlight on the climbing! Nothing to report, zero, zip, zilch! A country of wetness! Having now cancelled two trips to Pembroke, three to Yorkshire and a weekend in the lakes in the last month I’m starting to go insane. Drilling a hole in my finger that needed 10 days of recovery around the only dry few days didn’t help either. Yet another route setting injury, a bent screw causing my impact driver to fly off just as I was shoving hard to place a screw-on; PZ2 straight into the tip!

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Mecca Re – extended!

Posted on October 08, 2012 04:51 PM

Photo - Alistair Lee - a while ago!

A route with history comes full circle! Mecca is one of the most sought after hard sport routes in the Peak. 8b+ and a hard one, the first ascent by Basher in 1986 was done after a massive siege on his last day before emigrating! Now climbed with knee pad technology its bottom of the grade, though the old skool still leave the pad on the ground and slap they way up the groove the hard way.
But however you claw your way to the chains, they are still…

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Rainbow Bridge

Posted on September 11, 2012 02:35 PM

We travel the world in search of beauty only to miss what is right in front of our nose.

I’m guilty of this. There is so much to do in the UK. Yesterday I arrived back from working in Exeter to find a new copy of CLIMB had landed and in it an article selling me the climbing around the Berry Head area. The DWS traverse Rainbow Bridge was the recommended choice, but as with most climbing, the salesman’s pitch is never enough to do justice to a route unless you have already done it! Luckily…

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Doctors Orders

Posted on August 16, 2012 04:23 PM

Picture - good training for mono’s - but which one? Some crazy bouldering off the beach at Cala Luna, Sardinia

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. As the old saying goes. I’ve been having 2 just to make sure with an occasional apple pie for good measure. Doctor’s orders were a month off to rest the finger, followed by a few weeks gentle introduction. That should coincide with the injection effects wearing off and hopefully everything will have settled down.
A month off…

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Finger Injuries!

Posted on July 20, 2012 03:07 PM

I think I’ve had my fair share of dodgy fingers. It’s not surprising really. In fact actually what IS surprising is that climbers fingers aren’t broken all the time considering what we put them through. Pulleys are the common injury. A2 the norm, with an A1 or A3 feeling the strain now and again. I had a nasty one a few years ago, but no snappage, just a sore spot, nothing that a bit of ice couldn’t sort out. Tendon injuries are maybe worse. Last year the attachment point in the end of…

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Hunting for Darkness!

Posted on July 19, 2012 01:48 PM

I’m not a gear freak! Never have been. Before the glory days of getting kit from Petzl, all my stuff was ‘found’. An entire rack of wires plucked from placements that seconds had failed to negotiate, and a set of quickdraws from the bottom of the Verdon Gorge. Clothes were charity shop and harness was hand me down!
But being an engineer I have an eye for something well made. I can see quality and technology.
I’m blown away by the progression of lighting. Petzl has always been…

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They Think its all over ….

Posted on July 14, 2012 05:45 PM

But its not yet! Not for a while I’m hoping.

A grapevine. Amazing how they grow, often hard to even find the start and then they extend and twist and turn without warning or reason. A good name for a spread of gossip. I’ve had a few injuries this year, a bad knee from a stupid stunt leaping off a chocolate bar, and a pair of dodgy fingers from route setting, one smashed into a hold, the other pulled on too hard! It set me back a little, but then where I’m climbing (my max) and in…

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Ten Years of Partying (and some climbing!)

Posted on July 05, 2012 06:42 PM

When Petzl put together their first Roc Trip I doubt they would know where it was going! The format may have changed a little, but the underlying principles remain intact; climbers like to climb, travel, meet people and party!
The Party has just got better and better. Mexico was wild, China immense, and this year, teaming up with The Natural Games again, the party was actually a festival! There must have been 15000 people there, three nights of awesome music, films and boulder competitions.…

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Posted on June 24, 2012 03:58 PM

Picture - just a part of the massive outdoor climbing complex in Singapore. It may not be real rock, but at least it’s dry!

1am. Time to get up. That’s what my head says anyway. Its 8am in Singapore. Juat a day or so I’d be up and about now. Out there its hot, sweaty and could well be raining. And there is pretty much no rock at all, with just one quarry that makes Horeshoe look like a premier crag! However, I’m missing it, since the chance of climbing there seems considerably…

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home from home

Posted on June 07, 2012 04:20 PM

The Frankenjura is famous for its pockets. My worst style. I’ve been putting a visit off for years. So have many British climbers, as we don’t have any pockets in the UK, and of course we don’t want to get shut down on holiday! But some knowledge for the British sport climber; check out the pic below. Is that something familiar? Could it be the Cheedale Cornice? Walking in with Neil Mawson we could not believe our luck, Frankenjura grades are supposed to be stiff, but here we were as good…

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Disaster in Frankenjura

Posted on June 02, 2012 04:49 PM

There are two things that make The Frankenjura famous. Monos and cakes. These two things represent the extremes of my most feared and most loved things in the world. So I guessed a trip here would work out about even when combining the two, and I didn’t actually have to pull on monos as there is always an easier way round the back.

So game on! Spoon at the ready. Five days was going to be plenty. But day one started badly, flying in after lunch time and going direct to cliff but with…

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Posted on April 21, 2012 04:03 PM

Chocolate and climbing. My two big passions. Perhaps best kept separate, but I couldn’t resist a chance of combing the two!

Actually I always combine the two, with some kind of chocolate always in the bag of essential climbing kit, but when I got asked to come and climb a tower made of chocolate with a chocolate waterfall I wasn’t going to refuse! The latest attraction at Alton Towers was a climbing tower modelled on the famous Rocky Bar, if you know these you’ll know they are pretty…

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New Climbing Wall in Sheffield.

Posted on April 16, 2012 04:37 PM

But don’t get too excited, unless you are five years old and live in S10!

I built a traversing wall at Westways Primary School over the Easter holidays. Entreprise gave me a great deal on their holds and I set about creating a few traverse routes on their natural stone outdoor wall. Routes tested by my daughter.

Four challenges 1/rainbow. 2/yellow. 3/blue and purple. 4/brick edge only. The brick edge traverse is nails. If any of you kids manage it then I’m well impressed!

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Lifetime ambition.

Posted on April 02, 2012 02:43 PM

OK, so blog efforts have been poor for a while! But there are reasons for that, which I will go into later. But basically a combination of being too busy and too injured has meant that I have done nothing of interest for an eternity. But what exactly is interesting anyway, and what is the point of writing a blog in the first place? A spray to the world, a sponsorship obligation, or keeping in contact with all your mates in one hit. Maybe the latter sounds best, but it could be even more, like…

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Top weather on top

Posted on March 19, 2012 03:04 AM

The summit of Snowdon last week. While most of the country sat in drizzle including Llanberis, the tops were out for a sun tan!

Worth a cycle ride – up the railway path, then along the Snowdon Ranger Path, awesome descent, bit of a slog up with about 900m height gain but worth it.

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winter is here at last

Posted on February 04, 2012 04:39 PM

As in a winter that is any use to us. Us being climbers. So far its been no use to anyone, last year it was good for kids building snowmen and good business for sledge sellers. At last we have those cold clear crisp days where you remember what the gritsone was invented for. More used to warmer days it feels like cheating! Jerry’s traverse easier than it’s ever felt, even the drop down traverse a path. But the big sloper slappy stuff I still can’t do, that takes a little getting used to,…

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Posted on January 17, 2012 05:06 PM

Image - Jen Randal. TCA Glasgow

I recently went through some time travel which was interesting. Leaving home on Friday at 6am, I arrived back Sunday 4pm but seemed to have been away for a whole week! I was up at the new mega wall in Glasgow. This isn’t a plug for them, but just an observation about how the standards of indoor bouldering venues have risen so much recently. With the Works in Sheffield setting the bar so high, it’s been a tough act to follow. TCA hits the mark!

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Costa Blanca

Posted on December 02, 2011 05:44 AM

Pic - Alex at Cabezon onsighting 8a

A perfect recipe needs all the right ingredients. Miss some out and what you get might still be good but not quite right. The perfect climbing trip needs a lot of ingredients to come together. Good climbing most important, but feels empty without good people, beautiful surroundings and a comfy place to crash.
The Costa Blanca was my first Spanish climbing venue, back in 1985 when I was still at school and had no idea of sport tactics; it was double…

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Stars Shining at Kendal

Posted on November 23, 2011 05:53 PM

As a kid, in fact even as an adult, I looked up to the stars of the climbing world. Then slowly, as you meet them you realise they are actually normal people. It’s almost a surprise! Ben Moon is Human!
But some stars remain up there, and even when you get to know them well, there is still just something about them that sets them apart. I can be having a totally normal conversation about something totally normal, but there is something else, a depth of history surrounding us like a mist.…

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Jet Lag

Posted on November 02, 2011 04:28 PM

I’ve just had a new experience. Coming back from a trip away to find the weather at home better than where I have just been. (exclude Norway from that!). I’m a day into the UK from China. But don’t get me wrong, China was awesome, and good climbing weather too, I just didn’t coincide my trip with the sunny days that they usually have at this time of year. And it’s sunny here. I went straight out to the peaks, and then realised I was totally jet lagged and totally useless! 8 hours sleep…

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Lost In Translation

Posted on October 30, 2011 03:44 PM

From the first moment that I stumbled under the arch and pretty much fell over at the scale I’ve wanted to climb a multi-pitch. The challenge is pretty obvious, to climb all the way up, the short hard routes on the side being hard, but relatively, short! Though not exactly short at all, it’s just this place is ridiculous! The Petzl heroes have put in an insane effort to put up a bunch of multi-pitch routes through the most ridiculous terrain, the two that stand out being Dani’s project,…

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Last day of noodles

Posted on October 29, 2011 08:12 AM

Photo - John Evans

yesterday was another good day. Amazing climbing on tufas and stalagtites. As usual its taken the whole trip to get my form together, or maybe its more in the head? I managed another 8b onsight, and feel like I’m just getting warmed up. But today is my last day here, my last day in China and my last day of Chinese food. The food bit I have been loving, looking forward to every evening for a pile of rice and noodles and loads of different stuff. But this morning…

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Banyangs Cave

Posted on October 28, 2011 09:38 AM

Picture - John Evans. The 8b Treblinca

Petzl Rock Trip 2011. Getu valley. There must be more limestone here than the whole of the UK put together! But the really crazy thing is the variation in styles. There just seems to be everything plus more other styles you didn’t know existed. The world of slopers was totally crazy, but pretty close to on-sight hell, certainly for me anyway. And also not red-point heaven either requiring large biceps and shoulders that God forgot to give me.

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A View of China

Posted on October 27, 2011 11:33 AM

Bits of rock can look pretty much the same, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Big features, crazy formations, caves, pinnacles, whatever; up close and pulling hard, rock is rock. In a place like China you need to escape the system and explore the view, just to know where you are, or you might as well have stayed home!

Petzl needed some filming for their new helmets and reverse 4, the stuff needed for a multi pitch. I was called in, partner to be Stephanie Bodet. Hardly a work…

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Off The Scale!

Posted on October 25, 2011 08:01 PM

Dani Andrada Lost in an upside down sea of Tufas. Same image, different zoom!

China. A country just over the edge of the radar. A little exploration here and there. But it is vast, and only just opening up. Are we in for a surprise as the view unfolds! People talk of our rock running out, but here in China we have not even begun. The Petzl rock trip is beginning at the area of Getu, a national park, only opened up maybe 10 years ago. Before that the only eyes that passed over the mind blowing…

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It’s Not Worth It

Posted on October 20, 2011 03:37 PM

It always seems its worth risking it though! Until the risk doesn’t pay off. Could be scary trad routes or crossing a busy road in a rush. Or in my case recently, having a finger injury and assuming it would just go away, and then pulling far too hard on a tiny crimp, and then ensuring the outcome by simultaneously having both feet skid off. Unfortunately my only real strength: tenacity, was against me! And so I hung on when anybody else would have been off. At least I did the route.


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A week down the dale

Posted on September 09, 2011 04:18 PM

Pic - Dreadnaught, back in 1999ish. The way to do the crux! (keith sharples)

A certain Climbing wall cancelled me last minute leaving me out of pocket but richer in terms of time. The place to be at the moment in the Peak is The Cornice. It is completely dry, and misses any sunshine so is in great condition. Over the last month it’s been all action down the dale! I had a week free to sample the delights.

Kristian Clemmow is the dude down there. Responsible for much cleaning and…

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Flat Fun

Posted on September 05, 2011 09:24 PM

It’s not all about climbing! For a complete break from the vertical Norfolk is maybe the best bet, or second behind Holland. A bunch of us went down for the amazing Greenfest; beach action, camping within 5 mins of the sea, and some awesome music and partying. This is just a big-up to Gaz and Paula for looking after the possie in every way possible…..

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Posted on August 22, 2011 02:12 PM

Image taken by Ian Parnel

Sheffield + Kids + Job + broken house + Trad is a bad equation, especially if the grit doesn’t really do it for you. Replace ‘Trad’ with ‘Sport’ and it just about works out if you’re keen. But the trad beckons, and after a weekend in The Lakes I was as keen as ever! So a family trip to Pembroke, with much beach action and chilled camping, was always going to be a bit of a battle of logistics to squeeze in a few routes. Ian Parnel was also there…

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Shoveling in the Lakes

Posted on August 16, 2011 05:22 PM

photo - keith Sharples. Euology Direct

When is a job not a job? Keith Sharples needed photos for his calendar and, with Petzl sponsoring a page (or month) I was requested to hang around and attempt to look good. That’s the skill of the photographer, but I did my hair and ironed my boxers before we drove over to The Lakes for a quick hit with 5.10 hero Mark Buzby.

Keith’s style is pretty chilled, a kind of ‘you climb what you want and I’ll take some shots’ type approach.…

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Norway Sport

Posted on August 11, 2011 05:31 PM

I’ve been to Norway about 5 times and it’s always been sunny. So I just assumed that it was always like that. Though clearly this is not the case, as we were to find out. Myself, Neil Mawson, Charlie Woodburn and Liam Halsey had big ideas on Kjerag but plans were frantically changed as my assumed 8 days of sun were drenched with a forecast showing mainly black clouds and blue spots coming out of them, and mainly three spots, which is not good. The window of white clouds was right at the start…

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Posted on July 29, 2011 03:11 PM

The first time I set eyes on Kjerag I knew I wanted to climb it. Perhaps the world’s most famous BASE jumping cliff, this 1000m vertical wall rising straight out from the sea was just asking to be climbed. In most cases dreams like this remain dreams, with logistics, finances and life in general standing firmly in the way, but this time I had my hand held. The Norwegians are such a friendly bunch, and on-it with their organising. As soon as I said I was keen all I had to do was find a window.

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Posted on July 02, 2011 03:04 PM

Climbers are an obsessed type of people. We’d climb every day if we could. Having a family pushes me into doing stuff that maybe I wouldn’t otherwise do, like holidays to places where there is no climbing.

This is no bad thing. There is way more to life than climbing, and actually I’d probably be rather sad if at the end of my days all I can see over my years is a load of crimps and slopers. Anyway, we need the odd rest too. So I was more than pleased to be heading off to Crete,…

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The Traverse of the Gods

Posted on June 07, 2011 03:18 PM

Or the God Of all Traverses? I’m not the fittest of climbers, but it’s not often that I turn up at a cliff and only manage one route before crawling off exhausted! But the mega traverse at Craig-y-Longridge is way longer than the average route!

Craig-y-Longridge is one of those places that as a climber you just have to visit. Maybe not the most amazing cliff, but it’s got history and a share of fame. It was almost lost recently before the good old BMC bought it for us! I was on a…

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The Quarry Man

Posted on May 31, 2011 02:28 AM

Photo - Tim Glasby

This route is the stuff of legends! And climbed by the legend Johnny Dawes. Blasted into fame in the film Stone Monkey with a Zappa sound track that elevated the route above every other in the quarries. Even the simple name blatantly indicates that this isn’t just another slab or wall. This is THE masterpiece, climbing out from the biggest hole via the biggest challenges.
I’ve wanted to try it for years, but it’s not something to casually walk up to. For…

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Posted on May 30, 2011 04:31 AM


Last week the Marmot team held a Rock Trip style event over in North Wales. I’m in a privileged position to be invited on something like this. Top climbers coming together from around the world to sample some of the world’s best climbing. Sure we had work to do, product testing and photos, but the main concern was going climbing.
On the way the weather looked sketch. I rang ahead, useful contacts living in Llanberis. Jim let me know it was pouring in the Pass so we…

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Posted on May 18, 2011 02:46 PM

A progression was evident at Malham yesterday, in various forms. Some small, some large! Yesterday I was back on this new line I’ve been trying. It’s becoming a fitness thing. The moves way up high are still desperate, almost at my bouldering limit, and that is after 9a’s worth of climbing. But I got a new high point, 3 moves or so higher than before, and I also matched my own previous high point again. So a small progression, but still a bunch more to go. But the pleasing thing was being…

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Malham (Again)

Posted on May 17, 2011 03:30 AM

Lucky for us this is such a good cliff, as we don’t have that many world class sport venues. This isn’t Spain. But we do have a few. This is the most important confirmation Adam Ondra has made, the fact that he’s returned for a second week means he must like it here, after all, he could go anywhere in the world for sure.

At last he repeated Overshadow and I think reckoned it was a hard 9a+. 7 days of effort confirmed what I always thought, it’s just a hard route to do! That sounds…

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Witches Point

Posted on May 06, 2011 04:47 AM


You know those kind of days that just work out great. Something unexpected that turns a normal, run of the mill, nothing exciting kind of day into something a bit more special!
Setting for the Leading Ladder this year in Cardiff with Rob Napier was pretty hard work. We left Sheffield at 7am on Thursday and worked solid till after 9pm. Next day we were on the ropes again early, and testing hard all afternoon, tweeking the 7c’s and 8a and 8b. A tough day, but we got ahead of ourselves…

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All My Eggs In One Basket

Posted on April 25, 2011 02:04 PM

Happy Easter. This might be a time of the year that you celebrate, or a weekend the same as any other. For me there is little difference, in fact a period to avoid being away with the crowds. But I notice it by the amount of chocolate eggs that seem to come my way, not that I’m complaining! This year was a very happy Easter for many as the sun shone. Just a few years ago it was snowing at Easter! The sun is great, but not for hard climbing.

It seems traditionally I seem to end up at Malham…

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Kick Back

Posted on April 23, 2011 04:30 PM

Did you notice when the UK slipped south? Or maybe the sun moved. It got hot, and our spring passed in a week. Winter direct to summer. The entire population of the UK is happy as for once sunshine coincides with a holiday! But behind the chilled sunbathing lies an uncomfortable suspicion – what does this mean? The last 3 years were the same and it just meant the winter came early. Or could this be different? Maybe its like this now till December.

Actually I hope not, sorry to be miserable,…

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Quantums make a leap and Hornets make a buzz.

Posted on March 29, 2011 04:01 AM

Quantums make a leap and Hornets make a buzz.

Mile End Boot Demo was busy. Every year it is. But this year there was a bit of a stir around the 5.10 stand as the new range of shoes stepped out with their stand out colours. They were flying off the counter. These new tweaked Anasazi lasts have a down-turned toe but a host of other features, and everyone was impressed.

Next Demo is at Birmingham Redpoint 9th April. Full new range there.

I gave them a blast on the wall again,…

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Route Setting that I want to do!

Posted on March 02, 2011 04:51 AM

The mens final, the easy start with a very long way to go!

Route setting can be tough work. But when the wall is awesome I can’t complain. I was setting for the Norwegian Cup last weekend with Rob Napier. The cup was at the city of Stavanger on the west coast, at one of the biggest walls I have ever seen. There are barely any climbers here too. This is often the case, with most of the Norwegian walls being amazing, way better than we have here in England, and designed around spectacular…

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Its not over..

Posted on February 22, 2011 05:12 AM

picture - Micheal Madera. Project 1 above Rainshadow!!

New lines in England are hard to find. There are last great problems here and there, but not in abundance, not like 20 years ago. In the sport world I’ve been lucky, really lucky. And I feel incredibly privileged to have had a run at some of the very best and hardest projects in the country. Many of these were prepared by others, laid on a plate for me, and even made famous before I knew what a quickdraw was! Northern Lights, Rainshadow,…

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Summer has arrived

Posted on February 10, 2011 06:10 PM

pic - Alex missing out allthe hard moves on Airline, 8a

Or so it seemed, why else would the thermometer say 25degrees! But it was still only February 8th. A dream for most, blazing sunshine, five days in a row without a cloud or a breath of wind. But you can’t please everyone, and I couldn’t help but let out a little whinge as I slipped off the last moves of Blomu, a 35m 8c+ at Santa Linya. The route bakes in the sun from the moment it rises to the moment it sets, and I was not keen…

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When its bad its bad

Posted on January 21, 2011 03:54 AM

But when its good its really good. Caff high on Mint400 just about to make the crux move to safety

Sheffield weather! Cold, snowy, damp, humid, foggy or just torrential rain is pretty common around this time. But it can be awesome, maybe the variation is worth having, just to appreciate how good it is when it is good.
This last week has been a breath of fresh air, literally, after a soggy start to the year. Monday started OK, then Tuesday dawned clear, and it just got better. Stanage…

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Pull your finger out

Posted on December 21, 2010 05:01 PM

way back in June I tweaked my middle finger pulling on a mono on an indoor boulder problem. It felt bad, pretty much straight away, and instantly confirmed to me that pulling on monos is basically wrong. It didn’t bang though, and I figured it would fix pretty fast, they usually do. But this one was a collateral ligament strain, and it got worse since I didn’t rest it properly.
Eventually, 3 months later all I could do was pull on indoor jugs. Open handing hurt, crimping was…

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Gran Canaria

Posted on December 09, 2010 07:20 AM

For the past lots of years I’ve managed a late-in-the-year trip for a week in December; late enough to be happy with slipping completely into the Christmas binge when I get back, and early enough to just about maintain motivation to keep fit once it gets dark and rainy every day in Britain. Without a trip at this time, come October my motivation to climb indoors and maintain some resemblance of fitness plummets to below zero.
With flights at a mere £100 and a forecast of a sunny 20 degrees…

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Prepare for a six pack

Posted on November 27, 2010 04:53 AM

Just a quick heads up for the Arch Climbing Wall in London. I don’t normally mention climbing walls, not my favourite places and I spend far too much time putting holds on them, however, the brand new roof area at the Arch is pretty unique. About 15m long and very wide, each route (because they can’t be called boulder problems!) is maybe 35 moves long. And there is a lot of spinning around in the roof and keeping your feet on. Abb work out guarenteed! Opens Saturday 4th

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Petzl Rock Trip - Mexico

Posted on November 10, 2010 04:46 AM

photo - John Evans

As a fine wine gains in taste and quality, so do the Petzl Rock Trips! There have been some pretty good ones; Red River, Kalymnos and Squarmish; all fantastic and each a trip of a life-time, but this year Petzl really extended themselves with a rollercoaster ride to Mexico!

Four months ago I trashed a ligament in my finger. Since then I barely climbed, and the concept of mixing it with the Petzl heroes didn’t appeal. But how could I not go, how often would I…

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Crying Out To Be Done

Posted on October 21, 2010 03:40 AM

The last route I did at Malham last year at about the same time as this was Cry Freedom. Hard for its 8b+ number, certainly for the short. It follows an obvious line via an amazing section of climbing, it’s long and sustained. Then right at the top the route breaks out from the overlap feature via a desperate bouldery crux that is massively stretchy. Scraping my way through this last year I glanced out left at the obvious continuation along the overlap and into Predator (8b). It would make a…

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Posted on September 30, 2010 04:01 PM

If Carlsberg did route setting jobs – then they must have organised my most recent work!

Myself and Rob Napier were out in Norway route setting on the brand new wall in the town of Stavanger. At 850 square metres it’s pretty big, but it’s not just big, it’s impressive. In the UK there is a tendency too build walls with the emphasis on packing as many people in as possible. Surfaces are vertical and unimaginative with cost holding down the creativity. I can see why, most people climb…

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Danish cakes

Posted on September 12, 2010 03:03 PM

I’m sat on an SAS flight on my way back home from Denmark, part one of three from Aarhus going via Copenhagen and Aberdeen to Manchester. Another re-route and going down as a record 3 out of 4 seriously disrupted SAS flights in only a month! But anyway I look a little out of place, sat in my red Marmot powerstretch, surrounded by grey suited business men on their commute to their desk. At least the re-route led to an upgrade, and sat in ‘economy extra’ I was treated to a few breakfasty…

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Norwegian Rock Master

Posted on September 01, 2010 02:11 PM

picture - Ivo Ninov - Five Ten

The Nordic countries are awesome, and the people are always super nice. This year I’ll be in Denmark twice and Norway twice, mainly for work, but way back in February I was invited to take part in the Norwegian Rock Masters Competition.

So my level of psyche has varied a lot! Of course I was keen, it’s Norway, it’ll be great, but hang on, the wads are going, and anyway I hate comps, maybe not for me!! But it’s on real rock and sounds chilled!…

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Posted on August 22, 2010 04:28 PM

Picture - Pleasure Dome. Keith Sharples Photography

This last month has been mental, ridiculously busy. I’ve had a weeks holiday in Cornwall, a week coaching in Denmark, Route setting in London and Derby, a few days 1-1 coaching, a weekend in Pembroke, a few days sightseeing in London, some friend visits, a few days at my parents, loads of parties and just basically loads of stuff. It’s been great, even though the weather has been a bit rubbish.

It went rubbish on the 12th July.…

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Nordic Youth Camp.

Posted on August 07, 2010 09:21 PM

My work is pretty varied, and it takes me all over the place. Some is good, some is not as good. But for the good stuff Denmark is way up there. I’ve been four times now and every time has been a pleasure. I’ve coached, lectured, set indoor routes and helped clean new outdoor lines. The Nordic Youth Camp this year was awesome. Set on the small island of Bornholm, there are kids from Denmark, Sweden and Iceland; they are keen, and climbing well! It’s a big event, spread over more than a week,…

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Posted on July 29, 2010 04:49 PM

Mike cruising the E5 ‘Black Magic’

compromise - Not my favourite word, but a poor understanding of the word will lead to a sticky end! I learnt more about this word when I had a kid.
I’m in Cornwall now, a few days by the sea surrounded by beautiful coastline, the landscape criss-crossed with deep cut single lane roads. The sun is even shining. Pentire Head is only 5 miles away, but with the family here there is no chance of a route – or is there? Luckily I came with…

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A boulder Problem.

Posted on July 19, 2010 04:02 AM

But 140 moves long! That’s pretty long! But never more than about a meter off the ground, with a perfect landing for the majority of the way, flat and grassy. It’s the ultimate boulder traverse, if you like your routes, with the crux coming after about 100 moves and each attempt taking over 25 minutes!
I talked about this traverse a few weeks ago. Paul Smitton first did the huge traverse across ‘Dog’s Dinner Buttress’ just opposite the Peak’s Cheedale Cornice about a month ago…

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Posted on July 16, 2010 03:33 PM

The team gathered on Saturday morning and boarded their coach. 24 climbers, including some of Britain’s best, Nick Sellars, Ryan Pasquil, Neil Mawson, Paul Smitton, Sam Whittaker and Myself. That’s a fair collection of E9’s and 8c’s in there. The destination? Not a day’s climbing! Too hot for that, and way too humid. Instead it was an all day dance festival – ‘Cocoon in the park’. After last years great success it was back again, but bigger and better, with thousands of like minded…

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A new skill

Posted on July 09, 2010 02:04 PM

I’ve been working on and off at this for years and never quite managed to be any good at it. Doing nothing!! I find it desperate. I like to be doing stuff and this is lucky as it burns off the 10000 calories of chocolate I eat for breakfast. However I thought I’d put the effort in and go on a ‘doing nothing’ training camp. A week beach holiday to Minorca. No climbing at all, no hills to run up, and loads of beaches, kids to look after, food to eat and beer to drink.
It looked scary!…

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