Thursday, 12 March 2015

Grit, Sandstone and Scottish Mixed

Its been an interesting last month, climbing classic gritsone arete's, old school offwidths, tehnical sandstone walls and mixed scottish routes.

The last 10 days I've spent up north with my first visit to the quiet county of Northumberland. This is a place I've always been keen to visit and finally got round to going. Its a beautiful area of rolling hills, forests, very few people and stunning sandstone cliffs. 
We checked out 3 of the main cliffs in the area Bowden Doors, Back Bowden and Kyloe in the woods each one with its own unique style.

Bowden doors is the archetypal sandstone crag in the area with great routes and bouldering of all grades. Here we did a bit of the bouldering and some of the classic trad routes up the amazing wave featured wall including The Wave (E5 6a) and The Mantra (E3 6a).

Back Bowden is a hidden away cliffs in a quiet valley with some quality lines on great sandstone. Managed the classic line of The Tube (E4 5c), the steep Lost Cause (E4 6b) and the bold On the Rocks (E7 6c). The latter taking a spicy fall on!

And finally Kyloe, which is a bouldering venue tucked away in a huge forest. Here we managed some great problems.

Narcissus (E6 6b) at Froggat edge

Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy V7 Kyloe in the Woods

On the Rocks (E7 6c) Back Bowden

Kyloe bouldering

Born Lippy V11, Bowden Doors
Kyloe classic

Sentinal crack (E3 5c) at Chatsworth crag

'Use your feet, like your hands' crux of Sentinal

And here's the latest footage! 

And if you missed this check out My feature on Epic TV recently!

After three days in the County I made my way up further north and into Scotland with an organised week with PYB of winter climbing in Glencoe and the Cairngorms. Winter climbing is something I’ve been extremely keen to get into this last year or so and get a load of experience in, so there was no better place to start. I had not been to Scotland in nearly 10 years and it was great to be back to such a beautiful and wild place.

As I arrived I realised there had been a large dump of snow and so knew it was going to be a good week of proper Scottish winter climbing.

The instructor and friend from North Wales days Dave Evans was absolutely brilliant, knowing everything there is to know about winter climbing and the Scottish mountains. 
During the week we climbed 3 classic mixed routes: Scabbard Chimney V, 6 (Glencoe), Pot of Gold V, 6 and The Genie V, 6 (both Cairngorms) all in full winter conditions and on the last day due to poor weather a first experience in Drytooling on the slate quarries in Dunkeld leading some climbs up to M5. It was a week of much watching and learning from the master and am truly inspired to get a lot more done.   

Happy after our ascent of Scabbard Chimney V, 6 in Glen coe

Dave descending snow tracks

Pot of Gold V, 6 belay in Cairngorms 

The Genie V, 6 first pitch in Cairngorms

Northern Corries in Cairngorms

Perfect Winter conditions

Cairngorms walk out

Drytooling in Dunkeld slate guarry

Monday, 16 February 2015

Winter sessions

Well its been a cold few weeks in the Peak district with a fair amount of snow. Unlike last year where we didnt really get any, this winter has produced quite a bit.
More the conditions for skiing or winter climbing but we have managed to get a few things done, which has been nice if a little chilly!

First up was a day hit up to Yorkshire to the north facing Earl crag. Top of the list was the stunning line of Desert Island Arete (E6 6c).
This involves a tricky boulder to start at around V5, then you got some big breaks and good gear and a final crux off some small crimps to big horn. Its absolute belter of route and just managed to keep the fingers warm enough to both send.
The other route was Early Riser (E5 6a) up a beautiful ramp feature. This involved some unusual smeary climbing with the crux off a one finger mono to the top. Not a place to dither around.
Also had a quick play on Mind Bomb, one to return too next time.

Desert Island Arete 

Early Riser

Here's a quick video of the day!

Last weekend I was over at the Roaches and managed to do The Thin Air (E5 6a) up the Piece of Mind slab on the right hand side. Quite a sketchy slab climb involving a high rockover move and an exciting top out. A true classic of the roaches.

Piece of Mind slab

Beautiful winters day over looking Hen cloud

No one else about!

And finally, managed to get round to doing The Crypt Trip (E6 6b) up at High Neb at Stanage. A classic 80's route involving some pretty tough, very reachy moves between breaks. Awesome stuff!

And here's an edit of some highlights over the last year.
Enjoy x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Spain for New Year

It seems like the last few years I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in Spain and New Year’s is the time to go. Last Year I was up in Catalonia near Barcelona climbing at the famous Siurana crags. This year however I fancied somewhere different and a place I’ve never been too. 

So along with Ted and Haydn we decided to fly out to Alicante meet up with Jose and then drive into the hills to the tiny little picturesque village of Chulilla. This is another famous climbing area of Spain with huge limestone gorge stretching for a few kilometres with hundreds of sport routes of all grades. The routes were very long, on average about 35/40m. Some even over 50m in one rope length so stamina was the name of the game here! We spent about a week in total there climbing as many of the classic lines as possible. Mainly just having a go at everything that looked good, onsight, ground up and if you fell off straight to the ground. So it made it a good challenge! Temperatures were freezing in the shade and boiling in the sun which made it rather interesting at times! Highlights were onsighting some very long 8a’s and a load of classic 7b+ -7c+’s.

Tequilla Sunrise 7c+ 

Beautiful village of Chulilla 

Chulilla castle walls 

Mid way up a monster 8a

Chulilla gorge

Cactus and spanish villages 

Ted happy after his 8a+

From here we then drove down towards Valencia where we met up with Gaz Parry who lives out there. We were lucky enough to then join him at one of his local cliffs that he has recently developed. While he was trying his very difficult project up an amazing arĂȘte, we got stuck into some of the other routes at the cliff. One route involved an amazing long, tuffa formation which felt like you were climbing up a tree! The other a stunning diagonal feature about 30m long, which could be seen from the road. It was great to be getting some very early ascents of the routes that only a handful of people had seen.
Beautiful countryside

Cheers Ted me lad

Jose underneath Gaz's route


The final destination of the trip was around the city of Murcia which was the local area of my great friend Jose who I spent my time in South Africa with. It was great having someone so local who knew all the best places to visit. We checked out 3 very different cliffs La Boveda, Mula and Ferrari all of which had a very unique style of climbing. The cliffs were stunning the views were even better! It was an awesome trip to a beautiful part of Spain and we didn’t see a drop of rain in 2 weeks!

Van life!

Me and Jose

Another beauty!

El Boveda

No words :-)

I’m back home now and ready for some hard grit this winter! 
The First weekend turned out quite successful with two very good ascents. The first one being the incredibly stunning arete Beau Geste E7 6c up at Froggat Edge and the other a modern classic of Tom Randalls Nah'han E7/8 6b at Gardoms edge. Conditions were almsot perfect if one could keep the fingers warm as it was freezing! Hoping for more days like this ahead. Looking forward to some big plans in 2015!

High up on Beau Geste

Into the sanctuary of the crack

Taking some airtime!

Beau Geste Crux

Beau Geste Ascent 

Snowy Peak

Nah'han crux


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mallorca Deep Water solo trip

Well, what an absolute blast of a trip I’ve just been on to the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca! I remember one of the first ever climbing films that I bought over 10 years ago called Dosage II. It documented a wide range of climbing all over the world and the episode that really caught my attention was shot on the island of Mallorca showing a load of strong guys Deep Water Soloing on amazing looking cliffs above the sea.  Ever since I saw that clip I knew I just had to visit the place and try it out for myself.

DWS Team: Me, Ed and Al

Your damn right!

Over the last couple of summers I’ve got more and more excited about this weird and wonderful sport of Deep water soloing (DWS), doing a number of small trips down to the south Coast of England to try it out, such as Lulworth Cove, Swanage, Ansteys and every time I come away I want more! Its an amazing experience to be climbing free, with no ropes or harness with the ocean to catch you if you fall.

So I knew that Mallorca is the undisputed capital of DWS in the world so with time on my hands and two other partners in crime Ed and Alistair Corbett we booked our cheap Ryanair flights and off we went on a cold, wet November afternoon. After an uncomfortable two and a half hour flight across Europe we landed at the capital of the island Palma. It was dark and we picked up our bag and car hire and drove east across the island to the small town of Sa Coma on the East coast.
The following day we were greeted by beautiful sunshine and it was about 20 degrees! We coudnt get back in the car quick enough and drove the long 10minute drive down the coast to where the main cliff for DWS is on the Island called Cova del Diablo. This is the Holy Grail for DWS in the world! A pristine piece of rock architecture over 100meters in length, 18meters high and around 7-10 meters water depth. The first view of it was utterly inspiring and I quickly got my boots on and got involved! I took it fairly steady to start off with some nice easy traverses just above the ocean and then started heading upwards.  The routes felt amazing, super steep and pumpy but with huge holds all over the place for your hands and feet. Each time I reached the top of the wall I couldn’t stop smiling with excitement. It was awesome!

Highlights from Diablo: Every route! But in particular...
 In the night, every cat is black 8a, Ejector Seat 7c, Afroman 7b+, Surfin bird 7b, Iguanodon 7b, Superwomen 7a+, The Lobster 6c+, Surfin Dead 6c+, Blue Tuna 6c+.

Cova del Diablo

First day psyche

Ed on camera duty 

Our plush apartment in Sa Coma

Home from home

Basecampo at el Diablo

Corbett senior on Surfer Dead 6c+

Hamer Junior on Surfer Dead 

Freezing temps in the Med!

Me on The Lobster 6c+

Abseil swing 

Ed on the crux slap of Ejector Seat 7c

Me on the same move

So along with Diablo we also spent much time at the less intimating but stunning Cala Barques further down the coast. Here were beautiful coves and beaches with slightly smaller limestone caves and cliffs to climb on. A great place to really push yourself without being too scared of falling off! The rock was covered in amazing formations of Stalactites and tuffas designed for climbing on and some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. So the next two weeks we threw ourselves at as many routes as possible climbing some incredible lines and taking some BIG falls all with a soft landing.

Highlights from Cala Barques:
Smash it in! 8a (flash), Bandito 7c, Strangers in Paradise 7b+, Metrosexual 7a+, Big XXL 7a, The Might of the Stalactite 7a

Al on Metrosexual 7a+

Drop Shadow Diseases 6c+

Transversal 7a

Bandito 7c

Transexual 7b

Strangers in Paradise 7b+


We also managed to drag ourselves away from the sea cliffs and have a day up in the hills above Palma, checking out the premier sport crag on the island Fraguel. It did not disappoint! A clean limestone wall covered in amazing formations and with out a doubt one of the best cliffs I’ve been to in Europe. You could definitely have a great trip here just sport climbing.

All in all it was a fantastic trip and a great time to visit the island due to it being out of season and so very few tourists and even by late November the climate was still perfect being in the mid 20’s each day. Could not recommend a trip more!

Here's a couple of videos from our time out there...enjoy