Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Evolv Nexxo review by Tom Williams

With a glove like fit the Evolv Nexxo provides infinite precision and power, the notorious love bump giving comfort, yet an enormous amount of control and sensitivity. In short this is a shoe which gives an amazing amount of feedback but is still comfortable enough that you don’t want to take it off after every attempt of a problem.

This has become my ‘go to’ shoe on overhanging terrain, the power in the toe box means you can really pull with your feet. They fare well on vertical wall problems as well, not suffering with rounded knuckle box of the Shamans quite as much! The only time I’ve recently switched to my Geshidos is when it all got a bit slabby. There is ample rubber over the top of the toe making toe hooks feel incredibly easy; even the most precarious ones.

As the shoe lends itself to a lower profile foot I've found the heel has a lack of security that was found with the Shamans, this doesn't mean the heel is bad, it’s just not the same as the Shamans. This been said it never feels like it’s going to peel off, however this being said, I've spoken to other people who have absolutely no trouble with the heel. As ever, it really is a case of if the shoe fits your foot.

Ultimately the Nexxo is ‘the’ shoe in the Evolv range for me.

To see them in action check out the video below:

Sunday, 26 October 2014

So It Begins It May Be Getting Darker But The Light Is There. By Jen Wilby

Autumn is finally here, it has been taunting us over the last month or so. The leaves began to change, but few of them fell. The species known as the Boulderer, watching and waiting. It never came.

Autumn has to be the most beautiful of seasons; the colours and the dramatic change are fascinating and signal that time of the year when the nights draw in, hibernation begins and the birds leave for warmer climates. However, for the boulderer, it signals the beginning.

I’ve thought a lot about this month’s blog and whether to write what I am about to write. Most of the blogs are written with my heart on my sleeve, not registering that people actually read them. However, I am very conscious that this one is personal and very public.

I’m not aware if readers have noticed a change in the last couple of blogs, reading them back, I can see a change, and uncharacteristic one, an uncomfortable one. One which may be relevant to this forum, or not. Depends why you are reading this.

About ten years ago I was diagnosed with Depression; it was a dark, tough place. A deep, muddy, murky pit that can consume you, swamp you and take you down. Thankfully, I got myself out of that pit without any assistance medically. I have no idea how, I’m just thankful that I did. For twelve years, swimming was my life. I’d be in the pool for forty sessions a week, plus gym time and comps. This left little time for a social life outside of climbing and little time for anything else, including school work :D I loved it, I didn’t need waking up at 5am, I was up and ready to train, often having days off school (oops Mum!) so I could rest ready for the next session. School classes were sacrificed on Fridays, to ensure I was fully rested before a weekend comp. When you live by such a time specific scheduled, you know nothing else. So when this is taken away from you, you find yourself lost. With no structure or routine to guide you. That is a scary experience and can drop you deep.

Climbing played an important part in the recovery. Although boulders are static, you have to think on your feet, figure moves out when on the rock, come into contact with many different types of people and it was all about challenging yourself and having fun.

At the end of the last bouldering season, I made a decision to stick to a very specific climbing schedule. I’ve done it before, so I could do it again. The aim of this schedule was to improve my weaknesses and geshido ! (Pun totally intended).

The wheels soon fell off; I became tired of climbing, tired of training. It got to the point where I didn’t want to be near a climb, talk about climbing or look at anything climbing related. I almost hated it. This coincided with the pressures of work mounting up – it’s been manic and very time consuming. So I threw myself into work, working on an evening and during weekends, paid or not. It gave me an escape from climbing, the one thing I was trying to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, the work needed to be done and there were just not enough hours in the working day to do it all.

Climbers, by nature are obsessive. Obsessions can be positive and negative, there has to be a balance. Once I’d given up on the climbing, I became obsessed with working. This switch put me into that dark, muddy place. At the time, I’d rather have sat around doing nothing, than have anything to do with climbing. I’d gone, the soul and heart seemingly empty. This lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Unable to see the light at the end, how was I going to get out of it (once I realised I was in it!?) Starting to climb the way I was, would take a lot of hard work and commitment, I wasn’t ready to train, I wasn’t ready to be shot down on moves I used to be able to do in my sleep. What on earth had happened?

The dragon got hold, it was time to look at what I could do and what I wanted to do. It was tough, making, almost forcing myself to get out of the house and go and do some climbing, because deep down beneath the murkiness, I knew I loved it and it would work.

It was really tough, I didn’t know how my body moved, I didn’t know how to hold anything and I had zero confidence in my ability. The word is persistence; forget what you used to be able to do, forget what you want to do, persist in the moment of what you are trying to do. Back to basics. Time was spent repeating blocs and I made myself sit there and try it until I had done it. It was so hard but it would have been easier to walk away.

It’s also about surrounding yourself with people who have a positive effect on you. It’s not about all this positivity, hippy stuff, but it’s true. Try it, surround yourself with people who bring out the worst in you and you will become that person. It’s for that reason; I’m only surrounding myself with certain people. We have one life; it’s got to be an awesome ride. So take those people and that ride that you actually want to be there and who will laugh with you along the way!

It worked, and I’m back :D These experiences can consume you or you can take them and use them to have a positive, productive influence on your life. I know I love climbing, I know consuming my time with work just drops me. Change my job you say…I actually like my job, it’s just all about the balance.

My attitude now is better than it was when I went into the dark place; I now go out to climb because I want to. Not because I feel like I should. I go out and climb to try certain moves, just one, with no hope or expectation of being able to do anything. This approach has relaxed the way I climb, made it more natural, more instinctive and there is not an ounce of pressure on me, by myself or anyone else at any time; and that feels awesome.

The reason I decided to write this, is because there are so many people out there who are in that dark place, or in danger of going there, or indeed are coming out of the other side. Whether it is years, months, or weeks that have passed. I want to say to you get out, surround yourself with the good, sincere and fun eggs and you will find the light and when you do, it’s flippin awesome.

For those who’ve always had the light, think twice about what you say and how you say it. You never know what rippling effect your actions may have. Be mindful and be fun.  So next time you ask me what I got “ticked” or what’s on the “wish list” – don’t, because the only thing on the “list” is to try some stuff and have some fun. No more and no less. Let’s just see what happens :D

If you are still here, well done. I won’t apologise for the story, you chose to carry on reading. Now – if you were waiting for the climbing bit, this is a climbing blog after all, here it is. Autumn is here and it’s amazing. I described Yorkshire grit last month as being different to that of the Peak and the fact that you do not need baltic conditions to be able to climb. So this month we’ve managed to explore Brimham, Caley, and Almscliff some more. Yes, you heard me, Caley :D No matter how many times you go to the Yorkshire crags there is always something to try, unless you are Sendalottie, in which case you go around trying the things you have already done another way, whilst waiting for me to get my ass up something.

Marco's party trick:
Patta's Arete:

One thing I have loved about the last couple of weekends is getting on problems that don’t suit me – giving a greater challenge.

Trying Red Tape at Brimham Photo: Steve Honeyman

The shocker of this weekend was dragging my butt up Black Chipper Arete at Brimham. I’ve seen this loads – but always believed it to be too hard for me…well, myth busters are us!

Black Chipper Photo: Steve Honeyman
Black Chipper Photo: Steve Honeyman
Video of the ascent here:

Video of the Prow at Caley:

The result of the much improved mindset is the ability to get on anything and give it a go, no matter what the grade. That means over the last few weeks I’ve done loads of stuff I’ve not been able to do before :D That has been the reward for letting go.

With the nights drawing in there have also been some head torch sessions and Steve has managed to get some wicked photo’s

Marco on Black Chipper Sit Photo: Steve Honeyman

Photo: Steve Honeyman
There is something about being out, in the dark when the world is settling down for the evening.

The rest of the month will involve checking the weather for Font. We’ve got two weeks off and have no idea what we are doing! The forecast has looked amazing over the last week, and now shows rain for a full week, starting from when we arrive. Obviously! So we shall see what happens and go where ever the weather will allow us to climb some stuff!

What’s even more exciting than two weeks of exploring and trying stuff, is the ability to check out some of PrAna’s new Autumn / Winter gear.

Axiom Jeans

This stuff really is awesome, I know folk have said it’s too pricy, but it will last years! (Unless you slide down on your ass all the time to get off the top or rocks, then only maybe a couple of years).

Anyhew, happy climbing folks! Come and visit Yorkshire, it really has some world class problems, some, mostly friendly locals, some awesome tea shops for cake after or if your tipple is ale, some nice country pubs with the local brew on tap!

PS: Of course it is all too wet right now, awful conditions, terrible, so I wouldn’t bother.

Podey loving Caley Photo: Steve Honeyman
Photo: Steve Honeyman

Monday, 13 October 2014

Dawes Rides a Shovel Head (Alex Moore)

When I was in school (not that long ago, 3 months maybe..), we had a poster, in the outdoor education department, of Steve McClure on Dawes Rides a Shovel head E8 6c. When I first saw it, I was inspired, Steve has his heel way up high, a facial expression that showed he was trying hard and a reasonable gap between him and his gear.

"Is he worried about the fall?" I asked 

"Is he pumped?"

"Why would he not tie his shoe lace for an onsight?!"

I couldn't help but let my mind wonder, would I be scared, pumped, I didn't give a load of thought to the shoe lace thing, I wear Velcro shoes so...

Great Langdale Valley (Raven Crag on the right)
With that in mind, yesterday afternoon was an eye opener. I was at about half way up the route when I discovered that a no hands rest could be attained by standing on a good ledge and pressing your face in-between the wall and a good block hold, this rest was, at best uncomfortable, inefficient but novel. as I relaxed, around 200 medium sized fly's evacuated the gap in the block.. Id say it'll come off without too much effort. 

Once rested I moved on to the most committing and technically demanding part of the climb, as I moved off I saw one of the fly's had got out, and, almost immediately got stuck in a well placed spider web. I felt bad for the guy, 24 hours to live and he/she was facing immediate doom.

As you can tell from the tangent about fly's above, I was not in the right state of mind to be doing this, I fell above the crux, thankfully not onto the peg I had bent the week before (which I hope to replace soon). 

After the disappointment of the fall, I was annoyed with myself for going about the move in just the wrong way, having done it on gri-gri I just expected to make it, this was not the case, I fell a fair distance, albeit a safe fall. I took all the gear out but one quickdraw clipped to a piece of tat, which I used to lower off. 

Alex Moore below Thrang Quarry
 on a wet day (yet dry rock) 
My second attempt when a lot smoother, no fly's, no train of though that nobody needs to hear about, just climbing and trying to keep a cool head. At the crux I made the powerful moves with a fair amount of power scream going on, (sorry for breaking the peace at the crag). while going through the hardest move, a press into and undercut, I remembered a friend shouting "make that rock ya b***h". so, while close to laughing at that I took a rest at a good hold before making the classically pictured move to the last jugs and hard move. 

Once again the peace at the crag was broken, as I celebrated my top-out. I'm so pleased that this was my first route in the lakes, hopefully the first of many in my three years here. 

I intend to replace both the damaged peg and the cord on the route, as many more falls will likely see them break. Also the condition of this gear may put people off climbing the route, which would be a shame.        


Sunday, 5 October 2014

It's All About The Climbing - By Jen Wilby

Bloody hands forgive the pain,
To reach the top, a higher plain,
And if you fall, forget the shame,
It's all about the climbing.

Jamming pro into the crack,
pulling through the nice lieback,
Chalk and cliff bars for a snack,
It's all about the climbing.

Overhanging, painful pump,
Highball topout, then you jump,
Smack the crashpad with a thump,
It's all about the climbing.

Flag the crimper for the clip,
Oops, you're sketching, then the slip,
Just sit back and take the whip,
It's all about the climbing.

People ask just why it's done,
They don't think it looks like fun,
And my answer, there's just one:
It's all about the climbing.

Something there that drives us all,
Men and women, tall and small,
Something calls us to the wall,
It's all about the climbing.

Writing these blogs get’s harder and harder every month, mainly since I moved up North, no longer do I have the mad rush to get up North when the weather is good, no longer am I pushed for time, trying to get absolutely everything out of that one weekend, no longer do I spend 8 hours in a car, totally wrecked…all for the climbing. Now I’m here, in the heart of God’s own rock, looking out of the window to check the weather, having a lie in, deciding what to do when each day comes…life is pretty sweet and so much more chilled than it used to be, which means writing these blogs is becoming harder, it’s not that life is less entertaining than it used to be, I guess I’ve just settled…for now at least ;)

The last blog was a hard one to write due to the mixed bag of emotions that came with August, so since then I’ve taken a step back from training and taken each day as it came. Deciding whether to train and what to train, even if to train at all, on the day, rather than in advance. It’s chilled my mind out a lot more, but also put me in a state of “where is my climbing going and what do I want out of it”. This weekend was a weekend of no climbing, despite being in North Wales, it was a weekend of eating a lot of food and consuming large amounts of beer, among other things and whilst it was an awesome weekend, it got me thinking about the fact that it’s all about the climbing and maybe I’ve gone too far over to the other side

After the weekends events I popped into the Llanberis Pass to see how conditions were, I didn’t have time to venture any further from the roadside stuff, but as soon as I was out into the Pass, looking at the mountains, touching the (wet) rock and looking at the stunning water falls, it reminded me about the climbing and where I want to be.

September has made life up here a little more exciting, with the conditions dry and getting cooler. There has been the odd morning where the first signs of frost can be seen, glistening branches, that chilly breeze, the other dogs walkers huddling and slightly grumpy at the change in the season, with that one dog walker…smiling, frantically texting those who will share the excitement…it’s all about the climbing. 

Drooping in the Cold

A chilling breeze roars through the now Fall trees
Sending adrift the barely held orange and red leaves

Nature's breath begins swirl in my direction
Unsettling the ground as it unravels
Freezing its audience and crowd during its travels

Hell bent flower drooping over in the cold
Tear drops freezing as the stem begins to fold

The ice envelopes around each piece of life
Re-fortifying our short amount of time

North Yorkshire’s climbing is different to that of the Peak District, it’s edgier, meaning you can get away with slightly warmer conditions, so the season has begun. Our first stop…Earl Crag. The last time I was there was for my 25th Birthday, which involved a lock in at the local, copious amounts of the local brew and a bit of punting around. Which means I can’t remember anything from that trip, so I was keen to go back and check it out.

Previously I’d been told to go to Earl with someone who is psyched as it’s a tough crag. “Bah” I thought, “I’ve got enough psyche – how hard can it be that you need more people?!”…well…after the first visit I was wrong to underestimate this comment. Earl Crag is brutal, not only physically but mentally. It requires power and technique, it’s a little like font, things are desperate, unless you know the way, which can be a frustrating and exhausting path!

It’s been awesome though, after three weekends in a row there, I’ve become a little more stubborn and bull headed J and it’s been so much fun feeling like I was learning to climb all again and taking satisfaction in a climb, no matter what the grade.

I am back to learning to climb again, back to the start – as odd as that sounds, those of you who know will know I lost my way, I’m not back on track yet, but I’m getting there and Earl Crag has been an awesome way to get back to it.

There are some amazing lines there, the one that’s stood out of me so far is lager lager. An awesome slopey rail line along a flat wall, requiring technique, power and precision along with some super strong shoulders J It’s also a ground up problem…my favorite! So it’s been awesome throwing myself on this and totally destroying myself!

The spring flowers, the autumn moon;

          Summer breezes, winter snow.

          If useless things do not clutter your mind,

          You have the best days of your life.

It’s all about the climbing and when people ask why I climb, I do find it hard to explain to non climbers why I do it and love it. So those of you who are reading this and are climbers will know of those rare moments when you are climbing, you complete something and when you get to the top you have no idea how you got there. You were in the present, not thinking about the past or the future and it’s the only real time you are free. I had one of these rare moments at Earl on Ron’s Arete, it’s a huge swooping slabby arĂȘte and I’m a lover of scaring myself, so thought I’d jump on it. From the moment I stepped on, everything else was forgotten and before I knew it I was at the top, the whole climb just flowed from one move to the next and it was beautiful.

Handy Andy is another “classic” at Earl Crag and is a pretty cool line, I’m keen to go back to this for the stand, it was odd starting off a block! 

Handy Andy Video

One of the advantages of being so close to everything is the opportunity to explore other crags and go to places which may only have one or two cracking lines. Goldsborough is one of these crags. Situated in County Durham, it’s one of the most remote Yorkshire locations and is an amazing peaceful, tranquil place. A must for anyone's list!

I went to Goldsborough to try Beth’s Traverse, a long (in my world) mega crimpy traverse. It’s a cool line, but more lock off strength and skin is a must before a return visit!

It’s now October and about four weeks before a two week trip somewhere, as usual I have no idea where and will think about it nearer the time, all weather dependent. I have to admit it’s crept up on me, work has been mental and I’ve been working long hours and it’s worn me out mentally, and I think it’s this that has made time pass so quickly, so it’s another mental week ahead, then I’ve decided to become and unsociable recluse for a while and get a bit more focus, I need to find that line and not sway too much either side. Before the Swissie trip last year I spent the two months leading up to it with lots of training, and weight dropping and I think it paid off, so I’m a little nervous to see how my “preparation” for this trip is going to go…

For now, it’s every day as it comes…but all about the climbing

Happy Days!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

James Garden in Albarracin

Heres a short video of a problem I climbed called Bindu in Albarracin, Spain. Enjoy

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hunters Moon-Alex Moore

I sat in my harness, swinging gently from the slightly overhung, near blank rock. In a befuddled voice I asked again, "A Dyno, really? from here to there?"
Alex Moore on the second ascent of
 Hunters Moon  E7 6b/c
"Yep, maybe use a crimp to help?"

Maybe not, I thought as a felt the small ripples in the wall, that I only wish I could hold. I gave the move just one more go before getting lowered to the ground so Tom could work it out.

On his first attempt Tom was only inches from the hold, on his second he had hit it dead on, although unable to stick it, The move is not really far (although too far to reach), its just made hard by being unable to get much force off the holds your going from. He then tried with the use of a crimp, using it as an intermediate and getting his feet high in the break, he was able to stick the move, almost static. He moved on to the top section, which isn't a push over either, involving a hand jam and a long reach to a crimp, more delicate moves follow. 

After top-roping a couple of times we were ready to try the route on lead, Tom went first, climbing quickly through the first section and taking a fair rest in the good holds of the break. Then the moved in to position for the crux, feet high and long reach to the crimp, then a quick jerk to the poor hold, shouting as he did so, which echoed in the Gully, adding to the already tense atmosphere. A few moves later Tom could rest on two hand jams in the break before committing to the the last hard moves of the route. And he'd done it, Found the route, put the stakes in so we could get to it and climbed it.           
Tom Bunn on the first ascent of
Hunters Moon E7 6b/c
After eating a bit of bagel, we went back down to the base of the route so I could give it a go. I felt dubious from placing the first gear to only reaching half way between the crimp and the ledge... The fall passed me by in my frustration, I came close the the base of the route, but the fall was safe and the gear was good. 

I pulled up the rope to the break and from there down climbed the crack taking gear out as I went. Back on the floor I thought it through in my head, I was more confident in a way, no longer scared for the fall. 

  I started up the route again, placing gear just as I did before. I took a sort rest at the break, moved on to the ledges and got my feet high, Made the long reach to the crimp and by twisting my knee further in I inched up the face, moving weight onto the crimp. Finally I lurched forward catching the ledge. More high feet and more big moves saw me to the next crux, almost too pumped to place gear I pulled over the top of the route. Celebrations were in order, and I still had half a bagel for such an occasion. 

A fantastic route for sure, the grade really does sit on a knife edge between 6b and 6c. We left the crag as a massive orange moon loomed overhead, hence the name, Hunters Moon.                   

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

BAT ROUTE 8C by Adam Jeewooth

4 days after my last blog on the 2nd June I Crushed  “Bat Route” Fr8C at Malham.  This is now one of the most popular 8sc at Malham and up there with best routes I’ve done.  The pressure of working away, holidays  and the threat of hot weather coming in forced me to give it my best shot one evening after work on the 6th of June.  The following link is a video of my ascent on the top crux of the route – I was emotional to say the least

Adam Jeewooth resting on Bat Route 8C

Adam Jeewooth on Cave Life

Adam Jeeowoth Buzing after Bat Route (photo Nick Bamber)

Adam Jeewooth in Janets Foss after Gordale
Since then I have climbed in south Wales and also had a few trips to Kilnsey and Goredale having some fantastic times with great friends and family.  In Gordale I climbed another 2 of the best routes in the country – Cave Route right 7B+ and Supercool 8A+.
Over the last 3 weeks Orla, Ruby and I have also spent some time in north Wales.  We  had a nice walk up Snowdon in the rain and I climbed at the diamond for the first time and loved it ticking the classic lower grades at the crag.  We have also had a fantastic 2 week trip to Ireland in the van touring.  Although I didn’t climb there as it rained every time I got to any blocs.....  After a full 2 weeks rest and recovery I’m more keen than ever to get out and crush.  Since arriving back Ive been out to the local crags, Malham, Longridge an Kilnsey. 

OH YEAH BIG NEWS– Get involved with the new Evolv Nexxos....... out now in the UK.... I LOVE THEM
Boom 8c Jee lol

Good Friends and beer after walking snowdon
The Diamond........WOW