Monday, 27 December 2010

Check out our travel blog here . . .

As the climbing is literally NON EXISTENT in Central America please check out my travel-based blog here:


www.takingthevan.wordpress.com




I will of course be uploading any climbing photos here as soon as we actually find some rock to climb!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

New Hampshire & Yosemite

I visited New Hampshire for a week to warm up before 3 weeks of granite cracks in Yosemite late last September.

Jack Tracy, an old friend from London who's moved back home to the US recently, was our incredible host and showed us everything the state had to offer.

First stop was Cathedral where Mike and I aimed to get as much crack climbing in as possible (something i haven't really done before) so was promptly educated!



Next stop was Rumney for a day of sport climbing . . .



I was so pleased to have onsighted this awesome route; Predator 5.13a- an ambition since i first saw it in a photo years ago.

Next stop was Yosemite. . . what a slap around the face! Yosemite is its own style of climbing and a week of crack climbing was simply not enough preparation. It was a big mistake to have got on The Rostrum as the first route of the trip - i basically tried to layback the first 3 pitches before falling on the third 145' pitch and reaching the top with just a single sling and cam despite placing gear every 10 to 15 foot! What a pro!


Anyway, between getting rained out for a week and bouldering in Bishop and climbing in Owen's River, we did some classics- Nutcracker, Central Pillar of Frenzy etc and even managed to free The Leaning Tower and flashed many of the pitches (as a second!) & only fell on 3 pitches (3rd, last and one other?!) I vow to go back and free it some day soon!

A 2010 Team photo in front of one of Yosemite's Giant Redwoods

Friday, 5 November 2010

Mexico - El Chonta & Jilotepec

Wow.



There are some crags you visit and you have seen it all before. . . and there are some crags which blow you away - El Chonta is one of them. And we were lucky to have a guided tour by mr chonta himself 'Mac'



It's a 7 pitch high limestone cave that is impossibly deep, steep . . .



. . . and literally dripping with tufas. I was lucky enough to onsight this the classic route of the cave, Atasco - 8a.

Our accommodation's location could not be any more wild. . .



. . . as neither could the ambience!



What a place.



p.s. We have heard that there isn't so much climbing south of Mexico . . . until you cross the Darien Gap and get to Ecuador, South America . . . we'll just have to learn how to surf!

Anyway, this wouldn't be a very interesting climbing blog without climbing content, so I will be writing another blog based on our travels from Mexico all the way through to Buenos Aires in Argentina you can find it here:

www.takingthevan.wordpress.com

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Mexico & 11 More Countries . . .

After the States, the real journey began . . .

We have spent just over a month in Mexico and this has formed the start of our now 7 month trip starting here in Mexico and ending around 10,000 miles later in Argentina.

We'll be visiting:

- Guatemala
- El Salvador
- Honduras (very briefly)
- Nicaragua
- Costa Rica
- Panama (even more briefly)
- Ecuador
- Peru
- Bolivia
- Chile
- and finally Argentina!

Phew, I'm exhausted already and I haven't even started driving yet. . .

Although we will be trying to climb all the way along on this journey, we realise that there will be huge gaps where there is literally no rock, (where I will be finger-boarding in the van to try and retain some sort of fitness - unlikely, I know). This however, would not make for a very interesting climbing blog. So, although I will be posting the odd climbing photo and news on this blog I will be updating our travel blog. Check it out at:

www.takingthevan.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ironman, 8c - Rodellar


Photography: Rob Gibson

I've been having a total blast over the last 2 months climbing in Spain and Ironman was really the culmination of the trip for me. Although i am on a nine month sabbatical from work and will be heading to Yosemite and Central and South America for 6 months now - i decided to dedicate the last 2 months to sport climbing in Northern Spain and have really surprised myself ticking a load of routes up to 8b+ quickly on red-point and on-sighting up to a few 8's up to 8a+ in a day.

I actually thought i wouldn't get an 8c ticked this trip as it has been dogged by such weird extremes of weather - it snowed twice, we experienced almost tropical thunderstorms (meaning 3 x 8c's i was trying were soaked for up to a week at a time), it reached 38 degrees . . . and I also had to return home for a month but decided to return for a week to get one done, and am so pleased that i made the effort!

Ironman is at Surgencia Sector in Rodellar. It is just over 40m high and about 20m overhanging. The route is split into two sections - a first 20m vertical technical section of about 7b+/7c and then a second 20m pitch after a ledge that's up to 45 degrees overhanging and weighs in at 8c itself.

From the ledge all the moves are big & powerful, the holds generally open-hand pinches and tufas . . . until you reach the headwall.

Here you find a technical sequence on undercuts which can easily be blown as you have to make 6 foot movements to make 2 hand-movements followed by 4 more moves on slopers for hands and feet to get into a position to clip the chain; which you have level with your face for what seems like an eternity!

It's only here why you appreciate why this route is called Ironman because it really does not give up until you clip the chain - after a knee-bar two moves into the 8c, there's nowhere to get a rest to truly get anything back because it is too steep. It's really a timing game - knowing how to pace your climbing and not letting any individual move take up too much energy that you'll need higher up on the crucial technical section.

I reached the crux - 2 metres from the chain on my first red-point after a day of work and naively thought i'd get it next go . . . but once again, that's why its called Ironman . . . those last 2 / 3 metres never ever let up and are definately the hardest part on the route especially after climbing 38metres to get there.

I red-pointed the route as it was starting to go dark on my last possible red-point on my final evening in Rodellar - it was an emotional experience!

Thanks must go to Harry Pennells for such incredible support belaying over the time i spent on it and to Rob Gibson who offered to take some shots at 6.30 am the next morning before i left Spain helped by Ramon Marin!

Thanks guy


Photography: Rob Gibson

Friday, 16 July 2010

A few snaps from part one of the trip . .

El Piton, 8a+ - One of the most classic & intimidating lines at Rodellar


Photographer: Alastair Lee


Geminis, 8b+, Rodellar


Photographer: David Pickford

One to keep a certain, sports nutrition sponsor happy!

Photographer: David Pickford

The 45m high, 20m overhanging Kalea Borroka, Siruana (Spot me if you can)

Photographer: Dave Pickford


More Geminis . . .

Photographer: David Pickford

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

El Piton 8a+

Al Lee also captured me with a medium format camera on El Piton, 8a+ at Pince Sans Rire sector.

One of the most classic routes at Rodellar - a near horizontal traverse into a pocket you need to swap two fingers on your right hand to two fingers on your left hand before making a near full hands and feet off dyno to a jug on the lip.

Apologies for the extraordinarily ugly face! There maybe footage of this to come too . . . .



A day with Alistair Lee and Team

As previously posted, i had a great day climbing and got a load of it captured by Al Lee on camera.

here's a shot of me being shot on both a polecam and a second HD camera on the classic Delfin 7c+ :


Friday, 28 May 2010

So much climbing, so little energy to write . . .

It's been a full two weeks since i last posted, and i've done quite a lot of climbing that i have been very, very pleased with.

It seems that my efforts training indoors for the last 4 months have really paid off - i have, without doubt, broke into a new level with my climbing that can only be explained from some dedicated but really quite tedious training.

The training has translated to a couple of really good days:

1 Day: 1 x 8a/+ Flash, 1 x 8a Onsight, 1 x 7c+/8a (Retro Flash)

(this was all caught on camera or film by Alistair Lee and i can't wait to see the results!)

2 Day: 1 x 8a/+ Onsight, 2 x 8a+ First Redpoint.


So it was all going very well, and to be honest, it was about time that i got on something harder - so i've jumped on a few 8c's to see which i should project . . . more news coming very soon.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Riglos Video

A quick video shot en route while Stu and i were on pitch 5 of Fiesta de Los Biceps . . .

(Excuse the strangely shifting camera angle!)


video

Riglos

From EU Road Trip 2010



FIESTA DE BICEPS - 7 pitches of conglomerate climbing. 230m of 7a in total.

(If you look close enough directly above my finger, you can see the white chalk line that you climb up the route)

What a route.

I can honestly say that despite completely shitting myself standing at the bottom of the route before the first pitch, it is probably the best route i have ever done.

From slab to vertical to overhanging, technical slopers to holds bid enough to stand and even sit on - this route has it all. Every climber should experience this route.

My expression here with Stu on pitch 5 (about 180m high) gives away how i was feeling - a mix of fear and elation!

Rodellar

Day 1 of the (real) road-trip started in Rodellar and could not have been better.

The sun was shining, a team of 12 Brits were psyched out of their minds to climb and Sector Surgencia was calling.

I had a great first day; ticking a few 30/35m routes between 7b+ and 8a onsight and things were looking good for the next few days until the rain and snow travelled down to Rodellar.

Stu and I decided to head to Riglos to do something a little bit different. . .

EU ROAD TRIP 2010

Things have moved really quickly over the past few months. . .

Handing my notice in at work and leaving for a road trip around Europe in the summer and then to the US in Autumn seemed a really long way away . . . and now, i've already been on it for 9 days!

My plan was to head to the Pyrennes to do some trad big walls, then to northern Spain and the south of France to really push my grade sport climbing and then on to Rumney, Red River Gorge and Yosemite in September/October. However, the start has already turned out very differently.

On the drive down, expectations of the weather getting warmer as we drove south into France and Spain were replaced with the reality of snow blizzards in the Tarn area.




A weather report told us Europe was / (is) covered by an enormous area of low pressure that wont budge for a while. . . . we changed out route to Barcelona airport, parked the van and promptly got a flight to Mallorca - the only place where it was actually sunny, as Charlie Woodburn proves here -



After 5 days of complete and utter luxury i returned to Barcelona, picked Ste McClure up and headed to Rodellar . . . more coming soon.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Training