Busy Week for Snowdonia Mountain Guides

So this week I have been really busy with Snowdonia Mountain Guides. Most of the week I have been involved in delivering a Rapid Trad Climbing course for 6 people. This was very similar to many of our existing Intro To Trad or Lead Climbing Coaching courses but specially tailored to the specific needs of the group I was working with.

We had them lead climbing on day two as they have all had some climbing experience. We visited Lion Rock, Tremadog, Tryfan Bach, Castle Helen and then to finish we did a bit of sports climbing at Castle Inn. The guys climbed up to 6a on Sport and VS on trad.

 

On the Thursday though I had to step out from this course for a day, and after seeing them descend safely into Castell Helen, I had to reluctantly leave them to it with my team of instructors and return to Llanberis.

In Llanberis I had a big group of Charity walkers from Nando’s Management Team who wanted to climb Snowdon. I got there in time to meet another team of great instructors who were ready to represent Snowdonia Mountain Guides to lead this group of 37 amazing guys up ‘The Mountain’. Again these guy did an amazing job at leading this charity walk up snowdon. With the team reporting that they had an awesome time.

In total I employed 7 instructors this week, hopefully a sign of things to come as I start to develop Snowdonia Mountain Guides further.

Charity Walks up snowdon
A busy day on Snowdon during the Olympic Flame celebrations

New Websites and Facebook Pages

Ever since my previous employer went belly up, owing me a considerable amount of money I decide to start running my business more like, well a business rather than a lifestyle. If you like I have become more proactive in developing the sites and building what I hope are a couple of strong brands to push what I do.

Snowdonia Mountain Guides

This is my main business arm and at the moment is it doing really well at attracting every one from charity and families waling up snowdon through to my private climbing coaching work. However my desire to get back to Spain for some hot rock climbing next year doesn’t really fit with that branding.

If you want to keep up with what I do then I would suggest liking and follow the Facebook page.

How To Climb Harder

This brand is more reflective of the book I wrote in 2010. The website now has many lessons and videos all aimed to help people climb harder. In an attempt to offer more hot rock trips in the winter I have turn to this site to focus more on the rock climbing courses. As it really does explain my approach to coaching rock climbing.

Again I have moved to a new Facebook page to help keep people informed about the latest events here.

Vertical Life

This started life as a place for me to publish older articles that had previous been published in the climbing press. As well as showcase some of the short videos I made over the last few years. However in an attempt to turn it on its head i have instead started to try and link the articles to what I do on How to Climb Harder and Snowdonia Mountain Guides, in as much as they are about climbing and mountaineering around the world.

In a way it tries to sell mini and not so mini adventures across a whole level of experience. Again it now has a Facebook channel of its own.

Climbing Coaches

Finally you will see a logo going up on all my sites along side the AMI logo. The Association of Mountaineering Instructors is great but to me misses the obvious connection to climbing and the coaching I do. In a way I also felt that to offer climbing coaching you need more than a Mountain Instructor Award. Instead you also needed the add on of some form of coach education and a declaration of what level you actually climb at.

So I design Climbing Coaches to do that. It os free to sign up and you can share you D-log or UKC climbing logbook as well as tell people what addition coaching qualification you have in addition to the CWA, SPA or MIA.

Again it also has a Facebook presence.

Meeting a Legend….

So when I first started to rock climb I lived near Swanage and for years I never had a guidebook to the area. The old yellow one was out of print and so my only recourse at the time was to turn to South West Climbs by Pat Littlejohn. The adventures I had with that book as I started to climb are still dear to me. My first trad leads at Subliminal, a early adventure to The Dewerstone and Chudliegh on Dartmoor.

It for me defined my climbing pre-moving to Wales for university. From time to time I head down south and pick another classic route from its pages. Although it is a little dated now.

Pat then was one of the first modern names of rock climbing I knew. His routes down in the more adventurous parts of the South West were, well to be quite frank, out of my league and most still are. Like any legendary climber you tend to build them up to be something they are not.

I have since had the pleasure of running into Pat a few times over the years, either through BMC committee, local issues like the paint in Cwm Tregallan above and most recently over climbing on the Llyn. After a few messages back and forward we met to discuss a future project on the Llyn and it sounds really exciting. I can’t wait to help develop a resource for climbers for this really adventurous area.

An area that Pat is highly passionate about and to be frank is probably the leading protagonist of. Having done around 40 routes since he published the latest supplement to the area, which to be honest was already full of routes he had done since the last guide.

So in a nut shell we are hoping to develop a wiki-type site on NorthWalesRock.com with the hope of sharing all those great adventures on the Llyn.

For me it was great to get a feel for what Pat wants to develop over time and at the same time to sit down and have a conversation with one of the best adventure climbers in the world about a subject that lights him up.

The classic Bardsey Ripple

Busy at Play…Child’s Play!

So since returning from Costa Blanca where I was climbing 7a on sight. I have continue to mix it up between trad and sport. Climbing many routes around the E3/4 mark on different rock type and also some sport climbs on the slate and Limestone.

Whilst I managed to flash a 7a on the Limestone when I nipped up Quicksilver as well as leading an E4 or two plus some 6c+s. As such I feel the fitness remains and have managed to switch back between trade and sport really easily.

Simon Lake on Jack of Shadows, E4/6c+ on Colossus Wall, Dinorwic Slate Quarries

On the Slate I managed one day to onsight a 7a+ and then do the the amazing route Cig-Arete on my third go and my first proper redpoint attempt. This has been followed up with a play on Child’d Play a 7b+, where I got the moves, so need to go back and link it.

I also onsighted the amazing Great Balls of Fire, E4 on Colossus wall. It has been a good few months since I got back and mingled in-between this has been some great and varied work.

About to follow Si Lake up Belldance, E5 6b on the Dervish slab. I took the lob from just below where he is on this route!

Winter Sun and Hot Rock in Costa Blanca

So having only just arrived back in the UK after four months away working teaching rock climbing in Spain. It really pained me to survive the Welsh Winter. So I booked some flights so Simon, Lynne and I could get some more sport climbing done, it was either here or Scottish Winter Climbing. Given I am really loving the winter sun and hot rock climbing in the beautiful costa blanca at moment there was no real choice!

We are staying up in Moriara, and on the first day we climbed 6 routes to and collected 16 stars. We even managed a couple of 7a’s at Alcalali. The following day we headed up the Penon D’Ifach and climbed the awesome Costa Blanca, a 7 pitch 6c+ and one of the top 50 routes in the area. Then today we headed to the fantastic Sella and did a few routes up to 6b+. It seems we are a little tired today and so we only did 4 routes before we headed home to the Villa.

Anyway, been another great few days away, we have another tow days climbing before we are back to the rain again. However it has really driven home just how good Costa Blanca is for both the sub 6a climber and those who are operating in 6th/7th grades. I will definitely writes some longer pieces on getting the best out of Costa Blanca and can’t wait to run some rock climbing course out here this Autumn/Winter

Long Form Writing

So my blog has always been a place where I beat words out like a machine gun. Often riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. I do however spend a bit more time on the longer piece I write for magazines and stuff.

Rather than let these old pieces stay in the magazines, I am currently going through the process of publishing pieces more than 6 months old on a sister website Vertical Life.

So maybe you’d like to check out some of the pieces I have written there is certainly a variety of subjects from climbing.

Welsh Winter Trad Climbing

So having returned from Spain just in time for Blizzards to envelope the Costa Blanca. It seems appropriate that the the weather goods have shone on me for a couple of days rock climbing.

After attempting tremadog I pulled the shear desperation card of heading to the Lleyn. Where Jez and I climb the spectacular Samurai. This is a great E2 and well worth seeking out. It climbs over 7 overlaps yet never really gets steep. The rock is a micro granite and the main gear is a couple of quarryman shot holes that form great threads. Although you need RP’s and cams to get around the rest of it.

Two days later and I head back to tremadog this time the weather was fine. The wind was blowing over the top of the Crag and Owen and I quickly climbed Kestrel Cracks a stunning HVS, that I think has been rescued from the brambles recently. We then climbed the first pitches of The Ned into Broken Edge, giving a stunning two pitch E2. The first being technical and sustain and the second exposed.

I don’t have v any photos of this because I lost my small camera working at the weekend. I was gutted to be honest, but some kind person on UKC posted up finding it and I have now been reunited with it. All I can say is there are still some beautiful people in the world.

 

Wintering the Sun

So many years ago now, probably when I was scatting around scotland trying to find some winter conditions to consolidate for my Winter ML. It finally struck me that we have three seasons in the UK now, Warm and Wet, Cold and Wet and a a very brief but satisfying dry period. It was then I realised that pursuing the MIC to take people winter climbing given global warming was not the best option open to me.

Instead the last few years I have managed to find work teaching rock climbing abroad for various people and you know what its ace. I left the UK last September and have work in Spain for 4 months, as well as having a few week free for my own climbing.

I was based loosely out of Madrid but the company had four basecamps. One in Miraflores a beautiful village bear the granite sierras, Chodes a climbing venue near Zaragosa, La Pobla De Segur in the Pyrenees and Finally a place just outside Calpe. All these areas offer something slightly different and later this year and early next I want to start offering course to these places as well as Picos Du Europa climbing adventure course as well, where I was two years ago working for three months.

Climbing Around Madrid

The climbing around madrid is fantastic, Pedraza is a national park with climbing on par with Touloume Meadows above Yosemite. Run out friction slabs with space spaced bolts, means the route feel anything but sport climbs. High up is the amazing Yelmo, granite dome that look down on Madrid.

Further tot the east and you get to Valdemanco, another granite area, which is friendlier and less run out and challenge than prediza, and a great place to serve a friction slab apprenticeship.Finally there is La Cabrera, a steep venue with more cracks and with it some great trad climbing.

All of these venues are in the mountains within 15 minutes of Miraflores. However if the weather is bad you can head down to the Patones. A series of dams for water control mark the end of limestone valleys. The best of which is Ponton De Oliva. Vertical limestone with large pockets means it is jug hauling all the way to the top with a couple of thin moves thrown in to keep you entertained.

One of the best thing about these venues is that they offer great climbing to the 5th and 6th grade climbers. Especially if you have served a trad apprenticeship in the UK.

Chodes and Calcena

Rhodes is an old climbing area, as such it is just right for the 6th grade climber, because it features loads of steep and thin slabs. Don’t be lulled into a force sense of security though. Chodes requires great technical skill to tame, without it the routes feel desperate.

The ora is quite compact and you can walk to any crag within ten minutes from either car park. Its age does mean the easy routes are polished but this does not detract from the cleaness of the rock. With four major crags there is at least a weeks worth of climbing for anyone here, probably more.

If however you get bored you can drive just over an hour up the road to Calcena. A newer are where a climbers hostel is taking responsibility to re-equip and develop the area. Again there are lots of routes here and the refugio is cheap and the climbing easy to access. It is a little higher than Chodes so can be useful to escape the sun.

Climbing around La Pobla and the Pyrenees

The climbign around La Pobla is pretty spread out. The Congeals Valley is five minutes away, but further south is the amazing Tarradets which offers either multi pitch climbing for the 6th grade climber or steep sport climbing for the 7th and 8th.

A newer area being developed is Abella La Conca. There is a good selection of routes for the 6th grade climber. Although many of the details are still not well know and you’ll have to visit the refugio to get the latest developments.

My favourite venue here was a mutlipitch area with unique access. Where by you walk across the top of a dam and walk down a man made staircase cut into the rock on the far side to the base of your chosen route and then climb back up, before walking back down to the car through tunnels and small via ferret type affair.

Climbing Around Calpe – Costa Blanca

This is an amazing place to visit and has climb for everyone from the 4th grade to the 7th and a little beyond. The area is spread out but there is a lot of climbing and each area tends to have its own unique feel.

Later this year we are really excited to head back to run some climbing courses from near Calpe. We are going to be renting a villa for a month or two and enjoying the winter sun all over again.

Sports Climbing Holidays in Costa Blanca

UK Trad Climbing Tour

So a new course I am offering is a rapid rock climbing development course with a difference. As rather than stay based in one location we up sticks and go on a UK Trad Climbing Tour.

So if you want your climbing to improve rapidally? This month long UK Trad climbing tour of the greatest climbing routes and destinations will make a really difference to your fitness and confidence.

This is a truly unique course to get out there and experience the very best climbing that the UK has to offer. This month long course will open your eyes to the adventures on our shores. With a month of coaching and guiding means your climbing will improve dramatically. Whether you are climbing Diff or Extreme grade routes the opportunities are as boundless as the cliffs. As we embark on this epic 4 week road trip, you know that you will come out the other side a different person, revitalises and ready for your next adventure.

Sun Rock Holidays Winter 2017/18

So this Autumn and Winter coming I am starting to offer a few Sun Rock Holidays. I am doing this as i the last few years I have travelled Spain working at a variety of climbing venues and these are the very best places that I have found for catching a few winter rays of sunshine and or course climbing some classic swainish rock.

The amazing Naranga Del Bulnes

PICOS DE EUROPA CLIMBING HOLIDAY

This Picos De Europa Climbing Holiday is a great way to experience the best trad and sport climbing in this magical region of Northern Spain.

The Picos De Europa is an amazing place to climb, the area has some spectacular limestone crags with a variety of single and multi pitch sport climbing as well as some amazing trad routes in the Higher Picos. The main peak a gigantic limestone dome is ‘Naranga Del Bulnes’ and as well as having some harder routes also sports one of the most staggering Hard Severe routes in the world. The South Face climbs all the way to its amazing summit.

7 Day – £800 – (Available throughout September) 

Sports Climbing Holidays in Costa Blanca

COSTA BLANCA SPORT CLIMBING HOLIDAYS

Come and join us as we bask in the winter sun on our amazing 7 day Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Holiday.

Winter is rapidly approaching you have resigned yourself to a winter of indoor climbing. Why is that? Alicante is often only £50 return to fly to, it is sunny and warm throughout the winter and we are running sport climbing holidays there. What more could you ask for to wash away those winter blue by feeling the sun on you skin.

7 Day – £800 – (Available throughout September).

Moroccan Climbign Adventure

MORROCAN CLIMBING ADVENTURE

This holiday will take you to the edge in the remote anti-altas climbing area of Trafroute

Back in 2003 I had a delightful trip away to Morocco with 8 friends, we spent a month climbing in both Trafroute in the Anti-Atlas and Todra Gorge. We trad climbed, sported climbed and bouldered. Took an adventurous Land Rover ride off road from one venue to another and generally had one of the times of my life. One of those freinds was Simon Lake, who is also now a Mountaineering and Rock Climbing Instructor and together we are really keen to runa week or two trip that I can truly say is one of the best climbing/travel adventures you’ll ever have.

14 Days – £1600 – (Available throughout January 2018)