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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
As the author of How to Climb Harder’s I will be running a weekend course that is aimed at covering the same set of skills that made the book so popular. This two day How to Climb Harder course will look holistically at all aspects of climbing from the mental, physical, tactical ad technical challenges we all face on the rock.
The course is run by myself, with over twenty years experience as an rock climbing instructor and coach. Holder of the nationally recognised Mountain Instructor Award and a Master degree in applied sport science. I have a thorough knowledge of experience of Effective Coaching, Sports Psychology and Performance Physiology.
I have used this to onsighted climbs up to E6 and 7b and I still climbs and train regularly. All this experience and more from the rock faces around the world went into writing How to Climb Harder and is now be used to deliver a unique weekend rock climbing course that will find and address your weaknesses and help you climb harder.
About two years ago now I decided to stop blogging for a while and start making short videos of my travels. When I got back I stayed away as I was busy with all sorts of stuff that life throws at you.
Hopefully my life has calmed down and I am now back to work in North Wales for a while. As such I thought I would start blogging about my life and work again. Albeit less intensely than before.
So in the last year I have worked about 8 months in spain, travelled the world and had a lot more important things to deal with than this blog. I am now back looking to promote my little business and hopefully from time to time say something interesting.
It seems wherever I look I either here about the Dawn Wall or Sierra Blair-Coyle. Both have had the cannons of the great climbing literati and media aimed at them for selling out and going all mainstream. The Dawn Waller for sharing their exploit with 140 character of less and images posted quite literally from the coal face and then getting some mainstream media to enter into the throng. Whilst Sierra’s crime was being too pretty and not actually a very good climber (Although she has place in the top 20 in IFSC comps over 3 consecutive years!)
To me these two groups offer two ends of a sponsorship spectrum one the extremely talented and cutting edge climbers on the dawn wall and as some have argued Sierra the Model. Whatever end you are at the only reason someone is sponsored is that they are essentially there to promote the sales of the companies products.
If you can show a company that you can help them market and sell their equipment through the media coverage you get from either ability, looks or the social media clout you possess then good for you. The times they are a changing. Twitter, instagram and Facebook are changing the way companies market themselves. Why pay money for an advert when you can launch some news, photos or video that go viral. By complaining one way or another the critics are fuelling the fire of the viral marketeers.
So yes the face-ter-gram generation is all about followers, how you get them comes down to more factors than ability and yes looks do count. The fact that sierra markets herself very overtly as a good looking climber I think makes people uncomfortable. Just remember rather than her, hate the game and not the player!
If you think climbers are stupid enough to fall for the dashing good looks of one climber over another. Then I would think again, the majority I seem to know are amongst the most picky shoppers in the world. Many have brand loyalty that go back years. They will research ever purchase to death as nothing is cheap these days so better to buy once.
Check out this video by Epic TV, if you want to see how borderline sexist some of the media are in reporting on Sierra.
So I ws rushed whern I edited these films and forgot to add links from my youtube account to my blog. My intention is to make more videos rather than written pòsts as I travel around the world. So if you want the videos as soon as I upload them to youtube either, subscribe to my channel there, like me on facebook or follow me on twitter (verticallife)