How to Climb Harder – WEEKEND – 15th & 16th April 2016

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.

For more information visit Snowdonia Mountain Guides – How to Climb Harder Page.

Back in the Room….

…well kind of.

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.

The Sierra Blair-Coyle Debate

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.

#RTWin40Climbs Episodes 2,3 & 4

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)

#RTWin40Climbs – Episode 1 – Leaving Llanberis

So I decided to make a short video reflecting on my home of Llanberis and all that I am about to leave behind. The friends and climbs that have been part of my life for so long. It already feels weird having not been there for over a month.

If you’d like to get each episode as and when it comes out then try like Snowdonia Mountain Guides on Facebook or subscribing to my channel on youtube.

Another Supporter for #RTWin40Climbs

So over the last few weeks I have been hanging out down south with my mum waiting to leave on what can only be described as trip of lifetime. I have been busy putting the final things together for the south american leg of my plan to go Round the World in 40 Climbs. Where I hope to chart the ascent of man.

Five Ten UK had already signed up by giving me some approach and rock climbing shoes. Whilst I was in Bournemouth I have been training at the Project Climbing Centre and trying to get outside climbing. Through a tweet, I came across Sam from Hangar 18, and after meeting up for a climb he asked about my plans.

I of course bored him with my story of telling the story of the history of climbing, interspersed with teaching climbing in really cool places. He seemed to think the idea worthy of supporting and offered me a new lightweight down jacket and a hoodie.

He dropped them off this morning and I have to say that the down jacket is awesome. Hangar 18 – Off Road Running’s kit is all about lightweight design and the jacket packets down really small. It is also truly reversible so can be either black or red . So it is idea for travelling round the world. The hoodie is another great piece of clothing and will hopefully really stand out in the videos as the logo is fairly bold.

Another great thing happened this week, I spoke to Climber Magazine, who were keen for me to write a few more Evolution of Climbing Articles before moving onto another historically focused column that ties in with my travels.

 

Alternative Christmas Presents for Climbers and Instructors

So if you know a climbing instructor or avid climber then buying them a present can be a difficult if you don’t understand the sport. They will appear to have everything they need to climb. So you need to go under their radar and come up with something novel and not necessarily expensive to help.

First off it they are working towards a MIA or into multi-pitched climbing. Maybe they have a climbing assessment in North Wales, are working or planning a climbing trip there. Then why not either print off or simply send them a link to the Craig List – A list of great route for Climbing Instructors in North Wales. If you want to really help them out and can spend a few quid then maybe consider buying them a copy of North Wales Climbs. A guidebook that cover virtually all of the routes on the list, and a must have for any climber heading to North Wales.

If that is too pricey then maybe consider getting them a book about the Nature of Snowdonia. As it is not really well known but as part of the syllabus for instructor qualifications there are elements of access and conservations. This book by Mike Raine is the veritable bible of nature in not only North Wales but most upland areas in the UK. Don’t underestimate the environmental leanings of a normal climber either, we all enjoy the outdoors for a variety of reasons, getting scared on a rock face is just one of them.

Another area interest is the history of climbing. Whilst it is a broad topic one book. Hanging By A Thread has managed to capture the near complete history of rock climbing and mountaineering in one volume. A sort of idiots guides to the history and technology of climbing. If you want some free help then I recommend visiting archive.org and search mountaineering. There are many different historic mountain climbing texts from before 1900 there. One in particular you can look for is Scrambles in the Alps by Edward Whymper, available as a PDF or kindle format, it tells the story of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, a first edition is worth £700+, you can send a digital copy for free! Wanderings Amongst the High Alps is another.

If you ever wonder how to go about teaching or coaching climbing then maybe consider Effective Coaching (kindle, iPad, print) and How to Climb Harder. Another great way for a present to keep on giving throughout the year is to subscribe the climber to a climbing magazine like Climber.

Another outside the box idea is booking your friend into a B&B or bunkhouse somewhere in the UK so they can get climbing for themselves for a change. Ideal areas for multi pitched climbing are Llanberis in North Wales, Ambleside in the Lake District, Land’s End in Cornwall,  or Glencoe in Scotland. If they are into single pitch or sport climbing then maybe  North Wales, Hathersage in the Peak District, Swanage for Portland and Swanage or St David’s Pembroke.

The other alternative for a climber is a map to a new area or a guidebook. Although guidebooks are quite expensive a map can cost as little as £10. Any of the places I have mentioned will suffice but maybe think of some of the more remote places. Like Torridon,  Skye or Knoydart in Scotland, these places are among the more adventurous destinations in the UK.

The final ideas are small but random gifts any climber would like. So why not buy 3m of 5mm prussic cord and cut it in half so they can make two prussic. Will cost less than a fiver and be of great use to them. Or something as simple as a block of chalk we be well received. A little more expensive but a real lifesaver for the climbers phone is a waterproof pouch. If you climbing friend has stinky feet then maybe go for the boot banana shoe deodoriser. Maybe just getting them another carabiner, something along the lines of the sentinel screw gate from DMM is a sure fire way to put a smile on there face.

Failing all of that, if you want to make a big statement, then find out which climbing wall they use the most. The short days, bad weather and long nights mean they will be going to the climbing wall a lot during the winter. Most wall allow you to buy a 10 entry ticket of a coffee and a climb voucher.

 

All I Want For Christmas…

Over the last few weeks I have been busy preparing for my year away travelling. As a result I have been spend quite a bit of money on equipment and have been trying to spend it ethically. By that I have tried to spend my money in Bricks and Mortar shops. Both V12 and Joe Browns have taken some cash off me. I urge you as you prepare to buy yourself or other climbers christmas gifts to think that spending an extra £1 in a shop is worth it in the long run.

As an author I think it is even more important to support those who take the time to right in the niche market of rock climbing and mountaineering. As such I am going to recommend a few books from fellow authors who believe you me won’t be retiring on their royalties anytime soon.

I have tried to give linked to these book in real shops or the authors websites. As just like small businesses climbing authors need your support.

Bouldering: Movement, Tactics and Problems by Peter Beal

A book that will help you develop you bouldering, by an active climber and blogger Peter Beal. You can read more about his musing at Mountains and Rivers. The book is more US centric, but climbing is climbing.

$17

Bouldering Essentials by David Flanagan

Another book specifically aimed at bouldering. It is good for virtually anyone from beginner to expert. So whether you are a complete rock monkey smashing out V9 or an indoor climber looking for advice to boulder outside for the first time there is pretty much something in here for everyone. Check out his website.

€25

How to Climb Harder by Mark Reeves

My book that does exactly what it says on the tin, in that it helps you tackle your climbing performance from a multitude of different angle be it tactical, technical, physiological and psychological. It is available from pesda press.

£15.99

Outdoor First Aid by Kath Wills

Whatever activity you do outside, then knowing some first aid is vital. As extreme sports are extreme for a reason. The consequences can be serious and what you do in the first minutes after an accident really can be lifesaving. It is available from pseda press.

£15.99

North Wales Climbs by Rockfax

This is the guidebook to North Wales that I helped author. It has been extremely well received. I think it is awesome, I suggest you check it out in you local outdoor shop or direct from the rockfax website. They produce loads of great guidebooks to a whole host of areas both in the UK and abroad.

£29.95

Hanging By A Thread by Mark Reeves

My book on the overview of history, science, technology and culture of rock climbing and mountaineering. A kind of one stop shop for climbing history. My mission this year is going to be turning it into a web series on Youtube. It is only available in print and ebook from amazon

£12.98

Nature of Snowdonia by Mike Raine

This book covers the whole gambit of nature in the Snowdonia National Park. However much of what is covered is also true in any upland area in the UK. This is a great book to help open your eyes as what you can find whilst out walking or climbing. Available from pesda press.

5.10 on board with Round The World 40 Climbs

So I have mentioned this before and you will be sick of it within a few weeks/months. But my 40th birthday project to go “round the world in 40 climbs” is near to starting. I fly out to South America for the first leg on Boxing day.

As part of the trip I have also been trying to get support from a few sponsors by the way of a fairly elaborate and detailed proposal. I will explain what the proposal says for this first leg in a bit. But I am really pleased to announce that Five Ten UK have support the trip by providing rock  and approach shoes.

Five-10-logo

What is really great about this is ever since 1995 I have had a brand of rock shoes I have used. I was first introduced to them when climbing on the Slate with a very young and talented Leo Houlding. The shoe was the Anasazi Pink, since then I have pretty much always had a pair of the current Anasazi usually the Whites for performance climbing and a comfy pair of velcro for work purposes.

There support means I have a great selection of shoes that would make Imelda Marcos jealous. I have a pair of Stonelands, which i reviewed for UKC and they are the bomb when it comes to a comfy pair of shoes you can wear all day with minimal drop in performance.

I also have a pair of the new Anasazi Pinks, a kind of returning to my earliest days with 5.10 brand, these are a great all round shoe, and are great at both edging and smearing. They also make a more multi pitch performance shoe. For me in North Wales they were the work horse behind me climbing many E5’s and a few E6’s on sight on the Slate. The joke used to be that a new pair took a grade off the route!

Finally I also have a pair of Dragon’s, these are the highly aggressive shoes that will be great on single pitch routes and highly technical bouldering. As such I think I have all bases covered when it comes to rock climbing shoes.

Whats more important for me is that I can honestly say that Five Ten shoes so good I have been buying them with my own money for nearly twenty years. So for me it is a dream come true to have the support of such a fantastic brand. I just hope I can return the investment they have made in me.

The first leg is teaching rocking climbing in South America as well as some travelling. The plan so far is to make short videos on the following:

  • Climbing Around Coyhaique
  • Climbing in Esquel (Same destination as the Petzl Rock Trip 2010)
  • Climbing in Bariloche (Including the amazing Frey)
  • Possibly climbing in Cochamo (The Yosemite of South America)
  • Attempt at Vulcan Llulliallaco (Telling the gruesome story of one of the first mountains ever climbed)
  • A visit to Potosi (The story of Altitude Sickness)
  • A visit to Machu Pichu (Sun worship and mountains)
  • Attempt at Mount Chimborazo (Various stories from the first ascent to weighing the earth)

Some of these videos won’t make that much sense in isolation, however as the series progresses you’ll see that effectively I am trying to tell the history of rock climbing and mountaineering by following in the footsteps of the greatest climbers and mountaineers. Loosely based on exploring the climbs that I included in my book Hanging By A Thread: The Science, Technology, History and Culture of Rock Climbing and Mountaineering.

If you’d like to support the project or would like to find out more before you commit, then get in contact and I’ll send you the full proposal. In the mean time thanks some much to Five Ten for sharing the vision I have for this project.