Sunday, 24 December 2006

Ben Nevis Xmas sunshine

It's a bit of a tradition for myself and big Pete to escape each year for a day in the mountains on Christmas eve. The CIC and Ben Nevis are just so damn good that we headed back there this year for what is usually a bit of a swally followed by a hungover stumble up some munros. Not so this season...

Nevertheless, the forecast was for an inversion with summit temps at plus 8 degrees, so we thought we better take a good supply of alcohol up to the hut as the prospects of climbing looked bleak. Above is Peter trying to get his money's worth out of the supply at 4am. Time for a kip mate, and don't let the CIC mouse bite!

Unfortunately for our hungover bodies, we woke (at 10am) to blue skies, frost and the sight of some ice hanging in there in the Coire. So after an unhealthy breakfast we racked up and rolled out, headed for Green Gully.

Peter motoring up the start of Green Gully. He did take the fancy to stop and make a belay after climbing 110 metres.

Lovely neve heading off into the sky.... ice climbing heaven.

A stunning topout moment into the early afternoon sun.

A better way to spend christmas eve than the shopping frenzy that no doubt raged in the cities.

We had time for brew sitting outside the CIC hut before heading home, soaking up the warm inversion air, and looking longingly at the plethora of projects in the Coire.
A great day, until I arrived home to find my new wee Micra broken into and smashed up. Oh well...

Its been an interesting few days. I've managed to clear off a lot of my backlog of work, just about 20,000 words of overdue writing tasks to nail before proper climbing resumes. In between I nipped out and finally did the move that would'nt go on a 'last great' Dumbarton bouldering line. So the psyche is on to begin some more focused attempts. I'm glad about this, it will really help me train here again and avoid the climbing wall gravity for another winter. Anyway, tomorrow is Christmas day and its time to eat large chunks of meat at my mum's and then learn how to fix my broken car. Best go now and hit the fingerboard to earn tomorrow's calorie blizzard...
Happy Christmas all

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Christmas deliveries

Just a wee note to say thanks to everyone who ordered E11 from my webshop and that I'll be dispatching UK orders until thursday 21st by special delivery so they will still arrive before Christmas at no extra charge.

If you haven't been to the shop page in a while, I've added some new stuff like Cubby's Scottish climbing calendar and logbook.

I was thinking the other day it's been quite amazing setting up this website, a huge amount of work but good fun too. Apologies for not having time to add more training notes to the online climbing coach page for a while - its been impossible of late to find a moment! Thanks to everyone who sent me comments about the site!! There will be a lot more to add in 2007.

Monday, 18 December 2006

old venue, new possibilities???

The view during the last endurance lap of the day. Better than the climbing wall...

Dumby - more of the same - am I psyched? Am I not psyched?

With the bandages off yesterday I had to get outside for a few hours so took advantage of the first break in the continuous 2 months of rain (evry day - no joke!) and headed round to pull on some very small holds at Dumbarton.

When I arrived I felt very much like I did 4 years ago after climbing everything there up to Font 8a; that the remaining projects were too hard for me even to work on. So I didn't climb there for 2 years and intended never to go back. But a couple of years later when I returned I found I could begin to pull on some previously impossible holds and from that eventually came some harder problems completed - lines I could never see myself climbing.

Today I felt the same sense of the remaining things being too hard to bother with. But it's funny how it only takes one move which felt desperate in August and felt easy today to reverse that feeling. The Watson was out too and beavering on another arete line I'd dismissed. After an hour of us both scrapping with it, I could do most of the moves. All of a sudden things are possible again.

Really I want to be living near some other pieces of rock now. I seem to be quite impatient for it recently. But the job market in the west highlands is not being forthcoming for Claire, so this will be my local crag for a while yet. So maybe I should just go ahead and get stuck into another scrap with a graffiti covered roof.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Out of action

Getting bandaged up - health problems suck!

As they say it's easy to take your health for granted until it fails you. I've been away on a bit of a tour of the UK coaching climbers and giving lectures, trying to fit in training and everything else - generally burning the candle at both ends. There is always a cost to behaving like this somewhere along the line. The body does not thank you for being abused. I just got home from the tour and was all set to leave for a short climbing trip, but had to cancel due to health problems for the first time in years. A skin problem (eczema) on my feet which has been there all my life doesn't normally get in the way, but tends to get worse at times of extreme busyness. The last time I remember having painful walk-ins to crags was during my finals. Anyhow It means I am not in good shape for getting a pair of rockshoes on my feet and will have to go back to wearing socks with them all the time.

Its not all a tale of woe on the climbing front though. At least I can still hang off the fingerboard and time stuck at hoe at night with the bandages on will mean the rest of my work gets done and I'll be ready (and hopefully a little less weak) for new year climbing trips.

Should still be OK for mountaineering boots though, and there are signs of winter waking up!

Monday, 4 December 2006

Claire's first event!

Claire MacLeod about to tuck into lunch at sector cascade, Ceuse. I've been looking for an excuse to use this photo!

Claire was feeling the stress last night - it was her first ever effort at organising an event, a lecture by me and screening of E11 in Inverness. Thanks to everyone who came and made it to within a couple of seats of selling out! Well done Claire too! We drove home afterwards in the worst torrential rain I've seen in years and marvelled at the frighteningly high rivers (read raging torrents) all the way home. It's tipped it down almost every day in November so not much is happening with outdoor climbing here right now.

My recent visit to Siurana reminded me of how desperate this country can be for climbing at times whether its midges, rain, thaws or whatever. Climbing is so easy on the continent by comparison. All you have to do is turn up and pull hard. The Scots love a good moan though so it's not so bad. Interestingly I was talking to Iain (who's blog is here - BTW Iain, the pic of the rockshoe selection reminded me of myself) who is taking a career break right now from a good London 'proper' job to travel the world climbing and he said that he missed the feeling of 'having to earn' his climbing. He reckoned an endless road trip can feel like too much of a good thing... sometimes. Its true there is nothing like the feeling of luck when you turn up on the Ben or the Anvil or whatever and find your project in perfect condition. The realisation that you have to do it today or else... is a strong motivator.

Hot Aches have started up a blog on their site which is looking pretty good already. Its their job to film and photograph interesting climbing, so no doubt there will be much interesting stuff on there. Their next film idea is taking shape nicely, and I'm certainly looking forward to my wee bit. It seems Dave B had the right idea this weekend by hitting the Birnam cave for a spot of tooling. Love the photo of the two female climbing stars reading the sunday papers!

Maybe see some of you at the Glasgow lecture and E11 screening on Friday night. If you need the details they are here. Still tickets left at the moment. And yes there will be a bar at the venue to kick of your friday night during the break! [note to self - I'll have to consult the oracle that is Big Ric McGhee for his recommendations for drinking venues afterwards...] No doubt Claire will be getting the stress again.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Siurana escape

Happy to get the flash on Anabolica 8a (photos: Hot Aches)

After the madness of the past month with doing all the work that came with E11, I escaped for 6 days to Siurana in Spain just in time. Going on a short trip when you haven't climbed for a month is never good for the ego and I got slapped about a bit by the routes there. After another night of fighting with hard routes I decided to take a breather and try to flash something easier. I haven't really tried onsighting on bolts since 2002 so I was a bit rusty. But I grunted up Anabolica for my first 8a flash. I should do more of this type of climbing. It feels much less stressful than hard redpoints! You either do it or you don't. With redpoints there are no excuses in the long run. If you fail it means you didn't put enough effort into your preparation.

Overgripping big time on the crux of Anabolica

Dave Redpath was also on Anabolica and made an inspiring redpoint on the last go of the last day. There is nothing quite like last day pressure to make you finally lose your inhibitions and nerves and just fight 'a muerte' as they say.

Something hard to go back to...

It was interesting for me that the moves on several hard routes I tried didn't feel so bad. I can see a possibility for me to increase my sport climbing level next year if I can make the committment to train for it. I think I'll be back on the Ryanair website soon.

Toni Arbones being filmed by Hot Aches on an attempt on Kalea Borroka 8b+. Toni and his parnter run the Refugi in Siurana village. He is Mr Siurana and can be called upon at any time to provide the correct beta for your holiday project. If you drop into the Siurana camping site bar any evening you can join in the year-round 365 day 'Siurana film festival' with each film being introduced by Toni. There was a good buzz around Siurana with manyof the world's best sport climbers in residence and the routes were going down.

The trip as usual was all too short and just as my body was learning how to climb again it was time to go. Sharma made me especially jealous when I asked him how long he had and he shrugged his shoulders and basically said whenever he had done what he came for. Now its two weeks of frantic lecture touring and catching up with writing before I can climb something again. Maybe I'll see you at one of the dates...

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Inverness lecture and E11 screening, Sunday 3rd December

I've just confirmed a booking for a lecture from Dave, followed by a screening of E11 at Eden Court cinema in Inverness on Sunday 3rd December at 7pm. See for booking info and directions.

Dave will be talking about his preparation for Rhapsody and the level of commitment that it required on a personal and professional level.

Tickets £7.


Monday, 20 November 2006

Upcoming lecture & E11 screening - Glasgow 8th December

Dave is clipping bolts in sunny Spain right now, so it's Claire here, trying to figure out how to blog!

Tickets are now on sale for a lecture by Dave followed by a screening of E11. It's on Friday 8th December at 7pm at Gilmorehill G12, University Avenue (at the junction with Kelvin Way). Tickets are £7 and you can get them from 0141 330 5522.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Friday, 17 November 2006

More winter lectures coming up

I just updated my lectures page with details of two more events:

Dundee Dec 11th: Dundee University. "The Hurting" I'll be talking about Scottish winter climbing - My experiences with struggling to get to Grade V, getting an eye for new routes, exploring possibilites for applying my rock climbing ability and finally taking things to my limit with onsights of IX and the first ascent of The Hurting XI,11.

London Dec 13th: Lecture and screening of E11. I'll be talking about my preparation for Rhapsody, what it took for me to do it on a personal level and possibilities to progress beyond it. Then I'll be presenting the E11 film. Full details on my lectures page and online tickets from the events website here.

In the meantime I'm going to go climbing outside for the first time in a month! yipee!

Set in Stone now available from!

Hi Folks, I liked the Set in Stone film about Dave Birkett so much I decided to sell it from my webshop! The standard of climbing films seems to have taken a major jump in the past couple of years and this one is right up there, matching hit after hit of hardcore climbing action with beautiful shooting that inspires anyone to go climbing, even if they find walking under an E9 scary enough. I'm well happy for Dave that this film gives everyone out there a window on the things he's done in the Lake district. Anyway, you can see more about whats in the film and get hold of a copy from me here. I reckon a reasonable proportion of climbers who would never have considered doing trad climbing or even venturing into the mountains will be out there doing it after watching this film. What more can you hope to acheive?

Also new in the webshop are 'E11' posters with the image by Steven Gordon that features on the film front cover. A3 sized and £2.50 plus postage.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Upcoming coaching & E11 screening - Dundee Dec 9th

Weve had a lot of people asking about running more screenings of E11 so weve organised one at Avertical World, Dundee, Saturday December 9th. During the day I'll be running some climbing technique coaching clinics with Niall McNair for both entry level and advanced climbers and then introduing E11 at 7.15pm. Full details of the E11 screening are on my lectures page and full details of the coaching clinics are here. Spaces on the E11 screening are limited to 100 so it might be a plan to get a ticket in advance seeing as the Sheffield screening last week sold out 500 tickets in advance!

To book for coaching or E11 call Avertical World on 01382 201901.

I've also got a lecture and and screening of E11 lined up in London on December 13th - more details of this mon my lectures page in a day or two.

In the meantime maybe I'll see some of you at the Aberdeen lecture tomorrow night...

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Diff delivering a persuasive argument about something or other during the wee small hours (all photos Hot Aches images)

So… We took E11 to the Canadians to see what they thought. The Banff festival is a hard one to get your head round, coming from Scotland with not so many climbers. Its... like... a proper event. With 900 seater cinemas sold out day after day. It’s hard to get an impression of the size of the sport of climbing, but going there you realise there are a fair few of us out there. So it was a little intimidating pulling onto Banff on the Greyhound bus from Vancouver and wondering how things would go. The Banff centre has a fairly sizeable team of full time staff working on the festival – and does it show! I’d recommend anyone go out there next year. There’s just so much going on. I listened with great respect to Simone Moro’s moving description of life and death in the Himalayan winter. I almost got psyched myself for a bit of ledge shuffling, but the video of the weather at base camp was enough to make anyone think better of it. Simone became an honorary Pole by climbing an 8000er in winter, the first non Polish to manage this feat of extreme cold and pain endurance. Grim.

The lunchtime panel discussions were probably the highlight of the talking events for me. Especially as Sundays discussion was about couples doing adventurous things together. Wisdom to manage this type of relationship is worth its weight in gold and plenty of it was shared. Will Gadd was there with Kim and both providing those dead pan but delightfully simple expressions that Canadians seem to have a talent for. “Real life is f**king annoying” said Will. He’s a hard man to disagree with. I found myself thinking “why can’t we have this sort of event in the UK?” On Saturdays discussion I was really struck by the power of Nando Parrado’s thoughts on religion and survival from his experiences. He talked about following a god that allows you to doubt. It really reminded me of the corrupting influence of any large institutions.

Emily Long of the Telluride festival administering the power, so I had to get the next round in

I didn’t see too many films as I studiously sneaked off to the climbing wall to rescue some fitness from the routine of non-stop partying by night. By the weekend I was having to train until 10pm to get a delayed drinking start. That way I could just about keep up the pace with folk until the quite awesomely late closing times. The Sunday night dancing to a local rock band would have been quite a sight to anyone not thoroughly intoxicated. I decided a whisky was a good strategy to enter the zone. Quite a few dancefloor wipeouts were witnessed but thankfully not by Pete Mortimer who chose the top of the band’s amp stack for his bopping spot. It gave him more room to swing his T-shirt in the air.

Some amateurs in the bar...
The festival audience seemed to be psyched by E11, although they had some trouble translating the Glaswegian, and understanding what E11 means. “E11 7a, that means he had 7 attempts I think? Either that or it’s 5.11”

Favourite films from Banff
Ride of the Mergansers

Cobra Crack

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Squamish days with my bro

Getting to grips with granite at the bouldering heaven of Squamish. Photo: Craig McCallum

I finally got the chance to get my ass over to north America for the first time ever last week. The opportunity came up because of the Banff mountain film festival - I went out to meet the Hot Aches guys and present E11. But the other opportunity was to visit my older brother who has lived in Vancouver for a decade and a half, but I've never had the chance to visit. It's kind of cool that Al's wife's dad lives very near Squamish. So I could also have a very brief encounter with the awesome Squamish boulders.

I found it pretty hard to be in a heaven like the Squamish forest for only two days. despite determined pleas with myself not to, I descended into headless chicken mode within seconds of spotting the first lump of granite and ran around with heart pounding more or less until it was time to go. I was just starting to make some headway on things but the onward itinerary demanded we leave. I did manage a nice V10 called Zero Zero. I think its in the Rampage film?? Its a crimpy problem and I found it pretty easy, but the slopers felt just impossible for me to deal with. I need to spend more time on Granite. Of course I left with much inspiration, unfinished business and resolve to return asap.

Alan MacLeod taking his first climbing steps on Squamish Days (V0)

Of course Al was pretty keen to try rock climbing for the first time. It was cool to see someone I knew experience moving on rock for the very firt time. In some ways it reminded me how amazingly far we can progress with the activity - it's a hard thing to do! The skills we teach ourselves are so specific. With a set of bagpipes in his hands Alan moves his fingers with the same mastery as Marc le Menestrel does on rock.

Climbing is a small world as ever and the first climber I ran into on the American continent was Craig MacCallum from Glasgow. Craig is unlike many Scots in that he simply can't be arsed with bad climbing - life is too short. So he sold his flat and moved to Squamish. Sorted!

Al's first time tied into a rope, on the Smoke Bluffs, Squamish

All too soon it was time to hop on the Calgary greyhound bus and set sail for Banff. It's a long journey to sit and ponder ways and means of returning to Squamish.

Claire in deep water solo action

Claire MacLeod DWS in Bermuda, Photo: Grant Farqhuar

Check out this pic of Claire fully kitted out in snorkel kit DWS in Bermuda! (it’s not somewhere we holiday regularly even though you’d be forgiven for thinking so – Claire’s brother Simon lives there). It was Claire’s first DWS and yes she was gripped and yes she fell in. Watch those Man O War Claire!

Friday, 20 October 2006

See y'all at the festival

Ha ha did you catch the 60 footers on the TV news? If you missed it then you can stream the report from the BBC site here. Mick put up another review of E11 on UK climbing, leading off with my scary grimace on the fingerboard. As Mick says about my climbing "someone who was so crap shouldnt be so good". So I do have to battle hard, both on the fingerboard and on projects to have half a chance of getting up a route like Rhapsody and that seems to have rung loud and clear on the film. Big well done to the Hot Aches guys. Its a big weekend for them and wow what a progression theyve had in a short time to scarily professional. It certainly will be a strange one for us at the Edinburgh Mountain Film fest tomorrow with 500 odd other folk watching the results of our labours.

By the way the DVD stock is ready to ship now and I'll be giving the post office a big sack of all my pre-orders tomorrow morning. If you want to get hold of a copy of it then you can from the webshop and I'm shipping them straight away now.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Crazy week

It's been another week with the pedal on the floor. Not climbing - a crazy mix of extreme DIY in the flat and work for the E11 film and the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival. I've spent so little time outdoors so I'm really missing the feeling of the season changing and winter slowly approaching. Maybe thats not so bad since winter is maybe not approaching at all judging by the hot evening sunshine at Salisbury crags last night.

Although I've not had time to catch my breath I'm still looking forward to the showing of E11 at the EMFF on saturday night. I hear this morning there are less than 50 tickets left so if you want to go you should get hold of one. I've just had one of those bizarre experiences - talking to TV reporters at the Dumbarton Rock about the film. I don't think I will ever get my head round the interest its caused. Scottish readers should hopefully catch my mumblings about it on Friday's BBC Reporting Scotland! seemed to like the film as well.

It always amazes me at these times of extreme busyness how resilient the human body is to lack of sleep and good food. I repeated my PB on the fingerboard last night, but then realised that I had forgotten to take off my weight belt from a previous exercise!! Maybe I was dehydrated or something? Actually I think you get a bit of an endorphin thing going on when you go into workaholic mode.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Cubby Images review E11

The raw footage of E11 - thats a lot of hours behind the camera! (Hot Aches Images)

Jo has written a review of the E11 film on Cubby Images site along with an interview with Dave and Diff from Hotaches about the film. You can see it here. Glad the film made an impression on you Jo! Jo finished off her review by saying "I wonder if there will be a sequel?". Oh my god what a thought. I think I know what the sequel would be though...

Its just about a week now until the film comes out. Thanks to everyone who's already pre-ordered it from me. If you want to order it I hope you will from my shop! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival next weekend. At my last count there were a couple of spaces left on our coaching sessions on Sat and Sun and I see this morning that there are still some tickets for the showing of E11 and Tim Emmett's lecture on the Saturday night.

Video of Bodyswerve 8c

Hot Aches have produced an ad for Scarpa with footage of me doing Bodyswerve at the Anvil. You can see it here. I've been getting more and more into gear testing work for my sponsors and getting involved in design - its pretty good fun. I guess I have the good job out of the whole process in that I get to go climbing and then come back with ideas for how to make the kit help you get up even harder routes. I pass my knowledge on to the rest of the team and some time later, hey presto! you see your ideas turn into products. It's easy to take for granted the work that goes on in between.

Anyhow, here are some more shots from the Anvil from Tuesday. The one of me on Bodyswerve is by Hot Aches.

Tom Charles Edwards enjoying the transition part of Spitfire 8a (transition from 'crimpy-balancy' to 'just plain burly' on the second half). The arete to the left is Anvilfire which is 7c+. to the right are two brick projects, and then some more amenable things... There is a full guide for the place here.

Diff starting Amateur Hacker 6b. Great rock architecture on a 6b!

Diff adding yet another hi tech repair to his Duvet. Good as new?!

Hopefully I can back there soon to keep having fun on some more brilliant projects, but no climbing for me in the short term since I need to fit my kitchen. I feel Ikea rage coming on...

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Bodyswerve 8c, and new shoes!

The successful redpoint on my Anvil roof project, Bodyswerve 8c (Hot Aches Images)

Well happy to finally hit that monster finishing jug (Hot Aches Images)

Things have been steadily coming together on my second roof project in the Anvil's massive cave. This one is the left hand exit to what Alan anc Robin called "project McF**K" after they had a look at it. Its about 8a up to a decent edge, then hard moves one after the other all the way to the ledge. A superb new foot sequence was the final straw that got me through those last few moves, although I broke a couple of PBs on the fingerboard the night before and got a bit excited that it could go the next day. After one failure, going flying sideways after a violent slip on the last move, next time I hit the jug and screamed! I reckon it's about 8c and I'm certain its the hardest sport route in Scotland now. I've put up some more pics of it in my gallery here. I think Hot Aches video of it should be making an appearance on UK climbing sometime shortly. I'll let you know when I hear its up.

Another big development for me this week was a change to wearing some new shoes from Scarpa. It's obviously extremely important to love your rockshoes as they affect your climbing standard so much. Even more so for me as I'm comparatively weak and need to squeeze every last drop of advantage out of my feet. With Heinz Mariacher designing at Scarpa now their new shoes are somewhat inevitably rather brill, so it was time to move. I've been wearing the same shoes for nearly ten years and it's amazing how used to a certain shape and feel. As I'm now starting to realise trying new ones out on my new route, designs have come on a bit in that time!

Sheffield E11 and Set in Stone showing

Just thinking things through before setting off on the successful ascent of Rhapsody E11. (Hot Aches Images)
Heason Events have organised a pretty cool event in Sheffield on November 8th - a showing of E11 and Set in Stone. Set in Stone is the new film about Dave Birkett and his living end trad routes in the Lake District. The trailer for this looks amazing, I'm pretty excited to see footage of his routes. Its also great to see a film about Dave as he's been such a prolific climber for so long. Talking of trailers, the interest in the E11 film continues to overwhelm me - 21,000 downloads of the trailer. I only hope folk decide to get the DVD from my site!

The film night on Nov 8th is in the Showroom cinema in Paternoster Row and starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are £7/5 and you can get them from the Showroom Cinema box office - 0114 275 7727. I will be there along with the Hotaches boys as will Dave Birkett to talk and answer you guys questions about the films, the routes and climbing in general. We'll bring some copies of the DVDs along too if you want to get a copy.

My favourite quote about E11 so far was "makes hard grit look a bit girly"! that made me laugh. I suppose I've seen the footage of my own falls so many times I don't flinch, although remembering the feeling of the rope wrapping round my leg is a bit eye watering. But I certainly remember watching hard grit for the first time and feeling a mix of inspiration and dread that I might try some of those in the near future. Gritstone is still the only rock type to land me in a hosptial ward touchwood. Bloody snapping pebbles...

Saturday, 7 October 2006

Taking requests for indoor climbing issues

I'm shortly going to be doing an article over on UK climbing about getting the most out of indoor walls now that the sutumn deluge has probably reached all corners of the UK (except my project on the Anvil) and we might be thinking about heading indoors for a stint.

Mick Ryan has started a thread on the forums there to gather folks 'frequently asked questions' on the matter. I'll focus my article on the questions that come from this, so if you feel like theres something in particular you always wanted to know about using walls to get better at climbing, go to the thread and log your question here.

... of course if you want some more in depth and peronalised help, you could always book some coaching ; )

Friday, 6 October 2006

Being weak has its temporary uses

Niall sticks the crux on Spitfire, 8a

Niall powerdressing for the next attempt

It's been a mad week of working at different ends of the country but I squeezed in a session with Niall at the Anvil. Lack of sleep mean't the walk-in felt hard enough, but there's something to be said for going on your projects when you are feeling knackered and weak. Your feebleness forces you to think again about the foot sequence and I found a brilliant way to do the crux that misses out all the cutting loose on crap slopey edges. It also misses out a hand move so I've gone down to being 5 moves away from success by the back door!

It was good to watch Niall get the 3rd ascent of Spitfire which is back down to 8a after Niall found a good method at the top. There are more pics of this on Tweedley's new blog (which is excellent - looking forward to reading more of this Michael). Other climbing blogs spotted this week included Phil's blog "I must try harder".

I've been frantically doing work that might allow more time to climb in the coming winter season, which is pretty cool. I'll be glad when I can start to train at full tilt again thats for sure, I miss feeling fit.

Friday, 29 September 2006

Climbing on the internet#2 - one to make you jealous!

Iain on a brilliant 7b+ at Montsant, Spain

Here is another good climbing blog by Iain and Gill charting their world tour of climbing after taking a career break.

Iain and Gill world tour

You guys will make a lot of people either jealous with that blog... or leave their jobs! Nice pictures, lets have more of the same. I scrolled down both inspired and depressed as the rain batters off my window right now. But at least I've done the last route on the bottom of the page! Above is another picture of Iain on it.

Climbing on the internet

It's been a week of being quite overwhelmed by the response so far to Hotaches film E11. 13,ooo downloads of the trailer in a week or so!! I cant really get my head round that number. Anyway thanks to everyone who has ordered it so far from my webshop, and to the folks who have reviewed it so far. This is what Joe Simpson had to say!

"Sixty five foot falls, wires exploding, screams of agony, howls of frustration, blood in the shower, and the ecstasy of triumph - this is what it takes to lead 'Rhapsody' on Dumbarton Rock, probably the hardest traditionally protected rock route in the world. E11, the video of Dave Macleod's eventual ascent of this groundbreaking climb is an alarming insight into the utterly obsessive psyche of world class climbers. They appear quite demented. Yet, Dave Macleod, like Cubby Cuthbertson who made the groundbreaking ascent of Requiem on Dunbarton Rock in the early eighties is self deprecating, modest and possessed of a fierce determination to make the impossible possible. Compulsive viewing. I particularly liked the screams - didn't know whether to wince or laugh!!"

Its a bit strange to hear someone famous talking about my route.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Anvil diary

Overlapping halves on the groove project. 6 x hard moves higher to get (photo: Stone Country)

Niall McNair grunting on Spitfire 8a which was seeing queues the other day!

Power screams were not enough this time...

Some serious progress has been made on my Anvil roof project It's perma dry and its just as well as the Scottish autumn deluge is in full swing. This project has been causing my muscles serious aches and pains. It's really the perfect angle for a workout - 45 degrees and 8c so most of the holds are first joint but still positive. Except for the pinky pocket that is. I needed some serious sleep to recover from my efforts, but I had to get up early and go to a job interview - I know! - me? job? working for myself has meant 19 hour days at times during summer so I thought some regular work might help things out and allow more time to climb. I'm such a rubbish blagger though, so left the interview feeling depressed.

Some more stuff on the Anvil and our Argyll adventures in general on Michael's blog.

Monday, 25 September 2006

climbing 8a for breakfast

Micheal finally makes it across the roof to the jugs at the end of his project at Tighnabruaich - Elysium 8a
The fixed grin that completing a big project gives you

After the rain came (and breakfast!) we headed for the big roofs at Carrick Castle

It was a great pleasure to hold Michael Tweedley's rope when he completed his long term project in the Tighnabruaich roof. The line was pretty well known even before Mike had completed it, even starring in a film about Scottish sport climbing. The roof is totally horizontal the whole way and the crux has an amazing kneebar move, hanging upside down from this and crap slopers for hands. Mike had been out to this move even back in 2004 but kept sliding out of the kneebar despite trying everything from tape to strapping his knee up with marigolds! In the end I developed a new kneepad technology that did the trick; a car footmat and some knee supports under stretch jeans. This comibined with extra training and weekends in the west, and the deed was done. The bad forecast necessitated an alpine start, which left just enough time to fit in Mike's send, and my quick second ascent just as the rain started to fall on the finishing holds at 9am.

So with both our projects here in the bag we headed for pastures new - yes, yet another mega steep chunk of Mica shist hidden in Cowal's glens. This time a collection of boulders up to 20m high in the lovely wee glen behind Carrick Castle. There are already some completed lines here and many more will be done over the next year I'm sure by myself, Mike, Dave and anyone else who's keen. But the main event for me is really the super futuristic bouldering roof. You can see in the picture above the angle is less than friendly and the holds are no different. This is a crag that will make just about anyone feel weak and in need of stepping up their training.