Rainbows and Waterfalls in Snowdonia

A rainbow above Nant y Geauallt, near Capel Curig.

Forecasts of 45mph winds, with gusts up to 65mph, meant that it didn’t seem like a good idea to climb a mountain in Snowdonia last weekend.  So I decided to do some fairly low level walks.  On the Saturday I walked from Capel Curig to the pass near Crimpiau, and down to Llyn Crafnant.  I then walked around the western shore of the lake, before heading over the ridge to Llyn Geirionydd.  From there I walked through the woods back to Capel Curig.  Every so often bright sunshine broke through to create more rainbows than I have ever seen on a hike. Read more

My Climbing 2017 in Pictures

Ice and Waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons

I had a fun weekend of contrasts in the Brecon Beacons, with snow and ice on the tops and waterfalls and rain in the valleys.

Why is the best weather the weekend before?

Why does the best weather always seem to happen the weekend before I go on a climbing trip?  Sunshine, clear skies and low winds bless the destinations of my long-planned climbing trips on the weekends before I try to go climbing.  The weather forecasters often refer to “unseasonably good weather” when talking about those weekends, before going on to say “but the weather will change mid-week.”  This means that by the time I try to go climbing the weather is rainy, unsettled, changeable or in some other way not really ideal for rock climbing.  That preceding weekend feels like a teaser of what might have been.  It makes not being able to climb because it’s raining that little bit more annoying.

Me climbing Route 3 (VB 4a) on The Chant section of Burbage North.

This is what happened last weekend.  A weekend of good weather in the Peak District was followed by an intermittently rainy weekend.  After a couple of abortive attempts, Read more

Trying out the new North Wales Bouldering guidebook

It was a fantastic coincidence. I was due to go on a weekend climbing trip to North Wales and on the Monday before my trip the new North Wales Bouldering guidebook was published. I’d been waiting a long time for this book.

Me climbing an unnamed 4C problem on the Wavelength Boulder in Llanberis Pass, while Katrina spots me.

The first edition had been out of print for years and it seemed that only the quick and lucky (and possibly wealthy) could buy a 2nd hand copy. From reading the periodic UKClimbing threads asking when the next edition would be published, I had the tantalising impression that the reason the second edition was still not available was because the author, Simon Panton, just kept finding more and more bouldering delights in North Wales that he could not leave out. Read more

Roaches and Newstones Bouldering

I’ve been climbing at the Roaches many times and never bothered to look at the other climbing venues just next door.  The Roaches is just so big and has so much great climbing that I never felt the need.  I did some brilliant bouldering there on Saturday, climbing problems I had wanted to do for a while and pushing my grade a little.  Unfortunately,  the weather forecast for Sunday morning showed that it would begin and end with showers (plus “the chance of thunder”).  I therefore looked through my guidebook for a bouldering venue with a very short walk-in so that I could walk-out quickly if need be and I found Newstones.  It’s a small series of boulders and little buttresses a few miles from the Roaches.  The rock has great friction and some strange veins running through it that I’ve never seen before on gritstone and which made for sharp edges and flakes.  This helped make the bouldering interesting, varied and fun.  Despite the great climbing and a pleasant location, Max and I had the place to ourselves the whole time we were there.

This weekend showed me that the big climbing venues are brilliant, but that I need to flick through the pages of my guidebooks more.

Stronghold Climbing Centre review

The Stonghold Climbing Centre has a cool name and describes itself as London’s largest indoor bouldering space. But is it any good?

Me climbing at the Stronghold Climbing Centre.

London’s newest climbing wall is hidden away down a quiet street a few minutes walk from Tottenham Hale station. The Stronghold Climbing Centre is housed in an old warehouse that had previously been home to a charity recycling and reusing domestic furniture and appliances. These workshops have been replaced with a big, open and light climbing space and a range of good facilities. Read more

Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm review

Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm aims to help sooth the pain and tenderness you can get from climbing hard. It’s made with natural ingredients and has a kick of menthol. I’ve been trying it out to see if it keeps my hands in good shape.

Giddy Joint and Tendon Balm at Fontainebleau.

The idea is that applying Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm relieves pain, stiffness or tenderness in muscles, joints and tendons affected by overuse and/or injury. A combination of natural (and nearly all organic) ingredients is meant to sink into the skin to help sooth and heal. Read more

Bouldering in Fontainebleau with a Toddler

The woods around Fontainebleau have a reputation as one of the best places in the world to boulder. Thousands of sandstone boulders, with tens of thousands of boulder problems, scattered about a pretty forest that covers some 300 square kilometres. Fontainebleau also has a reputation as being a great place to take kids. That’s a reputation that my wife and I have found to be deserved on our trips over the last few years. It’s been a bit daunting and challenging at times taking a teething baby and then an energetic toddler on climbing trips in a foreign country, but it’s also been fun and taught us things about being parents.

Me bouldering at Canche aux Merciers with my son.

Here are a few of the things we’ve learned about going bouldering in Fontainebleau with a toddler. Read more

Back in the Woods – Bouldering in Fontainebleau

I love bouldering at Fontainebleau.  There are so many wonderful things about it.  All those boulders scattered through a pretty wood.  A stunning amount of climbing, in a wide variety of forms and often on boulders that weird, beautiful or both.   The different characters of the climbing areas.  The feeling of community among the climbers.   The inland beaches that make for good landings and nice places to have a picnic.   That it’s a giant, wooded playground for kids (more about that in my next post).

Fontainebleau’s not somewhere I get the chance to go very often and I always leave wanting to go back.

UPDATE: 19 May 2019 – I’ve written an expanded blog post about bouldering at Fontainebleau with a toddler that uses my experiences of this and earlier trips.

A Little Bit Green Around the Edges

Climbing in the Peak District at this time of year usually means three things for me. Hoping that it won’t be raining so that I can actually climb. Trying to avoid climbing on rock covered in damp, green lichen that it’s easy for my hand or foot to slip off.   Plus, climbing at a level that I can manage and enjoy when I either have a cold or am recovering from one.

Climbing One Inch Arete (VB 4a) in the Little Quarry at Curbar Edge.

The rain that had poured down on the Peak District last Friday disappeared by Saturday to leave clear skies and brilliant sunshine.   It was great weather for bouldering and I was really pleased that I could try out bouldering at Curbar Edge for the first time. Read more

My Climbing 2016 in Pictures

 

1 Day Wet and 1 Day Dry Walking in the Brecon Beacons

 

Bone and Hound Bouldering