Quite a few people responded to my earlier reviews of hand balms for climbers by raving about Joshua Tree Climbing Salve, and suggesting I give it a go. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sold in the UK. Relatively recently a few places have started stocking it. Over the last year I’ve been using Joshua Tree Climbing Salve to look after my hands after climbing indoors and outdoors, as well as after lots of handwashing. While it’s a good balm that I keep coming back to, I’ve found that Joshua Tree Climbing Salve doesn’t quite live up to all the great things I’ve heard about it. Read more
A little over a year ago I returned to climbing outside after surgery on my knee. It felt absolutely great to be climbing again, but I knew I still had a way to get my strength and technique back to what they were. I did a lot better that weekend than I thought I might, but I did feel disappointed to not get up some problems. So last weekend I returned to Burbage to try those problems again.
I’d particularly wanted to climb the problems on the That Little Piglet boulder. I’m usually good at climbing slabs, but I’d been baffled by how to get up two low grade, slab problems on this boulder the last time I was there. Read more
Sometimes rain on a climbing trip can be good thing. A couple of weeks ago, rain forced me to give up on climbing at The Roaches and instead go for a walk in the surrounding countryside. It turned out to be a great walk, going to places I had never been and seeing some fantastic sights. I hiked over Hen Cloud, past The Roaches, through the chasm of Lud’s Church, along the pretty River Dane, under The Hanging Stone, and back along the whole length of the Roaches ridge. The best bit was the amazing, clear views from The Roaches once the rain and cloud had cleared.
The next day was bright and clear, and so I got my chance to go climbing. I went bouldering for the first time at The Attic and The Cellar. Read more
I’ve been wanting to climb on the Langdale Boulders for years. Ever since I moved from mostly climbing trad to mostly bouldering, they have been on my list of places to climb. Famous, iconic and right in the heart of one of the Lake District’s most beautiful valleys. The Langdale Boulders are one of those places I’d seen pictured in climbing magazines, in guidebooks, and on the wall of the café in one of my local bouldering walls. My climbing trip to the Lakes gave me the perfect opportunity to go. A weather forecast of intermittent showers on my last day of the trip also meant that climbing at a venue with a two-minute walk-in seemed like a sensible idea.
Longsleddale was the one place I really wanted to go on my bouldering trip to the Lake District. Some people might think it a bit strange to prioritise the Settle Earth Boulders in Longsleddale over destination bouldering venues in the Lakes like St Bees or Langdale. But I wanted to go as I knew that Longsleddale is beautiful and tranquil, and, after reading the new Lake District Bouldering guide, I’d learned that it also has a great lower-grade bouldering circuit.
I’ve been to the Lake District many, many times, but didn’t know about Longsleddale until a few years ago. Read more
I couldn’t actually find the boulders. I walked back and forth along the same stretch of grassy ridge looking at the boulders scattered around me, trying to find one that matched the photos in my new guidebook. If I could find the Ridge Stone boulder, then I could orientate myself and get on the right track. But in the mist it wasn’t easy to work out which rock was which. I felt certain I’d missed the path to Boulder Valley shown in the guidebook, and so had ended up walking too far up the ridge. The Ridge Stone was shown in the guidebook’s map as being after the start of the path I wanted. I reasoned that if I found the Ridge Stone, I would know for sure I had gone too far. I looked again at a tall boulder sitting just to the side of the path, trying to work out if its shape matched that of the boulder shown in my book. The whole situation felt ridiculous. I felt ridiculous. I was walking about in the mist, on the first day of a bouldering trip to the Lake District, unable to find the boulders I’d come all this way to climb. Read more
The other weekend I fell off more than usual. I’ll have a go at harder problems every time I go bouldering as a way of trying to improve my climbing. About a third of the time I complete the problem, another third of the time I fall off every time, and the remaining third I’m just baffled about how to actually do the climb. However, this time, I fell just off again and again. Read more
I climbed around the rain this weekend. Rain often either forces me to not go climbing at all, or forces me to finish climbing before I’m ready. This weekend looked like it was going to go that way again when it started raining after I had only done two problems at Stanage Far Right. It was particularly annoying as rain (and snow) had stopped me climbing in North Yorkshire a couple of months ago, and for some time I’d been wanting to go back to Stanage Far Right to see if I could finish the green circuit.
The far right hand end of Stanage is a brilliant place for easier bouldering. The problems are varied, interesting and (usually) above good landings. The views are brilliant. It’s also only a ten minute walk from the car parking (which is a definite plus when there’s a chance you might get rained off). Read more
My hands dry out really easily after climbing and in cold weather (two things that often go together in the UK). This means that I’m always interested in hand care products for climbers. When I came across adverts for KletterRetter hand cream, I decided to give it a go.
KletterRetter is German made and has been selling there since 2013. It relatively recently started being sold in the UK. The name apparently roughly translates into English as “climbing saver.” Read more
Rock climbers are advised to work on their weaknesses in order to get better. The trouble is, since my injury, I’ve had quite a few weaknesses.
A piece of advice that I’ve read in lots of different places is that you should work at getting better at the things you are weak at if you want to become a better rock climber. The thinking behind this is that people tend to avoid the things they’re not very good at. A lack of practice means that you don’t get better at the thing they’re shunning and so continue to avoid it. In rock climbing, you could be avoiding something because you find it’s too physically hard and/or you cannot master the technique. For the first few years after I started climbing my particular weakness was smearing. It felt insecure, unnatural and unsafe. So, I tried to climb routes using as little smearing as possible. This was a bit of a challenge as I was doing a lot of gritstone climbing at the time. However, somewhere along the way I did enough smearing to get the hang of it. It went from being unnerving, to being another useful way of getting up a climb, to being fun. I now really enjoy smearing up a featureless gritstone slab. Read more
It’s been a year since I climbed on real rock and six months since the accident. After lots of physio exercises, surgery and weekly sessions at climbing walls to remind my body how to climb, last weekend I finally got back to climbing outside. It brought a smile to my face and reminded me of why I love to climb.
The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more