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

 

Bone and Hound Bouldering

 

Helmets for Big Heads 2

Whether it’s due to excess brains or empty space, I have a larger than average head. This makes it hard to find headwear that fits. Anything marked “one size fits all” does not include me in the definition of “all”. This might be only an annoyance if I were not a rock climber. I need a helmet to protect my head from falling rocks, dropped bits of gear, smacking my head into a cliff when falling off and banging my head against overhangs (which is a habit of mine). If a helmet is to protect my head properly, then it has to fit properly. Unfortunately, there is only a small selection of helmets that will fit my big head.

Me climbing at Stanage in the Salewa Vega helmet.
Me climbing at Stanage in the Salewa Vega helmet.

My head is a bit over 62cm in circumference but most climbing helmets on the market only go up to a circumference of 61cm. I don’t think I’m the only climber whose head is bigger than 61cm in circumference and so I have written the following helmet guide for climbers with generous heads. Read more

(Re)learning Self-Rescue

My self-rescue skills became rusty because I never got into the sort of trouble where they would be needed. That’s definitely a good thing.  My self-rescue skills also became rusty because I never practiced them and didn’t get refresher training as often as I should have.  That’s definitely a bad thing.  The self-rescue course I did at the weekend highlighted for me just how risky it had been leaving it so long to get a refresher.  There were so many aspects of the rope work that I had forgotten and other aspects that I wasn’t particularly confident on.   The instructors were great at talking me through the steps of a variety of techniques and putting them to use in different scenarios on the rock.  I feel more confident about self-rescue now and determined to practice it more often (although, only in pretend situations).

Beachside Bouldering on Anglesey

Delightful cottage with all mod cons, less than five minutes walk from the beach and a short walk from bouldering in a rocky cove.

OK, the advert for the holiday cottage I rented for my family holiday on Anglesey didn’t read like this. Perhaps the ad should have.   It was great being able to do a little bouldering on the beach and an added selling point for staying in that part of Anglesey.

It was actually a happy coincidence that I happened to be staying close to a small bouldering venue. It was only after I’d booked the cottage that I found out about the bouldering at Lon Isallt Bay when I was researching the bouldering on Anglesey on UKClimbing.

Lon Isallt Bay is a small, pretty and sheltered cove on the Holy Island part of Anglesey between Porth Dafarch and Trearddur Bay. Read more

Peak Weekend

What a great weekend of climbing in the Peak District.  I did a selection of varied and interesting climbs, the sun shone (mostly), it wasn’t raining (mostly) and there was enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay.

Got Giddy – a review of Giddy balms

Giddy produces brilliant balms that manage to pull off the trick of moisturising hands while not weakening calluses.

Giddy Hard Lotion, Balm and Salve.
Giddy Hard Lotion, Balm and Salve.

My son loves opening the mail. It’s probably because there is something intrinsically fun in ripping open envelopes and pulling apart parcels to discover what’s inside. Sometimes he discovers something fun, although mostly he finds a bill for me or yet another request to switch broadband provider.   Recently he enjoyed opening a parcel from North Carolina to find shiny tins of balm from Giddy. Each time we opened up a tin my son would say “that’s lovely!” at the fresh and zinging smell of the balm. Read more