Roaches – along and high

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

Langdale Bouldering

Climbing an unnamed boulder problem on the Top Block at the Langdale Boulders.

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.

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Bouldering in Longsleddale

Climbing an unnamed problem on the Jacko Boulder at Settle Earth Boulders, in Longsleddale.

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

Bouldering Below The Old Man

The cloud beginning to lift, revealing the Old Man of Coniston and Boulder Valley.

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

Falling off a lot

Climbing the fun Pooh Bear (V0 4c) at Froggart Edge.

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

Between the Rain

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 Climbing 2018 in Pictures

With a knee injury (and resultant surgery) I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked in 2018.  But I still had some great days climbing and walking.  These photos give a sense of days.

KletterRetter Review

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 hand cream for climbers.

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

Working on my Weaknesses

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.

Me climbing the problem Wall End Slab Direct Start (V0 4c) at Stanage Plantation.

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

I’m Finally Back

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.

My first outdoor climb in a year – Bore-hole Wall (V0 4b) at Curbar Field.

The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more

My Climbing 2017 in Pictures

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.