Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Grit - Majorca - Injury - Rest

Well it’s been quite a while since my last post so I thought I’d better write a little update on my recent adventures.

Hen Cloud, Staffordshire
                                                The Awesome arete on the left (B4XS)
This is a place that has always scared me for some reason. It stands tall and imposing, overlooking the Roaches. For a long while my main focus was trying to finish a climb called 'B4XS,' which is apparently classed as 'The End of the Affair' for Staffordshire and for a bloody good reason! The run out is hilarious and the climbing very insecure. I personally think it’s a little harder than EOTA and worthy of the grade E8 6C! I hate to imagine what would happen if you were to blow it on the last few moves. The route itself starts halfway up the cliff on a mini ledge where the belayer stands and tries to spot as best as possible. My belayer was Sam and I trust that bugger! Luckily, after a few very frustrating hours sitting at the bottom wondering whether I should have a go, I went and I made it! Possibly the best feeling I've ever had when it comes to sending hard traditional routes. Finally, after climbing this route I felt like I could move on…
Majorca Es Funky

This is Deep Water Soloing at its best! This is a trip that Sam, Al and I have wanted to go on for so long! We booked flights and the psyche just started to build and build! Too much as it happened, as the night before we were set to fly off we decided to have one last training session and POP! I heard a long snap in my left ring finger, followed immediately by a sudden aching and stiffness as I thought it was all over. Nevertheless, after 24 sleepless hours I decided to go along regardless – if only to be the trip cameraman! Thankfully with some serious taping and warming up I found that I was actually able to climb a few routes, though mainly ones with good holds! No crimping for me!

Beautiful Rest day!
Trying to be serious!
The team!
Ejector Seat 7c (flash)
Strangers in Paradise 7b+ (flash)
psyche was high after Diablo

These are just a few routes I managed to send:

Smash it in! 8A (flash)
In The Night, Every Cat is Black! (8a)
Stranger in Paradise (8a)
Bandito (7c flash)
Ejector Seat (7c flash)
Strangers in Paradise (7b+ flash)
Afroman (7b onsight)
Metrosexual (7a+ onsight)
Calamares (6b onsight)
Slice of Heaven (5a onsight)

We have since decided to aim to plan a DWS trip each year because it is so much fun! My favourite style!
On our return I realised that my finger wasn't right and that rest was needed, which is exactly what I did! I took almost a full month off over Christmas, which is the longest I have had in the last 10 years. Sam and I spent Christmas in Wiltshire, which was fantastic - a run on Christmas day, far too much food and we even managed to get out in the canoe for Sam's Birthday. Next up was New Year at the Le Brun's in Somerset. I had an absolute blast, meeting new people, watching far too much Harry Potter, cleaning out drains, making my first gingerbread house, country walks and copious amounts of tea! It is now one of my favourite places to go down to! An amazing family!
Wine and Harry Potter! Perfect start to 2015


err more Harry Potter!
Countryside walk...


Once returning home I got the run down from Sam who had spent the last two weeks in Spain with Jose! Some 8a's onsights and now Murcia's most wanted Man! Over the last month or so I have watched Sam get stronger and stronger and it’s actually been really inspiring! It’s the first time in a long while where Sam hasn’t been struggling with an injury and my god is he cruising. He has completed various routes, including Beau Geste (E7 6C) | Na'han (E7 6C) | Narcissus (E6 solo) | The Crypt Trip (E6 6B) | Desert Island Arete (E6 6C) | Thin Air (E5 6A) | Early Riser (E5 6A) | On The Rocks (E7 6C) and even a boulder problem, Famous Grouse (V9). Currently I'm trying to get back into training and strengthening my finger.

 We recently we spent a few days climbing up in Northumberland, a very beautiful and quiet part of the country! #Vanlife! I managed a few sends, Born Lippy (8A) | Vienna (7B+) | Sprung (7C). Now that I'm back I am heading up to London for an Art Exhibition or Expedition?! Have fun! Stay psyched and hope to see you out there....

5 Weeks till New York! So excited!

Monday, 29 September 2014


I have just returned from an amazing 6 week trip in South Africa! It was the first time back to South Africa since 2001, way before I had got into any sort of climbing.

We headed out mid July and arrived in a smoky Johannesburg after a quick change over in Cairo. After a long wait for the other team member to arrive Jose, we got in our Fiat Punto and headed off east into the night. Thankfully the drive was fairly straightforward along the main highway as it got dark very quickly. There were few nervous moments when we pulled off the main road in the town of Waterval Boven and couldn’t find the dirt road up to the camp. After a while driving around in the pitch black we stopped and asked for some directions and was pointed in the right way. The tarmac road quickly changed to dirt as we then realised why everyone drives 4x4 pick-ups in Africa! After a rather bumpy 7km up the hill side we arrived at the Tranquilitas Adventure Farm where we would camp for the next 2 weeks. We pitched our tents and quickly fell asleep. 

The next day we awoke to this amazing campite, perched on top of the escarpment overlooking the cliffs. It was truly spectacular and we couldn’t quite believe our eyes! We were greeted by a great Africaans farmer called Alwyn who managed the whole site. He was happy that we were staying and in no time at all we were in his bakkie (africaans for pick-up truck) getting a ride around the site as he showed us all the different cliffs. It was a brilliant start and a true African welcome.

Sam topping out on an awesome 7b+

Rest day fun at Boven

After seeing some of the crags that were just below the campground, we couldn’t get our bags packed quick enough and headed straight down to the cliff. We were greeted with some of the best climbing I've ever experienced. Bullet hard orange sandstone rising above the hillside for a good 30m. It was seriously impressive!

Chilling out by the fire

Lotters desire 7b+....Simply Incredible!

We then got into a great routine of 2 or 3 days on, one day off. Mixing it up between the God No sector and the Superbowl, two of the steepest and most impressive sectors in Boven. We basically threw ourselves at as many routes possible and climbed some of the most inspiring lines I’ve ever done. It was a sheer pleasure to be climbing such quality routes in the wilds of Africa with just a few other local climbers. Rest days were spent in the Kruger National park and mountain biking round the hillsides. Nights were spent sitting round a huge fire with a braai, eating large amounts of bourawors. It was perhaps the best 2 weeks climbing of my life!

I climbed so many awesome routes I could list them all but here were a few big hightlights :-) 

Godzilla 8b, Vorpal Sword 8b, The Beast 8a+ (flash), Welcome to Ovamboland 8a+, Hypertension 8a (flash), Jack of All trades 8a, Snap Dragon 7c+ (os) Lotters Dersire 7b+ (os), Monster 7c+ (flash), Tokolosie 8a (os), The Bovenator 7c (flash) felt like 8c!, Condor 7b+ (os), Rude Bushman 7a, Jose crushed the incredible Rolihlahla 8b on the last day. Awesome effort from the whole team. 
It was also brilliant to hang out with some of the local climbers who have put in so much effort bolting and sending the routes such as Andrew Pedley, Brian Weever (B-dog!), Gustav, Dirk, Flex. 
Also Alwyn, Philip and David at the campsite who were brilliant and kept us company.

It does not get much better than this!

First day psyche....shot down!!

After our time in Boven we then drove back to Johannesburg and caught a flight south to Cape Town. On arrival it felt like we had just flown into another country, as it was pouring down outside!!! The first rain we had seen all trip. A complete change from the extremely dry, arid environment up north.

After picking up a rather dodgy looking hire car we then drove a couple of hours north to a small seaside town of Yersfontain where we stayed a night on route to the bouldering mecca Rocklands in the Cedarburg Mountains. This is the place that every climber knows of, where the name represents the area so well. Boulders as far as the eye can see!
Rocklands Love!

Sam Bouldering?

We then spent the next 10 days exploring the endless amounts of boulders dotted around this beautiful region. From small ones to huge house-sized boulders, we climbed and climbed!! Rest days were spent in Lamberts bay and the hot baths. 
Yet another beautiful day in Rocklands

Success after Pinotage sit and Splash of Red.

Here is my list of boulders from the 10 days - 

A Tea With Elmarie 8A+
Royksopp 8A
Pendragon 8A
Herbie 8A
Wittness The Sickness 8A
Barracuda 8A
No late Benders 8A
Black Velvet 8A
Stalker on The Horizon 8A
Ron Ron et caramel 7C+
Splash of Red 7C+
Pinotage sit 7C+
Macho King 7C+
No late Tenders 7C+
Hole in One 7C+
Caroline 7C+
White Mazda Clan 7C+
Weich Ei 7C+ (flash)
Throw Yourself Away 7C+
Beserker 7C+
Poison dwarf Direct 7C+
Une Rime Stupide 7C+
Team Time 7C (flash)
Ceder Spine 7C (flash)
Jaws 7C (flash)
An Amal Rof 7C (flash)
The Rhino 7B+ (flash)
Un Petiti hueco dans Rocklands 7B+ (flash)
Minki 7B (flash)
Springbok 7A+ (flash)
John Denver 7A (flash)
Sunset Traverse 7A (flash)

The Rhino 7b+
Pendragon 8A

Our final leg of the journey was spent in Montagu, a brilliant climbing area 2 hours east of Cape Town. A beautiful, quite spot cut through a steep gorge with rock walls on both sides. It's one of the main climbing areas in the country and a real mecca for the sport climber. We only spent three days there, climbing as many routes as possible to finish on a real high after such a successful trip. 
Montagu highlights;
Cool like that 7c+, Monkey Wedding 7c+ (os), First Starter 7c+ (os), My route by the River 8a+, Catholic School Girls Rule 8a, Point Break 8a (os)

Happy after two days at Montagu!
Dirty days!

The last few days were spent whale watching, wine tasting and eating large quantities on the harbour seafront in Cape town. It was also brilliant to meet up with an old friend and a bit of a legend in South African climbing Ed February. Shared a lot of great stories.  
It was one the best climbing trips I’ve ever been on and really opened our eyes to the amazing quality of the climbing in South Africa. We also had the privilege of meeting some of the most friendly and psyched people I’ve ever come across. A real joy to be around.

Team of Wine drinking monsters!
Letting loose!

After what felt like a very long journey home, we arrived back in London and headed straight to Exeter for the first ever Deep Water Soloing competition. At first I wasn't totally convinced but after watching the qualifiers the psyche just started to build and I was getting super pumped for the following day. After climbing ok on the 3 semifinal routes/ (boulders ;-) ) I was so psyched and luckily made it into the final. For the first time ever I came out of isolation and jumped onto a boat to view the route? wtf? AMAZING! Great experience! There was a massive crowd and the route traversed the whole length of the wall. Im not totally sure but I think I finished in 4th place? maybe 5th! Whatever, It was one of the best competitions I have ever competed in ;-)! 


As soon as the competition had finished we jumped in the van and headed south to Anstey's Cove for some real Deep Water Soloing. This area was unreal with plenty of amazing lines dotted around the point. Over the 2 days we ticked of 'Once a Dogger 7b+, Blue Planet 7b+ and Arapiles Oh Arapiles 7A+ (also caught 10 Mackerel). Then it was time to head Home finally! Back to the Peak District. Training - Coaching - thinking of next trip!?

Once a Dogger 7b+
Blue Planet 7b+

This coming weekend is the BLCC's in Sheffield. Lezz GO!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Long. Live. The. Grit.

For the past couple months I have been unbelievably psyched for the gritstone and even though the warmer temperatures have started to creep in I haven't as of yet felt any need or pull to start climbing on the Limestone. This is a big change for me as normally around this sort of time I get stuck into some lime projects.

Anyway, lets go back a month and start from 'Simba's Pride' (E8 6B). This route has literally taken me the longest to complete out of any other. It took up to 5 visits which was actually very frustrating. Every time I seemed to get ready on the route it started raining, but finally we got a cold enough day and no rain and I managed to climb the bugga!!! It was a rather good feeling sticking the final jug...

A week or so later our London homie Andre came up for a couple days with only one aim 'To climb another E7'....and that's exactly what he did. We both managed to climb 'White Lines' (E7 6C) up at Curbar!! It was actually quite incredible how quickly the route dried that day after a shite morning of solid rain.

White Lines E7 6C

After this the weather changed so we headed south to Portland. First time clipping a bolt in ages. The weather was awesome and it was a nice break from the Peak District. We climbed some new routes, but where actually a little disappointed with how dirty all the climbs were. It seemed like they havnt seen any action in years.....especially down on Dancing ledge.

Mucho Gusto! 7b+
Bust ya Boiler 7c 
Legendary Shadows 7c+
Breathing Method 8a

Picked up a hobo on my way south!!!

Fishing twat!

Back to the Peak and it was on to another new crag for us called 'Hipley Hill'. We wanted to check out a brilliant looking route called 'The Great Tribulation' (E6 6C/ 7c+) and brilliant it was. A steep limestone route but on trad gear. It was far from good connies but definitely climbable. The sequence through the roof is burly and the top finger crack is pretty spectacular. Sam and myself both managed to make an ascent!! Its well worth the visit BUT it sure aint no easy tick.....

 Crack climbing!

Next up was our day at Black Rock's. We met up with Panda and Jose and as per usual the psyche was very high. We started trying 'Velvet Silence' (E6 6C). This slab is unreal and almost feels impossible. It starts off with a weird mantle which then leads to a sketchy slabathon to the top. Not in anyway my cup of tea. For years I could barley do the first mantle. THIS DAY, This bloody day was for some reason different, I cleaned the green moss away and climbed straight to the top. No idea what just happened there but lets move on..... Great route!!!! It was clear blue skies and the sun was out fully beaming down on the crag! Not ideal for anything that was situated around Gaia. So we decided to go and clean up 'Meshuga' (E9 6C) which was thankfully in the shade... but only just!!! I first tried this route 3 years ago with Ben Heason managing to flash it on top rope (whatever that means) I then decided to leave it and....leave it for a little longer. After a couple goes refreshing myself on the moves and for the first time trying the top section, I began to think that I could actually do this....So after a good hour pissing about wondering whether I should go for it or not and listening to this tune over and over again -

Velvet Silence E6 6C

Meshuga E9 6C

We sorted the pads, I clipped the one and only cam on my harness and went for it. It went smoothly and I think its the most satisfied I have ever felt after a climb!! I never thought I could add 'Meshuga' (E9 6C) to my list of gritstone routes. Its worth mentioning Jose's ascent too. This was his first time up to Black rock's and he walked away with an E9. Could this be the first Spanish youth to climb this grade? Who knows.... We both then finished off the day with 'Curving Arete' (E5 6A)

Panda managed to get all ascents on film throughout the day so look out for the video soon.....

Malham was next - I was keen to try a couple of the longer routes on the left, so I got on 'Zoolook' (8a) a super classic route but HOLY SHIT its polished!!!!!! I climbed it on my 2nd try....awesome but wasn't feeling the love. The following day we hit up the top tear and got on 'Free and easy' (7c) Exposed much!!! We climbed it and then left.....Not massively psyched for Malham.

A week later we called up Al and bezzed over to Wimberry. This is a place both Sam and myself have wanted to check out for ages and ages. Its a good hour drive from the Peak and at least 45 mins walk in up a steep hill....That's more like it!! On arrival to the crag we could hardly contain our selves, so many hard routes! Unbelievable! My goal was to check out a route called 'Order of the Phoenix' (E8 6C) It was rather dirty so some cleaning was in order. Sam and Al went and climbed a spicy route called 'Blasphemy' (E2 5B). The moves on OOTP came together quickly and I felt pretty confident on having a go. This was our first visit to Wimbery so we didn't have any bouldering pads as they are a bastard to carry. I had already decided to have a go so to hell with boulder pads....Here is the video of the ascent!! Sam finished our day with a great send of 'Consolation Prize' (E5 6A) We both cant wait to get back this week.....

Here is the video of our afternoon up at Wimberry!!! >>>>

Also if you need a little psyche for your training CHECK OUT this video from Jon Clark featured on EpicTv.

7 weeks today we fly to South Africa!!! YESSSSSSSSSS...ENJOI!!!!!!