Monday 24 June 2019

This blog has moved

This blog has moved. After redesigning my website in June 2019 I have moved my blogs to:

I'll leave the archive of posts on this and my online climbing coach blog here. But new posts will follow at the above URL. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

I will be continuing to produce written and video content related to my personal climbing, and climbing performance on the new blog. We have also updated the shop on the site which works rather better and offers more flexibility for payments etc. Claire and I have been shipping climbing books, fingerboards and other items we like around the world since 2006 and are looking forward to continuing to help climbers.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Vlog #14 Motivation to train

A vlog on how I motivate myself to train. It’s pretty simple.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Vlog #13 Hangboards - what to measure?

"What gets measured, gets managed". Measuring aspects of performance in sport is a good thing, but only if you are measuring the right things and interpreting the data correctly. In this vlog, I draw attention to potential problems with performance metrics in climbing, especially related to basic finger strength, both at an individual level and with normative group data. In the video I talk a lot about fingerboarding. The fingerboard I designed and I'm using in the video is this one, The Edge.

Nevis Faces - Helen Rennard

Nevis Faces is a 6 part series of short films Claire and I have made for the Nevis Landscape Partnership that explores the faces of those who work and live around the Nevis area. Helen Rennard is an accomplished winter climber living in Fort William. When not helping the local community through her job as a social worker, Helen spends all her time either training for her climbing or out in the mountains climbing hard mixed routes. Helen has been involved in many first ascents of hard mixed routes on Ben Nevis and around the Scottish highlands.

I actually can't believe I managed to get this one made given the crazy winter we've had.

Saturday 9 March 2019

Vlog #12 Physical versus Desk Jobs and Your Training

A comment after Vlog #11 prompted me to do a whole episode exploring the pros and cons of physical versus sedentary jobs and their interaction with your training for climbing. Folk in physically demanding jobs are often strong and resilient, but can be overtired if they don't stay on top of their routine. In sedentary jobs, climbers can need extra work to keep on top of basic physical conditioning so that they can actually handle the physicality of hard climbing.
I go through some practical as well as general ideas and perspectives on how to make the most of your current situation, as well as encouraging anyone to at least consider changing it altogether if it isn't right. Not an easy thing to do, but what is?

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Nevis Faces part 2 - Dave Cuthbertson

The second in our 6-part series about interesting folk in the Nevis Area is out. This time about Dave Cuthbertson. I spent most of my youth trying to repeat Cubby’s desperate rock climbs all over Scotland. In recent years, I’ve been in front of Cubby’s lens while he takes his amazing climbing shots. I may be slightly biased but I do think he is the best landscape photographer I’ve seen and in this film we explore that a little. I think it’s clear that his life as a climber gives not only an awareness of locations and conditions that would be hard to get otherwise, but also a highly tuned in eye for the detail and structure of the mountains.

We spent a fantastic but very cold night on the summit of Carn Mor Dearg and were rewarded with a sinner of a sunrise.

Al of the rest of the films will be published over the next week or two on the Nevis Landscape Partnership youtube channel.

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Vlog #11 Training/Injury Rehab Wreckers

People are busy, including me. This post goes through how I manage busy work periods from a training point of view. I also discuss a common theme related to failure to recover from climbing injuries which I've discovered through the many thousands of messages I've had from climbers worldwide since I published Make or Break. In the video I'm signing some books and talking about how I do this for all the books I sell from my site. Of course you can get my books via Amazon But I sign all the books I sell from my own shop.

Thursday 10 January 2019

Vlog #10 Three strategies for a stronger new year

Here are three strategies I use in my own climbing to reflect on the previous year and plan for better results in the coming year, with some examples of how to implement them. Near the end of this video, I discuss some supplementation I do while recovering from tendon/ligament injuries. The paper I reference is this one by Keith Baar and colleagues.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Mr Fahrenheit

Iain Small starting out on the bold lower half of Mr Fahrenheit E7 6b on the Comb, Ben Nevis. The prow on the right is my own route Anubis (E8) from 2005.

This summer is ridiculous. Anyone who reads my blog a lot will know I hate climbing in the heat, and so you wouldn’t need to be Sherlock to deduce that my recent location has been among the shady recesses above 1000m on Ben Nevis. There was a brief interlude of far cooler temps and so I was on my projects on Binnien Shuas. Unfortunately Iain’s car broke down on the way to meet me so the easier one did not get led on the cool day. Instead I shunted on the harder one and have now done the moves and some short links. Its going to be a hard one. It could be as hard as 8c, and out of range of the gear on the last couple of moves of the crux section. It will have to wait until I have more sessions on it in good conditions. 
Iain going around the corner on Don't Die of Ignorance

Back to this heatwave. When Iain got his car fixed we walked up the Ben. At least the inside of the CIC hut was coolish. We decided on checking out a brilliant looking finger crack I’d seen on The Comb while abseiling down ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ years ago to retrieve some gear after my FFA in winter (a long story). To access the pitch to clean it, we reclimbed the crux pitch of Don’t Die which was weird to see it in summer conditions. Particularly odd to go back to the belay with no t-shirt on, where I’d previously spent 4 hours in a hypothermic state getting frost-nip in my fingers.

I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening cleaning the 55m pitch on the wall below. It looked absolutely amazing on immaculate rock. Ben Nevis at its best. It was however a pitch of contrast, the lower slab was something straight out of Cloggy, albeit on better rock. 6a climbing on edges but with one real runner in 20m. The upper half was well protected but sustained and physical.

We stayed in the hut and I got sunburned just drinking a cup of tea outside in the morning. Time to get into the shade of the cliffs. After spending some time with my feet in the snow (lovely!) I tied in and climbed the slab quickly to get it out of the way. My feet were hot and sore already and I couldn’t get settled for the hard half of the pitch above. So I just had to carry on, unsettled. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the scrap with the wall cracks since the climbing was just so good and abseiled off to give Iain his turn.

Ian told me he had listened to my comment about sweat running out of my helmet at the top and so paced himself a bit on the rests. Whether that made a difference or not I don’t know, but he looked like he enjoyed the pitch as well.

Iain getting racked up for the lead.

Iain at the top of the slab section, where you reach some welcome runners.

We called the climb Mr Fahrenheit. The first route on the buttress, Don’t Die of Ignorance, was first aid climbed by Andy Cave and Simon Yates in 1987 (and freed in winter by myself in 2008). That name was the slogan for the widely seen scary public health ads for the feared AIDS crisis in the late eighties. I remember clearly seeing those ads as an 8-year old even though I had no idea what they were on about. Anyway it made me think of Freddy Mercury and so we thought of something from Queen’s songs that related to the unprecedented heat right now.

Every time I climb on Ben Nevis in summer, I think ‘I should do this more, the rock is so good’. And of course, you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere cooler in the UK. As we trotted about the Coire en route to this line, we eyed up the endless potential for other new routes that still exists on Ben Nevis.

Reaching the end of the wall cracks section.

Aerial shot of the Comb. Mr Fahrenheit takes the obvious brown streak.

Aside from various gloves, goggles and very new and very old Nevis bits of gear lying about the screes, we found lots of other odd things folks carry up the Ben.

Monday 11 June 2018

24/8 film

Back in March I had a great day out climbing a link-up I’d thought about for many years: Font 8A boulder, E8 trad, 8a sport, VIII,8 winter route and 8 Munros in 24 hours. I blogged about it at the time here, but now the film is ready. Enjoy. 

I think its a nice reminder of why people make such a big deal about Scottish climbing. Thanks to Kevin Woods for making the film and Mountain Equipment for supporting it.