Thursday, 31 August 2006

Climbing books

Amazon have just started a cool feature to let folk who run websites organise a page that has books relevant to their readers. I've set one up here (theres a link on the sidebar too). It's got my personal favourites and links to pages with whats out there about climbing in general, and training for climbing. Let me know if it helps you find new books you didn't know were out there, or suggestions for additions. It's in beta at the moment and the feature needs some improvement but hopefully Amazon will soon allow us to customise and add more categories for guidebooks, training books, etc...

Dumbarton Rock timeline

Pete Ogden sent in this picture of an attempt on BNI direct start in the 1970s. This little number survived an attack by Cubby in the 80s as well and was finally done by Malcolm Smith in the 90s, finally going at Font 7b+. It's really amazing how many new problems have been done in this time here. What good lines are left? Well unbeleivably there are a couple. The line through the roof in the picture is awesome and possible, but the moves still haven't been done. I've done the moves going across the suspended roof into Mugsy via a circuitous route - That should go for someone, although you've already done a fair bit of horizontal climbing to get to the 7a moves. I wonder if someone could climb this roof via a direct line straight into Mugsy? hmmm...

One thing that will never change about climbing here is the characters you meet climbing there.

Monday, 28 August 2006

A few days on Lewis

The consequences of a still morning at the Slig on Skye - midge death
Claire and the Aird Feinis boulder
Claire on a new 4c SS
Claire getting psyched
A little training to finish off
An awesome roof problem at Port Nis - Font 6b+
A big prow thing at Port Nis - scary Font 5
Here are some photos from Lewis. I didn't climb much but had a quick play at the Aird Feinis boulder (I'll post up a topo later on) and a couple of quick problems at Nis. Hmm after 6 visits to Lewis and Harris I've done a lot of good climbing there and starting to feel I've done a lot of what I'd like to do on the sea cliffs. Gneiss is sooo good I only wish there were more walls like Dalbeg, Screaming Geo, and Sheigra. Next time I visit the island I suspect it will be for the mountain crags again. I met up with Niall for a days climbing but with the crags wet we opted for exploring geos and some highly dynamic scrambling to escape the Fulmar projectile vomit.
Thanks Frin for putting us up!

Saturday, 19 August 2006

different perspectives

Sometimes I'm quite psyched about being fairly isolated from the climbing scene in general - i.e. not going to the climbing wall and spending most of my time new routing in quiet places. Sometimes the opposite. I went to the climbing wall twice in the past fortnight - highly unusual for me at this time of year. It was nice to watch the numerous strong and talented people going about. Very inspiring. I couldn't climb for sh*t there - I've totally forgotten how to use blobs. Paying money to go climbing feels strange too when you've not done it for a while. But I could do two and a half one armers which I can only normally do after I've been using ice axes. I don't know how that happened since I've not been away from my desk very much. Maybe I burned off some flab on the Ben carrying all that chocolate up the Alt a' Mhuillin?

Talking of not making sense, I write about climbing for a living these days. When I started climbing I remember climbers I met at Scottish crags complaining at great length that Scottish climbing wasn't given the credit or attention it deserved in print. Even as a kid I thought - well why not do something about it? So I figured if I ever got any good at climbing I'd try and write about it and let others know why we like it. Maybe those folk weren't really happy with shouting about Scottish climbing but were happier ducked down below any criticism that might come their way if the spotlight of attention was on them? Its easier that way, yes. It's easier to sit back and pick holes at someone else than have the mirror turned on you. sometimes the most competitive climbers I've met are also the least comfortable with being competitive!

Scottish climbing always seems to be at war with itself for one reason or another. Folk always seem very dissapointed or angry when the answers to the questions arent there waiting, match their own ideas or when they find that other folks are only human and are learning their way through life just like they are. It doesn't worry me - it's a good thing, diversity of opinion. Confused reactions to my personal efforts in climbing (either on the cliffs or in written words) don't surprise me either as I don't always, or even often, have the skill to get my ideas across in a way that people can relate to. And many of them are a bit leftfield anyway.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Hebrides with Claire to look for new places to work and live. Exciting!

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Ben Nevis II, Dave nil

Arriving on the Ben - wet, cold and windy.
The Comb appears from behind the clouds
A last minute blast of sun offers some hope for the next day?
Tourists inspecting indicator wall
A nice broken spectre lines up with the Comb's triangular shadow
A sublime morning
Reflections of north face on the Coire na Ciste lochan
I bit the bullet and headed back to The Ben for a second blast on the arete. Day 1 was wet and boring, i'd finished my book by 4pm. With the hut empty, the only options were weather inspection, gear inspection or introspection. Day 2 was better but the cliffs were soaking and I figured the Nevis summer season was probably over. Day 3 was stunning and I was able to get my shoes on and climb some moves at last. I don't think I'm good enough to climb the project right now. I'm sure I could do it if I could get more time on it, but that is pretty difficult as the good dry conds are hard to come by at 1100m on the north face. To do it in a few days would need 9a rock fitness and a healthy dose of deathwish. Maybe I need to train more for a bit. I'd like to go back to my aim of repeating some other hard E's. I have a feeling this route could be really hard, but I need some more comparison. Who knows when I'll be able to back to it? Next week would be nice, but next year would mean I'd have the chance to prepare. We'll see how things pan out.

Dumbarton rock looking spooky

Why is it the moon appears much smaller than it was at the time?

Friday, 11 August 2006

New articles

I've put up several new articles on the articles page of my main site including links to some already out there. I'll be adding many more over the coming weeks now the site is up and running properly. You'll find them here. Note I've put up some reviews I've written about finger injuries and also climbing research in general. These are just essays written by me and haven't been published in print, but anyone studying sport science with an interest in climbing research or wanting to find out more about climbing injury rehab might find the reference lists save you a fair bit of searching time!

Also check out the new print climbing magazine in the UK which is starting up in September. Should be interesting! Gravity Magazine

Body clock issues

The last few weeks have been fairly crazy. I tend to dive into whatever I'm doing and don't let go until I've done what I wanted to. The objective over the past few weeks was to do some much needed work and sort things out for the future. I went slightly over the top and three weeks of 18/19 hour days have left me feeling a little burnt out. I decided to stop and go climbing, I've only been out (not counting training) for 4 or 5 days in the last month. I tried to get up and go at 5.30 this morning but my body wouldn't let me - it still thinks 5.30 is time to go to bed!

At least I've been able to keep a skeleton training regime going and my endurance feels halfway there again. So The Ben is in my mind again and if the warm weather returns I will go up again soon. To be honest I'm probably a bit scared to go back up there and work on the arete project. The prospect of leading it looms close behind a few more days of work. It's probably academic anyway unless a lot of luck with conditions materialises.

Friday, 4 August 2006

End of the affair (well almost!)

Resting on Pressure (V13). Now the pressure is gone it's time for a change of scenery (Photo: Hotaches Images)

Dumbarton Rock - it still inspires and humbles me, but I am nearly done with my battles here (at last).

I was round at Dumby just training on my enduro circuit tonight and got casually involved in doing a couple of other problems I hadn't done in years with other folks. It was funny revisiting another 'old classic' I did when I was 17. It really brought it home a bit of choking cabin fever I've been feeling lately. In need of pastures new big time. Well not surprising I suppose after 12 years of Dumbarton Rock climbing. I could (and do at the moment) still use the place for training no problem, but I really have to make an effort to switch off my brain before a session to stop me getting bored. I've come to realise that my core motivation for climbing is new routes and places. However, once I focus on a climb I won't give up until it's done, sooner or later. There's never been a time when that's not happened. I don't care if (like for Rhapsody and Pressure) it means spending an infinite amount of time on it. So it's not so much the new places and routes themselves that are important to me, but just that there are new challenges to complete.

That excitement in the back of my head of a project has to be there. Even last year at Dumbarton I was inspired, because that Pressure cave was still there winking at me every time I walked past to the boulders, and Rhapsody staring down. I wanted to win! Now they are behind me, I need that feeling from somewhere else. Thankfully pastures new are starting to appear on the horizon, more of that later.

There are still two lines on the Dumbarton boulders I want to climb. They are 'optional' i.e. if I move away before doing them I won't fret, but I'm sure they will give me a good scrap in the coming cold months.

I'm sure it won't be long before someone else walks round and is fired up by Rhapsody as I was when I saw Requiem at 15 (if it hasn't happened already?). It's a good feeling to flick that utterly committed switch in your head that you ARE going to do something, no matter what. Anyway, for that guy/girl, after they have got Rhapsody out of the way they can make their own mark with the wall to the right (bolted). I've done all but one of the moves. It's an F9 something. If it was a smidgen easier I'd get psyched, so I'm sure it will happen. Then there's the wall to the left. I would be honoured to shake the hand of the person who climbs that. Again, fully possible but...

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Scottish Icefall!

Scottish ice climbers check this out. I found it on Flickr Scotland's inspiring blog. Wow.

When winters were winters

It does depress me when I see pictures like this. It would be nice to think global warming will go away and that one of these seasons the old school Scottish winters would come back. Not that Scottish winters have been catastrophically bad of late, but Am Baile talks about three steam engines linked together to clear snow blocks. I'm off to plant a tree (and no I won't drive there!).

Some other cool photos on Am Baile are of the Ben Nevis summit observatory (I'm sure the big rusty tube lying under observatory buttress as I walked past last week is the chimney flue in the picture!), rock climbing on St Kilda and a potential new dry tooling venue in Glen Croe, Arrochar.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Why is Lewis so popular?

Those who haven't yet experienced the Gneiss of the Outer Hebrides sea cliffs, might be forgiven for wondering why Scottish climbers drive past all of the highland cliffs and jump on a ferry to the furthest corner of the UK? Well, yeah the rock is beautiful stuff, but thats not all. Blogs like Silversprite illuminate some of the other attractions on show. I've never seen beaches elsewhere on earth that even come close. Hey and I'm going there in 2 weeks!!!

The landscape of Lewis and Harris would leave a mark on anyone I think. I can't describe it really. All I can say is - everything just seems richer, colours, the rock texture; everything.

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Introducing the Online Climbing Coach

It's been two years since I finished my masters in sports science and I was really beginning to miss keeping up with the field and writing about it. Of course I've still been able to practice it as my own self-coach (my originial reason for studying) and through my climbing coaching services, but I really wanted to get back into studying the science in a big way. So I decided to start a new site called the Online Climbing Coach. It brings together the very highest standard information on the web on improving at climbing together in one place as well as a a site for me to publish regular news, analysis, articles and interviews. It's purpose is ulimately to make everyone who reads the site get a little (but hopefully a lot!) better at climbing.

Please let me know what you think and give me your requests for more information or help with anything you like relavant to the site!