Tuesday 18 December 2007

Christmas last minute

Two more days for getting in orders in time for Christmas from my webshop. Any orders placed before about lunchtime on Thursday will make the last posting to arrive by Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who's ordered so far : )

Deep Breath Pics

On ‘Deep Breath’ Font 8a, yesterday. Photo: Stone Country

After several slices of Claire’s freshly baked gingerbread (so far responsible for several of the hardest rock climbs in Scotland) A John Watson led team scraped ice from cars and headed from my wee hoose up a frosty Glen Nevis. Pete Murray is making a wee film of Scottish bouldering, and John finishing off his selected guide for Scottish bouldering and wanted some film and shots of a recent problem of mine; Deep Breath Font 8a.

The fantastic Egyptian move on Deep Breath. Photo: Stone Country

I did it back in October and I’ve been trying a direct version since then which is probably too hard. Si O’conor once claimed a line somewhere on this lovely little overhang called The Morrighan.

We warmed up on the lovely arĂȘte next door - a long Font 7a of great quality. Afterwards I focused and was able (to my surprise) to repeat Deep Breath first try. Good sign for the current form.

The Mamores from Sky Pilot yesterday

Looking up Glen Nevis from Sky Pilot

After another repeat so Pete had the shot, we chased the sun uphill to Sky Pilot, but it had left behind Stob Ban by the time we got there, leaving a bitter wind and attempts on a sick project in my biggest Duvet jacket BRRRR!

Tweedley was on hand to provide a much needed foothold to artificially get a feel of the finishing sloper. Nice line.

Thanks to John Watson for the photos. His book on bouldering philosophy is here

Saturday 15 December 2007

Davemacleod.com new stuff

Some of you will know that I recently wrote an e-book called ‘How to Climb Hard Trad’. I spent a long time on it trying to explain clearly the mental, physical and practical tactics you can employ to climb harder trad routes, whatever your level. It’s got detailed sections on how to be bold, how to climb safely, even when really close to your limit on trad climbs and how to tip the scales much further in your favour than most climbers know they can.

Initially I was giving copies away with the Committed DVD. But I’ve just extended the offer to include the e-book free with any DVD or book purchases from my webshop. I’ve just added King Lines and Psyche DVDs and the new Stone Play book to the shop so there are more titles to choose from. Enjoy.

It’s worth knowing that we are dispatching DVDs first class in time for Christmas right up until the last UK posting day on Dec 20th. That goes for Claire’s site Velvet Antlers too.


Back in the glens

After returning home from the big smoke I was able to get out into Glen Nevis for a boulder. I was still feeling light after Spain, but weak after much ass time at work. Still nearly did a very hard move on a boulder project. In the morning, Tweedley arrives. So new problems will be done tomorrow.

I am definitely feeling that next year I want to really focus on a few special projects. So I think It’s time to venture indoors for a few weeks (after the current lovely dry weather ends – I’m sure it won’t take long!!). Training time.

Home for Christmas

Claire and I are on the way back north to the Highlands after touring around England coaching climbing and giving lectures. Climbers are always so welcoming and it makes it much nicer to run these events especially when you’re on a bit of a hectic road trip. When we get home it’s time to catch up on the rest of our work and then I can climb again.

Of course, at this time of year you tend to think back on the year and also towards the next.

2007 was good for many reasons. I worked my ass off and broke some good barriers. I moved to the Highlands, climbed some routes I didn’t think I could climb and did much fun work that I really enjoyed. 2007 was also bad for a couple of reasons. The main one being the same as the good reasons – I worked my ass off, a bit too hard at times. Sometimes I as a touch frayed at the edges and spread a little too thinly. I love being able to give my full focus to things.

So that leads me nicely to my plan for 2008. With my climbing, I’m planning to work super hard on a few special projects. Just a few, but if they go... well, let’s say I’d be quite overwhelmingly happy. With my work, the hard/over work from 2007 should hopefully have set up the conditions to focus on some exciting projects. For me 2008 will be a year of writing, film and some more online mini businesses that I really enjoy working on.

There may be some very long days and nights, but I certainly can’t say my work is dull. Here’s to that for 2008. Anyway, here were my favourite climbs from 2007:

January: Blind Vision E9 7a, L’Odi Social 8c+
February: Sanction Font 8b, Isami VIII,8
March: Darwin Dixit 8c
April: Fell off Metalcore
May: Metalcore 8c+
June: moved house, fed midges at Steall crag
July: Steall midges got fatter
August: Ring of Steall 8c+, Hell and Back E10
September: If Six Was Nine E9, Dawes Rides E8, Caution E8, Impact Day E8
October: Fell off the Anvil project, wrote my e-book on the bus home, built velvetantlers.co.uk
November: A Muerte 9a (yes it did take the whole month!)
December: it ain’t over yet!

Climbing magazines (do they have a future)

It’s been interesting seeing the complete transformation of the way we read about climbing in the last five years. When I started out as a regular web surfer in uni, circa 2001, climbing websites were most definitely a novelty. Interesting, in a nerdy way, but certainly not essential viewing. These days, they are certainly the most effective (generally speaking) way of finding out anything about climbing, be it news, information or entertainment. Plus, it’s free and instant. That’s a bit of an unbeatable combination don’t you think?

It must pose a very big discussion point (understatement) for anyone who runs a climbing magazine. I don’t know the numbers, but from what I hear, things are getting more and more difficult for climbing magazines. Less readers, and the problem of not being able to break news anymore. What else could go wrong? Advertisers realising that their chances of getting their message across might be easier and at the very least a lot more measurable online.

So what is there left for print climbing mags to offer? It seems to me all there is, is super high quality writing and photography. Alpinist does pretty well at this. One thing is for certain, a modest change in response to online media will not be enough to prevent extinction for print mags in a very short time. Only a pretty radical change will do.

I certainly couldn’t think of a bombproof solution. But I guess a big part of it must be ditching legacies of the past, like esoteric news (for instance leave BMC news to the BMC website!) and columns by commentators who are obviously struggling to find something to say. The biggest thing I don’t get about the British mags is the aversion to interviews. I love someone to explain why they don’t run them so much now! You only need to look at the mag racks in WH Smiths to see that interviews with interesting folk shift magazines.

In the summer I spent a wet day in Pete’s Eats in Llanberis. If you’ve been there you’ll know upstairs they have a monster archive of climbing magazines right back to the 60’s. Most of it was pretty uninteresting stuff that held my attention for nothing more than seconds. Right at the end I came across a copy of Rock & Ice from the early nineties. In one issue, they had in depth interviews with Ben Moon, Wolfgang Gullich and Patrick Edlinger. That one kept me going for about half an hour – about 2000% of average time I spent flicking through the others!

The only chance the climbing mags have got right now is that the websites still aren’t perfect either. There’s a big opening for someone to do a decent climbing news website. UK Climbing is the daddy right now, but until they start making their news more in depth and use a better site layout there is an opportunity for someone to step in and provide the service. I guess the problem is that publishers of major websites are still figuring out how to make their sites work financially. There’s no getting round the fact that running a major site that is high enough quality to be a ‘must visit’ has got to be a job for someone (but a job I’m sure lots of net savvy climbers wouldn’t mind!). The money to make it work is definitely there for the person who has the time, motivation and imagination. I certainly know that some of my sponsors are planning more and more to spend their advertising budget online. Get there quick though, before UKC take the bull by the horns and launch a new version (I suspect this will be sooner rather than later). The problem will be that it will be down to the site to make it painfully obvious to the advertisers exactly how much they will benefit and to secure the contributions from the climbers to generate the stuff that people want to read about.

Interesting times.

Thursday 6 December 2007

Crazy Rain

Wow I must say even though I’ve been a regular in Lochaber for 14 years, my first winter here is proving an impressive eye opener to the impressiveness of the rain here. The stuff just doesn’t stop tipping out of the sky! Still my journey home on the west highland train line from Spain reminded me why Scotland is so much more impressive than anywhere else I’ve been.

So with all this rain, it’s been indoor action for me. Built a nice model of the La Rambla crux in the Ice Factor last night after work. Tomorrow we leave to journey south again for my lectures in Sheffield on Sunday night and London on Monday night. See you there hopefully!

Topless kilted slacklining above the falls of Nevis

Claire's job has got a lot more interesting lately! All the pics and story are on Claire's blog