Tuesday 22 November 2011

Long Hope - Kendal people’s choice

Andy Turner, myself, Paul Diffley, Ed Drummond and Oilver Hill at the Long Hope premiere, KMF. Photo: Henryiddon.com

It was a nice atmosphere at the premiere of the film about the Longhope Route in Kendal on Friday night. Ed Drummond was on good form to say a few words after the film and it was cool to have 5 of the 6 people who have climbed that route in our various different styles in one place. Thanks to folks who voted for it and gave it the people’s choice award of the Kendal festival. DVD’s are still being made but will be with us soon. Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered so far.
It’s a strange experience presenting a film of a climb like this. For the audience, it’s the first time they’ve been able to see the story really get a feel for this climb. For me, it’s really the end of the process. I was sitting watching it with everyone else, feeling happy with my memories of that cliff. But they are just that - memories. The only meaning it has for me is contained within the film; that watching it will motivate others to have good adventures of their own.
Since climbing the route in June, I’ve been doing some basic training, and doing a lot of work (as in bill paying work) to set myself up for next years adventures. I have the restlessness to find new things again! Some projects, like those around my home area of Glen Nevis will come down to training and dedication. There are also some fantastic onsight climbs I’d like to try this winter. After last winter’s time out with an impending new baby I’m looking forward to learning to use the ice axe again. I’ll need to start from a low base, which is always great fun to just enjoy repeating others routes for a little bit.
First though, I have one more week of work, coaching abroad, exploring some untouched limestone. I’ll post up some pictures...

Monday 14 November 2011

BAFTA for The Great Climb

The Great Climb programme just won a Scottish BAFTA for live event coverage last night. I’m well chuffed that the effort that went into the programme from a lot of people was obviously appreciated and it’s nice to see it have recognition. It was a fine effort from Triple Echo Productions to attempt another live climbing broadcast, and pull it off after the frustrations of previous attempts.
Folk were asking on my lecture tour last week if there is still anywhere you can get hold of a copy of the programme. The DVD is right here.
I’ve also been asked loads if there are any more televised climbing programmes in the pipeline. I mentioned the other week about the Stac of Handa re-enactment that is showing on Nov 22nd (7pm BBC2 Scotland, iPlayer). There is a wee trailer up on the BBC site for this here.

Friday 11 November 2011

Long Hope DVD available for pre-order

The Long Hope DVD is now up in the shop for pre-order. 

The master disc is off to the DVD manufacturers and DVD stock usually takes a couple of weeks or so to be manufactured. If you did manage to get tickets to the premiere in Kendal before it sold out, we are hoping to have a handful of advance copies there but if you don’t make it to that, pre-ordering it now will mean you’ll get it the fastest way possible. We’ll dispatch orders for it as soon as we get hold of the stock.
A lot of folk ask for their DVD signed, which is no problem of course! Just ask in the ‘special instructions’ field of the checkout form.
The running time of the film is 60 minutes and there are lots of extra films on the DVD: My ascent of Indian Face, Mucklehouse Wall on Hoy and naturally, The Old Man of Hoy.
It’s in the shop here.

Tip Juice in the shop

I’ve just added the new Tip Juice balm to the webshop. Most keen climbers these days doing a lot of sport climbing or bouldering are using a skin balm to help speed the recovery of fingertip skin for the next session. In the damp climate of western Scotland I don’t find I need to use it every session to keep my finger creases from cracking. But on a trip to somewhere with a dry climate such as sport climbing in Spain I’ll use it every day. It goes without saying that if you have a split tip or a cut from a sharp hold on your fingers you’ll need to use a balm like this daily to help it heal in the quickest possible time and prevent it going to a deep crack that will bother you for ages.
Tip Juice is a new balm developed by an Aberdeen team of boulderers. They took a long time to perfect it and I think they’ve done a nice job. You can find it in the shop here together with the ingredients list.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Longhope DVD is not far away

We’ve just finished arranging the DVD artwork for the Long Hope film which may be finished by the time you read this and off to the DVD manufacturers. Paul Diffley has been doing sterling work editing it and must have earned a beer or three at Kendal after the premiere. Speaking of the premiere at Kendal - it’s already sold out! So if you want to be there, your only chance now is to enter the Mountain Equipment competition to win tickets for it. All you have to do is leave a comment here.

For those of you who don’t get tickets, the DVD will be out when it comes back from the manufacturers and we’ll put it up for pre-order in the shop soon so watch this space.
The film is looking really great, although I would say that. I reckon it almost makes you want to go and climb a fulmar infested loose big wall sea cliff in the middle of nowhere. Extras on the DVD include the film of my ascent of The Indian Face (E9), Mucklehouse Wall (E5 5c, 5c, 6a) on Hoy and of course our ascent of the Old Man of Hoy.
Other things coming up - The Stac of Handa re-enactment I shot the other week with the BBC has a provisional slot on BBC2 Scotland/iPlayer as an Adventure Show special on Nov 22nd at 19.00.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Perfect day in Torridon

After coming home from my lecture tour I’ve had a familiar feeling of being a little burnt out. This happens to me every year really, I cram as much work as I can into the west highland monsoon season - lectures, writing, coaching, events, film work etc. By the end of it, I’m always rather impatient for the calmness of just going to an empty highland glen and climbing some nice rock on my own.
I’m not naturally cut out for being on stage every night, and much as enjoy sharing the stories and meeting great people, I need some balance after many weeks of it.
So after a week of sorting out so many loose ends at home, the autumn monsoon finally broke to sunny gold coloured mountains, and I got to enjoy two great bouldering sessions. I can’t tell you how much of a lift it is to spend time on real rock in a nice place after so much time indoors.
First off I found some killer new beta on a tough project in Glen Nevis. One that will take a while, even with a clever trick of the foot on the crux. Today, the north west seemed to be the place to be and I scooted up for an afternoon on the simply superb boulders in Glen Torridon. I noticed that visiting Sheffield bouldering specialist Dan Varian, one of the strongest men in our isles at present, had added a few hard problems here in the spring that sounded great. 
I went up to check out a lovely arete called Stokes Croft, given about 8A. I enjoyed it a lot. Perfect holds, perfect conditions. The only thing not in perfect condition was me, still feeling decidedly sluggish from one of those nagging colds that seems to keep coming back. But as soon as I arrived at the problem, the sniffles and sighs melted away and I had the moves worked out in twenty minutes and then climbed it first redpoint. It’s probably more like 7C+ but it was still a lovely change to just go and repeat something that was all cleaned up and ready. I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning dirty rock this year!
Wee clip of this above. These last two sessions have fully redoubled keenness for the bouldering season, and for training training TRAINING!!!

Thursday 3 November 2011

New route in Peak Cavern

Pitch 1 (wet 7c+)  of Ring of Fire during the first ascent in Peak Cavern. All pics Triple Echo Productions.

The other shoot I just finished with Triple Echo for the BBC was even weirder than the Handa adventure! The director Richard Else managed to get special permission to climb in the show cave Peak Cavern near Castleton right in the middle of the Peak District. The idea was for myself and Alan Cassidy to see if we could find a route out of it!
Peak Cavern, otherwise known as 'The Devil's Arse' is one of the biggest and most impressive limestone crags in the Peak. In a region where every other inch of rock has a route on it, it’s pretty amazing that there are no free routes on this crag at all. It comes down to access. The crag has been banned for climbing forever as it’s a tourist attraction on private land - paying public walking around below climbs etc. Of course it’s a massive shame since I’m certain a way round it could be found with the help of the BMC. The cave is only open to the public until 5pm and then it’s locked. Climber’s lock-in? Sadly I don’t think a change is likely any time soon. We appealed as best we could.

Anyway, we enjoyed our special permission while we had it, in the name of making BBC television. But first we spent two days a bit further north climbing an even sillier cave. The team wanted to see if we could climb our way out of a proper Yorkshire Pot Hole - Jingling Pot. A 60m tubular soaking wet pitch black slimy hole in the ground. Alan and myself didn’t have the faintest idea how to tackle it. I started off climbing in winter boots and gloves which was a mistake and I quickly switched to rockboots even through the water was running down it, over the green slime. I thought back to a day last year climbing Pleasure Done (E3) in Pembroke with Tim Emmett in the rain. That was surprisingly amenable and the limestone had a weird friction even though it was soaking. Jingling might be just like that, but with a headtorch on?! It turned out to be a wee bit harder than that, but we had a great time and emerged squinting in the daylight after one of our stranger days out climbing.
After that we headed to the main event at Peak Cavern. Where Jingling Pot felt about E3 in the wet, Peak Cavern looked about 9c! The cave went in for over 100 metres. It also looked like any route there would take a lot of cleaning since the cave roof had hundreds of years worth of soot from the troglodytes who used to live there. With 4 days to do a route, we opted for a nice looking line going up a 45 degree wall then crossing the full length of the side wall and some roofs to gain a crack system in the headwall. It looked like it would go in about 4 pitches!

Back on dry rock on the superb pitch 3 (7b+)

After a hardcore couple of days with the hilti and wire brush, It looked amazing: 7c+, 7a, 7b+, 7b. Only one problem, the first pitch would be 7c+ if it was dry. But it was completely soaking and all the holds were full of slimy wet mud - proper caving style! At least Keith’s floodlights made it feel slightly more like a crag than a hole in the ground. I had a couple of tries, sliding about all over the place. It was actually better not to use chalk for most of the first pitch, it only made your hands feel slimier. 

Alan cruising pitch 2 (7a)

Next morning I set off again. I could see that slipping off could happen on any move, so why worry about any of them? I just kept creeping across the traverse, unexpectedly scrapping my way through to the stance, and we could enjoy the remaining spectacular pitches through the roofs and headwall. What shall we call it? Has to be 'Ring of Fire'! My first new routes in Yorkshire and the Peak -what a weird week!

Alan enjoying the fantastic headwall on pitch 4 (7b). The programme will be coming to a TV screen near you sometime next year. I'll let you know when it's scheduled.