Tuesday 24 January 2012

Lectures in February

The last of my lectures for a while are happening in February - see you at some of these hopefully:
This Saturday (Jan 28th) I’m speaking at Rheged in the Lakes. Details and tickets here.
On February 3rd I’ll be in the audience for a change while Claire gives the lecture! She is speaking at Roy Bridge Memorial Hall, 7.30pm about her mountain film making adventures and jumping out of planes. Tickets on the door - £4 and you’ll also get some food and a cup of tea!
On February 8th I’m speaking along with Andy Turner and Paul Diffley at the Royal Geographical Society in London about the Long Hope. After the lecture we’ll show the film too and there will be an opportunity to gather for a good chat at the bar during the evening. Details and tickets here.
On February 24th I’m speaking in Hoy Kirk, Hoy, Orkney about the Long Hope and showing the film. Looking forward to being back on the island! It’ll be a good chance for me to explain to everyone I saw out and about around Orkney what all the fuss was about that kept me returning to St John’s head trip after trip. Start time 6.30pm.
After that I’m away on a long climbing trip. See you there!

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Dry rock - new routes!

Catch 22 is a somewhat elusive boulder problem in a couple of ways. Cubby kept telling me about this eliminate but great little problem up at Sky Pilot in Glen Nevis. With some knowledge of the wall I asked him to describe it so I could try and do it. He did, but I got it wrong and climbed the problem in this video thinking this was it (with a sit start added by me, which I shall now call Catch 21!). 
Finally Cubby came up to photograph me trying another of his old projects which eventually came to be Seven of Nine 8B+ and showed me Catch 22. He gave it 7C in the classic old school style (stiff at that grade). It revolves around holding a wild swing when you jump off 2 opposing edges to a glassy sloper. Sort of reminiscent of ‘Slap Happy’ at Dumbarton Rock but a lot harder. A sit start was obviously possible but neither of us had done the moves.
While working hard on Seven of Nine this spring, repeating Catch 22 became part of my warm up rountine every session. And when I became strong and light enough for Seven of Nine, I could do Catch 22 first try, every time. I worked out two hard moves to get into it from the sitter, but the link was going to be hard as you have to have the crucial edges just right to stay tight enough to catch and hold the sloper.
I tried it in September after a summer of trad and couldn’t touch it. But after some bouldering recently it would be very interesting to see if that made any difference? It did! It still took a solid hour on it to refine the movement and timing, reminding myself to squeeze apart on the presses while moving my right foot up, and pulling with that foot until the last as I went for the sloper. On the last try of the day before I had to leave for tea at a friend's, it went. Feels like Font 8A+ to me, but perhaps for hardcore ’45’ abusers it might be ok. Eliminate, but great movement. Some performance related observations on this ascent over on my coaching blog.

Next day I decided to go back up to the Skeleton boulder project with Michael. It was COLD as the photo below shows but we still had a nice time. I am still unable to do the crux move of the Skeleton roof line that was in Committed 2. But at least I saw some beta that's worth working on some more to see if I can make it work. That roof is definitely the hardest boulder I've ever tried. A new level is always good to focus the motivation.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Aberdeen city break

I can’t believe 2 months had passed without climbing outdoors on rock in Scotland. I can’t remember the weather being so unhelpful during the winter for several years. Lochaber has just been hammered with rain and gales and it seems my options for getting on projects have been basically nil. 
No matter, all the training on plastic has been worth it. But severe withdrawal symptoms from climbing a real piece of rock set in and so I took a gamble and drove over to the Aberdeen sea cliffs in the hope of finding something to climb.
It worked! I dropped Claire and Frieda in Aberdeen and somewhat bleary eyed from the early start and long drive, stumbled into Cammachmore Bay for a look at Devistator 8A. After a couple of tries this went down so I nipped over the hill and just beat the rising tide into Clashfarqhuar Bay and did Delirium 8A. Next day I missed my tide window for Clashfarqhuar  and after a fair bit of faffing about trying to remember where Craigmaroinn was I found it and went for a look at Twilight Princess 8A. It’s a link between the start of Kayla into the finish of Pit Left Hand. But as I was improvising my climbing plans and didn’t have the description to hand I assumed it must traverse all the way into the furthest left straight up problem since that looked like the obvious hardest link to be done. I even went strict and dropped down into the starting holds of this to make sure. But on returning home I found that I’d finished up the wrong problem (The Buzz 7b). Not much difference, maybe a touch harder but yet another variation in the wee cave.
It was a nice reminder the nothing ventured nothing gained rule and that even Scotland in January occasionally throws a psyched climber a lifeline. Little video of these above, in the solitary climber style of camera propped on a rock...

Friday 6 January 2012

Long Hope night at RGS in London Feb 8th

Paul Diffley captures the action from an airy filming position on the Longhope route. Photo: Lukasz Warzecha

On February 8th, myself, Andy Turner and filmmaker Paul Diffley will be speaking at the Royal Geographical Society in London about the Longhope route. Mountain Equipment and Gore-Tex have helped us arrange an evening of entertainment at the RGS to share with you what was pretty memorable adventure for us, both in terms of the climbers involved in attempting to climb this cliff over 40 years, and in documenting it on film.
Myself and Andy will be speaking about our experiences in preparing and attempting the first free ascent of the original Longhope Route as well as some of the history behind climbing on the cliff, and then we’ll present The Long Hope film made by Paul Diffley. In particular I’ll talk about some of the psychology behind taking on a three-year sporting ambition to open a new route at world class difficulty like this, how I’ve learned to be comfortable with the dangers involved, and some of the hurdles that you just couldn’t plan for along the way. Andy will be speaking about how his winter mountaineering adventures in Scotland, the Alps and Norway were about as good preparation as you could get for this type of adventure, yet still not enough to avoid some knee trembling moments on a 1400 foot loose, bird infested sea-cliff.
We’ll have a bar and plenty of time to meet up and talk about adventures on cliffs during the evening or ask questions. We’ll also have some signed copies of the Long Hope DVD and various other films and books we’ve made. Doors open at 6pm to start 7pm. It should be a great night!
Tickets and full details are available in my shop right here. It’s going to be a busy show so it would be a very good plan to get your ticket early.

Andy Turner, Dave MacLeod and the Longhope route, St John’s Head, Orkney. One of the three looks hard and intimidating. Photo: Lukasz Warzecha

Climbing coaching sessions at Fort William Mountain Festival

On Friday 17th of Feb I’m running some daytime climbing technique masterclasses at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival. The sessions will be 2 hours long and there will be 6 spaces on each session. I’ll give you a fairly intense couple of hours of climbing technique advice, coaching and inspiration! To take part you have to be a climber and be used to a climbing wall, but it doesn’t matter what level you are at. You’ll learn a lot whether you are climbing at a fairly basic level or a pretty serious climber. 
The sessions will take place at 10am-12pm, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 3pm- 5pm. It costs £35 per climber (pay on the day) as well as your normal climbing wall entry fee at the Ice Factor. I get a lot of requests to give coaching and these classes will fill up pretty fast so give Claire a ring on 07813 060376 to book your place quick!
That evening at the festival is the mountaineering evening with showings of the brilliant film ‘Vertical Sailing’ about big wall exploring in Greenland and also the Longhope film about my own mini-big wall climb on Orkney.

Over on my events page you'll see I'm also giving a lecture at Rheged in the Lakes on Jan 28th and at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Feb 8th (more about that in a minute).

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Plastic power

With Scotland being hammered by the usual January gales and rain, I’ve been directing my climbing attentions over Christmas to a sustained attack on the fantastic TCA bouldering centre in Glasgow. I climbed a mountain of fantastic problems and definitely feel stronger for it, especially on big moves. There’s a lot of climbing space there and there are no shortage of leaps and jumps between the holds (some performance related comments on this over on my other blog). An uninterrupted spell of good quality training doesn’t get much better in climbing, apart of course from an opportunity to use the training on a piece of real rock.
But with wall to wall rain and more gales lined up for the next few weeks, it’s time for more of the same. It’s a great chance for me to really attack some long term weaknesses that I seldom get a chance to really attack when I’m doing my usual routine of very little training, just going climbing all the time.
My goals have been to work hard on my pinch strength among various aspects of my strength and flexibility. I’ve had a good couple of weeks of good training and another three of serious work should time nicely with the first crisp days of February (fingers crossed) for getting back outside onto rock projects.