Busy Month

Posted on May 31, 2015 by Dan Varian

It's been a busy month of getting stuff done and i haven't really stopped getting out thanks to the great weather and long evenings:

 I'll break things down by area.


 Scotland is a place i always wish i could spend more time in. I reckon there is more bouldering (on actual boulders) on the Schist around loch lomond, katrine and Goil than there probably is in the whole of england, it's just 20years behind those in terms of development and the bogs and midges and rain make sure that things aren't too easy. Things i've wandered off the road to find up there are of a great standard though and i just saunter up rarely for the odd visit, the dedicated locals are finding some brilliant new things now and John Watson will have his work cut out for the new bouldering guide which has gone from pretty much a pamphlet to two volumes since the last one.


 I should have stuck this in the last blog, its the directions (click through to flickr) to the Succoth boulder i've developed. Probably useless now the midges are out!


I had a flying visit to Glen Nevis on the way to and from a family do. I had intended to walk up to sky pilot as i still haven't been up. Upon getting out the car and walking up to the cameron stone i realised a few things. My legs were knackered from the past few days hill walking, and the Cameron Stone looked like it had plenty value on it for a session. I warmed up on some classics and climbed the News in in pidgeon gaelic. Its always a bit crap climbing on problems made up by liars (Si'O) as no one has a clue where things really go. In the end i settled for an independent start not using the undercling to the left which Mike used on his version which is an independent start from this one, my version is closer to Rok's (the slovenian wad), I'm sure it can all be cleared up before the next guide. With a bit of time to kill i started sorting the stream a little and did some deadlifting of a large boulder under the boulder as my lower back wasn't quite sore enough, this was a bit of a wrestle and i cut my hands up a little wriggling it into a better position but it was worth it. Si O' had decided from his armchair that the arete should be 7B, I prefer to listen to talented sanity and Dave Mac had mentioned it as a line which needed doing last time i was in the Glen. I put my thinking cap on and was chuffed to guess a decent sequence fast. Getting the rock shifted, guessing the sequence and getting that problem climbed is probably my best effort of the year and i had to push through a few pain barriers on the small crimps to get it done. Its often the circumstances which makes climbing special and this was a good end to a great couple of days walking and climbing. 

A nice fin from last weekend, This is a really fun squeeze prow at Garheugh. 




Mere Scars was a lovely problem at a crag 10mins from me that has brilliant quality sandstone.  I last visited when i was 14!

`This shielded wall (the cashmere cat) is definitely my best volcanic lakes find. Really hard crimp moves lead to a pounce move to a pinch at a just comfortable height. I also robbed a cool line Greg had found above, he sorted the landing and did a great job on it and it was a bumper day out all in all.

Proper burly ss to the prow with really chesty squeezing.


Northern Time: Adam had told me Northern Territory had broken and i had been trying the below lines so i checked it out and got side tracked on something hard i'd always wondered about. I felt decent and it uses a brilliant tiny pinch which is like squeezing someones lippy pout. It climbs surprisingly independently considering its location and could be pretty tricky? `time will tell.

What is an independent line is this sucker. A bit of a northumberland LGP and Mark Savage's vision originally. i'd never been able to visualise it properly until this year. I was pretty sure it was going to be 8B until it came together fast in an epiphany moment . It's properly crimpy (Andy wrote it off) on really slopey frictiony crimps and bad feet, basically massively my bag and its technically a slab, bloody love slabs me. 

This is a fun/torturous roof at kyloe out as well that involves some painful foot locks and some small crimps on great rock.

All in all not a bad 40 odd days, 10 new 8s and plenty of 7s and a few cool repeats. It's certainly kept me busy and all of it was fun 

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More Burbage Moor Action

Posted on May 19, 2015 by Ned Feehally
The winter season is well and truly over now. It had a good innings this year, giving us some decent conditions well into May. I thought I'd try my best to make the most of this and managed to pick off a couple of stonkers.
Heavy Sky - the much eyed sit start to Intense at Burbage South. This is one of those that always gets mentioned as a Last Great Problem of the Peak. It's not the best line out there but it's basic granite style, shady outlook and proximity to town should hopefully make this a popular problem. 
The crux move is great, a huge lock off to a tiny slot while your foot flaps about in a baggy heel toe cam. I was pretty pleased to finish this one off after first eyeing it up almost 10 years ago.
Photo: Shaggy
Photo: Shaggy
Black Asteroid - Guplets Wall. The prow left of Guplets on Toast is a real corker. Pull on from low holds and blast up the bluntness to a spicy top out on some great holds.
Photo: Shaggy
Photo: Shaggy

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thinking hard and climbing less hard

Posted on April 19, 2015 by Dan Varian

i’ve just been to Scotland and ticked off a really nice problem that i’d found whilst boulder hunting. My mind has mainly been on a prow in northumberland though after a close call last week.

On Thursday morning whilst at work I listened to a podcast Interview with Ben Moon where he said some really interesting points, and also some pretty blanket statements that i didn’t expect from a man in his position. Here’s some quotes from Ben, which out of context probably look worse than they really are as he was fairly positive about the UK on the whole. But they still struck me as odd and i couldn’t shake them.


“i think theres still a good tradition of training in the uk but we’re not really producing climbers out on rock.”

“we’re not producing world class climbers at the moment”

“its an interesting question why at the moment british climbing isn’t producing “Björn: Ben Moon” the best climbers in the world” “we haven’t been for quite a few years”

Edit: Ben Got the point, and qualified that his comments were just about uk male sport climbers.

regardless these words rang through my head whilst i walked into my project on Thursday afternoon, and nevertheless helped spur me up it.


I hit the board again for two weeks and made sure i had two rest days before trying it, i then started getting close again after mentally restoring myself to home game rather than away game. Regardless of whatever reasons why, that just seems to be the way it is in the UK for myself, maybe i was just tired off my holidays, who knows.


Picture by Steve Blake, Steve's put up a 3 star classic 7A+ at this crag and he was putting up lines like hitchhikers in the 70's, not a bad innings!

 After dropping my prow on the last move to a half pad mono in the arete last session 3 times i was quietly confident i could get it done on thursday if things swang in my favour, I’d had 2 rest days and i had the added bonus of motivational umbrage bestowed upon me from Ben’s words. To top it all i found a slightly better foot position on the upper section that made it a few percent easier, so i ended up doing the stand up first try and the sitter first try that day after a big rest. Star Power represents a nice break away from the traditional crimpyness and power climbing that much of our 8B and 8B+s in England adhere to, whilst it is still reasonably fingery it is more of a compression and long power test piece being 13 hard hand and tricky foot moves, it hasn’t got any 8A moves on which is why i’m reluctant to properly guestimate it in the 8B+ grade as i think those should have 8A single moves but it does have loads of moves almost that hard and it ends with a 7C ish single move to a blind half pad mono, which after you’ve done an 8A+ to get there is a bit of a sod. To me it seems harder than monk life which is roughly a 7C into a 7C+ move (but sharp so go limiting) but easier than The Rail which felt like it had an 8A+ move on my sequence. I don’t think its a dead cert for 8B+ and that grade is very much tentative in the UK...


Picture courtesy of Mark Savage, a man as psyched on his photography as i am on bouldering. 

On paper there are 2 climbers in the UK who have established and repeated climbs of the 8B+ grade in the UK Myself and Mike Adams, and i certainly don’t have a clue where the boundaries truly start and end. If Gaskins’s post 2003 problems are included its like throwing a flipping brick into a tumble dryer going at full speed and asking it to carry on working. 

Ben pinned 6 tails on the 8A and above donkeys as his markers for where the benchmarks are. Nowadays there are over 430 and it takes some getting one’s head around as to where the tails are exactly. Of course there are mostly benefits to this process. In sport climbing its looking like hubble is more and more likely the worlds first 9A, like star wars remastered it just gets better with age whilst realising how far ahead of its time it was.

As ever i'd like to thank the really impressive development work of the true grafters like Jon Fullwood, Steve Blake, John Watson, Bob Smith, Greg Chapman, Lee Robinson etc etc People who often wont make the headliines for lack of big numbers but are often the reason why guidebooks for outdoor bouldering are more than a pamphlet about stanage plantation and almscliff. To me it’s people like that that truly add the backbone to our sport, they tend to be less about the #tbts and throwbacks and more about the crack on and get stuff done. Without Steve and Bob Star Power might never have gotten climbed.

`Many thanks go to Scarpa UK in this respect too, as they let me crack on with developing and repeating lines and they've got a great supportive attitude towards the sport.

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The Thick end of the Wedge

Posted on April 19, 2015 by Ned Feehally

It’s always tricky to come back from a climbing trip abroad and keep the momentum going. The excitement of being somewhere different and being able to climb on new stuff day after day can make your home climbing areas feel mundane.  After some down time I was struggling to think of what I wanted to do locally, and the season was drawing to an end rendering all but the shadiest crags out of bounds.

Once again Jon Fullwood (not one for thinking inside the box) had a suggestion. Johnny Dawes’ old route Home Cooking needed a sit start. It’s a beautiful, soaring double arete that tapers to a lovely sloping finish way up high.The existing start always felt like it missed the point, pulling on just above the meat of the feature, in a juggy no man’s land above the clean cut prow below. The low start makes the most of the whole feature, squeezing through it’s blankness into the glorious highball romp of a finish.

As the seasons rumble on, the changing of the clocks brings about a short magical period (very short this year!) where the days are long but the temps stay low. It’s great to be able to hold fire and take your time, heading out in the afternoon but knowing you have hours of daylight and conditions to play with. 

The sequence is great, the crux being a tricky foot move off some sloping nothings and some karate chop slapping into the original route. Great fun...

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Posted on March 15, 2015 by Ned Feehally
Fontainebleau never fails to impress. I have visited a fair few bouldering venues in Europe and America over the years but Font is the one place that keeps me going back. I can't imagine a better place to go bouldering. 
After a disappointing winter (dodgy finger and a dislocated ankle) I felt like a visit to font would re-kindle some keenness. You can't fail to have fun there. The total lack of expectation of climbing anything meant I could get on with climbing for climbing's sake. No worrying about getting to the top and no pressure to try anything. It turns out I was feeling quite strong (by my standards) and as a result I was able to cruise around and enjoy the place, as well as managing to get to the top of some World class boulders - all fuelled by fistfuls of pastries. Winner.

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