A Breath of Fresh Air:

Posted on March 26, 2013 by Dan Varian

 Sometimes i worry i’m becoming a bit of a hermit climber, not traveling much and working a lot, yes i do work a lot nowadays! But its more that i’ve been a busy bee in the last 2 years sorting many things out. So when Katie and I got a nice little gift of a few days in Torridon from my folks for crimbo we planned a bit of a mini trip around it. I never get bored of the feeling of time grinding to a holt when your on holiday, days passing by at half their normal speed. This trip was only 6 days but it felt like a month. Much of this can be blamed on Scotland itself being so pretty and so varied it feels like you’ve travelled the world between places only a few hours apart, especially when its fully raining at A and sunny with a light breeze at B. Of course non of this is new to anyone north of the Clyde. Not that there are many people north of the Clyde. On the map of UK people it barely exists!

Which is good because being Cumbrian i’m not inordinately fond of lots of people. Wildlife yes, Sheep all the better. Massive sprawling conurbations, not so much. It also leaves space for lots of nice things which are really hard to be angry at like mountains, lochs, lochy mountains, fjords, hills, inlets, munros. a hugely diverse landscape of anything you can imagine, so long as its watery or pointy. It was also before Scotland turns into Nature’s little hell park in May. Upon trying to book a nice b&B before the trip i got a lovely email back from the lady saying, are you sure you meant march not April? its just that the weather in March is so unreliable we don’t accept bookings! A good omen indeed. Ah well we could always sit in Torridon YHA drink brews on tap and catch up with a good book. As it turned out our B&B lady was well informed, we had everything under the sun thrown at us on the holiday except for the really bad wet stuff that scotland is so good at.

The ponies know the score, west facing aspect is a winner!

Our first day in Torridon we were greeted by 40mph winds and the locals Richie, Gaz, Ann Nigel and the beast of Bronwen. but not much else. Well at least it wasnt raining! we had a decent enough day out if a little short due to the wind battering us about incessantly. Richie complained about being fit but weak whilst kindly warming up all over Gaz's project. Bronwen stole my socks after demolishing the 2 decoy balls. I finally figured out the start of a project i’ve tried the last 2 times i’ve been to Torridon (albeit climbing in a balaclava and down jacket this time), only to snap a pebble off the top in a moment of wind induced stupidity, oh well back to square one. Stupid gets what Stupid does. After we'd all had enough we retreated back to the excellent Torridon cafe and I atoned for my sins with a massive bacon and egg bap. I forgot to mention that our Hostel had been engulfed by a mostly silver topped tai chi weekend; Katie must have trodden on the instructors Chi (qi for scrabble fans) as when she smiled and said hello she was simply greeted with contempt. Lovely. Although when they left on monday they did leave us with enough food for the rest of the holiday thanks to their friendly chef.

Liathach on Sunday.

Annat on sunday.

Sunday Greeted us not only with 40mph gusts but the quickest snow flurries i’ve ever seen. It was like the flurries were a tube train wizzing by Torridon station, I was simply a bystander getting in the way. The morning was just about ok as the sun was out a bit but when Katie finished and i put my boots on it was like someone flicked a switch. We hid in a cave for a bit, got out, hid in another cave again 5 mins later, made it to the cool project prow in Annat. Hid there whilst another one blasted through. Snow stops bust a bit of warm up dance out like i’ve just heard Axel F for the first time. try a few moves then get blasted by snow. Blow my top and produce a tirade about how crap life is. go back to the car to warm up. Snow stops, Ben Moon did black lung when the snow stopped, maybe i can do this because life is that cliche’d. We jog back to the prow. I Do it. Leave for the pub, massive blizzard hits us just as we get to the pub. To be honest i was more relieved than happy after this. It must have looked bizzare to the house whose rear window's face the prow. Its sometimes conditions like this that really test your mettle though, i wanted to just give up and head to the pub but there would forever have been a gnawing at my conscious that technically it wasn’t raining and that i could’ve climbed and got it done, making sure that gnawing didn’t happen was more important than actually having fun it seems. The most important thing this did was free up our itinerary for Reiff or Applecross the next day where i had more exciting things to play on.

Monday dawned perfectly azure with a dusting on the Beinns. I made concrete my overwhelming urge to drive nearly 2 hours to try a problem i’d seen in October. Katie was happy to see a beautiful new place but not so happy to see a very cold shady cliff on such a gorgeous day, somehow she still managed to be nice to me which must be some sort of inherent but very endearing flaw in her personality. Whilst the day before had physically and mentally drained me, from a climbing perspective i’d done very little. So all the ATP reserves were there but i don’t think there was much behind it to back it up. Sometimes in life you get these weird days and it kind of feels like you’ve come through alot to make them happen, i imagine its like big wallers pushing up to a final crux pitch then going to bed knowing that tomorrow you need to be firing. Except bouldering is much easier than that and all you have to do is walk out the car and up to the problem you want to try, the hard part is having the right skin, conditions, arms, core and most importantly mind to actually get up something which has tried its best to be blank. This isn't a huge problem if the problem is nearby but for places you know you’ll be spending very few hours of your life in it somewhat adds to the atmosphere. Here’s some inner rhetoric from my warm up.

Do i feel good? shit i feel ok, or do i, hmm im a bit monged out, naah i feel strong look (crimps a hold). and i’ve got pads and i haven’t been violated by a massive wave this time round, better try another climb (does scooped arete) ok well if that feels ok then you stand a chance, but is that enough, hmm lets try this other thing coming right out of leaning meanie, hmm that felt hard, i dont know if its been done before though, .. ooh i’m all excited. it was bloody good that, well i guess its been a good day no matter what then, Katie looks cold but keeps smiling at me, cubby must be short if he had to use a bucket to reach those holds, i bet its called romancing the stone because its got a Va JJ made of rock in it, thats pretty funny...

It felt like a heady mix of first night nerves and holiday excitement. The project was as amazing as i’d remembered it to be, chalkless it took me a while to remember the holds as they aren’t easy to see, this is why i like it so much. Yes the arete looks stunning to the left but i need to give everything i’ve got to this first. Nature has pulled a blinder here and i for one intend to appreciate its work by clambering all over it and covering it in chalk. There’s a vid of me doing what became Helicoidal Flow along with the annat prow and reiff arete, sufficed to say it felt just about easy enough from stand and i remembered my beta from last time straight away, the stand is a vague non line to a world class sitter though, which really put the pressure on. I would say that i did the sit thanks to a combination of luck and experience, i was starting to feel the squeeze go and my skin get cold and i’d dropped the catch once already, it felt like my chances were going and that it’d have to wait for another day. After a big rest and a brew i told my brain to shut up and put everything into it, no skin preservation no worries about picking up a tweak just try really hard. I dont know how but i hit the holds all pretty well and i caught the catch spot on. The catch hold is subtle and intricate, like every hold on the problem. You don’t know whether the catch is right or not until your feet come out and the extra momentum comes onto the hold. 

such a cool pinch.

To me this is perfect bouldering. A serene setting and some incredible rock, a line that defines bouldering. It starts from a perfect sit start and heads up to jugs to finish (its only drawback is its lack of topout) The moves are fantastic and the holds only work when used with loads of tension through the feet and are some of the most unique i’ve ever used, not a single hold until the catch hold is easily holdable with feet off. Its called Helicoidal flow due to the rock on this wall mimicking water with its strata and features. Like undertow its also a flow process. It also seems to sum up the dynamics of my legs swirling about nicely.

Sticking the crux

Normally that’d have been one of my best days ever, but to top it off there was a line as proud as misericorde or partage just to the left on older & harder rock, in the sun, with an amazing looking set of features on it including a fang like rooflet that you can pinch. Now by this stage i was feeling pretty knackered but I had half a chance if i spotted the beta fast. I stared it out and pretended that i knew what i was doing, like when comp climbers look at finals problems. I figured it out by going, i’ll try this crazy heel that’ll work. it did! then i though well you’ve got to be able to kneebar this thing, you could! Bizzarre  under guppy to get LH high. No problem. Toehook the roof? Nope your crap at toehooking remember. dynamic heel above shoulder into scoopy pod? kerching! Thanks to the sun coming heating me up by this time i was using less energy just keeping warm and got up it on fumes and by cheating with heels and knees. I topped it out up leaning meanie’s upper squeeze chimney for full points. Sometimes Aretes can be pretty monotonous, eg careless torque, arcangel, ulysees and white wand are pretty much 3star repetitive laybacking, which is great because they’re one big layback up a mega lines but its hardly varied climbing. To get an arete with so much variety move to move is pretty special. I find as i see more and more lines nowadays less and less gets that childish excitement going like i used to feel when out on the rocks. The bouldering cliff at Reiff was a real breath of fresh air in that sense as it seems to solely consist of 100%, billion year old, single malts. I guess thats why it even gets called a bouldering cliff in one of Scotlands great single pitch trad destinations. One bit of useful advice is that it can seep a bit so don’t turn up there on a wet day in a big swell as you might not get the same experience i’ve been selling. We dined out on the tai chi soup we’d been given on the beach at Reiff looking at the sun setting on the summer Isles and hills behind, free food in a setting grander than the savoy!

That was only the first 3 days of 6, i think i’ve written enough now though and i dont want to waffle on too much. I can save it for another time. Katie was the star of the latter part of the trip by doing loads of classics even after a feather filled night in the car at -5. I mostly scoffed our free food and had fun bouldering with Dave Mac. I also experienced the crappest cafe i’ve ever visited in Fort William, mainly because it built itself up to be good. (called sugar and spice or something; cant wait until i hit them with my truthful trip advisor review). And we found an artist we really like so we bought some paintings for our house 

ruining a fort william artwork, i thought it was a game until i read the sign!

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2012 wrap up

Posted on January 02, 2013 by Dan Varian

 A busy year:

Thanks to everyone who bought something off beastmaker this year, we hope you're all happy with your purchases and that they are helping you in your various walks of life.

 This year has turned out fantastically in many ways for me, at times its been very stressful and i’ve definitely had my fair share of bad luck too. Its been a good year for changing my mindset and approaching climbing differently. I am seeing it more as an engaging hobby rather than something to spend all my time on, i don’t have the time, money nor conscience at the moment to jetset worldwide month after month. Part of this is getting older and gaining responsibilities but part of it is the clarity that i now see in my motivations, i know what i like in climbing and what i want to do and it doesn’t need my whole life orientated towards it with colossal holidays (im not saying the odd one wouldn’t be nice though), i’ve also found enough challenges in the UK this year to keep me more than busy and i can see 2013 filling up already if the UK was good enough for all our previous greats to push standards it is still that way for me. yes the weather’s been pretty crap but so’s reality sometimes, our weather will get crapper and more extreme the more we pump it full of energy. I reckon i’m happy with dabbling in this droughty/flooded isle, putting up 4 new 8B’S & 13 8A/+s and dozens of high 7’s (90% of which are independent blocs) is an alright tick list for a rainy year (i even had time to do some trad and a days sport). It was a funny year for repeating things. I did all my other 8’s in 1-2hrs or under, except second coming, which is my hardest ever repeat & problem i think and took more time to do than... well grannies have made patchwork quilts a lot faster.

  Its been the first year i’ve not climbed out the UK and it might have been the worst year for a loong time to do so. That said i’ve progressed more this year as a climber than i have since i started i think. Part of that has been the weather putting my back to the wall or at least creating the illusion of pressure. Being back on my board in my garage for most of the year really forced me to focus and follow my own rhythm, which is basically resting when i don’t feel close to 90% of my best but training really hard when i do. Its been a nail biting strategy as i’ve been trusting my guts rather than the formula of train though the pain and keep pushing. Much of this strategy has come from needing to switch my plans round the weather, there’s no point knackering out the pony only to find out its race day tomorrow. Either way everything which i found pretty hard at the start of the year on my board i now do at the end of my warm ups. The reason for this is the gathering of the crimp. in the start of 2011 i was much weaker on crimps than i am now, i needed 9kgs assistance to hang the campus rung on the 2000 half crimped for a set on one arm. That was about the time i did voyager, cypher, BOP, stanton deliver, nth power, primitive notion, the pessimist, dandelion mind and Bewilderness etc etc. I was also heavier then too. I tried second coming that year with Ned, neither of us got anywhere near to pulling on near the start but we figured out an easier way to do the very end, it was so fun and unlikely that it sparked up the idea that i would love to be able to do it one day. I’ve been going to goldsborough since i was 16. I had a great evening there once with Ry, Gangle, Katzy and Dunning. It really is a favourite crag of mine, with mostly immaculate rock, the crag is so barren and timeless from one vista but surprisingly near habitation if you look south east. Second coming always fascinated me, when Steve chatted me through it i could never get my head round smearing in a roof. But thats what you do, to pull on you step up to the right foot smear and tense like Mr Universe, the first holds are un-holdable without the smear, otherwise you’d just campus from them, the RH is a decent cresent crimp the left is simply a two finger half pad crimp which i stack my other fingers near and pinch. I’ve never tried a problem before where its been so hard to pull on (once you pull on its roughly a single move 8A+ into a soft 8A). Even on things like Traci Lords sit or ATHOIA, all the pull ons are quite easy (although on the latter the moves between are horrendous). This is what is brilliant hey? working the pull ons, i only know of a few dedicated boulderers (who’ve already got a good protfolio of ascents) who work the pull ons on projects for long time scales. Maybe its taking the bar too far on, bouldering becoming too niche and unapproachable? i don’t think so, mainly because of the simple fact that by November this year not only was it relatively easy for me to pull on, no more lower leg tapping to get off the floor, but i could work the holds to do what i wanted with them, and i wanted to move in a way that was perpendicular not opposing to them, which needed more power and a different left foot. It really was a fantastic effort in 2001 by Steve and a great find. Shortly after doing second coming i went back on the beastmaker to check how i was doing and i could now hang the littlest outer rung on 1 arm half crimped for 7 seconds no problem and 1 arm it at the same time, with no assistance, which for 12 months work is a ridiculous change, interestingly last year i could hold 1 pad pinky monos for at least 8 seconds and now i cant hold them at all at the moment. My drag strength has dropped from easily doing a full set on the same arm on the rh eye to needing 3kg assistance to. Mind you thats not a bad rate of decline over 12 months of relative neglect.  

Earthworm Jim 8A/+ (hope this gets some attention as is near the road and great fun)

I like this game, its tricky to play and like snakes and ladders there’s always the threat of injury to take you back down a few notches but i’ve learned this year that by simply waiting 18 months (and guessing the training well) you can prove how short sighted the minds eye is. which begs the question where is the end of the line? I’d love to try traci lords sit next year if i get the fortune. Plus Gaskins did it in a session which makes me think i can possibly do it. He also flashed the stand, again a phenomenal effort and possibly the UK’s hardest ever flash in terms of doing a single 8a move first go.

So thats what i’ve realized this year. I’ve also realized i’d like to go on holiday somewhere abroad, bouldering next year, Fairhead counts right? I’ve realized Scotland has some incredible boulder projects just 2 hrs from my house in Carlisle. I’ve also realized i can both fart and burp at the same time. I’ve realized that no matter how hard you try some projects will always be a victim to the weather, the only thing i haven’t done this year that i really wanted to is the ultimate in seeping frustration. I’ve realized i’ve said the r word too many times now.

some rubbish uk projects for 2013 if the weather holds out!

So some highlights?

Everything i did in the county is special to me but End Sequence really was great fun and it was a pleasure getting to do Chris’s Launch sequence many times over. The county as a whole is where i feel most at home, even more so now thanks to Katie and her family, whether having a barefoot jog along bamburgh, hanging out in Pilgrims on holy island before heading to bowden for some soloing.

I felt my best performances this year have to be when success and failure were a hairs breadth apart. I did Traci lords in about 30 minutes in July (just after turning 25, Greg is still the youngest ascender!!) and it took everything to break the move down that quickly and hold the swing in control. 

Rhythm was great, the feeling of hitting all the dimples right was great. It’d been shady when we arrived but just as i sat down to try the sit the sun came out and i had to wait, Then as it got lower i started trying it, i messed up the top twice and calmed down a bit then hit the perfect go, body working overdrive stuff. 

Fat Lady was the other ascent that i had to wind up the gears on, its just like a board problem and after finally sticking the long move well i had to finish it off there and then. A great day out with Micky and Katie on a busy month.

The other thing i’ve helped with this year is building Eden Rock. Aside from being 3 months of graft we’ve finally started work on the training room. Which is good as i’m keen to get back on a steep board and pulling beaks. The aim is to make the nicest/ most effective board in the world for 8th grade climbers. After 3 sessions it definitely feels a lot harder than any other board i’ve used. I hope by the time it feels easy and i can use all the holds a few more obvious gaps will appear from the blankness outside.

Where the Wild things are SS-7C+?

A Bigger Berry

Some nice new ones in the county in 2012 (well ones i have nice pics of anyway)

As an aside i have witnesses or unedited video (or both) for all my problems i’ve put up this year (as i’m aware i’ve put up more new blocs this year than si o' connor ever did and he churned them out! which might flag up the bullshit radar) End Sequence is the only exception as the camera was left in Katie's car and she had a meeting in Newcastle. I do however have the footage from the session before with Katie and Ben when i dropped the very last hard move on the out swing and i’d be more than happy to head up there again if it was an issue. Lying makes no sense to me unless you’re weak and have alot to prove. Strong climbers are strong fact. Strong developers cherish undone lines alot more than done ones as they are bloody hard to find.Thankfully bouldering seems to be moving in the direction of it not being taboo to ask for proof. 

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The Autumnal Crush

Posted on October 23, 2012 by Dan Varian


The Autumnal Crush:

My speed of life seems to be going pretty fast lately. Lots to do all the time and in different areas. Both in work and climbing. Lets focus on climbing shall we?

Selset Sunset

I feel like i set the bar pretty high this year with a bunch of projects i found. As you get older the gaps get harder to fill between the old trodden paths. I feel like i’ve entered a world of fog whereby i am now trying to repeat problems that after seeing their first ascents, thought they’d never be caressed again. That and the usual foggy projecting. My climbing feels like its fallen into a binary zone of Do or Fail, no matter how hard i’ve tried this year. Of course this isn’t the case but there are a few problems which have been really shutting me down for most of the year. From June to August i felt the fire die a little as the weather was akin to endless skid marks incessantly smearing across the wet humid ceiling, requiem for the colour blue! Something happened a few weeks ago though, i had a bit of a breakthrough and on Two of my nearest and dearest projects i suddenly felt like i could do them any minute. Rather than flailing at moves hoping to do them once in a session; they were going once every few goes. Well at least i felt like i’d caught up with the bar a bit anyway. 5 split tips and 4 sessions later those 2 aren’t done but one was only due to two of the heavily taped split tips sliding down the finishing hold for an eternity as my middle finger held in there for just long enough for my LH to gush open and waft by the good finishing crimp. Merde.

But the fire was going now, well and truly stoked. I’ve found myself checking the forecast more and the weather has been just about workable. On one lifetime project i’ve really felt the gears wind up. 2 sessions ago i almost did a move that i couldn’t pull onto properly last year when i did things like bewilderness. Admittedly it isn’t hugely “suited” to me, but sod that if you can get all your fingers in a glove then it fits. No point whinging about the finer details all the time. Mentally its been the most interesting project of my life and i hope to wrap it up soon. Too many times this year its nearly broken my internal dialogue stretching it out the length of the drive there into a wispy strand of what ifs and you’re shits. I’ve found myself rolling it all up and just sticking my hackles up instead, Trying my hardest and nothing else matters. Last week i felt on the form of my life only for a horizontal shower to soak the crag and the end of the problem, i got in my pad sandwich and sat the fucker out staring out the English weather with the all the eye contact of walking into a shoulder bump you know is happening. It almost got me, i got cold and had to warm up all over again. When a move is so hard for you that you cant pull on unless everythings right then its proper bouldering in my book. People who wear chalk bags on >8B problems (usually these are >10 moves anyway so not really power climbing) and get splits further down their fingers than 1/4 pad aren’t climbing anywhere near the limits of what they could be doing. people who miss a move then try again! or catch a hold slightly in the wrong place and still do it. Or thinking you always wear climbing shoes in a pair! shoes are tools each does its own specific job. If its at your limit any error, any extra weight should mean failure. We should make an effort to go back to lycra, that space age fabric is light!

When somethings hard everything must work at once, all limbs perfectly. I got warmed back up and managed to put my left leg on and weight it through a foothold, something i’d never done before in the past year, it allows a different trajectory to burst out to and you can catch the edge of glory, i almost held it once. Last session i almost held it 5 times. 

best crux crimp

There’s been a similarly low percentage move in the county thats bugged me all year, i’ve called in sporadically expecting to do it everytime. As since the first session i’ve been touching this hold, 5 sessions and 8 months later and it finally feels different. Its time sometimes on moves not sessions, i could have had 5 sessions in february and not done it. It could have been my first session last weekend and i’d have done it. I needed the 8 months to get better at climbing, nothing has changed in my sequence as there are no other holds. You see such bullshit sometimes about people doing something in 2 sessions a year apart! when you try a problem there is a window of success, the window is a certain size when you first try it and you can decide whether to try and get through it there and then or wait for it to expand over time. I knew coming into last weekend that I should be a notch stronger, warming up i didnt feel super sparky but my fingers felt dependably better. The move is ridiculously basic, essentially a rock over round a roof from a 1/4pad back 3 crimp through a 2 finger 1/4pad crimp intermediate and then upto a 1/4pad 4 finger edge which i catch as a drag, the trouble comes with controlling you'r loose leg round the lip of the roof, as at my height it cant stay under, but with it out the holds don't "work" so the move occupies the space between the seconds, punching through the positions quicker than it takes for you to begin to fall off, falling upwards like Johnny but pulling like Moon. I can imagine it being flashed and i can imagine people never doing it. I’d guess it was the hardest single move i’ve done outside going on tries vs success ratio. I’ve called the problem Great Expectations as every time i went i expected to do it. Reality and expectations rarely collide in my bouldering these days, but without expectations we have no path to walk down. Trusting a move will go for long periods of time is currently the hardest bit of bouldering for me. Flipper fitz had it sussed in that respect, as he didn’t bother doing the problems after the moves.

Great expectations: Photos by Katie Mundy

Great Expectations Great Expectations

Pic of the soft 8A+ Trivial Pursuit Deluxe, a project i did when Ned was up walloping loads of hard classics: Photo courtesy of Mark Savage:

The logical start to Great Expectations is under the roof which adds a 7Cish start into a hard one move 8A+ (plus a few finishing moves, so expect shit all change from that grade, i cant do 1 move 8Bs yet) Its an open project as i’ve got plenty else to try for now until the stand move feels piss. Luckily i’ve got a pretty good training resource now, as i’ve just upgraded from a 7.5sqm garage 45 to a ~1000sqm bouldering wall in Carlisle as we’ve started setting at Eden Rock. Last week i had to have 2 rest days after trying to link the wooden beastmaker holds in roof from the back (i ended up putting the foothold on the side wall but it'll go without it). We’re also developing a range of holds on the machine which will be getting prototype tested at Eden Rock.

Photo Courtesy of Nicole MacGregor

Some Test holds for tool paths, the finished versions will be better quality (these aren't even sanded yet) and they'll be functional first and foremost.

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2011 round up

Posted on January 03, 2012 by Daniel Varian

Things i've learnt this year: don't put biodiesel in common rail diesels even if you buy it as you can't guarantee filtration and it is an expensive initial saving. 

10m isn't that high

2m is high enough to really knack your ankle

Shin jags can be more painful than Peter makes out in family guy

Well its been quite a fun year all in all. My yearning for cotching along a bit more and not getting injured stuck with me all year and things seemed to pan out nicely in pulses with the seasons. It was mostly a UK based year for me with only 19days spent abroad in total. Something i’d like to amend next year as i feel i could learn alot more from foreign boulders at present. The other thing i can see alot more of in 2012 is board training. Since moving back to Carlisle i’ve got right back into my personal 45 board and each session i’ve been trying to make 4 new holds for it which’ll fit what i want to improve on (crimps which you can’t cut loose on and mid sized pinches at the mo). The board training is mainly for stuff in the Lakes, i figure if i can try a few Gaskins problems next year then i might not feel so guilty at pretending to climb hard that said i can’t see myself ever managing il pirata even if it wasn’t a crap line. I’ve also been armchair exploring on geograph and have a bunch of venues lined up to explore in the county history has taught me that i’ll find things if i go looking with the right eyes, hopefully they wont be all be crap venues! 

so 2011...hmmm its been a long year thinking back i dont know which ascents really stand out.

Soloing pinnacle ridge in Glen Nevis with my dad (he doesn’t climb really) was great fun and memorable as it was nice to meander about up it chatting away whilst taking in some good exposure for a severe. Mike’s problem in Torridon was also fantastic on this short trip as it was showering horizontally, The problem is perfect in the old fashioned brad pitt esque-sense obvious start and finish, except its on flawless rock and a sea-mountain location its got a lovely drop knee pounce to catch opposing pinchy sidepulls, generally a fantastic problem.

Most of my year was spent at badger cove 1 in 6 days april to june and a few in august. It never felt like a chore climbing there (well one hot june evening it did so i just left and went for a run along stanage instead) It was genuinely delightful to find stuff to climb on which was exactly what i’d always looked for in a local project, a dream come true in a way, i don’t think the problems there are crazily hard as in the grand scheme of things they were rushed from birth and it was pretty much just me tinkering away rather than a few climbers of different styles. Badger Badger Badger did well this year though, seeing off over a dozen repetition candidates except the crafty Mason who nabbed the 2nd ascent before heading to South Africa for the summer. It was a lovely spot to spend much of the spring and summer and a cracking process from writing Bewilderness off completely for the year in april to climbing it on a breezy August day with Jonesy.

Its lovely to end up somewhere you’d never bet a penny on going once in a while and Pietra di bismantova was certainly somewhere i’d never heard of before April, on a short long weeks holiday to Italy. Michele showed me round some of his fantastic local spots, both in the city and out at the crags. I had a great day out at pietra with him and his friends eating deep fried fritters up in the rifugio (England sadly lacks in these types of places) along with working boulders down in the fields below, we set about trying to crack il Gobbo, a great overhanging prow project with the hummockiest sloper top out i’ve seen. Between us we sussed a great sequence of heels and compression and grappled it out, lovely, it was one of the better 8A+s i did this year.

I've also got an LX5 to play with this year so flickr should be a bit more active after my old camera broke last year. (they wont all be macro)

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