New Stuff

Posted on April 19, 2013 by Dan Varian

Its not often we get to do this but we've been making a habit of it recently! We've got some machined holds in stock and up on the site for the first time here: (Machined Holds) and we've got some T shirts too: (Clothing)


Both products we've gone for quality on, as thats what we enjoy, so the T Shirts are organic cotton, with good durability and a funky Strong Tree design. The holds really are something else, I dont think any holds like this have ever been commercially made before, metal and wood together in smooth ergonomic harmony. I'd go as far as to say they are the best training holds i've ever seen due to the fact that they are wooden (so hard to crush), super ergonomic and so good looking that they are inspiring to climb on. Take a look and if you fancy some for your board then fire away, stock is limited at the moment but we will try to turn new holds around fast.


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Posted on March 18, 2013 by Ned Feehally

We have a new machine! It's a laser cutter/engraver. It's very exciting. We are now engraving our fingerboards with it, the finish is great and it is much faster than the engraving process we used to use, leaving us more time to make more fingerboards.

The laser is great for loads of other stuff too - we have been fiddling around with it and making a few new bits and bobs. Our latest product isn't exactly ground breaking but it should be pretty handy to most climbers... 


The Beast Maintainer is a little sanding board you can use to keep your skin in fine fettle as you climb. Smooth, even skin is important for getting maximum friction out of the rock and avoiding nasty splits, tears and holes.

Apart from this, we have been very busy making fingerboards for everyone as well as tinkering with some other new products - which should be more exciting but no less pretty than the Beast Maintainers. 


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a new year, same old me.

Posted on March 06, 2013 by Dan Varian

Brocken Spectre whilst finding new pebbles

It sounds silly but i hadn’t really planned what to do as this year came about. Everything was 2012 this and 2012 that.  I blame the olympics personally 2013 started to feel like a bit of an afterthought. I joked in January that it should be the year of the drought (draught) after the year of the flood last year. Like Chinese animal years but adapted for our new climate. So far so good anyhow. Except i haven’t really done anything that i really wanted to do yet. I also seem to be getting busier as i get older and finding time to write anything worthwhile on the web is getting harder. As such this is a bit of a mish mash of stuff from the first 2 months or so this year, easy reading, lots of buffer just like a good trash novel. The abysmal end to last year and bad january this year really killed the motivation in me and at one point i had “nothing new to do- complete bollocks as ever” I then found a bunch of one mover projects but i find it hard to prioritize those over the bigger lines. And as such i’ve had a dabble on each but done none. The big lines have been spitting me off and i’ve been struggling to get in the closing things out mindset. Everyone needs a rest once in a while i guess, mine just got forced on me. So with a bit of trundling here and there to keep me busy as well as being a good all round workout to keep the strength up. (moving 300KG blocks for over an hour does wonders for your lower back) I’ve started to find a bit more March motivation.

January and February have passed by in a mess of split tips, wrong crags on the wrong days and the odd new problem from 7C to 8A+ but nothing great just average stuff or variations, some were great fun or great moves with good company but none were the big stuff that really keeps me training hard, after all there are enough good VS-E5s in the lakes to last anyone a lifetime of days out and you dont need to maintain a base level of 8A/+ bouldering to do them. 

Katie's lovely pic of the Lakes winter on Dad's Birthday, Later on i tried some optimistic bum boarding, sufficed to say the classic descents weren't in condition despite being white.

I’m gradually getting back on form though. Before Christmas i was about 68KG and found it hard to keep warm when outside so i ate and ate and ate over December and January and now i’m still under 70kgs! although i have felt a bit warmer whilst out of late. The best thing about the eating is that i’ve got the squeeze back and it is the funnest part of climbing for me. Unfortunately i’ve only really felt the benefit on one project outdoors so far and on the board (that and one armering the 45’s and pinky mono front levering as a dick about at the end of a session, (i’d never one armed the 45s before but had a spate of doing full repeaters on one arm on the 35s in 2010). Luckily Rob Fielding and Dave Birkett were on hand as witnesses to such silly feats (I dont think Dave was impressed at all, he's seen it all before; atleast my woodwork in the wall got a nice nod of approval though). The 55 board (or Beak Master as i've named it) is where i’ve made the best gains, just to wind up Eden Rock customers as its still shut to the public! It feels like i’ve only just got the measure of it after 2 months though so it might not be the most user friendly board ever. I’m hoping to use it a lot this year to find that elusive next level of technical incapability, that and its really really fun.

Micky cruising the 55 (its got a lot more holds on now)

The biggest visual change of 2013 is my move from Bigstone to Mountainboot company. It made sense to me after a long think over. I live in the "Scarpa North" now and was a lone 5.10 raider up here. Geordies always looked upon my shoes like a bad smell, how dare i wear those on this rock! Nearly all the hard first ascents up here got done wearing Scarpa’s whether its Dunne, Dunning or Katz’s routes and problems in Yorkshire, Birketts routes in the lakes or Andy and Malcs ascents in The County. Macleod and Malc dominate the hard FA’s in Scotland too in most disciplines. With Ricky Bell in Northern Ireland it really is the Scarpa North (In the interests of fairness there is a fairly large Boreal Gaskins and 5.10 Mcclure limestone history there, a Peckitt lead evolv yorks grit development surge and Hocking's fingers are currently pulling red chili's up behind him on hard trad and boulders). 

It was a bit funny adapting to different shoes for a week or two (i’ve worn 5.10s for over 7 years) but after a couple of sessions in the Instinct Vs’s it felt like i’d gained more than i’d lost in terms of a shoe that does nearly everything well (which considering the price of rock shoes nowadays for most non jammy people is a very good thing!). That combined with a very cool custom made pair of Vapour Vario's Thanks to Heinz Mariacher and i couldn’t be happier with what i’ve got under me. To be honest if i hadn’t been bouldering for so long that i can be arsed to exploit the difference between a linear, catch and friction heel (total nerd) then i would probably just wear the instincts all the time but there are some heel hooks which are best in a certain shoe and the instinct heel is amazing for friction heels but not catch. Sometimes that makes the difference between doing something in a session or in several. Which over the course of the year adds up. Anyway i’m looking forward to putting up some classics in them.

Classics are going to be the attempted theme of this year for me (esoteric might come a close second) if i can help it. I’m partial to the odd filler in/ blinkered problem from time to time but i’m hoping to keep the standards high this year (last year i almost managed but a few lines lead me astray) if i can get going well enough, I’ve certainly found the projects to work on, they are just getting further away with more conditionsy and harder moves on. A stressful thing at times!

Still i can always go on Holiday...

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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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