Monday, 24 December 2012

Midnight Run


Running late at night has huge appeal for me in Warwickshire. The roads are deadly silent, except for the distant hum of a car on roads a mile or so away. Rabbits and owls make themselves known but otherwise it's just me and the light pounce of my feet on tarmac. My headtorch beams up the lane and the place is there for exploring.

Route map
Walton Hall Circuit
5.5 miles in 37 minutes
 

















Example's video to Midnight Run was shot in .... You guessed it! ICELAND!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Feast Your Eyes On This


There's something circulating the interweb that is bold, crisp and brilliant. Mount Everest in 2 billion pixels. Be inspired









Click here for GlacierWorks

Friday, 21 December 2012

Tri, Tri and Tri Again


“One sport is not enough.”

ELITE 96 
















It’s a compelling mantra by Triathlon Plus magazine, and it’s an idea embedded in the minds of triathletes who seek the ultimate endurance competition. I shied away from the demands of the sport for many years as a poor swimmer - growing up watching my two sisters glide up and the down the lanes of our local lido while I thrashed around, getting nowhere. I was an impatient kid that sought thrills, not the chlorine-soaked verruca-encrusted poolside. Ten years later and I fell into the sport again by accident.

 Swimming in the spring of 2012 was an activity designed purely to compliment other sports: a cure for shin splints, for recovery and flexibility in climbing, to cross-train for running and cycling. So I never anticipated it would become a sport for me in its own right.

zimbio.com


















 The summer brought a jewel box of sporting history, with all the hype and glamour you could ask for. From an office in Warwick, I watched as Alistair Brownlee finished the Olympic Men’s Triathlon in 1st place, taking the Gold medal that he duly deserved with Jonathon not far behind, a brilliant moment. Yorkshire lads too, I was rooting for the home boys and it’s hard to deny the Brownlee effect, giving the sport a popular face (or two) and a great media story. Sport England recently increased the funding for triathlon by 30% for youngsters and it’s no wonder why (BBC News). 

Yet my imagination was really taken by open water swimming. The call for ripping up coastal waters around the UK still abounds in me but experience and training has to come first. In October this year I enlisted the help of a swim coach to learn freestyle technique, the first step on a path I hoped to becoming a wildswimmer and triathlete. What came next was hard, gruelling even, and I’ve never had such a mental challenge trying to feel comfortable in the water. 

Each coaching session raped my cardio-vascular system for all it was worth. My lungs screamed for air and my mind logically said bring my head above the surface. Forcing myself to push on and attempt another length was difficultIt's a wonder that I survived nine months swimming in amniotic fluid before birth. Practising freestyle by myself in the mornings before uni, the experience was at times miserable if not a little stressful, full of negativity like, “I’m just not a swimmer. It's probably time to give up.” Why take up a sport that you don’t enjoy and you’re no good at?


Because life will throw up the same challenge eventually, and we all make choices whether to turn back for the comfort of mediocrity or to stand our ground. 


The Brownlee effect remained still, and I was researching a story for the Leeds Student on their upcoming race in Auckland (heavy editorial bias), which meant I had my finger on the pulse of elite tri competition. I kept putting the hours in at the pool, wanting to ‘feel’ the water. Another lesson from my coach and things started to fall into place. There was a consistency and a smoothness to my stroke which all adds to efficiency. Eventually I started to make serious gains and was putting power through the glide, which had been there all along but I never harnessed it thanks to poor technique.

  
The cool feel of the water rippling over your body as you pull deep into the pool, rotating, propelled forward and smashing out the next stroke like Michael Phelps. Your cardiovascular is in overdrive and your muscles are reaching new levels of endurance in calm and controlled showmanship. This is the lure of the swim.


 In late November, an opportunity came up that continued to play on my mind. The Edge’s ‘Super Sprint Triathlon’ for Children in Need involved a 400m swim, 10k ride on spin bikes and 3k on the treadmill. 400 metres equates to 16 lengths in the pool, which is easy for an average swimmer. For me, it would be the culmination of weeks of work. So I entered the day before and didn’t tell anyone about my attempt, except for my girlfriend - she used to swim at county level and that was pressure enough! But without too much expectation, it was just me and the pool and the clock.

There’s a buzz at the start of any race. Adrenaline, hopes and fears all play a part. I was proud to finish the Super Sprint with a respectable time of 41 minutes, including a fast time on the bike. So there’s promise for the real triathlon experience in spring next year and open water tris are the real goal.

Until then, good luck with winter training folks, be it in the pool, on the roads or high mountain.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Update on PEACE Ride 2014


Kyrgyzstan countryside
















Back in August plans for the Pan EurAsia Cycle Expedition [PEACE] were posted online. Leaving London in March 2014, the route will undertake 9000 miles across country, desert and mountain to the base of India, via the Himalaya.

This ride has captured my imagination, and of those who kindly nattered with me about cycle touring, the tiger nations of Asia and travelling in general. Thanks to Euan and others who shared their experiences.

I'm happy to say that the ball is now officially rolling, like the wheels on a lubed and loved bicycle. So much so, I had to the cheek to give a talk to LUUHC on my prep for the exped, called 'How to Cycle 9000 Miles and Not Get Lost in Kyrgyzstan'.

The route between Istanbul and northern India needs more work, which I'll start in August 2013. I understand the areas like Chechnya, past Georgia, are politcally hostile. Two Brits honking and waving their way through outpost settlements in Russian satellite countries won't go down well, especially if we haven't got official visas to be there.

The great news is that a graduate and friend from Leeds, Lewis Gibbs, is keen on joining me for the ride. If you want to join the team get in touch via email.

If you can offer accommodation between London and India or you have detailed knowledge of travelling in these areas please contact us [benjamin-lewis@live.co.uk] We'd love to hear from you.



Friday, 2 November 2012

A Mountain of Knowledge




















The Leeds University Hiking Club met with Sir Chris Bonington last week in Harrogate!

Full story here

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Sharpest Edge

A classic Lakeland day on one of Britain’s finest ridges

















This content has been written for Blacks Outdoor Retail Ltd and should not be redistributed. 

Blencathra, at a height of 868 metres, is one of the northern guardians of the Lake District and is accessed easily from the A66 road near Penrith. We set out for the popular summit top via Sharp Edge, the prominent rocky arĂȘte beside Scales Tarn. 

It was a promising autumnal morning, a blanket of cloud keeping us warm and no wind to quell our plans. We started early, snaking around the hillside on a good path into steep valleys. Climbing up to Scales Tarn, Sharp Edge came into view and we would have the ridge to ourselves. It was a secluded and peaceful place next to the tarn, stopping for a bite to eat with banter amongst friends. 

Sharp Edge scramble (Grade 1) gave us a sense of adventure and exposure on good rock, but in poor conditions it could be a more risky experience. I was glad for sturdy boots and good waterproofs on this classic ascent of Blencathra. After clambering up steep ground we reached the rolling mountain top, and paced off to bag the nearby summit of Bowscale Fell. 

The surrounding area in the northern Lake District is often ignored by walkers that head for the honeypot locations at Windermere or Ambleside. Yet they are missing out on a landscape undisturbed, barren and interesting, which asks for exploration of the rolling upland plains, reminiscent of the Welsh Carneddau. 

By lunchtime we were crossing back to the summit of Blencathra and the views were sublime. From there we could gaze south… the iconic Lakeland fells rising skywards, covered in a patchwork of sun and shadow. 

Our route descended via Hallsfell spur, south of the peak, and we strided down the jagged rib with smiles, taking photos and feeling lucky for a dry walk on the hill. 

Blencathra offers an impressive mountain day for any person: the occasional rambler or the mountaineer. So get your kit together and make the journey to try one of Britain’s finest ridges. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Vintage Psych

Do you feel the weight of mountaineering history resting on your shoulders? No, probably not.







 










How about now?

As walkers and climbers, we're not a mere blip in the storyline of moutaineering. We're at the forefront of it, called the present. Cragging it up on a weekend keeps the passion alive.

Mankind's knowledge of mountains has grown with the efforts of thousands of ordinary individuals, trekking in high passes and attempting dogged routes on high peaks. Admittedly the chapters are complicated by class and gender struggles.

Alongside human exploration and fascination for the big peaks, technology has developed. More extreme expeditions required better gear. Today's generation is gifted with advanced materials and technical equipment... B3 Scarpa 'space boots' as my housemate called them, over the hobnail leather boots of old. Does the wealth of knowledge and skills passed down to us, give us a responsibility to use it? That's something worth thinking about.

Public Service Broadcasting are a London-based duo that mash up archive footage with musicMore on their website.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Go sort of Pro

I was left with a handy video camera for a day. A slight brainwave and lots of gaffa tape later, this was the result:

Indoor climbing at Leeds Wall

Expect footage soon! Here's what you can do with the real thing:



Friday, 28 September 2012

Fresh Feet

Leeds has felt paradoxically quiet lately, returning to the city for final year. Friends, acquaintances and familiar faces from the last two years have moved on for work, travel, whatever - while all the time the campus gets busier. Freshers. For many, the pace of life picks up again in September. Fresh blood courses through the veins of a red brick institution and you worry about being left behind.

Then I realise I’ve forgotten one of the oldest rules in the book: life doesn’t stand still, so move with it. Not all good things come to an end, but they transmute into something else right (energy cannot be created or destroyed)? There are new memories to make and new successes to be had. So, gather your things and get outside. The world is waiting.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tents & Beats

 















Over at CrazyTomDrop.com, Leeds post-grad Tom Hartland blogs about the latest electro sounds and heavy beats pounding speakers via the internet. His music blog project started in January this year and it's expanded. Now the website has a stream of regular visitors and a team of writers bringing good tunes to the people who want them. 

My first post at CrazyTomDrop reviews the new, old and beautiful music at Bestival this summer:

http://wp.me/p29Bog-uY



Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Wild by Jay Griffiths

















I've been catching up on some reading during my lunch hour at work, thumbing the yellow, dusty pages of books neglected. 

Wild: An Elemental Journey is a travel book by Jay Griffiths published in 2008. I say travel book, it's a more of an ode to travel, to people and nature. The book is unlike any other book I've read; the writing itself is wild, full of poetry and manifesto. The author visits indigenous communities around the world (for example: Shamans in the Amazon, Inuit in the Arctic Circle, Aborigines in deep Australia), talking about the culture, sex, language and landscape of wild places, sometimes incorrectly termed 'wilderness'. Once you tune into the language, you can lose yourself in the book, and it certainly makes a lunch hour sitting on the grass outside offices in Warwick a lot more interesting.

Talking about nomadism
"But the lure of wild and nomadic freedom has never left us, any of us. It is in our lungs, breathing in freedom, in our eyes, hungry for horizons, and in our feet, itching for the open road. Put your boots on." (Griffiths, 2008, p.310)
Photo by Katie Mckay

Friday, 31 August 2012

Crossing Eurasia by Bike


Leaving March 2014

They say that if you tell people your goals, you're more likely to achieve them. This is something I've had in the pipeline for a while. Finish with uni, earn enough money and hit the road. If you want to join me for part of the journey just get in touch.

Starting in London, ending in Mumbai. Roughly 9000 miles. Averaging 50 miles a day, it would take 6 months. CouchSurfing in cities and towns and camping everywhere else. The trip will take lots of preparation - physical conditioning, planning the route and organising accomodation, making sure I have the right paperwork for border crossings and enough funds at the end of it to fly home, but it's doable. Yes, 9000 miles of cycling sounds crazy, but the freedom of travelling the globe on two wheels is a boyhood dream that's worth chasing. And I'll probably come back with a great-looking beard. So, I've started a countdown to Monday 3rd March 2014, when I roll out of London. Game on.



View Larger Map

*The route would actually continue through Kyrgyzstan into China, South through China to Nepal, Tibet and the Himalaya, then coasting down the spine of India, South to Mumbai. (Google Maps won't calculate routes to go through China)*
















Phoenix - Love Like A Sunset Part II by audeline

Friday, 24 August 2012

Letters After My Name


Sun sets over Anglesey
















I’ve got a familiar feeling, sitting on a train with heavy luggage at an unsociable hour, travelling the breadth of the country. As a student, I’m used to it; multiple changes and delays. But this time it’s different, because I just passed my Summer ML assessment after a week in North Wales. Satisfaction, pride and wonderment fill my head… Completing my Mountain Leader award ends a chapter for me that lasted two and a half years – logging ‘Quality Mountain Days’ and developing 'skills' – but it raises more questions than it does answers. What to do next? When you’re two-thirds of the way through a broad yet uninspiring environmental degree, with no concrete plan post university except for travelling (more about that soon), such questions inevitably rear their head.

The Summer Mountain Leader award is a national qualification for outdoor instructors and youth leaders, which requires a training course, consolidation period of about 12 months and five day assessment. Although the main test is navigation and leadership in the hills, it also challenges your scrambling, ropework, management of mountain hazards and environmental knowledge, among other things. Successful candidates become qualified to lead groups in the UK mountains during summer conditions.


The view from PYB; Snowdon in the distance
















Thankfully with a bursary from JBMF, I booked onto the five day assessment at Plas Y Brenin in the heart of Snowdonia National Park. As the National Mountain Centre, it's a hub for outdoor training, expertise and gear development. In my assessment group for the week was an unlikely mix of candidates - climbers and walkers, different backgrounds [teacher, student, scout leader, hillwalker], different strengths and weaknesses, very different personalities - but all of us wanted the same badge. And all of us kept up the same friendly banter. Only three out of four in my group passed. Although, a deferral is no bad thing. It's like failing your driving test for the first time, you come back for the second test as a more experienced and all round better driver, or hillwalker.

We were lucky in that it stayed dry for the week, leading new routes up Moel Siabod, Glyder Fawr and around the base of Snowdon. The night navigation exercise was testing but not overly difficult, searching for boulders and streams around Cwm Clogwyn in the dark. The ropework practical (to climb or abseil down rock steps using just a rope and no gear) required some improvised anchor selection and lots of rope faff, but I got a thumbs up from our assessor. I can't forget the insane friction of my South African abseil and the rope burn I endured in the process. The point is that I completed the job safely, so who cares about style.




Glyder Fach on the skyline
Wild camp at Llyn Du'r Arddu




















Interestingly, the ML assessment was not as rigorous as we’d expected. What they’re really looking for is that you operate safely in the hills with the head and confidence of a mountain leader across the five days. Individual errors in navigation or route finding on steep ground for example, can be discounted against the overall picture. So the ML syllabus retains depth and breadth, while the assessment itself is more about quality testing the finished product. Never have I witnessed such competition to name the well-trodden bog-living moss plant aside the path, or to be the first to explain the 'symbiotic relationship' of lichen organisms. If you don't know what I'm talking about, get a copy of Mike Raine! And for any budding ML candidates out there, good luck, and get logging your mountain days!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Great Shakespeare Century

I'm not talking about literature, although there is some drama here. The Great Shakespeare Ride involves more than 100 miles of grinning and grimacing along steep, Cotswold lanes. Starting in Stratford Upon Avon, the cycle sportive runs South to Stow and returns via the Cotswold towns of Winchcombe, Broadway and Chipping Campden. 800 riders turned out for the 100km and 100 mile event on Sunday, raising money for The Shakespeare Hospice. Now into it's third year, the GSR is becoming a Midlands favourite - well-organised and challenging even for veterans of the lycra brigade.

Distance: 105 miles (113 for us)
Ascent: 1400m of climbing
Final time: 8 hours 4 mins
Click here for the route

Adam and Sam came to visit for the weekend, choking down lasagne and pasta on Saturday night and making pre-race bike adjustments in the garage. Adam hydrated with milk and Sam drank chilled beer to give him the edge.


Ad, Ben and Sam
















We got to the start line at 9am the next morning having already cycled several miles from the house, warming our muscle fibres. It was humid already. After nine the mass start sprang forward and we rolled past wheel after wheel, snaking in between riders to push forward with the faster guys. A river of aluminium and lycra flowed down Warwickshire lanes. The presence of a Citroen pushing its way through the pack in the opposite direction caused a pile up around us as riders pulled their brakes, with nasty results.

The first 20 miles were fast, racing through my local patch. Tyres hummed and there was a regular 'click' of gears shifting. Adam and I would sit with a group of four or five riders for a few minutes before pacing in front and pushing onto the next. Sam was not far behind. There was a cheery atmosphere; people were happy to be out riding in warm August air. Passers by gave us a friendly wave and we signalled back.

















At the first feed stop by Hook Norton we re-grouped, as the three of us had separated - Adam had pushed forward with eager legs while I eased off the pace, the dorsiflexor muscles in my legs were tight and painful. We had a few minutes at the feed station for bike chat, tea and fruit cake before hitting the road. The 100km and 100 mile routes then split, separating the boys from the men ! Immediately thrust into Oxfordshire backcountry, the roads seemed longer and there were fewer riders to overtake since we were pedalling alongside committed roadies now.

On the approach to the first major climb, signposted 'Col du Broadwell', I could feel myself being overstretched, struggling to maintain pace with Ad and Sam. I had to stop and stretch off, the two of them pedalling out of sight. Once you lose the slipstream and 'pull' of your riding buddies, it's a hard slog trying to catch up again, left behind in a wasteland of slow spinning.

After the 50 mile mark I settled into a rhythm and I enjoyed rolling through Cotswold hamlets, my mind wandering beyond the grassy, stone-wall landscapes. Later on I could feel a fight returning in my legs and I began pushing past my contemporaries towards Winchcombe. I took the downhills with blinding speed and left other riders behind. The tight, twisting descent through a wood-shaded road into Winchcombe kept me alert, finger-tips poised on the brakes.

I saw Adam and Sam again at the second feed stop in Winchcombe. My legs were feeling fresh after the earlier pain and I wanted to keep up the momentum, so I left them both there to chase down the next 'Col', rising above the market town on a steep gradient, arse-out-of-saddle. The roads had flooded due to a thrashing of rain, spraying dirt and grit onto my face. There was no time to relax. Going fast on a narrow bend, a metallic stripe flashed in my eye and I swerved in tight to avoid the car rumbling towards me head on. These sort of near misses make your heart jump.

The sunshine re-emerged outside Stanway House. The gatehouse there is made from a golden Cotswold stone, known as Guiting Yellow, giving the place a warm and grand look. Ad caught up with me and we span on towards Broadway along peaceful, quiet lanes.






















At the Ebrington food stop, 25 miles from the finish, the volunteer women had put on an awesome display of homemade cake: chocolate cream cake, banana muffins, victoria-sponge, fruit cake and more. It was like a WI baking competition, except I couldn't distinguish between the best cake because every one was sublime. Morale was running high at this point so we had a photo with the baking heroes.

















Next in our sights was the Ilmington climb (3km in length with a 5% gradient; Cat 4). After this it would be straightforward rolling home for the last 10 miles. On the approach to Ilmington the three of us were spinning close together, sweeping around corners at speed. Signs by the edge of the road read, 'The final climb' and 'This is going to hurt!' I thought, just watch me... Roadies dotted the hillside and the climb snaked off into the distance. I put some fire in the engines and was bursting past other riders, riders whom I'd been leapfrogging all day. Halfway along the lane one guy between breaths said 'well done' as I rolled past. The three of us were separated again after Ilmington but it was no issue, bombing along roads I knew well with a sniff of victory in the air, hunting down the finish line.

The disappointment comes as the last 10 miles of undulating road can be slow, having to fight the smallest uphill gradient. My bike was feeling it also, making clanging and creaking sounds under the strain; our chains chewing grit, in need of some oil. I waited for half a minute on Loxley hill and Sam popped into view. We agreed to get our heads down and ravage our legs for the last 20 minutes. Taking it in turns, we gave a short blast at the front for several minutes before recovering on each other's wheel. My legs were hollow on the last set of bends and you can be happy if you've given it everything.

Crossing the line, I was grinning as someone handed me a medal. It had been a team effort. It hadn't been a perfect ride for me, but the earlier frustration about my burning leg pain I left out on the roads. We caught up with Ad who'd come in a few minutes before, having ridden well all day. There was enough time to chill outside, get a chicken burger from the BBQ and let satisfaction sink in. Inside Stratford Manor I was keen to get a post-ride massage from one of the volunteer masseurs, and she did a great job easing up my achey muscles. It's the most relaxed you'll ever be - a deep, soothing warmth in your legs, revitalised, after cycling a century.


Post ride salad face

Olympic Mo-Bot













With endurance cycling, you feel the highs and lows like the undulations of the road. But the road is always worth riding! I would sit down to watch the Olympic closing ceremony later, with a beer, content at the fact that they weren't the only ones to finish with a medal.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Training for Life?


One of the secrets of happier living is to have a goal.

Superman plank; Phil and Adam


With the Olympics in full swing at the moment, there’s plenty of talk about goals, drive and ambition. How do rowing athletes at Eton Dorney or the pedal pushers in the velodrome keep smashing records? As the lactic acid builds and their bodies enter oxygen debt, they power on. BBC pundits keep reminding us - it’s because they set themselves a goal, and then committed hours to their sport in training over the last four years (admittedly with some natural talent and high-tech sciency stuff thrown in to give them an edge).

In the last year at Leeds, we’ve built a community of people in the Hiking Club, who are willing to commit at least one night a week for the sake of training, and for the sake of the team. Just remember, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Spearheaded by Matt Fuller, our training group started as a core group of ‘keen beans’, circuit training over Woodhouse Moor on a Tuesday night (some would just call it rolling in the mud). But it mushroomed. The word spread, and although people trained for different reasons, with different goals, we were united in training. For me personally, the training involved mud, sweat, pain, injury, disappointment, annoyance, determination and finally elation. So it paid off.

There have only been one or two other times in my life when I’ve been as proud as I was this year. My goal was never to be the best at anything, but to try damn hard in many things. I will let Matt explain.











From Matt Fuller

Welcome to Leeds Uni Hiking Club’s offshoot fitness group. This is for anyone who wants to get fit and is willing to put in some effort. It started as Training for Winter, then it became Training for Summer, and soon it will be Training for Winter again. In reality, it’s training for whatever you want it to be, whether that be mountain fitness, a beach body, to pull in clubs, or to fend off the advancing fat. Last year was this group’s first year and we trained for about 9 months. In that time members of this group completed...

  • The Yorkshire 3 Peaks - some people ran, some people walked, one loony cycled. One nutter completed it more than once
  • The Welsh 3000s challenge
  • The Leeds Half Marathon
  • The Leeds Park Run - with more PB’s than you can shake a stick at
  • Trail running round and over Ilkley Moor
  • A total darkness ascent of Ilkley Moor
  • Competing in Orienteering at national level
  • Cycling across France
  • Cycling around the North of England
  • Climbing a shed load of mountains across the UK (Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, Lake District, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Fort William, Cairngorms, Torridon)
  • Bagging a ton of Alpine summits
  • Ice climbing in Alpine winter
  • Rock climbing all over the North
  • Backpacking around the UK
  • A lot of games of football

Now for the stats:
  • Indoor climbing and bouldering 250 times (based on 5 people going average once a week all year round)
  • Climbing 70,000 stairs (based on 15 training sessions, 9 people average per session, 500 reps per session
  • 10,800 press-ups (based on 30 training session, 9 people per session, 40 reps per session)
  • 10,800 sit-ups (based on 30 training sessions, 9 people per session, 40 reps per session)
  • 20,000 burpees (based on 30 training sessions, 9 people per session, and too many reps per session)
  • 1000 miles of muddy sprinting (based on 30 training sessions, 9 people per session, and 3 miles per session)
...And a shed load more stuff.

The real point was that we set out unsure whether we could complete some of these objectives. It didn’t matter; we gave them 100% and you can do no more. If you complete them then that is a bonus, but the objective is to try.

If you want to get involved, get in contact with Matt via the LUUHC Committee.



In the meantime, get your teeth into this

Daft Punk - Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix) by The Glitch Mob
  

Friday, 20 July 2012

Persevering with gritstone



Tommaso leads Crack and Wall (HS 4b)

Last weekend brought us two clear, sunny days of climbing, traditional style. I made the journey to Leeds especially to boost my skills on gritstone; coarse, rounded, sloping grit. With the climbing bug then out of my system (temporarily), I thought I could focus on my new office job a bit more. A decent session at Leeds Wall on Friday set us up well for the weekend.

With a friend from LUUHC – Italian Phd student Tommaso – we fiercely slapped and jammed our way around Burbage North on Saturday and Almscliff crag on Sunday. Despite what can only be described as a fucking ordeal on Saturday, getting eaten alive by midges, we had two successful days, starting early and finishing late. It was a total learning curve, to assess our limits and see how we could push beyond them.

On Sunday, Almscliff was something like a pleasure beach: climbers, walkers, families and their dogs out for the day, soaking up the vistas of Wharfedale and warm sun. Arguably, it’s my favourite spot around Leeds. The Cow and Calf is a serious contender! Tamsin and Simon, graduates from Leeds and regular partners at the Wall, boldly led their first trad routes - with ease (Three Chockstones Chimney, Mod). Once you lose your trad virginity, you get a new-found confidence in your climbing and a lust for more outdoor action. Expect to see them cragging soon at a rock-face near you.

An interesting crack to the left of Low Man Slab kept winking at me that afternoon. After 3 days of climbing I knew I would be pushing my luck to try it. It would be the hardest climb I’d do that weekend (Fluted Crack, S 4b). But I started rumours that I'd finish on Fluted Crack and I never like to go back on my word. Drawing on reserves of energy and psyche, I started the route with big bouldery moves. I was committed, using my hexes sparingly (removing the protection below me at a resting place to use further up!). I worked hard to maintain good crack technique. It was the only time that weekend when I could say I was ‘in the zone’; when the risk of falling doesn’t matter because you focus on the ground above you, not the ground below.

Thank you Tommaso, Tamsin and Simon

Friday, 6 July 2012

Crazy People and the Welsh 3000s





















Welsh 3000s challenge; on the summit of Glyder Fach
Running alongside Liz and later Doug. 30 miles distance across the highest 15 peaks, 3200m of up and down. 17 hours out on the hill after 2 hours sleep and a shit load of power bars and sugar! Appalling conditions all day but the best company.. with friends looking out for each other when things get tough. Final time: 13.5 hours Snowdon to Foel Fras. Thank you to the team for planning the weekend and supporting us.