Category: Climbing

February 1, 2016

Glenmore Lodge - Introduction to Winter Climbing

This weekend I fly up to Inverness to undertake an Introductory Course in Winter Skills with Glenmore Lodge. This trip ticks the boxes for me in many ways: -

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Inverness
  2. I’ve always wanted to climb in the Cairngorms
  3. I’m keen to broaden my climbing skills

Winter Climbing at Glenmore Lodge

Source: Glenmore Lodge

The main topics covered in the course will be: -

  • Recap of core winter skills, such as using ice axe and crampons, for approaching climbs
  • Basic rope work (tying into multi point anchors) and belaying both leader and second
  • Use of technical ice tools and crampons on a variety of mediums (rock, ice, snow, turf)
  • Escaping from winter multi pitch climbs (including abseiling from a variety of anchors).
  • Avalanche awareness and its implications for safe route choice.
  • Evening sessions may include an avalanche awareness talk and a general interest talk.

I chose this location (as opposed to Wales) since I figured there’d be more snow in Scotland at this time of the year. It looks like I’ll be in luck as judging by the Glenmore Lodge Facebook Page there’s a suitable amount of snow and ice around.

I came across this climbing video the other day which features Russell McIntyre and Richard Horsler climbing with Mark Chadwick from Glenmore Lodge in January 2016.  In Day 1 of the clip they climb Coire an t-Sneachda Fiacaill Ridge and on Day 2 they climb Coire Laogh-Mor and Ciste Crag. I’m assuming I’ll be doing something similar. Will certainly be writing about my adventures.

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January 31, 2016

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of AdventureToward’s the end of last year Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure was released. I had pre-ordered it and read it pretty quickly since I’ve always followed Alex Honnold’s exploits. As a climber I’m amazed by solo climbers, particularly the newer generation since they seem to be getting better at staying alive. Personally, I don’t plan to become a hard core soloist as I have no interest in causing myself death or serious injury any time soon. However, I don’t mind soloing something that is within my limits. What those limits are is continually changing as I improve my grade and climbing ability.

The inside cover of the book reads

Alex Honnold is thirty years old, and perhaps the world’s best ‘free-solo’ climber, scaling impossible rock faces without ropes, pitons or support of any kind. There is a purity to Alex’s climbs that is easy to comprehend, but impossible to fathom; in the last forty years, only a handful of climbers have pushed ‘free soloing’ to the razor-edge of risk.

Half of them are dead.

From Yosemite’s famous Half Dome to the frighteningly difficult El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico, Alone on the Wall is structured around Alex’s seven most extraordinary climbing achievements so far. These are tales to make your palms sweat and your feet curl from vertigo. Together, they get to the heart of how - and why - Alex does what he does. Exciting, uplifting and truly awe-inspiring, Alone on the Wall is a book about the essential truths of risk and reward, and the ability to maintain a singular focus, even in the face of extreme danger.

I really enjoyed this book as it’s a very easy read and I like the style in which it is written where sections are personally written by Alex himself. I knew plenty about Alex’s solo climbs in Yosemite but in the book he talks about his climb of El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico which is 2,500 feet high. It’s 11 pitches graded at 7a+ or harder, here’s the clip of this amazing send

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January 26, 2016

New heights for Reach Climbing Wall in London

My first proper indoor climbing experience was at the Reach, a climbing wall in South London. That was a year and a half ago and I’ve been climbing there quite regularly during this time progressing from top rope climbing, to lead and then traditional (trad) climbing outdoors.

Since I’ve taken up climbing I’ve tried out numerous indoor climbing and bouldering walls. In fact, I’ve pretty much tried out all of the walls in London looking for a place that I can frequent before or after work as well on weekends. I’ve always thought the Reach was a great all round wall in terms of what they had to offer, namely indoor bouldering, top rope and sport climbing as well as a training room and monkey/zoo room that caters for all age groups. Over the last few months some of the improvements they’ve made have, I believe, have established them as the top climbing wall in London. These are: -

New Overhanging Lead Climbing Wall

New Overhanging Lead Climbing Wall

This has climbs graded from around 6a+ to 8a. As much as I like this new feature I haven’t had a chance to jump on it yet but will certainly be doing so over the next couple of weeks and as my grades improve.

Additional Bouldering Wall – aka The Taco

There’s already plenty of good bouldering on offer at the Reach, this new wall just adds a few more options. Here’s a short clip of me warming up with some traversing

New Auto Belays

New Auto Belays at Reach Climbing

The was one feature I really missed when joining the Reach and that is lacking at a lot of climbing walls (due to cost) is Auto Belays. When I first started climbing I didn’t know a lot of people who could belay me so I ended up bouldering and using the auto belay a lot. However, the Reach only had 1 or 2 Auto Belays so the number of routes I could do was limited. I’m pleased to say I now know more people that can belay me but that aside there are now 12 Auto Belay’s at the Reach graded from 4+ to 6c. This is superb if you would like to do some endurance training and the clip below show’s me doing just that

That’s my plug for this great indoor climbing wall, hope you get to try it out some day

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