Author Archives: Keith

Jan 10th: A New Year (game plan)…

With 2014 well and truly established I’ve been reflecting a little on 2013, the images I captured as well as the photographic process. I often find that sifting through and filing recent images I drift off into a reflective mode. Instinctively I ask myself questions. What worked well and why? What didn’t work and why? What will I look to develop? What will I do different in the future?

It’s easy to opt for BAU (business as usual). However, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got! And whilst that might be the correct game plan for some circumstances it almost certainly won’t be good for others. The trick is knowing when and where to switch into a new way of working and so produce something different. Although I’m still (metaphorically) crunching the numbers on this, I feel that I’ve got the basis for my shooting sorted out. Meanwhile…

The good weather and my free time hasn’t coincide much yet this year and I’ve yet to capture any climbing action. However, I’ve been shooting some non-climbing action and that’s been insightful in its own way. Thus far, I’ve snatched three separate shoots of three disparate subjects:

Shoot#1 – An hour or so snatched in the early morning in the Peak getting shots of a ‘lone tree’ and of an inversion over the Hope Valley.


Shoot#2 – Less than an hour grabbed as the sun rose on the sea front at New Brighton, Cheshire.


Shoot#3 – A (chilly) hour or so poised for some northern lights action above Stanage – sadly, they didn’t show up though!


It would have been very easy to ignore the opportunity to get out on every one of these occasions. I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. As well as a few nice images, I’ve come away with a single common thought; no matter what the outcome might be – just do it! Here’s a gallery

Posted in Photography, Scenic

Dec 16th: Last Post – oh, and Twin Pack killer deal…

Climbing 2013_December So, if you’ve not started your crimbal shopping yet (err… that’ll be me then folks!!) then you’re almost in deep do-doh… However, as Ms December (Leah Crane) from Climbing:2013 will tell you, there’s still four (on-line) shopping days left to order Climbing:2014 AND still get it in time for the big day (for UK orders) so all isn’t lost yet …

Yes folks, the elves in the dispatch department in KSP Towers will be sending out orders right up to the wire again which this year is Friday the 20th so get your calendar/year planner orders in before last knockings and the team will get said order into the system and you’ll be home and dry!! Please submit orders for all books in the KSP on-line shop by close of play on Thursday 19th for delivery pre-Xmas.

And nearly forgot, Climbing:2014 Twin Pack is now available as a killer ‘buy one, get one half price’ deal. Just the deal if you fancy a copy of Climbing:2014 for the work place as well as for home, or if you wanna say thanks to your bessie mate for all his/her top belaying all year. Click through here to go straight to the Twin Pack – that’ll put a smile on their face…DSC_9062

Posted in General, KSP Publications

Dec 5th: Peak Rock – The launch party

Peak Rock was officially launched into an expectant world last weekend at a celebratory bash at The Climbing Works in Sheffield. It was a veritable who’s who in Peak District climbing with the good and the great all turning out to welcome what will undoubtedly prove to be a seminal title into the already rich world of climbing literature…

Peak Rock, if you haven’t heard, is a celebration of the cutting edge and significant developments in Peak District climbing from the very beginning when James W Puttrell kicked the sport off at Wharncliffe right up to the present time. The project, which was originally started back in the early Eighties, was the brain-child of SUMC (Sheffield University Mountaineering Club) member, Giles Barker. However, his untimely death in a caving accident in 1992 meant that his work went unfinished. And so things stood for nigh on 20 years until Rock Archivist, Phil Kelly and Peak aficionado, Graham Hoey started the ball rolling again in a push to complete the job that Giles had started. So, having updated Giles’s original text, Phil and Graham then pulled a team of local eminent climbers/writers together to add further chapters to cover the most recent developments. Eventually, after a mountain of effort by the team, Peak Rock has finally been published by Vertebrate Publishing.

Contextual intro duly completed, let’s get back to the launch party on Sunday night which was about as glitzy and swanky as it gets in climbing. Think Oscar’s, but drop the tuxedoes, evening gowns and champagne for jeans, duvets, beanies and beer and you’re about there! There were also some indoor fireworks, but they came later and they weren’t exactly what the organising committee had planned!!

DSC_5133Host for the night was none other than would-be, stand-up comic, Niall Grimes. A four-man, heavyweight team of rock stars slowly climbed (sic) aboard the stage to join Grimer who extracted the proverbial from each of the said rock stars in turn. Ron Fawcett was first under the Grimer cosh, then Jerry Moffatt, John Allen and finally Pete Whittaker. To a man they all squealed and squirmed under the weight of Grimer’s ever so slightly off-the-wall questioning but they fought gallantly on determined to regale the audience with their wit and erudite comments. No doubt the booze, served in liberal quantities by Mark Leach, help lubricate – and liberate – their innermost thoughts. Ron, having trotted out the ‘marigolds in the bath story’ again, went on cheerfully to tell the audience that he and his former globe-trotting climbing chum/mentor, Pete Livesey, took great delight in nicking other people’s lines. “No namby, pamby messing about in those days!” Jerry delved back into his early days with stories about his first meeting with Ron at Craig-y-Forwyn and then his time in the Stoney wood-shed. Looking for the controversial angle, Grimer then gifted Jerry with the opportunity to ‘star rate’ a number of climbers – some of whom were well-know (to those in the know that is) – as being on Jerry’s ‘B-list’ (polite moniker). Interestingly though, he did smile as he low-scored some on Grimer’s provocative list – perhaps suggesting that with the passage of time he has mellowed a little? Pete Whitaker was introduced into the proceedings as the Young Pretender, a position clearly supported by his new routes of which he was only too happy to talk about rather than get embroiled in Grimer’s rabble-rousing questioning. However, it was John ‘The Boss’ Allen who gave what was perhaps the unexpected star performance from the sofa. His one-liner, put-downs were highly entertaining and little short of acidic. A classic example came when Grimer asked him if he felt that things had moved on significantly when Johnny Dawes did End of the Affair on Curbar. Without a pause John, lowered his head and his voice and grunted into the microphone – “No, I was just bitter!” The Boss’s wrapped up by sharing some of his hard-earned lessons too; “”stay off the pies, lads”. A class performance Mr Allen!

DSC_5140Following the half-time interval Steve Bancroft hit the stage with his guitar – not literally of course, that would have been too rock and roll. Then followed an auction of a copy High Peak, the 1960’s book which – previous to Peak Rock – was the Peak District history book of choice. Paul Pritchard and Grimer, pumping the crowd, succeeding in extracting a shocking three-figure sum from Graeme Alderson in exchange for said copy of High Peak to the cheers of the audience.

The rest of the second half was more about audience participation, although when the spot-light was spun onto one mega rock star from the Eighties who was present in the audience he (sadly) couldn’t find it within himself to embrace the spirit of the light-hearted evening.

Without a doubt the evening the majority there thought that it highly entertaining and a fitting launch to Peak Rock. Both charities CAC (Climbers Against Cancer) and the MHT (Mountain Heritage Trust) finished ahead of the curve – as they say – from the evening’s activities. The Barker Family have eventually seen the fruit of Giles’s labour although as it’s already out of date and thanks to the advance sales which appear to have accounted for half the print run, maybes work should start p.d.q. on the 2nd edition! No resting on your laurels please messers Kelly and Hoey…


Finally, then here’s a gallery of images from the evening.


Posted in Climbing, Events

Nov 24th: Be in My (2014) Calendar – Round-up

So, with Climbing 2014 shipping it’s time to round-up the 2013 ‘Be in My Calendar’ competition that was run on UKClimbing. This year the winner was David Kirsfelds and the three runners up were Luke Owens, Char and Owain Atkins.

This year we stayed in the Pennines for a day of classic grit for the photo-shoot with David. Whilst I know the Pennines pretty well and it was pretty easy to short-list a number of routes to go out and shoot, it did pose a challenge – how to shoot classic routes which have been photographed many times before.

There’s a write-up for the day and my thoughts on shooting the classics here

And finally, here’s a gallery of my favourite images from the day as well…

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Posted in Be in My Calendar Competition, Climbing, KSP Publications, Photography

Nov 16th: London Calling – Part III (Whiz Bang…)

So, after a bit of a break in transmission, there’s the last instalment of the London trip which was rather a whiz bang affair; a whiz bang tour around the traditional sights and then a whiz bang tour around an out-of-tour attraction…

No matter how many times you see them, the iconic sights of London really do send a shiver down your spine; well they do me anyway! The London Eye isn’t exactly old but it’s been there more than a decade now and it’s not showing any signs of losing its attraction as yet. Nor too are the London Dungeons; no chance of a seat or four without booking ahead. Next time maybe?

So then finally to the out-of-town Warner Brothers Studio at Watford which is home to the uber sets created specifically for the filming of the Harry Potter capers. Pretty interesting tour to be honest; we went after dark and that added a certain feel to the place. Well worth a visit – even for someone who hasn’t read a single tittle from the JK Rowling pen…



Posted in Heritage, Travel

Oct 30th: London Calling – Part II (Imperial War Museum, Duxford)…

The storm, St Jude, pretty much closed the rail network in the south west down on Monday 29th Oct. Instead of heading into London we went north instead to The Imperial War Museum at Duxford and what a place it is too!

It had been on my ‘must-visit’ list for yonks – so I was made-up with the switch. For anyone that hasn’t been there’s basically an airfield full of hangers crammed with all kinds of stonking (war) exhibits. In nearly three hours we did three of the nine monster hangers – so I guess it would be best to allow a full day.

AirSpace, the first hanger, is about the story of aviation in Britain and it has more iconic planes and helicopter in that you’d be forgiven for knowing; a Swopworth Camel, a Spitfire, a Mosquito, a Lancaster, a Lightening, Harrier, a Concorde and a bunch of others as well.

The Spitfire, the WWII icon








We skipped the next hangers where restoration work is being done and nipped into Historic Duxford, a small building outlining life on the Duxford airfield through the ages including some great stories about the famous airmen (including Douglas Barder). Anyone with a fancy to slip into a RAF uniform then head straight here – this is the place! Immediately behind HD is Hanger #4 which was used in the World War II. Currently it houses the Battle of Britain exhibits which is crammed with yet more icons including a Hurricane, a Meteor, a Hunter as well as a V1 (Doodlebug) and a Messerschmitt and then a Russian MiG.

The Meteor, Britain’s first jet-engine plane









Further up the airfield again is the American Air Museum which is host to a full gambit of American planes ranging from a biplane right through to the stealth Blackbird. What is striking about the American exhibits is the shear size of the ‘modern’ planes. The Blackbird is especially impressive; in size, speed (Mack 3+) and appearance.

The USAF stealth Blackbird








Sadly, we’d timed-out by this stage so it was the long walk back to the start past a bunch of passenger (prop) planes, the tower and a ‘clipped’ Shackleton standing somewhat forlornly on the tarmac. It’s a heck of a way to spend a few hours – I can’t recommend it enough…

Here’s a gallery of some of the planes in the AirSpace, Battle of Britain and the American Air Museum.



Posted in Aviation, Heritage

Oct 28th: London Calling – Part I (Canons Asby, Camden, Covent Garden and King’s Cross)…

It’s half term so time to spend a few days as a family away from all the usual day to day stuff. Last year we went up to the North York Moors and hung out with the Goths in Whitby, this year we headed down south to London. Far from leaving the camera kit at home it’s a great opportunity to go off-piste and add a few travel, heritage and street photography images to the archive…Travelling down we veered off into the middle of rural Northamptonshire and dropped into Canons Ashby – an Elizabethan manor house in an 18th-century garden. A double quick stroll around the garden was all we got as we arrived bang on closing time – doh! The wall-clad ivy was a stark reminder – if needed – that we were well into autumn.

Autumn at Canons Ashby










For our first day proper we hit the City; Camden Lock to be precise. The contrast couldn’t have been more stark! Camden was rammed with everything and everybody. Halloween seemed like the running theme but really it was business as (un)usual with the mass of things to see and of course buy. By complete fluke – and good fortune – we arrived at the food stalls at lunchtime; nice!

Following a quick spin around the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square we were off to Covent Garden for a nose at the street life there which feels a bit like La Ramblas in Barcelona albeit in miniature.

Covent Garden, London’s answer to La Ramblas in Barcelona










Finally, a trip to Platform 93/4 at Kings Cross was demanded by the young ‘uns. The hour-long queue to hang-off the famous shopping trolley was tons of time to snap a few shots of the impressive new roof at Kings Cross …

King’s Cross Station










Here’s a gallery of shots…

c91-Canons Ashby_DSC_4301.jpgc38-Canons Ashby_DSC_4303.jpgc98-Canons Ashby_DSC_4306.jpgc66-Canons Ashby_DSC_4315.jpgc94-Canons Ashby_DSC_4313.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4336.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4326.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4337.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4339.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4342.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4370.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4397.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4411.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4431.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4482.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4448.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4459.jpgLondon Calling_DSC_4465.jpg

Posted in Heritage, Travel

Oct 28th: A Decade of Climbing and Calendars…

Whilst I’ve been working on Climbing:2014 I’ve been feeling in a rather reflective mood. Not only is Climbing:2014 my tenth consecutive climbing calendar but I’m now into my fifth decade of climbing. Both feel something of a benchmark. My intro text to Climbing:2014 reflects my feelings on both the calendar and on climbing and I figure it’s maybe worth posting it on-line…

Back in the summer of 2004 I had the bright idea of publishing a climbing calendar. At that time I didn’t know what that would entail or how to bring that simple idea to fruition. Neither did I give a second thought to where it might go in the future. To coin a phrase, I had a dream, and set off in pursuit of that dream armed with a camera and a bag of lenses, an address book, a shelf-full of guidebooks and a bunch of ideas. My mission was underwritten in my mind by a number of objectives which I came to treat as core values: produce a premium product; include an eclectic mix of striking climbing images from the UK, Europe and beyond; include images of both inspirational and aspirational climbing across the grade range; include all the disparate climbing styles; feature male and female climbers as well as heroes and non-heroes alike. And to make matters even more authentic feature seasonal images as well and take them in the month they were to appear in!

A decade on, Climbing 2014 is my tenth calendar and, save the last of the criteria listed above, my mission and core values remain as they were back in 2004. Not surprisingly, the decade has flown by in no time at all! Climbing is now even more polarised than it was: sport climbing is becoming middle-aged; many boulderers don’t own ropes, a harness nor rack; indoor climbing has a huge following and is an end in itself for a significant number; DWS (deep water soloing) is firmly established; hard trad is still alive and kicking although no longer is it just quintessentially British any more and training is no longer a dirty word, in fact, if you’re not following a programme and not using a stop watch then you’re not really training at all!

And yet, despite all this nu-skool agenda, fundamentally climbing is the same as it was, climbers getting it on with the rock! One glorious Saturday in August I drove north to the Yorkshire Dales to capture some images for the calendar. In the car, along with myself, was Paul Reeve, Steve McClure and Buster Martin. At the ripe young age of 50 Paul had just plucked an ascent of Cry Freedom (now reckoned to be F8c). Buster had done Bat Route (another F8c) earlier in the year when he was a mere 16 and Steve McClure, for his part, had nailed Batman (at F9a/+). I was struck by the disparate circumstances of us all but by the strength of the common bond that was climbing that wove us all together. I couldn’t help but take delight at that bond.

So, Climbing 2014 features yet another eclectic mix of images, some of firm classics and others of new routes that are likely to become classics of tomorrow. Climbing isn’t easy, nothing worth doing ever is. That a significant number of us are driven by the need for exploration is to our sport’s benefit. New developments are the life-blood of climbing; they fuel the inner drive of so many of us and help keep climbing fresh and exciting. I’ve no more idea what the next years will bring in climbing than the next person – but here’s to the journey wherever it takes us. And finally, thanks to all who have been involved with my calendars over the last 10 years – it’s been a blast.

So there you have it; my reflections of a decade of calendars. This being a photographic blog I can’t really leave without an image or two so here’s a few more shots of Neil and Claire on the somewhat ‘off radar’ Hanging out at Glastonbury at Castell Helen, images which were shot for the calendar on an absolute cracking summer’s day. It seems a lifetime away already…

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Posted in Climbing, KSP Publications, Photography

Oct 24th: Climbing 2014 is now shipping…

So, as they say, Climbing:2014 is now back from the printers and is now shipping…

Climbing:2014 is my 10th consecutive climbing calendar and man, has the time flown by or what! I’ve gone with the same landscape design that we’ve used for the last few years along with the glossy laminated covers and full bleed landscape images. There’s a year planner/poster included too within the calendar for inspiration and/or organisation. Oh yeah, and it’s the same killer price that it’s been for yonks – a quid a month plus a tad – that £12.99!

For a change the weather has been little short of amazing this summer and what a joy it’s been shooting in better weather. Not only does it lift the images but it’s opens up other venues and puts a smile on folks faces when they’re out climbing! I’m tempted to say – if only it were like that every year!

The front cover is a shot of a little know route on Castell Helen, – Hanging out at Glastonbury (E4 5a, 6a, 5c, 5b); Neil Foster is captured cutting a trad pose as he completes the traverse on P1 above a growing abyss. Kicking Climbing:2014 off with a seasonal image is a shot of a lone winter boulderer on Conan the Librarian (Font 6b+) at Mother Cap. More grit action comes in the (classic) shape of Trust (Font 7a) on the Fourth Cloud Boulder and Surform (HVS 5b) on the mighty leaning block that is Higgar Tor. Sandstone is the represented by one of the finest UK ‘red rocks’ venues which is St Bees whilst Sissy Crag down-under is the counterbalance down in the southern hemisphere.

Sport climbing action includes cave Route Left-hand (F7c+) at Gordale, Bat Route (F8c) at Malham, a mega project over on the Little Ormes and some pocket pulling madness in the Gorge du Tarn. That leaves some under-canvas action from the BBC’s (British Bouldering Championships) at Cliffhanger, some monstrously high DWS at Rhoscolyn and then some classic mountain rock from Dinas Mot in The Pass. It’s a pretty eclectic mix – as intended!

Copies of Climbing:2014 will be popping up at climbing walls/shops across the county pretty soon now. However, if you want you copy direct from the calendar stash in KSP Towers then you can order your copy from the KSP e-shop. Copies of the Climbing 2014 Year Planner/Poster can also be ordered from the KSP e-shop too.

Finally, to see the images in Climbing 2014 click here or to see the pages click through here…

Posted in KSP Publications, Photography

Oct 12th : Fifty shade of Reeve…

Climb 105 has just come out and it features a piece by Neil Gresham on Paul Reeve. Over the summer, Paul repeated Cry Freedom at Malham; especially newsworthy given that Paul is 50!

For those not familiar with the history of the route, Cry Freedom was so-called by first ascentionist, Mark Leach, because he spend 40+ days on the first ascent. Back then it was thought to be F8c, the first in the UK in fact. It slipped back to F8b+, perhaps largely as a result of a fast ascent by raiding Frenchman, ‘JB’ Tribout. Since then the list of folks who have had utter epics on it has grown longer and longer, so much so that by popular consent it’s back up to F8c.

It’s an interesting piece, well worth a read if you’re planning to climb hard into your later years. Climb used a couple of my shots to illustrate the article too…

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Posted in Climbing, Published