Category Archives: Climbing

Interview with Edu Marin

Over the years I’ve been incredibly lucky to witness and photograph some incredible climbers and ascents. During my visit to Hanshallaren in September 2018 I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Edu Marin, Spanish rock-god and all-round great guy.

Edu Marin cruising through the roof section of Odin’s Eye whilst attempting the second ascent of Adam Ondra’s Valhalla, a 60m F9a/+ at Hanshallaren

Midway through his trip, whilst climbing in bad conditions, he slipped off sloping handholds at the start of the route and took a 4m ground-fall. The climbers around him, myself included, watched helpless, as Edu hit the boulder-strewn cave floor flat on his back; landing with an almighty bang the sickening noise echoed eerily around the cave. His back and ankle had taken the brunt of the fall but Edu was back on his feet within a minute or so then, despite the considerable pain, he slowly hobbled across the huge boulders in the bottom of the cave heading back to the campsite normally 30 minutes’ walk away.

His fall would have broken most climbers – quite literally! Edu however spent the next few days resting and stretching then started one-foot climbing on the bouldering wall in the barn. Within a week Edu was back on the route wearing an oversized climbing shoe then, amazingly, he redpointed the second ascent of Valhalla a couple of weeks later.

Edu, having completed Odin’s Eye, is pushing on into the second half of Valhalla (F9a/+)

His efforts at Flatanger was however an hors d’oeuvres for his real mission; a trip to Geta Arch, China, the world’s largest overhanging arch where his target was a 350m long, 14 pitch monster project.

I interviewed Edu for the latest issue (March/April) of Climber Magazine talking to him about the difficulties he has faced throughout his career and what drives him relentlessly forward and how he has developed into the phenomenal athlete he is today.

Also posted in General, Interviews, Photography

So it’s 2020 then; here’s twelve from 2019

Jan 1st; 2020

Another year zips past and the decade is over; 2020 is here!

As the new year/decade rolls in its good to make plans for the time ahead and to reflect a little on what happened during the last year/decade. As a photographer I have hard drives full of images which document times past. Increasingly, every-day images are taken on camera phones and then shared immediately on social media. Likewise, video clips are almost as popular as stills on IG/FB. Compact cameras and mirror-less compact system cameras are rapidly becoming the norm for many photographers although many pro’s still haul around their trusted DSLR’s. In addition to still, there’s videos or short films many of which are shot on a combo of all off the above as well as the long-established camcorders. It’s never been about what camera you use but more about how you use it. That’s true today – perhaps more so than ever before; undoubtedly that’ll hold true during the Twenties.

Here’s a collection of my favourite 12 images taken during 2019 and yeah, they’re taken on a combination of DSLR, compact cameras and my mobile, some are even still frames extracted from video clips. Hope you enjoy!!

Winter colours in Wyming Brook northwest of Sheffield

Winters these days are often wet affairs – fortunately the streams that run though the many ravines in the Peak District are a photog’s paradise. Wyming Brook slices through the woods in the Rivelin Valley northwest of Sheffield; if you get the opportunity it’s well worth a visit.

Melissa le Neve taking the CWIF 2019 Women’s title

The CWIF – a.k.a. the Climber Works International Festival – is the precursor to the season’s comps so not surprisingly it’s a popular event with many on the circuit to check-in and dust off the winter training cobwebs. So popular in fact that it often pulls back climbers that used to compete but have moved on. Melissa Le Neve is one such former comp climber that rocked up in March and smashed it out to take the women’s title for 2019.

Mina Leslie-Wujastyk cruising down the Green Drive in the Burbage Valley

By late March the winter grit bouldering scene is coming to an end and many climbers are rummaging through their gear cupboards for their sport climbing kit. The Burbage Valley get lots of attention year round including from runners too; hardly surprising given how close it is to Sheffield and how stunning it is! Mina Leslie-Wujastyk is captured running past the quarries on South Burbage for Base Magazine.

Mark Richardson involved with the business of Tequlia Mockingbird (F7c) at Chee Tor

Anyone looking to get some early season sport ticks in the bank in the Peak should keep an eye on Chee Tor. It’s quick-drying and although it’s predominantly a trad crag it has a number of absolutely cracking sport pitches on its walls. Ron Fawcett’s Tequila Mockingbird (F7c) is just about a sport route, assuming you pre-clip the first bolt and can handle the stout run-outs along the way. Mark Richardson is captured fully embroiled with the upper section of the old classic.

Steve McClure starting the headwall on GreatNess Wall (E10 7a) at Nesscliffe

Every year stunning routes get done in the UK and Steve McClure’s first ascent of GreatNess Wall (E10 7a) at Nesscliffe was one of the best from 2019. Whilst it’s very definitely a trad route it’s sporting credentials are only just beneath the surface. Super sustained and uber crimpy, the crux headwall tested Steve nearly to the max. Here’s a shot of Steve starting the headwall sequence that appeared in Climber Magazine.

Steve McClure run-out on the headwall of Nightmayer (E8 6c) during his on-sight ascent in July

Steve was back in action on the famous Cromlech walls in early July; audaciously on-sighting the super run-out Nightmayer (E8 6c). Perched on the top of the Left Wall I was well-placed to watch Steve inching his way up the crucial headwall; it was one of the most impressive pieces of climbing I’ve ever seen Steve do. The image of Steve completing the run-out to the pockets is a still frame from a video shot for Petzl/BMC. That’s currently doing the rounds as part of the Brit Rock Tour but it’ll be on general release in spring 2020.

A peaceful harbour scene in Britany

Mid-summer involved a trip to Britany for a week’s surfing. I’m very definitely a summer-only in the sea person and it was a cracking trip. The shot here was taken at one of the nearby harbours in a moment of peace and quiet.

Arnside and Silverdale has some cracking coastal photo opportunities

Arnside and Silverdale AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) is a bit off the beaten track but the coast there offers some amazing photo opportunities that are well worth checking out. The shot here is near Jenny Brown’s Point.

Impending rock in the Madness Cave at the Motherlode

My big trip for the year was to The Red River Gorge in the USA. I’ve been very lucky to have climbed at many amazing locations around the globe but The Red is simply jaw-dropping given the quality and quantity of the climbing in the area! The Red is famous for super steep and strenuous climbing on impressive cliffs such as the Motherlode. Here’s a shot of a climber pulling through the steepness that is typical of the Madness Cave.

Early morning mist at Lago Linda Hide-away

The ‘season’ at the Red is remarkable short but by November connies are usually just about perfect. We stayed in a cabin at Lago Linda’s, less than five miles from the Motherlode, and the morning light on the lake there was staggering. The first shot was taken as the temps started to dip down.

A wintery morning at Lago Linda’s

My second image at Lago Linda was captured the morning after we had a 20 degree (centigrade) drop in ambient temps and 5cms of snow overnight!

Manny pulling down hard on Zookeeper (5.14b) at The Zoo

My final image is a perfect example that not every climb in The Red is on a jug-ladder, far from it in fact. The Zoo, close to Miguel’s, is one venue that has some pretty gnarly intense routes; here’s a shot of Manny pulling pretty darned hard on Zookeeper (5.14b/F8b+).

Here’s to Twenty Twenty then!

Also posted in Bouldering, General, Running, Travel, Uncategorized, Year Roundup

Leonidio – The next Kalymnos?

Word on the street was that Leonidio – the latest ‘must-visit’, off-season, hot-rock, Greek destination – was the new Kalymnos! Experience tells the savvy climber that new destinations have a habit of being over-hyped; Leonidio however, sounded a little different. 

Steve McClure onsighting Kopa Kabana F7c+/Kopa Kabana Ext at F8b at Elona

A team was pulled together and flights booked; it was time to go and investigate. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that...

Oliva Hsu cruising up Paranihida F7a+ at Elona

Steve McClure, Simon Lee, Rab Carrington and myself hit the tarmac at Athens International in December 2017. However, we were far from alone in our mission to boldly go. Another team of Brits comprising Chris Gore, Martin Atkinson, Chris Plant, Chris Hamper and Phil Burke were also there on a similar mission. It turned out that Dani Andradi and a number of other Spanish wads were also there cruising round the crags as was a small international team of ladies which included Daila Ojeda and Olivia Hsu. Plenty of other climbers were also there – maybe a couple of hundreds in total albeit all spread out in the various Airbnb’s scattered about Leonidio.

Dani Andrada picking his way effortlessly, so it seemed, up the 60m giant that is Goliath Ext F8b at Elona – again!

We picked Elona from the guidebook as the first crag to visit and what a crag it turned out to be! Barring a dozen or so routes which date back to the late 2000’s, most of the routes there had only been climbed in the last couple of years. If Elona was anything to go by, Leonidio really was starting to look like a treasure trove!

Looking down on Leonidio from the hills

Elona’s overhanging tufa garden hit us between the eyes and knocked us for six; it really was very good indeed! Without a doubt, Elona is a world-class wall giving world-class routes.  

Nifida also has some pretty amazing routes including Bersteingerkante F7c+ and its Ext F8b+; one of Dani’s mates on the initial section

Whilst I would have been perfectly happy to spend the entire week at Elona – yes, those tufa lines really are that lush – Nifadia is yet another excellent crag just round the corner from Elona. A deep central cave divides the left and right hand sectors of Nifadia, both of which – like the central cave – have some very steep routes on them. 

Steve McClure on-sighting (what else) but yet another F8a; Skithrpos at H.A.D.A.

Elona and Nifadia were great crags but we still haven’t even scratched the surface! Next up was H.A.D.A., that too was rumoured to be another great crags so yep, we had a day there as well. It’s a bit of a hike up a secondary valley but very much worth the effort; another stonking crag and one with an absolute mass of new-route potential.

Leonidio high street

In total, we had a week at Leonidio and what a week it was! To be fair we hit it lucky; pretty much every crag was done-dry. Some other friends from Sheffield visited a month or so later in January 2018 and they reported back that they weren’t quite so lucky; as with many places the weather isn’t totally reliable so the crags can be quite wet after a prolonged spell of wet weather. It also appears that it’s not unknown for a dusting of snow to be on the ground in January either.

The half dozen or so crags we visited are literally only a handful of those at Leoindio. For more details on the routes we climbed and the of crags we visited, check-out my article in the latest issue (March- April) of Climber Magazine which has just hit the shelves.

The near-by sea front is a great place to unwind on a rest day

BTW, there’s a new guide out now for Leonidio and Kyparissi. It’s got around 1700 routes in, mostly at Leoindio. It’s well worth getting a copy even if you have the older version. A full review will appear in the next issue (May-June) of Climber. 

Elona Monastery; quite a place to hang out – hope no-one sleep walks!

And the take-away; yeah, there’s an abundance of great routes spread across a plethora of amazing crags at Leonidio. It’s certainly an excellent alternative winter venue destination. Whether Leonidio is the next Kalymnos is hard to say – best go yourself and make your own mind up!

Also posted in Photography

A Decimal Dozen from 2018

So, as a climbing photog I shoot mainly outdoor subjects right. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t shoot other subjects as well as I’ve always figured that shooting different subjects is a good challenge which ultimately drives creativity. Likewise a year-end review one’s own work offers a good opportunity to see what you did in the year which you like in retrospect and/or what you’d do different if your kit, like The Dr’s, included a Tardis.

Climbing and photography have both been good to me – and both float my boat. Yet it remains very difficult, read next to impossible IMO, to do both in the same time continuum; you need to concentrate on one or the other to get the best out of either. A trip to Spain in January/February, as a climbing boot-camp, has become something of a ‘must-do’ activity. I go with the firm intention to climbing lots and lots and lots but take the camera along as well – just in case.

Paul cranking up the excellent Oceano (F7b) at Wildside

Photo opps on a ‘climbing’ trip are typically minimal but a day at Wildside towards the end of my trip in February offered a fleeting opportunity to get high up and so get a suitable angle. A single opportunity in a whole week isn’t much but you have to grab what you can when you can on these trips.

 

A boarder cruising one of the slalom’s at Risoul

I came to skiing late in life; however, if it wasn’t for climbing I could become a ski-bum for sure! Last year we rocked up in Risoul in early April; thankfully there was plenty of snow about despite it being the end of the season. As with climbing photography, ski shots need to be planned; very occasionally something does pop-up that worth nabbing. Shooting from a lift isn’t the norm but it can give an interesting alternative with luck.

 

Mina on the top roof of Totally Free II, Malham

By May we were well into the Malham season and in May last year Mina was taking a bit of time out from her long-term project to get a bit of mileage done. Totally Free II is one of the longest single-pitch routes at Malham as well as in the country and it’s a stonker. Catching Mina on the top roof had entailed a hell-for-leather run up the plethora of steps on the left of The Cove; it was worth it though even if I had to hang over the edge without a rope to get an angle that I wanted to show the totally out-there feel that pulling over the top roof can only entail!


That candid moment after the wedding ceremony when you’re alone – apart from the photog – and crack out the big smiles!

Also in May I shoot a wedding! My Dad used to shoot weddings and yet it was a gazillion miles what I ever wanted to do. However, when you’re asked by very good friends what the heck can you say but yes!! I argued with myself that shooting digitally at least I’d be able to review the shots as the day progressed – what could go wrong?! It was still a stressful business though; definitely can’t go for a re-shoot afterwards!! Will I do more then? Hmmm, maybe, maybe not – pleasure though to capture Graham and Helen’s big day though…

 

Abersoch Harbour at dusk

Fast forward to August and a surfing trip to Abersoch in North Wales. I’d been threatening to take my girls surfing for a couple of years – going ‘public’ meant that it would be harder to bottle and duck-out. Like many photogs, I’d dabbled with surfing shots – albeit from the safety that the shoreline offers! I’d love to have a go catching surfing from actually in the water but I suspect that will be one item that remains on my bucket list for some time. Arriving at Abersoch late on the Friday we were treated to a storming sunset. Fortunately, I made the effort to get down to the harbour and rattle a few shots off as dusk fell; just as well given the two days of solid rain that followed!!


Katherine Choong pulling down in the Hallshalleran Cave

Flatanger, Norway has gotten under many peoples’ skin; certainly it’s firmly embedded under mine! My second trip last September was the usual mixture of amazing conditions; amazing good and amazingly bad! It’s one heck of a locale is Flatanger – not only a stunning venue with some amazing scenery but its (obvs) got a stack of stunning climbing too.

 

The sunsets are often spectacular; maybe not literally to die for but pretty darned good!

It’s a tough gig though; don’t even consider it if your into apres climb and can’t handle day after day of rain and wind. I’ll be writing a piece for Climber Magazine later this year to if you’re interested keep an eye out for that!

 

Airbnb is definitely a thing these days and images for accommodation listings are an integral part of that process

Come September I had a request to shoot a flat for an Airbnb listings; something different again so off I went! It’s an interesting exercise in balancing perspective and lighting.

 

Chelsea Park in the autumn

Brincliffe Woods and Chelsea Park are literally right on my doorstep; it seems wrong not to capture autumn which is a fantastic time of the year. Again, it’s about selecting a subject, then a viewpoint then having the lighting to tell the story. I spotted these tucked away in a corner of the park so got down low and included a brightly coloured distant tree to contrast the foreground.

 

Mark stretched out on one of NW’s classic Font 7a – Elephantitus

I’m always pretty keen to get away to North Wales bouldering so when a decent dry spell popped-up in the forecast it was an easy decision to pack and go. We had three days of cracking weather and came back utterly spent. I (finally) got to go to an number of areas that I’d been meaning to check-out for some time including Sheep Pen and The Elephantitus  Cave. Sheep Pen is utterly brilliant and the setting leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Defo a venue to check-out if you’re not been and yeah, there’s plenty – like tons – to go at! The Elephantitus Cave couldn’t be different to be honest; a small, lake-side venue but the blocs again are brilliant – especially Elephantitus itself.

 

The eagerly anticipated Statement of Youth didn’t disappoint the KMF audience

Finally then, Kendal Mountain Festival. This is another ‘thing’ which is very much on many climbers’ annual calendar. Last year, the weather was absolutely cracking and I, like many, simply couldn’t resist getting out onto the rocks for a bit. KMF is, of course, all about films and literature and last year they were some pretty stout films and books knocking about. I’m biased, having lived in Sheffield at the time the Hunter House Road houses were the place to hang, but Statement of Youth was a splendid trip down memory lane. Any other year and New Dawn, the film about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s battle royal with The Dawn Wall, might have scooped all but last year it was up against Free Solo which centred on Alex Honnold’s utter audacious solo of Freerider on El Cap; that was captivating.

So that was a decimal dozen of subjects from 2018; no not a dozen, or a Baker’s Dozen but a decimal dozen! Yeah sure there’s 11 pixs – value for money egh!! More this year!!

Also posted in Adventure, Bouldering, General, Photography, Scenic, Skiing, Travel

Mina Leslie-Wujastyk is Totally Free

Privileged to have a bird-eye view last week whilst photographing Mina Leslie-Wujastyk send Totally Free II (F8b) at Malham. It was pretty inspiring stuff from Mina – as usual!

Mina Leslie-Wujastyk on the headwall of Totally Free II on her unsuccessful attempt last Wednesday

At 70m in length it’s one of the longest single pitch hard sport routes in the UK. Mina tied in at 4pm on Wednesday 9th. An hour later, she had topped the final roof and only two metres or so of climbing remained; a nasty, rounded mantleshelf onto the final, final headwall. Having belayed Mina on the first half of The Groove, I handed over the belay duty to ‘Buster’ Martin and then ran round to the top of The Cove with my camera.

I arrived to see Mina climbing Free and Easy – perhaps the second most ‘out-there’ F7c in the UK. At the top of that she faced the final roof of Breach of the Peace – a huge roof right at the top of The Cove another F7c pitch and definitely totally ‘out-there’.

Finally she committed to the final roof. Determined as ever, Mina was soon on the very lip but it was almost immediately obvious that she’d hit a problem. She could just about reach the final quickdraw above and off to one side of her but the rope drag was so bad she couldn’t pull any slack through and clip it. Then the forecast rain started; initially a few spots being blown in on an increasing wind. She hung there for fully ten minutes shaking out and trying to clip the draw as it swung about in the wind. Cramping badly and in the face of increasing rain she gritted her teeth and committed to the mantleshelf finish. Pulling over the final bulge she drew level with the quickdraw – still stubbornly off to one side. Her movement were determined but her elbows were up. One final last-ditch throw to a distant hold failed; totally blown she fell off the final roof into the wind, the rain and the abyss!

Mina back on the headwall again during her successful ascent on Friday

Two metres off a 70m route after 70 minutes climbing was no place to fall! Two days later Mina was back. Battle-scarred and still pretty tired but with a new game-plan. Her first burn she fell off the top of The Groove. A weaker person might have thrown the towel in – but not Mina! “It’s always worth one more go though” she said before tying in again for what turned out to be a successful ascent, the first by a women of one of the longest and best single-pitch hard sport route in the UK.

Also posted in Photography

Bootcamp

Nothing beats an early trip away to ‘get your eye-in’ ahead of the season in my opinion.

Ceguera Temporal (F6b+) on Sector Ceguera is a rather fine pitch overlooking the village and just a stone’s throw from the climber’s cafe

After a winter of pulling on plastic – or more likely these days – bars, rings, fingerboards and wooden holds, there comes a time in the spring when you’ve gotta bite the bullet and get back out on the rock. It ain’t easy stepping outside again; training has become your ‘thing’ – the norm in fact, but it’s outside where the real action is and where what really matters goes down.

Coffee, a guide and some sun; all you need for some serious chillin’ in the square in Chulilla – on a rest-day, obvs!

Leaving the comfort of your regular training routine feels all kinda scary. Yes, it’s a process we’ve been through before but it’s still a tough one. The holds are smaller and strangely they don’t come tagged with brightly coloured tape! Footholds are none existent; at least that’s how they seem at first! Those who have travelled that road before us have chalked every last dimple as well; each and every one of the plethora of holds within your field of view needs to be assessed and sorted into the good, the bad and the ugly and then incorporated into a possible sequence. This process should take nano-seconds, but your brain seems stuck in second (at best) gear and the pump is coming on fast. Your movement feels laboured and mechanical, wooden at best. That polished foothold is half the size you need it to be as well! And why the heck did the person that bolted the route think it was a good idea to put the next bolt right up there out of reach!

Welcome to bootcamp!                                                                                       

Serengueti (F7a+) at Sector Serengueti is just one of a handful of new(ish) routes at Chulilla slightly off the beaten track. Well-worth searching out however – the rock at Serengueti and the nearby Masters Wall is top notch.

This year’s bootcamp for me was in Chulilla – at least it was until rain stopped play and we reconvened down south at Wildside in Sella. Compared to Chulilla, Wildside comes-up as rather ‘old skool’ now-a-days. Wildside is much more limited than Chulilla, the routes are generally shorter and being older they’re ‘well-loved’ but, in general, they’re steeper. Yeah they’re different; but good different. TBH, a few days climbing at Wildside will hit a different spot than Chulilla; together, they complement each other very nicely. Two class venues – highly recommended!

Oceano (F7b) at Wildside gives steep climbing on good holds; pumptastic!

This trip was all about the climbing so photography took a back seat. Still couldn’t resist getting a few snaps though, be rude not to…

 

photocrati gallery

 

 

 

 

Once more into the breach – a day on The Skull

May 29th; 2017

The Skull is, without a doubt, one of the ‘must-do’ routes in The Pass. Like a giant ogre, Cryn Las hangs over the southern side of The Pass. Early morning summer sun casts deep shadows across Cryn Las; the resemblance to sunken eye sockets looming ominously high on the headwall is both unmistakable and daunting in equal measure.

A sunny but daunting  Cryn Las

A sunny but daunting Cryn Las

The Skull climbs up to and through the left-hand ‘eye socket’ – when looking face-on at Cryn Las.  I’ve ‘wanted’ to do The Skull for years – since the 80’s in fact; last Friday Paul and myself committed to the snatch a day over in Wales to get the job done ahead of the (predictably) forecast end to the good run of weather. I’d not trad-climbed in a couple of years so to say I was a little ‘trad-rusty’ was an understatement. The solution was simple; an evening visit to New Mills Tor (of all places) on the way over however was the perfect opportunity to – at least start – to get my trad head together.

The plan came together like a dream; but would our execution be as flawless? Nothing to E4 seemed like a bit ask to my sport climbing head but nothing ventured. And what could go wrong; how hard could E4 be?

Paul questing into the unknown on the fifth and final pitch of The Skull

Paul questing into the unknown on the fifth and final pitch of The Skull

Long story super short; it was a stunning day and we got the job done – although not without a degree of excitement. One of the great mountain classics in the bag after 40 years of dreaming! A couple of teams were on Main Wall and none other than the legendary Phil Davison was in the groove on The Grooves. An amazing route up an amazing crag; an all-round amazing day. And thanks too to Nick Bullock for the loan of a spare chalk bag; that would have been one experience too far to have to climb that route sans chalk. And yes Nick, I’d agree with you, all three of the main pitches are worth 6a.

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Also posted in Adventure

Young Guns – a.k.a. GB Climbing Development Squad

Managed to touch-base recently with some of the Britain’s best young climbers during a GB Climbing Development Squad meeting.

Aiden Dunne bearing down on the Wasp 8a at The Foundry

Aiden Dunne bearing down on the Wasp 8a at The Foundry

It’s impossible not to be uber impressed with these guys – their output is little sort of phenomenal and their attitude and psyche is amazing. I caught up with William Bosi, Jim Pope and Aidan Roberts at The Foundry. They’d all had great weekend – firstly at Awesome Walls and then at The Foundry. Some, Jim Pope – for example, had even slipped a session in at The Works after Awesome Walls. They – alongside the rest of the squad – are ‘on it’ and gunning for the top slots in this year’s comps. Sure, they all take full advantage of the training facilities at their disposal and the experience of their coaches but they graft super hard and are seeing the results.

I’m in the throes of writing an article on the Development Squad for CLIMBER Magazine BTW, so look out for that in a forthcoming edition if you wanna find out more.

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Also posted in Photography

A(nother) winter trip to the World Climbing Destination that is Chulilla

Most of the time, most climbers visiting Chulilla agree with the premise that it’s Valencia’s best crag and an undisputed WCD (World Climbing Destination). This winter however, Chulilla hasn’t quite delivered.

Chulilla Jan2017_03_DSC05955_cropped

Locals say that it’s been the worst winter for 35 years; the un-uncharacteristically heavy rain has almost, quite literally, washed some of Chulilla’s reputation away. Depending exactly when visiting climbers have dipped their toes into Chulilla’s rocky pool, they may have escaped the worst of the rains and hence had a typically Chulilla visit during which they have quenching their thirst for endless routes. Others – myself included – have not been so fortunate. Arriving in late January, we were greeted by dripping wet walls and tufas rather than the normal curtains of immaculate rock.  It’s not solely Chulilla that’s been affected either; the Costa Blanca and Costa Durada have been hit too. Latterly, those confining their activities to more northerly venues – such as in the Lleida area – have apparently fared better.

 

Try Gasolinera at Fantasia if you fancy some old skool action

Try Gasolinera at Fantasia if you fancy some old skool action

The roller coaster kicked off in late December/early January by all accounts. Firstly, it was dry, then soaked, then it nearly dried but then it rained again and got proper wet. By late January the contrast with last year couldn’t have been greater. The only decision last January was whether to climb in the sun or the shade. This year, the shady crags – barring a few – were drenched so it was in the sun or (almost) nothing. Pared de Enfrente and Chorreras – normally thronged with climbers – were deserted; it wasn’t that there was the odd wet hold here and there rather that whole swathes of the crags were gushing wet. Early in our visit we walked – well, actually we ran – beneath Chorreras; it was flowing like a river drenching us in seconds! Pared de Entrente wasn’t quite as bad but soaked nevertheless. Locals say that it’ll be April before these badly affected areas are dry again!

The flipside of the coin was that Muro de las Lamentaciones, Nanapark, Ca Germa and Naranjito were pretty much bone-dry. Teams flocked to these areas either arriving early or late depending on team preferences to climbing in the sun. Most of the other popular crags such as Sex-Shop, El Balcon, El Balconcito, El Algarrobo and El Oasis were in decidedly poor condition too. New sectors such as Serengueti and Masters proved ‘pretty dry’ and so along with old skool crags such as Competition, Ceguera, Peneta I and Peneta II were climbable. Outside the gorge, other old skool and sunny crags such as Pesadilla and Fantasia were dry.

Bar the rainy day, the weather was pretty amazing; stunning blue skies being typical. Most days we thought we could see vultures high above the crags whilst Alpine Accentors and Robins were frequent crag visitors. The cacti in the valley also appeared to be flourishing.

Whilst we were decidedly impacted where we could go and climb, save for a single (forecast) wet day we climbed six days from seven. We bagged numerous multi-starred classics and had a fantastic time despite the wet and hence off-limit crags. Sometimes, you just have to ‘get on with it’. Oh, by the way, if slabby walls are your bag, then have a crack at Gasolinera L1 and L2 at Fantasia and see how you like them. They’re given F6b and F6b+ in one guide and F6b+ and F6c in another but we figured those are still a fair bit shy of the proper grades.

A night-time Chulilla

A night-time Chulilla

One last thing Pedro Pons, who runs the guesthouse just on the (northern) outskirts of Chulilla, has recently published a revised guide (c.22 Euros) to the climbing at Chulilla. Pon’s guide is available locally and it supports the bolting effort at Chulilla. Unfortunately, this isn’t currently available in the UK.

Chulilla from the southInside ChulillaChulilla_townscapeChulilla_townscapeClimbers' Bar ChulillaGraham on Gasolineria (L1) at Fantasia - tough old skool slab actionGraham again - this time on Vol Damm at Pesadilla.Robin at FantasiaRobin at FantasiaSector CompeticionPared de EnfrenteCacti below Sex ShopDale duro Negro about to discharge its suitorRain Towers beneath Pared de EntrenteWhen all else fails...El Brutamonti (L1) at Ca GermaChulilla sunsetChulilla sunset

Also posted in Travel

2016 British Bouldering Championships @ Cliffhanger

2016 British Bouldering Championships at Cliffhanger

July 14th; 2016

Shauna Coxsey and Matt Cousins lifted the 2016 senior British Bouldering Championship titles at the Cliffhanger Festival in Sheffield last weekend.

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Shauna Coxsey – MBE, 2016 British Bouldering and World Cup Champion

 

 

 

 

Shauna Coxsey’s form throughout 2016 has been little short of phenomenal. Having already secured the Bouldering World Cup with the final event still to be held, Shauna went into the BBC as odds-on favourite. That she totally dominated the women’s event at the BBC’s came as no surprise to anyone. But for a single problem in the semi-finals Shauna flashed every other problem brushing many aside as though they were just warm-ups.

The men’s event however was a little more finely balanced. Dave Barrans scored a perfect round in the qualifiers flashing all five blocs. It was however, Matt Cousins – runner-up in the qualification round – that came to the fore in the semi-finals and finals to take the top slot with a deserved and consistent performance.

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Matt Cousins – 2016 British Bouldering Champion

The Cliffhanger Festival – in its ninth year – has become a regular feature of the summer scene here in Sheffield. For the first time however, the festival was held in the city centre rather that out in either Millhouses or Graves Parks. Sharing the stage with a running, biking and hiking hub, the city’s outdoor fraternity were well-served and turned out in force despite the changeable weather.

The setting team – Percy Bishton, Andy Long, Jamie Cassidy, Rob Napier and Ben Meeks – came up with the goods setting a whole raft of interesting-looking, spectator-friendly blocs for the competitors.

The women’s results were:

1st Shauna Coxsey; 2nd Tara Hayes; 3rd Leah Crane; 4th Michaele Tracey; 5th Gracie Martin;  6th Jo Neame

The men’s results were:

1st Matt Cousins; 2nd Nathan Phillips; 3rd Orrin Coley; 4th Billy Ridal; 5th James Garden; 6th Dave Barrans

Finally, here’s a selection of shots from the finals…

 

BBC_2016_Finalists checking out the blocsBBC_2016_Finalists checking out the blocsBBC_2016_Leah Crane wrestling with the crux sloper on W1BBC_2016_Jo Neame hunting the sweet spot on the sloper on W1BBC_2016_Tara Hayes staying low on the sloper on W1BBC_2016_What sloper? It's a pinch not a sloper says Shauna Coxsey (MBE)BBC_2016_Billy Ridal getting into the groove on M2BBC_2016_Jo Neame wrestling with W2BBC_2016_Billy Ridal progressing on M2BBC_2016_Tara Hayes nearing the top of W2BBC_2016_Orrin Coley in the midst of the blankness that was M3BBC_2016_Jo Neame on the tufatastic W3BBC_2016_Tara Hayes on W3BBC_2016_Shauna Coxsey crushing W3BBC_2016_Shauna again on W3BBC_2016_Gracie Martin on W4BBC_2016_Michaela Tracy on W4BBC_2016_Orrin Coley sizing up the dyno on M4BBC_2016_James Garden launching one on M4BBC_Dave Barrans on/off M4BBC_2016_Nathan Phillips landing the crux dyno on M4BBC_2016_Matt Cousins letting rip on M4BBC_2016_Matt Cousins latching M4BBC_2016_And another win to Shauna Coxsey after flashing W4BBC_2016_Women PodiumBBC_2016_Mens PodiumBBC_2016_2016 scoreboard... the envy of the world!

Footnote: I wrongly commented in my 2015 Cliffhanger report that last year’s Cliffhanger was the ninth – it was in fact ‘only’ the eighth.

Also posted in Bouldering, Events, Photography