Category Archives: Climbing

January 9th: Arco and Patrick Edlinger – Sweet and Sour…

January 2013’s edition of Climber was a real sweet and sour edition for me. The sweet bit was the 8-pager on Arco, one of the primo Italian rock climbing destinations, by yours truly. The sour bit was the Partick Edlinger obituary which I also penned…

The Acro piece overviews the plethora of climbing just beyond the northern shores of Lake Garda in Italy and man there is stack of it as well! Arco is a real destination venue, one of the Italian ‘must visit’ spots for sure. I first went there back in the 90’s and I’ve had some memorable days since. However, my very first climbing experience there involved the pleasures of being belayed by a young Italian alpinist with an Italian Hitch. Quiet an unforgettable experience it was too!

The Partick Edlinger obituary was a tough one to prep and write-up. He was a rock god, pressed from a mould the like of which produced our own Ron Fawcett. Edlinger’s was a rags to riches story like many from the era. He was a seminal climber – a principal actor on our vertical stage. “Le Blond est Mort” was the headline – he shaped modern climbing more than many realise. An obituary can never do a life justice but it was an honour to try to capture the essence of the man in a few words.

So catch January’s edition pdq before the February copy hits the shelves. And just marvel at the winter climbing gallery too – it almost makes me want to get involved (again…)…

Also posted in Published

Oct 10th: UK Classics: Debauchery…

Having been around the block a few times I’m in a great position to be able to contribute to Climber magazine’s UK Classics. My latest offering, Debauchery, is a rather nice double page spread in the Oct edition…

  

I really enjoy writing these little cameo pieces for Climber as it’s an opportunity to let the writing flow a little and indulge. Basically, Climber’s UK Classics are around 900 words and a couple of pixs  – sweet little articles that are a pleasure to write.

In fact, the Debauchery piece is quite special. Not only is it a great route up one of the best bits of one of the best trad crags in the Peak but I know the first ascentionist, Chris Jackson and John Atkinson, personally. Sure, their ascent in 1965 left a bit of aid which was duly tidied up byYorkshire’s 70’s super hero Pete Livesey, but their ascent was quite visionary. I can picture the scene (fairly easily) – a few slings and a few pegs for protection, peg hammers jammed down the back pockets of their jeans. Raw talent, balls and adventure. Wicked stuff!

Shots of Richard Mayfield on the second pitch illustrated the piece. Check it out if you fancy the low down on one of the best E1’s around…

Richard Mayfield climbing Debauchery (E1 5b, 5b) High TorRichard Mayfield climbing Debauchery (E1 5b, 5b) High Tor

Also posted in Published

Sept 30th : #9 is in the bag…

After an age off radar, I’m back on-line to get the blog up to date with what the heck has been going on over the summer monsoon season. Well apart from holidays, new arrivals at Chez Sharples and lots of photo-missions, Climbing 2013 is what’s been going on. Yes folks, calendar #9 is in the bag and away at the designers…

It was all going super smoothly – back in January. One month into the new year and two shots in the can. Feb gave way into March and the sun hit and it was climb o’clock. Trouble was, the weather then took control and things went south – fast! Wet crags, injured climbers – not the stuff of dreams.

Long story short; the pixs for Calendar #9 are now done and TBH I’m getting a good vibe about them too. I’ll have the first proofs early this week, then with a bit of luck the printer proofs the week after then the finished article the week after. Fingers crossed.

So, I guess you wanna see some shots right? Sure; but not just yet. Here’s a mini gallery of action all snapped as I romped the country shooting for the calendar…

Little Big climbing at Lawrencefield: Neil Foster crankingLakes Blocs: Badger RockLakes Blocs: Bruno Marks havin' it at Little FontMold's best bouldering: 'Ruthless' Tom at PantymwynChee Dale: Stuart Littlefair having an Abberation at Two TierLlanberis Pass: Tim Lounds not worring about the Fear of a Sloppy PlanetKilnsey North Buttress: Chris Parsons getting onto the Grooved Arete

Also posted in KSP Publications, Photography

July 16th : Lower Sharpnose – The Little Big Trad Venue of Devon…

August’s Edition of Climber is hot off the presses and it comes with a destination piece from yours truly on one of the best single-pitch, seaside trad climbing venues we have in theUK– yeph, I’m talking Lower Sharpnose…

  

For years I’d blasted down to Cornwall getting, but ignoring, a ‘I should go too Lower Sharpnose’ feeling as I motored past Okehampton on the A30. Eventually, the opportunity came to check-out the Culm Coast for a calendar shoot and Adam, Kev and myself met up last summer and went down there for a weekend. The short walk past the listening post had been superseded – a long walk-in along the coast now being the order of the day. It’s not really a long walk – but it sure felt it carrying both climbing and photography kit. High tide that weekend was at noon so a late start – followed inevitable with a late finish – was imposed upon us. It did afford a lie-in so it wasn’t entirely disagreeable and we did (just) make last orders at the pub as well so again, that wasn’t a total disaster.

Over the years I’ve sometimes found that crags that are hyped-up don’t always quite live up to expectations – not so Lower Sharpnose however; the crag is truly unique and the climbing to die for. Well maybe not quite, but it is pretty flippin’ good. Lower Sharpnose isn’t especially big – quite small in fact – but IMHO it’s a package that hangs together very well indeed.

But there I go starting to give you the full SP. If you want the full low-down at the moment you’ll have to pick up a copy of the mag. Here’s a gallery of images to whet your appetite…

Kevin Avery on Out of the Blue, E2 5b on North Fin, Lower SharpnoseKevin Avery on Out of the Blue, E2 5b on North Fin, Lower SharpnoseAdam Lincoln abbing into the base of North Fin, Lower SharpnoseAdam Lincoln on Sea Green E4 5c North Fin, Lower SharpnoseKevin Avery climbing around the base of Middle Fin stealing a march on the outgoing tideAdam Lincoln on Pacemaker E5 6a Middle Fin, Lower SharpnoseAdam Lincoln on Fay E4 5c Middle Fin, Lower SharpnoseKevin Avery on Pacemaker E5 6a Middle Fin, Lower Sharpnose

Also posted in Published

July 12th: Be in My 2013 Calendar Competition…

There’s now less than 24hours left to enter the ‘Be in My 2013 Calendar Competition’ so if you fancy being in with a chance at a money can’t buy prize then you’d better be flippin’ quick!

If you’re not familiar with the competition, UKClimbing, alongside some of the biggest names in the UK climbing business, are sponsoring a page in my UK-centric climbing calendar, Climbing:2013, and I’m looking for a keen climber to be photographed in a special photo shoot for the UKC page. It is a prize that, as copy writers would say, money can’t buy.

It’s the fifth consecutive Be in My Calendar Comp that has been run in conjunction with UKC and it’s proving to be even more popular than ever. The four previous winners have been snapped making some great shapes on some of great routes. Craig Bailey (2012) and Ally Smith (2010) both featured on the fine Llangollen area limestone crags whilst Liam Lonsdale (2011) and Rachael Crewe (2009) were captured at St Bees and Stoney Middleton respectively.

Here’s a quick gallery of the previous winners in action…

 

2009 Calendar Comp winner Rachael Crewe climbing Froth at Stoney2010 Calendar Comp winner Alley Smith climbing Digitron at Craig Arthur2011 Calendar Comp winner Liam Lonsdale climbing Dreaming of Red Rocks at St Bees2012 Calendar Comp winner Craig Bailey climbing Climb High at Dinbren

 

Here’s the detail…

Need to be…

YOU need to be an experienced rock climber capable of leading rock routes of V Diff upwards. You must be available late July to early August for the photo shoot and will bring a sac of kit and a mate along to climb with.

Here’s the Deal…

  1. The winner (in addition to appearing on the UKC page in the calendar…) will also get a complementary 18×12” poster print (of a photo of their choice) from the photo shoot as well as a copy of Climbing:2013
  2. The winner’s mate will also get a copy of Climbing:2013
  3. A selection of images from the day will be published in a gallery on UKClimbing and/or KeithSharplesPhotography in a write-up of the day
  4. Further copies of Climbing:2013 will also got out to the three runners’

Closing date…

Midnight on Friday 13th July 2012.

Here’s the questions…

  1. Which uber wad did Keith photography recently for Climbing 2012: a) Adam Ondra b) Dave Graham c) Chris Sharma
  2. Which ‘wide-boy’ recently notched-up a monster USA tick-list AND appeared in Climbing 2012 a) Tom Hanks b) Tom Randall c) Pete Whittaker
  3. Which ex-pat Brit recently notched up the first ascent of a monster roof climb onMalta: a) Stevie Haston b) Stevie Wonder c) Steve McClure

Here’s what to do…

Entry to the comp is via the UKC pages. Click through this link and follow the instructions… http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4756

T&Cs (a.k.a. Terms and Conditions)…

You:

  • must lead routes of VD standard or harder on outdoor crags on a regular basis and your mate must also be a competent climber and belayer
  • and your mate will provide all your own climbing kit and take sole responsibility for your actions when climbing during the photo shoot and will travel to and from the photo shoot at your own expense
  • must agree to a suitable location from those suggested by Keith
  • must be at least 18 years old
  • agree that images from the photo shoot can be published
  • accept that the image selected will be chosen by Keith in consultation with UKClimbing and that their decision is final
  • accept the inclusion of another/substitute climber in the calendar if a mutually acceptable venue or time for the photo shoot cannot be established for whatever reason
  • accept that no compensation or substitute prize, including cash alternative, will be provided in lieu
  • agree by entering the competition that you have read, understood and accept the competition rules
Also posted in Be in My Calendar Competition, KSP Publications, Photography

July 6th: Is there any dry rock out there?

As one of the wettest June’s ever fades it looks as though July is taking straight over. Question is, is there any dry rock out there?

Ask The Zippester and Kris – they knew where to find it last weekend…

 

Kris Klemmow on King of MingZippy on Little Plum

June 27th : The Big Three – a.k.a. Malham, Kilnsey and Gordale…

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Climb #89 showcases The Big Three – the limestone giants that are Malham, Kilnsey and Gordale – claiming them to be “this country’s true limestone capital”. It’s a grand piece running to 12 pages, sans adverts, written by devotees Steve McClure, Stuart Littlefair, Steve Crow and Karen Magog. I’m totally chuffed to have a total of six images illustrating the piece, including a double page spread of Steve McClure on Overshadow (F9a+)…

I first visited and climbed at these venues back in the early Seventies and I’ve been going back on a frequent basis ever since. I’m far from being the only migratory climber to have been totally smitten by these three crags. They’ve gotten, it seems, into our DNA – much as they did for Adam Ondra. He visited for two years running and bagged the biggest and best tick-list of any visiting foreign climber.

The Big Three are certainly amongst the finest cliffs that we have in the UK – that they are located within a metaphorical stone’s throw of each other is a happy coincidence for us ‘locals’. Following more than half a century of development they now represent some of the best trad and sport climbing that exists on our fair isle.

In my view there’s very little not to like about them – maybe the midges at Kilnsey in the summer or the endless hordes of tourists traipsing through Gordale. But don’t take me word for it – go pay a visit yourself. Here’s a gallery of images published in the piece along finishing with a shot of Ondra battling on the crux of Overshadow during his first visit. Enjoy…

 

Steve Mac on Overshadow_DSC6993.jpgMiscel_Barry Rawson onChiselling the Dragon_DSC_9622.jpgScenic-0562.jpgMiscel_The Catwalk at Rush Hour-0210.jpgMiscel_paul reeve on the thumb 01.jpgScenic_ DSC_1378.jpgAdam Ondra on Overshadow-0390.jpg

Also posted in Published

June 2nd: Belaying is rocket science…

Belaying is rocket science, or so it seems. Improvements, no matter what they relate to, come thick and fast these days and quickly get absorbed as the norm.Moore’s Law, dating back to the start of PC developments, describes (roughly speaking) a doubling a PC power every two years. There aren’t similar laws for climbing, least not that I’m aware off, but it would be interesting to cogitate a few…

Accepted that belaying isn’t exactly top of the sexy list either, it is fundamental to the business of climbing. Today, there is such a plethora of devices available that anyone new to the sport or having had a ‘climbing holiday’ for a decade or more might well suffer total meltdown when standing in front of the hardware counter down at their local climbing store when they come to part with their hard-earned in exchange for their belay device of choice.

It wasn’t always thus however. I avidly remember starting my own climbing career using the (then) old favourite, the waist belay. A pair of leather gloves were added by some climbers but usually a twist around the belayer’s wrist was the only trick in town. It seems totally Heath Robinson looking back but hey it was clearly an effective means of belaying (for the style of climbing common at that time) as the hospitals weren’t full of broken or rope-burnt climbers! We didn’t fall off much though in those days…

 Today, as I say, the choice of belay devices is quite literally, be-wildering. Passive or active, single or double rope and sport or trad – take your pick. I’ve just co-ordinated a review of many of the current belay devices and krabs which are available for Climber. Twenty eight separate bits of kit in c. 2000 words. Don’t bother doing the math, just grab a copy and get the low-down in next month’s mag.

Meanwhile, check-out the shots below to see what’s included within the review…

 

Single Rope Belay Devices_DSC_0578.jpgDouble Rope Belay Devices_DSC_0583.jpgGuide Plates_DSC_0592.jpgBelay Lock Krabs_DSC_0593.jpgHMS and D Shaped Screwgate Krabs DSC_0603.jpgHMS Belay Krabs_DSC_0596.jpg

 

Also posted in Published, Reviews

May 3rd : Snow, Rain and Front Covers…

April 2012 was one heck of a month with some highs and some lows. Yep, it snowed, it rained, the crags all got wet – oh yes, I got a new camera and a front cover on Climber magazine…

Weather stuff – what else – first. What made April’s weather seem even worse is that March was totally awesome; the third warmest on record. We all knew it wont last but boy, no one thought that the bubble would burst that quick and that April would be the wettest since records began – no less than 126.5mm of rain to be exact – nor that it would end with the crags as wet as they are!

The new camera I’ve already posted about. I know it’s gonna be awesome and I’m looking forward to using it in anger – if only I could get those (proverbial) ducks lined up I could get cracking with some climbing shots.

So that just leaves the front cover of May’s Climber to shout about. It’s been a while so it’s very nice to be back on the FC of a climbing mag.  In truth, getting a FC these days is bitter/sweat for many photogs. The sweat bit is obvious, I would have thought, but why bitter? Simple really, as a photog I’d rather see my images sans masthead, barcodes and strap-lines but that’s modern front covers for you which are the way they are because of marketing requirements. Very happy though to be FC’d again so this isn’t a rant. And by the way, the shot is of Julian Heath on Traction Trauma (E4 6a) at Dinbren over in the Eglwyseg Valley. If you’ve not been its well worth the effort. Check-out the eight page article within the mag too…

 

Climber May 2012_FC_web.jpgDSC_0438.jpgDSC_0442.jpg

Also posted in General, Published