The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Slovenijan Ice

I arrived back from Slovenija yesterday, after a very inspiring trip into the Julian Alps. We landed in Ljubljana & then spent the night with a friend in Kamnik just NW of the city close to the airport.

Marko greeted us with his familiar smile & endless energy giving us as much help as he could to make the trip a great experience. 

The next morning Twid & I headed up into a hut in the mountains of the Julian Alps, only to wake up to 45cm of fresh snow which had settled quietly outside.

Fresh snow in the Triglav National Park, Julian Alps, Slovenija

The forecast had mentioned snow but nowhere near this much, it had also talked about warmer temperatures & sunshine for the rest of the week. We didn’t need to say much, we just packed up our things, gave the hut a good brush through & headed out. We again connected the haul bag using slings & old tat constructing a make shift harness around our ruc-sacs & just started dragging the bag back down the valley we’d dragged it up the previous day!

I’m sure below is the smile from Twid who's been sat on the bag & taking a ride while my back's been turned! well it felt like it anyway! Come to think of it, I did wonder why he wanted to drag the bag in series with me in front!

Twid enjoying the hard slog, as we bailed out of the mountains after very heavy snowfall.

So we had a change of plan & went icefall climbing, exploring the surrounding valley’s & mountains while having a great time.

The cirque of Cljov- Slap Pod Bavhom, Val Koritnica, Log Pod Manartom
Icefall Psihoanaliza on the left, Psiho Direct in the middle & Desni Cljov on the right

Twid heading up easier ground to the start of Psihoanaliza,Val Koritnica

Me heading up the 2nd pitch of Psihoanaliza, Val Koritnica

Twid leaving the belay at the start of pitch 3 with the beautiful Pk Mangart on the other side of the valley just poking out of the clouds.

Cirque Cljov seen here on the side of Val Kortnica with the huge & impressive faces of Pk Plesivec & Pk Bavh Towering above

The Cirque Pichico, Val Dogna, Dogna

Cirque Pichico in Val Dogna
Icefall Prerok on the left, Pichico in the middle & our route on the right finishing up the top pitch of Pichico

Twid leading the 1st pitch of our route in the Cirque Pichico, Val Dogna

Twid high on the 1st pitch of our route in the Cirque Pichico, Val Dogna

Me leading the top pitch of Pichico in the Cirque Pichico, Val Dogna

The Cirque Agrro in Val Dogna, Dogna
Icefall Agrro on the left, then Ronin, A New Hope & The Fly on the right

The beautiful steep pillar of Nosorog in Val Dogna

Twid leading the steep pillar Nosorog in Val Dogna

Twid having a great time high on Nosorog in Val Dogna

The icefalls of Lucifer,near Kranjska Gora
 An unknown climber on Lucifer left

Twid heading up the 1st main pitch climbing Lucifer right

Many thanks for the doss Marko, I enjoyed the local vino & great conversation!

Very inspiring, I'm already making plans for my next trip!

Safe climbing


Friday, 17 February 2012


Red-Pointing on bolts
Definition –
A Red-Point ascent is one where you climb the route from bottom to top cleanly without any artificial rests such as sitting on the rope, but the quickdraws are already pre clipped into the bolts & you will have worked & practiced every move on the route beforehand.

Some thoughts on Red-Pointing -
Choose a route harder than your on sight grade but realistic in the time you have to complete the route. If you’re away on holiday, then you may have a number of days to work the route to finally Red-Point it, so you may choose a route 2 or even 3 grades harder than your on sight grade. If you’ve only got a day then you may choose a route just a grade harder than your on sight grade.

Once you’ve chosen your route, warm up by clipping climbing the route in short sections bolt to bolt resting at each bolt. Try & do this using as little energy as possible, warming up at the same time. The best way to do this is by making just enough moves up to each bolt then clipping the bolt with the quickdraw as soon as possible. Keep hold of the quickdraw pulling most of your weight onto it & then with the other hand, clip the rope into the other end of the quickdraw. Immediately get your partner to take in the rope tight so that you can sit on the rope & rest. Repeat this process all the way to the top of the route. It’s a great way to warm up & also get the clips in.
Now after some rest & if it isn’t super steep & overhanging, top-rope the route in short sections working the moves between each bolt. If you’re at a crux try it a few times then pull on the quickdraw or rope to get past it & onto other moves & sections higher up.

Take your time & work the route slowly without getting totally pumped taking plenty of rest between each top-rope try.
Once you’ve worked out all the moves between the bolts & have them wired, you can then move onto the most important part of the process which is the Links.
Now split the route into roughly 4 sections (around 3 or 4 bolts in length)
Link all the moves together in the first section including & most importantly how you’d clip each bolt, making a clean ascent of this section, then rest.
Now do the same climbing the second section cleanly including how you’d clip the bolts in that section.
Now lower down & rest, then pull up on the rope to get to your high point half way up the route & repeat the process of linking up the top two sections of the route.
The Links is just such an important part of working the route & learning ALL the moves including clipping the bolts & moving through to the next section.
After more rest, pull your rope down, tie in & lead the route in two sections firstly by leading to half height, rest & then continue to the top.
This process will have worked all the moves, sequences & how, when & what holds to clip the bolts from. It’s also built up familiarity & a mental strength to you being able to climb the route.
Me Red-Pointing Warlock 7c+, Cueva Pechina, Costa Blanca, Spain.

Drink & take plenty of rest.
Then with plenty of Chilli in the Engine & when you really Want It, go for the Re-Point!
Kalymnos photo's taken by Andy Teasdale

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Giving the legs a spin out yesterday

I had a great cyclocross ride out from home yesterday, a circuit which takes me straight up onto Frostrow Fell just south of Sedbergh. Frostrow splits the Garsdale valley & Sedbergh from Dentdale where the ride drops down, linking up lanes & bridleways to loop back again via a different high point.

It's tough going in both summer & winter, as your either in summer fighting to keep the wheels turning over long tussocky grass & bog up hill or you're carry the bike!
Where as yesterday the ground was bullet hard & although I surprised myself on sections of up hill I could ride, on the whole I was either carrying over flat, pan hard ice where I had no grip or fighting the long grass & bog to the side of the path which I couldn't ride because it was so icy!

Great ride all the same.

Fantastic views as well back across to the Howgills to the North of Sedbergh, which still had snow on the tops & down to Sedbergh itself with the Howgills behind.

Another world today - low cloud & hard ice over all the roads & pavements, freezing fog & rain............

Be safe


Wednesday, 8 February 2012


On-Sighting on bolts –

Definition –
To climb a route that you’ve not climbed before, leading it from bottom to top without resting or falling off & placing your own quickdraws as you climb.

Some thoughts -
Apart from having your head in the right place & a familiarity with the rock you’re climbing on, the most important part of climbing a route high in your On-Sight grade is warming up.
If you’re top on-sight grade is 6b+ then you need to start On-Sighting a route graded 5+, then work steadily through the grades, 6a, 6a+ & then 6b to get both warmed up & also to get your head in the right place. Some people need to get a fairly good pump on before their fully warmed up. If you struggle on 6b then it’s a gauge of how you’re going on that particular day. Have plenty of rest between each route, take your time & don’t leave your main objective till the Friday when you’re heading home from a week’s holiday on the Saturday & have been cranking out the routes all week! Spend a couple of days warming up & getting a feel for the rock & then nail it mid-week.

On a couple of the routes during the warm up, climb them again to a section where the ground is steep enough to fall off & just let go! (Easier said than done!). This really helps get your head around the fact that firstly it’s ok to fall off & you won’t hurt yourself & secondly it gives you more confidence in the belayer & the knowledge that they can comfortably hold you if you were to fall.
This means that when you go for your On-Sight, all you should be thinking about is making the moves, clipping & getting to the top. You need to be totally focused on the route & not looking down on a difficult move & worrying about falling off.
Remember to be Dynamic in your belaying & that doesn’t mean have lots of rope out. Give your mate enough rope to clip & then take the excess back in, giving them just enough to make the moves without pulling on the rope. The job of the belayer if to focus (which can be really hard to do at a busy crag or indoor wall!) & try to anticipate their moves, giving them rope when they need it.

No, Dynamic belaying is to lock off the belay plate when the person falls & allow yourself to make a few steps forward toward the wall allowing the climber to come to a gradual stop. Don’t just lock the belay plate off, stand still & lean back, this just stops the fall too suddenly which generally means they’ll swing hard into the wall. By locking off & stepping forward, being dynamic in your belaying even on a vertical wall the climber doesn’t smack into the boards, they have a much softer landing.
Note, the belayer needs to have a clean area in front of them to be able to move forward & be dynamic, so don’t have your rope flaked out in front of the belayer have it to the side. Climbing outside look for a flat area with no boulders to fall over or trip on when you do step forwards to hold a fall.
It is something you need to practice & it amazing how much more confidence it gives the climber having fallen & held in this way.
On-Sighting feels a very pure way to climb a route & climbing on bolts allows you to push the grade a little, more so than more traditional climbing where you place your own protection in the form of wires & cams.
You can use different evenings at your local climbing wall to try this process of On-Sighting & see how you go.
Go on, you might surprise yourself!

Photo's taken by Andy Teasdale of me On-Sighting in Kalymnos

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Fly Cave

Snow here in the Lakes over the weekend, Kendal had a good covering & the central fells looked very white. We spent most of the weekend tobogganing with plenty of folk out doing the same! Very mild though all weekend & I woke up today with most of the snow now gone & even the fells looking less white - it must have been 6 or 7 degrees in the sun today, the freezing level would have been above he summits.
It's a shame, as ice was just starting to form as we did have a reasonably cold week here last week & another 3/4 days of cold weather & the icefalls would have started to come into condition.
Even so, if it does go cold now then it would have been a good cycle to consolidate the snow pack & make for some good gully climbing & some mixed action - fingers crossed

Anyway I'm enjoying some time at home & have been locking myself in the Fly Cave & getting myself fit!

The back end of last summer Leo built a small bouldering wall near to his home in Staveley. It's not for profit or open to the public, but a scene for local climbers to meet up & get strong.  Leo's done an amazing job creating such a varied 3D wall in a relatively small space.

Volumes, roofs, leaning walls & overlaps create a fantastic bouldering room with the main aim of getting you fit & strong.

There aren't any 'up' problems like many walls, but circuit style problems. Problems starting from one side of the room & either finishing at the other side of doubling back & finishing up where you first started up making 2 laps of the wall.

Not one for being that into bouldering but the wall has really inspired me - the problems are long and encourage good holds for the hands & not so good holds for the feet, meaning that your less likely to get any finger injuries & more likely to just get climbing fit & super strong. It really helped leading up till Christmas & I've already noticed a big difference in my climbing fitness & strength by just getting stuck into Leo's circuits.

It's taken me back to my roots, when all I ever did was circuits when we used to traverse up & down corridors & under motorway bridges before climbing walls ever took off & I'm really enjoying it. 

I needed a change climbing wise, something different to get stuck into through the winter here at home which gets me super fit for when the sun shines again & warms the rock up.

It's great & I'm very inspired.

Stay safe