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VIDEO: Solo on the Sea Cliffs! Marmot ‘Hand Picked’ Gogarth Classics

Earlier in the year I was filmed for a video for my main sponsor Marmot. The video is part of a series featuring each of the UK Marmot sponsored climbers, climbing some classic routes in their favourite climbing areas.

In this video I solo the classic Gogarth route ‘A Dream of White Horses’, and the nearby ‘Electric Blue’ at Rhoscolyn.

The day out filming with Ian Burton of Image Impossible was a lot of fun, and I believe the whole series was inspired by the video I did last year of Almscliff in Yorkshire.

It was a lot of fun climbing these routes as they are both so good, and this was one of the least stressful days of climbing filming I have done. I hope you enjoy!

Big thanks to Marmot and Ian Burton!

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The Next Big Mission – Training Begins

The last few months have seen some sporadic climbing, but a lot of work on UKClimbing.com, and after buying a new apartment in need of full renovations, even more DIY.

But training has begun for the next big mission – this time I am headed to Patagonia.

The Patagonia season is December/January, and this is exactly when I am heading out there with my eyes set on Cerro Torre.

In preparation for this trip I have reentered the world of running, and last week I ran my first real race for over a decade. A 30km race (Tour des Fiz) , with over 2500m of ascent, did leave my little legs a bit tired, but a few more of these, coupled with some big alpine north faces in the late autumn, should see my mountain fitness level quite high by the time December comes.

Once again I am heading in to the mountains with Rob Greenwood, and I must say I have never in my life been so excited about a climbing trip.

Bring on Patagonia! Woo!

Chris Akrigg Bike Accident Video – Earl Crag Yorkshire

A few weeks ago I blogged about an old friend of mine Chris Akrigg having a bike accident. (See previous Post).

Chris has just released his video of the accident. Chris is riding at an old local crag of mine – Earl Crag in Yorkshire. He falls from the top of the far left buttress, which is directly above the line of ‘Mindbomb’ the very tough Dave Pegg E7. Ouch.

Rock climbing in Chamonix? Really? Yep.

So I was on the Marmot Rocks trip in North Wales a couple of weeks ago (UKC News), as I am a Marmot sponsored climber. (More on that trip later).

I was chatting to fellow Marmot climber Lucy Creamer about my fairly recent move to Chamonix, France. She seemed pretty convinced that it wasn’t a great place to live for rock climbing, and that it only offered alpine mountaineering. Fortunately for Jack ‘hung up his crampons after the Eiger 😉 ‘ Geldard – she is very wrong.

There is clearly loads of alpine granite in the area, which is world class, but there’s also loads of cragging, both granite and limestone. Not to mention bouldering.

Anyway, I arrived back in Chamonix a couple of days ago and the very next evening went out with ‘Ug’ to see his new boulder near his house. This thing, right next to the road, had probably never been climbed on, offers around 15 problems on all faces and now has at least two ‘projects’ for Ug to get stuck in to. The one in the below video is very hard and will probably be 8B. There were lots of moves on it that I couldn’t do.

Anyway – just a few snaps (not pro photos) of bouldering and sport cragging from the local valley below – and an invite to all my UK friends to come visit! 😉

And for those who want to check out Bionnassy – the ‘hard sport climbing crag’ of the area – a few photos on Grimper.

And not a glacier in sight!! Cool!

Sponsorship in climbing vs expedition grants

There’s very few climbers who get ‘paid to climb’ by sponsors. Very few. In the UK you could count them on one hand probably.

There are a few that get paid to attend tradeshows or events, but this is obviously different. I get paid to attend tradeshows and events by UKClimbing.com. But I’m not ‘sponsored’ by them!

There are a lot of climbers in the UK who receive equipment support – ie. free gear.

What am I getting at?

Harking back to Adam Long’s Local Hero piece on UKC (see my earlier blog and the original article), I find it strange that some climbers differentiate so strongly between climbers who are ‘sponsored’ and climbers who are not.

Such as this:

“You know, the climber who quietly onsights E6s every time they go out, but isn’t bothered about lowering their ethics to headpoint the big numbers and court the media and the sponsors.”

From Adam’s article.

Or this:

by – kevin stephens ? on – 07:32 Fri
In reply to UKC News:

I and many others haven’t bought Climber for year. It’s content has been limited to articles for beginners and sychophantic articles about sponsered heroes with nothing of interest for vast majority of dedicated climbers leading real lives

Now I respect everyone’s right to slag off the climbing media – of course – and I can see how an overdose of ‘sponsored hero’ might be too much, but is there any difference between a climber who gets three pairs of free shoes per year and a climber who does not?

I spoke to Nick Bullock, a sponsored hero,  someone who “struggles with being sponsored” ethically, but he doesn’t  know why, “it’s just a British thing isn’t it”. I guess he doesn’t want his very pure climbing tinted by commercialism? Unless he gets a free camera of course! 😉

However Nick also said that if a company gave him three free pairs of shoes per year, then he wouldn’t say he was sponsored by them.

Pete Robins is sponsored by 5.10. He receives, I believe, 3 free pairs of shoes per year. He has been on the front of two major DVD’s in the last couple of years, playing a starring role. He has graced the cover of several guidebooks and magazines, and top of the pile, he’s been on UKC of course. So he’s a top climber and he’s ‘in the media’. He’d buy 5.10 shoes anyway, so I’d guess he’s quite pleased with his saving of about £220 a year and more than happy to say he is sponsored by 5.10 if they want some extra coverage. (See this UKC news item)

But it only costs 5.10 probably about £60 in reality to give him those shoes. Great value for them.

I personally have no problem with any of this, and I have a similar deal with Evolv’s distributor Beyond Hope. It is great for me, and I should think it works out for them too. It’s a business deal between the climber and their sponsor.

So where do expedition grants come in?

Recently I have seen that the MCof S have been awarding ‘grant money’ to young rock climbers (see the base of this UKC News). THIS IS GREAT! Traditionally these type of grants have gone to people walking up snowslopes in Greenland, or something… and always to the same people every year…

Anyway, it just struck me that if a climber gets a grant of £1000, which is a pretty usual amount (I have applied for a few of these, but never succeeded in getting one), then that equals 5 years of shoe sponsorship deals (if you count shop price) or 10 years if you count cost price!

So, that’s my point really. A few free pairs of shoes, or a grant cheque. Which is more tainted by commercialism? The MCofS/BMC/whoever want members. A shoe company wants to sell shoes. Climbing would be in a poor state of affairs without the BMC/MCofS you say. Well, it would be without rock shoes too!!

Right – better go photograph some crags!

The Concept of Local Hero

Nige, whom I have only met once but seemed like a likely character to ‘pilot his own death star’,  had a good run of form recently – ticking loads of E6’s and E7’s in good style on the grit. Adam did a great report for UKClimbing.com – Golden Feet.

The report has gone down well, and as I suspected lots of people have asked for more reports like this. A few people have mentioned that it would be a great weekly feature – a low key, unsponsored climber quietly operating at a very high standard.

I agree it would be a fantastic feature. But is it feasible? No. For two reasons:

Is there loads of people out there, doing their thing at this level? No.

Is it possible to obtain several professional quality, timely photographs of each of these non-existent local heroes on a weekly basis? No, of course not.

We are extremely lucky that A) we have awesome climbers like Nige and B) we have awesome photographers like Adam, and the simple fact that they are mates is what made this report happen.

Also, when someone is operating at Nige’s level, we do tend to hear about them for quite some time. If you follow the climbing news closely, his name is not unfamiliar: Check this UKC News Report. And this UKC News Report.

ADVERT: Go buy a photo of Adam’s right now – he once took a photo of a mushroom in Font that I thought was particularly cool, I would say that one wouldn’t be a bad choice.

What would be more feasible, but on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, would be a ‘local hero’ style feature that was more a short bio of a person instead of a up to the minute news report, with a portrait and perhaps a historical photo – which is a feature that Alpinist used to have in their magazine. I suspect they ran out of local heroes!

PHOTOS: Two Contrasting Weekends!

Last weekend I was working at Plas y Brenin taking people rock climbing in the rain, clocking up the miles on classic Tremadog Severes and VS’s and this weekend I was down at the Outdoors Show in my capacity as UKClimbing.com Editor. I took the opportunity to have a bash at the SkyMasters competition, where I managed a fairly respectable 10th place. Not too bad for someone more at home on Craig Doris than an upside down plywood wall.

During the week I managed to squeeze in a big party with lots of drinking and several people being sick, and Sarah and I also went out and bolted half a new route on the Slate, before getting rained on.

So here’s a few photos from the week. My favourite is Betty sleeping in the van in the car park at the NEC – it’s a rock and roll lifestyle…

Guiding at Plas y Brenin - on the way down from Poor man's Peutery
A quick bouldering trip down to Porth Ysgo - trying Tide of Dreams
Sarah cleaning the new route on the slate
Me adding a belay to the top of the new route!
BETTY!!
Sarah getting ready for the party!!
Me in the SkyMasters (thanks to Jordan Buys for taking the pic)
Betty livin' the dream in a carpark near the NEC!
Betty livin' the dream in a carpark near the NEC!