Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mental Preparation - Visualisation


One of the major differences between great climbers and good climbers is their ability to visualise a route. Good climbers visualise from a third person angle, watching themselves as if they were looking through a camera. Great climbers visualise from a first person angle looking at each move through their own eyes.

Try and visualise yourself climbing a route. Now try and visualise each move as though you can see your hand moving towards a hold, your foot reaching for each foothold.

Can you see the difference?

By visualising in first person mode you are preparing yourself for what the route will actually look like when you get on it.

Next time you are stood at the bottom of a route and doing your route read try to visualise yourself climbing it.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Urban Tooling

With there being little opportunity in Leicestershire for tooling or ice climbing, we make do with what facilities are on hand...

Friday, 17 February 2012

12 tips for climbing...

To help improve your own climbing ability you need to learn some basics and practice good climbing technique.
  1. It is important to always Warm Up properly before you start climbing. Your muscles and ligaments don’t function if they are tight and cold and you are at more risk of injuring yourself.
  2. Take time to route read before you climb a route, identify the crux sequence, crux clips and most importantly where you can rest on a route! Work down through confusing sequences from a obvious hold if you cant work up it.
  3. Avoid over gripping, your grip strength is the first to go!
  4. Work on balance as this will help make hard moves easier if you can get in balance first..
  5. Keep your body close to the wall.
  6. Use your legs and feet to take your weight, not your arms. Your legs muscles are much stronger so use them!.
  7. Arms should be used for balance and shifting weight, not holding weight. When doing moves and sequences that require upper body strength, move quickly through the sequence.
  8. Use momentum to peak at the dead point, practice this technique..
  9. Combining both static and dynamic elements of climbing technique will determine your speed of climbing.
  10. Using the right techniques at the right time will give you a huge advantage.
  11. Learn to rest on a route/problem, muscles will perform longer with short rests, working this will help develop endurance.
  12. Have fun!

Striding Edge Feb 2012

The idea was to go out and do a new route, I had my eye on something, Bullock had said, "when you stand under it you will probably know why it has never been done..."

I didn't know the area... but ... upon arrival in the lakes there was no new routes to be had without the lynch mob hunting us down.

With all the problems and discussions of whether routes are in or out of winter conditions.. so we opted for taking all our kit for a long walk... and the route still awaits a decent spell of cold weather to get a first ascent.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Resting is the ability to recover energy/strength while still climbing. It is a skill that is learned and should be trained. Many top climber attribute their success not to their strength but to their ability to rest and recover on a route. In general the steeper and harder the route the harder it is to find a resting position. This chapter will deal with funding resting positions, how to maximize the resting position and how to train your resting technique.

Finding a Resting Position

Resting positions are places where you can relax one arm then the other for at least a short period of time. The best rests are obviously no hands rests where all your weight is on your feet. When looking for a resting position try to find somewhere where you can take as much weight as possible off your hands (stems, heel, hools, big footholds...) and where the handholds are close enough together to switch back and forth. The reason that you need to switch back and force easily is that you do not want to be wasting energy moving between the resting holds.

Maximize the Rest

When resting, it is important to try and relax your arms as much as possible. The quality of the resting position, the amount that your arms are pumped, the difficulty of the next series of moves and how far you are from the top will all factor into how long you choose to stay in the rest. If the rest is a slightly strenuous one then you will have to think about how much you can recover before the rest itself starts to tire you out.

Even a quick shake between holds can be enough to recover a little bit of strength.

As you enter the rest position try to place your feet well first. This does not mean that your feet have to stay where they are as you switch hands, in fact in most cases you will have to adjust your feet and certainly your weight distribution as you alternate hands. If you are pumped going into the rest start by alternating your hands quite quickly. As you start to lose your pump a little bit you can start holding on with each hand slightly longer, giving the other arm a longer time to recover. The hand that is holding on should be as relaxed as possible but there are lots of options for what to do with the arm that is hanging.

Concentrate on your breathing and force yourself to take long slow breaths, this will again help you relax and slow down your heart rate. As you rest continue to evaluate your feet and determine if they are in the best spot, or can you improve them.

Eric Horst talks about a method of depumping in his article:

This method uses gravity to help drain the used blood from your forearms to allow new blood with more oxygen into them. The trick is to hold your forearms above your head as you shake out. You do not have to hold you arms up the whole time but it does help to do this for about 10 seconds at a time.

Try to relax the resting arm as much as possible, try stretching your forearm out against the wall, against your thigh or against your hips if necessary. This will open up the arteries and veins in your forearm and allow you to recover faster.

As you alternate hands concentrate on shifting your weight directly below the hand hold and onto your feet as much as possible. If you are matching on a hold and your feet are directly below you a little shuffle of the hips should be all that is necessary to help you relax. If the resting holds are not equal in quality (one is harder to hold than the other) then minimize the amount of time spent holding onto the bad hold.

A good tip is to use the rope itself to take the weight off your hands. If it is possible to make a clip above you and downclimb to the rest without too much difficulty then you should do this. Once the rope is clipped above you and you are back in the resting position try and weight the rope a little. The weight of the rope and rope drag going down to your belayer should be able to take some weight off of your arms. As you shift between hands you may need to shift your hips higher every time and then sit back down on the rope.

Your belayer will not notice the difference at their end of the rope.

When you decide that it is time to leave the rest, start breathing harder again and alternating your hands back and forth quicker. Concentrate on the next series of moves coming up. This will better prepare you for any hard moves coming up that you need to pull down on.

Learning to Rest and Training

Most people when first told to rest will complain that the rest tires them out too much.

It is more work to rest than the strength that they recover. Resting is a skill and there is a technique to it. You have to force yourself to rest in order to learn how it feels.

Resting Drills

To learn how to rest set a boulder circuit or routes on slightly overhanging walls. At the start of the circuit, or at the bottom of the routes, place two holds that are not huge but that you can hold onto quite easily. If you are just starting this drill give yourself very generous feet, as you become more comfortable resting use smaller and smaller feet.

Climb the circuit until you start to feel pumped then get to the rest. Force yourself to stay in the rest for a fixed amount of time even (say five minutes) even if it seems too long. Make sure that the rest allows you to switch your arms back and forth and doesn't allow a no hands rest. Concentrate on the points listed above such as centre your weight, weight your feet as much as possible and concentrate on your breathing.

After awhile you should be able to make the rest harder. Make it more difficult to switch your hands back and forth, make one hand harder to rest on than the other, give yourself only one foothold, etc... After time you should be able to find rests easier and know how much recovery you can get from a rest. You should also be able to determine when you are too pumped to recover and when you need to rest. Play around with this drill at the end of an endurance session.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Knee Drops and Flagging

Kneedropping and flagging are both ways of using your feet to position your body for either moving or stabilizing. This section will deal with these two techniques for movement.


Kneedrops occur when you backstep you foot on the same side of your body as the foot. For instance if you put your right foot out to the right and it is placed as a backstep then you knee will be pointing in towards you rather than away from you. If your foot is higher than where your knee normally would be and you turn your knee in and down then this is a deep drop knee, the classic definition of the term.

This technique is very useful for holding your hips against the wall on steeper angles, it is not that useful for slab climbing. If your hips are against the wall then you are able to pull across your body with your other hand.

Try this. On a slightly overhanging wall start with your hands at chest height on two straight down pulling holds that are about shoulder width apart. Place your left foot on a foot hold directly below the handholds at a comfortable distance. Take your right foot and place it just below hip height about two feet to the right. Turn your right knee in and down and try and pull your right hip against the wall. This should make it easier for you to reach with your right hand out and up. Do the same thing out to the left. You can also try and climb into these positions and then out of them. It helps to rotate in and out of kneedrops.


Flagging is when you only have one foot on a foothold. Even without another foot hold the other foot can be used to stabilize or to generate momentum. This is accomplished by flagging. There are roughly three types of flagging:

• Normal Flag - the leg that you are flagging is out to the same side. If you have your right foot on a foothold and place your left foot out to the left. The left foot can be smeared or in the air.

• Reverse Outside Flag - the leg that you are flagging is crossed behind the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right lag behind your left leg.

• Reverse Inside Flag - the leg that you are flagging is crossed in front of the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right left in front of your left leg. This flag is particularly useful for avoiding a foot match.

The degree to which to flag will depend on what you are trying to do. On a move that requires a flag you may need to play around with how much you want to flag. It will depend on how far you have to move, what your other foot is on and where, and the size of handholds you are using. Try and climb one footed to see where flagging is useful and where it is not. Remember to try all three types of flagging in order to build these moves into your climbing repertoire. Below Orrin Coley kindly demonstrates the techniques explained in this post

Monday, 6 February 2012


“…the butterflies flitter, then flutters then fly…”

This will be one of my lasting memories of Bic, he was sat reading a bedtime story to Harley, it is so appropriate if you consider ….

A butterfly can light up like a sunbeam beside us and for the briefest of moments its glory and beauty belong to our world but then it flies again, although we wish it could have stayed.... we feel lucky to have seen it.

So today is our chance to say thank you to Bic for the way he brightened our lives.

Bic lived a truly amazing life, and it is only natural that we will all feel cheated by the way he was taken from us while he was still so young but we must also learn to be grateful that he came along and somehow touched the lives of each and everyone of us.

It is important that we don’t consume ourselves with the “what if’s” and questions like, how or why did he die, we should ask and remember … how did he live?

I personally only knew Bic as a close friend for 5 years although at the Tower I knew him for a lot longer, but in what feels like a life time, we became very good friends and climbing partners.

Initially he was always asking advice on routes/kit etc, then we went climbing and just evolved….

As a climbing partner he was 100% committed, 100% trustworthy and when it was going wrong on a route he knew 100% when enough was enough and it was time to bail. But when we climbed together we were kings, we could try anything and knew that we would be man enough to walk away if we needed to.

Helping out at comps or weekends away with the team and squeezing in time for our personal climbing

I was thinking about some of the last climbs that either we did or I was around for, after looking them up in guide book I began to saw a common theme…

Suspense; fine climbing with just enough rests to make you appreciate the fine position even more..
Wuthering; a devious but classic exposed solution to this fine buttress
Archangel; one of the greatest rites of passage for any ambitious gritstoner, where total commitment and faith in ones technique will bring fourth unforgettable success…
Two Step Corner A superb Ice Climb which has a reputation for being considerably steeper than it looks!
Orion Direct; One of the finest winter climbs in Scotland with all the atmosphere of a major alpine face…

… the common theme being these were all inspirational routes … routes with meaning, where you had to have total trust and belief in the people around you, this was the effect of Bic, for me, he was there either on a dash out climbing or when everybody else was on a rest day we could go off and do something hard, which the group were generally thankful of! For others he was a leader and an organiser, he was last to bed at night and up at the crack of dawn making the porridge and tea for everybody to hustle people out to get to the hill…

One of the most memorable of routes for some would be;

Great Gully; A route of tremendous character, old fashioned in everyway and all the better for it, do not be fooled by the grade, this is a beast in all but the driest conditions…

So on a horrible wet welsh weekend, with a large group of us, someone decided it would be a good idea!! Yup … Bic!

He loved life, lived it how he wanted, and lived it to best of his abilities he always weighed up the positives and negatives in life, and being the kind of person he was he chose life, he didn’t give in to his epilepsy and didn’t want to sacrifice the things he loved to do.

Bic’s death was sudden – so sudden that I couldn't even believe it, it didn’t register when Charlie told me. He was too young too die but thankfully he lived his life wonderfully and managed to cram more into 35 years than most people do in a life time.

I am sure we will all have many opportunities in the coming days, months and years to remember Bic, whether its climbing some grotty chimney or gully in Wales, out walking in the horizontal rain or even in the house doing diy, remembering him for all that he meant to us, if we can each have a quick think about a moment we shared with Bic however silly, funny, insignificant or special… the first thing that comes into your mind about him, remember that day, where you were and what you were doing….

…we've all lost a friend, a champion and a leader and we are going to take some time adjust to that but Bic has left legacy which will continue to inspire in the tales that we all can tell and the memories we all have. These memories will grow, the tears will turn to smiles and the memories will be forever cherished and remembered by each of us, as he will live in my memory forevermore.

I trust that some day I will meet Bic again and once again we'll be climbing in the clouds and laughing so hard that we cry.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.

~ Mary Elizabeth Frye