Thursday, 19 June 2014


I'm really excited to be working with Rab, my new sponsor. Over the years the brand has made a name for itself by creating the top quality gear for the mountains.

They supported our West Greenland Expedition in summer 2013 and I was really impressed with the gear they gave us. Ian Faulkner and myself were around ¾ of the way up the then unclimbed 1200m main face of the Horn of Upernivik. As we climbed clouds were swirling around the surrounding mountains. When the clouds moved in around us and it started raining we crawled under a fallen block. All I had with me was one of the Generator jackets. I’m not going to lie and say I was warm! But after a night of shivering I was very much still alive and able to take full advantage of a small window of sun to blast to the top before the weather closed in again. Since then I’ve stuffed the jacket in the bottom of the bag on every multi-pitch route, just in case.
Team Rab at the north summit of Uummannaq mountain, Greenland.
Find the people!
Back to the present I spent last weekend on the South Coast, the highlight being an onsight of Privateer, a spectacular 7b+/E6 deep water solo off of Funky Ledge, Swanage. The slappy compression moves high above the sea required full commitment and left me with an enormous grin on my face, I love this stuff! I’m so excited to be in the UK for a summer of adventure climbing…

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Yosemite part 1

Day 1: The pitch is labeled with an innocuous sounding “5.8 fist”. 

“well that’s about VS, I could probably solo this blindfolded”, I think to myself.

I put my fist in the crack.

I take it out and look at it.

I put my fist in the crack the other way up.

I take it out and look at it again.

I put my other fist in the crack.


10 meters later I’m a gibbering wreck, desperately trying to make the crack wider with one hand on either side. My lone blue camalot is the only thing keeping me from a 20 meter screamer. Above me 5.8 fist crack stretches on indefinitely. “HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!?”

Well it could only get better from there!

I just got back from a month in Yosemite with my girlfriend Bron. I was super excited to learn how to climb big walls, which was the aim of this trip: figure out big wall, aid and crack climbing. These are some highlights from the trip:

Big Wall Number 1: Our first step towards big wall glory was the south face of Washington Column. On dinner ledge, our first bivy spot, we were joined by a guy who told us his name was Joe-semite. He appeared to be climbing by himself, had long straggly black hair, tiny John Lennon sunglasses and reggae blaring from the large boombox hanging from his harness. Occasionally he would yell “YEAH FUCK YEAH” at the top of his lungs. He seemed to be having a good time. Later two friends joined him having hauled a case of beer, whisky, rum AND vodka up to the ledge. Party! Not what I was expecting for my first big wall bivy!!! The next day we climbed and hauled to the top, Bron put in a great effort leading the last scary loose pitch by headtorch. We pulled our haulbag over the top and collapsed where we stood.
"Everything is clipped to everything else, what is aid climbing anyway!?"
Topping out in the dark from our first big wall!
Royal Arches Solo: Royal arches is a classic 16 pitch 5.7/severe-ish, my time was 1 hour 55 minutes valley to valley. Running down I was laughing to myself, this much fun shouldn't be legal.

Astroman: Alex from Montreal had slightly crazy eyes and pretty much told me I was climbing Astroman with him. Astroman is THE classic free day route in the valley, it's about 12 pitches long and at 5.11c it would probably get E5 or E6 in the UK. The crux pitch is the terrifying Harding Slot, an E6 squeeze chimney! I knew my friend Steve Dunning had got benighted on the route last year so we started early, really early. By 7am Alex was leading up pitch 3, the Enduro Corner, an incredible pitch of unrelenting thin hand-jamming. Or frantic laybacking in my case! I climbed the corner like any self respecting sport climber would, shaking out, chalking up and not a single jam. A pitch or two higher my foot pinged and I was suddenly aware of an awful lot of space underneath me. My stomach stayed where it was and the rest of my body came to a halt 15 meters lower. I did some adrenalized shouting, pulled back up the rope and finished off the pitch. I could actually feel myself learning how to jam, on the route! Unfortunately I fell a few more times getting into the Harding Slot so the 100% free ascent was blown, it really is rather hard.  I wasn't bothered though, it was amazing to be finding pitch after pitch of incredible climbing. Every pitch on the route would be at least a 3 star E4 in the UK! Higher on the route I started to get into my groove, onsighting the E5ish changing corners pitch and the ominous sounding 5.10dR last pitch. We were on top by 2pm so probably didn't need to start quite that early!
Entering the Harding Slot
"I can't breathe!"
The incredible Changing Corners pitch.

The Nose: We climbed the world's most famous big wall route in 4 days and 3 nights. It's popular for a reason, the climbing is SO GOOD and the exposure is out of this world. Vertical camping! It felt totally surreal waking up each morning and looking down at the valley below. Like being in space. Somehow everything clicked and big walling started to feel manageable. Our ascent was a leisurely one, I think we could have done it in 3 days at the speed we were going, but instead it was nice to stop well before dark each day and have time to chill out on the incredible ledges. I can't wait to get back there and try my hand at some of the harder big walls in both free and aid style.

The Great Roof
Bron seconding the Great Roof.
The Pancake Flake
Camp VI, our final bivy on the route
Some Italians we met on the final day