24 April 2012

is that Time Ticks in your pocket?

Sorry not really climbing related but its been raining so I've been playing . Just been playing around with Google's new mobile reader Google Currents. It a nice way of reading all those things that used to look rubbish on your phone like online newspapers blogs and photo streams. It turns them into great looking magazine style publications and it looks gorgeous.

Time ticks now has its own version with a few of our favourite pictures on there too. Google currents works on Android phones or tablets as well as iPhones or iPads its a free app and you can either install from your phones store or get it here. You can then get the time ticks edition by using this link Time ticks on Google Currents.  Let me know what you think

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22 April 2012

Support your local super heroes

A good post about sponsorship from Nick Brown the guy behind the excellent Life on Hold. He points out quite rightly that UK climbers get a pretty poor deal from the sponsorship they receive compared with their brethren overseas. Shauna Coxey and Dave Barrans amongst others are great climbers, but as they deal with the UK distributors of kit rather than the head honchos in the country of origin they suffer. The money has plenty of chances to get diverted before it gets to them and perhaps local heros do better.

Seems to me if we are able to grow this talent and there are a fair few others out there who are mad keen semi-pros rather than full on full-time professional climbers. Our UK climbing industry owes them a little more than just free climbing a few goodies every now and then. If we want people to be able to both compete at the highest level and perhaps more importantly drive and develop standards both here and abroad we need perhaps to be a little less amateur in our approach to sponsorship.

Wouldn't it be good if some of the best climbers in the world wore UK logos on their t-shirts when the eyes of the world were on them at an international event? When those last great problems are being sent and video'ed and seem round the world shouldn't they be using UK gear and waving the flag for the country that pretty much invented the sport/pastime?

Come on UK climbing industry your small young and fragmented but surely if you got together you could help some of these people to help you and bring about a win win?
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20 April 2012

Yoga for Climbing

Yoga is for girls, or so I passionately believed until I started doing it. It started when I got a bit further than I had hoped for on Whisky Galore at Brimham just after Christmas. The limiting factor for once wasn't power or lack of crimp but an inability to get my leg onto a high hold whilst I was in a wide bridge. A simple flexibility issue stopped me getting what would have been my first 7a, which was more than a tad gutting.

My wife has an iPod full of podcasts from yogadownload.com and one of them was a "hip opening flow".  So there I was Monday night laying on the mat stretching and breathing and getting in touch with myself whilst feeling like a metrosexual prat. First couple of times felt frankly daft and really hard work too. I had claimed to be doing yoga before but reckon I was just stretching my hamstrings out a bit. The difference with using the podcast was the length of time you had to hold the poses for and the amount of repetition, it took twenty minutes which seems no time at all, but its a long time to be stretched out I can assure you.

Anyway still  feeling a little stupid and seeing no benefit I was all set to abandon yoga and go for Hopi ear candles, Acupuncture or some other new-age hokum tat, but then afterwards. I felt great, super-relaxed and euphoric like the two beer joy you sometimes get after exercise and a trip to the pub. This was good news indeed and I reckon I had saved myself a fiver and a slightly sore head.

I have been "hip opening" for a couple of months now and I'm hooked on the feeling, better yet it seems to be working. At the wall on Wednesday I could rest in positions where previously I was pretty much at full power I seemed to be in balance where before I was falling. On the circuit board I could leave my feet on holds for longer when I was making a sideways move, which really helped save some gas. I also noticed the difference on a high rock over. When normally I would have tipped off backwards I could  transfer my weight over my toe and stand. On the Sunday I sorted out a traverse that had beat me for a year or so. The difference was being able to bridge wider and get more rubber on the rock. These gains almost feel like cheating as they seemed so much easier to come by compared to doing pull ups on a fingerboard.

I think my hip stiffness came from too much cycling and the onset off middle age. If you can identify areas you need to work on either from lack of training or as the result of other activity, perhaps yoga will help you too.  Yoga download is searchable by keyword and there is a huge bank of sessions there so you should find something to help. Seems to me if you are hoping to improve as a climber indefinitely by just getting stronger you might be missing a trick. Its about applying and directing the power as well as building it.


Here is another resource this time a video from YOGamazing on youtube of specific routine for climbers although I find videos hard to watch as I'm doing the yoga, try it might work for you.
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15 April 2012

"The Shipley Glen"

1998 and I'm meeting my future in-laws who live in Bingley. They let slip that they are off dog walking at Shipley Glen. "What the Shipley Glen?" I exclaimed with the excitement only a climbing nerd knows. I think they thought I was winding them up. I think they still do.

No joke though the Glen had featured in the climbing press and that same day I dashed off to pay tribute. I hoped to find Dennis Gray dressed in Adidas Tracky bottoms sat on a throne of rough hewn grit staring moodily at those dark satanic mills. I had to make do with a burnt out Ford Escort and some crude graffiti. I worked my way up a few bits and bobs that day The excellent slab of Reach for the Sky sticking in the mind. I have been filling in the gaps ever since.

The Glen fills that awkward niche between big boulders and small crag much like Bell Hagg in the Peak. The landings are often poor and you can find your self high and sweating all to easily.

Today I went for that crimpy 6B traverse near John I have been bothering for a good year or so. I warmed up on some favourites from the last few years then got stuck in. It was dry as you like and maybe six degrees and I danced across the traverse like I was a boy again. First go no drama, every crimp, edge and smear finding its mark, the expected siege evaporating before it began.

This was a problem, if a serendipitous one. Then I saw Glen ArĂȘte all 30 foot of it looking at me in the early morning sunshine. I was sucked in, I had decided I really wanted spotters when I had ago but why not?

My next conscious thought was with my hands 2 foot below the top, when like a fool I looked down. The ground looked a way off and my mat looked small. The spell broken I slithered back down to reality. With some spotters and a second mat over that back breaking boulder it will be a nice highball in a few weeks.

Wandering down the edge I tried and got the groove of Smear which I crimped. The pleasant undercut Prow, a poor mans Red Baron and the aptly named Nicely which was until the final mantle where I nearly cocked it up. This seemed like a good time to stop.

Birds sang, a pack off dogs barked but no human face broke the serenity. I headed off to the Mother in laws to refurb her bedroom. Now though the thought of the rest of the day inside even on this sweetest of early spring days seemed fine after my moments in the morning sun.
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2 April 2012

Breath on hold

Is bouldering the new rock and roll? Well, when a UK bouldering movie celebrates its release by going on tour then it could be heading in that direction. To be fair, the atmosphere at the Depot on Saturday night for the showing of "Life on Hold" was a bit more chilled than your average gig. But the quality of both the filming and climbing definitely reflected the progression of the UK scene.

"Life on Hold" is the new movie from Sheffield based Outcrop Films and, judging by the stunning HD trailers that had been going up, I was expecting good things. After a quick play on the wall testing out some 5.10s (film sponsors) we joined a good sized crowd settling down into the Depot lobby for a short speech by one of the film's stars Dan Varian. Given that the film is pretty short on talking, Dan used the time to pick out some of the themes- in particular the organic nature of its creation, and the highball, ground-up nature of the climbing. One critique I would pick up at this stage was that the following film seemed a bit short on narrative or philosophy, despite the promise of its title- Living for the next hold, or putting social expectations on hold so you can climb? Instead the film focuses on some of the great landscapes that climbing takes you to- beautiful shots of the barren moorland of the Pennines or the brooding hulks of the Cheviots- and, more importantly, on the climbing itself.

Given a cast list that you would expect to see on a podium at a national bouldering competition, the climbing does not disappoint. In fact, it's so consistently of such a high level that it almost pummels you into the ground- most of the problems are in the 7a+ to 8b range. John commented that it was almost a bit depressing seeing people climb things that he would never be able to, though that may have been more sadness that as a die-hard Star Wars fan he would not be able to add 'Return of the Jedi' to his tick list! However, I found that the one of the things the film captured really well was the essence of bouldering that we all share. Problems are seen being worked over and over by friends egging each other on. You never really know who, if anyone, will actually get them. That feeling of perseverance- digging deep, trying again just one more time, tweaking your body positions over and over- really comes across. It's also great to see that climbers at the top of their game go through similar experiences as mere mortals- getting past the crux only to nearly come off on an easy move, or pushing on up only to find yourself in a position of no retreat, and that immense sense of relief and acheivement when you finally top out. They also linger nicely on the top-outs, and the post top-out banter, a moment often lost in bouldering footage when it fades after the crux.

I won't dwell too long on the problems, save to say lots of them are E grade routes stacked out with a gazillion mats underneath (Hard Grit is referenced a few times). This leads to some big big drops, and some big big holding of breath as the tension ramps up. In that moment you really felt like you were there, almost involuntarily holding out your hands to spot them. Seeing their determination and commitment was really inspiring. When I was a young skater my brother and I used to put on a skate video before we went out to get ourselves psyched up, and if you want to get psyched up to go bouldering then this should definitely do the job.
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