Rock Climbing Blog

The journey to 7a and beyond

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Thailand sport climbing: can you help?

August 2nd, 2008 · 14 Comments

Since an old friend told me about his climbing trips to Thailand it’s been one of my boxes-to-tick. Climbing by the beach and then relaxing in the blue seas sounds too good to be true. I’m about to find out - I’ve decided to do it later this year…

Ao Nang Tower, Thailand

Photo kindly shared by HalonaCoast on Flickr

I’m planning to make the trip in November, which should be good for weather and well clear of the rainy season.

If you’ve been sport climbing in Thailand or know anyone who has, I’d really appreciate your help.

What I need to begin are 2 things:

  1. Recommendations for the best destination
    I’m climbing 6b top-roped indoor and leading 5s at the moment, but with plenty of time to train before November I’ll like to get that into 6s. I’ve heard Krabi and Railay are two hotspots. True?
  2. Climbing schools or centres
    As I’m heading out solo I’d like to arrange a trip, an event, something to guarantee that when I get out there I can get some kit and to ensure there are belay partners around.

So - look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll keep the blog updated with the plans as they come together.

→ 14 CommentsTags: Outdoor · thailand

First bouldering at Stanage Plantation, Derbyshire, UK

July 29th, 2008 · 5 Comments

Location: Stanage Plantation
Date: Sunday 27 July

Sunday shone this weekend. A planned trip to the gym was quickly canned and instead we made a trip out to a new bouldering spot. After a recommendation that Stanage plantation had some good climbing (thanks Jonny!) we checked my bouldering guide book and set out.

If you’re reading this wondering whether to visit Stanage plantation: do it as soon as possible.

Park at the Pay-and-display then you’ve got a 15 min hike up through woodland paths until reaching the boulder field…

Stanage crag, taken from the plantation

…it looks more like Jurrassic Park to be honest, but get your bearings and there’s good bouldering to be had.

We worked two prominent boulders over the course of the afternoon, which both offer some great problems. We were climbing 4 and 4+, so really entry level stuff as far as gritstone bouldering goes.

Ben on Business Boulder, graded a mere 4, at Stanage plantation

 ^ Starting a 4 on Business Boulder ^

The easier problemss on the Business Boulder worked well as a warm up, and we appreciated the shade of the north-facing routes due to the blistering sun. We sent them both onsight so let’s move swiftly on.


Ben working on the Pebble, Stanage plantation 2

^ The Pebble (north face) ^

Next stop was the Pebble. With a page to itself, this house-sized rock had no less than 18 problems around it from 4+ up to 7s. The face shown above is beautiful to look at, and more like an indoor textured wall than I’ve ever seen in nature. In the above photo our trusty climber is working his way up a 4+. The harder part is getting back down - there are no sloping sides, so you’ll need to downclimb the easier problemss or wait for a helicopter :)


On my way up the Pebble, a 4+ but felt like a 5

^ Pebble (south face) ^

Our final problem was this 4+ in the middle of the Pebble’s south face. This was a lone 4+ set amongst much tougher routes, and only possible due to the flake that my feet are on in this photo. To the left and right you’ve got an almost sheer face. The crux for me was topping out, as it’s quite exposed and rocky underfoot (or ‘undermat’). Nevertheless, a little adrenalin took us all over the top.

Overall then, a great place for bouldering. We only worked on 2 boulders, and my guidebook has at least another four pages of recommendations for problems still to beat.

Lots more photos available in the Flickr set Stanage plantation bouldering.

PS I was also vindicated in my choice of the Mini, because the mat slipped in easily once the seats were lowered. WIN!

→ 5 CommentsTags: Outdoor

The more you climb, the better you’ll climb

May 18th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I have had a few days away from climbing - in fact, my last session was 3 weekends ago at Froggatt - and so I got back to the gym this week. My local gym has an auto-belay setup so I was able to do some indoor routes without company.

And I struggled! Struggled to get up some new 6a and 6b routes that had gone up recently. There are 6c routes in there that I’ve done so I know it’s not their grading system.

It’s simply my lack of recent work on indoor or outdoor walls. My forearms got pumped way too soon and all-in-all it was a bit of a wash out. My recent excursions outside may have contributed too, as it’s nowhere near as motivating to climb indoor to the sound of banging chart house compared to topping out on a beautiful outdoor route.

So - this week will be a return to climbing in all its glory, and to refocus on my journey to 7a.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Training

Free clips for Chris Sharma ‘King Lines’ climbing video?

May 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Interested in downloading high-quality clips of Chris Sharma climbing?

Today I checked out the website for Chris Sharma’s King Lines movie - and there’s a new addition!

Early versions of the DVD didn’t feature all of the extras properly, so the website features downloadable clips from the extras.

This won’t replace the need to buy the DVD, but it’s a good way to get a feel for what it’s all about.

Here’s a link to the download page - get them while they’re hot!

→ 1 CommentTags: Video

First time climbing at Froggatt Edge

May 3rd, 2008 · 3 Comments

I’ve only just got chance to post about last week’s trip to Froggatt Edge. Friends tell me that a crisp spring morning is better for climbing grit but if you ask me sunshine is the way forward. I headed to Froggatt Edge (just south of Sheffield) with a few friends for my first ascents on this local crag.

The best climb of the day was Green Gut (HS 4a, “arguably the best line on the crag”), which I seconded on-sight. It was a great sustained climb up a cracked corner. Although not easy, we all made short work of it.

1 - Kicking things off
Phil climbing Green Gut at Froggatt Edge

2 - Seriously, I’m actually enjoying this
Phil climbing Green Gut at Froggatt Edge

3 - Topping out was the hardest part - it’s quite exposed
Phil climbing Green Gut at Froggatt Edge

Have you ever climbed Green Gut? Or can you recommend another great route on Froggatt? Get in touch and use the comments box below

→ 3 CommentsTags: Outdoor

Bouldering Burbage photos

April 27th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Bouldering, Burbage South - The beginning

Finally a little sun! Yesterday I went climbing in Burbage (specifically Burbage south boulders) in the Peak District near Sheffield. I’m really glad I’ve got these boulders within 15 minutes of my home.

Although in a climbing wall / gym I’m happy on 6a/6b the techniques on grit boulders are a different world: lots of smearing on slabs rather than big handholds. So - we worked our way through a few problems at 4 and 4+.

Bring on more sunshine! (more photos below)

Bouldering - Burbage South - Phil

Bouldering - Burbage South - Hero finish

→ 1 CommentTags: Outdoor

How to…build a home gym

April 7th, 2008 · 1 Comment

When I moved into my new home, I spent a little time on reconnaissance for somewhere to train for climbing.

I initially thought a fingerboard would be the way to go. However, all the doorways were flimsy stud walls and not sturdy enough.

An alternative jumped out - Rock Rings by Metolius. If only I could find somewhere to hang them, then I’d be doing fingertip pull ups and deadhangs to my hearts content.

It took a little work but here you go - I bring you the (not very) patented Phil Sheard attic rock gym:

Rock rings suspended from the attic

Here’s another shot of the rig from above. If you want to know any more detail then leave a comment and I’ll happily explain in more detail.

Rig from above

Edit: No, you wouldn’t be the first to draw a similarity with something Hannibal Lector might have - but don’t let that stop you leaving an amusing comment anyway!

→ 1 CommentTags: Gear · Training claimed on Technorati

January 19th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I’m pleased to claim this blog officially on Technorati so that more people will read it :-)

This link to my Technorati Profile is all it takes.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Blogging business

A rock climbing training blog - why?

January 13th, 2008 · 2 Comments

If you are hoping to improve your ability or learn more about training techniques and tools, then this blog will give you some of the answers - because that’s what I’m going to do too!

I’ve been climbing for about three years and have developed enough basic ability to get me up 6a routes. I’ve set myself a target of improving the level I climb at but I quickly hit a glass ceiling of ability: I tried to get up routes graded 6B and don’t have the extra strength or technique (or more likely both) to reach the top. The only way to improve seemed to be to fail on the routes I wanted to climb. This quickly got boring for me so I set about some research.

I found lots of advice online, with phrases like ‘contact strength’ and ‘body tension’. These are new concepts that I’m going to have to learn about.

One important lesson came quickly: If I want to be a better climber then training can help.

This blog will chart my journey from Joe Average 6a to my target of 7a onsight - and beyond!

→ 2 CommentsTags: About