/ DIGITAL FEATURE: Leo Houlding: The Man in the Mirror

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UKC Articles - on 22 Nov 2016
Mirror Wall, 4 kbIn July 2015, Leo Houlding led a five-strong team to make the first ascent of Reflections, (E6 6b, A3+, 1250m) on the North West face of the Mirror Wall in Greenland, spending twelve nights on the wall. Although cracking the Mirror was unlikely to cause a superstitious seven years of bad luck, it proved to be a life-affirming trip for Leo in many respects.

A film of the team's ascent - Mirror Wall - is now available online for free. Our UKC Digital Feature explores the ascent through interview, photographs, an interactive topo and the film itself, presented by Berghaus and Coldhouse Collective.



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SenzuBean - on 22 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Leo "Cpt Faff" Houlding 35, UK, Lakes, Experienced wall climber with sickening amount of trips to far away places. Hundreds of nights on walls and high Lord of Faffganistan.

Hahaha!! :D
Ed Booth - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

It would be really cool to see a digital feature about Leo's early/middle trad years in North Wales and his yosemite stuff the El Nino ascent (which is still incredible!)

Ed
rtinma on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks for providing all this excellent stuff for free. Much appreciated.
Luke90 on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Any chance of a toggle to read these "digital feature" articles in a more standard format?
Robert Durran - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Luke90:

> Any chance of a toggle to read these "digital feature" articles in a more standard format?

Yes Please! I find them all but unreadable in this format - they do my head in.
olddirtydoggy - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Amazing watch and a great read. Thanks very much.
elliot.baker - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Loved it thanks! Looked like they had good weather for it! In response to whether they come in a different format or not I like to think of these as coffee table books for the internet!
beh on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Luke90:

> Any chance of a toggle to read these "digital feature" articles in a more standard format?

Ditto, please.
jon on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes Please! I find them all but unreadable in this format - they do my head in.

Me too.
1poundSOCKS - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Really good feature. Not really that hard to read the big, clear text, look at some nice pictures and click to move onto the next page.
Robert Durran - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Really good feature. Not really that hard to read the big, clear text, look at some nice pictures and click to move onto the next page.

Some of us struggle with this IT bollocks.
1poundSOCKS - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Some of us struggle with this IT bollocks.

It must have been the clicking bit?
Si dH - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Buy a magazine then.

Ffs there's a lot of moaning about.

I thought it was good.
Robert Durran - on 23 Nov 2016
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> It must have been the clicking bit?

Yes, just when you've got used to scrolling............. these computer bastards always have to keep changing things.
jon on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Si dH:

> Buy a magazine then.

> Ffs there's a lot of moaning about.

> I thought it was good.

Well it's great that you thought it was good. But clearly not everyone did. If it was possible to have it both in this digital format and a more standard format - and to be able to choose how you view it, would that upset you?
Robert Durran - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to elliot.baker:

> I like to think of these as coffee table books for the internet!

Coffee table books work well on coffee tables. Scrolling articles work well on screens.


Thanks for the feedback. For those who prefer the traditional format, what it is about these Digital features that you don't like?

Is it because you have to click or press arrow keys in order to keep reading?

Is it that is doesn't display properly? (If so browser/tablet details would be useful)

Alan
Mike Highbury - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> For those who prefer the traditional format, what it is about these Digital features that you don't like?

Change, innit. That and they look too much like a magazine and not a poorly laid out web page like they ought to.
Gordon Stainforth - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

It displays absolutely beautifully on my Mac, and makes a very refreshing change from hours of scrolling. It gives a different feel more of a work of art, like a well-designed book rather than a dull newspaper column. Longer-lasting: something to return to rather than read just once.
jon on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

As far as I'm aware Alan, it displays properly but there again I have nothing to compare it to. Is it possible to return to, say page 5 from page 21 without clicking back through every page? I haven't found a way or have I missed something or does this mean it's not displaying properly? In addition I don't really like the L > R rather than top to bottom. I think we've got accustomed to reading top to bottom and this format jarrs somewhat. Is it possible to have both formats or would this be too much work for you?
jon on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> and makes a very refreshing change from hours of scrolling.

HOURS of scrolling, Gordon? Really?
gman2012 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I'm reading it on a 16:9 desktop monitor and there's no text on some pages, then maybe a paragraph or two, then a title page, then a photo, then a paragraph etc. I look up and see there's going to be 39 pages of this to get through, it's a format that might work on phones, but why not have a responsive design that shows more text on larger screens? Or a single page view? To be honest, it also reminds me less of a coffee table book and more of a clickbait site that earns ad revenue from page views.
pasbury on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

The best one of these articles yet.
Robert Durran - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

As far as I'm aware it's working fine.

These features often seem to have very little text on each page and this, along with the cumbersomeness of clicking rather than scrolling to navigate around them, makes them clumsy and, for me, very irritating.

I generally leave these to read later, say at the weekend (as with this one), but then usually fail to do so because other things like climbing occupy me.
ChrisBrooke - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I give the format a big thumbs up. It makes a nice change to have articles presented in this way, and feels 'special.' Keep it up.
In reply to jon:

> As far as I'm aware Alan, it displays properly but there again I have nothing to compare it to. Is it possible to return to, say page 5 from page 21 without clicking back through every page?

This is a good point and something we can easily add.

> Is it possible to have both formats or would this be too much work for you?

Unfortunately this would be a right faff and also not something we want to do really since the general feedback appears to be significantly in favour. For example, these features get significantly more views than other articles. However if there are things we can do to make them appeal to more people then we will try.

Alan

In reply to gman2012:

> I'm reading it on a 16:9 desktop monitor and there's no text on some pages, then maybe a paragraph or two, then a title page, then a photo, then a paragraph etc.

We will look at that. Sounds like a bug since when I make the view wide and narrow top to bottom, it displays fine.

> To be honest, it also reminds me less of a coffee table book and more of a clickbait site that earns ad revenue from page views.

This isn't an ad revenue scheme I am aware of. It is the adverts (and clicking on them) that generate revenue, not the pages themselves and just displaying more pages doesn't increase anyone's revenue unless you cover them with adverts. In actual fact more pages means more bandwidth and hence is an expense.

UKC Digital Features have few clickable adverts in them apart from occasional single pages and there are none in this one.

Alan
In reply to Robert Durran:

> These features often seem to have very little text on each page and this, along with the cumbersomeness of clicking rather than scrolling to navigate around them, makes them clumsy and, for me, very irritating.

Are you aware that you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to get to the next page?

Alan
Martin McKenna - UKC - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to gman2012:

> I'm reading it on a 16:9 desktop monitor and there's no text on some pages, then maybe a paragraph or two, then a title page, then a photo, then a paragraph etc.

What screen resolution are you running on and what browser.

I've not heard of this issue before. Try resizing the browser window and see if that fixes anything.
gman2012 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Unfortunately this would be a right faff and also not something we want to do really since the general feedback appears to be significantly in favour.

Really? It would be straightforward to produce a text only option, it would be responsive, it would be accessible and it would be something that users have requested. Not a great idea to ask for feedback if you have no intention of implementing any changes IMHO.
gman2012 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Martin McKenna - UKC:

I'm not going through all 39 pages, but to give an example: page 3 is a white background with 3 sentences on it. Page 9 is a white background with a single short paragraph.
Robert Durran - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Are you aware that you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to get to the next page?

No. I'll try it, but I think it would make only a marginal difference.

Robert Durran - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
> Unfortunately this would be a right faff and also not something we want to do really since the general feedback appears to be significantly in favour. For example, these features get significantly more views than other articles.

A "view" is not the same as someone actually reading the article. I click ("view") these article a lot but more often than not either immediately or after a couple of pages think "Sod this, life is just too short".
Post edited at 11:57
WVRox - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

The digital feature thing is fine for me.......

But I saw the film on Friday night at Kendal, and thought it modest at best. The worst feature of it was all this 'reflective' stuff! Just because it's called Mirror Wall...........I'm really not that interested in Holding's thoughts about being a dad, nor how one guy on the trip was influenced by the death of his father. These things detracted from the film for me. I get the reflective thing, if you've had an absolute epic, a la Joe Simpson or Gordon Stainforth (Fiva), but these guys just went to climb a big wall then kind of got all heavy! If you want to go to kiddies parties, stay at home!

Mr. K - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to WVRox:

My thoughts on the film were among the same lines. All the reflective stuff felt forced, detracted from the cool climbing and gave it the feel of an X-Factor episode.
henwardian - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Mr. K:

I'm not sure what audience this is for. I guess if it was planned to be for a mainstream audience then the reflective stuff to big it up as being serious and so on makes sense. But if it was designed as a film for climbers then I would agree that it has far too much non-climbing content. There is actually a really minimal amount of footage of climbing taking place which I thought was a shame, because the line looked fantastic and the climbing that was shown looked quality. I completely get that filming in that place would be tricky but if the aim is to put together a professional look documentary that is a full 40 minutes long rather than just a 5 minute short, I think there should have been more quality footage of the actual climbing (even if it is of the second). You do have 3 spare guys at any one time and 30 days of time to get this footage after all.

Can't remark on the article I'm afraid, didn't have the time to read it [red face].

What is the Greenland granite actually like to climb on? I've always got spanked by granite when it is the sort of glacier polished friction job with a single big feature and no holds for hands or feet but the stuff in the video rather looks as though all the frost shattering has given it a lot more edges and genuine holds. Is that true or just an illusion?
bensilvestre - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to WVRox:

"I get the reflective thing, if you've had an absolute epic, a la Joe Simpson or Gordon Stainforth (Fiva), but these guys just went to climb a big wall then kind of got all heavy!"

You don't find it admirable that someone with young children questions why they put their life on the line? Would you rather they go all gung ho into the mountains with no regard for what might happen if they take the wrong risks? Climbing, especially of this sort, IS risk assesment to a very large degree, and that he shows awareness of the cost of his potential error suggests that his balance is equally weighed. Frankly, I found the old style 'lads on tour' leo houlding movies a bit boring. Its refreshing to see the human in him.

Luke90 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
In the spirit of constructive criticism, because I genuinely appreciate a bit of experimentation, here's what I don't like about the new format...

It's basically long-form writing broken up into little chunks. For some sections where that's natural, like the team member profiles, I don't find that too jarring. The sections are natural so the flow of reading isn't broken by the transitions. For most of what I've bothered to read in most of the digital features, the breaks seem fairly random and this was my number one issue. If I'm sitting in front of a high-res 24" monitor, why on Earth would I want to click every few short paragraphs and find my place again? To me, it doesn't feel conducive to reading the kind of essays you're using it for.

People are comparing them to magazine articles, which I can understand, but no magazine breaks an essay up so much that you only see a few sentences per page.

I have ridiculously slow internet. On a bad day, a normal article would load the text and then gradually load the images while I read. These digital features sometimes take a long time to load at all and show zero text while they're loading. I presume it's trying to load all the pictures at the start so that it clicks through smoothly as you read.

If you're interested in something particular, but don't want to read every word, you can skim through a normal article. That's impossible with these features. Similarly, as others have already said, if you want to flick back to an earlier detail later in the article, the format makes it very awkward. Even if you add a box to jump to a particular page, it will still be pretty awkward to guess which page number to jump to. Say I get halfway through this article, think I recognise a bit of rock, and wonder whether this is the same location as I saw on YouTube the other day. I'd like to go back and check but which of the 40 pages was that map on? No bloody idea.

It feels a little less unnatural on my mobile actually, but then there are various little glitches which spoil the sleek, modern look you seem to be targeting. The swipe navigation, seemingly randomly, stops working every few pages. Page numbers sometimes cover the bottom of the text and two of the pages in the half of the article I've got through so far were completely blank. For the record, that was 17 and 21. Presumably 17 is because of the two pictures side by side which it didn't know how to fit on a small screen. I thought to start with that 21 was blank on my computer as well but when I went back to confirm, it eventually loaded, though there was no indication that anything was waiting to load when I first visited. (Mobile issues described were with both Chrome and Firefox on Android 6. In fact, most of the pages are blank in Firefox now because clicking through quickly to find the relevant pages seems to have really confused it.)

I might be oversimplifying things but I can't see any good, fundamental reason why you couldn't just have separate style sheets and JavaScript to present these articles in a conventional format for those that prefer it.

Failing that, could you perhaps think more carefully about which articles you publish in this form? I can see a place for it when the main content is photos with brief captions but not for illustrated essays.

Please be wary about assuming that lots of pageviews indicate that people love the format. I've clicked on every digital feature that I've seen because you're using them for some of your most interesting subjects, but I haven't finished reading a single one and I'll start ignoring them altogether if they don't become less aggravating to read.

As I said, I hope this isn't too negative, I really appreciate the content you're putting out and I'd be gutted if it remained so difficult to read.
Post edited at 17:48
shouldbebetter - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

"It's my daughter's second birthday today, but I'm at 71 degrees north."

I have a young son (nearly 2 himself) - I cannot imagine leaving for such an extended period without seeing him. I found him saying that line slightly heartbreaking.
Lion Bakes on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

On an iPad you can just swipe to get to next page and that works great. The clicking is a bit cumbersome on a non touchscreen device,

In reply to Luke90:

Hi Luke

Thanks for that detailed and useful feedback.

We are adding a system to jump between pages which should make navigation a bit easier. Martin has been working on it this afternoon.

I don't experience any of the problems you mention and actually really enjoy the process of being able to navigate slowly through bite-sized chunks and absorb photos (and videos in some DFeatures). The comparison with magazine articles is ok, but a better one is exhibits in a display. There you tend to take in captions and the visual imagery in a slower and more considered manner. (I take the point that pages with a single paragraph of text is not an exhibit so this could be something we try and avoid).

A few people have mentioned clicking between views but to me it is a better process to click (or use the arrow keys) to move between clear constrained views, than to use a click or scroll wheel which will often end up splitting paragraphs and photos.

At the moment we create the DFeatures in a unique system which is why they can't run them separately. We could lay them out in a normal article but it isn't set up for that and would be extra work.

I am not just assuming that views means popular, although we have stats that show these DFeatures are very, very popular, and we have feedback to support this. I am sure some of them don't appeal but then that is bound to be the case.

I suspect that your slow internet connection might be a problem. You say things like it is impossible to skim through them like a normal article. I would say exactly the opposite. It is incredibly easy to skim through them and choose which bits your read. This might not be the case if your internet connection is taking ages to load though so I can appreciate that.

I'd be interested in more detailed reports about the technical problems you describe since those are probably things we can work on.

Thanks again.

Alan
Michael Gordon - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to henwardian:

> There is actually a really minimal amount of footage of climbing taking place which I thought was a shame, because the line looked fantastic and the climbing that was shown looked quality.
>

That does sound like a pity (I haven't seen the film yet).
WVRox - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to bensilvestre:

I agree that some (not all) of the earlier Holding films were a bit hung ho.....lads on tour stuff, but this is just as poor in a different t kind of way. All of us who climb take risks; either consciously or sub-consciously we assess those risks. If it's too great, don't do it! I was just hoping to see a great climbing film about climbing a fantastic looking line in a country I'm never likely to get to. I didn't, and thats why I was disappointed!
beh on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Luke90:
Pretty much agree with everything there. I'm surprised how some people have reacted to what was merely a polite request.

> It's basically long-form writing broken up into little chunks.

Aye, I love long-form articles, breaking it up into small chunks you have to click through just seems unnecessary.

> I might be oversimplifying things but I can't see any good, fundamental reason why you couldn't just have separate style sheets and JavaScript to present these articles in a conventional format for those that prefer it.

Also how I see it, is style (css) not separate from content? Looking at the page source all the text is there so it seems disingenuous to suggest it would be a major faff to achieve this.

> As I said, I hope this isn't too negative, I really appreciate the content you're putting out and I'd be gutted if it remained so difficult to read.

Indeed, in fact one of the reasons UKC is great as a site and forums is that the design does exactly what it needs to do and nothing more. Sites with worthwhile content don't need to be flashy.
jon on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to bensilvestre:

> You don't find it admirable that someone with young children questions why they put their life on the line?

Frankly no. If they want to do that then fine, I couldn't give a toss. But banging on about it just detracts from what could have been an OK film.
WVRox - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to jon:

Precisely!
gman2012 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to beh:

> Also how I see it, is style (css) not separate from content? Looking at the page source all the text is there so it seems disingenuous to suggest it would be a major faff to achieve this.

It's possible that Berghaus wouldn't sign off on any changes, their logo appears prominently throughout the coffee table version.
sg - on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to beh:

I have no real complaints about the digital features and can well see why they are supposed to be a counterpoint to a conventional 'Article'. My only concern is I'm never quite sure whether I should scroll or click next, and then I keep thinking I've maybe skipped a section because I did the wrong thing or both at the same time, if that makes sense. Not sure what the solution is, although I'm sure I've seen similar BBC things that just involve scrolling.
Luke90 on 24 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Thanks for taking the time to listen, I appreciate it.

I suspect you're right about my connection being part of the problem, but whilst I describe it as slow, it's still around 3mbps so not desperately unusual. If it's loading slowly for me, I'm far from the only one.

Once I got going, I whined about quite a lot of smaller details of the digital features but for me I think the readability really comes down to how much you break up the text. The more I consider it, the less I think I care about clicking sideways versus scrolling down. What I think would make them less frustrating for me would be if the pure text (ie. not text that's specifically associated with an image) could be less disjointed, especially on larger screens.

After leaving some of the pages up for quite a long time on my phone, some extra bits did load. It's very hard to tell which issues are due to loading and which are more fundamental because there's no indication when loading is occurring beyond the initial load of the whole article ie. no classic loading spinner or similar. I think I added reasonable amounts of detail of browsers etc. in my edit to the original post but I'm happy to assist with further details or screenshots if you'd like.
ads.ukclimbing.com
James Oswald - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:
I haven't had time to watch the film yet but enjoyed the article - I thought his reflections on risk were interesting.

I liked the layout generally - short slides and not too much information on each page. I thought it was easy to navigate between them using the right and left arrow keys and if you want to go from slide 20 to slide 4 you can just change the suffix of the address from #20 to #4, or hold down the left key.
jon on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to James Oswald:

> I thought it was easy to navigate between them using the right and left arrow keys and if you want to go from slide 20 to slide 4 you can just change the suffix of the address from #20 to #4, or hold down the left key.

Well I just tried that and failed - missing something, no doubt - but what I did notice was that when I was looking at say page 5, the suffix was #4.
In reply to Luke90:

Hi Luke

Martin is looking into the technical problems you mentioned and thinks he has found something - so thanks for that. We are also going to add an individual page loading indicator so that you can see if there is incoming data. As mentioned before, the general point about pages with just small amounts of text has been noted, and we are adding a jump to page system.

Alan
In reply to jon:

> Well I just tried that and failed - missing something, no doubt - but what I did notice was that when I was looking at say page 5, the suffix was #4.

Page 1 is actually page #0 hence they are all one out, however we don't really want people to have to use this method to navigate since it is a bit of a faff.

Alan

jon on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

If you provide a sort of index at the side of the page so you can go straight to the page you want it would be a step in the right direction. But as someone said above, how would you know which page you actually want to access (to check back to something you'd seen earlier, for instance).
TXG - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I felt "The Man in the Mirror" was the second best Big Walling film I'd seen recently with "Mirror" in the title.

This was the best

http://www.vimeo.com/157512667
Fraser on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Thanks for the feedback. For those who prefer the traditional format, what it is about these Digital features that you don't like?

It doesn't even open on my work PC! (high spec, running Win7 Enterprise SP1, and Chrome 58.0.2840.99 m)
Martin McKenna - UKC - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Fraser:

Sorry about that! Somehow some work we'd been doing on the development site managed to work it's way over to the live site causing the digi features to break for a bit. All should be sorted now. If you're still having issues try pressing ctrl + f5 to clear your cache.
Fraser on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Martin McKenna - UKC:

Sorted now, cheers Martin.
Mick Ward - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to Si dH:

> Ffs there's a lot of moaning about.

> I thought it was good.

Me too. I saw the film a couple of days ago and the digital feature (if this is the correct term) tonight. Enjoyed both and can see how they complement each other - particularly if the digital feature is viewed first, then the film. Trust me to do it in the wrong order!

Could certainly relate to this: 'I tell her she keeps me safe when Im away as I have to come back because I love her so much...'

Mick


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