Check out what's in the January issue of Climb Magazine. You can subscribe online at www.climbmagazine.com or pick up a copy at your newsagents or at your local climbing shop.
- Churnet: Andi Turner's Stomping Ground
- Es Tresidder's Big Wall New Route in Greenland
- Techniques: New Series: Training For Specific Crags - Sella, Spain
- Improve Your Winter Climbing with Ian Parnell and Neil Gresham
- Gear - Mountain Tents
- Plus: Beginners Corner, Bouldering, Steve McClure and much more
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McClure in Mallorca
Things change as you get older. When I first started sport climbing life was simple. For a start there were only three places to visit in Spain as told by the First Testament of the Bible according to Rockfax. Coast Blanca, El Chorro and Mallorca. All venues promised many things but back then all that really counted was great climbing. I went and the climbing was great. I didn't go again for 14 years but by then the list of priorities had changed with climbing apparently having slipped to the bottom of the list. I used to be happy with sleeping in the dirt, free camping, zero facilities, five people crammed into a hired Ford Fiesta and a diet of pasta. But now I scanned the travel book (not the climbing guide book!) for beaches, campsites with a pool, and child friendly restaurants! There is a classic cliche 'having kids changes your priorities', and for sure it does, at least when booking that family holiday to earn more brownie points for another scruff-bag climbing trip with the lads the following month.
Some years ago the thought of having a kid filled me with horror. For a start, how was I supposed to go to Spain four times a year? And what about the lack of sleep and guaranteed permanent mess? But anyway, one arrived, and they are hard work, harder than say, redpointing Overshadow at F9a+, but infinitely more rewarding, which is saying something for me since that was probably the highlight of my climbing life!
The balance of time is the major problem, as kids are time hoovers, with every single second you thought you had spare utterly absorbed. So training is tough, as are those weekends away to Llanberis. But on the flip side at least you get to do something different. Climbing trips can be a little too focused, spending all day in a dark, north-facing cave from dawn till dusk, then back to wherever you're dossing with the same mates that you were out with back home just last week.
Andi Turner - Churnet Stomping Grounds
In November 1999 I had heroes to worship, Hard Grit on constant repeat and a fingery angle-ground brick wall to train on. It's cold, the sky is bright blue and it's five past nine in the morning as I sprint, head spinning up the spiral staircase to the fifth floor of Staffordshire University's Mellor Building.
I creep into the back of the laboratory to a distinctly unamused look from my lecturer and smirks from friends. I take off my record bag and try to unpeel its Velcro fastenings silently, no chance, so I go for the elastoplast method and get it over and done with, only hiding the disruption with the widest grin I can manage. I then get down to the important business of staring out of the window over the sprawling terraces and out to the distant hills.
I'm living in a new place, I've got £35 a week and I'm surrounded by like-minded people. But, perhaps most importantly, I've got a guidebook. A guide with only a handful of ticks within its pages; ticks which are new, no older than the dates in the corners of my lecture notes. The world is my oyster, and my oyster is Stoke-on-Trent. At 11, we'll finish lectures and I'll go to the Churnet Valley for the first time.
I'd never even been to the Potteries before, but I suppose I'd also never immersed myself fully in the lifestyle of climbing either. My yellow-bellied book had become my new required reading and thumbing its pages showed that only half the delights on offer were on the familiar Roaches crags and perhaps the real beauty of the county actually lay within its forgotten pages.
I'd sampled some and found a mixed bunch. Mow (pronounced like how - don't ever get this wrong in the company of a Stokie) Cop was a disappointment. The amazing looking 'Old Man' was fenced off and the vigilant guardsman lived nearby, stories of taxi drivers being garrotted in the car park also did nothing to inspire us to even visit the local pub. Heighley Castle hit the spot and whetted a previously untapped enthusiasm for sandstone. The frontpiece photograph of my trusty little guide showed local legend Gary Gibson clinging to the Heighley traverse with his Valiant scarf droopily emphasising his movement.
This one photograph perhaps captured the area more than any other, a bonified Potteries climber on a mysterious and hard found crag, the very essence of what the area has to offer. His position is relaxed yet strangely contorted, resting almost on a tightly tucked-in leg. It inspired me to go out and delve into these places and so the transformation was complete, I'd now become an obsessive, hell bent on understanding the area as an entity as opposed to just a set of unassimilated crags.
Gear - Tents
This month I'm looking at mountain tents, those tents that are designed to withstand the battering winds of Everest's South Col or even Ogwyn on an August Bank Holiday Monday. They are light enough to be carried to whereever you are going and strong enough to take a pounding.
Tent design has come a long way during the history of mountaineering. Whymper, of Matterhorn first ascent fame, had a go at it Ð his single person tent weighed 10kgs and packed down to a compact roll two metres long and had to be carried by a Swiss Guide. (A good tip is not to ask a contemporary Swiss Guide to carry your tent for you. No need to cause any unpleasantness.)
Charles Francis Meade (1881-1975) and his team, took Whymper's evolving design ideas further when in 1913 he camped on the col between Kamet and Abi Gamin in the Indian Himalaya at 7,138m on his third expedition to the mountain trying to make an ascent. This was the highest anyone had camped and remained the record until the first Everest Expeditions. The achievement was at least partly due to the brilliant tent design. Right up to the late 1960s, tent designs were based on the same concept. If you are interested in these things, he wrote a couple of now rare books, Approach to the Hills (1940) and High Mountains (1954) about his adventures.
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