Rumble in the Jungle

Thor’s Cave

After a couple of weeks break to train I got back to the peak with Stu. We started on Monday at the Cornice fresh and keen for some 8′s. I got back on Unleashing F8a aka Mr Glass which felt surprisingly good. I was feeling confident after getting a big link through the crux – even though I dropped the last move. First redpoint I felt good but hit the wall on the crux. Second go felt much better and I finished it off. In the end it felt steady which I was really happy with, hard vertical climbing has never been my strong point. Next I got on Jug Jockey 7c+ and was keen for the onsight. All the holds looked chalked and I had an idea how to do the crux. Sadly I was shutdown by the third bolt when I got to the undercut and discovered it was a crimp. It took a few goes to workout this stretchy move. Once it was all worked out I got it first redpoint at a push.

Tuesday was WCJ Cornice day and I was back on Rumble. I managed to find a hand match on the last jug where I pumped off before. This helped lots on redpoint, but i still found myself pumping off on the lip, then on the final break. I was almost tempted to take the tick but in my heart I would know. Redpoint number three proved successful and I pushed through fresh to clip the belay. A good fight and such a good route!

On Wednesday we rested taking a tour down to Thors Cave. I was too keen and had to get on Thorman’s Moth F8a. This proved really difficult to work out. The first section was more of a traverse to a big pocket. From there a 4m roof section needed to be negotiated. I tried so many different orientations with feet blocking hands in the holes. In the end I opted to keep them out on the wall. I finally worked out a link. Going for the last move my back and shoulders let out a series of worrying cracks in a crucifix position. No immediate damage seemed to be done. I had a couple of redpoints but after taking two hours to work the moves alone I was broken. Not much of a rest day!

On Thursday morning I woke up with a sore shoulder so decided to rest. By evening I was itching again and went up Call of Nature 8a at the Tor. This was brilliant and had some great if artifical moves higher up. The crux was a massive spring for me I could only just stick. The next morning I got redpointing and finally stuck the spring 3rd redpoint. I cruised to the top just before the rain started. To finish off we tried Chimes 8a which I’d been on years ago. This time I worked out a sequence. I had a couple of redpoints but needed much more power for the crimp move on the lip. Its the next project for me to finish at the Tor for sure.

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Beetle Back

I had a chance to get up to High Crag in Glen Nevis to do some bouldering again for a few hours. Its been over ten years since I had a go at the classic traverse Beetle Back Font 7c. It was late by the time I thrashed my way up after missing the path, going more down than up and climbing up a Severe with the mat on my back. The wall was even more immaculate than I remembered and well worth the effort. I got stuck in to working out Bettle Back again. The middle section was by far the crux crossing through off a bad pinch before dropping down. This weighted in at Font 7b or harder in itself. This seemed to take hours to find a good sequence on. I managed a few links but failed to link the whole crux together. The midges came in making life harder overheating under a jumper and midge hood.

The next morning I stomped up again but wasn’t confident. Muscles and skin were sore from all the same abuse points on the holds. I found a better way of doing the cross through with a high foot and managed to get a good link. Still not quite overlapping halves though. I tried a skin friendlier traverse on the left which was a fair challenge in itself but very very good, maybe font 7a+?. See video. Hopefully I’ll get another couple of sessions soon to finish it off.

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Getting Connected

I got back to Yorkshire with Nick after a five week break. Sadly the late summer rain had taken out most of the climbing. We persisted though and managed to get on the drier parts of the Malham catwalk. It was a good opportunity for me to get Connect 4 8a finished off a route I’d tried on and off. My biggest mistake was not giving it respect – often rolling up at the end of a trip to try it. This time I was fresh but it wasn’t enough. After 3 tries I was knackered and admitted defeat for the day. I felt pretty tired just getting to the crux, the sign of a bad day I thought. On Sunday I felt better and changed my clipping position on the crux. This got me passed the crux before I fizzed out. Next try I decided to run it out to the belay. Not quite convinced I paniced, managed to flick my left arm enough to drop the clip in and finished it. Such a tricky number at 8a! I finished off the day doing Personal Services 7b and trying Magnetic Fields 8b again. The latter proved a bit much for my elbow. Its still an important project for me having spent 15 years trying it. A real love hate relationship. Love of the short steep burley climbing. But hate of the horrible start and the reachy moves.
On Monday I tried Mighty Fine Ass 7c+ which was cool but the crux hold was still seeping. I tried Thriller 7c+ again but was still stumped finding a sequence. I later got some replies to my post on UKB about this so have some more ideas for next time.

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Wye Valley Climbs App

I’ve been meaning to write a climbing app for a while for Android. I’ve never gotten around to it till now as I don’t see it as a profitable market. Also, its a fairly large scale and complex area. Since I required a MapView demo for my portfolio and had a job interview coming up it seemed like a good enough excuse to write something at last.

I choose the Wye Valley for my demo as I really like it down there and guess alot of people in Sheffield do to. Its a fairly basic app that lists most (but not all) of the climbing routes with descriptions. Crags can be navigated to via a map view. I only had a few days so its far from complete. Fairly major omissions I guess are crag descriptions, topos, pics, video and user feedback. Do stick a comment if you’d like to see other features?

If you’d like to try it please email me:, if theres any interest I might consider sticking it on one of the app stores.

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Summer Returns

After a weeks turn around I headed back to the peak with Stu. Driving down on the sunday night seemed to sort out my headache problems of late and free up more daylight. The forecast wasn’t brilliant for hard stuff at 22 deg with stinking humidiy. Saying that we foolishy opted to start on the hard routes at Raven Tor. I tried Revelations and made some progress but couldn’t do the crucial move. So it was on to the WCJ Cornice to try Rumble in the Jungle 8a+. I’d been waiting to try this for a while so was happy to find the moves were all ok. No stopper moves, just burly swings and jumps between jugs. After working this I gave it a quick redpoint and was surprised to get through the first crux but dropped the next section. Deciding to wait till the next day for Rumble I jumped on the classic Braciation Dance 7b+. This was pretty good but still had the WCJ cornice minging slabby start and a confusing finish.

On Tuesday I was feeling broken after such a long first day and everything seemed to go wrong. The Nasty Man 7c needs no introduction – I couldn’t get off the ground! Maybe a broken hold? I then managed to snap the first hold off an 8b. Time to call it quits. Wednesday at Two Tier turned out better. After a quick dog I rattled off Why Me 7c which was pretty tough in the heat. Next I checked out The Sea is a Brown Paper Bag 7b+, complicated name and route… With the sun coming around I fired up it and made every single mistake along the way. I hung in there to finish it just! Too much of a battle for 7b+ though.

Thursday was project day so I threw myself at Rumble and got progressively higher. Third try I took a swing at the jump and held it! However, I didn’t plan on what to do next and 12 seconds on one hand was too much. Denied two moves from the belay. Sacking it till next time Friday was milage day. We headed back to Two Tier and did a few 7′s before heading home. Easy mileage that included a try at the classic Minos 7c+. There was a clue in the name again. I couldn’t figure out the last crux slab, the holds were too small and slippery! The classic Open Gate lived up to the hype, pretty good for a 7a+ anyway.

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Spider Men

The splendid Plum Buttress, Cheedale


I had a trip planned to the peak with Michael but it seemed to take a few months to find dates when we were both free. Both in need of something motivating to try I suggested The Spider F8a, a 30m jaunt through Plum Buttress, one of the steepest most impressive bits of rock in the peak! Various attempts have been made at climbing it over the years, with each generation leaving its mark. Back in the Sixtes it was Graham West and Brian Roberts who first pushed through the huge roof in an aided style. An inscription in the rock up there in space bears testament to that ascent. However styles changed and freeing the old limestone aid routes became the main challenge through the Eighties. In 1987 Andy Pollitt managed pick a line zig-zagging through the steepest section of Plumb Buttress called the Spider at E6 6b. However, this relied on a few bolts and one point of aid on the second roof. It wasn’t until 2004 that Kristian Klemmow rebolted and freed the route in its entirety at F8a.


Exposed sport climbing on The Spider (Chris Fox)


Off we headed on our little bolted adventure getting down for 4pm on the Wednesday and set to work. Since I’d done the driving it was Mike’s lead. We were a bit worried to discover the first bolt was 15m up! A rusty peg and a clip stick did the trick but didn’t help the nerves. He managed most of the moves and we were pretty shocked to find out how bouldery the route was. The first roof felt about Font 7a+ on slopers and the top section had another few stings. There was also the logistical problem of resetting a 50m rope on a 30m rope each try.

I managed a quick try but seemed to be suffering from some weird van driving bug of late. Hanging in space with a headache and nausea wasn’t much fun – but then I hadn’t driven 200 miles to sit and watch either. Thursday gave us a fresh start and I felt well enough to manage some light inversion 30m up. We both managed to refine a sequence but got beaten by the afternoon sun. Friday brought the first redpoints and overlapping links. Saturday provided some brilliant summer conditions with a brisk north westerly blowing down the dale. Perfect for battling slopers! First redpoints sent us into space once more. By then I’d had enough, something with our sequence wasn’t quite right. The only remaining hold was a horrible sloper to paddle upwards on. Somehow using it seemed to work, but from the ground? Mike had the chance to try next redpoint. Once up there he slapped for it and caught it only to hesitated. Expecting to take in, I was surprised when he paddled on to the jugs only to power out a move short of the rest. I think he couldn’t quite believe it himself either.

Safe in the knowledge that sequence worked off I went on redpoint. Traversing out into space again a strong gust of wind spooked me out, so I hung in there for a few more seconds for it to pass. I launched out over the roof this time hitting the jug and paddling on to the rest. After a good 15min of visualisation of the final (don’t blow) moves I was off again hauling like the terminator on to the chain. Mike waited till Sunday and after a few unlucky slaps at the crux pulled through fourth try of the day (fifth day on!) to complete the route too.


Gaz Parry on The Spider f8a, Spring 08. from Joe Bream on Vimeo.


In between tries on the Spider we got down to the Embankment to do Sturgeon in The Cupboard and Stone the Loach at F7c which were really good. On the Saturday night we also had a try on Unleashing the Wild Physique F8a (aka Mr Glass). This proved a real technical nightmare but we managed some links in the end. I had a redpoint but didn’t quite have enough gas left to get to the crux. A HARD 8a for sure. Before leaving I also tried a couple of the F7b+’s on the Max Wall. Maxwell House provided a neat boulder problem. Rough Justice wasn’t so great and I couldn’t find any decent holds to connect and had to sack it for the day.


The popular Max Wall in Cheedale.

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Elbow Tendinosis

My elbow hasn’t really improved over the last six weeks, although I have been able to climb on it moderately on routes to F8a+ and do a little training every week or so. I did have grand plans for the summer but yet again these are on the backburner – maybe untill next year! The biggest change I’ve noticed is a big hit to my power – the evil three PE, FB and CB have been out for the past couple of months! Font 7b+ seems to be as far as I can push myself at the minute and that takes an hour and some pain (probably bad!). Its summer so I guess its no loss to be ticking routes and keeping of those projects for now! :)

Really I’ve no one to blame but myself for this, throwing myself at circuits and hard routes at the crag has its price. The progress/injury line has always been kinda blurry. I’ve dabbled on the recovery excercises but need to be alot stricter to shake this injury before autumn. 3-4 months seems a conservative recovery estimate.

I found another good link into the technicalities of the injury itself here.
And an excerpt from here.

7. Appropriate strengthening. Eccentric strengthening programs have a long track record of clinical effectiveness (22,29,30), and recent research adds further scientific support (31,32). It is likely that specific eccentric training drills result in tendon strengthening by stimulating mechanoreceptors in tenocytes to produce collagen, and thus help reverse the tendinosis cycle (figure 4: not shown) (33). Collagen production is probably the key cellular phenomenon that determines recovery from tendinosis. Animal experiments have revealed that loading the tendon improves collagen alignment and stimulates collagen cross-linkage formation, both of which improve tensile strength (34). Therefore, the clinical success of tendon strengthening programs has a demonstrable biological basis that is supported by clinical (32) and laboratory evidence (35).

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Urgent Action!

Last year I started working the Yorkshire classic Urgent Action, one of the big three they say of classic 8a+’s on Kilnsey, Malham and Goredale. Having watched people on it for so long I was bount to be disappointed when I got on it last year and found some moves to be horribly reachy and kinda hard. It took me a few sessions to get fit on it but I finally got a hand of the pace thrashing out fairly hard boulder problems and trying to rest before the next. I discovered I could get fairly pumped and nearly drop the final moves into the overlap and still get enough back for a try at the crux. SO that I did, again and again and again! Just as things were looking good the crucial guppy high up snapped off throwing me. Then there was the continued seepage, split fingers, on and on. I got as high as 14 redpoints before Autumn called close of play.

With harder projects canned in 2011 I was back on it again. I was surprised it still felt grim! It only took me three redpoints to get up to the previous years high point of holding the crimp before the final handrail (badly). So off I went again, redpoint 17, 18, 19, 20… Still no luck!
I would either miss or catch the crimp badly.

Back again this time I changed tactics and would skip the lip clip. Although the goal posts had moved again and my intermediate on the low crux had snapped off – luckily I managed to find something worse! 21, 22, 23.. still no luck. Dejected I at least got something back at Malham by finishing off Herbie from the previous week. We dug deep enough to make a 6am start at the end of a trip to get a final redpoint in!

Warming up I felt grim, the previous day didn’t really feel like a rest day and it was still not 8am. I bolted to bolted for my warm up – it still felt grim. At least the sun was out – no that was bad. On reflection I decided the warm up was actually less grim than when I felt fresh 2 days ago! I went for it, wobbled passed the cruxes feeling tired and only just got to the final rest. I shook out like hell and made sure I had an extra one for luck. I executed that familair sequence that felt easy most of the time now, untill that final reach for the crimp. So here I was again. I threw for it caught it worse than ever, but decided this would have to do this time and reached through with two fingers open handed on the crimp… Then there I was on that handlebar in the sky. The place I wanted to be for so long. I was hot in the morning sun but the antihydral had done its stuff and that shelf felt dusty and dry

I was worried about flash pumping but stuck it out making sure I got to that chain!

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It was great news to read that Chris Savage climbed Progress F8c+ at Kilnsey the other week. There’s a good wee video too. Chris has been on a 3 month career break (aka praternity leave with understanding partner) and had made quite an impact on Yorksire Limestone. In the last three years dozens of climbers have been claiming ascents of hard yorkshire routes. Each ascent seems to create a chain reaction, demystifying the old old skool difficulty of these routes, bringing them to the attention of those willing to put the effort in to train, get better and ultimately stick it out to complete the routes. Its great to see North Butress looking less neglected.

Chris Savage: Progress 8c+ from Bystander Climbing on Vimeo.

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Toadal Recall


Got back to Yorkshire this week with Nick. We started off at Malham since it was cool and damp. I was keen to try Toadal Recall F8a a route on the upper tier I’d always had earmarked for a winters day send. Despite the fact it was June it was fairly cool. Just as well as I was ready to sack the upper tier as soon as any sun appeared to save skin. Nick had a onsight blast up to the crux and quickly worked it out. I wasn’t so lucky and took a good hour till I was satisfied I could link the crux moves. Somehow I pulled out the stops and nailed it first redpoint which was nice! I had a go on Main Overhang F8a again just to confirm it still felt grim.

On Wednesday and Thursday I got back on Urgent Action and slowly crept steadily higher to last years highpoint where I caught the crimp on the top wall (badly). It would have been nice to finish it. Nuff said…

On Friday we headed back to Malham. Nick managed to flash the short and grim Toad of Beck Hall 7b+ which I was happy to redpoint. Next we worked out the excellent Herbie 7c+ which Nick quickly dispatched. I was looking for excuses (still a five hour drive home) not to get back on it but hey ho went for it but sadly blew the last hard move to the bendy flake. Hopefully it’ll stay put till next visit so I can finish it. It was satisfyingly grim!

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