When a Pulley Snaps: The Honest Account

It’s a tale we’ve all heard before. The dreaded sound of a popping tendon, hollow and sharp as a snapping twig, that puts you out of the game for weeks, months, and sometimes even longer. It can happen to beginners insisting on playing on the fingerboard too early, intermediates overzealous on the campus board, and even to pros projecting away on their super futuristic lines. It’s almost inevitable, a normal part of our sport, but we fear it like nothing […]

How To Climb Better Than You

So many climbers wish they were better, but they don’t actually act on it. Our culture reinforces the notion that it’s talent and some mysterious predispositions that get people up the ranks in whatever they do. We celebrate outcomes, yet we don’t celebrate the process. The work that is put in remains hidden, creating an illusion that champions are born. However, research actually proves that it’s consistency and repetition that breed success. Not everyone can be Shauna Coxsey, but everyone can […]

We Got BIFFed

(a bit late but I was busy moving from Chamonix to Bulgaria…) As January was coming to a close, I planned to visit Alice for some action on the Peak District grit. Our excitement was quickly curbed by a catastrophic weather forecast and I said, half jokingly, it was a pity that BIFF registration was closed. I arrived the following day and Alice casually announced that she bumped into Shauna Coxsey and signed us up for the comp. Despite all […]

The 3 Most Interesting Climbing Start Ups

HEARTBEAT Heartbeat is an active lifestyle and climbing clothing brand created by a visionary young entrepreneur from Poland, Ania Pipinska. Her clothing is simple, durable and ethically made in her home country. What’s special about Ania is that she decided to run her business from a country where the outdoor industry is nowhere near as developed as in other parts of Europe, making her one of the driving forces for the development of the sector in her region. Bringing the […]

Reviewing The First Year Of Training

A year ago I realised I was stuck. After three years of pottering around the climbing wall and occasionally hitting the rock at the weekend, I could barely climb V5. My goals were a couple of 7A classics in the Peak District and I was determined to figure out how to work my way through the plateau. It dawned on me that I could get a coach and online coaching seemed like the most sensible way to go about it. […]

Born to be a Nomad

Today again all of my possessions, including two bouldering mats and four summer tyres, have to fit in my car. It’s a very small car. That’s the third time this year that I’m moving everything. My flatmate left some two hours ago aeady for the first day of ski touring this winter. Newly covered in snow, Chamonix looks amazing. I wish I could stay. Yesterday was my last day in the office. For six months I worked for EpicTV. I […]

Magic Wood Guide For Newbies

With Font being all slopey and Albarracin all reachy, crimpy and overhanging Magic Wood sounded like the promised land.  (Scroll halfway down the post to get to the meaty ‘how to get there’ and ‘when to go’ part.) All my essentials (including camping gear and some food to avoid paying through the nose in Switzerland) got stuffed into my bouldering mat, which then got wrapped in cling film and gaffer, with only shoulder straps sticking out. With this well formed […]

Why I don’t get blown away by #ThisGirlCan

In principle, the Sports England campaign is a great idea. Increasing female participation in sports is an important initiative in the society plagued by obesity, osteoporosis, and, perhaps even more harmful than civilisation diseases, the gender gap. But to be my usual, full of spite and criticism self, I need to list the downsides. 1. The girl grew up some time ago Using the word ‘girl’ in the campaign’s title suggests that sports are for kids only. If you happen to be […]

The Vertical Kilometre

I’m not a runner. Actually, I really dislike running. Jogging in a city is almost as bad as on a treadmill, and I despise both. But going up a hill or a mountain, now that’s a different thing! Le Brevent can be seen  from my balcony in Cham, but the 2525m summit is too ambitious a goal for a quick, after work hike. Its ‘Vertical Kilometre’ is, as it turns out, is just perfect.   To classify as a ‘Vertical Kilometre’ […]

A hectic & worthless moving post

I’ve been trying to write something sensible for quite a while. Can’t come up with anything, so instead I’ll just post what I’ve got… A pile of neatly folded clothing is covering most of my bed. In the last seven years I’ve seen this sight way too many times. Each time I’m trying to give away more stuff. For years I haven’t been buying anything, maybe with the exception of my beloved, super warm downie. This time I promised myself […]

Spring bouldering in France

We drove from London and through the Eurotunnel, arriving in Fontainebleau in the early morning hours. It was grey and wet, and felt icy. Brown leaves gave the forest an autumnal look. Putting our tent up we were shivering with cold. We had a nap, and when I woke up first, I walked from the still empty campsite to the town. It’s a short walk over the river and by a ruined castle. In the boulangerie they refuse to speak […]

Thoughts on climbing ‘babes’

Some time ago I wrote an article about the issues associated with media representation of female athletes. It was based on my MA research, and the positive response was overwhelming. Many agreed that women, especially in free-spirit, lifestyle sports such as climbing, MTB, or surfing, are hungry for content that will not represent them as sexual objects, or mere side-kicks to men. It also seemed obvious that that female athletes and participants want to be recognised for their achievements, not […]

Is climbing a sport?

A journalist asked this question on social media lately, and it was passed on to me, in an apparent hope that I would provide suitable support for a positive answer. I think I only said something like, is he for real? And now I’m quite pleased with the ambiguity of my reaction. The whole hullabaloo with The Dawn Wall didn’t stir any deeper thoughts in me either, maybe apart from great appreciation for this little article: Two idiots climb big thing […]

Getting serious about training

There are two types of climbers The first type is the people who just love what they do. They love socialising at the gym and drinking wine in Font. They enjoy themselves. And over the years of enjoyment they casually get really good at climbing. Or, they don’t. It doesn’t really matter; they will have fun anyway. The second type of climbers are the poor lot who might lack in social graces, but are well acquainted with the campus board. […]

Snakes and Ladders and Tunnels

The first time I heard about Snakes and Ladders was about two years ago. All of my male friends went for a stag do to Wales and I wasn’t allowed to join for the fear that my idea of fun would be different to theirs. (I still haven’t forgiven.) The weather was bad and they ended up doing Snakes and Ladders and Tunnels, and amazing, otherworldly pictures populated Andy’s instagram feed. I was green with envy. The place looked incredible. […]

The Scotland road-trip

The road through Glen Clova is rather narrow and grouse are dodging the car’s wheels every five minutes. Andy’s driving slowly but it’s still pure luck that we missed a fat, suicidal bunny. On my first trip to Scotland I was expecting some weather but the skies are blue and it feels like the height of summer. Or at least it looks it through the car’s windows. We will have about three hours for bouldering before we have to head […]

The new blogging resolution

It’s good to take a break sometimes.   Like a long break from blogging. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this website and writing for work was sucking out all my energy. Too much time in the office and not enough time for dreaming left me grumpy and uninspired. A trip to Rodellar was a nice holiday but I disappointed myself with some really poor climbing. I think I was expecting too much. Time off was what I […]

MA in Anthropology: writing a thesis about climbing

A guest-post written for OWA can be read here. When the time came to choose my MA dissertation’s topic, I was terrified. The plan was to write about something at least remotely connected to my bachelor’s course, but it just wasn’t exciting any more. I watched the eyes of my peers glow as they talked about their topics and I wanted to feel what they felt. I wanted to write about something that continuously drives and inspires me. Climbing. Now, […]

Eva Lopez Interview

TRAINING, FUTURE 9a PLANS AND WOMEN’S CLIMBING Eva is a climbing coach and a scholar researching training methods at a PhD level. She’s forty-two and in October last year she climbed her first 8c+, Potemkin, in the Spanish region of Cuenca. She bolted the route a few years back but didn’t manage the first ascent. Now she’s in her best shape and searching for a new challenge. In November I had the pleasure of meeting Eva during Women’s Climbing Symposium […]

Can the fat acceptance movement help people be fit?

‘Fat acceptance movement’ doesn’t sound good. Let’s face it, it just doesn’t. Being fat is, in most cases, not being fit. Fit is healthy, so we all want to be fit. Not fat. Why would you want to accept obesity? Because according to scientists from Monash University, the University of New England and the University of Canberra, body acceptance can lead to healthier diet and increased exercise. I didn’t want to argue with the result of a study that spanned three […]

Artists, punks and climbers: Dr Julie Angel interview

If you’re interested in parkour and watch a shed load of vids, you’ve probably heard about Julie Angel. If you’re into social sciences and lifestyle sports theory, you’ve also probably heard about Julie Angel. She works closely with Parkour Generations and holds a PhD in parkour film. Her latest series of short documentaries focuses on a new urban phenomenon: buildering. (Bouldering on buildings – clever, right?) And while some crazy guys were already doing it more than 60 years ago […]

A few words about PSICOBLOC

It was already past one o’clock when we arrived at the beach in Cala Barques and the temperature was searing above thirty five degrees centigrade. We sat heavily under a tree to devise a plan. Coming to Majorca without a car and with nobody to tell us where to go never seemed like a worse idea. After a somewhat unsuccessful day at Portocolom, which involved hours long search for the crag and being chased down a steep cliff by a […]

Fairlop Waters Bouldering

Waking up on a Sunday morning and getting to know that the temperature will be in the high twenties is great… as long as you can go climbing. I know, I know, all you grit terrorisers shaking your heads thinking about friction, but I actually do like climbing in the heat, alright? And gym just doesn’t do on a beautiful summer day. Sadly, one odd day of sunshine is often not enough to go to the Peak without planning, especially […]

It’s good to be a slacker

If Lynn Hill says that something is a good addition to a climber’s training, it means just that. It cannot be questioned. Now, I’m going to assume for a moment some of you are from Mars and haven’t heard of Lynn, so just a brief recap. In 1993 she was the first person to free climb the Nose. And a year later the first person to free climb the Nose in under 24 hours. And yes, she did it before […]

Tatra Mountains lesson – part II

When my dream of climbing in the Tatra Mountains finally came true in September last year, it was a real dream team trip.  My predominantly bouldering partner and an indoor climbing me among 8000ft tall unpredictable granite peaks was like asking for trouble. Although in the beginning it was going quite well, we did spend eight hours on a six pitches route that can be done in under three hours. But taking into account the weather (hail storm) and the […]

‘Why is fear such a taboo?’

Guest post by Dr Rebecca Williams of Smart Climbing: Fear is a normal human emotion, with many functional benefits. Its role is to alert us to danger and activate helpful responses to get us out of danger – most typically fight, flight or freeze. This means that trying to get rid of fear is not only impossible, but is actually counter to millennia of evolving adaptive survival responses. This might not be a popular view among climbers, particularly those of […]

Tori Allen interview

Tori Allen is definitely one of a kind. She grew up climbing trees with her pet monkey in Benin, where her parents moved on a Christian mission. Extraordinary childhood was a beginning of an extraordinary life. At the age of ten, back in her native USA, Tori saw her first climbing wall in a sports store. From that day it took her mere six months to be crowned Jr. National Champion. Soon after, she became a professional athlete with a […]

Say hello to the campus board

As the Easter break weather was good for cross-country skiing (I’m guessing), but not so good for climbing, I decided to celebrate the occasion meeting some friends for a super long indoor session. Deprived of my real rock weekend, I was really psyched to climb hard. But not long after I got to the gym, my excitement gave way to frustration. Here I was again, sitting on the mats, staring at another problem I knew was easy, I knew how […]

Tatra Mountains lesson – part I

Allow me to entertain you today with the first part of a rather lengthy story of failure and success. A story of how my partner and I got ourselves into a pretty bad mess. And how we got ourselves out. It goes something like this: Every now and then (or, let’s face it, pretty much all the time), I feel this strong craving to go back to the High Tatras. These Alpine style peaks belong to the Carpathian range and […]

Parkour – the first impression

It’s almost nine in Pimlico, Central London. I’m standing on a bench, not more than two feet of the ground. The next bench in front of me seems to be at least a mile away. Eyeing its edge I’m wondering if in the faint light of the street lamps I won’t just smash my shins on it. That would be rather painful. Behind me I can hear the coach’s voice giving instructions to other women. One of them came here […]

We all get scared from time to time… Or, do we?

Do you know the moment in Honnold 3.0 when Alex almost slips before clipping in? Just watching it, I could feel my blood run cold. And do you know how sometimes just before taking a fall your brain ‘forgets’ there is a rope or a pad to catch you? And later it can take a good couple of minutes to recover?  Well, clearly Alex Honnold doesn’t get this feeling. Plus in his case there would be no rope to catch […]

Why Push It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking

Push It Trailer from Jen Randall, Light Shed Pictures on Vimeo.   First of all, timing.  Lately climbing has become less and less of a male domain; this applies both to pushing the grade on the most difficult lines on Earth and to the rising numbers of recreational female gym-goers. Motivations and goals are different, with some doing it because of pure ambition and others to tone their arms before the bikini season, but the trend is here and it […]