Last year was a good year, in many ways, but especially in a climbing sense. I’ve loved climbing for as long as I can remember, but 2016 was the year I really started training properly and I made a conscious decision to try harder.

In terms of training, I mixed it up with bouldering, finger boarding, laps on the auto belay and some core workout sessions. The single biggest piece of enlightenment came from bouldering, and I’m saying that as someone who would never call themselves a boulderer! It was the realisation that sometimes you have to try hard, I mean really hard, every last bit of energy you have might need to go into that move and instead of not trying, and letting go, giving it everything and trying might mean you get that route. Outdoors I bouldered Font 7a and indoors 7b and this has really translated to my sport and trad climbing, if you don’t give things a max effort attempt, you’ll never know if you could have got it or not.

The other biggest improvement came on my climbing trip to Spain. A month of climbing with super psyched people (in some amazing places!) really sorted my head out, not being held back by unrealistic thoughts of hurting yourself etc. really frees up your climbing. On that trip I managed to onsight my first 7a, then 7a+ and redpointed my first 7b then 7b+.

On returning to the UK I’ve been super keen to keep riding the wave of psyche so I’ve tried to translate the extra fitness I’ve got from the sport trip and the good mental state from taking loads (I mean loads!) of falls on sport routes. Yesterday I managed to get my first non slate E4, Katana on Holyhead Mountain, which has really got me excited for the climbing possibilities of 2017.

Super happy to have ticket Katana E4 6a

The list on my fridge helps give me some focus, sometimes I find the amount of climbing on offer a bit overwhelming and struggle to know what I want to do. Last year the list was 43 routes long and I only ticked about half of them, but the list provided a bit of structure and my total number of routes was just shy of 200. Highlights included routes like Left Wall E2 5c, The Strand E2 5b, Khubla Khan E4 6b, Heading the Shot 7a+, Quartz Icicle E2 5b and Dale Duro Negro 7b.

This year’s list is going to be hard to complete, I’ve made it quite challenging! But I’ll love every minute of working through it!

The 2017 list of psyche, some “easy”, some requiring more effort!

I love climbing, obviously, and I love sharing my passion for it with all my clients, none of us should ever stop learning so this year I’ve enrolled on some coaching courses to improve my own delivery so I can really make the most of my clients time with me.

A massive part of the fun hasn’t just been the climbing, but also the amazing places I’ve been and the awesome people I’ve met along the way that have made the last year so brilliant.

Anyone can improve their climbing if they want to, I’ve just been lucky enough to meet the right people to give me the drive and determination to up my game a bit, but if you need any help working towards your own targets, get in touch!

As always, check out the Facebook page, and Instagram feed for updates.

This summer has been awesome!

Work has been top drawer fun and I’ve been enjoying my climbing loads.

Work has mostly been local which is ace because I love North Wales, but I’ve also done a bit in the Peak District and the Wye Valley as well as a two week work trip to Croatia, which I can only just call work. The majority of my work has been teaching / coaching leading and such like, which I really enjoy.

In my down time, training at the wall has dropped off a bit but I’ve been getting plenty done outside including a mega trip to Chamonix in the Alps. In North Wales I’ve ticked some classic routes like Kalahari E3 at Gogarth and loads of other equally brilliant routes.

I’ll make the next blog more interesting, but in the mean time check out our Facebook Page for more regular updates!

coaching-lead-rock-climbing-course-wales-uk

alps-climbing-instructor-jez-brown-snowdonia-course

We’re now into our third year of running these and we’ve just finished another Original Mountain Month, as always it was a great success.

Over the month the four participants got loads of climbing and hillwalking done.

Highlights include a great little mini break camping in Cwm Glas after a traverse of Crib Goch in stunning weather and climbing great routes like Grim Wall Direct (E1 5b) at Tremadog. We got loads of other stuff done too, scrambling over Tryfan, night navving in the Carneddau, staying in the Cwm Dulyn bothy, lead climbing loads of trad and sport on the coast and in the mountains.

At the end of the month they did their SPA training and ML training courses too.

Over the month we had five other highly qualified visiting instructors joining me to give a really good breadth of instructional knowledge and experience.

The next course starts in September and there’s just one space remaining… (for more info click here)

As usual you can see what we’ve been up to lately on our Facebook page

SPA skills

SPA skills

Leading in the Slate quarries

Leading in the Slate quarries

Crib Goch fun times!

Crib Goch fun times!

Tremadog in the (chilly) sun

Tremadog in the (chilly) sun

19th March 2016

An E2 a day keeps the doctor away

I’m a creature of habit, every morning starts with an espresso, fruit smoothie and porridge. I think climbing is the same, you can get in the habit of climbing certain grades which can lead to a plateau and sometimes you need a little push somehow to get up off that plateau and push your grade a bit. Then this new grade can become habit.

I’ve been having a great time at work this week in the sun and my Original Mountain Month clients have got loads done, climbing at Milestone Buttress, Holyhead Mountain and the Slate Quarries plus an ascent of Crib Goch with a wild camp in Cwm Glas. I’ve also ticked two really great routes over the last two days, yesterday was the mega classic route on the Cromlech, Left Wall E2 5c and today was SS Special E2 5b on the Grochan. I’d really like E2 to become my grade of habit, over the last few years my average grade has been HVS and if I could extend this to E2 I’d be really happy.

Crib Goch fun times!

Crib Goch fun times!

The training I’ve been doing has mostly revolved around bouldering and the Beastmaker, it was really nice to climb these routes and feel the benefit of all the effort. None of the moves on either route felt particularly hard, but they did highlight that I need to train on the routes indoors too as my endurance doesn’t currently match my strength – so this is something I’ll add a bit more of over the next few weeks.

So the routes?! Left Wall has been on my to do list for years, it’s a stunning looking line on a stunning crag that I drive by almost daily and the climbing did not disappoint,  the moves were never that hard, but there’s a lot of them and you should really temper the urge to place too much gear so as to save some energy. If you haven’t done this route and are capable, get on it and if you’re not yet ready it’s definitely something to aspire to!

Tom following Left Wall

Tom following Left Wall

Looking back at the thunderbolt crack of Left Wall

Looking back at Left Wall

Last year I went to do SS Special after work on a lovely summer’s evening, the banter was good, I started climbing, I fell off! I got back on it but was knackered and did a variation of it at HVS – SS Sickle. But today was the day and I met Stu at about 0830 and after a quick bit of traversing to warm up I was on the initial crack placing a number 4 nut, then I down climbed back to the floor, should have warmed up more! A few minutes later I was feeling good so I fired back up the crack quite easily, placing a couple more runners on the way, first third done and you’re at a hands off rest, relax and recover. Place another nice nut and you’re off up the middle third which is sloper city, easier than the crack but pretty pumpy for un-warmed up arms. Now with the pump properly set in I was beneath the final third of the route, on a slopey ledge with a really creaky jug of a handhold. I built a mini belay here of a couple of offsets and a couple of cams, because the next bit looked a bit steep for tired arms. Pull up through the overhang and there’s mega undercuts and you’re back on vertical rock where there’s more runner options, one more section of cheekiness and you’re at the top. I’d climbed pretty slow but was really happy to tick this off the unfinished business list! Quality route.

High on SS Special, milking the final rest!

High on SS Special, milking the final rest!

My 2016 wishlist of routes has a few ticks already and I’m feeling super psyched to tick the rest off too, just need to work on the endurance a bit, but hopefully E2 will become habit and will be the average grade of the year…

To check out what we’ve been up to at work, have a look at the Facebook page.

Teaching gear placements

Teaching gear placements

17th December 2015

Now is the time for making plans!

Dark evenings, rubbish weather, and wet rock all mean one thing. Frustration!

To ward off the frustration we have to make the most of what we have available to us and for me at this year that is time. Work is less busy so I have time to run, time to get down to the Beacon climbing wall, time to use my Rock Rings and time to make plans. All of this means that when the weather does relent and show us some dry rock then I can hit the ground running.

Running: I like to run, it gives me a chance to clear my head away from admin and other distractions, I put my headphones in and get some miles under my belt. I think the cardiovascular side of climbing is often neglected, even if it only means the walk ins are easier then it’s got to be worthwhile! In addition to this though it helps burn off some useless fat and in my mind helps me feel fitter and fresher whilst on routes. If running isn’t for you maybe try swimming or cycling.

Climbing Wall: The best way to get more climbing fit is to climb! If you’re climbing at a higher level then specific training regimes are going to be the way forward and you’ll find loads of info to this end on the internet. If however you’re climbing at slightly lower levels then just get the climbing mileage in, don’t forget to concentrate on your climbing technique as well as things like clipping with a straight arm at chest’ish level. Falling off is super important too, this will help you with your head game massively and this directly translates to outdoor climbing – if you’re scared to fall off even when it’s safe to do so, you will not fulfil your potential. Try routes that you might fail on (keep doing plenty that you can do too!) and work hard on them, you’ll soon be crushing them, feeling fitter and stronger.

Get strong and work on your weaknesses!

Rock Rings: Great for snatching a quick hit on at home in front of the TV… Metolius have some great work out routines (click here for their page), but personally I stick to my own sets of pull ups, offset pull ups and a couple of types of knee raises – don’t forget the importance of a strong core, especially on the steep stuff. Mine are hanging off the stairs in the living room meaning I can either get some music on the stereo or watch yet another episode of Big Bang Theory!

Planning: It’s cold, wet and dark outside which makes it hard to stay motivated sometimes. For me my motivation comes from having a few “just out of reach” routes that I’m working on at the wall but more importantly I have a wish list of routes for the upcoming year. I’ve just made my list of routes for next year, a top 40 that I’m aiming for – I usually tick around 150 – 200 routes a year plus what I get done with clients at work.

Although I will climb all over the UK as well as abroad my wish list is North Wales centric

Well that’s my plan for the winter and it’s going well so far, back up to steep 7a+’s at the wall and managing to snatch an E3 on the slate in a brief period of dry weather this week (Goose Creature – E3 6a).

Good luck with your own winter training and even better luck with your goals for 2016, whether that’s your first outdoor lead or on sighting an 8a!

To see what we’ve been up to lately, check out the Facebook page and “like” it.

Dry rock!