Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Interview with Dan Varian over at Climb Magazine.

Just to let you know there's an interview with Dan Varian about his recent ascents at Back Bowden on the Climb Magazine website.

Don't forget Life On Hold is showing tonight at Climb Newcastle.

Oh, and when I was talking about films I was looking forward to, I can't believe I forgot to include The Raid. What was I thinking?

Photos coming up next time include Varian at Back Bowden and Caminati at Queens.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The County has a new hardest route. Back Bowden has a new hardest boulder problem.

I'm going to make this quick and add the details when I have time.

Yesterday was the day Dan Varian described as 'probably my best climbing day ever'. Northumberland got a new hardest route and Back Bowden got a new hardest boulder problem.

Empty The Bones Of You goes up the north wall between The Dark Side and Mordreth on very poor holds. Even the holds that look ok from the ground are bad.
I'm sure Dan will go into detail on the Beastmaker blog, but he reckons highball 8a+, or F8c if it was bolted. Although he intended to lead it, he actually ended up soloing it.
Considering the time and effort he put in, and his fearsome ability (he's currently 'on form'), I would tentatively suggest that 8a+ might be a little soft.

How does it compare to The Dark Side E9 7b? Dan had quite a few sessions on the new route, and many attempts to lead it. He also left it alone for a while as he got frustrated at the difficulty.
If you've read my previous blog post, you'll know Dan did The Dark Side in about 15 minutes, which really puts things in perspective.

Here are a few photos of Dan working the new line:

Dan Varian attempting the route

Dan Varian attempting the route

Dan Varian attempting the route

Taking the fall

 I'll have the photos for you very soon.

Ok, that's not all. That was just the morning!
Another project that he's been trying is the right hand finish to The Bitch, Andy Earl's classic 8a+. It was a little too warm and he was getting frustrated, but after the sun dropped behind the trees and the temperature started falling, it was game on. Conditions got better and better and it got nailed. Grade? Solid 8b.

Dan Varian on his new 8b at Back Bowden
Dan Varian on his new 8b at Back Bowden

Dan Varian on his new 8b at Back Bowden

Then I went and slept on the beach.
As I said, I'll update soon and I have lots of new County photos to share.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Here we go. Eventually.

As you might have noticed, I've had a bit of a break from the blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. I'm pretty psyched at the moment. It seems as though there's a lot happening in Northumberland. Projects are on the verge of getting ticked, top-end routes are getting cleaned, everyone's climbing hard and for once I seem to be in the middle of it all with a camera. Perfect! I'm sure that some of the 'big' routes will get done this year, and hopefully before it starts warming up too much. A few people have even mentioned 'A.K.A. Mr Vegas', and I definately want to be there for that...

Since Dan climbed 'The Dark Side', the blog's page views have vastly increased. It's not really my intention for this page to be a source of news, but I guess sometimes you're in the right place at the right time. I'm just plugging away at the book and keeping anyone who's interested up to date with what I've been up to. It's definately happening. It just takes forever.

Saying that, however, I've written a Northumberland 'round-up' in Climb magazine. If you haven't seen it, there isn't much time left as the new issue comes out at the end of this week.
Go and buy a copy now!

Mr. D. Varian. Photo by Mr. M. Savage

Here are a couple more photos of The Dark Side:

Now it gets hard. Dan Varian on The Dark Side E9 7b, Back Bowden

Dan Varian on The Dark Side E9 7b, Back Bowden

Seems like I've spent a lot of time at Back Bowden recently. I love the fact that you can go to Bowden and if it's busy, you can head up the road and have the place to yourself. 
Is there a finer collection of hard routes anywhere?

Speaking of small holds, I had a good session with the uber-strong Nigel Callender. You want strength? Power? Well, be quick and sign up to one of these free workshops. Nigel belongs to the very exclusive 'Monk Life' club, so who better to inspire you?

Nigel Callender on Black Triage 8a, Back Bowden

More from Backers...

Paul Carruthers on The Bitch 8a+, Back Bowden

Bobby Gowdy on Hard Reign Direct 7b, Back Bowden

The Move. Bobby Gowdy on Hard Reign Direct 7b, Back Bowden

I'm VERY excited about seeing Life On Hold by Nick Brown which premieres at SHAFF this coming weekend. I haven't been this excited about a film since waiting for Terminator 2 to come out. Ok, maybe Prometheus comes close, but I suspect Life On Hold might feature a couple of aliens somewhere, or at least a facehugger... Nick, pretty soon you'll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Nick Brown filming The Champ at Back Bowden

I got a few photos from over the road as well when Dave and Mina came up for a weekend blitz of all the classics. Wow - Mina is strong. She was showing the boys how it's done on Honeycomb Wall, as well as making Staggered look pretty easy. The weather wasn't kind to us though, so I'm looking forward to round 2. Dave was very psyched. So much to do!

Mina Leslie-Wujastyk on Staggered 7b, Bowden Doors

Dave Mason on Dog Eat Dog 7a, Bowden Doors

Dave Mason on Honeycomb Wall 7c+, Bowden Doors

Dave Mason on Staggered 7b, Bowden Doors

Also up that weekend from Yorkshire was strongman Mark Katz, pictured during a rare appearance by the sun.

Mark Katz on Honeycomb Wall 7c+, Bowden Doors

 It's not very often that you see Graeme Read on a crag that's close to the road, but here he is. Graeme is a hero for all the cleaning and climbing of hard County routes that he does, so be nice to him at all times. Tell him his biceps look massive.

Graeme Read on Klondyke Wall E2 5c, Bowden Doors

Jamie Mantle on Klondyke Wall E2 5c, Bowden Doors

Easy. Nigel Callender on The Crack 8a, Bowden Doors

Nigel Callender on The Crack 8a, Bowden Doors
Ben Davison on Y-Front 6a+, Bowden Doors

Dave Rudge has also made a rare appearance on the rock. Despite dealing with his own business, being a dad and looking after various dogs and chickens, he still rocks up and does things like The Emperor 7b first go as a warm up. That's what happens when you live ten minutes from Kyloe-In
There was a bit of a Temptation session going on. If you're looking for a first 7b+ to do, look elsewhere. This is desperate.

Dave Rudge on Temptation 7b+, Bowden Doors

Speaking of people who make rare appearances, here's Chris Graham (sorry Chris) at The Stell, near Rothbury.

Chris Graham on Constant Sorrow SS 7b+, The Stell

Recently developed by Steve Blake and 'The Gang', The Stell is one of those places that'll be fantastic on a summer's evening. Clean, good quality rock, great views and mostly easy to moderate problems.

Don't park next to the gate. Park in the obvious bay and walk the extra two minutes.

Katie Mundy at The Stell

Caller was wet, so we had a trip up to Redheugh. It mainly consisted of everyone getting frightened on the well renowned 6b+ behind the block. I don't think I know anyone who's topped out! One after another, the guys backed off, which only made it worse. Well 'ard.

Andy Wilson on the 'easy' bit.

Stu Campbell on the 6b+ horrorshow.

Stu coping with the barndoor move.

Andy Rutter on The Arete 4+, Redheugh

Just last week I went out to meet Stu and Andy having an evening bouldering session at Seaton Sluice, 'The New Rocklands'... *coughs*

Stu Campbell bearing down at Seaton Sluice, North Tyneside's premier bouldering destination.

I'll finish with a photo I took of the Duddo Stones in the far north of The County. I got there for a sunrise that never happened, if you get my drift, but I prefer moody skies anyway, and there are plenty of those around here.

Duddo Stones