Tag Archives: climbing

Beginner’s Essential Equipment for Climbing and Bouldering

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With the days getting darker and winter setting in, now is the perfect opportunity to learn to climb or boulder. Indoor climbing gyms offer the perfect opportunity to nail basic techniques and gain confidence – just in time for the advent of outdoor climbing in the spring.

Before hitting the crags though, there’s just a few things every climber needs to get started. Take a look below to make a start on your climber’s kit. Continue reading

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OUTDOOR BOULDERING AT THE CASTLE CLIMBING CENTRE, LONDON

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Anniversaries aren’t usually spent covered in chalk and sweating up a boulder, but with sunny skies such a rare occurrence in London these days, you take every opportunity you get to enjoy the outdoors. Continue reading

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#take12trips Challenge 11: Bouldering Fun at The Arch North, Burnt Oak

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The Arch climbing wall has grown to become something of an institution in London, drawing in hordes of boulderers all over the capital to its centres. So when I heard that the Arch had recently opened a new centre in in Burnt Oak in September, my friends and I eagerly hopped on the Northern Line to test its routes.

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The first thing that comes to mind when you see the centre is hip. Featuring a modern, futuristic design in the form of glowing stair lights, industrial lighting that resembles climbing ropes, and eco-friendly showers, it’s easy to see a lot of thought has been put into the centre. Not to mention, they also have a café there that serves amazing (and cheap!) coffee, as well as a handy mini store.

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But of course, you want to hear about the bouldering. The 11,000 square-foot complex is covered with largely overhang routes, but also 2 large standalone bouldering islands.

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There’s also a super-fun horizontal roof and barrel wall feature that offer routes for beginners and experts alike, as well as a nifty glass light pyramid.

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In addition to the bouldering routes, the centre also has a contemporary-style strength training facilities, complete with 45-degree training boards, gym rings, finger boards, gym apparatus and a training bouldering wall with routes ranging from easy to difficult. The facilities inject some fun into strength training, which can sometimes be a little on the dull side with the traditional formats.

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The centre is divided into 10 different areas, offering enough space for everyone to comfortably boulder. If you want a quiet session you better head here soon, as the centre is filling up fast as word gets out!

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Climbing and Facing a Fear of Heights

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Recently, my good friend Kathryn paid us a visit over the weekend, and along with the usual London pastimes of concerts, museums and theatre excursions, she had a special request.

Kathryn’s traveled and worked all over the world and gone on so many hair-raising adventures in her short years than many people do in a lifetime. However, she’s always had a slight fear of heights and decided that the only way to defeat it was to challenge herself to complete three different high-altitude activities, such as sky-diving, paragliding, etc. When she asked us to help her complete the last challenge, we knew exactly where to go: our old haunt, Swiss Cottage climbing wall.

Continue reading

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Handy Nutrients and Food for Muscle Recovery

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Photo credit: takebackyourhealthconference / Best Bobs / CC BY

Lately I’ve been working on several 6c+/7a projects I’m dying to crush, which means I’ve been spending a lot more time at the climbing gym and pushing myself at strength-training classes. The routes require just that little bit of extra strength, and no matter how much my arms and core muscles hurt after hours of pull-ups and clumsy bouts on the TRX, I know the exhilaration of reaching the top will easily beat any momentary pain. Or at least that’s what I tell myself at the time. To be honest, I’d love it if I could completely boss it up the routes and then be like “Oh, this old route? Yeah it’s a nice little warm-up for my 8a.”

Combine this with my running race this month and weekend hikes, and as you can guess, my muscles are feeling the brunt of my lifestyle at the moment. Considering my past mistakes of pushing myself too hard (bouts of bed-ridden tonsillitis and exhaustion, anaemia, and  preventable injuries aplenty) I’m keen to learn from them and not end up like that again. Which means I’ve been spending a predominantly large amount of my lunch breaks researching the best foods for muscle recovery to help me keep on top of things health-wise. Continue reading

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Simple Exercises to Improve Your Climbing

Photo credit: Sky Noir / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Last week the lovely folk at the Swiss Cottage Climbing Centre invited me to try out their newest class – a military-style fitness session aimed at improving strength for climbers. After an hour of non-stop pushing, pulling and jumping up and down holds I ached all over, had ‘Bring Sally Up’ on repeat in my head, and was (dare I say it?) feeling pumped and having a great time.

Despite the initial aches and pains a few days later I was back on the climbing wall and noticed a definite improvement in my endurance and strength!

The instructor, Jack, designed the class to focus on core strength and muscles in the forearms and legs, which help you climb over ledges and build strength for small holds and awkward angles, without losing any flexibility or technical ability vital for climbing.

While few of us have our our climbing wall at home (I’m still dreaming of the day I have climbing Twister in my imaginary backyard), many of the exercises practiced in the class can easily be done at home. Below I’ve given a selection of the ones I found the most beneficial to improving my climbing ability.

#1 Pull-ups

Quite possibly the most difficult of exercises for anyone, find a sturdy bar (or perhaps door frame?) that can withstand your weight, and practice pulling your chin above the bar. When doing this exercise, the main muscles you should be using are your forearms, to help build muscle that can easily pull you up to holds. If you find you are unable to pull yourself up, just try dead hanging for as long as possible.

 

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Photo credit: sirgious / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

#2 Leg Lifts

Laying straight on your side, lift your leg straight as high as it can go, hold it for 20 seconds. Then bring it down, careful to ensure that you continue holding it just above your resting leg. Do this for approximately five minutes. At first I thought this exercise was easy, but by the end my legs wouldn’t stop shaking! This exercise helps build strength in your legs, which means more power to push for holds and less reliance on your arms.

 

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photo credit: Kathryn Wirsing/Hearst

 

#3 Planks

Keeping your forearms rested shoulder-length on the ground as well as your toes, hold your weight for 30-second increments, with 30-second rests in between. This exercise works your core muscles, which are essential for helping you push yourself over ledges or give you strength on steep-rock overhangs.

 

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Photo credit: suanie / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Most importantly however, is to remember to push yourself. It is easy to stop when your muscles feel a little tired and you have no-one to motivate you, but your muscles will only benefit from the exercise if you give them something to work with.

Interested in the classes? Then head to the Swiss Cottage Climbing Centre on Thursdays for an 8pm start (classes cost £8 a session).

 

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BMS Releases Winter Skills Help Videos

 

 

The helpful people at BMC sent their latest project into my inbox today: a nine-part series of winter skills videos to help everyone make the most of the outdoors in the winter months, in association with the Association of Mountain Instructors, Lowe Alpine and DMM.

Here is what they had to say:

The hills in their snowy winter garb are beautiful and exciting, but they also pose hazards you don’t have to contend with in more clement conditions.

So how do you deal with sub-zero temperatures, slopes of hard névé, cornices, avalanche hazards or whiteouts? There is no substitute for having skills and knowledge imparted face-to-face by an experienced instructor.

But we all need a refresher from time to time, so to help you reinforce your skills we have teamed up with the Association of Mountain Instructors (AMI)Lowe Alpine and DMM to produce this new series of instructional winter videos.

Filmed in harsh winter conditions at Glenmore Lodge, they feature AMI instructors taking you through a raft of winter basics, from matching up boots and crampons to being aware of avalanche hazard on the hills.

Watch, learn, and above all, have fun!

Given the accidents up in the Lake District in previous months, now it is more important than ever to learn more about winter skills, to potentially save your life and others. The BMC do an amazing amount of work

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