Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bulgaria Update and Dryanovo

As many of you will know we are still in Bulgaria. The ups and downs of animal life here has been interesting to say the least and the last few months have been tough with the loss of some of our wonderful animals. You can never get over losing friends, family or even animals. We love them all and miss them dearly. In the winter I think we reached the lofty heights of around 13 dogs including rescues.

Kate with Little Boy

A while ago we found Little Girl and Little Boy on the main Sofia road. She had a broken hip which is now fixed and finally after months of looking we have found them a home together with a lovely English family. Now they are Bob and Betty.

Currently we only have our Podenco's. Pilli, April, Pepa, Ella and our elder Lady 14 year old Morgana. Plus a rescue puppy we found dumped in a lay-by a few days ago, she is also looking for a home.

Out most recent find :-(

Loosing Susie was the reason we bought a second house, this time up a hill, down a track and further from a road and in a little village with a population of.... just us.

If you are interested in helping dog rescue, re-homing and neutering in Bulgaria get in touch with Street Hearts BG on Facebook. Our friends Emma and Anthony in the next village are doing an amazing job in the Dryanovo region.

We still have the horses, all six of them. Joey, Elsa, QI, Oliana, Arco and of course Dooley.

The cat population is growing, we still have Black Cat who traveled with us from Spain, now we also have Sparkle who just popped in and ended up staying and Twinkle a kitten who I found on the road at Christmas.

Winter in front of the fire.

Kate and Little Girl out riding.

We now live super close to one of my fave climbing areas Dryanovo Monastey. You can check it out here- Dryanovo

Attempting RomFrench 8a+

And falling off!

This is in sector Mona Lisa prior to the first ascent by Bulgarian strong man Rumen Neshev. This massively undeveloped sector only has 4 routes on it!!

This is my favourite piece of rock at the moment.

Do Rekata (stalbata) or Sector Stairs has grades from 5a-9a. Here Pepe is attempting Bruce Lee Extension. Part one finishes below the roof at 8a and part 2 carries on through with another 13 hards moves until a good hold. It bumps the grade up to 8b. I managed the 2nd ascent a few days ago again after Rumen.

If you want to check out the other areas to climb go to out Climbingguidebg. This is the website for the whole country and is constantly updated and maintained by Nikolay Petkov who is one of the most enthusiastic developers here. Don't worry it is in English and Bulgarian. He puts in countless hours and days into opening new routes and organising mini festivals. All development is now carried out with glue in bolts only. Or just drop me a message.

Monday, 6 June 2016

One year on...

Oh my.

I can't believe it has been one year since I wrote a blog about moving to Bulgaria!

What a slacker!!!

TBH life just seems to get more and more busy by the day. Setting in the UK, Scarpa boot demos, house renovations and now I am starting to grow my hold distribution business with some exciting things coming online soon.

1 year in Bulgaria and it just gets better and better. As a well traveled friend John said recently after his visit "Best Country On The Planet". The fact that most restaurant menus start with around 20+ salads may have swayed his opinion a little.

If you are into something different, a little of the beaten track, a low cost holiday with great climbing and amazing food you can't go far wrong.

Last year I spent a little time climbing and bolting in Krushuna. With grades from 5-8a it is even a quite crag by Bulgarian standards. A little tourist mecca though due to the stunning waterfall formations on the walk in.

The falls continue from the parking for around half a kilometre to the base of the crag where the water source rises.

Route 11 has no name but is certainly a classic 8a. Some nice tufa formations and a complex loop of a crux makes for fun climbing.

Big thanks to Dancho (Dan French) for introducing us to Krushuna and taking some photos.

I will leave you with a little video from Krushuna.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bulgaria bound.

So a new adventure starts today. I have just returned from a couple of great weeks in Greece. First up was a week in Crete. Inspired by the new inland Greece guide by Aris Theodoropoulus which also introduces the island of Crete and its climbing.

I had a whistle stop tour of 3 of its gems. Voulismeno Aloni, the stunning Tersannas Cave and the superb gorge of Agio Farrango. It is safe to say I will return.

Lowering off in Tersannas Cave

Next up was our Positive climbing coaching week in Kalymnos. I joined Adrian Berry, Lucy Creamer and Simon "BFG" Rawlinson along with 17 willing and very able climbers for some great performances, fantastic sends and many barriers broken.

So the last two weeks brings me to here, Stanstead airport and a quick blog. I landed at midnight from Kalymnos and have a flight to Barcelona at 8am. From there we begin a long drive to my new house in Bulgaria with the Zoo. 3 horses, 6 dogs and a black cat. I feel like a child at Christmas, I have no idea what is in store but I am sure it will be fun. I haven't even seen my house, Kate went out a bought it a few weeks ago on a bit of a random mission.

For a little taster of climbing in Bulgaria here is a video from the 2014 Petzl RocTrip.

Vratsa is close to my house, with some nice sport caves even closer. Granite boulders in the mountains to the North and then limestone in Rumania. To the south is Greece, mainland limestone perfect for a long weekend and the adventurous Meteora. So much exploring.

The journey will take us through France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Rumania. Time to check in.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Supersonico Highs and Lows

The start to the year was a massive high. On the 9th of Jan I completed my longest standing project and what is probably the hardest thing I have climbed. It sits for me alongside Blomu 8c+ in Santa Linya that I climbed a few years ago but I personally believe it is harder, not a grade just harder.

Commitment and total focus is what it came down to, no shock there then. If you stick with things and put the effort in you tend to reap the rewards, and my reward was sweet.

The sweet spot soon passes when you are climbing well and you get back to reality. My climbing has gone off the boil the last few weeks, not through lack of motivation more through a bit of a cold  I think. Having said that I have been getting out and about.

Looking for new cliffs to develop.

Checking out other projects some that I have tried before. A session on the very hard Mestizaje 8c+ in Bovedón. As far as I know it remains unrepeated and is one of the worlds earliest 8c+'s around.

Visiting recently develop futuristic crags like this. Rich Mayfield here on an amazing 6c+.

And climbing this. My 41st 8a climbed on sight yesterday.


Cant complain too much.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


Things have all moved around yet again. But change is good. I have just watched Adams movie Change, inspirational to say the least. Its what I need at the moment, inspiration and commitment.

We have returned to our home in the Costa Blanca after almost 3 years away and to a project and a line that has been burning away deep inside me all this time. 


In 2009 my friend Bill Hannah spotted a wall, it was pretty obvious it was going to be a great place to climb. High above a beautiful valley is Sector 45 Degrees, I think it is pretty obvious why its called that. After creating a way in over numerous visits with Bill and Kate I could finally get stuck into the bolting in May 2010.

The first route I bolted and climbed is called Luz De Sol. A stunning single white tufa that went at 7c, a classic all the way to the top from the aptly named Sun Terrace. It quickly became obvious I would need some help bolting if I was to even think about realising the crags potential so I enlisted Mike Langley from The Castle Climbing Centre, Martin Strong and Korneilja Howick. They spent there whole holiday here bolting, bolting, bolting, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and generally getting wasted in the midday sun to help open the routes.

Since those days we have created around 27 lines from 6a to 8b and 13 of which are still projects from around 8a to 9a including the daddy of them all the stunning arete on the edge of the 45 degree wall. I have probably invested around 20 days of my life into this route already and its about time I got it done. In the past I have always only had the odd day on it, never really putting in the effort to start making progress. Just over a year ago I managed to unlock a new sequence to pass the first bolt and since then I have known it was possible. Since returning a few weeks ago I realised I was a little fitter than before after a month in Kalymnos and I decided that I need to start putting the time in. 5 days of effort has seen some great progress I finally managed to climb from the ground via two hard boulder problems to the arete where the route really starts. I think this section is around 8b. From here you launch straight into the crux followed by an ok shake with a heel and what will probably be the red point crux I think. A better shake out albeit on side pulls is had then from here on in it is around 7b+ to the top. 14 Bolts in all.

Finally I have decided to commit to getting this done, some training the last two weeks fitted in around a busy diary of setting and Blokfest have made me feel a little stronger and a little bit more care with my diet and some work on a bike has allowed me to drop a few pounds. 

Two days ago I had my best red point yet. An earlier start out to the crag I was hoping for a few red points, the first went well and I almost made it through the 3rd crux and into the shake with the heel, my best attempt yet.  Only to power out probably more due to the cold wind than anything else. I rested for a while the pulled back on. The first move is a massive and contorted cross over like this....

....but when I brought my right foot up I felt a massive twinge in my hip/back. I really struggled to reverse this as you can't actually fall off here without going splat, i couldn't really walk or move and ended up laying down on the floor with Kate pulling off my boots and  putting my shoes on. End of the game...for now.

Hopefully tomorrow I can climb, there is a harder method than the roll over that isn't as tough on the back but with harder moves, I guess I will have to try it. Cant wait though, I love trying this route, the process is and has been amazing, from bolting to unlocking the moves. Many of which I couldn't  do when I first tried it. Every time I discover something new, something more that brings me closer and closer to the finish it is a great feeling. The only way to stay motivated is it take all the positives and learn from any negatives. Little by little, Poco a Poco.

Where ever you are and whoever you are I hope your dreams will come true next year and you all have a great time over the last few days of 2014. I will be saving my celebrations for sometime in the future.