Sunday, 28 May 2017

Road Trips are best....Part 1

Road trips are the best, smashing across Europe with no real plan just a head full of ideas and friends to hook up with along the way.

After a great weeks coaching in the paradise that is Fontainebleau I picked up Clive (The Castle Tech Gimp), ready for his climbing baptism by fire. The aim was to head down to the south of France and catch up with James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini who after a wet trip to Chamonix were heading home.

To break up the ride I hit up UKC for a half way crag stop. Now Remigny is not the dream venue but certainly a place to break up the journey. With 5's to 8a and a one minute walk in there is something for most. Reggae Night at 7b+ is the route of the crag, great climbing on interesting pockets lead to a cheeky finish. We were battling with the weather here and only had the overhanging routes to play on but some of the easier angled 6b's looked great.
By the evening we were happily located on the sofas of James and Caro full to the brim on French national dish, the ubiquitous pizza.

James Pearson relaxing in his loft.

Day 1 down south was great we headed to St Leger to meet some of the French National Youth Team on a outdoor training weekend. It has been a long time but catching up with some of the great French legends from yesteryear was fun. People that I competed with over 20 yeras ago. The list Francois Legrand, Francois Petit, Stefanie Bodet, Pail Dewilde, Daniel Dulac, Caroline Ciavaldini basically read like a who's who of French Competition Climbing History. The number of World title holders in that room was insane. How cool is that! We chatted for a while, watched an 11 year old Reunion Island girl following in Carolines footsteps and smash an 8a+ first go. She has already bouldered 8B!!

We headed off to seek peace and basically not get burned off. Entrechaux was the location, routes from 6b to 8c.

Pappy Boyington 8a, Entrechaux

For a warm down with nipped to a 2000 year old Roman Quarry for a little warm. La-Carriere-Du-Maupas is one of those super special venues.




Super cool climbing on the chips the quarryman's tools made all those years ago.




Clive on the warm up/warm down 7a.           

Last year I climbed at La Balleine, the upper sector of St Leger. I was super impressed and psyched to go back. Sadly it was too wet this time after the recent rain so the next day we headed into the main valley. Normally here you would be spoilt for choice but with a lot of seepage we had to make do. Looking forward to a drier visit


Slip Bouse 8a, St Leger

Next up was a rematch with the hardest 7b in the world and the worst/best crag going. Gargantua is James's local training venue. A smooth and very deep cave with almost no natural holds. To say that climbing here is somewhat basic is a little understated. You don't have much choice when it comes to which drilled pockets to use and therefore some routes are a little finger size dependant. So I am basically already on the loosing side here.


James throwing a lap on an 8c, to the right you can see a pink rope in the belay of the shortest and hardest 7b imho in the universe.


Gargantua an indoor outdoor training venue, naughty but nice!!

My final destinations in the region were the super old and super classic crags of Seynes and Russan. Seynes was my rest-day but Clive got some easy mileage in whilst being fried in the sun due to a relaxed start. Remember it is always a good time to test out your Italian hitch technique when you forget the belay device!! 


Scoliose 8a, Russan


Thanks to Clive, James, Caro and village friends for a great week, banter, food, sauna and generally being nice people. Time to move on...Part 2 next week.

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.


Here......

Cant complain too much.