Colossal climbing blogs


Image source: Photobac

Ever felt the urge to cling to a vertical rock face by your fingernails, desperately reaching for a toehold just out of reach?

We’re not too sure, either, but we’ve found a collection of blogs from expert climbers which might just make us change our minds and grab the crampons for a vertical ascent!

These climbing bloggers are all highly familiar with the scenario. Read tales of victory and injury from the mountainside, and revel in the amazing shots the climbing photographers manage to capture!

Alan Halewood

Ever wondered what the perfect day on Ben Nevis looks like? Wonder no more, as freelance mountaineering instructor Alan Halewood has captured the moment beautifully here.

With 25 climbing expeditions spanning every continent and a dozen First Ascents of previously unclimbed peaks under his belt, Alan’s blog will show the ropes to climbing newbies.

His diary-style blog is updated multiple times a month with climbing news from his personal and professional life. Find out what it’s like helping a pal complete their first big route (Buachaille Etive Mor) and feel reassured that even pros have days where things just don’t work out.

Iain McKenzie

Want to get your kids into climbing? With over 15 years of climbing experience, Iain McKenzie has got some great tips: from the practical “teach them how to tie their shoelaces and put their own climbing shoes on,” to the mental “let them dream that they can be Adam Ondra, but don’t give them any expectations”.

Iain, who coaches climbers from grassoots right through to elite climbers, has advice for adults looking to progress as well. The key? Visit his blog to get the details of his structured training, involving cardio warm-up and a variation of routes with different difficulties.

Jack Ramsden

Whilst many of his compadres were just discovering the sport at his age, 15-year-old Jack has already been selected for GB Junior Bouldering team!

His blog tracks his life as a young professional climber. You can also see action packed videos of keen vlogger Jack and his Junior GB Bouldering teammates in training. Check out the skills these guys already have!

Outside of climbing the Jack enjoys reading, yoga and athletics. Perhaps most surprisingly though, this is one teenage boy not afraid of his veg: “I also have a keen interest in eating healthy so that I can optimise my training and competing, I especially like experimenting in creating the ultimate and most awesome smoothie.”

Kev Shields Climbing

Injury magnet Kev Shields has had his fair share of broken bones and has most recently suffered from a ruptured tendon in his right hand.

His blog is a collection of anecdotes and tales of his adventures and whether he’s writing about giving up alcohol or trusting his gut, it’s all done in his trademark honest style. Have a peek:

“For a few minutes I tried to fight the feeling but the route didn’t give me enough psyche to take a proper big risk. Maybe I’m losing my mojo or maybe just getting slightly wiser, maybe…”

We vote wiser!

Lockaber Guides

Summer Highs and Lows’ Dave discusses how he dealt with having to repeat one of his instructor assessment days. After initial disappointment, he writes: “I now feel focused regarding what I have to work on and know that whilst this has been a small stumbling block, it will make me a better Mountaineering Instructor in the future.” Tenacity is surely the mark of a good instructor!

Visit Dave’s blog and drool with envy over his work, whether he’s up in the mountains showing tourism university students the rope or starring in a national advert for Vodafone. Check out his mountaintop stance 50 seconds into the ad!

Alex Barrows Climbing

Sheffield based PHD student Alex Barrows got the climbing bug aged 17 after a school trip. After cutting his teeth on traditional classic routes, Alex now considers himself a sport climber.

This involves a lot of training: “Training hurts. Training can be boring. Training will not make you cooler, more popular or more attractive,” yet despite that, Alex knows the importance of of it: “training ultimately helps you to achieve your goals in climbing and succeed on routes that only a few years earlier seemed impossibly out of reach.”

Check out his info-packed 12 page doc on the subject. In it Alex says variety is key, so should train at different venues, different sections of wall, different exercises, different structures and even use different training methodologies.

Climb Out

Electrician Jake McManus has suffered from mental health problems since childhood following the death of his mother, and uses climbing to help with his depression.

He recently featured in the short BBC film, “Getting off the ground”. Check it out here, and find out how he used climbing to improve his mental health.
Now using his experiences to help others, he says: “I think people use me as a bit of a metaphor – if that fat, old geezer can get to the top of stuff then maybe I can get out and do something.”

Jake created Climb Out last year as non-profit organisation to raise awareness of mental health issues while promoting a sense of fun and adventure. Jake says “I don’t really consider myself as “a Climber”, I’m maybe more of a tea drinker who owns a rope”.

Ethan Walker Climbing

Growing up in the Peak District meant climber Ethan Walker was spoilt for choice. And now? He’s hooked: “I love to push my limits in all disciplines of the sport whether this is scaring yourself to death on the famous gritstone or hanging out on some sun drenched European limestone!”

These days he’s focused on exploring other countries, as he puts it, “away from the comforts and the increasingly tedious and often boring nature of the UK.” His latest trip was to the Gorges du Tarn – “a beautiful deep gorge, carved out by the ages with towering rock faces as far as the eye can see.”

Read his blog post ‘A return to France’ for the full debrief.

Dave MacLeod

Scottish climber Dave MacLeod has starred in two films, written a book and has his own wikipedia page, so he’s a clear authority in the world of climbing.

Being a climber of this calibre involves serious effort though. Maintaining a light frame makes navigating your way up and over rocks much easier, which is why Dave is two stone lighter than his sixteen-year-old self.

Want to rec out more potential spots? Dave suggests getting into hill running so you can cover more ground: “Sometimes there are great boulders, sometimes there is just nice scenery and weather. Either way, it is enjoyable and answers a curiosity.”

Ian Parnell

Part climber, part photojournalist, Ian Parnell has many strings to his bow. Friend and fellow climber Andy Kirkpatrick shares a telling anecdote: “There’s been times when I’ve seen Ian trim his gear to the minimum, chucking out his sleeping bag just to squeeze in more camera equipment. The fact that he’s willing to suffer for his art means he brings back photos that few others can.”

Sheffield based Ian blogs about his latest adventures, from climbing the extraordinary cliffs of Donegal in Ireland to working on a mini film series. Check out his blog for the exceptional photography alone.

Soft Rock

When Gaz Marshall bought his first house earlier this year he couldn’t wait to put his own stamp on it. We’re not talking about a lick of paint or snazzy new bathroom though, oh no, we’re talking his very own indoor climbing board!

Jealous? You could build your very own, as Gaz writes: “I’m learning that with a liberal application of cement, screws, bolts and half-arsed trigonometry and with regular trips to Wickes, Homebase and Highland Industrial Supplies to buy an armoury of metalwork, you can make things stand up and stick together.”

Head over to his blog and see what other adventures Gaz has been on; from filming climbing pals on the Moray coast to discover a local “mini-crag” above a river.

John Roberts

With posts ranging from ‘7 tips for the legal profession on working with Michael Gove’ to ‘When running goes wrong – heart seizures in the mountains’ climber John Roberts’ blog offers an eclectic mix of his favourite topics.

In his post ‘British climbing – the bold way or the old way?’ John explores how the UK perceives trad climbing. His opinion? Progression requires structure: “So, anchor in the boat, control the ego, patience is a virtue, and in this game it keeps you alive.”

Check out his blog for more on climbing, with business, education and tech thrown in for good measure!

Vertical Fever

How does it feel to be a mountaineering instructor with an out of whack back? Pretty depressing, according to Steve Holmes.

His dodgy back wasn’t caused by climbing, though. During the Iraq War, when Steve was a Royal Marine, he took a fall through a false floor. How do you recover from not being able to stand for 2 minutes or walk further than 30 metres? Check out his blog post ‘A Painful Summer’ to find out how his recovery went.

Steve blogs about happier things too, like terrifying friction climbing (the images will make you sweat) and detailed reviews of the latest must have climbing gear. Oh, and did we mention he occasionally posts pictures of his husky? Definitely a reason to visit!

Tom Livingstone

A fan of trad, winter and alpine climbing, Tom Livingstone’s motto is: the bigger and harder, the better! But despite the bravado of such sentiments, all climbers will meet the same fate: being eaten alive by midges.

Tom describes the pain: “‘I focus my zen, cash in my karma and resist… resist… res… but still they find a way in. Down socks, under hoods, up sleeves…” His antidote? Guinness! Find out more in his post ‘The Good, The Bad and The Guinness’.

It’s not just bemoaning the existence of midges Tom does so well, he shares witty observations about all of climbing life, whether that’s about climbing with chopsticks (beginners or new climbing partners), or why he actively avoids Twitter. So come and have a laugh with Tom.

Robbie Phillips

Do climbers have their heads in the clouds? Climber and coach Robbie Phillips thinks so, and argues it’s no bad thing: “Climbing is the ultimate activity for someone with an overactive imagination and a tendency towards the eccentric obsessive.”

Robbie isn’t afraid to tackle meaty subjects on his blog, such as fear and anxiety. His top tips for combating these feelings? Relaxing music, visualisation and positive reinforcement.

This coach really knows his stuff. Find out more about his approach to Technique, concepts and even the mental approach to the sport on his clear and comprehensive blog.

Nathan Lee Climbing

Heard of mid season blues? For university student Nathan Lee it kicked in around December: “when the weather turned s**t and the psyche went through the floor.”

But how do you shake it off? Relief arrived in the form of a trip: “Just after Christmas I had the pleasure of visiting one of the best crags on the globe; Siurana.” Check out his post for some jealousy-inducing pics. Time to book some advanced flights and avoid the mid season blues!

You should read about some of Nathan’s regular climbs all over the UK, from the sea-cliffs and mountains of North Wales to his most recent trip to “the best crag in Ireland”.

Murdoch Jamieson

Where would you go if you had a week in the lakes with a high pressure forecast? I’m sure many of you will sympathise with Scottish mixed climber Murdoch Jamieson, who immediately wanted to go everywhere!

He relaxed midweek upon realising: “I can’t tick the Lakes in a week. We settled with visiting a new crag each day and do a few classics.” Check out his post ‘Lakeland Spanking’ to see how he fared.

Check out his blog and Flickr for more tales of his trips and awe-inspiring snaps.

Nick Bullock Climber

This man needs no introduction to most climbers. One of the UK’s most prolific alpinists, Nick Bullock is known for his bold ascents and has even written a book on the subject.

Do you ever feel like you came to the sport too old? You might be surprised to learn Nick feels the same way, as he describes how other climbers seem to intuitively “change into a bird of prey; eyes spot formation which transfers immediately to brain.” His advice if that’s not you? Keep going and accept you’re only human.

His blog is utterly convincing of his adoration for the sport: “I love taking that fall. I love the position and the air. I love the effort and the static crackle. I love the internal dialogue. I love the microcosm and millimetres of improvement.” Something which he thinks is all too often overlooked in our “Facebook society”, where we are motivated by virtual likes and approval.

Ramon’s Blog

Being office bound in London and coming to climbing relatively later in life, Ramon’s blog offers a different perspective on the sport.

This summer, forced by an elbow injury, Ramon discovered that time out is essential: “In the process of letting go I really enjoyed getting enveloped in adventure and the beauty of wonder that sometimes we miss when we’re too goal-oriented.”

Now over the worst of his injury and feeling rejuvenated, Ramon is excited to take the Autumn season by storm: “Talks about Lewis, Ireland, Utah and more UK stuff are starting to give me itchy feet.” Stay up-to-date with his travels on his blog.

Rob Greenwood Climbing

Rob Greenwood explains he has two distinctive sides: the impatient, stubborn side that suits his climbing and “the yoga-loving vegetarian that over-thinks, over-analyses, and gets a bit emotional when near the sea.”

As a result, climbing, in itself, isn’t enough for Rob. That’s why he blogs, to think and process: “because without it I’m just moving upwards over pieces of rock.”

If you like having your thoughts provoked, you’re going to love Rob’s blog.

Sam’s Rock Climbing Life

Former journalist, Sam Schofield’s blog is a mix of accounts of his latest adventures (and injuries – don’t look if you’re squeamish) as well as practical advice.

As someone who knows a thing or two about the media, Sam recently pointed about the importance of putting yourself out there if you want go professional. His top tips? Write a blog, be active on social media or even start a vlog:

“Don’t expect a few hours in the gym each day, the odd hard ascent and a single obscure, blurry photo posted online each week is going to ensure you don’t need a 9-5.”

So what are you waiting for? Go and register that domain! Or at the very least download Instagram.

Tom Randall Climbing

“I fell into the niche of crack climbing and this is probably where I have had my greatest successes. I’m not sure that it’s because I’m any better than anyone else at this, but more that no one else enjoys the pain!” So says trad climber Tom Randall, who likes to trick his way up routes, making up for “a total lack of basic power by having oodles of endurance.”

So if you’d like to have a crack at crack climbing, Tom’s blog is a cracking place to start. As he so modestly puts it: “I’m not sure that it’s because I’m any better than anyone else at this, but more that no one else enjoys the pain!”

His blog covers all aspects of the niche, such as why rest is just as important as training if you want to achieve super-compensation. He’s also recently explored the issue of structured strength training, and enlisted the help of ex-gymnast turned personal trainer Ollie Torr to whip him into shape. Read about his decision here.


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