Tag Archives: sport climbing

Climbing in Thailand: Longing for rain

I’ve never longed for rain this much in my life. A few days ago, temperatures reached a toasty 34 degrees Celsius, with Google telling me it “feels like 37”, and I could feel every single damn degree of it. My head was pounding, my body refused to move, I was starting to get pretty irritable. The weather forecast promised a 60% chance of rain, and I could sense it hanging heavy in the air (even heavier that the usual humidity in Thailand), but it just wasn’t coming.

After two or three days of this, the humidity reached such astronomical levels that I was sweating so much I couldn’t hold onto my makeshift walking stick (manufactured out of a clip-stick, so as not to waste a good piece of equipment while not in use) on the approach to the crag. It was slipping out of my hand.

Then, finally, that day, when the 20 minute approach up a steep hill nearly made me vomit, the rain finally came. Not a massive, satisfying downpour, like you get during the tropical monsoon season; but still a huge relief after the days of building tension.

The rain in Thailand seems so much more serious about its job than the rains we often get back in the UK. Every drop is more substantial and heavy, and it only last for a short period of time, instead of dragging on for long, exhausting hours.

It’s amazing how quickly one gets used to his or her current situation and begins complaining about the very same things they wanted desperately only a short while before. A month ago, I couldn’t wait for the heat of South East Asia. I wanted desperately to escape the drizzly, damp and miserable British winter. Now look at me, complaining about how hot I am!

I remind myself of this on a regular basis, then promptly feel ashamed about complaining and focus instead on looking forward to a cold shower.

That’s another thing that has been rather novel in my life here – the joy I get from a cold shower. To the point that, despite the existence of slightly temperamental, but functional hot showers, for well over a week now we have chosen to wash ourselves in the shower we luckily have in our room, despite it being cold. Partly for convenience, but to a large extent because it just feels so good to let the cold water wash over you after a day of slithering our sweaty way up rock faces and perspiring profusely after accidentally putting that little bit too much chilli on our food.

Today we are resting, which mostly involves hiding in our room with two fans on. Despite it being a much more overcast day than we have had recently, the humidity is still relentless, and the indoors is so inviting. I never thought I would choose to stay inside when it’s warm enough to lie around and read my book outdoors, but that’s precisely what we’re doing. And I’ve almost learnt not to feel guilty about it.

Tomorrow is a big climbing day. We are going to a crag called the Heart Wall – the furthest  one away from where we are staying (that’s the 20 minute approach I enjoyed so much a few days ago), but also the most impressive, and coincidentally the most energy intensive and tiring.

Tomorrow also happens to be Thanksgiving, and given we have made some lovely American friends over here, tomorrow will also be a big eating day, so we have to prepare our bodies for both!

Climbing in Northern Spain: Destination guide

‘Wow! A lifetime would not be enough to climb all the rock in this place!!’ – that was my thought when I first arrived in Asturias, a region in the North-West of Spain, in June this year. I have now just come back from a second trip, and I want more already!!!

Asturias
Entrago in Asturias

My love affair with Asturias dates back to a day in mid-May when I was googling somewhere cheap to fly to in Spain at relatively short notice, to climb, of course. I stumbled upon Asturias on skyscanner.com. The flights were cheap! Even for the May bank holiday weekend, the return tickets were barely over £100. ‘I wonder if there is any climbing there?’ I thought to myself, so I looked around and came upon this article on UKC…and I knew straight away I had found something pretty damn special!

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Review: Climbing Frog Belay Glasses

I had always wondered about these goofy-looking belay glasses that people sometimes sport at climbing gyms – I didn’t even know what they were at first, then I tried a pair on and felt vaguely dizzy.

The idea behind them is that you can see the climber above while belaying without having to lift your head and strain your neck for hours to keep an eye on them. They have special lenses that allow you to see like this.

In theory, it makes sense and I was always tempted to give them a shot, but I wasn’t going to fork out £40-£50 just to try them – and what if I didn’t like them anyway?
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A breakthrough weekend

This weekend I went back to Tintern Quarry, where I have already been before, but somehow it felt massively different and I liked the place so much more this time around. Everything worked together this time to make this weekend a breakthrough moment in my outdoor climbing so far this summer.

Tintern Quarry lies on the east bank of the River Wye, not far from Chepstow and just over the Severn Bridge if you’re driving from London. The Wye Valley will always be memorable to me as the place where I did my first trad lead, but the sport climbing in England hasn’t really managed to find its way into my heart until this weekend.
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Sport climbing in Portland

This post is a little late – my trip to Portland was over the first bank holiday in May, but better late than never!

Both my knees are bruised and scratched, my hands look like I’ve had a fight with a tiger, and it really hurts to walk…a sign of a good outdoor climbing trip! Or rather, a sign that I have experienced a number of moments of desperation, and fell quite a few metres to smash my body into some rock. 

The first days of May mean only one thing to a climber – the start of the outdoor season. So we forget indoor gyms, where we climb on colour-coded plastic in the winter, and migrate to real rock.

On the first bank holiday in May I went to Portland for some sport climbing – a rare luxury in England, where most climbing is trad. Despite a shoddy weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend, we managed to get in two days of good climbing in the (occasional) sunshine. Well, mostly in the sunshine, actually!

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