Thursday, 27 August 2009

Keep up to date with how the local hot shots are performing in the Youth World Cup on the above link.

Scottish Climbers -
Nat Berry
Jonny Stocking
Paul Williamson
Robbie Phillips
Roberto MacKenzie

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Girl Power

Would just like to congratulate EICA:Ratho coach Mhairi on dispatching Marlene 7C at Upper Cave Crag - Dunkeld. There seems to no stopping her at the moment as she rapidly moves up through the grades at a ridiculous rate of knots. Rumour has it that she has also had a couple of sneaky sessions on an 8a and was not looking too far away from it. The race is definitely on for the title of first Scottish Female to tick 8a outdoors. With local comp star Nat Berry (technically from Liverpool, but an adopted Scot!) getting more psyched for real rock and Lynne Malcolm having ticked 7c+ earlier in the season and now living in northern Spain, I don't think it will be long before this is achieved. I apologise if there is a Scottish female out there already climbing 8a that I am not aware of!

Well done Mhairi

Mhairi cranking it out in Lakeland.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

New Adition to EICA: Route Setting

Over the last 2 months EICA: Ratho have been testing a selection of holds from the latest climbing hold manufacturers on the block - Extreme Dream Holds. These holds are no ordinary climbing holds. They are made from moulds taken directly from real rock at the crag and they are made from a resin mix that has been fine tuned to create exactly the same texture as the rock type they are designed on. I have to be honest and say that I have taken the blind fold test for each range of rock type hold that they produce and I cannot tell the difference between Extreme Dream Holds and Rock. These holds are nothing like any other holds on the market and I feel are definitely an interesting addition to the selection of holds we already have at on the walls at Ratho. Route setting with these holds is very enjoyable and the range of different and random shapes make it possible to set extremely challenging and hard to read problems and routes.

We have two full Extreme Dream routes in the centre for everyone to test their route reading skills on. The Main Top Roping Wall is home to the blue F5 on line 78. This is set from the Extreme Dream Gabbro range and offers some cool bridging and mantle shelf action. The other route is set using the Grit-stone range and offers some powerful and technical climbing up the middle arete on the old comp wall. The Green route on line 39 was set as a qualifying route for the recent British Team Trials. The nature of this range means that it is extremely difficult to read moves from the ground, which resulted in some rather sketchy moments during the trials. Both of these routes have proved extremely popular, and we have received some very enthusiastic and positive feedback from members who have tried them. If you have not tried the routes yet, get stuck in and let us know what you think of them. Be warned though these holds come with an extreme friction warning and it is advised that you adopt a slow, precise and controlled climbing style when attempting them as thrashing or snatching will only be rewarded with skin loss!

Full range of holds include;
Gabbro Range
Basalt Range
Gneiss Range
Sand-Stone Range
Grit Stone Range
Granite Range

Check out the website if you want more info on these climbing holds:

"a very welcome break from the mundane blob pulling experience that is rather too common these days. Every climbing centre should have at least a few routes of these!"
Dave Macleod

Alan Cassiday's Comp Report

Alan Cassiday is a top Scottish Sport climber and competition climber based in North Spain. He is a member of the British Senior Lead Climbing Team and recently achieved a 4th place finnish in the British Lead Climbing Championships (BLCC's), which were held at EICA: Ratho on the 18th & 19th of July earlier this year. In the article below, he gives us a run down of Scottish success stories at both the senior and junior BLCC's and the BBC's (British Bouldering Championships).

Scotland's young climbers' training seems to be paying off at both the British bouldering and leading championships. All the young Scots put in great performances on the day with some very positive climbing and showing of the talent that lies in abundance these days north of the border.

Nat Berry made the smooth transition from Junior to Senior taking the BLCC crown at Ratho with consumate ease. Mutant only just describes Jonny Stocking who did the deed in the junior males at both the BLCC at Ratho and the BBC in Sheffield. He was joined on the podium by another young Johnny, Jonathan Field this time who's training paid off with a fabulous 2nd place in Sheffield and was only denied 3rd place on the BLCC podium by the presence of a foreign vistor in the form of Israeli climber Alon Gurman who took 2nd place.

There is great strength in depth in the junior field with the list. Ellen McCaskill took 4th and 6th at Ratho and Sheffeild respectively and was joined in the EICA: Ratho final by an up-and-coming name; Eleanor Hopkins, a strong tip to take on the mantle of Nat Berry in the future. After less than a year of starting to lead climb she grabbed 6th place. By all accounts both competitions had great showings from all the other Scottish juniors.

In the seniors Ross Kirkland’s battle with qualifying route 2 was great to watch and as young climber continuing to improve the future is getting brighter in the senior competition too. As for the more senior seniors, Roddy Mackenzie put a few demons to rest and got into a well deserved final at Sheffield where he finished 6th and Alan Cassidy surprised himself and many others with his 4th place at EICA: Ratho.
And for those who say "but what have they done outdoors?" the answer is quite a lot really! The highlights (but by no means the only things going on) belong again to Mr Stocking; flashing 8a with Mussel Beach at LPT and working his way through the trad. Onsighting E5 is a doddle E6 has been ticked and the Brandler-Hasse has also been dispatched...the future is in safe hands.

Comp report from - Alan Cassidy British Team Member
Alans sponsors include- Pod Sacs, Metolius & Evolv.

Ifyou would like to read more about Alan's climbing adventures, you can do so through visiting his blog;

If you would like to check out some more images of the recent BLCC's at EICA: Ratho go to

European Youth Series - Edinburgh

EICA: Ratho are all set to hold a round of the International Federation of Sport Climbing - 2009 European Youth Series. Because we are the host nation, our national team are allowed to enter 6 competitors in the each of the 6 age categories. The age categories are as follows; Youth B (year of birth - 1994 & 1995) Youth A (year of birth - 1992 & 1993) Junior (year of birth - 1990 & 1991).
Scottish youth climbing is currently stronger than it has ever been and because of this there will be 12 young Scottish climbers involved in the BMC British Junior Climbing Team at this event.

Two young local climbers in particular have performed exceptionally well at this level over the last few years. Nat Berry (current Senior British Lead Climbing Champion) achieved a 1st place finish in an EYS round in 2007 and also achieved an overall 3rd place finish in that years series. She is in great form at present and will be one to watch out for. Jonathan Stocking (current Junior British Lead Climbing Champion) managed to achieve 3rd place finishes in EYS legs and in the overall series in 2008 (not bad when you consider that he has climbers of the caliber of Adam Ondra in his age category!. He is currently in great shape to build on these results this year.

EICA: Ratho would like to wish the following climbers, along with all the other British Team members, the best of luck in the competition.

Scottish Climbers competing in the Edinburgh - EYS;

Jessica McCaskey
Ellen Macaskill
Nat Berry
Jaime Davidson
Robbie Phillips
Robert MacKenzie
Jonathan Stocking
Ross Kirkland
Paul Williamson
Jonathan Field
Alisdair Johnstone
Steven Addison

If you would like to offer these extremely talented climbers your support over the weekend please come along, with your Scotland flags and cheer them on to glory.

EICA: Ratho would like to thank DBM: Photo for the Image.

Scottish Youth Gunning for Success in World Cup

This week will see Valence in France host the 2009 Youth World Cup. The top junior climbers from all over the globe will be competing against each other in the difficulty (lead climbing) and Speed Climbing events. The competition is spread over 4 action packed days beginning on Thursday the 27th.

There will be 5 young Scottish climbers representing the British Junior Team at this event, with Jonathan Stocking, Nat Berry, Paul Williamson, Robert MacKenzie and Robbie Phillips. Nat and Jonnie have already managed to achieve 4th place finishes in previous World cups and are in great shape to improve on these results this year. Robert, Robbie and Paul are all in great shape and are tipped to make an impact in the event too.

Everyone at EICA: Ratho would like to wish them the best of luck.

You can keep up to date with the action through a live T.V. link on;

Results and rankings are available on the International Federation of Sport Climbing web site;

Thanks to DBM Photo for the image.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Edinburgh's got Talent

Rachel Carr is a very talented young Edinburgh based climber, who has recently taken the junior competition circut by storm. She has only been climbing for 2 years, but has already made an impact on the national competition circiut, achieving 1st place finshes in the Scotland South Youth Climbing Series(YCS), the Scottish Championships and the British YCS finals. She also recently managed to achieve a 3rd place in the British Team European Youth Championships Trials event and the only thing that prevented her from gaining a slot on the British Team at the Europeans was her age. However, she is well on the way to achieving a slot in the 2010 world cup squad. I recently caught up with her before one of her training sessions and asked for some inside information on how she has become so good.

How long have you been climbing for?
I joined Rocksters in November 2007, but started seriously when I joined BRYCS February 2008.

How did you start climbing?
My mum’s friend Cicci took me climbing and I was apparently really good so I kept going once a week to Rocksters.

Where do you train?
EICA:Ratho mainly, but I also enjoy visiting other walls such as Alien Rock in Edinburgh and Extreme Dream in Aviemore.

You were a gymnast before you started climbing, do you think this helped you?
Yes it’s made me more flexible and also helped me with some balancing skills.

What is the YCS?
Youth Climbing Series, it’s a climbing competition for children age 8 to 16.

Who should try the YCS?
Anyone who thinks they would enjoy it.

You were the 2009 YCS British Champion, how did you prepare in terms of training for this competition?
I went climbing 4 times a week and focused on the type of climbing I expected to be in the competition and built up my strength, I also ate healthily in order to give me more strength.

What is the hardest thing about dealing with climbing competitions?
Probably the fact that you’re not sure how well other people are going to do, and possibly the fact that your competitors are watching you all the time.

Have you ever climbed outdoors? Where?
Yes I’ve been to Malham cove in Yorkshire, Rosyth quarry just outside of Edinburgh and others places with the Quickdraw Climbing Club. I also climbed in Krabi (Thailand) this year as part of our summer holiday.

How does this compare to climbing in doors?
It’s different and can be more technical because it’s not as easy to plan your route.

What future ambitions do you have within the sport?
I would like to make it on to the British team, compete in the Europeans and hopefully the Worlds in 2010.

Do you have any tips for other young climbers that want to improve and do well in competitions?
Focus on doing well yourself and not how others are doing. Don’t be afraid to go for competitions and have fun.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Adam Hughes account of Dolomites Adventure

Adam ‘Begbie’ Hughes (Hughes Mountaineering)
Neil ‘Geek’ McGeachy (EICA: Ratho)
Jonathan ‘Weegie’ Stocking (British / Scottish Junior climbing Team)

After a conversation with Neil near the end of the winter season about the climbing he has been missing out on by sports climbing and cragging mainly in Britain, we got talking about the dolomites. By the time we had finished we were checking rotas, and had an objective, the Brandler-Hasse on the Cima Grande. At an apparent E5 (7a+) and one of the most sort after routes in the Alps, it was going to be good. After a few weeks talking about the trip we thought that it would be a good opportunity for Johnny to experience something different. Secretly, it was nice to have another rope gun along. This would be the first alpine experience for both of them, and what a place to start. So, the team was set, the goal an exciting and challenging one and training about to start.

Being the weakest link in the trio I was keen to get as fit as possible after a good winter season. Things started well, straight back on E3 to get the head back in gear and ticking 7b+ as the first sport route of the season. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start. Then at the beginning of April I hurt my back very badly. After going through the usual ‘it will be ok in a couple of days’ process it was clear it was going to be a little longer. Long story short, 4 months later, only 10 days cragging under my belt, we where in the Dolomites. Good job the other two are fit.

After driving for two days we decided to get the muscles moving on an easy route and see how we were climbing together as a three. We chose the South Face (Cassin Route) VII- (E2) on the Cima Picola. This is a short route at 300m with some good climbing and excellent situations. The perfect warm up and one I would recommend to people who are thinking of climbing in the Dolomites. All went well, as we moved quickly up the route with only a little bit of grip at the loose bold sections. Even the decent went well with only one minor rope jam in the 6 or so abseils down the rubble filled chimney, Result. Once we had packed the kit away we headed over the shoulder to have a look at the Cima Grande North face. It was just as big as I remembered from my last trip here, and from the look on Neil and Johnny’s faces it was a lot bigger than they had thought. With nervous excitement we were psyched to return tomorrow.

Thursday morning saw a 4 am start and an excited walk around to the route. We were the first people there and got started straight away. We had a mix of topos that I had found on the tinterweb, all of which where not overly clear about the starting two pitches. I started and thought that I had linked the first two pitches and belayed below a good looking pitch, pretty happy to be on the move. The others came up quickly and Neil took over for the next stint. After another pitch and a half the climbing was suddenly much harder than it should have been. Even after mine and Johnny’s helpful comments to push on and man up, Neil was back at the belay. It appeared that we had wandered onto the Super Directissima. A little harder than planned at E7. A quick retreat and a rather bitty chat with another Italian climber and we had the right direction, over there! Very helpful. We headed over there but things still didn’t go to plan. So we bailed, with the view of coming back tomorrow and going the right way, simples.

A less enthusiastic 4 am start and an even less enthusiastic walk back to the route saw us ready to start again. We all felt a little pressure to get up the route and this made things a bit more focused. Armed with a better sense of direction I ran up the first pitch. The second pitch involved easy but bold climbing that went sideways, down, then up. No wonder we got lost. After this things became a lot more obvious. We made very good time, block leading and climbed at the same time as two seconds. After what seemed like a very long E5 already, we arrived at the crux section. Johnny did a sterling effort linking a solid 6b pitch into the first 7a pitch. After some hard sustained climbing he ran out of quick draws short of the belay. This gave us all an atmospheric hanging stance. I took over and did a short section to get us to the main, better belay. From here Neil went into over drive, leading the next three hard pitches. A truly inspiring thing to watch as he power screamed his way though some extremely tiring sections. Things eased off after this but tiredness and frustration at the never ending final sections caused some entertaining mood swings. I earned my keep on the last five or so pitches which took in some bold and less solid climbing to take us to the top. With not much daylight left, cloud coming in fast, we needing to descend quickly. This proved to be a bit difficult. It appeared that only one of us had remembered to bring a head torch. We managed to descend the abseils with the help of a French couple, but with no head torches the down climb sections were too dangerous. This was the first time I have been benighted, and hopefully the last. After a very long and cold night with much manly hugging to keep warm, the light came back and we could pick our way down the descent. By 7am we had made it back to the car and could finally get some food, but what an experience.

After a rest day and some fishing we decided to leave Italy and head to Austria. Johnny has the world cup coming up and needs to do some hard sports climbing to train. He had heard about a valley called Zillertal near Innsbruck, so off we went. It was a Sunday when we drove over, thinking that this popular tourist valley would have many tourist info office to help point us in the right direction. NO! It would appear that they don’t do Sunday. After driving around for about three hours looking for crags in this Austrian Mecca of granite sports climbing we decided that another rest day was not the worst thing. Next day we had more luck at the tourist info, but no luck at the climbing shop. Looking through the window we could see all the guide books on the desk, but the shop only opens 3pm to 6pm (what is that all about). More frustration and pastries later, we were 30 euros down but new where we headed. I have forgotten to mention that it also appears to rain all the time in Zillertal. So, having found some steep looking crags in Ginzling, we finally got on some rock. The climbing was awesome. Due to everywhere being mostly wet, even though the weather improved as the week went on we climbing in Ginzling the whole time. This was no bad thing. There are many sectors, but we where based in the Bergstation. Sector By The Way provided some good routes to warm up on, as well as breaking up the trudge up the hill to sector Sterne. Despite the climbing being very burly and bouldery, we all enjoyed it. Johnny flashed a hard 7c I was working and made very short work of his first 8a+. Neil made a quick ascent of 7c and worked a number of harder climbs. I even managed to on sight a hard 7a+, which felt like something special after the preparation I hadn’t had for the trip. The final day climbing before the drive back saw us doing a little bouldering. With no mats and some bad landing we didn’t push things out. It only when you climb on the boulders you can see how this would help on the routes, a good way to get used to the rock and climbing style.

Overall, a successful trip with some excellent climbing in fantastic setting. Defiantly recommended.

Thanks to my sponsors Edelrid for great kit.

Warm Up Tips for Young Climbers

Hi guys, Recently I have been very impressed to see that many of the BRYCS kids have been making the effort to come in and put some additional training in away from the club. This is awsome, as climbing more than 1 day a week is only gonna help your over all development as climbers. Just thought I would use this forum to offer some basic tips on training that might help you on your way to rock stardom.


This is the single most important thing to get right with your training, as failure to do it correctly may result in poor performance, longer recovery time between sessions or even worse injury! Remember kiddies if you can touch your toes, how are you gonna tie your rock boots up? Just ask Billy boy, he has been forced to climb in slippers for years coz he didn't stretch as kiddie!

Warming up is not something you should rush, it takes me between 25 and 30 minutes to warm up properly before I train. I ease my self in gently and concentrate on slowly getting my body and brain prepared for what it is going to be doing when I climb. Coming in and jumping straight on to a steep boulder is a bad plan of action and may result in your head exploding (OK that's a bit of an fib, but it could result in strained fingers or other climbing related injuries).

Three important stages of warming up;
1. Cardio Vascular- Before you do anything, you have to raise your heart rate. It is important that you get the blood pumping round you muscles and also warm up your body. You don't have to run a half marathon, but running round the arena a few times or running up and down the stairs a few times would be a good idea.

2. Climbing Specific- This stage should involve super easy climbing and it serves the purpose of warming up all of the exact climbing muscles you are gonna be using. It also gets your brain working and ready to climb. The key is to ensure that the climbing you do here is super EASY. Traversing the bottom of the lead or top rope wall is a perfect way to do this. Another good tip is to concentrate on your technique and footwork during this stage. Thinking hard about transferring your weight over footholds and being very precise with your feet. If you start a session concentrating on climbing well, then you are more likely to continue this throughout the rest of your session.

3. Flexibility - Basic mobility exercises are the third and final part of the 3 main warm up stages. You all know lots of good climbing related warm up exercises. Think about every different part of your body you use to climb and do an exercise for it. Include exercises like arm swings, leg kicks, jumping and hopping on the spot etc. These will help warm up your joints and muscles through a full range of movements.

These stages are written in this order for a reason. You should try and avoid stretching or working flexibility before you have raised your heart rate or carried out some easy climbing. Stretching when your muscles/joints are still cold increases chance of hurting yourself when you are doing it. Finally, you have to note that the warm up doesn't stop there! you have to then gradually ease yourself into routes or bouldering. Don't just jump straight on a 7a or a grade 6 boulder problem. Start on a 4+ then work up to your 7a attempt.

WARMING DOWN is just as important as warming up, but it doesn't take quite as long. I spend 5 minutes doing easy boulder problems, traversing or very easy routes. I then finish off carrying out a full stretching routine. Making the effort to warm down will help your body wind down after a session and will speed up the time it takes your muscles to recover after a session. Remember guys flexibility is a huge part of being a top climber, so stretching is an important part of your training! The warm down is the perfect time to focus on this!

Hope this helps and keep up the hard work guys!

Improve your Foot work

The first and must important part of achieving good climbing technique is learning to use our feet effectively. We hear lots of people saying certain climbers have good footwork, but what does it actually mean?

In my opinion the two most important factors of good footwork are;
1.) Being able to place your feet quickly and precisely.
2.) Being able to transfer your weight over your feet.

1.) Be quick and precise:
When we are placing our feet we should be aiming to use the front of our rock boot as much as possible. This means the inside edge, outside edge and the front point! This allows us to be precise with our foot placements when standing on smaller holds, allows us to twist and turn when climbing by simply pivoting on our feet, and minimises the chance of our feet slipping off.
Using this part of our feet also allows us to gain more force and height from the foot placement. Think about how your foot works when jumping, you flex your feet and push off from your toes. Its the same principle when flexing your foot to stretch for a distant climbing hold or flexing your foot when powering up for that dyno! Obviously, we also have to learn when it is appropriate to heel hook or toe hook (usually of very steep ground), but the majority of foot placements should be made as above.

How do we improve this?
It may sound simple, but looking at your feet when you place them helps. Make a conscious effort to look at the foot hold, and place your foot exactly where you are looking. If you are clumping around with your feet, banging them off the wall each time you place them or hoping about on a foot hold to readjust, you are wasting valuable energy when you climb. The easiest way I have found to practise this is to think really hard about it when you are climbing easy warm up climbs, slow down and really concentrate on placing your feet quietly in control. As you improve at this, begin to attempt climbing these routes quicker, but still be precise and controlled with your feet placements. Over time this will improve your footwork on all of your climbs. Another training tip I have for improving this is to attempt climbing boulder problems in the EICA: Ratho arena using features only for feet. This will help you learn how to trust standing on small holds, it will help you improve your judgement with foothold selection and it will also help build up core strength as keeping your feet on small holds when climbing steeper problems requires a lot of body tension!.

2.) Transferring your weight over your feet:
Spend time during your next session watching a really good climber on a route up our main lead wall. As they move up the wall you will see them transfer their body from side to side or twist their whole body each time they reach for a hold! The climber is doing this so that they can move their weight over the foot that they are pushing off, thus moving in the most efficient way. If your weight is over your foot when you push up on it, you use far less pulling energy in your arms! A really good climber to observe doing this is Nat Berry, as she is phenomenal at this technique in climbing. Her amazing level of flexibility in her hips, allows her to transfer her weight over any foothold regardless of how awkwardly placed they are!

How do we improve this? This is a really important skill to master, as the whole point of good technique is 'minimising the amount of energy used in our arms' ! The less energy we use in our arms, the longer we can climb on a route before we get tired. Learning to transfer our weight over our feet makes us more efficient at how we use our feet and reduces the strain on our arms, thus making us more technical climbers.
The best way I have found to practise this technique is to spend time on the slab areas in the wall. Practice climbing the routes with one hand, but really concentrate on getting the upward motion from your legs!. If you have to pull with your hand to make a move, stop and think about your feet and body position, then try again. Once you have mastered this, make things harder for yourself by attempting these climbs with no hands. You can place your hands flat against the wall, but you are not allowed to touch any of the holds. It is impossible to achieve this without transferring your weight over your feet!

Finally start experimenting with how we can use twisting to help us transfer our weight over our feet. Again use the slab area to begin with. Force yourself to only use the outside edge of your climbing shoe, in order to do this you will have to twist your whole body round each time you stand up on a foot. An easy way to think about it is to say to yourself - 'if I am standing up on my right foot I have to twist to face left, if i am standing up on my left foot I have to twist to face the right'!

Spend a bit of time each session concentrating on practising good footwork and you will become very good at using your feet. Remember, there is more to being good at climbing than just getting fitter and stronger! If we don't move well when we are climbing we are not going to climb to our full potential!

Youth Rock Jock Corner

Hi guyz,
As you can see Ratho Coach Robbie Philips has been offering some awesome training tips and motivation for training and using our facilities to improve your climbing and fitness. Please beware though that many training techniques for experienced adult climbers are not always suitable for younger climbers wanting to improve their fitness levels! We at EICA: Ratho strongly advise that any climbers under the age of 18 years avoid using footless training aids such as Campus boards or finger boards (i.e. Beastmakers) within their training. Training on these aparatus put tremendious amounts of strain on your joints, in particular your fingers, elbows and shoulders. Training like this when your body is still growing and developing at a fast rate can have serious consequencies! These sorts of training are best left until you have stopped growing and have already built up a wealth of time climbing.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The cave

The past couple of weeks has been a great turnover for the Boulder cave, with new problems being set nearly every day, from V0 to V9 at the moment theres plenty to go at! Yesterday I had two and a half hours at the end of the day dedicated to setting and in that time managed to produce some more quality problems for your climbing pleasure. On the Slab by the office we have a new V4/5 Tan problem. It consists of a delicate start on sloping crimps to a high rock over and a double dyno slap to a positive sloper! WICKED! On the Pillar there's a new V5 Black problem. A fine and balancy arete heads into the jutting overhang roof with a finger jug and sloper round the lip, from here you can be technical and use some cunning toe hooks or be a beast and campus for the final hold (Not a jug really?). On the mantel shelf board there are two new problems! A technical and balancy arete (Tan V2) all the way to the top with some very challenging sequences... make sure those hands are on the right holds... And a new black V5 that traverses the mantel lip and into the mantelshelf itself. This should grade at around V5 but turning the lip of the overhang from the mantelself proved very tricky for me, maybe with some new beta It might be easier? Also on the back wall there is a new ripple V3 traverse and a new V6 Orange crimp fest cuortesy of Lisandro! On the v-board, I worked yet more problems onto it, a new V5 (White) heading up the prow with some very sneaky beta coming up on video after it's seen a bit more action. Finally, a new purple V2 and grey V1 as well. Watch the last move of the grey...

And now the 45 board has finally been reset! Buz and I had a long chat about how to reset it, should we set problems for people to lap or should we just cover the wall with holds like a normal circuit board. In the end we covered the wall with loads of different holds in different positions to provide every possible movement from every possible hold to provide the best training board for circuits and bouldering that we could manage. I think it turned out rather well. I'm going to go over all the grid numbers on the Y and X-axis of the board so that we can easily plot problems and circuits on it. For everyonese use there will be a folder with all the circuits and problems in it listed by grade and the public will have the opportunity to add to this if they like, although if you are adding to it, make sure it's a good one ; P

In my opinion this way of setting up the 45 board is the best. It's the way all major Walls have set their circuit boards and it's the way all the top climbers have their boards, so why not on the worlds largest climbing wall, should we not have a board luke this (if only it was a real 45 board).

Also, forgot to mention. Anyone who likes aretes? Try the new tan arĂȘte on the right hand side of the 45 board, there's no particular sequence, whatever works for you?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Circuits? What are those?

Hey guys!

More news from the routesetting front. Soon to be stripped and set is the "45" board in the cave. A long awaited change is coming to fruition and soon we will have a brand new set of problem laps and circuits for your power-endurance pleasure. What is that you say? Power-Endurance? Power-Endurance is one of the most misunderstood form of climbing training. It is (in a very basic explanation) the transition between power and enurance and is an essential key to improving your overall performance on the rock. Primarily it is more essential for route climbers than boulderers although for those seeking longer and more sustained problems, theres no harm in training it. The best way to train it (personally) is by climbing circuits or doing problem reps (laps). The "45" board in the cave is the best wall for this at ratho and this is why we tailor all the problems on it to suit this specific type of training. Every problem on the board has a twin next to it. They are not always identical but they range around the same difficulty. As well as that there are also a few easier jug lines to allow easier downclimbing if necessary. The board is also fitted with loads of screw-ons if you wish to make it harder for yourself (use them for your feet). The problems vary in length from between 8 and 12 moves, coupled with downclimbing you can make a full up and down rep into a healthy 18 moves on average. I usually (if training on "45" board) will rep (up and down) on one colour and the move on to the next e.g.

1) Up Purple V6
2) Down Purple (Twin) V6
3) Up Tan V5
4) Down Tan (Twin) V5

That is a good set! And you should want to make your tailored to yuor specific needs my allowing it to be hard enough to make the final moves but not always complete it. Until you can safely complete every set every time, you should not increase the difficulty too much. Power endurance is very personal and it must be specific to you. I would class this training as circuits. You can also make your own circuits up using any holds (that is sometimes better). Problem Reps involve choosing a problem that you can finish (between 8 and 12 moves) and repping it 4 times max. On the final 2 reps you should be falling at the top. As soon as you can rep it seuccesfully every time you can change it. Why not simply tweak one of the holds in it to make it only a little harder? Each rep should include a one minute rest (it is essential to use a stopwatch otherwise the results become to scattered and varied.

When it comes to Power-Endurance, it is essential that you don't climb to total failure. Sessions should be short and sweet. At home ( my sessions last between an hour and two hours. Not long at all really and the sessions are always the same...

1) Warm up
2) 1st circuit (3 x sets)
3) 2nd circuit (3 x sets)
4) 3rd circuit (3 x sets)
5) Finish (maybe a beastmaker session depending on how i feel)

So why not try this for a while and see where it takes you? There is plenty of literature online about this and once you get stuck into it, its really quite fun.

Apart from all that training talk, I have also set two new routes on the main wall. There is a new giant pink jug fest (6a-6bish) and a new 7b/+ (blue) which is really wuite technical and sequncy on small holds and foot holds!

Go for it!!!


Sunday, 9 August 2009

An Argentinian Touch

Our new pal from the southern-western country of argentena has been on the boulder setting business of late. He's been in the cave and has designed some righteous new problems on the v-board! There are two new yellow problems and a red and orange. The grades look to be as follows:

1) yellow (right) = v6
2) yellow (left) = v2
3) orange = v4
4) red = v5

these are just guesses right now so have a go on them and tell us what u think?

I have also been on the v-board setting. My new problems are the blue and green. Blue goes at around v1/2 and the green should get a nice and healthy v5/6.
And right this second I just finished setting what I think will be the cave project hopefully... The new pink... Grade??? Could be v6 or even v9? We will see, it needs to see some action people, don't dissaooint...

Also, I've been seeing some neat variations going on in the cave too... For those that are interested, why not try the start of the pink on the mantel shelf into the yellow mantel shelf problem and instead of making the move static to the lip, do a double dyno!!! Also, try doing the yellow mantel without traversing and just go direct, FA goes to Lisandro, a sweet problem.

Anyway, tell us what you think, if you are enjoying the route setting telll us, same goes if you are not impressed, tell us what you think we need more of and we will see what we can do ; p

rob out

Thursday, 6 August 2009

My Plans!!!

The Route setting at Ratho has got a bit lax these days... We plan to change that for good! It has been really difficult to get the time to set routes and boulders so don't get upset at us when there has been no new climbing in a while (we try our best). But hopefully now, that is all gonna change!!! Mhairi and I have been given hours every week to set now so there's gonna be a lot of turnover hopefully. My plan is to strip 1/5 of the bouldering every week so we get a good turnover of boulder problems lasting around 5 weeks for every problem. 1/5 of the bouldering will run as so:

Week 1: Barell Boulder
Week 2: Slab Boulder
Week 3: 45 Boulder
Week 4: 1/2 of the Boulder cave
Week 5: 1/2 of the Boulder cave

What do you think boulderers?

And 2 days a week we will strip route lines and set new fantastic routes of every grade!!!! At the moment we are working on the Justice Wall but we are moving further right. We are hoping to strip the slab wall very soon too and with that we will open up a variety of new fantastically shaped entreprise holds which in my opinion are being wasted on 3's and 4's with no obvious movement to them (they are just a line of holds basically).

Today I spent every spare minute I had stripping the back wall of the Boulder cave and setting on it. There still needs to be a few more easier problems within the V1-V5 range set but there are a bunch of classics set on it for rour enjoyment right now.

1) White (R) = V1
2) White (L) = V5
3) Pink = V3
4) Blue = V7/8
5) Green = V6/E6
6) Grey = V4

And the problems on the Mantel shelf board side are:

1) Yellow (mantel) = V3
2) Pink = V2
3) White (mantel) = V6
4) White = V0
5) Red = V5
6) Purple = V4
7) Green = V6
8) Grey = V5
9) Blue = V2


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A New Age!!!

The Age of Setting has begun anew...

A new day, a new set of problems! Today Mhairi had 3 hours of routesetting time, so she got on the boulder caves case! She stripped the whole Mantel shelf board section of wall and set a bunch of new problems too! I set some on my break (Green, Pink, Blue) and Mhairi set the 2 x whites, Purple and Red...

This is me on my new Blue boulder on the Pillar in the Boulder cave. A little bit different, it requires... lets just say... that je ne se quoi they call DYNAMIC POWER!!!

They all look totally awesome! Heres a video taken today of Callum Forsyth (Our youngest Ratho Instructor at 16 years of age! He's also one bad ass climber setting the standard at 7c Redpoint and 7b onsight!!!) climbing my new blue V1. Watch out for the sneaky footholds out right to stay in balance... ; P

Here's Callum again making short work of the new Pink I set today as well (V3ish???)

Monday, 3 August 2009

So today, Buz was on the Spider setting new routes! We have a brand new 6a+ White on the new comp wall (which is pretty amazing considering its all mega overhanging (Davy and Alan got up it so it can't be that hard ;P ). We have a brand new Red 7b on the Justice Wall (main Wall where the pantarai sign is). This route is awesomely crimpy but has some good jugs on it too for rest positions. Nice and pumpy... just what you want on that wall! I also did my Yellow on the same wall today which in my honest opinion was more like 7b+, all the moves are really cool, theres lots of variety in the movement, holds and angle which i reckon makes a damn good route! I also made the FA of my new 8a (Flash... if you can call it that after you set it?). I'm gonna name it "Crmpy Crimperson"... because of all the slopers of course (Joke). It really was a cool route, I think its maybe 7c+/8a but its really nice regardless. All the holds are really positive and all it requires in good endurance on small positive crimps and the ability to recover well on small open handed slopers (the best rest points are on smallish sloping holds). You should all get on it, I reckon 7b until the half way chain...
I also set two new problems in the Cave the other day, probably both about V5? They are both situated on the Pillar and have some seriously sick moves on them. The Blue has an amazing double dyno to two positve pinches and the white has an wicked double toe hook which you have to match your hands on as well to gain the final move....



Sunday, 2 August 2009


So the new yellow has been certified as 7b+. The new Green has been certified as 7c+/8a by myself and Miss Berry (natalie) and I quote "It was really cool" : P

Here's a picture of the finale crux's of the two new routes!

But right now, for your viewing pleasure, I have some beta tips from the one and only Paul "Where did my armspan go?" Williamson (British Junior Team Member). Young Paul here,

is 15, sponsored by 5.10, he is wearing 5.10 Dragons and is beasting up these classic Ratho boulder problems set by our quality routesetting team!!! In this video we watch Paul sending the classic white roof boulder (V5ish). Watch his crazy roof technique through the crux, that sequence was shown to me by one of Ratho's young talents (Eleanor "could probably hang an atom" Hopkins, British Junior Team Aspirant).

In this next video, we see Paul showing us how to send the Grey V5 on the 45 Feature boulder. Watch his good use of feet through the crux and the final moves, this is essential for the send!!!

And finally, the evr elusive Yellow V6!!! This has seen many a victim with its thrutchy moves and body tension needed start, but there is always a sequence that works, and paul seems to have found his own... Will it work for you?

More Beta vids on there way!!!


Saturday, 1 August 2009

New Routes

Hey guys!

I got some time (first time in ages!!!) for some route setting on Friday! I stripped the main wall (where the Pantarai sign is, also known as the "Justice wall") and set a new yellow 7b (with some well cool moves on it) and a new Green 7c+/8a.

The yellow 7b makes good use of the featured panel to the start (watch for featured feet and hands at this point) as well as the overhang feature to the left of the Justice wall! It gradually gets harder towards the final moves where it thins out slightly and finishes with subtle movements on balancy ground with small features on either side for good foot placements! Make sure you have enough left to clip the chain!!!

The Green is currently not officially graded yet. It may be 8a but i'm not 100%. It has been set to hopefully replace the old terracotta that went up the same line. I set the route as a personal challenge. You will notice that the route has very small crimpy holds on it, and seems to be very endurancy without much rest. This is not my fortay and I usually prefer to set with bigger holds and more interesting technical moves that flow from side to side but setting this was going to be a challenge so I went for it! the route is straight up and nearly every hold is incut (but only slightly). It will be very difficult to get any form of rest on the entire route without crimping and apart from one foothold at the top, every hold you will use for your feet will also be used for your hands so make sure you look for those features and work on your highstepping because you'll need it. This will be the ultimate endurance workout for those working in the 7c and up region and I advice even those working in the grades below that to try the first half which will no doubt give your fingers a good test and may even work out a good 7b tick...

Happy Crankin' everyone!!!