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La Hermida guide in stores across northern Spain…

After a hectic week of deliveries – then re-deliveries after the books sold out – our new guidebook is available in a ton of shops and bars across the region. And as the first batch sold out so quickly so we’ve done a second visit and loaded the stores with copies.

A quick list of the stores with books in the La Hermida region is:
Santander – Eiger Sport
Torrelavega – K2 Aventura
La Hermida – La Cuadrona /  Andaras
Potes – Tienda Indiana / Bar La Reunion / Libreria Vela / Bustamante de Potes
Arenas de Cabrales – La Tienda Nueva / Cendon
Cangas de Onis – Tuñon – Libreria Imagen

Then further west – around Oviedo and the Valles de Trubia:
Gijón – Indoor Wall
Aviles – Gravity Climbing
Oviedo – D-Ruta / Oxigeno
Valles de Trubia – Bar Sobia, Entrago / Bar Aladino, San Martin / Club de Montana Aguja de Sobia, Entrago.

Or you can buy the book direct from our pages…

La guiá contiene un montón de fotos nuevas muy chulas de la escalada del valle...The guidebook cover features two of the most prominent climbers of the area...

La guiá contiene un montón de fotos nuevas muy chulas de la escalada del valle…The guidebook cover features two of the most prominent climbers of the area…



Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

La Hermida – A quick guide to the best of ‘tufaland’…

In our new guide to La Hermida we reveal a bunch of great new spots and many of them have one thing in common…

Brilliant tufas.

So much so, that after her visit Caroline Ciavaldini christened the area ‘tufaland’…and it’s true that for the addict of this type of climbing there’s tons to go at.

So I thought it’d be a nice idea to rate the crags in terms of their overall ‘tufaness’ – the old and the new crags – to give a hit-list of venues.

1. Carcalosa – Just for the scale of the left wall Carcalosa has to be number one. An amazing crag and a ton of tufas to get stuck into – maybe the highlight being Dimensiones Paralela, 7c+, the super-obvious ‘train line’ tufas on the right wall.

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

Caroline Ciavaldini gets stuck into Dimensiones Paralelas, 7c+, Carcalosa

2. Rumenes – Even with the emergence of other crags this is still some of the best tufa climbing around – and the first time the top wall is seen nearly everyone gasps; some in shock and some in delight!!

3. El Infierno – Like a supercharged Rumenes this is a wall simply covered in tufas. There’s possibly less ‘easy routes’, with the grades starting at 7a and above but this is a great venue and has shade in the afternoon…

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

Alberto Hontavilla. Balambambu, 7c, El Infierno

4. Estraguena – All the routes apart from one take tufas at some point and strangely for a tufa crag none of the routes seem that steep.  The routes have a good length and the grades are good for the ego and for onsighting too…

5. Cueva Hermida – Very good new venue – and the only downsides are that there are very few easy routes and that there’s not a huge amount either. A steep wall turns into a roof and the climbing is powerful and pumpy.

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

Tanya Meredith on the final slap of Karim Abdul Jabbar, 7b+,

6. Cueva Corazón – Classic hardcore tufa/roof venue. Lots of top level challenges here in a superb atmospheric spot.

7. Pechón – Sea-side climbing with a good smattering of tufas thrown in. What could be better?

8. El Salmón – Not totally a tufa crag but the central section of the main wall has some really good, short mid-grade tufas and on the bottom wall there’s some steep, exciting routes too.

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

Gema Lanza, El Salmón

9. Cicera – Maybe known more for the wall-climbing rather than the tufas this still has plenty of impressive lines. Atlantis, Pacifis, and Veneno azul are all great.

10. Parelosa – Not all tufas but what there are have plenty to offer – possibly the best being Relatividad, 7c+. The whole crag needs a bit of traffic but it will be a popular hardcore venue…

11. El Lado Oscuro – Only a few tufa routes but of very high-quality and both Museo Coconut, 7c, and Gretaline, 8a+, are stunning.

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

Reini Wallmann, Gretaline, 8a+, F. José Alberto Puente

You can buy our new guide here…

And you can watch our video of James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini in action at Carcalosa here:


Actualizaciones de Teverga…Teverga new routes

Actualizaciones de Teverga…vías nuevas y vías terminadas. Los primeros  son de Muro Techo. Menú de Diá, 8a: Pinxo de pollo, 7b: Caliza Reserva, 7c. Gracias a Javier López, Pablo Martín y el Club de Escalada Astur Vertical y Grupo Montaña Escalada Aguja Sobia
Some more updates in Teverga, this time at Muro Techo: 19 Menú de Diá, 8a: A. Pinxo de pollo, 7b: B. Caliza Reserva, 7c. thanks to Javier López, Pablo Martín and the Club de Escalada Astur Vertical Grupo Montaña Escalada Aguja Sobia

Muro Techo Final New Routes 112016

Y más actualizaciones de Teverga…esta vez son de Bóvedas y trabajo de Armando Suarez Diez y Hectorin. Una todavia proyecto pero la otra, Eterna mirada, 7c, ya es muy popular y tambien tiene la ventaja que se queda seca casi siempre.
More new routes in Teverga, this time Bóvedas. One is still a project while the other, Eterna mirada, 7c, has proved very popular not least because it’s steep and nearly always dry!! Great work Armando Suarez Diez and Hectorin and others.

Bovedas Abajo 16052012 V2 New Colours


Roca Verde Edition 2 – more details…

The first edition of the guidebook to everybody’s new favorite Spanish climbing destination sold out in just 18 months and so Roca Verde gets a makeover. Totally revised and updated, this new version comes jam-packed with even more crags and routes across the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon in north-west Spain.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

Working with many of the most active groups and equippers from each area we have added 6 crags never before published, as well as new sectors at existing crags and a couple of classic crags missed from the first edition. Roca Verde now has over 50 crags with 239 sectors to go at; and with over 500 additional routes there’s a staggering total of nearly 3500 routes packed into this edition.

Every topo has been overhauled and updated with new colours for each grade of route: making an ‘at a glance’ assessment of each sector for your grade much easier. In addition there’s even more superb photos, from some of the regions’ best photographers, featuring some of the best routes and climbers in the area capturing the spirit of each crag. In this new edition there’s also an exclusive overview of the bouldering in Asturias; giving you directions and downloads of topos for some of the best spots.

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias...there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias...

Hay bastante búlders buenas probar en Asturias….there are actually a lot of great places to boulder in Asturias…

Finally, (and maybe a first in climbing guidebooks), there are QR codes scattered throughout the book linking to videos of various routes and boulder problems across the regions. In this way you can get an even stronger flavour of the venues and get some ‘sweaty-palm’ psyche even before you arrive.

Gran miguelini

Escanear el QR a ver el video…scan the QR code to watch the video…


So with over 50 crags, 239 sectors and nearly 3500 routes; an overview of the bouldering; links to videos and over 200 full colour action photos this is the definitive guide to the Roca Verde region.

Roca Verde 2nd edition is available direct here at and all good climbing stores.

Roca Verde 2 – Download the new map to check out new venues…

You can download the new map from Roca Verde which has all the new crags on it as well as a more obvious layout.

New Asturias Map

Covering the three regions of Asturias, Cantabria and León and with over 50 crags, 239 sectors and nearly 3500 routes; an overview of the bouldering; links to videos and over 200 full colour action photos this is the definitive guide to the Roca Verde region.


Old Dogs New Tricks Day 40 (f//K it´s going quick) Injury Crisis

First Injury crisis

It’s not how you deal with the ups it’s how you deal with the downs.

So I’ve done something to my arm. Something random and the day before my week’s holiday to a big cave. And without an obvious cause. I wasn’t bouldering hard or doing anything odd. I had done a bunch of warm ups, a load of core, some light fingerboarding and was doing a few easy and familiar circuits circuits on my board. I hadn’t had time to do the ‘Split Conti’ session Tom had planned for me but I thought that a light session at the end of a boring week-end of shopping and working followed by a rest day as we travelled south in the motorhome would be perfect.

Yet an hour later I was very sore, with a ring finger which felt odd and a line of pain from my elbow which ran up my arm? A muscle pull, or tendon, something light, or something very bad? It was an injury I hadn’t had before (and I’ve had plenty) soI took some brufen, iced it and went to bed…

Next morning as the brufen wears off I am despondent it’s really sore and I am committed to a trip away…a first big trip with the guy I’ve been climbing with for 5 years and my ‘reward’ for the first few weeks of my training…

So what do I do?

My normal reaction to injuries is to drink!! And stop everything…and my first reaction here is to cancel my trip and curl up in bed and mope.

But this is a cycle that always defeats. Stop everything put on weight, get injured again…I need to be positive so I mentally tuck away the white flag and decide to have a holiday.

To see a part of Spain I haven’t seen, to try the food, take photos, document the trip enjoy the ambience and relax in the sun!!! It’s February for f’s sake who’s going to moan about a few days in southern Spain. I have a guidebook to finish, Blogs to write, fotos to edit. Fuck, my job isn’t, in the immortal words from ‘Letter to Breshnev’, sticking my hand up chicken’s arses 8 hours a day and I’m not trying to escape Aleppo…so what have I got to moan about.

I pack the computer, a bunch of books, my yoga mat, my running shoes and download a load of core and stretching videos. Worst case I don’t climb at all but I come back as fit than I left, having seen a load of new crags to go back to and discovered another part of my adopted country.

Is this what they call progress…??

PS Thanks to everyone who offered advice on my FB…

PPS. I could tell lots of stories about pre-trip injuries where I have cancelled and missed out on amazing journeys – and I don’t want another one.

PPPS. My partner Mary has just endured the same – her voyage to climb in the canaries was screwed by a probable slap tear. She went and had a great fun.

Old Dogs New Tricks Day 10 – Broken Man

Thursday 11th Feb – Day 10

I’m now 10 days into my challenge, it’s been six days since my test, and  and I am still feeling busted. The painful realisation is that I probably tried harder and my test than I had in any climbing or training in 10 years – and that I am going to have to carry on like that to get anywhere what I want to do.

The easy bit of the test...

The easy bit of the test…

Saturday morning was a world of aches – nothing too bad it seemed but shoulders, which had borne the brunt of the Lattice Board, were very, very tired. We arrived back in Spain on the Sunday after the test and with the travelling and driving I was tired so Monday was a rest day. However on Tuesday the crag had called and I went out to Gradura one of the steepest crags around…basically a huge cave with the easiest warm-up 7a+ and most of the routes at around 8a.

I warmed up on my board – and didn’t feel bad – but it was only when I got on the crag and tried to move on the warm up I clicked that I was still, plainly speaking, bollocksed!!! My shoulders just weren’t working and things went from bad to worse as I got on the super steep 7c…1 dog, 2 dogs 3, 4, 5…I couldn’t do more than two moves without needing the rope. It was at this point that I understood how much the test had taken out of me. 4 days later and I was still broken!

Samba Pa Ti - a bridge too far...

Samba Pa Ti – a bridge too far…

I was depressed…ffs I am 49 can I do this??…if the test had broken me what would happen when I tried to train!



Sector Nuevo – New Sector – Mazuco LLanes

Aqui tienes un sector nuevo acerca el pueblo de Mazuco, Llanes…puedes ver la approximacion en el Blog de Victor Sanchez Martinez…muchas gracias a el y sus companeros Mikel Ibarzábal Rodríguez y otros…todavia esta en obra y necesita limpieza en algunos partes pero puedes escalar…

CroquisMuy importante hay restriciones por nidificaciones entre 1 Marzo y 31 Julio 

Here’s a great new sector close to the small village of Mazuco in the Llanes region. Another great find from Victor and his team of equippers – thanks a lot guys!!

You can see more and how to get there at:

There are bird restrictions here between 1 March and 31st July – so no climbing!!!!


Bruised, battered, but happy – Old Dogs New Tricks Day 5 – The Test

Waking up too stiff to move I have just realised how much work is ahead of me.

My challenge – to climb 8b+ in the 360 days before I am 50 from my current grade of about 7b+ – rests on my ability to try hard enough and Tom Randall’s ability to set me a program. Yesterday, during Tom’s unique, specialised test procedure (giving him the information he needs to set me a program) I cottoned on to the fact that I may have to try a bit harder than I was hoping.

The first test, deadhanging with weight or assistance, was OK and he figured that I hadn’t moved too far from a very rough test he did on me a few years ago while I was actually bouldering a bit.

Style strength and contrast Mcclure vs Patterson

Style strength technique…compare and contrast Mcclure vs Patterson

However, the second, a series of circuits on his ‘Lattice Board’, designed to test aerobic and anaerobic activity and other things was brutal. Increasingly pumped with forearms and fingers screaming I struggled to complete laps then struggled to complete moves. Each move isn’t difficult (as Steve McClure put it it’s ‘E6 2A’) but once you’ve done a ‘maximum’ the next series which Tom puts you through, with what seems like progressively smaller rests, start to hurt.

On the Lattice Board

On the Lattice Board with Tom shouting it out…I was proud of my 72 moves…first go!

I was pleased with my first go and I posted what I felt was a reasonable number of moves. But then came the repeaters. Tom sent me off again with a target he’d set (a % of the first go) and again this went OK. But with two minutes rest the third ‘lap’ started to hurt….and the fourth lap really hurt, I started counting each move out loud to give me an edge.

And suddenly what I was also noticing was that there was a psychological element creeping in. How hard am I willing to try…how much do I want it….how long do you put up with the pump…one more move? two more moves? Five more moves?

The last go was really hard, like setting off on a repoint immediately after getting a solid good go. Counting again, 15,16,17…each move harder than the last…then legs not going where you want them to wrong feet causing more pump…32,33,34…then boom!! Sagging onto the mat breathing hard arms unable to move, bust but happy!!

Strangely enough it was nice to be pushed, to be taunted by Tom’s stick which moved like a metronome in front of me. ‘Up, left, right, down’ Tom’s voice leading me on. I started to realise that I hadn’t actually trained properly for a long time and in some senses that was fun – I always enjoyed training but in other ways it was worrying; can I do this again…fifteen years later??

And it occurred to me that this small test was in someways a mini-version of the next 12 months…I would have to have this intensity but without getting injured or losing my psyche.

Steve McClure had joined us halfway through the session and it was a bit bizarre being watched by one of the best sports climbers ever, someone who’d on-sighted my grade goal two weeks previously in Chulilla. Perhaps it helped – who wouldn’t want to try hard with him watching. Afterwards I collared Steve about my chances and his face was a picture. He evidently didn’t want to be negative but at the same time didn’t want to bullshit me…’maybe’ was his considered opinion when I asked him if I’d do it…

Steve McClure on his 172 move circuit...

Steve McClure on his 172 move circuit…

Even so, I was proud of my efforts in the test and it did leave me with a good feeling about my climbing –at least I could still try hard – I just had to see if the results matched up to my goals and whether Tom would give me the thumbs up or thumbs down!!

Form filling and interviewing me afterwards; current grade, style of climbing, lots of probing about my motivations and goals as well as explaining a bit more about how it all worked, Tom was giving nothing away. ‘I’ll need a few hours to sort out the results’ he said deadpanning and with that i was left hanging.


Adding some vital statistics…

PS: It was really interesting watching Steve on the stamina test after me for although he did 100% more than me when he did start to fail it was his legs and his foot placements that went first. Exactly like mine.  Not sure that this proves anything but it was very interesting…

Old Dogs New Tricks – The 8b+ Challenge

Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and accept that meandering along isn’t enough. So, turning 49, I have decided to give myself a challenge to go from my current grade, around 7b+, to do an 8b+ before I turn 50.  One year…

49th birthday presents - inspiration, application and recuperation..

49th birthday presents – inspiration, application and recuperation..

There are many reasons for this: the stark and sharp reminder of mortality of my mum passing away last year; the second (partly brought on by this) was the nagging feeling that first time round I never actually sent what I could have; and the third was a fascination to see whether new training methodology could help me to achieve my goals.

I am a climbing lifer, 38 years and counting, and during the 90’s was pretty good for a spell: I climbed E8 on grit, 8a+ in limestone (close to 8b+) and bouldered 8a.  Yet just I was setting myself for some harder stuff in 2001 I managed to tear my shoulder and spent 2.5 years out with injury and two operations. A spell away from climbing followed as the spectre of another injury (and a totally screwed arm as the doctor warned) and I moved to Spain to try surfing instead.

Old school training mode...

When we were strong…old school training more at the original School

Yet working in climbing I never escaped the scene and over the last 5 or 6 years am happy to call myself a true climber once again. Yet at the same time it’s clicked that my ‘golden-age’ is well behind me (my hardest grit route was 20 years ago) and I’ve realised that dining out on ‘once was’ after all these years makes me a has-been!!

Hence the challenge…

There are also lots of inspirations for me setting off on this and chief amongst these was working with the UK Para-Team during my last year at Wild Country. The dedication of people like Sianagh Gallagher, Dave Bowes, John Churcher and the rest of the team in dealing with the hand they’d been dealt made me look in the mirror…and not massive stoked on the ‘middle aged man who’d been cruising for a while’ that looked back I decided to get off the couch.

Fat 1

You too can have a body like mine…’looked in the mirror and saw a fat middle aged man looking back at me…’

Obviously there are others who have also made me look up; Ben Moon kicking ass again at only 3 months older than me, my old mate Dave Stainthorpe doing his hardest route at 64, Steve MacClure at 45 still pushing limits, Karin Magog quietly getting on and sending 8b, Tom Randall, Pete Whittaker and Jairo for their never-ending psyche, Caroline Ciavaldini’s determination and watching Shauna crush (obviously)…

I have a feeling this won’t be easy; and judging by the reactions of quite a few mates it seems other people don’t either. But if it were easy everyone would do it…goes the famous phrase.

6 kilos to go from there...

6 kilos to go from there…

Luckily, (through blackmail and more) I have access to some of the best climbers in the world to help me to do this and so over the next year I am going to follow their advice. Chief among these will be Tom Randall and I am hoping that with his direction and working efficiently will cut through the chaff and I can stay the course. I am very interested to see if structure and science to make up for a 49 year old injury prone body – whether structure can provide ‘shortcuts’.

Shit or bust...bust!!

Old, injury prone and fat…can training properly help…?

Because however well I climbed in the past, and though I trained really hard, my training was haphazard, had no structure, no method and certainly no ‘goals’. However, I was having fun (which GimmeKraft stick on top of their list) and there was a pleasure in cranking at the School in my heyday which I have possibly never bettered: but the question remains what could I have done if I had followed a plan?

Finally, to spice things up I am going to add a financial penalty – if I don’t make it I will pay £250 to the Para Climbing Team…and I wish to extend this possibility to everyone out there please sponsor me for a sum that you’ll pay to the Para Climbing Team if I make it…!!! (as safe a bet as you’ve ever made)…

The GB Para Team

The GB Para Team – as inspirational a bunch as you are likely to meet…