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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…







Mas chapas a los equipadores / More bolts given away!!

Hace un mes, empece otra vez a doñar materiales a la gente. Primero fui a ver Alberto Hontavilla el ´rey de La Hermida´ donde ha abierto un monton de vías y escuelas. Fuimos con James Pearson y Caroline Cialvaldini y escalamos juntos a otro de sus nuevos sectores  y con vías hasta 40 metros no esta barato a equipar!!
Y al fin del día lo dí  40 más chapas y parabolts inox para seguir con su increíble trabajo!

Otra vez, mil gracias a José de Ludo Aventura – – por su ayuda comprar las chapas.

Over the last few weeks I have bought more bolts through the money raised by Roca Verde. With these I have started to donate more once again to the most active equippers. So on a recent visit to La Hermida I met up with Alberto Hontavilla the guy who’s probably done more new routes there than anyone. We climbed together at one of his amazing new venues with James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini and had a great day. I was pleased that the last set he’d had from me had helped him open the brilliant sector of El Infierno and I handed him another 40 stainless bolts and hangars.

Alberto in action on one his amazing new crags!

Alberto in action on one his amazing new crags!

He was super psyched and  it was great to see that the help from the book is going to the people who are actually making a difference.

Once again thanks to José at Ludo Aventura – – for his invaluable help with buying the bolts.

Many thanks to Ludo Aventura

Many thanks to Ludo Aventura

Sector nuevo / New sector – La Castellana, Bóvedas, Teverga

Aqui tienes los croquis actualizado para el sector semi-nuevo, arriba de Bóvedas, Teverga. Vías cortas con roca excelente – pero nada facile solo vías del septimo grado o arriba.
Here´s the topo for  a cool new sector in Teverga, La Castellana, short routes on great rock…nothing easy however, all 7´s and above including a new 8c.

La Castellana Topo
And to give you an idea of the climbing style, here´s me on one of the easier routes…in fact the easiest, El Relate, 7a+!

Mas chapas del fondo a la gente

Roca Verde sigue a dar materiales a la gente que estan equipando y re-equipando. Hace unos dias yo di 50 chapas y parabolts mas y unos reuniones a la gente del Refugio del Llano quien siguen a hacer mucho trabajo a la escuela.

Y tambien yo di 50 chapas y parabolts inoxidable al Grupo de montaña Peña Sobia. Ahora mismo estan abriendo sectores nuevos y re-equipando en muchos sitios. Gracias especialamente a Armando y Cesar por su trabajo…

Entonces pronto seran mas vias para disfrutar en Teverga y Quiros !! Buen trabajo chavales!!

Materiales por Quirós

Materiales por Quirós

Y otra vez muchas gracias a Ludo Aventura y Kop de Gas para sus apoyos…

Many thanks to Ludo Aventura

Many thanks to Ludo Aventura

Thanks to Kop de Gas

Thanks to Kop de Gas

Bouldering in Teverga

Asturias has quite a few good bouldering spots, which I’ll hopefully detail in later Blogs – however, in the last couple of weeks we have been sampling the delights of the boulder field above El Cantu in Teverga.

Lots of boulders in an impressive setting!! Placas del sol behind..

Lots of boulders in an impressive setting!! Placas del sol behind..

Impressively situated below the huge, imposing walls of Placas del Sol (read more here) this jumble of blocks provides aound 100 problems with a good spread of grades: from 4 to 8b.

My first time was during the Encuentro, organised by the local climbing group  Grupo Montaña Escalada Aguja Sobia and unfortunately I arrived late missing a perfect morning of chilly rock.

Ignacio Mulero on the 8b

Ignacio Mulero on the 8b

However, as the forecast rain began to fall I still got try a fair few problems as it spat intermittently and watch (slightly dumbstruck) as local hotshot  Ignacio Mulero nearly did an 8b!!

The day got me a bit more psyched for the boulders so we returned few days later with a crew of friends who were training for an upcoming South African trip.

Juan on a brilliant a superb setting!

Juan on a brilliant 6a…in a superb setting!

Once again out-classed I did at least this time manage few more problems than before and even though I felt 100% like a route climbing a few of the old bouldering reflexes kicked in.

As ever, limestone bouldering gives nothing away and some of the grades felt brutal. But watching the guys and girls send gave me some enthusiasm and optimism and I a pretty sure that with a few training sessions I can return and bag something a bit harder!

Jairo Pandiella, Hijos de Puta 7b+

Jairo Pandiella, Hijos de Puta 7b+

And finally here’s a little video of something I hope to get on soon…some new boots might help for the very tiny left foothold though!!

Quick Feedback from satisfied visitor + Social links…

I am always very happy when someone comes to Asturias and the surrounding regions and likes it…and I am even happier when they give my book a great review too.

So a big thanks to Ben Farley who sent me this feedback on Facebook and seemed to like both…

“We bought your guide and spent a month in the Picos/Asturias/Leon as part of the very extended trip around Europe that we are currently suffering. On the way we have used many guidebooks but I can honestly say that your guide is one of the best we’ve come across. Accurate approach info, consistent grades and near perfect topos thoughout. The stunning routes on perfect rock, in wonderful locations made our time in the area a highlight of the year so far. So varied too. We will be back.”

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Big Rockfall at Quirós / Gran desprendimiento en Quirós

Following a week of rain there´s been a big rockfall at Sector El Llano en Quirós – one of the most popular climbing areas in Asturias. The rockfall was from the top of the classic and much climbed route El Llano and although not confirmed is suspected to have affected a lot of routes in the direct line of the fall.

Certainly following more rain and stormy weather the are should be avoided for the time being as there is plenty of debris. It looks like the areas of Ventolin and the RH parts of La Amarilla should be OK to climb on but please be aware that to get to Candela you must cross under this sector and there will be plenty of loose rock for a long while.

More info will be published as soon as we find out…

The big orange scar is clearly visible at the top of El Llano..

The big orange scar is clearly visible at the top of El Llano..

El pasado Jueves 4 de diciembre hubo un gran desprendimiento en la zona de Llano, un montón de bloques cayeron desde la parte de arriba de las vías “El Llano y el Espolón Mágico” siendo estas probablemente las más afectadas.
Hemos visto desperfectos en varios anclajes de las vías Caperucita Floja y Bravo Torito. Se informo a los técnicos de la federación, desde la FEMPA y el Refugio del Llano os pedimos que no os acerquéis por la zona, hasta que se realice una revisión y limpieza de la misma. Es peligroso escalar en los sectores situados izquierda del Ventolin: La Amarilla, El Espolón Mágico, El Llano, La Candela, Alcotán y Escambellao.
Cuando mejore la meteorología se procederá y hacer una evaluación minuciosa, os mantendremos informados.

Gracias al Refugio del Llano Quiros para la información

Más chapas donadas desde el fondo…

Esta tarde fui al Refugio Del Llano, Quirós, para dar material para ayudarles a empezar otra ronda del re-equipamiento de la escuela.

Materiales por Quirós

Materiales por Quirós

La escuela  es una de las mas populares en Asturias pero todavia unas vías faltan chapas buenas y van a empezar pronto a re-equipar. Espero que en las semanas que viene yo puedo trabajar con ellos.

Puedes ver mas sobre el refugio aqui o en su FB

Puedes ver mas sobre el fondo aqui