Tag Archives: rock climbing

La portada del libro con Alberto Hontavilla en su proyecto de Urdón. F. José Alberto Puente

New La Hermida guide book!

Our new La Hermida climbing guide is at the printers!!!

The most anticipated guidebook of the year ‘El Desfiladero de La Hermida – the definitive sport climbing guide’ which contains 24 never before published crags (and nearly 700 routes) in this tufa-strewn region of northern Spain will be in shops in two weeks. 

However, you can be the first to get your hands on the book by pre-ordering it here on our website. And as soon as the book arrives in our warehouse we’ll ship it straight to you…the cost of the book is £20 and is available with free shipping to the UK for a limited period. 

Buy from the UK

Comprar desde España

Buy from Europe

La portada del libro con tiene Alberto Hontavilla en su proyecto de Urdón. F. José Alberto Puente

The front cover with Alberto Hontavilla on his project at Urdón. Ph. José Alberto Puente


To find out more about La Hermida and get a flavour of what’s on offer check out this destination guide on UKC

Old Dogs New Tricks – Day 141 – Re-test – Back on the horse…

Ok so in truth I’m 5 months in and probably nowhere near where I wanted to be. (see the challenge here)

And there are extenuating  circumstances: niggling injuries, bigger injuries, climbing trips, moving house (plus lots of visitors to said house), finishing my second book and possibly most of all an inability to not go climbing when surrounded by rock. But as i am finding out going climbing doesn’t necessarily make you a better climber – or at least it doesn’t bring you any closer to unrealistic goals!!

But as we all know ‘extenuating circumstances’ are just excuses wrapped in flowery prose. So as I sit in front of Tom’s house with the dread of a kid who hasn’t studied for an exam I know that I would mark myself ‘must do better’ even before I started.

Below the new Lattice board...

Below the new Lattice board…excuses have no currency here…

The test doesn’t budge, you can’t fool it, there’s no leeway, so I am hoping at least the training I have done – probably 25% of what Tom set me – helps. And I mutter the right things to him and Ollie before the test, and in truth I have found the whole thing great. The Lattice boys, Tom Randall and Ollie Torr, certainly did their side and provided me with a brilliant springboard. It’s not their fault if the client doesn’t dive deep enough.

I warm up, taking more time this time, knowing what’s coming. The test was brutal and I am trying to delay it a bit. However, the bonus now is that the new Lattice board is smoother, cleaner, more skin and finger friendly. I am getting psyched. I really want to climb on it.

First up is the hang test. Like the first time I can only do this on my right hand as my left is buggered so I strain and pull and managed 5 secs with 6.5kg then again with 4.5kg and fall a bit short with 3kg. I’m happy, last time I had one go in me.

Richie 1

Simple but effective. A 20mm edge a stopwatch and some weight!

Then to the main event, the Lattice board. Tom explains in more detail this time how he and Ollie derive the results – it’s clever but it washes over me as the adrenaline builds and I set off.

‘Stop’ I’m three moves in and Tom’s voice brings me to a halt.

‘Why are you using three fingers on your left Richie? You said you weren’t injured.’

I thought I’d got through, bullshitting that my baby finger (which is pretty bad) wasn’t too bad and in the intervening weeks since my FB post was basically OK.

‘I told you, you can’t do the test if you’re injured.’

‘But i need to know’ I protest ‘and I’m sure I can do it with three.’

Tom’s cross over from mate to ‘coach mode’ is quick and he brooks no nonsense. I plead to no avail but Ollie pipes up with an idea. They’ve got a work around. I do a 7:3 hang test. Possibly even more brutal but not going to stress my left hand and they can get some useful results from it.

Ollie counts me down as i hang, 7 seconds on my right, then rest 3 on my left. Repeat ad nauseum as they say. Even though it’s a destroyer and by the 6th ‘maximum’ I am screaming with pump I’m happy to be able to do something. Each block of ten hurts more but I grin and bear it and try to mentally ‘beat’ my previous time.

7 on 3 off....

7 on 3 off….

I collapse. With one super pumped arm and one unstressed baby finger. Job done.

Tom puzzles over how to get useful results....

Tom puzzles over how to get useful results….

Sitting round the table at Tom’s after crunching the numbers they show me my new graph. Set against the last one it makes for reasonable reading – more recovery, more stamina and in general a bit better. However, interestingly Tom’s take is most crucial – there is adaption, I am trainable!!!

He’s quite pleased. There’s something to work with and he goes into a huddle with Ollie.

‘OK Richie, the truth is we can’t condone climbing on an injury, so the only way to continue is to have time off and train weights rings and core. Ollie’s the man for this so meet him on Wed morning at ‘the Works’ and we’ll start again.’

Phew, the adventure continues…



Old Dogs New Tricks – Catch-Up Blog #1 Otinar – Training week 3 / Overall week 4 (Feb 22nd – 27th)

Ok so here’s the first of my ‘retro-blogs’ as a catch up to where I am at with ‘Old Dogs New Tricks’…

Otinar – Training week 3 / Overall week 4 (Feb 22nd – 27th)

Ok so we left our hero (me btw) on the horns of a dilemma – a late, light session on my board the day before I was going away had left me with a very sore strained arm (or worse).  So the question was; to travel the 700km with the injury or to cry off and stay at home doing a  bunch of stuff that you need to get on with:  we were due to move house and I needed to finish my new book, so the temptation was pretty high to stay.

However, on the other hand I’d been climbing for 5 years with Jairo and never been on a trip with him…could I let him down at the last minute…??? Fuck!!

So I went. And we headed down towards Jaen – a short 700km or 9 hour drive – in Jairo’s motorhome. My arm was sore, strained and un-relentingly not good so I spent the time on the back watching movies being pissed off and massaging with my ‘Arm-Aid’ which seemed to help…

The team...Jairo, Juan and me...

The team…Jairo, Juan and me…

What made it doubly bad is that we were heading for Otinar and I’d been super-psyched for the trip. This is a ‘new’ venue which had a bit of a reputation, a mega steep cave with a bunch of 7s and 8s and nothing easier than 7a+ across the crag. With air cold, crisp and spring-like the 5 minute walk-in was get everyone breathing hard and there was a tangible excitement in the air. There were 6 of us and I’d decided to be cameraman for the day to rest an arm that seemed no better – a sore ‘pulley’ from the palm to the elbow.


The crag was very, very, very steep…Jairo on La Coleta, 8a,

On arrival the crag was decidedly well, brutal, not to put too fine a   point on it. It was really steep, even the warm ups were really steep and the hard routes were super steep. It made my arm twinge just looking.  However, the guys dived right in and set about mauling the warm/ups…then set about the main course.

Not the most aesthetic of venues set mainly above a huge goat pen the routes were very steep and it was inspiring as Miguel first then Jairo set about some of the most overhanging lines. My palms were sweating as Jairo gamely battled his way up, via a biiiiiig pump, a 7c which overhung 10m in it’s 23m length…I decided to make the most of the day and get some photos as I’d brought my ‘proper’ camera but after 4 shots the battery went – things weren’t going my way..

Day 3 started better and although my arm felt really sore I was determined to give it a go…then came a migraine so I went back to the van to lie down. Three days in and I hadn’t touched rock…after a sleep and a rest i felt a bit better and so wandered off and stretched in a ruined barn…the glamour!!

My 2nd 'rest' day...a bit of stretching...

My 2nd ‘rest’ day…a bit of stretching…

Day 4 – The dark side - After more ‘arm-aid’ i was ready to climb – and climb I did, like a big fat spanner. Warming up on the 6b+ part of very steep 7c (the easiest stretch of rock by far) I was nervous, static and slow. Feeling every day of my age I felt terrible, heavy and dulled – and somehow disappointed that the three weeks of training I’d done hadn’t turned me into a worldbeater. Then I pulled stupidly, forlornly onto the 7c, and ‘dogged’ the moves…it felt too hard, I felt too old and my frustration at my injury boiled over into cursing (not been known before) as I slumped on the rope. After I rest I then found myself falling off the next easiest route – a 7b which took an unlikely line – and a dark cloud descended!! Bad day at the office…

The bright side – However, I took solace watching an incredible French couple: him a 60 year old ‘lean, mean climbing machine’ and her a female version. They’d been there a few days and their modus operandi was clear and precise, he’d try and onsight and if he fell, work the route perfectly and send first RP. Then she’d go next following his instructions to normally execute a perfect ‘beta-flash’…now none of this would be of interest except that they both looked as old as the hills, they were doing this on routes up to 8a+ and they climbed so efficiently that it was a joy to watch. Very much a lesson in clever climbing and what you can do despite a few years…

55 year old French woman takes on silly steep 8a route and wins...

55 year old French woman takes on silly steep 8a route and wins…

Day 5 – Felt better. The clouds and cobwebs of day 4 had gone and I made a determined attempt to warm-up at the crag…And after some stretching a bit of use of Jairo’s mobile fingerboard and some rubber bands I got back on the warm-up – which, to my astonishment actually felt like a warm-up! Psyched I did it again and then climbed on into the 7c – carefully, testing all the holds for maximum efficiency and best body position – trying to channel Jerry Moffat’s matra ‘work it hard – send it easy’.

A redpoint ensued but cold hands put paid to anything and the rest afterwards only really made me more nervous. It was burly 7c and the likelyhood was I wouldn’t do it…however, as I launched into the crux sequence – a series of (for me) long snatchy moves off good holds – it just about clicked and despite a few, almost costly, moments of hesitation I slapped, stupidly pumped, onto the last jug. I’d got a send!! (something I’ll come back to in later Blogs).

I chilled for a bit and enjoyed watching Jairo send his 40 metre 8a with numb fingers and a lot of work, amazing effort.

The last night became more fun, I’d done summat so could relax a bit and as the G&T’s went down and the night grew longer the injury faded from my mind and the whole trip became better!

Ticks/Points of interest: 1 x 7c for 1500km of driving. And a typical ‘me’ route, bouldery and very cruxy and short…fun but nothing gained apart from the knowledge I hadn’t improved after 3 weeks. Watching the French couple showed that there’s life in old dogs and that clever outweighs strong!!

Lessons learned: Mates are more important than climbing and if you go you will get something done…and even if you don’t, go for a run, take photos, belay your friends and enjoy seeing somewhere new…oh and make sure your battery is charged…and use your mates for motivation and if you are injured don’t bring them down by moaning…

Score – 1 x 7c…Weight – 72.5kg

Did you know your mates laugh at you if you warm up at the crag...

Did you know your mates laugh at you if you warm up at the crag…

Caldueño – new crag in the east of Asturias…

There are loads of great new crags which have been published for the first time in any guide in the new edition of Roca Verde.

Caldueño is one and I am happy to be able to do so as I climbed there quite a bit before there were any topos. So thanks to the equippers Dani Bajo and Jorge Fernández there’s a great new crag close to Arenas and Llanes.  There’s a summary here but you can get it all  in the new book bit.ly/BuyRocaVerde2

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Recently overhauled, though opened a long time ago, Caldueño is a good all-round venue with perhaps the highlight being a bunch of long slab routes. One attraction here is that there’s shade across the day so you can move between sectors to make the most of the conditions. Aviados and Pared del Sol are very accessible though the approach is steep, while the sectors set higher in a big gully are a bit of a hike.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

However, there are enough decent routes to make the extra ten minutes worth it. The rock is generally very good but it’s worth noting that on Dos Setas it feels a bit suspect in places. Overall the bolting and belays are very good too with the odd exception. The crag needs traffic but once clean offers good climbing.
The situation is superb and the tranquility of the valley makes it a great place to spend a day – it’s well worth a visit.

Children: Although a bit of a steep walk both Aviados + Pared del Sol are ok but the rest are steep underneath.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Season: Due to the variety of orientations this is a good summer venue, and because it’s also quite sheltered it can be good on sunny days in spring and autumn. The slabs stay pretty dry and are ok on sunny winter days too. However, Ombligo and Dos Setas do get wet.
Bird Restrictions – climbing is banned on all routes from 1st March until 31st July.

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

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


Escalada en Caldueño – nueva escuela de escalada en el oriente de Asturias

Caldueño es una de las escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía. Y porque he escalado alli muchas veces antes que habia croquis estoy tan feliz de estrenarlo en Roca Verde edición 2…gracias a los equipadores Daniel Bajo y Jorge Fernández. Comprar Roca Verde edición 2 aquí..

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Caldueño es una escuela considerablemente buena y muy versátil. Situada bastante cerca de Arenas, un poco más al oeste y hacia el norte (muy interesantes para los escaladores con base en Llanes o las costas), y hay cinco excelentes sectores reseñados  todas ellas con vías de grado variado.
Una cosa muy importante hay prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vías – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Aunque no es nueva, recientemente ha sido rescatada del olvido. Tal vez lo más destacado sean las excelentes y largas vías de placa. También es interesante por su orientación, que permite escoger entre sol y sombra según el sector.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

La aproximación al Aviados y Pared del Sol es bastante sencilla pero empinada; para llegar a los sectores situados arriba en la ancha canal hay que caminar 10/15 minutos más, pero vale la pena por la cantidad de vías buenas. La roca es en general excelente, aunque en Dos Setas a veces no lo parece. Los seguros y reuniones están en buenas condiciones, con alguna excepción.

Aunque harán falta más ascensiones para que las vías queden limpias, la escalada está muy bien, y además cabe sumar la fantástica ubicación de la zona y la tranquilidad de este valle, que bien vale una visita. No hemos incluido todos los sectores ni todas las vías.

Puedes ver la location de la escuela aqui…

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Niños: Aunque el camino es un poco empinado, Aviado y Pared del Sol están bien, pero en los demás el pie de vía hace bajada.

Época: Debido a las distintas orientaciones de los sectores, se puede ir en verano, pero también en días soleados de primavera y otoño, ya que está bastante resguardado. Las placas suelen estar secas y se puede escalar también en invierno al sol; en cambio, Ombligo y Dos Setas sí que se mojan. Aviso: Prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vás – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

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

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

Descargar la mapa nueva de las regiones ‘Roca Verde’…

Mejorado, más facile leer y entender,  la nueva mapa de Roca Verde tiene todos los sitios que aparecen en la guía nueva.

Hay 6 nuevas escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía, un par que se nos olvidaron en la primera edición, así como muchos sectores nuevos añadidos a las escuelas existentes. En total, más de 500 vías nuevas.

New Asturias Map

Y recuerdas que puedes comprar el libro ahora aquí…

Comprar Roca Verde edición 2…

Roca Verde Edición 2 – Más detalles…

La primera edición de la guía de la Cordillera Cantábrica Roca Verde se vendió en tan solo 18 meses, razón por la que acabamos de publicar una segunda edición, completamente actualizada y revisada. Esta nueva versión incluye innumerables sectores y vías de escalada de las regiones de Asturias, Cantabria y León, en el noroeste de España, un destino perfecto para el verano.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…

Gracias al trabajo conjunto con muchos de los grupos más activos y equipadores de cada zona, hemos podido incluir seis sectores publicados por primera vez, así como nuevos sectores de zonas ya existentes, y un par de sectores clásicos no recogidos en la primera edición. Roca Verde contiene ahora más de 50 zonas de escalada, con un total de 239 sectores y 500 vías más (un centenar corresponden a la zona de Teverga), lo cual supone la asombrosa cantidad de casi 3500 vías de escalada.

Todas las reseñas han sido revisadas y actualizadas, con la novedad de que los grados de dificultad se distinguen por colores, lo cual facilita la elección del sector con una rápida ojeada. Se han añadido más fotos de excelente calidad, de las mejores vías y escaladores locales, tomadas por algunos de los mejores fotógrafos de la región en su afán de capturar la esencia de cada zona. Esta nueva edición también ofrece una visión general de la escalada en bloque en Asturias, con indicaciones sobre la localización y las reseñas de algunos de los mejores lugares para su práctica.

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias...

Hay muchos búlders guapos probar en Asturias…

Por último (y tal vez por primera vez en una guía de escalada), hay códigos QR que enlazan con vídeos de vías y problemas de escalada de la región, con el fin de ofrecer una visión más profunda del ambiente en cada zona, así como un anticipo de la sensación de “sudoración en las manos”, incluso antes de visitarlas.

Gran miguelini

En resumen: más de 50 zonas, 239 sectores y casi 3500 vías de escalada, una síntesis de la escalada en bloque, enlaces a vídeos, y más de 200 fotos a todo color, que convierten a esta guía en la más vendida, imprescindible para la “región de la Roca Verde”.

La 2ª edición de Roca Verde puede adquirirse directamente  aqui al mismo precio que el anterior, 30€ así como en comercios especializados.

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 www.rocaverdeclimbing.com and all good climbing stores.

Getting Roca Verde 2nd Edition to the printers > having a baby…

After realising around last October that the original Roca Verde was going to sell out – in around 18 months only – I was obviously thrilled.

However, that also meant that I had to start again and so, after 6 more months of intense work here I am with the second edition on the presses in Aviles (in Asturias) as we speak.

The 'doctor' oversees the birth - it's a book...

The ‘doctor’ oversees the birth – it’s a book…

A manic weekend (as well as several manic days before that) led me to this position and the stress, sleeplessness and last minute panic somehow led me to the conclusion that producing a book is a bit like having a baby…

Now I am not saying that it’s equivalent but (and this is just what I have been told obviously) in so much as that women having their second one say they only do it as they have forgotten how bad it was first time.

And that’s the same with books.

You forget about the proofing, the endless fucking proofing: re-read = errors, re-read again = errors, then more errors until you even wonder if it’ll ever end. Then it goes to PDF proof from the printers, more errors; then your PC decides it can’t cope and won’t print…etc etc etc

And in the end you sit there say sod it and just push it out…LOL

Giving it the first once over...'it's a healthy 512 pages'

Giving it the first once over…’it’s a healthy 512 pages’

Anyway, despite all that the new version of Roca Verde is ready to go and I should have copies in store on the 2nd May.

Full details will be released at the end of the week save to say that it’s jam-packed with even more brilliant routes in this amazing region – and lots of stunning photos too!!

There are stunning new images like this across the book...

There are stunning new images like this across the book…



Old Dogs New Tricks – Day 11 – Man with a plan (and a folder)

Sunday 7th Feb – Day 13  (Unlucky for some)

So after plugging in my results, checking out the answers to my questionnaire, (and stopping guffawing at my insane goal), Tom sent my training plan through on Thursday. But having only given it a once over on Friday morning I only got down to studying it to day.

It’s a hefty spereadsheet filled with coloured boxes and the next thirteen weeks of my life marked out. It’s a new world for me and the biggest shock is that I actually have be proactive and plan my weeks – it seems obvious in retrospect but I was hoping that everything would be laid out on a plate!!! I suppose however, great a trainer Tom is he can’t know when I have the time spare to actually train…

Back to school...

Back to school…

The other part that I have to consider (and didn’t think about) is planning for the activities – I need to make traverses and problems of the required standard for the various activities: AnCap, EnCap, Split Continuity (whatever those are) And the downside of living out in the countryside next to the crags is that there’s no climbing wall nearby to quickly jump on pre-set routes of the required grade.

So Sunday was spent fiddling around at my local wall playing with holds, trying to figure out what a 6b traverse on a verticalish wall is and generally trying to get back into the indoor swing of things. It’s been a long time since I have done anything indoors and it’s all a bit confusing…and hateful!! LOL

Anyway a little confused but plenty psyched I now have a training folder and an iron will to do myself proud – the first statement is a little more true than the second!!!

I’ll be calling Tom to fill me in on the ins and outs and it’s session time Starting Monday!!!

This is for me to remember everyday:

My body's going to be in trouble...

My body’s going to be in trouble…

Thanks to www.betamonkeys.co.uk for the laugh..I’ll need it!!