Saturday, 25 January 2014

Climb Out Needs You!

Climb Out has had a big month ... the Facebook page just hit 400 likes, the site has had over 2500 visits since it was built it 4 weeks ago. This blog has now had over 3000 visits too. 

These are positive statistics but do they prove that people are interested? I spend 1000s of hours promoting, blogging, emailing and all the other stuff involved with this project. I spend just as much time pondering over what to do next. The statistics and figures are mind boggling so I try not to dwell on them too much.

What I do know is that almost everyday 1 person gets in touch with Climb Out. Some messages are long and some are short, the shortest message I recieved was :-

 "walking helps too but I am fortunate to live by the sea"

I loved that email it's just as important as 1000s of words to me, it's so simple and says so much. I read EVERY message/email and answer to the best of my ability but sometimes a short message is refreshing. Every comment, LIKE or page visit means that all the figures add up to 1 common goal. People are thinking and reacting. I owe a big thank you to everyone who takes a little time out to get involved!

So I have another idea.

Maybe you saw the video I made here the other day Inside My Mind or the Climb Out video.

I have a new project in mind so as always ... I need people's help :)

I want a collection of pics to make a new video for Climb Out but I want to use photographs from anyone who supports the cause. I want the outdoor & climbing community to show off what they get up to. This will be a really important project for me and don't think that you need to suffer from depression to join in! The whole idea is to reduce stigma around depression and remember that prevention is always better than a cure!

So I have a few ideas below to get people started.

Email me a decent resolution photograph to this can be a climbing pic, landscape pic or any other outdoor photo.

I would like a photo and hopefully a name and possibly a few short words by yourself. I would have to limit this to maybe 10 as your clip may only be seen for a few seconds.

Anonymous - The sunrise helps my depression in low times

It can be humorous too I don't mind

Preparation is key in the Peak District - Jake 

Or a climbing shot ... you don't need to show your face.

Bouldering at Goldsborough Carr does it for me - Rob

So please get in touch and help Climb Out inspire people ... you can contact me via

here is a teaser trailer

Please read the lists below so there isn't any confusion :)

You DO NOT need to look like an athlete, I would like a mixture of fit and not-so-fit people.
You DO NOT need to show your face if you don't want to.
You Do NOT need to give your name but I would like to put a name to each photo if possible even if only a first name or nickname.

I WILL NOT keep your email address unless you ask me to.
I WILL NOT mention any depression issues unless asked to.
I WILL NOT publish these pics elsewhere other than on the video, they will be deleted when I have finished the project.

I WILL be using this video in all aspects of Climb Out, I may possibly use it for a Crowd funding idea I have.
I WILL respect any privacy issues you may be concerned with.
I WILL delete your email address if you ask me too



Friday, 10 January 2014

Can the Impossible Become Probable?

This summer myself and a group of close friends are going to climb Naranjo de Bulnes, the most famous mountain in Spain.

The main goal for me will be a route called Rabada Navarro, named after the climbers who claimed the first ascent of the West Face in 1962. The West Face was originally thought to be un-climbable and is still considered as a serious challenge reserved for experienced climbers. In 2009 a route on the same West Face named Orbayo, was dubbed as possibly the hardest big wall free climb in the world. Orbayo shares the same final pitches of the route we will be climbing. Rabada Navarro consists of 25 pitches (rope lengths) and is 750M (almost half a mile) of vertical climbing. The summit stands at around 2500M above sea level and can be climbed from the North, East, South and West faces. There is also a strong possibility that there will be an attempt to climb a route on every face by members of our group, including myself.

All those statistics sound impressive and in truth scare me to death when I read them, so why do it?
  On the 24th of March 2013 I was a complete novice, with only 3 days climbing under my belt. I had a dream of helping myself and others who suffer with mental health issues through climbing.  I started the Climb Out Facebook page and the Climb Out blog. I needed a big goal so I declared that in 2014 I would make an attempt on Salathé Wall, a 900M big wall route up El Capitan, in Yosemite U.S.A. This was an attempt to inspire myself and anyone who was willing to listen to my delusions of grandeur. 
  The more I began to understand about climbing the more impossible this task became. In hindsight this was always an unrealistic goal but the idea served it's purpose. I've carried on climbing, the Facebook page recently reached 250 likes, the blog over 2000 views and now Climb Out  has a website with over a 1000 visits in just a few short weeks. 
   Personally I'm continually thankful for everyone who has the patience to climb with me, especially Rob and Henry Jenkins for taking a complete stranger under their wing. Although I suspect it was only because I kept feeding them various types of Pork. Climb Out owes a huge debt to Tom Ireson for his continued support and positivity when I was unsure if this project was a good idea.     
   After coming so far we can't let ourselves and everyone else down, the original Climb Out idea of attempting a big wall in 2014 is on.

Below are a few questions you may be asking.

Why climb Naranjo de Bulnes when most people have never heard of it?
It was my mate Tom's idea, Naranjo de Bulnes isn't very well known outside of Spain but it's steeped in climbing history. According to many climbers/mountaineers it's reputation for long, hard, exposed routes are deserved and rival many mountains in the rest of Europe. 

Is it dangerous? 
I've never climbed a big wall so I can't really answer that. I'm sure all big wall climbing can be dangerous but so is driving to work on a motorway at 70mph. 

Why do you want to climb a big wall?
There are too many reasons to post here. I want to try something challenging and adventurous. I want to see places I only ever watch on T.V. but this takes commitment and as they say "if it was easy ... everyone would do it". I also set a goal in 2013 which I didn't truly believe I would ever be capable of ... I want to prove myself wrong!  

Do you think you will be able to climb Rabada Navarro?
Probably not ... the reality of what I'm getting involved in scares me in all sorts of ways. Andy Kirkpatrick once said "don't trust your brain, it will play tricks on you". As he's one of the U.K.s most accomplished mountaineers I will try and follow his advice and ignore my brain. Luckily for me this shouldn't be too hard to do.

Will you need a high level of fitness and ability? 
Without doubt ... Rabada Navarro can take anything from 8 -12 hrs to climb and a lot of the climbing is well beyond my current ability! I'm really not sure if I'm capable of this route but I've started walking with a 20k rucksack on everyday. I'm also intending to start climbing some long mountain routes in Wales once I get over a slight wrist injury.

Will you need a lot of equipment and rope work skills to climb this route? 
Yes ... I'm under no illusions, at the moment I probably don't even posses 10% of the knowledge I'm going to need to climb this mountain. I will be relying on the good will of people teaching me as much as possible over the next few months. Then while I'm in Spain I'm sure I will be relying heavily on all my friends in our group to teach me more.

Is this attempt being sponsored for charity? 
Not at the moment but I'm not against the idea if anyone has any thoughts? I'm doing this for many personal reasons and to have a climbing  adventure with good friends. A very important factor for me will be raising awareness for people with mental health issues through Climb Out. Hopefully we may inspire a few people along the way to get outdoors and go for a walk, a bike ride or dare I say it? Get out and climb a mountain!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Note To Self - Always Expect To Fall

Well it looks as though I may have broken a small bone in my wrist called a scaphoid. The hospital can't confirm for 10 days as it takes a while to show up on an X-Ray. This small and previously insignificant bone is starting to play a huge part in my life after only 24 hrs. I've spent the last week building and waiting for the UK rain to stop so I can get outdoors. I really had big plans for the next few weeks and felt all my hard work was paying off. I was going to share photo's and promote the benefits of climbing and enjoying the outdoors.

So what happened? I fell off a boulder problem at The Roaches in Staffordshire. I was only a few feet off the ground and decided I didn't need a spotter, I didn't expect to fall. Note to self - Always use available mate's to spot you and always expect to fall. I must admit I'm dissapointed my accident wasn't a little more epic for blog purposes at least. Possibly breaking a bone the size and shape of a cashew nut, from the height of a child's shoe box, doesn't make for very good reading I'm afraid. If I somehow make this story remotely interesting I will be awaiting a nomination for The Pulitzer prize. I'm actually embarrassed to write about such a small issue but as Facebook would ultimately reveal my injury, I thought I would get my side of the story in first. I am heroically (give me a break, I need that nomination) typing with one hand and my whole left side actually hurts like hell. I fully understand that there are people in this world with serious injuries and I should be thankful. The problem is that I'm a human being ... a male human being at that ... which means I'm inherently selfish by nature. I can only pick one side of my nose efficiently and I can't drive without making Hollywood style grunts every time I change gear. This and similar trivialities are already frustrating me but knowing that I won't be able to climb for a while is the worse part.

Gaz showing how it's done! I was much less impressive and much lower!  

I'm writing this blog for people who may question if climbing is a good idea. When I worked in demolition I had more painful injuries than I care to recall and I risked my life far more than I do in any climbing exploit. As an Electrician I had a serious shock which could have killed me and almost destroyed the end of my middle finger. Sticking your melted fingertip in liquid oxygen 3 times a day for months and hoping it heals isn't much fun. No one ever said "are you sure you want to carry on working? Why are you doing this?" Well ... I did ... but as you've probably gathered by now I'm not exactly the hero type. So I urge any would be climber not to be put off. As my story suggests I am kind of accident prone at times and this little set back doesn't even compare to some of the mental states I've suffered.

Dave demonstrating safe bouldering.

Climbing can be as safe or as dangerous as you want it to be. Yes there can be risks but don't be fooled, expecting a risk free existence is only just an existence and should not be confused with  living a full meaningful  life. So get outdoors, go for a walk, watch the sun go down, take some of those inspirational photo's that you see on the internet. That's what I will be doing until I can climb again.