Tag Archives: climbing

Top 5 tips if your new to bouldering

In this article, I have tried to get across the main subject or teaching points that I use while coaching, coaching from a basic level all the way through. No matter what the level it often seems any one of these 5 points is the biggest stumbling block to the climber progressing.

These are my “go to” concepts for any first time session with a client feel free to use them and/or share your thoughts and other ideas with me.

Using the concepts below

With any of my clients, I always suggest, as with most subjects, breaking items down into manageable parts is a good idea, however, these ideas are quite large, they are large on purpose, they are supposed to offer something to consider while climbing rather than a specific technical aspect.

Take one concept, think about what it means and how you might implement it and consider it throughout the early stages of a climbing session, especially the warm-up. When you start to get tired, don’t worry, just enjoy your session.

Try and keep one concept in mind for 5 or 6 sessions, until you can consider and climb with all of them at the back but also for the forefront of all of your climbing and movement decisions.

Look at your feet!

The title is too simple, or at least is fairly obvious to most and is a common thing that many new climbers are told, what I mean or what I suggest is to really look at your feet, take your time to focus, be mindful and to watch you feet move until they are on or in the position you want them to be. All too often a climber moves the leg and then foot, get close the require foothold and then looks away at the last second. Looking away before the foot is properly connected to the hold will lead to inaccuracy, lack of confidence and sudden impact of pressure reduce the friction of the grip.

It is better to place the foot slowly and accurately and weight it confidently and thoroughly, this is only possible if the foot is looked at from the move until completely on the hold.

Look at your feet and take your time, slamming your feet onto the lower grades holds is ok for now and you most likely will get away with it, but as the footholds get smaller and smaller the more accurate you will need to be so why not learn now?

Climb with different colour feet

All to often new climbers (indoor climbers) start off on the lower grades climbs and desperately try to get to the top, to do this they grab the handholds and smash feet on the footholds, while this works for the time, it will teach very bad habits. By using any colour footholds you will have to make decisions each time you move, decisions on balance and precision. Leaving the decision up to where the route-setter (the person who put the holds on the wall) put the holds while learning to climb will take you longer to learn.

This is often a hard task as it is so different to how most people climb, to start with try using the same colours along with different colours while forcing yourself to make at least 3-foot moves for every hand movement.

Try to pause before each handhold

Being able the reverse the move you have just done is a solid sign of a climber who understands good technique and balance, being able to reverse can be the difference between success and failure.

To be able to reverse requires lots of different techniques, ones which as mentioned in the intro I will not go into here, its enough just to think about this style, to practice climbing slowly and in style attempt to pause before each handhold is grabbed, pause for as long as you can, at the start this may only be a second, try to find ways to climb that allow you to be in balance and pause for longer and longer if not forever!

Use your toes, not you’re mid-sole

There are many advantages to climbing with your toes or the toe part of your shoe on the hold, one of the main ones is too able to twist your body without having to lift your feet. By placing your midsole on the hold you are restricted in the movement of your foot, as you try to rotate (which you will soon I am sure) you foot will pop of the hold or you will need to lift yourself up/jump to allow the foot to move, this takes a lot of energy.

Using the midsole of your shoe is also inefficient because of the lack of latter strength an ankle has and its inability to effectively drive your body upwards. The midsole also has the least grip and also is simply not designed by the shoe manufacturer to grip the hold.

Use your toes on the holds with your heels facing out from the walls to gain the most from your feet at this earlier stage of your climbing career.

The top is not the finish

A fast and simple way to achieve or at least to start to consider climbing slowly and effectively is not to think of the top of the boulder problem or route as the finish. Try to climb each problem as if there were 800 meters more climbing left to do, simply snatching for the top in any fashion is no good.

After all, the top is arbitrary, if you visit another climbing wall or the route setting finishes lower than expected does this matter?

If you complete a problem, great, but climb it, again and again, learning and increasing, if you can, you efficiency until getting to the last hold is as simple as the second.

By climbing with the idea in mind that you will need to climb another 4 to 800 metres you start to attack the problem differently, energy is conserved, the technique is thought through and rests are taken when they are available.

This concept is the one I see most gains from, it combines allows the progress of all the ideas I have mentioned and many I have not to be built on.

Indoor climbing with your children; How to start.

By its very nature climbing is a simple sport. No matter the climber’s age or ability they are often, if not always, trying their hardest to climb their best.
As the climber and the difficulty of the climbs progress the holds get smaller and the footholds worse, however, no matter the size, everyone in the family or group of friends are always trying their best and overcoming their own individual challenges.
Climbing is a sport where often you are only competing against yourself, this type of sport, therefore, lends itself perfectly to any group of friends or family of various generations wanting to get fitter, enjoy the same activity, while spending more time together.
Any parent aspiring to become a climber finds themselves on a level footing with their whole family even if it there first visit the indoor climbing wall. I cannot think of another sport similar to that.
No matter how old the family members are or how big the gaps, starting to climb indoors is the best activity to bring all the family together.
How can I start climbing with my children
All of the climbing centres in Bristol have ways for you and your children to start indoor climbing safely. There are 2 main ways in which you can get your children involved in indoor climbing that all of the centres adopt if one way or another.
The children can join one of the indoor climbing clubs or sessions
You sign them up for one of the many climbing courses or clubs that the climber’s centres have to offer, these climbing sessions are always fully instructed and are similar to a rugby or gymnastic club. The sessions can be a ‘one-off’ or one of the regular sessions (depending on the centre).
During these sessions, the children are often taught one of the many climbing skills along with balance, agility and coordination, while also of courses, keeping the climbing sessions fun and safe, hopefully inspiring them for life (For full information visit the climbing centre websites found at the bottom of the article).
Bristol has some of the best freelance climbing coaches and instructors in the UK and the indoor climbing walls all use them regularly. It would be hard to say which wall has the best sessions for children, the best bet is to try them all out to find which one suits your needs more.
The parent or adult becomes the registered member
An adult can gain the skills required to join an indoor climbing centre either through an experienced friend or by one of the climbing centre Induction sessions or beginner classes.
The over 18’s then becomes a ‘member’ (on successful completion); as a member, they are then allowed (at time of writing) to bring along two guests of any age and any skill and take responsibility for them during their time in the climbing centre.
Each climbing centre in Bristol allows up to 2 guests, any more that than and you step into group territory and would be required to book an instructor.
Gaining the experience through a friend
As I have mentioned a member each climbing centre allows a member to sign in 2 guests, that also applies for adults, if an adult came as a guest (to Bloc as an example) for a minimum of 10 hours then they would reach the requirements to register themselves and so take on the ability to sign in their own 2 guests. It is them the member job to educate and supervise the guests.
Learn to climb at an indoor climbing centre
As you might imagine the ‘roped’ climbing centres have a higher barrier to entry as belaying and other ropes and PPE skills are required for a safe climbing session. Both of the roped climbing centres, Undercover Rock and Redpoint have adult beginner courses that vary in length from 4 hours to 8hrs and are often split over a few days. For more info on these indoor climbing, courses visit their respective website www.undercover-rock.com and www.redpointbristol.co.uk
The bouldering inductions (beginner courses) vary between the two bouldering centres, The Climbing Academy Bristol allows you to watch a video to gain the level of experience to meet the requirements of their registration while Bloc requires that you complete an Induction session with a climbing coach for a minimum of 15 minutes (anytime).
Many parents take both approaches
Many parents wanting to start climbing arrange a mixture of both of the options above. The benefit of the Adult being the members is that you are free to use the climbing centres as you wish. During school holidays and wet weekends you would have a perfect activity for you and 2 (normally the maximum) children or friends.
One of large benefits of your child or children joining one of the climbing clubs or sessions, of course, that your are free to do as you wish, often it is not a requirement to stay on site during the session, leaving you can catch up on that book or grab yourself a coffee.
All of the groups and clubs run by the sessions are fully instructed, all the centres have fantastic coaches and instructors and often you may see the same instructors working at different indoor climbing centres in Bristol, so you know they have a wide level of experience and are in the industry for life.
Learning what needs to be learnt to become a member along with signing you child or children up to a class mean gives you a lot more freedom during those long school holidays or rainy Christmas months, perhaps also you child can pass on some of the skills they have learnt to you.
Why start climbing indoors with your children
Indoor climbing with you child or children is the best sport I know of, it allows by it’s very nature you both to climbing together, in the very same area and try with as much effort as each other. All the hard climbs, the easy climbs and the children climbs are mixed together, there is now adult area. This means that you take it turns to literally climb the same bit of wall (albeit a different colour climb) and have the same fun experience. It’s fantastic, it always bring a smile to my face to see parents and children climbing together, especially if the child is beating the parent!
So don’t wait, give an indoor climbing centre a call and get you and your family climbing. Check out a previous article on the indoor climbing centres in Bristol which summarises the difference and what I view are each their best qualities.
Or if you would like a private Bouldering Induction session or would like to learn how to climb with ropes with me or one of my coaches please contact me here to find out when the next class is available.
Undercover-rock – The Climbing Academy – Redpoint Bristol – Bloc climbing centre

Matt Cox completes Adrenochrome 8a (Deep water solo “Ground up”)

Matt Cox (Sponsored by RedChili) has done it again, in between working hard, creating babies and not much climbing, has, after a few visits completed the Deepwater solo climb Adrenochrome which goes at the solid grade of 8a.

Not only did Matt complete Adrenochrome, a must do project of his, he did it “ground up” or I suppose sea up. Climbing a route “ground up” means to climb the route with out looking at the top out holds, abseiling to look at the route or top roping the line, the only way you know where and what the holds are like is from what you can see from the ground or as you climb the route, that means that as you hopefully reach a high point on each attempt you still have no idea what is coming up and on a 8a thats is a big task.

No matter how it did it, it is was ace to be there to watch him and put together a little video of the route in between my falls of a lot of other routes.

Wow, what a crag!

Tirpentwys is an absolutely fantastic crag for those wanting to take the first steps into sport climbing outside or to push their grade from 6a/6a+ upwards with confidence.


  • Fantastic bolting.
  • Easy access.
  • 10/10 crag comfort.
  • Almost completely solid rock with little to no chance of falling rocks.
  • 45 minutes from Bristol.

Almost all of the routes have quick link lower offs adding more confidence to the climber. The routes are lined up in parallel,  so it’s easy to romp up a load of routes in no time at all, and with a less than 10-minute walk-in it’s perfect summer afternoon’s climbing.

Georgia Townend Climbing at Terpentwys

The climbing at Tirpentwys



The climbing is great. Great moves on good holds – what else could you ask for!? With small edges to large in-cut pockets, this crag incites my favourite style of climbing.

Climbing at Tirpentwys is either vertical or just off (both ways). There is nothing too steep to climb at the crag. It lends itself to a mix of delicate climbing with the classic edges found on sandstone and the harder grades feature some big throw moves.

As I have said, the routes are well equipped and have chain and quick-link lower-offs.

Get climbing in less than 10 minutes.

From the car park, head up the shallow valley sticking to the fire-road. Simply follow this slightly uphill for around 10 mins before the crag appears. Easy!

Climb over the fence at the small style and ignore the signs saying no climbing (this is apparently there for liability issues) and you are there.


The crag layout at Tirpentwys

The easier climbs wrap the outer edges of the crag whilst the classic 6c and 7b routes can be found slightly to the left of the middle routes.

In my opinion, the best line of the crag is the 6c on the left-hand side of the main face. The route is absolute quality from start to finish. The crux is classic, with what seems like only one way to do it, no matter what your height!

There are plenty of great 6’s and a quality pumpy 6b+ on the LHS, along with lots of different and interesting climbing across the whole crag.

Its an absolute gem of a crag with fun and safe routes in abundance.

Climbing in south wales

How to get to Tirpentwys

From Bristol it takes around 45 minutes – almost quicker than Cheddar. It’s easy to get to and not far from the motorway.

The directions below are taken from UKC.com:

There are 2 ways to approach this crag:

1. If coming from Pontypool/Blaenavon. Turn off the A4043 into Pontnewynydd Industrial Estate follow this road to a T junction just past the Post office sorting depot. Turn left up the hill along the road passing the Plas y Coed pub on your left, continue straight on the road will become lined with ancient beech trees. About 150 mts further along on the right hand side are the 2 old entrances to what was Tirpentwys Tip. Park in either.

2.If coming from Crumlin. In Hafodyrynys turn left off the A472, then take the road that runs down the side of the chinese takeaway. After about 70mts fork right up the steep hill go round the hairpin bend and pass the Star inn on your left. Cross over a cattle grid, the road levels out, continue straight on crossing a second cattle grid, pass the houses of Pantygasseg on your left following the road down the hill. The 2 entrances to the old tip are on your left in about 250mts.

To the Crag. Go through the green metal barrier(top entrance) onto the tarmac road and follow this for about 200mts until it bends to the right, at this point go straight on following the gravel road you will pass a footbridge on your left after 150 mts, 50 mts after this cross the small drainage ditch on the right, the crag will now be visible approx’ 100mts on the right. There is a style fixed to the fence to allow easy access.

To coincide with the start of the new season(2009), it looks like the council are building a nice new car park at the lower of the 2 entrances, this will provide an excellent facility and make using the top entrance unecessary, thanks Torfaen.

The nice new car park has been closed because of vandalism, fly tipping and drug abuse, there is a new metal barrier in place which is locked. I spoke to the council, the car park will now operate on a key holder scheme, so if you are local and want a key contact torfaen they will send the forms to fill in so you can have your own key, please use this responsibly.

The deepwater soloing seasons has kicked off for me and kicked off strong, well I had a few wobbles along the way.

On-sighting the 2 classics, Animal Magnetism and Horny Little Devil, on the first session climbing above the sea this year has to be the perfect start to any DWS season.

Kicking off with the a low tide is never an encouraging start, we knew it was going to be that way but as we had the whole day we figured even if we ended up going for a swim until the tide we were golden. As the tide grew so did our confidence.

The Climbing

The first climb of the day was the Maypole, the classic warm up 6b a nice easy line with a slight sting in the tail, but as you are low and above nice (normally deep) water it’s a perfect intro.

A little traverse of the inner column at the end of the Maypole was another good little route, from there we went and checked out Horny little devil, after a few non starts due to fear we were away, 2 of the team were quickly in the water while I reversed and climb back 3 times and climbed out and around, the idea of possibly hitting the slab below during the first 4 moves did not inspire me.

Another go at the Mapole this time to get into have a look at Animal Magnetism. Another go at the climb, an incredible effort and solid climbing saw Roaly midway before the fear set in, his arms turned to stone and was shortly off the wall.

The tide was now high enough, yet I was still not as keen as I should be, the fact that I would most likely pull through the moves and find myself at the top was more worrying to me than falling off early on.

After a few ‘looks’ I again backed off and reversed the Maypole.


Turning point

A strong lunch and the promise to stop being a pansy saw me back round to quickly send Horny’, another send of a small 7a and I blasted around to Animal Mag’ to finish of the day on a strong footing that I should have started early in the day, but hey, thats deepwater soloing for you.


A little Cherry for the way home, we are athletes after all!