Lakeland Activist Q&A: Jonathan Spooner

Jonathan Spooner, 26, Ambleside Local.

What’s your favourite Lake District Route and why?
One Step Beyond E4, Gouther Crag. It climbs an amazing hanging slab which gives you instant exposure as you traverse across and is situated in one of the quieter parts of the Lakes. Rumor has it that it never rains in Swindale too…

What does finding a true trad partner feel like?
Trust and motivation

What words or phrases do you most overuse when tradding in the Lakes?
“Where does the route go” “Bit awkward this”

What climbs keep you awake at night?
Anything in Hodge Close.

What’s your worst climbing habit?
Obsessively chalking all the time

What’s your most treasured piece of kit?
DMM Couloirs 8.0mm Great, light, dry treated ropes with a low impact force. Confidence inspiring.

Which notable climbers would you invite to your dream crag day out?
Pete Whillance for sure. Don’t see many guys cranking out 6b with a fag in their mouth!

What about the current state of climbing makes you unhappy?
People arguing on the Internet and not getting out to do it for themselves.

What’s the most important lesson trad has taught you?
To always try and push your boundaries

To what do you owe your climbing mentors?
At least a Beer…

What’s the worst climb you’ve ever done?
I don’t think I have one! Maybe I’m just good at forgetting all those type 2 fun experiences.

What single thing would improve the quality of your climbing?
Bigger Guns Obviously

If you could bring something of climbings past back to life, what would it be?
Don Whillans. I think the world could use someone with his bluntness.

Tell us a lake district secret?
It’s actually amazing here. We just keep the hard grading and choss rumors going so we have the crags to ourselves 😉

What does the future of climbing hold for you?
More chances to explore the world, climb great routes and share experiences with friends.

 

Lakeland Activist Q&A: Rob Greenwood

We talk to the climbers racking up in the valleys, roosting in the crags, and reliving their ascents in the pubs of the Lakes this summer. This week we have the ever-enthusiastic Rob Greenwood.

 

Name, Age, Main activity when not climbing;

Rob Greenwood, 33, thinking about climbing 😉

 

Your favourite lake District Route and why?

This is an impossible question to answer, so I’m going to answer with a curveball: a route I haven’t actually done. Fast and Furious at Dove Crag has long been on my to-do list, but for reasons unknown I’ve never made it up there. Seeing as one of my favourite things in this world is visiting new places I think this loosely qualifies as answering the question, but I’ll admit it’s quite tenuous…

 

What does finding a true trad partner feel like?

When I started climbing I climbed with anyone and everyone, but that’s changed in recent years and I tend to climb with quite a select crew. When you’re climbing with the right person/people everything flows, there’s no friction, and things are just easy Walk-ins seem short and the chat just flows, but most of all there’s a whole lot of fun and laughter.

 

What climbs keep you awake at night?

I’ve been up to Scafell a lot of times, but every time I’ve skirted around the main event – Ringwraith. There’s only so long you can put these things off for and I’ve put it off for as long as I can, hence it keeps coming back to me – I need to climb this route. Knowing people like Tom Briggs and Ged Desforges (two very accomplished trad climbers) have fallen off the top pitch certainly adds to the intimidation, so it just requires me to get on it, stop worrying about it, and see what happens.

 

What’s your worst climbing habit?

I’m always in a rush. Whilst I’d love to say ‘I embrace the moment’ I do, I just like to embrace it quickly, then embrace the next one – hence there’s not much time chilling at the top of a crag and this can drive some climbing partners a little crazy (although most have just got used to it).

 

What’s your most treasured piece of kit?

My guidebooks I guess, as they’re the key to it all. Open a guide an it’s impossible not to be inspired.

 

Which notable climbers would you invite to your dream crag day out?

Stephen Reid, the owner of Needle Sports, has been asking me to head up to Pillar with him for years but we’ve never quite managed to get the dates together for it – as such I’d ask him. Stephen may not be known to a younger generation of climbers but he’s a total legend: he’s ticked Hard Rock, he’s edited guidebooks for the FRCC, and he’s currently working on a large historical tribute to Pillar (hence wanting to go up there). Over the years I’ve admired his passion and interest for climbing, its history, and its heritage. He’s also a complete all-rounder both in summer and winter, and whilst he may not be a superstar in terms of big numbers he’s someone that’s lived and breathed it – there’s a lot to admire in that.

 

What about the current state of climbing makes you unhappy?

I could probably go off on a negative diatribe here, but that wouldn’t be good for me so I’ll talk about something that made me happy instead. A month or so ago I was lucky enough to be camped up at Scafell, where we did – amongst other things – Central Buttress right at the end of the day, in the evening sun, with two good friends. I reckon we were the twelfth party up the route that day, which is incredible. I thought people were saying trad was dead and that nobody climbs in the Lakes, yet here we are with parties all over the crag, enjoying themselves, and making the most of this wonderful weather we’ve been having. The future is bright…

 

What’s the most important lesson trad has taught you?

Generally speaking people worry about routes, their reputation, and how it’s going to be far too much beforehand. I used to use the phrase ‘going for a look’ to dispel the tension and generally speaking it worked, because as soon as I stepped onto the rock I was engaged in something real rather than worrying about something imagined. That said, I’m still as guilty as the next when it comes to over-thinking the next route – take Ringwraith for example!

 

To what do you owe your climbing mentors?

A belay…

 

What’s the worst climb you’ve ever done?

This is a tough call, because I’ve always thought there’s pleasure to be had in climbing poor routes. Even the worst routes usually have something about them. Still, if I’d have to choose one it wouldn’t actually be in the Lakes, it would be in the Himalayas, where Jack Geldard and I tried to climb a new route on Peak 41. It was horrendous and led to me abseiling off a bulldog hammered into a tottering ridge of shale. Still, horrific though this experience was it did remind me just how good trad climbing in the UK is, and I’ve basically been a full-time rock climber (as opposed to ice/winter climber) ever since.

 

What single thing would improve the quality of your climbing?

Taking a few moments out to actually sit back, relax, and watch the sunset. Rushing is great, it gets lots done, but you do miss out on the finer details as a result. Penny – my partner – is always good at reminding me of this and I think/hope I’ve got better at it over the years.

 

Tell us a lake district secret?

‘Lakes E4’ basically means E5, although maybe this isn’t that much of a secret?

 

If you could bring something of climbings past back to life, what would it be?

The past is ingrained within the routes, so if you want a piece of it just go do them. Kern Knotts Crack is a good example of this, as it provides something of a shock even to the modern leader (it’s no pushover at VS…) and yet it received its first ascent courtesy of O.G. Jones in 1897, which is – as you’re there thrutching up this horrific cleft – utterly obscene.

 

What does the future of climbing hold for you?

This is something I think about a lot. Climbing has consumed so much of my life, and will no doubt continue to do so, but things do change. Take performance for example, as there’s going to be a day when I can no longer perform to the standard I used to. If climbing hard is all that climbing means to you then you’re basically in a cul-de-sac; if climbing means something else, something more, then there’s countless days out just waiting to be had – they just might not consist of multiple extremes!

Lakeland Activist Q&A: Will Sim

Will Sim, A Cumbrian born Alpinist.

Name, Age, Main activity when not climbing;
Will Sim, 28, skiing, listening to blues music and thinking about climbing!

Your favourite Lake District Route and why?
“The Cumbrian”, beautiful place, amazing line and good name; I spent most of my childhood dreaming about it and when I finally got on it I fumbled the crux but just managed to scrape through!

What climbs keep you awake at night?
Ones without ledges big enough to lie down on!

What’s your worst climbing habit?
When I don’t wear a helmet.

What’s your most treasured piece of kit?
FRCC Scafell, Wasdale and Eskdale guidebook. The old edition. It was my Bible as a kid. “Only the best will succeed, whilst those who only think they are the best will receive good hospital treatment.” If you know what route that is the description of it’s your Bible also.

Which notable climbers would you invite to your dream crag day out?
Probably just my normal climbing partners, which is why they’re my normal climbing partners! Oh, and Joe Brown.

What about the current state of climbing makes you unhappy?
When I go to a climbing wall and they tell me I can’t belay right.

What’s the most important lesson trad has taught you?
That it’s not just about the moves. And that if you wanna get stronger you’d better go bouldering as well…

To what do you owe your climbing mentors?
The knowledge to get started and take it further.

What’s the worst climb you’ve ever done?
I’ve never done a bad climb.

What single thing would improve the quality of your climbing?
Reaching the “flow” state more often and climbing more with nice girls.

Tell us a Lake District secret?
There’s only one lake in the Lake District. Boring one I know! Ok, if there’s no lichen in your eyes when you reach the belay you picked a boring route.

If you could bring something of climbings past back to life, what would it be?
The largeness of the world; I expect not so long ago the world seemed physically bigger – harder to travel around, slower to travel around. Therefore bigger badder adventures were even bigger and even badder. But maybe I’m wrong? Not figured that one out yet.

 

Will new routing on St Bee’s and Eskdale

Lakeland Activist Q&A: Jerome Cooper

We talk to the climbers racking up in the valleys, roosting in the crags, and reliving their ascents in the pubs of the Lakes this summer.  Jerome Cooper, a climbing insomniac with a passion for Fallen Angels.

Name, Age, Main activity when not climbing;
Jerome Cooper, 30, when not climbing?!?

Your favourite Lake District Route and why?
Tough Question. It seems each time I head out to climb this changes. There are so many hidden Gems in the Lakes it difficult to pin a single route down. Fallen Angel E4 6a*** on Pavey Ark definitely left a lasting impression. It was one of my first E4’s and it didn’t go without a fight. It features a puzzling crux sequence followed by a spicy run out. What’s not to love!

What does finding a true trad partner feel like?
When you know, you know…..
I’ll happily climb with anyone who has a cheerful disposition and a sense of adventure.

What climbs keep you awake at night?
The one’s I haven’t done! Obviously this results in many sleepless nights!

What’s your worst climbing habit?
This one’s easy. I have tendency to pull on to routes prior to fully reading the route descriptions. The inevitable result being some fairly adventurous route finding dramas!

What’s your most treasured piece of kit?
This may seem odd, but it has to be my chalk bag belt. Out of all my gear it’s the single item that I have kept with me since I started climbing. It’s literally been with me on every route I’ve ever climbed.

Which notable climbers would you invite to your dream crag day out?
Gwen Moffat, Don Whillans, Andy Kirkpatrick, Dave Birkett

What about the current state of climbing makes you unhappy?
To be honest, there isn’t anything of importance about the current state of climbing that makes me unhappy. It’d be great to see more routes cleaned up though!

What’s the most important lesson trad has taught you?
Always bring that extra slingdraw…… you will need it.
More seriously though, it’d be learning to trust my own judgments. Knowing when it’s safe to go, or when it’s better to save a route for another day.

To what do you owe your climbing mentors?
So much! They’ve been a constant influence on me since I started climbing and I still feed off their love of the sport! Sometimes it helps to be pushed!

What’s the worst climb you’ve ever done?
Whatever it was it must’ve been wiped from my memory. I’d be almost certain it wasn’t in the Lakes though.

What single thing would improve the quality of your climbing?
Being Ron Fawcett.

Tell us a lake district secret?
Never! Go find your own! The more you explore, the more you know!

If you could bring something of climbings past back to life, what would it be?
It would’ve been amazing to witness some of the first ascents of some classic routes. I wouldn’t exactly be envious of some of the Lakeland pioneers options for protection though!

What does the future of climbing hold for you?
A lifetimes worth of adventure, exploration, opportunity and growth.
Starred routes, scary routes, easy routes and everything in-between!

 

Lakeland Activist Q&A: Katy Forrester

Katy Forrester, Super proficient Lakeland all rounder; she ticks trad, boulder, ice, sport and fell routes.

Name, Age, Main activity when not climbing;
Katy Forrester, n+1, being a mum.

Your favourite lake District Route and why?
Blencathra Fell race route. I always have a good time when running it!

What does finding a true trad partner feel like?
Better than sex.

What climbs keep you awake at night?
None of my own…but my daughter Ada can climb out of or over many things so I am always listening out for the sound of her escaping.

What’s your worst climbing habit?
Lacking confidence and not going for it!

What’s your most treasured piece of kit?
My NavLab (Navigation Labrador) who is my shadow and constant companion. Has only put me in the wrong valley once.

Which notable climbers would you invite to your dream crag day out?
My chiropractor friend Matt. We can talk baby daughters and he can make my back straight again!

What’s the most important lesson trad has taught you?
Something good is coming up if you can hold on long enough.

To what do you owe your climbing mentors?
They are my landlords, Ada’s GuideParents and I currently have their Gable guidebook. They also leant me my first rack and I know where their spare key is. I owe them loads! Plus they know all the good fell running trods.

What’s the worst climb you’ve ever done?
Can’t remember. The slog up the hill to some winter climbs might win.

What single thing would improve the quality of your climbing?
More time and good weather

Tell us a lake district secret?
Penrith makes the best fudge.

If you could bring something of climbings past back to life, what would it be?
Not sure. Life moves on

What does the future of climbing hold for you?
Hopefully lots more climbing and running. And really dry summers please!