Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ben Moon's Evolution...

Ben Moon
Ben Moon...
"Those of you who follow my Twitter/Facebook feed might be wondering how the Evolution story ended.  Unfortunately there was no happy ending but the story isn’t over yet and all being well, a new chapter will begin again in the spring.
I’ve not climbed now for about 3 weeks but up until that point all my climbing days over the previous 6 weeks were spent on Evolution. That’s about 2 days a week with no training days in between. It’s amazing how quickly you can rack up the days when fully committed and Evolution in terms of days invested is now probably number 2 on my all time list behind a certain route at Kilnsey. Hopefully the outcome will be different this time around!
After getting bogged down on Evolution’s second crux for several days but still doing big links I finally got the breakthrough I had hoped for and during 1 session red-pointed all the way through to the last move 3 times. Unfortunately the last hold was seeping and I got spat of while setting up for the last big move. Although frustrating I was really very happy because I was sure I could do the route, maybe even this autumn. Unfortunately, as is often the case in sport-climbing this wasn’t to be and 2 days later I popped my left knee on the crucial heel and toe lock on the lower crux. It made a sickening sound as the ligaments tore and my body suddenly felt very vulnerable. I knew immediately that was it for the year.
It’s so strange being back into redpointing after so many years away. It’s so much more high pressure than bouldering, basically because you invest so much more time and energy, both mental and physical. I guess that’s why I gave it up in the first place. The flip side of this is that the rewards are huge if you do succeed. One of the most inspiring bits of news this year was Paul Reeves eventual success on Cry Freedom after many days effort over many years at the age of 51. When I bumped into him at Ravens Tor several months after his successful red-point and asked him how it felt to finally clip the belay he told me he was still basking in the glow of his success. That feeling is a big part of what’s driving me on.
I know it’s not for everyone this single-minded focus but I do love to be working towards a goal in my life and I am sure Paul Reeve feels the same. Since getting back into sport climbing I have really enjoyed the mental and physical challenge of working and redpointing a hard route.  It’s a rollercoaster of a ride but you’ve just got to roll with the punches, embrace the failures, hang in there and hopefully you will get the outcome you desire. I don’t say that flippantly because I know how hard it is to do that. Another major factor driving me on is my age and not knowing how many more years of pulling on small crimps my body can take. Hopefully many more but I am not taking anything for granted.
I hope you all had a good 2013 and I wish you good health and happiness for 2014."
- See more at:

Friday, 20 December 2013


Detraining with mi amiga during elbow rehab in 2012 in Spain
 It has been nice returning to the campus board after nearly a year off any intensive training since the Pyrenees and I was intrigued as to how long it would take to shift the sessions towards a level of intensity that felt close to previous levels. Completing campus session 4 already feels like it may only need a couple more sessions to get to last years level. It's weird how the body remembers, even after a longish break. The key now, is not to get too greedy on the board and mix it up with route climbing to allow enough recovery as the campus board is deep man! Profundo hombre!

Some interesting research below for those that have been on a break...

With complete cessation of exercise training, a significant reduction in V ˙O2max and a decrease in plasma volume occur within 2 weeks; all prior functional gains are dissipated within 2 to 8 months, even if routine low- to moderate-intensity physical activity has taken the place of training (Shephard 1994). 

Muscular strength and power are reduced at a much slower rate than V˙O2max, particularly during the first few months after an athlete discontinues resistance training (Fleck and Kraemer 1987). 
In fact, no decrement in either strength or power may occur for the first 4 to 6 weeks after training ends (Neufer et al.1987). 

After 12 months, almost half of the strength gained might still be retained if the athlete remains moderately active (Wilmore and Costill 1994).

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A campus strategy for power...

Campus rungs
I have began again, campus board for power and blob campusing to improve grip strength. The blobs seem to increase contact finger strength from what I can feel... like power pinching I suppose.

Blobs and rungs from Spain
None of this is worth a jot unless you go and do it, or get yourself conditioned to begin it. So It got me thinking that I should do a campus training strategy for those that have just looked but never dared!

I dare you!

contact  if you would like a programme...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Training Strategies at ReAch...

The ReAch Dual Factor Training Programme works along the principle of developing your power first and the maintaining of it second. So instead of performing a high volume of training at a low intensity you perform a low volume of training at a high intensity.This means a much more productive return from your training because you can't perform high intensity exercise as often as low intensity exercise. This will free up valuable days of your week.

Our innovative programme encourages you to cut out large volumes of aerobic training (except to upload towards a 'fatigue peak'). Instead you head straight into the high intensity endurance based workouts after maximal strength and power have been achieved. Its time efficient and mimics the energy requirements of our sport, allowing you to follow a more focused and rewarding programme
Contact for your own online programme.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Recruiting for December Team for ReAch Dual Factor Online Program...

'Chillin the fook out'  or freezing!
 The top pitch of Strand E2 5b, Gogarth.
If you are thinking about chilling out for Christmas then enjoy.

 If your looking to get fit for a January rock trip or longer term plan for spring trad, then the beginning of December is sensible time to act by joining our December Team...

Siurana, Espana

Right Wall, E5 6a, The Cromlech, North Wales UK

We are offering a 6 week Online  Dual Factor Program for £100 starting December or a 3 month Program starting January for a spring peak for £200. Please contact  for details.

Llanberis Accommodation for Climbers, Surfers and other humans...

 If your down Llanberis way looking for a good B&B then go visit Nitas straight across from Pete's Eats. Click photo below for link to B&B... or HERE!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dr Bott...

I've been lucky enough to be coaching and training with the Doc. I don't coach many people these days on a 1 to 1 but I have always made friends with those I do. The Doc is inspirational in her pursuit to get rock climbing fit for Mexico at end of the year. A Phd and all round cool dude and new friend, it has been great working with the Doc and a big thank you from me for helping me with my own research and Phd application. Fingers crossed Doc!

He tenido la suerte de estar coaching y entrenamiento con el doctor. Yo no entreno muchas personas en estos días en un 1 a 1, pero siempre me he hecho amigos con los que hago. El doctor es inspirador en su búsqueda de conseguir escalada en fuerte para un viaje de roca de México a finales de año.  Una Phd y nuevo amigo, ha sido genial trabajar con el doctor y un gran agradecimiento de mi parte por ayudarme con mi propia investigación y aplicación Phd. Dedos cruzados doctor!

The Doc and my surfing landlady!

Friday, 18 October 2013

ReAch Training and Online Documents - 6 Month Membership

Malcolm Simth on the crux of Blood Diamond (8c+), Anvil

We have been developing a range of climbing specific articles based on personal coaching experience, client response and other sources since the formation of ReAch Climbing Coach since 2010 and are now offering a 6 month membership to ReAch Training & Research Online Documents for £25.00.

Please contact to arrange access to our online training documents.

Owen on working maximal finger strength at the Beacon in North Wales.

Bouldering in Pyrenees.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Exceptionally empty Headed!

As someone who took a dose of psychotherapy in the Pyrenees to overcome a less than ordinary and apparently traumatic childhood, I am of the belief that the mental aspect of climbing as close to your true personal limit is more important than focusing too much on the minutiae of the training or the apparent tangible goal.

Finding inspiration in climbing for me, has always been about finding the truth in what I am doing and why. The motivation is driven by that single belief that something exceptional can happen and working out what part one needs to play to be part of it. Being open to others and taking inspiration from them to keep you going or closing a little and training alone without interruption from others, can work simultaneously and so I suppose for me, knowing when to do what feels right is the key.

Training obviously needs structure, but the motivation to train hard for sustained periods comes from the mind. Learning more about the interruptions from the mind explained more to me about my erratic performance on rock. Learning to approach climbing with as much focus on being relaxed and as little about performance whilst concise with action in the moment on the climb, is something I have been trying to embed in my psyche for over a year now... A kind of empty headed approach with just one thought of 'UP'!

Bouldering in the Pyrenees (Photo: Ruth Jenkins)
Recent events have made me look at where climbing fits in to my life and where it shifts around in my personal circumstances. A low self esteem has played a huge part in motivating me to try harder but also been the main inhibitor. But perhaps climbing is less about competing with myself and more about enjoying the minutiae of each move in the moment and let the rest just take care of itself.

I think that coaching and transferring a 'real' motivation to others is directly linked with finding honesty in the situation and dealing with it openly to build trust for tougher times, as often needed when trying to do something exceptional. Believing that something exceptional can happen is perhaps the difference that hold things together when the apparent blockages seem un-achievable otherwise, the apparently un-achievable is just allowed  to sadly become unbelievable...

 Exception: "An action that is not part of ordinary operations or standards."

Training from 6a to 8a in 180 days: workshop

Working Reinne De Sabart (8b), Ariege, France
Mark McGowan will be available for coaching workshops in Scotland, England and sunny Wales focusing on the training process and psychological aspects of getting from 6a to 8a in 180 days... Please contact for further information.

6a to 8a in 180 days Workshop

"I've had the pleasure of meeting some coaches in the last few months. Thanks to their interest on trying our training methods and fingerboards, we have started to share information and cooperate in a way that undoubtedly will make all of us progress both as climbers and trainers:
-Carlos Cabrera (Sweden): Coach of Geir Söderin, Matilda Söderlund, Daniel Andersson, Robert Rundin (Sweden National
Climbing Team) and Said Belhaj.
-David Mason (Sheffield, UK): Boulderer (8B Fb) and Assistant British Team Coach.
-Juan Martín Miranda , "Marvin" (Argentina): Personal Climbing Coach and Argentine Team Coach.
-Mark McGowan (Glasgow, UK): Climber, currently working as Personal Climbing Coach at Barcelona, Spain.
Thank everyone, It's a great honour to share experiences with you!” (Eva Lopez)"

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Jo Lucas ... 6c to 7c

Jo sending Silk Teddies (7c)

I began coaching Jo in August 2011 at Ratho in Edinburgh, then a board session, then onto the full program for two long seasons. We have climbed and trained together in the UK, Spain and the French Pyrenees and it was great to hear of her recent news of red pointing two 7c's within a few weeks of each other. Although her previous career was modelling in Tokyo, her ability to train daily and change her body for climbing has been mind blowing.

Jo working an 8a in French Pyrenees
I have never met anyone with such a positive outlook on her life and Jo has always inspired me to try and get the best from my life. A coaching relationship is a two way thing and Jo has supported me in my times of personal difficulty with her unrelenting openness and friendship. Well done Jo, well deserved after 2 years HARD training. And well done to your 'Spaniard' for putting up with it!

Jo and Amanda at Dunkeld, Scotland

... 8a next year? No PRESSURE!...

To join up with ReAch Online Dual Factor Program then please contact for information. English and Spanish Programs available...

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Recruiting for ReAch Online Dual Factor Program beginning October

Mark McGowan on FA on Gozo Island
We are recruiting 5 new clients for our October Team for our 6 week Online Dual Factor Program (English or Spanish speaking). Please contact to arrange for details. the cost of the program is £100 or 100euros payable via paypal

If you climb between 6a and 7c outdoors and looking to train harder for better results in your sport climbing the get in touch.

Youth Coaching in Siurana, Spain

Estamos reclutando 5 nuevos clientes para nuestro Equipo de octubre para nuestro programa de Factor dual de en línea 6 semanas (de habla Inglés o español). Por favor, póngase en contacto con para concertar obtener más información. El costo del programa es de £ 100 o € 100 por pagar a través de PayPal

Si escalando al aire libre entre 6a y 7c y buscan entrenar más duro para obtener mejores resultados en tu deporte de escalada y luego ponerse en contacto.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

New Indy Climbing Wall now open today... Where Barcelona meets North Wales!

From this...

To this...

The guys and girls at the Indy have managed a great turnaround with their transformation of their climbing center on Anglesey in North Wales with a new and very steep Power Endurance lead wall that reminded me of a training facility just outside Barcelona that I visited (a very contemporary design!)

The new Power Endurance Wall

Rob setting on the new PE wall

It was great to be involved in both the wall manufacturing (supplied from Beacon Climbing Walls) and finally route setting with the Indy Team.

Emma setting the Circuits Board
 The Indy is open right now and I believe a party will ensue... As I look out the window towards Holyhead I can see it's cloudy, so maybe get down there and enjoy the plastic fantastic from the Indy...

A Stella Job!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Route Setting in the UK

The New Indy Wall in North Wales

Mark McGowan is available for route setting in the UK

Route setting Experience:

  • Ratho International Climbing Centre for Bouldering competitions and Scottish Youth Series
  • Inverness Climbing Centre for Scottish Youth Series
  • The Beacon Climbing Centre for lead routes and Welsh Youth Series
  • The Indy Climbing Wall for lead routes

Rate is £12 per hour plus agreed travel costs

Based in North Wales


Referrals from clients:

"...This training season I decided to get all the help I can to speed up my improvement. I needed guidance to work towards my goals in long term. I also needed more vision and opinions about my exercises and weak links. I am glad I can share my training with Mark..." (Ville Mustonen, Finland)

" I met Mark in Glen Nevis on his return to climbing to check out some lines he had in mind for me, I wasn't really training at this point but after a day or two talking and training with him I had a much more structured idea of what to do to improve and I did" (Kev Shields)