Friday, 27 February 2015

High Sports Basildon & Castle Climbing Centre... Paraclimbing #Autism

I am trying to find a way to travel regularly from Snowdonia to High-Sports Basildon  or Castle Climbing Centre in London to coach a young boy with autism without passing on exorbitant travel costs to his family. If anyone in area travels this route in a car, helicopter or private jet and would be up for me bumming a lift (not literally bumming!)

I would be very, very grateful. Promise not to talk too much or whistle uncomfortably :)

Kind regards

#autism #paraclimbing

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Recruiting for March Clients for Reach Online Dual Factor Training Programme

If your planning a trip in 6 weeks or more for some sun rock, why not join our 6 week DF programme with Reach before you go...

It is designed around your needs against a backdrop of our training strategies to help prepare you for a climbing peak before your trip. Don't hang around, join us for the March Team...

Hanging around!
More hanging around... Don't do it!

The cost of the DF Programme is £100. Contact for further details...

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reach Climbing Coach - 1:1 Sessions in North Wales

If you climb between 6a and 7c and are looking for 1:1 coaching sessions in North Wales (Llanberis area) in the month of March then please contact for prices and dates.

The sessions will focus on training methods to improve your bouldering and/or sport grade: Outdoors if weather permitting or at one of our local climbing walls.


Climbing for All - Disability Awareness in Rock Climbing - The Outdoor Partnership, North Wales

Climbing for All - Disability Awareness in Rock Climbing

The Outdoor Partnership have organised a ‘Climbing for All Disability Awareness in Rock Climbing’ Workshop to raise awareness and impart knowledge of disability climbing to those volunteering and working in the outdoors in North Wales. The workshop will be delivered at one of North Wales’ climbing walls on Saturday 25th April 2015 by Graeme Hill at a subsidised rate of £5.

Graeme specialises in disability in the outdoors, he is the GB Paraclimbing team manager and is a member of the British Mountaineering Council Equity Steering Group. 

The workshop will be open to individuals and organisations who would like to see the provision of climbing for disabled people increase for those living in North Wales through community clubs and centre based activities.

How individuals and organisation may benefit from attending the course:
·         Club volunteers who would like to be able to provide inclusive club climbing sessions and are working towards an insport accreditation.
·         SEN and mainstream school teachers and staff who would like to gain more knowledge of the sport to feel confident in organising climbing sessions for the pupils
·         Parents, family members and care workers who would like to gain more knowledge of the sport to feel confident in taking disabled people to organised climbing sessions and community climbing clubs.
·         Providers and outdoor centre staff who would like to increase their provision of climbing for disabled people in North Wales

(For those holding a Mountain Training qualification this course is included as part of Mountain Training’s Continual Professional Development (1 point) and has also received endorsement from Association of Mountaineering Instructors).

For more information about the course please contact your local Outdoor Activities Development Officer or to reserve a space please email

A Collective Person...

Jay socially interacting
Jay describes himself as a 'collective' person. He collects stuff and organises it in his room the way he likes it to be. It makes him happy.

He has been busy collecting some other stuff recently. He came first in his category for Autism at ROCfest in Manchester the other week, Did his first V6 boulder problem yesterday and is making more friends in the climbing community both here in North Wales and around the UK & France.

In the sessions, Jay and I talk about life and autism; perceptions, the spectrum, rainbows, female relationships, the benefits of a good core and other stuff like feeling up, down or even sideyways! (sideyways is not a 'real' word, it's sideways, we know that, but you knew that!)

Jay and I have been climbing together for a year I think? And we are beginning to understand what he is actually capable of in climbing and more importantly perhaps, what his journey could mean to others with autism, looking for more from their lives. Jay constantly wants to make sure that what he is doing and the efforts he is going to in his training and learning, are going to help others with autism, especially younger kids. Because when Jay was younger, it was so much harder for him as he didn't have the tools or life experiences to understand as much as he does now and it was VERY, VERY tough for him...

Jay is going to write a book one day, and if struggles to find a publisher (which he won't), then I will write a book and sneak his book into that book! Sneaky bastardo!

Jay and I communicating at height about the crux
 ahead on his outdoor 6c project

But we both agree that the genius in having a less than ordinary life / hellishly tough, is to eventually use it to step sideyways  of judgement and to be kind to yourself and especially to others and not let the sometimes unbelievably horrendous experiences of the past pull you down and prevent you from enjoying the best of humanity, openness, kindness and love.

('hellishly' is a word, so why isn't 'sideyways' a word. What's that about!?) Fuck knows? Or maybe it doesn't... Swearing is naughty, don't do it! Well, not in private, cause that's fucked...

Kindness & Love
Coach Bastardo


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Route Setting for Paraclimbing. It's Orange!

Good route setting is hard man!

Good Paraclimbing setting is hard man...

It was great that a recent UK bouldering comp got a few of the GB Paraclimbers down to share their experiential knowledge with the paracomp setters before the comp... There's a lot of 'comp' in this paragraph?!

It was also great that the same comp organisers (ROCfest) changed the podium presentations for the Paraclimbing event to run alongside the presentations of the other categories instead of the scheduled plan. Another accidental win for this great event at ROCfest... Its called inclusion. It was one of the best comps I've been to and the atmosphere was awesome...

ROCfest Paraclimbers enjoying their podium
Inclusion works two ways... Awesome display of 
strength from the male and female Senior Cats. (Nice bobble hat gorgeous woman)

But here's the stuff I love about Paraclimbing: When it comes to route setting, we may need to begin to move away from inclusiveness with the route sets (in competition) and aggressively segment the setting so that it tries to achieve the following:
  • Is more specific to Paraclimbing categories (upper limb, lower limb etc..)
  • Highlights the category competitor's specialist abilities and athletic ability specific to their catergory
  • Understands the specialist techniques currently employed and challenges the competitors to advance their techniques in example more core orientated setting...

This is an 8a in Pyrenees That I believe I could coach an upper limb Category up
 (with appropriate core and technique training)

So for instance, one might set a technical roof route with various knee bars like the above video that would test perhaps an upper limb category with one arm on both technical roof climbing but with realistic opportunities to heel and toe lock or knee bar and shift enough weight to the core and lower limbs in an athletic way to allow for the next hand movement, as opposed to forcing the climber to just get their feet up and slap to the next hold, after hold after hold until their power is quickly sapped.

The Physical Variances
So the facts are that if you have one leg, then that means you have one rock shoe and two hands. It's a study of movement in it's own right and that is what Paraclimbing route setting has to unpeel and then deliver for the most spectacular Paraclimbing  Competition events. Do this well and we get to really show what these dudes are about.

Its Orange!
BMC GB Paraclimb Team Manager: Graeme Hill enjoying
 the comp at ROCfest
I could go on about route setting in Paraclimbing for hours, but I won't,... Just set it.

Monday, 16 February 2015

A New Paraclimbing Centre Project for Suzi Rees

Was speaking with Suzi Rees from Deaf Climbing UK the last night and she told me of her latest project.

It's no secret that I think Suzie is amazing. As someone who spent 15 years at the sharp end of business and entrepreneurship as a Founder and Managing Director of private companies, I understand about the level of motivation and energy it takes to see through a new business idea or project. But that's something that most can find in themselves, but it's having the bravery to commit to action is what makes the entrepreneur... Combined with a true belief on an unshakable scale.

Suzi and I at London Comp 2014
Suzi's ventures are Social Enterprise models, where it all goes back into programming to help others. And that is what I like about Suzi...(well that and her lats!)

As the current GB Paraclimbing Team Coach I am very excited to help and be part of this amazing concept and can't wait to watch the whirlwind do her stuff in pulling this fantastic idea off a page into the reality of a new climbing centre. 

2014 Paraclimbing World Championships in Gijon

Coaching Paraclimbing within a specialist environment such as this will just help drive GB Paraclimbing forward in both athlete's performance and increase awareness of the benefits both physical and mental to one's well being from adventure sports such as rock climbing.

If you wish further details then contact Suzi at:

Deaf Climbing UK

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The devil in me...

Coaching and training someone in my opinion are separate.

In Paraclimbing, you coach, mindful of the climber's condition or disability. But to train and push someone physically, you have to clearly separate current inability from disability and have the courage to communicate that to the climber.

Like any climber looking to increase their climbing performance, paraclimbers need to improve through hard work with a clear focus on what's going on. Seems obvious?

Try giving a lovely woman with MS a motivational prompt (bollocking) for not pulling hard enough on a boulder problem or for confusing her condition and ligitimate fear of MS induced fatigue with the same feeling of training fatigue at a busy climbing wall with onlookers looking over pitifully at your client and then at you as if your the devil!

"I pity the fool that pity has fooled..."

Working with disabilities teaches you to quickly "see the person, not the disability" and that's obvious, but remembering to train the athlete with integrity and pushing them for change or to risk for improvement is the hard part.

Coaching someone to risk for success who has lost a lot, a part of their body, requires empathy of the highest level with an understanding that to risk losing again could just end them. But this is separate from training them.


Friday, 6 February 2015

And Up Yours...

Some people find theirs and now I finally have mine... Something to rise up to.

Finally having a project that is meaningful and has enough depth to really grab my complete focus, as a climber and even a human being! The Eiger...

I even love the sound of the word itself... The Eiger... Oooooooooooooooh!

It's great waking up and having the Eiger project consuming my thoughts. When I pull my curtains back in my small bedroom in Snowdonia, its the Eiger I'm seeing out my window. Every mountain represents it now, every track I run is the lower sections of the West Flank... I have to be 500% aerobically fitter than I am today but I know that will come with each attempt to flick that psychological training switch. 

Planing with others and planning with myself how I am going to get fit enough is exciting enough to piss ma pants, scary enough to fart out loud in public places, but worthy enough to invest all that I am today in everything it turns out to be for the others. 

It's the first time I've dug back into my previous self to unpack some of my project management experience to help the project be all it can be. Feels nice to use these skills that I had buried so deeply in fear of them opening old scars and losses, but after an initial wibbly wobble staring at the computer, it began to all come back, but this time, to be used for something human and kind. My biggest worry is not being tough enough for this, but quite the opposite (because my life has taught me that I'm tough), It's mixing the right level of compassion for the others on the tough environment of the Eiger.

I love the Eiger as a mountain, its simplicity as a pyramid structure, its brutality if you disrespect it, and the small precarious 10m wide summit that swirls the whole world below your feet and a vista that could make you cry.

I expect that along the way the Eiger Paraclimb might unfortunately attract a little criticism, because 'judge-mentalists!' are always present in society, but I suppose the answer just lies in the title. 

So far, it has been an overwhelmingly positive response and that is what will make all the training and preparations worth all the effort and strengthen the whole teams resolve when on the mountain six months from now.

I invited my friend Colin to join me because his life has been hard and he is my best friend whom I trust and I know the Eiger will turn his life from a current dark struggle to a big shinny happy place where his self esteem will hit the azure skies of the Swiss Alps. Cant wait to see his face coming back to life on the summit with the others,.. Happy days :)

Monday, 2 February 2015

Intelligence in climbing - TFB Strategies...

Operating without no 2..
Someone once told me that ' intelligence' is overrated...

If one was so intelligent then one might think that a humans' ability or gift to be intellectual was something greater than others with perceived 'less' intelligence?

But surely that's unintelligent? For to think that your ' intelligence' is greater than another seems kinda dumb. Then we throw 'genius' into things we don't personally understand?

Seems it is a bit like language. Some argue that language is just metaphorical and we generally don't say exactly what we mean.

Anyway, what I'm talking about is working with autism. The great thing about working with autism is there is no space for untruths, because it doesnt make sense.

When 1, 3,4,5,6 are all there for you to easily move a conversation forward or make a learning outcome succesful but 2 is somewhere else, then you just build new routes, new learning strategies, new ways to re-engage at an intelligent, honest, unpatronising level that validates the objective and then it's all just Tickety Fucking Boo... (TBF).

Anyway... #autism #ticketyfuckingboo

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)