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The Dirtbags Summer sunflower growing contest

Let’s have some more flowers in our lives.

This summer, enter our sunflower growing competition to win prizes.

Every purchase will receive FREE seeds to get one growing. (you can enter with your own seeds, no purchase is necessary)

All you need to do is tend to your plant, and watch it grow, see how tall is grows. The tallest…wins. Simple! Email a photo of the sunflower with a tape measure next to it to dirtbagsclimb@gmail.com or tag us in social media.

As an extra bonus, you can save the seeds from that sunflower for the same thing next year. Cool.

selective focus photography of sunflower
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

It is never too late to learn new things.

We, and some of our ambassadors, are joining in the fun too. We don’t know a lot about plants or looking after them so why not start, and bring you along the journey?

How to grow a sunflower:

  1. Plant seed in a small amount of damp soil.
  2. Put somewhere sunny, like a windowsill.
  3. Wait for it to germinate – keep watered (not too much)
  4. When the plant gets too big, plant in a bigger pot (or, if available, outside)
  5. It should take about 8 weeks for it to flower.

Good luck team!

The winner will be announced in October time.

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Climbing Throughout Pregnancy

My experience with keeping life outdoors while growing a tiny human

words Jennifer Dickinson

This is my experience of climbing in pregnancy. It was 2017, we were expecting our first child and I found myself desperately searching for some other representations of women out there, continuing to live their life adventurously while expecting. To no avail. Maybe because of this, I didn’t venture out as much perhaps as I wanted.

Alas, now expecting our second bundle of joy, there seems to be way more experiences posted online, of pregnant women out there, who continue to explore, climb, swim and more all the way to term. One of my current inspirations is Shauna Coxsey, Olympic Climber, who has been sharing her journey with climbing during pregnancy and seeing the positive responses she has received has been wonderful to follow. It has helped massively seeing someone so confidently and healthily embrace fitness and pregnancy.

But, how do you know what to do, what not to do? There is a very definite do’s and don’ts list when it comes to food and drink, but a vague ‘exercise and keep active’ isn’t a lot to go on. Especially for those anxious parents to be.

Getting advice is very difficult, as one always tend to err on the side of caution. Every case is individual and I suppose the best rule of thumb I’ve found is – if you didn’t do it before, don’t start now. Stick with experience and something you feel confident with.

I have been mostly well and healthy and I decided to note down what we got up to during my second pregnancy. Note, I am NOT an athlete, nor was I before. If on a scale from Shauna to Sugared doughnut I’m maybe in the middle somewhere.

This is basically my pregnancy and how active I have been:

1st Trimester –

Hardly anything as I had morning sickness and was just so tired. I felt guilty about not getting up and about especially feeling a pressure with time to ‘do’ as much as I could before I was physically unable. But, other than a lazy week in Font bouldering…nada. Lots of sleeping, lots of cake. Looking back, I’m glad as I really did feel ill and tired. A Christmas swim in a local body of water with my cousin, surrounded by spectators.

2nd Trimester –

For the first two weeks I was battling a head cold and blocked sinuses so again that prevented any fun. 20 week scan showed I had a low placenta so I decided that whatever climbing I would do, would be gentle and extra careful. A few visits to the bouldering wall – climbing well below my grade and ALWAYS next to a route which meant I could downclimb. Tried to make it interesting by climbing up, then trying to reverse all the moves in the downclimb. I tried the first move on some harder problems and enjoyed just sitting and watching others climb the rest. Plenty of traversing. and lots of climbs only half way up. A number of wild swims, never alone, and I always just bobbed about near the entrance until my toes feel cold. (mind this is in the middle of winter!)

3rd Trimester –

Scan showed placenta has moved way out of the way so less panicking and now more confident to move more! Indoor pool swimming has been lovely, as the water takes all of the heavy weight off and being able to move freely in the water is amazing and being indoors means I can actually ‘exercise’ in my own time without worrying about the cold. Still outdoor swimming and very happy as the temperatures are increasing as it means I can stay in longer with comfort. I love the freeing feeling of being immersed in wild waters and the calming effect on my mental health has been priceless.

I decided to stop bouldering, as the bump has thrown off my balance, but instead have top roped outdoors on some easier climbs and I am very happy to continue with this as it feels great to move my body on the rock.

We are now at 36 weeks, and I happily seconded a VS yesterday. It was a short route I had led before, it felt so nice to move and use muscles in less of a ‘plodding around a supermarket’ way and more of a ‘look I can climb even with this watermelon strapped to me’ sort of way. I feel proud to have kept outside and kept climbing, and I feel fitter than I did with the first pregnancy. It has not been ‘to keep fit’ per se, but more to stay sane. And saneish I am.

Climbing in pregnancy is for sure the right choice for me. I will continue walking, swimming and climbing while it feel nice and enjoyable. With the chilled mind and body, it means I have the headspace to get excited for the bundle of joy who is now only a few weeks away.

Jen

also, here’s a good article where Shauna describes her experiences: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/may/18/im-a-pregnant-woman-making-choices-shauna-coxsey-on-climbing-and-the-bullies-who-want-her-to-stop


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The Road to Climb Muz: part two

words by Siddrah , founder and attendees of Climb Muz events.

“I work in London, but I live just outside of London, in an area which is not very diverse. I’ve wanted to get into bouldering for a long time, but found it intimidating to go by myself. My experiences were limited to a few sessions as I had done with a friend years ago. During those sessions, the climbing centre had mainly been dominated by experienced male climbers. I was very nervous going to ClimbMuz by myself but I felt immediately at ease after meeting Siddrah and the group of like-minded women. It was a safe space to be myself completely. I received encouragement from the group and Siddrah, and simply enjoyed bouldering – something I’ve wanted to do for so long but never found the right opportunity until discovering ClimbMuz.”

When I started ClimbMuz, one of the things that weighed heavily on me was how do I make this group accessible. How can I reduce financial barriers to women attending these events as climbing is a very expensive sport. Initially, group members were paying full price for entry, then Bethwall which is part of the London Climbing Centre (LCC) offered us concession entries to the events which was absolutely amazing. To my surprise the group was growing at a steady pace.  Four months later, United We Climb (UWC,) stepped in to support. They provided financial support with shoes included. They had some funds available for people who could not afford to try climbing. I felt immensely proud at what the group has been able to achieve in a short space of time. 

 The events were proving very popular. Climbmuz’s profile was rising to the point where I had received a message from ‘The Nest’ climbing wall in Hayes. They were looking to increase diversity. There is  a huge Muslim community in their area so they offered the group free entry in the hope that other Muslims in the area would be inspired to embrace climbing as a hobby.  Other climbing walls, such as City Bouldering Algate in London also welcomed us as they were also interested in increasing diversity within their community.  

The other thing that weighed heavily on me, was how do I reach Muslim women who feel as though they do not fit in within the mainstream Muslim community.  I knew from conversations there were Muslim women out there who felt as though they were not accepted and judged by the other members of the community. Through these conversations with some of these women who identified as Muslim but for example were also part of the LGBTQIAI+ community, who dressed differently, were not as practising, tattoos, piercing and so forth felt at ease knowing that they would be accepted if they came to a ClimbMuz event and that they would have my full support. 

“I’d never climbed with Muslim women before so I was incredibly excited when I stumbled across ClimbMuz. Siddrah has created an important space that encourages Muslim women to become part of the wonderful world of climbing – a sport which may previously have felt inaccessible to them. As a queer Muslim woman, I was apprehensive about attending my first ClimbMuz event for fear of not being welcomed due to my sexual orientation. After a single conversation with Siddrah, my apprehension disappeared and I made plans to travel down to London for an event. When my partner and I met Siddrah at a ClimbMuz event, it was clear that we were in a safe environment free from judgement. I was relieved to find that ClimbMuz embodied some of the key principles of Islam of love and acceptance.” 

One of the questions that I have been asked is why these women cannot just go ahead and try climbing without this space. For some women, this space has given them the ability to try a hobby that they would have never considered. By creating this space, they have also had the confidence to go out and set foot into the climbing wall all by themselves.

“I am not joking, I really appreciate you. I know we barely spoke in the session but without your initiative I really would never have considered this hobby. It has helped my mental health so much. Thank you for creating ClimbMuz! I hope you know how much of an asset you are for us muslim women!”

To find out more about Siddrah and ClimbMuz – visit her on instragram, @Climbmuz and keep an eye out for upcoming events.


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North Wales: A Climbing Diary

Ambassador Kish spent the summer of 2021 climbing around North Wales, here he writes his experiences and top moments of the trip. If you’ve never been, or the grey days of January have got you glum – here are some wonderful sunny pictures and ideas to get you psyched for warm weather again.

words by Kishan Vekaria

If you want to seek adventure, North Wales seems like the perfect playground.

Big mountains, boulders, and plenty of lakes to have a dip in! It’s slowly becoming a tradition amongst my close circle of climbing friends to head out there every summer for a week or so, to enjoy all the variety that this place has to offer.  

Lakes

The entire trip, we were caught out in blazing sun, so it was a case of finding somewhere shady to climb with a lake nearby to swim in before driving back to the accommodation. These are the swim escapes we discovered*

 *check access and rights. Wild swim at your own risk

Llyn Idwal

Approach: 20 mins

Temp: warm (this was the height of summer…guys)

Mud height: ankle deep

A short walk away from Ogwen cottage and very conveniently located to crags. Feels a like a beach on the middle of a mountain

Llynnau Mymbyr

Approach: 5 mins

Temp: warmest

Mud height: knee deep

Behind Plas y Brenin, this is very accessible and surprising very quiet (although the mud depth may be the reason for this). People pay good money for mud baths – here’s a free one. Definitely don’t put your head underneath the water.

Llyn Padarn

Approach: 5 mins

Temp: coolest,

Mud height: non existent

Approaching from the Fachwen side of the lake. Crystal clear, cool and refreshing. Since we were staying up the road it made sense for us to head here nearly every evening. Apologies, I don’t have a picture of this one but here’s a picture of me sitting on the wall overlooking it.

Places we stayed

We had this tiny cottage booked on the outskirts of Llanberis.This cottage is ultimate in the definition of basic. There’s bunkbeds and a kitchen, but no mains water supply. We had to boil the drinking water and insert pound coins into a meter to get electricity. Luckily we had only decided to stay here for the weekend; the heat wave and lack of rain meant that we ran out water on the third day in. 

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The second place we managed to stay is apparently known by the locals as the Beverly Hills of Llanberis, Fachwen. Owned by the family of a friend, this is an old slate miners hut with boulders in the back garden. Mad, I know! Although the amount of moss covering them could be compared to a Persian carpet. The proximity to the lake proved ideal for an evening swim on most nights. 

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Dinas Mott

A big shield of rock in the middle of the Llanberis pass that gets shade when the rest of the valley is in the sun. Often busy and plenty of variety in climbing grades. We climbed Direct Route (VS) and (for someone who is casual summer trad climber) it went swimmingly well without a hitch. A nice easy trad day out. I think we started climbing at 10am and got down by 2pm. This meant we had time to drive back into Llanberis to get ice cream. Win!


Cloggy (Clogwyn Du’r Arddu) 

The reputation of this place is no joke. Seriously don’t go here unless you’re a competent trad climber. I’m not really scared of heights, but the exposure and style of climbing is tough to say the least. It had been recommended as the place to go if you want to avoid the sun, but the two-hour walk-in was reason enough to put it off for the first half of the trip. After reading the guidebook and checking UKC reviews the night before, we opted to go up Great-Bow combination (HVS) after someone called it a great introduction to Cloggy.

We got up early to avoid walking up there in the hottest parts of the day. It was a good idea as well, because I don’t think we got back down the mountain until 9pm! Halfway up the approach is a little hut called Halfway House. Someone in the group offered to buy us Skittles for the journey up, which became a lifeline for climbing fuel at the belay stances. I could write an entire blog about our mini epic up this route. Overall, it was an amazing day full of laughs and type two fun. I wish I had taken up a jumper at one point though – that was a mistake. 


Slate Quarries

The slate is a little beacon of Sport Climbing close to Llanberis. However, heading there in the heat is a bad idea. We were originally told that the multipitch climbs in the Twll Mawr section would be in the shade. When we got there, however, they were in the blazing sun, and black rock gets hot! So, we spent the morning trying to find some shady rock, but that proved very challenging. We ended up going to the California section, through some tunnels that provide pretty pictures. After doing only one 6a route which seemed possible in the conditions we decided to head back to the house and head out bouldering on some stuff later that evening. 

The land that time forgot

Nearing the end of our trip we were pretty exhausted from long walks in and no days of rest from climbing. So, it was very much a case of we went wherever anyone suggested. We read about a quarry with boulders in the shade, but we would need to lower our bouldering pads down into “The Land that Time Forgot”. Then walk down around with the help of some fixed ropes and descend down an in-situ ladder then walk into a huge tunnel with a tiny outlet into the quarry, where our pads awaited.



Boulders

Creigiau’r Garth, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Fachwen, Y Clegyr

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Craig yr Undeb, Yellow Wall

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Milestone Buttress Boulders

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That concludes the highlights of the trip! Thanks for reading. Until next time… 


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To be a Dirtbag

Words by Elliot Mawson.

Climbing has changed so much over such a short amount of time, splitting up into a number of forks; trad, boulder, sport, to name a few. Ambasssador, Eliot, looks into how the term ‘Dirt bag’ has changed, and what it means to him.

Everyone knows that timeless photo of Fred Beckey, dressed in a crumpled t-shirt with an
old rope thrown around his shoulders, a helmet sat atop of his unkempt head, holding up a
battered cardboard sign with ‘Will Belay For Food’ scrawled in pencil.

Beckey epitomised the life of a dirt-bag

Living, literally out of his bag – hitchhiking, walking and climbing his way around Yosemite National Park. Even after his death in 2017, Beckey’s life is admired, maybe even with jealousy, by climbers around the globe. He was the true
spirit of a dirtbagger, living life in a sleeping bag and in the same wrecked set of clothes. It became an aspiration, and climbers wanted to do just, and only that, climb.

Steve Rhodes – Albarracin

The introduction of Climbing into the 2021 Tokyo olympic games is inarguably a dramatic
step for the sport. Climbing heroes like Shauna Coxey, Janja Garnbret and Adam Ondra (among so many other talented athletes) have been pulled from walls and crags and thrust
into the electric spotlight of mainstream sport. Even Kevin Hart and Snoop-Dogg were trying
their hand at climbing lingo (which is a great clip if you haven’t seen it, by the way). Never
before has climbing been so easily recognised on a worldwide stage, and the original principles of dirt-bags set by Beckey and other heroes may be forgotten. Recently, climbers have been able to train relentlessly in gyms during the week, and head out into the outdoors on weekends and send, no longer needing to live at the crag, and spend hours attempting a single project. While the olympics is a new and exciting prospect for climbing, enticing more WAD’s to try
their hand at it and perhaps causing more development of areas; it may be diluting this original idea of a ‘dirt-bag’, there is no longer any need to live on the edge of primitivity, in a
banged up van or battered car, as crags can easily be found all over, and many are even accessible via public transport routes. However, while this is a new step for the sport, I do not think that it’s entirely negative.

So, what does it mean to be a dirt-bag?

Are they all smelly, unwashed and unshaven adventurers?

I don’t think so, no. For me, a dirtbagger is merely someone who enjoys life in the great outdoors. They don’t have to be gnarled and unkempt, with hair that falls in knots around their ankles, or with armpits that smell so bad they could knock out a herd of elephants, they just have to understand the almost laughable absurdity of a grinding life stuck in a loop of work. The monotonous 9-5 with only a weekend to break it up. The Monday where we must once again don our suits, button up our shirts and plod in synchronicity with the rest of humanity to work.

The new wave of psyched athletes trying their hand at climbing may help shift this worldwide addiction to routine and structure. Why should we have to work every-day? Why should we spend our evenings panicking over overdue deadlines? Climbing teaches us to see life for how it is, shows us that a happy mind is far more important than a heavy wallet. And, if the Olympics broadcasts this sport that can usher in so many into a more peaceful mind and way of life, so be it. In a desperate attempt not to sound preachy, maybe the life of a Dirt-bagger is exactly what is needed in the non-stop bombardment of 21st century life.

Dirt-bags understand the insanity of this life of work, and aim to dilute it with time in the Great Outdoors, whether that be around work, around school, or even quitting and going all the way – living out of a car with a gas stove and a never-ending fountain of psyche.

James Dickinson and Karly Green – Appleby

I believe a dirt-bag is just someone who understands the innate human need for a life outside

Whether that’s a scratty boulderer from Yorkshire, a fell runner from Scotland, or an incredibly accomplished mountaineer like Fred Beckey. They all have one thing in common. Simply ; they love the outdoors.

H. Dickinson – Lockdown back garden camping

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