The Tiny House movement and travel

The Tiny House Movement and travel combine well together. In this video a Czech couple bought a fan and transformed it into a self contained home to live in for a year. They chose it because they wanted room for the surfboards, wet suits and more. It has space for cooking lamb shanks, socialising and sleeping. You can enter the van both from the front and the back.

I really like the idea of this van. It would be fun to travel for a few months from place to place, do what there is to do, see what there is to see and then move on. This would adapt well to hiking, climbing, via ferrata and other sports. It allows you to live comfortably without spending money on hotels, villas or other places.

The project cost them around 10,000 dollars to build so if you work and save up for a few months you could easily take a gap year and afford to do such a project. Working on such a project does require some skills in wood working. He said that it took hundreds, if not thousands of hours to prepare the van. If you’re travelling then a few steps a day for a few weeks would get to this final result.

At one moment they speak about the herb garden that they have in the glove box. As they had the space they planted some mint and other herbs for cooking. As a result of this herb garden they said that when driving on rough roads the Mint plant gets shaken about and in the process the van smells of mint. It’s a natural air freshener.

In a month they will move on and sell the van to continue travelling. If I was travelling to New Zealand I’d like to try living in a van like this and use it as a base to go hiking, climbing and enjoying other sports. This seems like a pleasant way of travelling.

 

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and more

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and many more sports. Sports tracker, movescount and other applications already allowed you to do this but it is nice to see one more network provide us with this option.

Strava expanded the number of sports you can track
Strava expanded the number of sports you can track

Up until now I had to make sure to go for a bike ride or three per week to keep people updated on what I did. During week days I am likely to go for bike rides. On two to three evenings per week I may go climbing and on the weekend I may go hiking or for a walk. As a result I can track the diversity of my activities.

Strava has updated the list of sports
Strava has updated the list of sports

With rock climbing I would like them to add two or three more fields. I would like them to add an option to add the grade of the climb we did. This would need to use the European and the American systems. It would help us track our progress and even track how hard we worked if we’re wearing a heart monitor as we climb. In effect it could provide us with a way of seeing who else is climbing and whether we match their skill level. In the long run this could contribute to new groups. I have created a group for Swiss Via Ferrata in anticipation of via ferrata practitioners joining the network and sharing their climbs.

Until recently I would only track cycling and running. Now that walking, hiking and climbing have been added I can track a number of new sports. It should result in people using the app more frequently.  It could be fun to see climbing and hiking heat maps. We will see how they adapt the input section to match the sports.

 

The Third part of the Saillon VF

Yesterday afternoon after two top rope climbs in Dorénaz we drove to the Via Ferrata de Saillon to climb this one. It is a via ferrata that I know well. This time I decided that I wanted to try the third part of the Saillon VF once again. What makes the third part special is that it is marked as TD+, more than very difficult. This is a more technical climb for people who are familiar with the sport.

Looking towards Saillon
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The first time I tried this via ferrata I was with a group but climbed it as a solo effort. I went at my speed and I just wanted to complete it as quickly as possible. The challenges were being able to handle the long drop below and the physical demands of the via ferrata. When I climbed it alone I increased my heart rate by a lot and my muscles felt that they were weakening so although it felt excellent it made me skip this portion on two or three subsequent trips.

For a while people would frequently get trapped on the third part and there was a sign reminding people that if they have any doubt they should not do it. If the helicopter is called in it will cost you 3000CHF or more. Imagine all the equipment that you could buy or the holiday that you could enjoy with this money.

Yesterday we climbed the first two parts of the via ferrata with no problems. We went at a comfortable speed and the group stayed as one. When we got to the third part two novices went up and went across to the bridge to watch us climb and we formed an action plan. This time we moved as a team. We went forward and rested frequently. We rested before the overhang and then again after the overhang. We rested before climbing the rope ladder and then again after. Finally we went to the last challenge, the vertical ascent and we rested on a nice slab of rock. We then climbed that final bit and although it is demanding the muscles coped well.

I really like that I found this climb so much easier than the previous climb. I don’t know whether rock climbing, paragliding and the pace helped. I know that in future I will feel confidant about doing part three. My training and this pace paid off.

“Superhuman” Climbers

A few days ago the Rio Paralympics “We’re The Superhumans” video popped in to my newsfeed on Facebook and I eventually watched it. The moment that most impressed me is the olympic athlete climbing 2 minutes 20 in. He is dynamic in his climbing technique despite not having any hands. As a climber those two or three shots impressed me and it encouraged me to look for more such climbing videos. They are interesting. It is nice to see climbers take their passion to the next level.

I often think that climbing is a mental game. Most of us have to overcome our fear of heights and we need to learn to read the climbing wall, hand holds and foot holds to climb up as elegantly as possible and without getting tired. Overcoming that fear of heights takes exposure. The more you climb the more you get to grips with the feeling of being high off the ground. You also learn to trust yourself and your equipment. That trust allows you to see opportunities and use them. David Bowes was injured in a road traffic accident while commuting one day. In the clip below he says that despite not always enjoying the moments when he is climbing he always feels better when he gets home and that this is why he climbs.

In the third video we see that climbing is not limited to people who want to become world class athletes. We see that climbing is for people who simply want to work on their self confidence. They overcome their disabilities, feel pride and build their confidence. Every one of us gains by climbing.

We see that some people climb with prosthetics and that others are climbing using just their arms. In other cases people are using artificial limbs to get up the wall. We see that some people with one arm lever their body in to a stable position that lasts just long enough to let go of one hand hold and grab on to the next one. It is enjoyable to see how much ingenuity goes in to climbing.

As we see in the final video some groups want to provide people with the opportunity to climb at least once and to reach the top of the wall. Whether they become passionate about the sport or not is not what matters. What matters is that they get a sense of accomplishment, of setting and reaching that goal. These videos are empowering as we see that anyone with

 

IFSC Climbing World Cup Villars 2016

I will be present at the IFSC Climbing World Cup Villars tomorrow. For me climbing has always been an active rather than a passive sport. It has been a sport where the landscape is nice and the crowds are small. Tomorrow will be the first time that I go and watch as other people climb.

It’s not that I don’t watch people climb. Between climbing gyms, bouldering gyms, via ferrata and Rock climbing it is a sport that I have explored in depth. What I haven’t explored in depth is climbing with an audience, climbing as an event, climbing as a competition.

Program

Friday 15th July
9.00 – 16.00 Men & Women’s lead qualifications
17.00 – 19.00 Men & Women’s speed qualifications
21.00 Speed Finals Women & Men (LIVE)
22.00 Award Ceremony (LIVE)

Saturday 16th July
10.00 – 12.30 Lead Semi-Finals Men & Women (LIVE)
20.00 Men lead Finals (LIVE)
21.00 Women lead Finals (LIVE)
22.00 Award Ceremony (LIVE)

Instinct tells me that lead climbing should be the more interesting discipline as it relates directly to the climbing I do. Speed climbing could be fun and interesting to watch but it has less practical applications in ordinary climbing life. If I want to be lazy then I could go up on Saturday and stop asking questions.

On Saturday from 1300 to 1600 there is the concours populaire, That’s when amateurs can try their hand at speed climbing.

Program of the event
Program of the event

Villars Sur Ollon is a place that I have visited a number of times but for once we should be welcomed by summer rather than winter temperatures. It will also be for climbing rather than skiing, hiking or après ski. I will take pictures and let you know what the experience is like. It’s nice after organising satellite distribution for sporting events finally to go on location. We’ll see how energetic the crowd is.

 

In August I will be at FIFAD

In August of this year I will be at FIFAD as a volontaire. FIFAD stands for Festival International du Film Alpin Des Diablerets. It’s the international Alpine Film Festival of the Diablerets. I want to participate at this event for three main reasons.

The first of these is that I have a passion for the documentary film genre and adventure films. I really enjoyed going to Montagne en Scène a few weeks ago and I expect to enjoy having the freedom to watch certain of the films at this event.

The second reason I want to go as a helper is that every time I have applied to help at an event I have got something out of it. I have built my confidence. I have met interesting people and I have found new and interesting ideas. In this case I hope to view a number of the films.

The third reason is that I will have an opportunity to spend a week in the mountains once again. I have frequently been to Diablerets for hikes and just once to enjoy a via ferrata. This time I will get to stay for a few extra days and learn to appreciate the town differently. I will have my 360 camera and via ferrata gear with me. Time to ride a tyrolean in 360 right? I hope it won’t rain too heavily. People told me they got wet last time they went under the waterfall.

When I watch an interesting film or hear someone talk about an interesting topic I will try to take notes and write related blog posts. It’s good to share the knowledge and passion with you.

The Moléson VF with the Narrative Clip 2

The Narrative Clip 2 is a specialist camera that can be programmed to take photos at regular intervals whilst you enjoy activities. This is sometimes referred to as life logging. The idea is that you wear the camera either on clothing or place it somewhere where it can capture the passage of time.

For this event the camera was worn around my neck and took pictures throughout the activity. As you can see from the last image I had the Ricoh Theta S on a monopod and the Sony Xperia Z5 compact for other pictures. You do not see that I had a fourth camera with a 30 times optical zoom.

The camera took over four hundred images during this event and I chose just a few. I avoid sharing images of people unless I have their informed consent. I share the images that best represent the pleasant moments.

If I took the time I could rotate this camera to be horizontal and I could capture daily timelapses. Every time I go for a bike ride or a hike it would capture regular images. The camera has enough battery power and you can keep the camera in your pocket until you want to start logging the event. When the event is finished you can place the camera back in to your pocket and head home for example.

An improvement which I have recently noticed is that when you put the camera to charge it can automatically upload the day’s images to the narrativeapp website and you can then select what you want to share.

As cameras get smaller and more portable and as they become more specialised so we have an opportunity to get different types of images. One is for time lapses, the other has a powerful zoom, the third allows us to capture spherical images and the fourth is practical for sharing to social media.

 

Via Ferrata with Climbing Shoes


Today I tried a Via Ferrata with Climbing shoes. With a group we went to the Moléson which you see in the picture below. This mountain stands in the middle and has fantastic views on to Neuchatel, the Lac Leman, Bulle and more. The drawback is that this mountain is often in cloud due to its location and height.

Heading to Moléson
Heading to Moléson

If you’re still reading despite the mention of clouds then you will see that this is an enjoyable place to visit. It is located in Gruyère, known for its cheeses and the Giger Museum. I don’t think I have visited either of the two latter options. Climbing is more fun.

Today was different. I took the blue easy route and I wore climbing shoes rather than normal shoes because I wanted to see whether the experience was pleasant. At first it was worthless to have these shoes on because of the mud and humidity. They did become more fun as we climbed. The person in front of me was a novice at Via Ferrata so she was fighting for the courage to move onwards and upwards. This gave me plenty of time to get as much contact with the rock as possible. I focused on using the natural rock as foot holds as much as possible and I even tried to use the rock as hand holds. My reservation about safety meant that I did not want to fall with via ferrata gear.

The rock on this via ferrata is perfectly adapted to rock climbing shoes when it is drier. The rock is friable and this provides justification for climbing shoes. Rather than two or three foot holds that you can use with hiking boots (which I usually use) I used slivers and cracks of rocks. I tried not to “felix the cat” too often. That is a term a climbing instructor used South of the Alps when I took climbing lessons and as I like the term I share it.

I have been practicing via ferrata for five years now and I have explored almost all via ferrata within a two hour drive multiple times. As a result I know that I can do them and I know what to expect. This means that I can be generous and climb last. I can help novices and beginners experience the sport for the first time and through experiments such as climbing shoes on a via ferrata I keep myself entertained. Leukerbad and other such via ferrata would be interesting with climbing shoes because of the rock type. They are not essential and I did this out of good humour. I was perfectly happy using hiking boots for the first five years.

And now for desert, a view from the top.

360 photos of Via Ferrata

Yesterday I was up above Leysin climbing the Tour D’Aï via Ferrata. It was an opportunity for me to take 360 photos of Via Ferrata. The beauty of panoramic pictures is that they provide you 360° of vision both vertically and horizontally. It means that you can get a sense of size and scale. You can look at the person exploring the via ferrata and how precarious their situation is as easily as you can admire the beauty of the landscape.

Another great aspect to 360° photos is that you can show specific bits of via ferrata and show where the challenging bits are. “Here is where the via ferrata is overhanging” so that you can assess whether you have the strength and courage to try that section or “Here is how high up you are” and so you get a sense of whether you would be paralysed with fear or enjoy yourself.

Most via ferrata are like the one that you see in these images. You have what I call staples, pedals and occasionally direct contact with the rocks. In other places you have spikes or you have to pull yourself up along the cable. With these images you see how well equipped the via ferrata is and you are not going in to the unknown. This is good when taking less experienced people.

A side effect of 360 pictures is that you capture a self portrait of yourself in situ over and over again. It is by nature of the medium rather than desire.

Slow Motion Climbing

It is interesting to watch Slow motion climbing because you get to see precisely what people are doing. You get to see how each muscle group is moving and you see how much the body swings as someone jumps from one hold to another. It allows you to appreciate the subtlety of the moves.

People like to say that rock climbing is about technique rather than strength but it is evident from these slow motion sequences that muscle groups are working hard. You see the arm muscles, the arm muscles and the back muscles move. You also see how the legs act as counterweights. The video above would be better if it was one or two minutes.

The same can be said about the video below. What makes slow motion interesting is to catch details that you would not otherwise notice. Ideally slow motion edits should show the action in real time and then show the same action in slow motion. The beauty of slow motion is that you can see how technically perfect a move was. In some cases a person starts from vertical and goes for another hold. In this action they go from vertical to horizontal, swinging on their fingertips. Slow motion brings the effort to life.

There are other moments where a massive effort, when seen in real time, is clear to see When you watch that same motion in slow motion it looks relaxed and serene. That is the beauty of this medium.

Slow motion should highlight the beauty of a well executed move to help emphasise that it was technically good. Slow motion should be used sparingly.