Wednesday, 18 September 2013


This will be a non-baby blog post. I am not obsessed with the baby. Honestly.
Awww... (the straightjacket helps her sleep)  
I am currently in the process of trying to organise next year’s ice trip.  We may have something rather special on the cards, but I won’t share the details until it is confirmed.

But one thing is for sure, I am going to need to be at an all time high of fitness for it!  Both in terms of general fitness to cope with some seriously long days and lots of slogging and in terms of specific ice fitness – and by that, I essentially mean the ability to hang on my tools longer than I have ever been able to before.

So, ignoring the elephant in the room that is Willow and how she may have something to say about my putting in hours of training, I have built a revolutionary new Ice Climbing Training Rig at the back of the house (inspired by Will Gadd’s campus-board-for-axes thing).  I can’t pretend Holly was overly enthusiastic about it, but I think she is mildly impressed it tucks away so well.

Firstly, I took four of the 2.4m wood battens leftover from boarding the loft and fastened them together with glue, bolts and screws to form one long ‘plank’ that was 5.5m (18ft) long. Actually I had to cut six inches off it so it tucks under the gutter, it is that tall!  I then built a small base that it bolts onto so it can pivot, the base is screwed to the decking (until it rots, not sure the plywood will last).  I placed four anchors in the main wall of the house – one each side to keep it laterally stiff and two to take the outward force.  Using old climbing rope I rigged it so the plank leans by about 10 degrees.  I then treated the wood and placed 4mm (diameter, not length!) nails in each side at six inch intervals and added some small footholds to the front.

I will climb it using my Fig4s to hook the nails, but I think axes would work just as well as the nails are angled to ensure the weight is kept against the wood.  I think it is reasonable strong this way.  

I haven’t done a risk assessment but on first impression it is way too scary to venture above two thirds height (and the higher one is, the more force on the anchors).  I can’t envisage any real point of weakness – there are two anchors equalised plus some tension in the side ones, the nails seem strong and the wood is solid.  I will pad out the rubber on my Fig4s as due to the relatively small nails the rubber is deformed round a small circumference.  Of course, should I fall, there is a two foot wall roughly at the point where the back of my head will land...

I should be able to climb 2.5m with ease, so ten reps is 25m, plus climbing down – it should work a treat.  For the moment I am just back on work-lunchtimes Insanity and ten mins of pull ups and leg raises each evening.  It’s a start.


  1. If anything, the bottom plank will buckle and the nails will bend. Looks good though

  2. Your lack of faith disappoints me. Drilling one of the anchors caused a brick to come loose in my main supporting wall, but let's not worry about that.