It was interesting, it was churning out 6mm cord. A full climbing rope machine has a few more spindles and is a lot bigger.
This is where I met Robbie Philips, an Edelrid sponsored professional climber presenting the demo. We chatted for a while and it became quickly obvious that he is extremely enthusiastic about his sport and gave me loads of advice on training and gear. He is involved in coaching and sets routes in Ratho (recently for the European Youth Championships) and was up in Aberdeen setting for training routes in Transition Extreme for the youth climbers in the area.
At the moment. Robbie is on his way to the Alps for a few months to take on a series of challenges. Before he went I managed to ask him a couple of questions......
Can you give the MyOutdoors readers a bit background on yourself?
I started climbing when I was 15 through the school climbing club. I was really lucky that the school had a club, otherwise I might never have had the opportunity to get really into climbing as much as I did. Almost as soon as I started I was hooked and went climbing as much as possible! I progressed from indoor clubs to competitions to sport climbing and bouldering and more recently hard trad and alpine! It’s been a rollercoaster journey these last 10 years with lots of incredible adventures to some really beautiful and amazing locations!
To date what is your greatest climbing achievement?
It’s hard to pinpoint a greatest “climbing” achievement as I am very much an all-rounder and dabble in a bit of everything. I would have to say however, that “Bellavista” on the Cima Ovest (Tre Cime de Lavaredo, Dolomiti) encompasses a 10-year (10,000 hours if you like?) journey and for this reason is probably my greatest climbing achievement. When I attempted “Bellavista” for the first time I was taken in awe by the majesty of the mountains around it, the face itself and unbelievable exposure of the climb! The mental fortitude, technical ability, physical endurance/strength and tactics required to deal with everything “Bellavista” offers is something I could only have achieved through my 10-years of training and climbing in a variety of disciplines and styles. It is in essence a product of my life to this date...
Climbing 8b+ in Zillertal
How often do you train and how do you vary it?
My training varies massively depending on my projects, trips or work schedule. I would say an absolute minimum for me would be 3 days per week in the wall, but that probably happens once a year haha! Standard is 4 days a week sometimes 5 (6 very occasionally) with 1-3 gym sessions working core and antagonistic exercises.
If I am training for onsighting then I would do a mix of endurance and strength work. If it’s repointing then I just go into pure strength/power mode and boulder like crazy! I do tend to be very specific with the style of climbing I am on during training; I tend to avoid slopers indoors because the climbs I do outdoors are generally more finger intensive. I like to do smaller more intense movements rather than big shoulder moves as I am already quite good at shouldery style... generally I work my weaknesses!
I am a big fan of technique and abhor the old-school “stay front on and don’t drop knee” approach. I always opt for the easiest way up the climb! If I want to make things harder then I go for the obviousapproach... make the holds smaller or the footholds worse!
For your upcoming trip to the Alps have you changed your training, and if so, how?
I haven’t changed things too much because most of the climbing I am doing in the Alps is hard technical rock climbing, however I have opted for an increase in volume during the sessions. I am going for really long sessions that crush the soul to get ready for huge back-to-back days on big walls in horrible conditions! I’ve also been enjoying long days route setting before training in the eveningjust to train hauling gear and doing lots of jugging up and down ropes.
I enjoy running regularly with the dogs for general cardio and so I feel better when I scoff my face with sweeties... with the Alps coming up, instead of chickening out when it’s raining outside, I just man up and go for glory! It’s wet and miserable, but I tell myself I like it and listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger podcasts to maintain the motivation!
Meditating in front of the Beastmaker board at EICA Ratho
So what is the plan for the Alps trip?
The plan is “Silbergeier” (8b+) in the Swiss Ratikon with Monique Forestier (one of Australia’s Top Female Climbers), “Project Fear” (8c) on the Cima Ovest (Dolomites), “Paciencia” (8a) on the North Face of the Eiger, and “Divine Providence” (7c+) on Mont Blanc, Chamonix.
That is the plan... whether it will “go to plan” is another story. The Alps are renowned for not having the best weather patterns. Last year in the Dolomites we were rained off more times than we were on the wall in a 4 week trip!
After “Silbergeier” I am meeting my friend Willis Morris who will be with me for a big chunk of the trip working on “Project Fear” and “Paciencia”. Finalcrux Films will will be there to capture the glory and/or despair throughout the whole experience/ordeal.
When I hit Chamonix, I have a few partners lined up but I think it will be me and (Alpine wad) David Falt, who will be hitting “Divine Providence”, so long as conditions allow.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge on the trip?
For sure “Paciencia” is the biggest challenge. This is one of (if not) the hardest climb in the Alps and is the hardest rock climb on the North Face of the Eiger. The rote fluh wall is steep and intimidatingwith difficult and sustained technical climbing up to 8a! Not to mention of course it’s the Eiger!!! Which means rock fall, difficult approaches and descents as well as unpredictable weather... it’s going to be completely insane!!!
Waving the flag in Chulilla
How do your climbing partner pairings come about?
I go climbing all around the world and make good friendships in the process. :D Monique for example I met years ago on a trip to Verdon when she was there with her husband, Simon Carter (Photographer). Since then we have climbed together in Australia and it was a really good climbing partnership.
Partnerships in climbing are so important! From bouldering to alpine climbing, if you don’t have the right partner on the day it can ruin the whole experience (or even be very dangerous). I love having positive, motivated people around me. People who generally lift spirits and keep a steady head even when times are tough. In general I think I am pretty positive and always look for the positives in any situation, however if you have someone who is the opposite, I reckon it could be pretty draining.
So far I have been incredibly lucky and have only ever had really good experiences with all my climbing partners!
Urban Uprising (charity) Training Session with Sean Bell (photographer)
Other than the climbing, what are the other challenges on a trip like this?
Feeding myself... I am a rubbish cook and often can’t be bothered so I just end up eating tins of tuna and sweetcorn! Haha!
I think the main challenges will be judging the weather for our projects. Things like the Eiger require really good conditions to make a possible ascent, without these it will be impossible! This is what I am really worried about; if we don’t get the weather then it can be a lot of hanging around and potentially, no cigar at the end!
What happens on your return from a trip like this? Chill, straight back to training, planning for the next trip?
After a trip like this there is usually a day of chilling out followed by intense depression and longing to be back in the mountains!!!
I am usually pretty focussed with my trips and have them all planned out, so usually on returning from a trip it’s only a day or two before I am back into training mode getting ready for the next trip. Of course rest is always needed so maybe for a week I will be a little less intensive and do a lot of catching up with friends... then normality kicks in and I get bored talking to them so we train instead!
Haha! It’s a good thing all my friends are keen climbers, otherwise I’d have none!
Repping for Edelrid (Charlie Woodburn with DMM)
What gear can you not do without on a lengthy trip like this? Both on the climb and away from the crag?
Well... at the crag/on the wall I think good outdoor clothing to keep you warm/dry is super important. Also I really appreciate a decent rope, one that runs smoothly, is light and easy to handle.
At base I think my most important piece of kit is my laptop (haha) with all the movies and series to keep me sane during long rest days. And I will also include on that note my kettle... can’t beat a good cup of tea (or 20) on a rest day...
"Haggisaurus Rex" 8c FA
I will be looking forward to seeing Robbie’s progress over the summer and beyond. You can keep up with him on Facebook, not so much on Twitter though - he confessed to me he doesn’t really know how to use it I hope his enthusiasm comes across in the article because the positivity he talks about is obvious when you speak to him. I’m sure he will do well and I will be making sure I keep up with his journey.