Friday, 25 March 2011

VocaLink North Pole Challenge

The time of year has come again- last March i was sitting on my bed, looking at an explosion of kit on my bedroom floor, and a year on it feels like De'ja Vu.

It's not the Himalayas i'm heading off to this time- though i hope to visit again soon. I am in fact heading North to the arctic circle to a place called Longyearbyen, then onto a Russian base called Camp Barneo and after that (fingers crossed) the North Pole.

This last degree expedition is in aid of a great charity, The Forces Children's Trust.
The trust supports families who have lost a parent in the British Armed Forces- that may be Afghanistan or Iraq, or even closer to home.

The trust provides counselling, days out and even adventures- such as taking a group of bereaved children to Lapland to meet Father Christmas. My sponsor VocaLink, alongside Mobile Phone Top-UP at ATM and Your Cash have a bold target to raise over £10,000 for this fantastic charity- and thanks to their support we are well on our way.

But we need your help too- whilst i am on the expedition (31st March to 15th April) everytime you go to an ATM and top-up your PAYG phone a few pence goes directly to the FCT. This is such an easy way to raise huge amounts of cash. We raised £10,000 from your Top-Ups for Global Angels whilst i was on Everest, and that money has made a huge difference to children in the UK and in Africa.

So please- help us. Go and Top-Up at an ATM. Together we can make a difference.

So i leave next thursday from heathrow, and hope to reach the Pole around the 11th of April. I'll be guided by Alan Chambers MBE, the first British man to reach the North Pole from Canada unsupported alongside a team of other intrepid adventurers from the UK and one from NYC- hi Rob! This trip has been organised by Charity Challenge, who took the celebrities up Kilimanjaro. If you want to go on a crazy adventure they are www.charitychallenge.com.

One last thing- thanks to VocaLink and my family for being the biggest support. Without you this wouldn't be possible. I am very lucky.

You can check out www.vocalink.com/bonita for more details and also keep up to date with the trip via my twitter feed @bonitanorris. Finally, this blog will be updated whilst i am away with our progress.

Let's hope the weather holds...

B

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Spring climbing

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photos courtesy of Rhys Jones

What a glorious weekend for the nation's climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers- blessed high pressure meant brilliant blue skies, bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.

Taking full advantage of this mid-march anomoly Rhys Jones, Becky Bellworthy and myself headed down to the south coast for two days with high hopes of ticking some good routes and maybe even getting a tan.

Saturday saw us and what seemed like the world and his wife head down to Portland (sportland) to clip some bolts. Our threesome scrambled down past the cliffs of Blacknor Central to the jumble of slabs and boulders that seemed to be constantly battered by the swells.

We climbed pretty much every route on three of these slabs- including the diamond slab and ticked classics elsewhere such as The Bolt Factory. Good fun, but easy climbing. The waves crashed below, we played some tunes from Rhys' speakers and had many proud moments as Becky had her first experience of climbing and leading outdoors.




Photos courtesy of rhys jones

I found a huge, loose fossil which could be a 100million years old- i have no idea. I wandered whether i should take it home but instead hid it well under a boulder- if it has been there for millions of years without being taken then i suppose its not really my place to remove such a beautiful piece of history from the shoreline.

Day two Rhys persuaded us girls to head to Swanage for some trad climbing. Another great day and it was also nice to chat to Dave Pegler over sandwiches- he has provided all these of us with our kit for our Everest expeditions so it was nice to thank him in person.

I lead my first Severe climb- Inspiration S 4a. I had a long run out at the end after placing a sold nut and cam half way up the route. I knew i wasn't going to fall. That was a nice feeling- getting to the top with a smile. It's gotten me psyched for future trad days, Rhys you'll be pleased to know!







We watched the sunset from the top of the Agglestone in Studland- this great fiery orb sinking before our eyes behind the horizon. In the twilight we messed around on the sandstone and eeked out the final few moments of a wonderful weekend.

As we said goodbye to Becky, Rhys had to remind her- climbing in the UK is NOT normally like this! We've experienced gales in Scotland, frozen toes in the Lakes, cold hands pretty much everywhere else and not forgetting drizzle and wet, slippery rock.

But that's why weekends like that are so unforgettable- maybe they only come around once or twice a year, and to have been able to make the most of every moment is really what it is to feel alive.

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

For me, one of the most important things about climbing is the community that has spawned from such a complex and varied sport. From the highest mountains to the smoothest boulder, climbing takes us to environments that require every ounce of our being, but have so much to give in return. It is no wonder that people from all walks of life and of all different levels of experience feel a need to come together and be amongst those who cherish the adventure, danger and grace that makes climbing such a unique sport.

Every year across the UK various festivals showcase films, lectures, awards, outdoor retailers and competitions to celebrate mountains, adventure and get the climbing community together for a good party, the pinnacle of this calendar being the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in November.

When spring comes around it’s all about the home of the world famous grit stone. The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival took place from the 4th to the 6th of March this year and saw not only some amazing films showcase but also an electrifying bouldering competition which took place over two days at the Climbing Works.

Friday evening kicked off the festival with a hilarious talk from Andy Kirkpatrick. Andy manages to make his atrocious mountain epics sound side splittingly funny. He has been consistently trying to push the boundaries of big wall climbing with solo and winter ascents of some pretty big rocks- El Capitan and the North face of Fitzroy to name but a few. His talk was sold out, along with Kenton Cool’s, who was on stage after. It was in fact Kenton’s lecture about Everest at the Royal Geographical Society that first inspired me to climb the great mountain. I have since been lucky enough to climb that same hill with the man himself, so be careful if you’re seeing him speak soon- you might leave and turn your entire life upside down like I did.

The next two days were a whirlwind of films such as The Prophet and lots of short films from across the spectrum. Kayakers, cyclists, skiers, swimmers and runners all showcased breathtaking films and the screenings were consistently packed out despite the beautiful and tempting anti-cyclonic weather- perfect for an afternoon on the grit!

When not spell bound at the showroom cinema we were down at the climbing works for the qualifying round on Saturday and the finals on Sunday of the CWIF competition. The qualifiers saw over 300 competitors- some there to give it a go, some there to win. It was a great atmosphere climbing amongst some of Europe’s best. With 30 problems to get through the competitors had their work cut out- there was everything from technical slabs with almost non-existent holds to pumpy overhangs requiring almost impossible amounts of body tension.

Sunday loomed for all but the 32 semi-finalists with sore heads after a night at the showroom for the official festival party. Semi-finalists included Reading Climbing Centre regulars Jen Wilby and British bouldering team member Jon Partridge. Only six competitors from each category made the grand final which took place to round off what was a fantastic weekend long celebration of climbing and adventure.

I watched from the 200 strong audience as Katie Whittaker clinched the women’s title and the Slovenian machine Jernej Kruder flashed all but one of the four problems, which were set by Britain’s manliest man Jason Pickles.

By the end of the final the Works was so packed that people had to stand in the street and watch through the windows. It was a fantastic atmosphere and everyone came home with a humbling appreciation of the pressure that these climbers are under and the skill it takes to climb at this level.

With the last trophy handed out it was back south to another normal week. After a weekend of so much inspiration from the speakers, films and climbers themselves I am more excited than ever for my own projects over the coming year. That’s what it’s about I guess- inspiring yourself to be the best climber you can be- whatever being the ‘best’ means to you.

On that note- It’s time to go climbing!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Karrimor





Great news to announce: i am now working with the great British outdoors company Karrimor.

Since our first meetings last summer i have been wearing Karrimor clothing out climbing in the hills of the UK and can say that i'm very proud to be associated with a British brand that has dedicated itself to creating fantastic outdoors wear for the past 40 years.



Karrimor originally sponsored the British Everest expeditions lead by Bonnington and have been the leading British rucsac brand ever since.

I am honoured that this great British brand invited me to join its team of ambassadors. The team is made up of some of Britain best and most well known rock climbers including Dave Pickford (editor of Climb Magazine) Jude Spanken and James Mchaffie.






Over the next 12 months i'll be working with karrimor on various projects in the UK and in the greater ranges, and will be reporting all the adventures in a monthly blog on www.karrimor.com



So in the mean time, check out the website and their spring/summer collection of rucsacs and boots. Karrimor are focussing on creating technical kit for alpinsim and rock climbing- so keep posted on developments with their already iconic rucsac line.




In the mean time- i am still working with VocaLink and MPTU at ATM on a new project to a very cold place- more details to be announced in the next few weeks! But please get ready to support me and my charity Forces Children's Trust on the next VocaLink expedition!