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Coming Up ...

Chez Arran has arrived!

Photo: Anne Arran
Photo: John Arran
John on a great 7a+ granite problem at Orlu, in the Ariège, and (below) there's great climbing literally at the bottom of the garden!
Photo: John Arran

After working most of the winter to get it ready, we're now proud to be able to offer accommodation in our fantastic old farmhouse right in the heart of the Ariège region of the Pyrenees. The location couldn't be better, since we enjoy the best weather in the Pyrenees and there are literally dozens of great sportclimbing crags within just a few minutes drive. With all grades well catered for and with everything from granite bouldering and magnificent sportclimbing to 350m limestone aid routes virtually on our doorstep we're really enjoying sampling as much of the climbing as we can, but there's so much to explore it'll take some time!

We now have a 2-bedroom gîte (sleeping 4-6) and a 1-bedroom gîte (sleeping 2-4) all ready and waiting. See www.chezArran.com for all the details, and we look forward to seeing you there soon.

World's Steepest Big Wall?

The 600m un-named waterfall down Amuri tepui. Photo: John Arran

John and Anne Arran have just returned from their most adventurous big-wall expedition yet. They climbed the first ever ascent of Amurí tepui in Venezuela up a clean wall near the line of an incredible 600m waterfall which is so off the beaten track it doesn't even yet have a name!

The 600m un-named waterfall over the South Face of Amurí tepui lands hundreds of metres clear of the base of the wall.

Since nobody even from the nearest Indian community had been there before, the approach required a Cessna flight and then four days of trekking, often behind Indians clearing a path with machetes as they went. The climb itself took seven days and required all of the couple's tepui free climbing experience as even the two easiest pitches went at E4 (F7a). All others were E5 or E6 except for a particularly harrowing 50m adventure John thought worth E7 (dangerous F7c).

Anne leading up beautiful rock during the ascent. Photo: John Arran

With patches of overhanging vegetation to overcome too (grades up to J4 - J for Jungle), some loose rock and even scorpions en route, this adventure was particularly memorable.

"Being so far from anywhere, so high up and so runout trying to find a way up necky, technical pitches were some of the best moments I've ever had as a climber," John said afterwards. "It was a serious and committing venture for just the two of us, but the climbing was superb and the feeling when we finally made it was brilliant."

Their route - Amurita - climbed steep rock a little to the left of the main waterfall. John and Anne decided there wasn't time to try a line directly behind the falls, which certainly has potential for the hardest and most overhanging big wall free climbs on earth. Any takers?

Many thanks are due for the support from MEF, BMC and Alison Chadwick Memorial Award grants, and from Arc'teryx, Boreal, Lyon Equipment, First Ascent and Wild Country for supplying fantastic equipment.

The Arrans of Arabia

Photo: John Arran
The 8a crux of Rock Empire

Over the winter John was based in Amman and between trips to Baghdad Anne came out and they spent as much time as possible in Wadi Rum. They decided the place was fantastic, having world class everything there! (trad, sport, scrambling, camel-riding, ...)

Top ticks were:

  • FFA of Towering Inferno, freeing 5 aid pitches to give an 8-pitch E6 6a
  • Rum's first headpoint: "Rum Grit" E7 6b right of Catfish Corner
  • Onsight ascents of existing routes Rock Empire (8a)(to after the crux pitches) and La Guerre Sainte (F7b)(the best multi-pitch sport route imaginable!)
  • "The Wall of Winter Warmth": A new 3-pitch E5 6b close to the rest house
  • More new trad routes in Barrah Canyon: "Cat Burglar" (E2); "The Moon is Lying Down" (E4), left of 'Voyage in the Aura'; and a (possibly first) free ascent of 'Voyage in the Aura' at E5 6a/b All the above climbed with Anne, sharing leads.

Anne returned to the UK earlier so John had chance to nip down for a couple more routes, both climbed onsight solo (probably the first solos of any long routes in Rum other than Bedouin routes):

  • I.B.M., 13 pitches, F6b (about E3 5c)
  • Inshallah Factor, 15 pitches, F6c (about E4 6a) both times descending Eye of Allah, after reaching the East Summit and the Main Summit (by Hammad's Route) respectively.

A gallery of images from their trip can be found here.


'Trad Climbing +' was published by Rockfax shortly before Christmas. Authored jointly by Adrian Berry and John Arran, and packed with tips on how to climb more efficiently, safely and effectively, the book has received excellent reviews. It will be of help to climbers of all standards who not only want to climb safely but also want to get the most fun out of the sport and to succeed on climbs they otherwise may have dismissed as impossible.

climbTIME all over Sheffield!

Click here to find out more about climbTIME

John's climbTIME membership database for climbing walls is going from strength to strength.

Originally written for The Climbing Works in Sheffield, its ease-of-use, reliability and affordability has now seen it taken up by Sheffield's two other big walls: The Foundry and The Edge, as well as by several otrher walls around the country. Now on version 2.2, climbTIME is highly configurable and as such it should be of interest to all climbing wall operators wanting a specifically-tailored, full-specification professional database they don't have to pay through the nose for!

Click here for the full low-down.

2009 UIAA Youth events

Find out more about UIAA Youth events

As President of the UIAA Youth Commission, Anne coordinates international youth climbing opportunities from many climbing Federations. You can find out about this year’s programme of activities here.

New Slideshows

Anne braving a Karakorum river crossing. Photo: John Arran

theFreeClimber is organising a number of slideshows over the coming months, including great tales, images and video footage of their recent big-wall freeclimbing successes in Pakistan. Dates will be announced soon, but get in touch if you're interested in a talk for your club or organisation.