22 episodes

Factor Two is a climbing podcast with impact, brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com.

It brings you the best climbing stories straight from the people at their heart - and the best climbing stories are always about a little bit more than just climbing.

Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/factortwopod

Or on Instagram at
https://www.instagram.com/factor.two

Factor Two Wil Treasure | UKClimbing

    • Sports
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Factor Two is a climbing podcast with impact, brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com.

It brings you the best climbing stories straight from the people at their heart - and the best climbing stories are always about a little bit more than just climbing.

Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/factortwopod

Or on Instagram at
https://www.instagram.com/factor.two

    Finding the Balance - Katherine Schirrmacher

    Finding the Balance - Katherine Schirrmacher

    We all get enjoyment from climbing for different reasons. For many of us those reasons change over time, according to our geography, time, money and other pressures in our lives.
    I’ve read Katherine Schirrmacher’s blog for years, and she’s unusually good at expressing all of those little things that can affect your motivation or self belief. Like many of us, she was excited for the adventure of trad climbing in her early days, but she became an all-rounder; sport climbing, bouldering and competing as part of the British team.
    Being good at climbing can be a really satisfying thing, but if you spread yourself too thin, in too many disciplines that’s hard work. When you’re young and free you can sustain the energy needed, but as you get older all of those other features of life - work, children, relationships - creep in and put pressures on that time you were so eager to use for climbing. You pick up injuries, or can’t get out so easily when conditions are good, and when you’ve been so focussed on your performance that it’s hard to reel back.
    So how do you find a balance?
    For Katherine, it’s been about understanding what really brings her happiness in climbing. It could be giving herself permission to try a route, or leave it for another day. It might be focussing on the great friendships she has in the sport. It might be the sense of being in a beautiful place, or moving well on the rock. And, of course, it could still be climbing hard, but on her own terms.
    Many of us use climbing as an escape, but Katherine told me she’s learned to appreciate just how central it is in her life. In doing so she’s been able to find ways to match her goals to the things that will really make her happy, and she’s done so by listening to how others do the same.
    You can find Katherine on her website at lovetoclimb.co.uk and on Instagram @katherine.schirrmacher
    Factor Two is brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com
    Follow Factor Two on Facebook or Instagram.
    Wil Treasure on Twitter - @treasurewild
    Music credits: All music in this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 41 min
    El Capitan - a film by Fred Padula

    El Capitan - a film by Fred Padula

    In the spring of 1968 San Francisco film maker, Fred Padula, drove into the Yosemite Valley and gazed up at El Capitan. He had been approached by one of his film students, Glen Denny, a talented climber and photographer, to advise on making a film about climbing The Nose.
    Denny had been part of the team that made the third ascent of the route. He’d also made the first ascent of the Dihedral Wall and was well connected in big wall circles. The concept was to create a film that would be as awe-inspiring as climbing The Nose.
    The logistics of such a film felt impossible to Padula at first. The Arriflex camera alone weighed 6.5kg, without film, and filming capacity was measured in feet, not Gigabytes in those days. A 100 foot reel was just 160 seconds of footage, and changing the reel on the wall in bright sunlight was so awkward that they’d lose 40 seconds of that every time.
    Recording sound was no simpler. Padula had a 4-track recorder specially made as there were no commercial models. He had to experiment with masts to be able to receive a strong enough signal from the climbers’ microphones.
    After all of this effort only 2 of the mics worked. After much negotiation they found a team - Richard McCracken, Gary Colliver and Lito Tejada-Flores.
    They’d need money too. Denny approached the founder of The North Face, Douglas Tompkins, who had recently sold his San Francisco shops and was looking to invest in adventure films. With money from Padula, Denny, “Cado” Avenali and Tompkins they had what seemed like a healthy budget of around $30,000 - more than $200,000 at today’s prices.
    The problems with filming took their toll, however. Tompkins had been inspired by his friend Bruce Brown, who had become a millionaire after his legendary surf film The Endless Summer was released a few years earlier. Brown is credited with kickstarting a surf-travel lifestyle that was a boon to brands and the sport. Tompkins wanted a piece of that action and was starting to realise that the slow pace of both the film and the climbers wasn’t going to replicate the excitement of The Endless Summer.
    Unbeknown to Padula, Tompkins left the project and withdrew his money. Padula was left as producer, deeply in debt and with limited idea of what the film was supposed to be. They finished the filming on the wall and he and Denny continued to film scenery shots around Yosemite, before Denny also got cold feet and abandoned the project, asking Padula to destroy the footage.
    After a day in court Padula was left with the film and the debts. Over several years the film sat in his San Francisco basement while he paid off the debts and got hassled by different people over when the film would be made, either because they wanted to see it, or in Avenali’s case because he wanted a return on his investment.
    With the help of Tejada-Flores and McCracken, Padula laid out the film and the sound and got to work on creating his vision of what the film could be.
    In 1978, ten years after filming first started, he released El Capitan to much acclaim. It went on to win the Grand Prize at the 1979 Banff Film Festival.
    In this episode Fred Padula and Richard McCracken talk about making the film and the challenges they faced in both climbing the route and filming on it.
    Factor Two is produced by Wil Treasure for UKClimbing.com
    Find us on Instagram @factor.two
    Music in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 54 min
    Hard Grit - Rich Heap, Niall Grimes and Seb Grieve

    Hard Grit - Rich Heap, Niall Grimes and Seb Grieve

    When it was released in 1998, Hard Grit gave us an insight into something we didn’t often see - the actual ascents of the hardest, most dangerous lines on grit.
    In an era before everyone had a smartphone, before digital photography was even mainstream, many of the photos we saw in the magazines were staged. The hardest lines captured on video were often toproped reconstructions. Hard Grit changed that, by virtue of a few lucky coincidences and a lot of hard work.
    Director Rich Heap had helped Johnny Dawes with some of the editing on his film Best Forgotten Art. Johnny left for a roadtrip in America, and Rich was left with his camera. Without much of a plan he started filming some routes on the grit.
    Being a talented climber himself, and living with Seb Grieve, meant that he had access to the grapevine of some of the boldest and best climbers around. He started to amass some interesting footage. Then one day at Black Rocks he captured the scenes that would bookend the film - Seb’s first ascent of Meshuga and Jean-Minh Trin-Thieu’s famous lob off Gaia - and he realised he had something special.
    Realising he had a film on his hands, Rich enlisted the help of Mark Turnbull to act as producer. The pair set about building on his footage. They created a loose storyline around the history of gritstone climbing, presented by Niall Grimes. In the process a new mythology around these ascents was born, and had an international impact.
    One of the central themes to the film was the madness of the whole thing. That madness was embodied by Seb Grieve, shouting and talking to himself on the most terrifying ascents. But Seb wasn’t mad, he’d practiced the routes carefully, he’d made detailed notes about the gear and, crucially, he’d actually looked closely at the “shipwreck” of a flake on Parthian Shot.
    Seb is the film's have-a-go hero, but he had a healthy CV of hard ascents already, including early repeats of Braille Trail and Gaia.
    In this episode Seb, Niall and Rich recall how Hard Grit came about and how it became a part of the climbing culture it reflected.
    Factor Two is brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com
    Follow Factor Two on Facebook or Instagram.
    Wil Treasure on Twitter - @treasurewild
    Music credits: All music in this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 38 min
    A Play for Voices - Helen Mort and Anna Fleming

    A Play for Voices - Helen Mort and Anna Fleming

    When you look at the books on a shelf of mountaineering literature one thing is quickly apparent: the vast majority are written by men.
    The same is true with the episodes I’ve produced for Factor Two. The simple fact is that there have historically been more men engaged in the kind of adventures that we choose to tell those high profile stories about. The kind of stories I’ve sought out have often fitted a similar mould.
    I came into this episode with a simplistic question. Would those stories be different if the protagonists were women?
    Back in 1987 Dave Cook addressed the International Festival of Mountaineering Literature with his keynote speech, Running on Empty. He argued that climbing writing was becoming stale and insular and needed to be prepared to “push the hyperspace button”. He wanted to see writing which embraced wider topics in the world and became more inclusive of ideas and people. Writing should talk about people as lovers, workers, genders and we should see the mountains not just as a playground, but as the ecosystem of which we are a part. Sound familiar?
    We often forget the fact that most of what we deem to be success or progress in climbing is socially defined. Our stories are important because they become the unifier - they help us understand community expectations and goals. Of course, there’s a good dose of vicarious glory to be wallowed in as well, but we often overlook that what we want to celebrate isn’t some objective reality - it’s the subjectivity of good stories.
    To explore this I sought the help of Helen Mort and Anna Fleming, both writers and climbers. I wanted to understand whether they’d been inspired by the same stories in the same ways that I had. Are we meeting the challenge that Dave Cook laid down more than 30 years ago?
    Factor Two is brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com
    You can find writing from Anna and Helen on their websites:
    Thegranitesea.wordpress.com
    helenmort.com
    Follow Factor Two on Facebook or Instagram.
    Wil Treasure on Twitter - @treasurewild
    Music credits:
    All music in this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 42 min
    Brave New World - Tom Livingstone and Twid Turner

    Brave New World - Tom Livingstone and Twid Turner

    It’s hard to be truly disconnected these days.
    Even in the weirdness of isolation over the past few months many of us have been working from home, constantly bothered by the connections around us. Sometimes it’s just a little too much. I’ve missed the isolation of the mountains, but even they aren’t as isolated as they used to be.
    In most places in the UK you’re not far from a phone signal. If you’re calling for help that’s great, but if you’re trying to escape it’s not so good. There’s the expectation of contact now. In expedition terms this can mean live-streaming your ascent, even from some of the most remote spots on Earth. It means always having the ability to call for a rescue - and we’ve seen a lot of debate about putting rescuers at risk as the hills open up recently.
    In the more remote parts of the world rescue may be even more hazardous, or not possible. Where do we draw the line here? Are we just a bit too connected these days?
    In this episode I followed two stories. Piolet D’Or recipient Tom Livingstone told me about calling for a chopper on the descent from Koyo Zum in Autumn 2019, after his partner Ally Swinton had fallen into a crevasse and sustained a serious head injury. They had a text-only satphone, so were able to send out an SOS and receive some messages, but had a nervous 28 hour wait for help to arrive.
    The second story is from Mike “Twid” Turner, one of the world’s most accomplished expedition climbers. He told me about being trapped in Alaska with Stu McAleese 20 years ago, with food dwindling on a melting glacier and a malfunctioning satphone that meant they couldn’t call out. The Cessna that was due to pick them up was delayed. Despite the glorious weather in the Kichatna Spires where they were climbing, poor weather in Talkeetna had grounded the flights. So they waited - for 15 days.
    Factor Two is brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com
    Find Tom Livingstone at tomlivingstone.com or on Instagram @tom__livingstone
    Find Mike "Twid" Turner at themountainguidingcompany.co.uk
    You can follow Factor Two on Facebook and Instagram @factor.two Wil Treasure on Twitter - @treasurewild
    Music credits: All music in this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 53 min
    Deep Play - Neil Gresham and Dr Rebecca Williams

    Deep Play - Neil Gresham and Dr Rebecca Williams

    "I climb better when I'm scared."
    I've heard this quite a few times. I even thought it was true about myself for a while in my earlier climbing career, but it surely can't be true?
    After speaking with Hazel Findlay about maintaining the bubble of a flow state in the last episode, there was one part of her account which reminded me of something else. Something different.
    Hazel's story was about maintaining concentration and avoiding falling back into a distracted mind while climbing at her limit. Magic Line has spaced and difficult to place gear, but the physical danger was a small part of the equation. The distractions were the same social and performance anxieties that most of us deal with, coupled with an added expectation as a professional climber.
    When Hazel hit the rest just before the final boulder problem on Magic Line she burst out of her bubble of concentration and had to fight hard to rebuild it to finish the route. It reminded me of something. After flicking through some old magazines and guidebooks it dawned on me - Neil Gresham's account of climbing the Indian Face in 1994.
    Neil had described how his body was being torn apart by his mind on the final moves to the finishing jug. Anchored to that jug he had felt a wash of regret and joy at being alive. Unlike Hazel he had been completely distracted by a genuine fear of his impending death. He'd ridden it right to the edge on one of the most dangerous routes in the country.
    Despite this experience he went on to attempt Meshuga at Black Rocks a few years later - taking a bad fall on the unprotected section of the route and tumbling through the boulders below, sustaining a head injury that took him the best part of a year to recover from. He returned in 1999 and made the second ascent of the route.
    This decade of risk taking culminated in the second ascent of Equilibrium at Burbage South. He put everything he had learned into this route, physically and mentally, and when it was done he decided that was enough. He didn't want to risk his life for these routes again.
    On the Indian Face Neil described how close he came to falling off the crux, high on the face above questionable protection, certain that he would die. What was it that kept him on?
    With the tension building his calves were shaking, his tips were sweaty and his mind was wandering. He says he thought he was off, but something screamed inside him and kept him on the rock.
    Is there something primal that drives the urge to survive strongly enough that you can keep it together when it really matters? What was it that Neil had experienced in extremis on the Indian Face? And why would he put himself in that position again?
    In this episode I try to answer these questions by following Neil through the 3 ascents and understanding what's really going on in his mind, with help from clinical psychologist Dr Rebecca Williams.
    Factor Two is brought to you by Wil Treasure and UKClimbing.com
    Neil Gresham offers training and coaching services at NeilGresham.com.
    Dr Rebecca Williams is a psychological coach for climbers and a consultant clinical psychologist. You can find more information on her website at smartclimbing.co.uk.
    You can follow Factor Two on Facebook.
    Wil Treasure on Twitter - @treasurewild
    Music credits: All music in this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 41 min

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