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It’s been a little bit quiet on here lately, as I’ve been extremely busy filming/editing/marketing/writing and generally working for Hot Aches Productions. I am, however, 2 days away from my first freelance trip of the year. I’m heading off to Kulusuk in Greenland to film a documentary with a few talented individuals.

I’m incredibly excited, and this will be my first trip to the Arctic, so I’ve spent weeks ensuring all of my equipment is ready to work in extremely low temperatures. It’s looking highly likely I’ll be on time lapse watch over night on a few occasions, so I’m making sure I have everything I need to stay comfortable so that I can make the most of the trip.

 

Adrian Samarra has published a great post about our intentions here: http://adriansamarra.com/arctic-here-we-come/

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Originally posted on Hot Aches Productions blog:

Yesterday at 20:40 Dave Macleod was sat on top of St John’s Head having just completed the first ascent of Longhope Direct. The full route, at 500m, took Dave and Andy just under 10 hours to complete.

The Guillotine pitch - Lukasz Warzecha

When asked about the grade, an elated Dave said that he isn’t entirely sure just yet, but knows that it’s definitely harder than Rhapsody (E11 7a), the route he climbed at Dumbarton Rock in 2006.

Dave on Rhapsody - Hot Aches Productions

Upon hearing the news, Jon Arran stated that: “I find it incredible that this route has seen only three ascents in over 40 years and has never been repeated (or even attempted?) in the style of the previous ascent.”
He continued to explain that the route was first climbed by Drummond and Hill using any means available to complete the route. After that the face went unclimbed for 27 years until Arran and Turnbull climbed it free, taking a different route between the two arêtes to make for a line that could be more easily free climbed. It is only now, after 14 further years, that Dave has climbed the entire face whilst incorporating the original aid crux in to his line.

Moving through the start of the crux pitch - Lukasz Warzecha

The route itself is fairly inaccessible, with access to the bottom of the line involving a 400 metre descent through a fulmar infested gully on steep overgrown terrain.

The Lost World: St John's Head from the beach - Matt Pycroft

It becomes even more daunting when you consider that working the 8b+ crux pitch involves shunting on an overhang suspended 400 metres above the rocks below. When you also factor in the inaccessibility of St John’s Head (a pathless, heather infested moorland covered in dive bombing bonxies) it becomes clear that any line on the face is inevitably going to be a real adventure. Dave has been taking trips to Hoy for a while with the aim of working Longhope Direct, and yesterday was the first time he had linked the pitches together. Dave has just posted a detailed account of his ascent on his blog, and has stated that what he wanted from the route was a “super hard long route that was bold, loose, birdy, hard to climb in a day – as pure as possible.” He says that “that’s absolutely what Scottish sea cliff climbing is about.”
Guy, Lukasz and Diff filming Dave on the crux pitch. – Matt Pycroft
The Hot Aches crew all had a brilliant day, and needless to say we dragged our aching bodies through the doors of ‘ME Cottage’ that evening with grins from ear to ear. Guy, Lukasz and Diff all jugged a fair distance yesterday, and Guy was forced to make a speed ascent of about 50 metres to catch Dave traversing through The Vice. I spent the morning slipping and sliding my way down
A video of Diff filming on ropes on the crux pitch can be seen on the Hot Aches Facebook page.
The ascent is currently being discussed on the UKC forums.
Posted by Matt

Well the first few days on Hoy have been pretty exciting. The ‘ME cottage’ we are staying in is really swish, and is by no means the rundown bothy I was expecting.

'ME Cottage'

After arriving on Thursday night we packed our bags and grabbed a few hours sleep before heading out towards the crag on Friday morning. Between us we have a huge amount of kit, and as a result the walk in on Friday morning was a painful one when coupled with the initial section involving 400m of height gain on 45 degree terrain.

It's hard to keep up with Dave Macleod - Photo by Paul Diffley

Once we had made it to the coast, Diff and I shot some footage of Dave and Andy arriving at the crag, as well as capturing the moment where Andy saw the route for the first time. The crag is the biggest continuous sea cliff in Britain, and is an incredibly imposing piece of rock. From the promontory where I will be shooting some of my wide shots the line looks extremely impressive.

The view from the peninsula

Diff, Guy, Lukasz and I spent much of the day scouting out shooting locations and angles, whilst Dave and Andy checked out the route and had one last look at the moves (which, incidentally, was Andy’s first chance to catch a glimpse of the line close up).

Guy, Diff, Lukasz and Dave on the route

Whilst hammering in the stakes for the ropes at the top of the crag, there was a minor setback. I’ve put together a quick edit of the mishap below:

As everyone became confident that they were ready for the shoot, people started to filter off back to the ME cottage to sort out gear and pack bags. It got to around 10pm and eventually it was just Dave and I left at the crag. After sorting out our gear we started to wander back towards the car. The sunset was stunning, and considering the crag is West facing it made for some great footage as we walked out.

Sunset over Hoy. Hard to beat.

We spent Saturday just chilling out and resting to be fully prepared for the shoot today (Sunday), but unfortunately we woke up this morning to an island coated in drizzly mist. Dave and Andy reluctantly called it off at around 10am, and we made the decision to head up tomorrow, weather dependant.

Dave and Andy, having just called it off.

An interview with Dave Macleod will follow this post on the Hot Aches Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hotaches

Check out the team’s blogs here:

Climbers:
http://www.davemacleod.blogspot.com/
http://andyturnerclimbing.blogspot.com/

Crew:
http://hotaches.blogspot.com/
https://mattpycroft.wordpress.com/
http://blog.lwimages.co.uk/

I’m writing this from the office of Hot Aches Production boss Paul Diffley the night before we head off to Hoy. I’m working as a cameraman on the film that is aiming to document the ambitious ascent of the Long Hope Route on St John’s Head by Dave Macleod and Andy Turner.

We will hopefully (signal dependant) be blogging from the island, and you will be able to keep up with the filming and the progress on the route on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as on Dave’s, Andy’s, Lukasz’s and Hot Aches blogs.

For a detailed write up of the trip, check out http://hotaches.blogspot.com/2011/06/httpblog.html

Last weekend I drove up to Scotland to meet Lukasz for a fell running shoot as he is currently keen to expand his portfolio. I’d left at 4 in the morning and arrived at around 10am, and was quickly informed we’d be hiking up a fair distance on to the Ballachulish Horseshoe, and I’d be carrying up a stepladder…

The weather turned as we were driving towards the bottom of the hill, and deciding that it was worth a try we headed up regardless. We got very wet very quickly, and nearly blown off the mountain by the excessive winds. Lukasz decided against putting up the flash umbrellas and the softbox as they would have had more of a parachute effect than we could have handled. The video below shows what the conditions were like, and the title image gives you a good idea of the state of my lens at the time.

 


 

After the cold, windy, unsuccessful day I spent the night at the Glencoe Youth Hostel, and woke up early to head back to the Lake District. On the way the weather changed for the better, and over the course of the trip the light improved drastically. I pulled over on Rannoch Moor to take a few shots which I think turned out alright.

 

 

 

Overall the trip was a real success for me. I learnt a lot, got a few photos and spent my weekend in the mountains. What more can you ask for?

It has again, been a while since I last posted. This is mostly due to my dissertation and two major film projects for university. As of May 31st I will have submitted everything and will finally be free. It has been a tough few years in terms of work, and this academic year has been particularly tricky. Juggling the final year of my degree and my internship with Lukasz has left me with very little spare time, but I have enjoyed the last few months more than I can possibly describe.

I am aware that once I finish my course I will be heading out into the big bad world, and I will have to start earning money, paying tax and apparently grow up. (The latter is something I plan on avoiding for as long as possible). I have therefore been doing shed loads of research into the industry I am going to hopefully work in, and the content that as being produced, as well as trying to learn as much as possible about improving my media output. This has involved watching a lot of short films. I think it is fair to say that the diversity of quality is huge, and I have definitely found a few that could tip me onto the slippy slope of thinking ‘why should I even bother when people are producing this sort of thing?’ I manage to stay positive however, and instead find myself with the attitude that one day I will either match or better the videos that I aspire to produce now.

The two videos below are two of my current favourites. The first is a short parkour team film that is produced using DSLRs on a very low budget. The second film is a much higher budget kiteboarding production that uses DLSRs as well as Red cameras. They are both worth checking out, and whilst they are made in completely different environments, are equally stunning.

Storm Freerunning

Addikt 2 Kiteboarding

Enjoy!

If you had told me six months ago what I would be doing with myself now, I would have laughed and said something along the lines of “I wish.” Working with Lukasz over the last four and a half months has been a none stop buzz, and although it has been incredibly hard work, it has also been very rewarding. I know I haven’t posted for a very long time, but I have been keeping a guest blog over at Lukasz’s blog. I’ve attached the links to each of the blog posts so far below. Check them out to see what I’ve been upto!

Number one

Number two

Number three

Well, it has been an inexcusable amount of time since my last post. I feel as in someway I can justify it, but still, longer than a month is ridiculous. I have been incredibly busy though. I have not really stopped moving and working since the last week of June. Since then I have photographed at the British Bouldering Championships, filmed a day of the World Bouldering Championships;

IFSC Boulder World Cup 2010 from Matt Pycroft on Vimeo.

filmed and edited a short film about Skyler Weekes breaking the world dyno record for the fourth time, spent two weeks climbing in Fontainebleau,

did my first day of wedding photography, edited another short film and researched my dissertation. All in all a hectic, but incredible month. The past month has also definitely been the most important of my career so far. I have made some great new contacts and with any luck will be working with some of them in the future. For now though I have to work on balancing producing as high quality media as I’m capable of doing at the moment, making contacts and networking and ensuring I do as well in my degree as I can. I will post again over the next few days. I have very exciting news, but am awaiting confirmation…

Well it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I havn’t posted for some time as I have been down in Lincolnshire visiting family and taking photos at a musical variety show that my stepsister is the director of. I have done a lot of adventure film research, and have heaps of new ideas waiting to be unleashed.

Luckily, my 5d mk ii, 24 -70 and 70-200 lenses arrived a few days ago so I have been on a none stop picture and film taking high. I spent the past few days climbing with my girlfriend and a few friends and will be uploading pictures and video over the next few days. I am however having trouble with the video at the minute, as my Macbook cannot handle Final Cut Pro whilst editing video, or Lightroom and Photoshop when editing large RAW files. I am considering getting myself a new Macbook Pro, but will see what the techys at PC World say tomorrow.

I’ve also got a hellish amount of planning to do, what with being a photographer at the British Bouldering Champs this weekend, the International Bouldering Champs the weekend after, followed by two weeks in Fontainbleau. I will upload some images before I head off to the BBC’s this weekend, and then hopefully put up a few posts before I head away to France.

Well, I have spent the last 48 hours glued to my macbook. It has been raining here in the Lake District and I have occupied my time with hours of film based research and stewed homegrown rhubarb!

There are a few adventure film production companies that have really caught my eye over the last few months, and I took this rainy opportunity to explore thoroughly what they are doing, as well as trying to get a glimpse of how they do it. I have taken over 150 screenshots over the last two days, and after sorting them into folders have come up with a bit of a schedule for the next two or three weeks. For our final film project for our second year of university, a friend of mine built a plywood dolly that would enable us to capture some shots that would have otherwise been shaky and unusable. This initial creation was the inspiration for the research I have carried out.  I don’t want to say much more than that really, other than that I imagine I will create a right mess and will likely cover the neighbor’s barn in shed loads of sawdust and aluminium filings! I will upload photos and videos of the projects as they are carried out.