The rise of the Wide Boyz
It was nine years ago that Tom Randall and myself were heading off to make a tour of American offwidth cracks. We’d been training hard for two years at home in Sheffield, UK, primarily in what would become Tom’s infamous crack cellar. This cellar is a maze of horizontal roof cracks constructed from boards bolted to the ceiling. The layout has evolved over the years with different projects, but those first cracks were an assortment of off widths and hand jams that allowed us to simulate a climbing style pretty foreign to the UK cliffs.
Knowing this was going to be a climbing trip for the record books, Tom and I were both keen on sharing our journey with the climbing community through a blog. I still remember sitting down at the computer together to build this blog and wondering what the heck we should call it, ‘Pony Shufflers’? Nah, that was no good. ‘Wide Boyz’? hmmm, close. ‘Wide Boyz’? That was it, that was the name of the blog, and it just stuck.
The Birth of Crack School
Since that initial offwidth trip, there has been an increasing awareness about crack climbing, and a growing thirst for technical information about it. Wild Country recognized that through our success of training on homemade cracks, we had tapped into a way to teach crack climbing skills to the general public in an accessible way. It was through this that the first Wild Country Crack School series was proposed to Tom and me.
The concept was to do several events at indoor locations, on specific crack climbing holds, and give guidance and tips. Season 1 sold out. Thus, we knew there was a demand for season 2. That sold out even faster, and the demand kept coming.
After the second season, Wild Country handed the crack school over to us to manage as the Wide Boyz. Now producing and incorporating our own crack holds, we carried on the tradition, reaching a point where between the two of us, we taught 60 classes across the UK in a single winter. We knew the crack love was spreading, and it was fun to interact with enthusiastic climbers of all levels at these events.
The Unique Evolution of Crack Schools
Roll on nine-years from those first clinics to today, and the term ‘Crack School’ is now used worldwide when people, climbing clubs, and gyms ask Tom and me for crack coaching. It’s, for sure, grown massively in popularity. However, at Wide Boyz, we thought, why standstill? Why be stuck in the past with Crack School? It’s old, and it’s been; it is done. That’s when the idea of Crack Fest was born.
Crack Fest is the idea to encompass everything good about the Schools but take it that one step further. We want people to be able to learn about crack climbing but then have a setting and location where they can practice their newly acquired skills in a fun environment. This setting will create an even more interactive event between the guests and the coaches where we aren’t limited to just the topic of the Crack School.
The first Crack Fest will take place on March 7, 2020, at the Depot in Sheffield. The idea is to educate people and have fun crack climbing through both focused clinics and a day of free-flowing crack climbing.
Participants will learn techniques at short Crack Schools throughout the day. They can climb on crack boulders with fun and friendly competitions and test their crack strength through exciting and unique Wide Boyz crack challenges. There will be no holding back from the coaches (Tom, myself, and our new coach Harriet Ridley) on giving people beta or showing techniques around the comp circuit. As coaches, we will be there to teach, show, and share the crack love in as many ways as we can.
The Crack School Gets a Passport
The Crack Fest isn’t our only new format, though. As Crack Schools became ever more popular, we’ve had requests from abroad to host clinics, most notably in America. This is why we decided to create Crack Camp to offer something special in the USA this April. Crack Camp is an extension to the Schools but, instead of short clinic style classes at indoor walls, we will be at Indian Creek. These 2 and 3 day camps will allow participants to gain in-depth coaching and advice where we eat, sleep, and fully live crack climbing on some of America’s best sandstone. These longer days and the unique venue will give participants the chance to gain in-depth coaching and advice where we can provide focussed time with each participant rather than just general guidance.
We’re massively excited about these two new events, and we look forward to meeting more crack enthusiasts!
PROGRESSIVE CRACK LOVE
The evolution of the crack school
By Pete Whittaker.
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Climbing's Inherent Training
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