Rising Up for opportunity

MclovinMountains.com was lucky enough to be asked to help out at the Urban Uprising event hosted by the TCA (The Climbing Academy) in Glasgow this weekend.

This day (and night) long event included a bouldering comp (amazing route crushing btw from ALL competitors and ages!) lectures/talks by Niall McNair and none other than the climbing “machine”  that is Dave MacLeod , raffles of some awesome gear and a bar offering a unique range of craft beer from TopOut Brewery.. all topped off with banging tunes later in town (I didn’t make that bit sadly!)


For those (including me until now ) who don’t know what Urban Uprising is,  we will have a more in-depth look in a future post but in brief it started to support an already up and running outreach program to help gang kids find a new focus by getting into climbing , based in the heart of a Rio Di Janeiro favela it offered a rare opportunity to escape the drugs, violence and downward spiral that is almost impossible to avoid in a sprawling unofficial town of an estimated  150,000 souls  packed into a valley  at the foot of Sugarloaf mountain .


Urban Uprising exists to raise both awareness and much-needed  funds for this Rio based program but also outreach initiatives closer to home and is now opening doors to kids in areas like Ayrshire ,Glasgow and soon to  Edinburgh,  which despite their affluence in city centre and leafy suburbs still retain areas that sorely need our support if people are ever to escape generational poverty and the other social challenges that follow it.

Police patrolling a favela, in a tank

More than just teaching kids how to climb it offers a window to a world of community, comradeship, trust, personal challenge and success, and structure that many sadly don’t have today. For many of us our comparative comfort and financial more stable background means we can head to a wall, or buy gear or go travelling to climb with ease, where for many this would be a pipe dream or put you at risk of being shot by a gang.

Urban uprising aims to change that.

The day kicked off with a multi class comp with kids under 7 right up to the vets category (more my sort of age! ) and everything in between. The climbing was incredible, routes deviously challenging and we witnessed some true grit as people dug deep even with seconds to go to send the final routes.



Prizes were donated by some big brands like Scarpa, BlackDiamond, Sidetracked magazine and Szent chalk. The outdoor retailer Ellis Brigham were also a key prize contributor.

Now that the climbing was done it was time for the lectures, so after us setting up the sounds and screen (my job for the day) the guest speakers got down to business.

Niall McNair, ambassador for UU opened with a very engaging visual  insight into how the project came around, the challenges faced by the Favela daily, a  tour of climbing on Sugarloaf mountain and the work Urban Uprising has been doing  which educated  and stupefied many of us who didn’t have the deep awareness of the harsh reality of life in these modern-day slums. (Think police using tanks for patrols due to risk of gun violence on a daily basis!). By the end I know everyone was pretty blown away and sees that the opening of opportunities that UU brings to a local community is unquestionable.


Niall Mcnair, Urban Uprising ambassador


After a short but exciting raffle ( my better half won a harness but as the true superstar she is swapped it for a case of TopOut ale – taste review to follow!) it was time for Dave to take to the floor.

Dave MacLeod is well-known for incredible climbing both on trad (think Rhapsody E11 7a – possibly the hardest trad route ever)  and Scottish Winter/mixed  with many first ascents to his name at eye watering grades (The Hurting XI,11 and Anubis XII, 12) but is perhaps less well-known at bouldering, despite his incredible skills!

He took us on a journey more about mentality and his approach to climbing, than how to crimp and hook, the anti logic he came to apply to his training and diet, and how his sheer stubbornness pushed him beyond what he felt his climbing skills should have allowed (his words not mine). With some glorious video footage we saw him climbing in Patagonia (new route on the Fitzroy range) and  his successful attempt at the F8c of Practice of the Wild at Magic Wood solidifying this 37 year olds place in the climbing polymath hall of fame.

Dave speaking about how the science doesnt always know best

All of these feats coming from a place not always as positive as I certainly aim for mentally before any climbing.

And this was the crux of his talk.

Dont always assume the science and common wisdom is right, for you. If it works for you, if it feels right the  try it. maybe its a new training technique, diet or just attitude. Dont always feel if you arent 100% positive you can’t climb, maybe it’s that doubt that drives you.

I term it anti logic and it certainly has me thinking. I have used a bad mental place as a reson not to push a grade or get off my butt and do a route, I’ve not gone to the wall because I don’t feel fit , and its an excuse.

Just because the crowd think says do this , do that… – maybe do something else!

By the end of the evening everyone was completely enthralled and I certainly left the event both totally stoked to go climb but also very humbled by the work Urban Uprising are doing.

And of course I enjoyed watching some great climbing !

Look out for more on Urban Uprising to come in a future blog but to find out  more now and to donate (get your hand in your paypal pocket folks ! ) go see Urban Uprising


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