When it comes to rock climbing, there is often more fear than infatuation with the rock faces themselves. For decades, climbing has been seen as a risky sport that only a few dare to take up as a hobby let alone a profession. However, in the UK, outdoors collective Advanced Rock is on a mission to change the narrative, showing how climbing can be an accessible and safe experience for all.
Born out of a personal passion for founder Liam Furneaux, Advanced Rock was launched on Instagram with a focus on sharing the Bristol-based climber’s adventures. Today, the platform has diversified, documenting the wider journeys undertaken by other members who have joined the community. Giving Hypebeast an insight into their treks across the rolling British countryside, Advanced Rock joins The North Face in the “Summer Exploration” series where they take on a new adventure: Stone Farm Rocks.
As the name suggests, Stone Farm Rocks is mottled with rocks and boulders for any level of climber to experience. Examining the course, Furneaux says, “It starts with a small walk-in leading to a mix of climbing in a compact space.” Regardless of what formation the group plans to mount, Furneaux recommends packing an essential list of specialized gear. It’s one of his guiding principles that lends to a failsafe expedition.
“I would take climbing shoes, ropes, a chalk bag, harness, grigri, quick draws, carabiners and slings,” he lists. The collective also packs lightweight garments that dry off quickly as well as a foldable down-jacket for the evening – a versatile uniform that can be applied to the city too. The founder adds, “I look for function and comfort, it shouldn’t affect your ability in what you are doing.”
Guide-book in hand, Furneaux leads Advanced Rock to the starting location where they embark on the first climbing route – better known as “problems” in the climbing world. He shares the importance of trialing each stop beforehand so that every member feels comfortable with the journey. “Firstly, we look for a beautiful landscape that we want to explore. Then I’ll plan the different spots,” he says. “It’s a playground so we need to test out the boulders and walking routes.” Once they approach the first climbing spot, a protective crash mat is laid down and each climber takes their turn to ascend the rocks through a careful bouldering climb.
As well as physical support, Furneaux mentions how encouragement from the whole group is also a key factor to a successful climbing experience. Having started out in the gym climbing by himself, the avid explorer later joined a group of regular climbers who also wanted to venture into the outdoors landscape. “To know you have someone supporting you is a massive thing. It helps you switch off, be present and focus on the climb,” he shares. The feeling is something he hopes the Advanced Rock community can give its new members.
After a day of facing new challenges, Furneaux soaks in the beating sun with the group as they chat about the trip and where to head next. “We’re always looking for the next adventure so I go home and plan the next outing,” says Furneaux. It’s a sort of addiction to the climb that Advanced Rock shares, and they hope that every journey leads to another.
Follow Advanced Rock on their journey through Stone Rocks Farm in the campaign above.
To shop The North Face’s “Summer Exploration” collection, head to its website now.