By Emma Harrington

DWS equipment - Safety first
Have you ever been on a long trip away and had a nightmare trying to squeeze all your climbing gear into one hold bag with a maximum allowance of 20 or 15kg? Your bag full of quickdraws, trad gear, helmet, climbing rope or rope ladders and safety equipment for DWS? With only a couple of t-shirts, a pair of pants and bar of soap to accompany you on your travels? Well here is some information you may find interesting!

Sporting luggage allowance and extra luggage allowance are separate things.  Sporting allowance is usually cheaper than paying for an extra luggage allowance, but currently climbing equipment is not classed as a sport on most airlines lists.
EasyJet offer an extra sporting bag allowance but only for certain listed sports. After reading this list and getting a lot of contradicting advice, we contact them to ask if they could add climbing equipment onto the list. They accept such items as sporting firearms as extra sporting hold luggage so why not climbing equipment.
The response from easyJet wasn’t very helpful.  When asked about adding climbing equipment to their sporting lists they didn’t really answer the question in full. They suggested that you should register for their easyJet e-mail updates on their website to keep up to date on any future changes. When asked about who to contact regarding getting climbing equipment onto their lists, they responded that regretfully there are no contact details which can be shared to their passengers to contact their head departments directly, and that suggestions as such are forwarded to their management internally.
So basically there are no means of contacting the relevant department!

EasyJet’s list of sports equipment can be found here  

So what can you take in your hand luggage?
It’s not really a case of what you can take; it’s more what you can’t take! Gatwick and Heathrow airport have security guidelines which include a whole selection of items that you cannot take on-board an aircraft. They mention items that could be used as potential weapons, and these could be interpreted as anything really.  The usual hand luggage restrictions are on the list which includes such items as no liquids, no sharp objects and no tools. Also listed are no blunt instruments, (which could be interpreted to be climbing equipment at the airlines discretion). They also mention that this is not an exhaustive list, and if in doubt please check with the airline you fly with.

(c) Tim Emmett

Heathrow Guidelines can be found here 
Gatwick Guidelines can be found here 

EasyJet now have new guidelines about hand luggage which may help with your clothing and bits and bobs of non climbing equipment. Guaranteed hand luggage to travel with you in the airline cabin is now a size of 50cm x 40cm x 20cm which shaves roughly 5cm off each dimension that they used to take as hand luggage i.e 56cm x  45cm x 25cm.

Climbing Equipment must go in the hold!
Checking with the airline easyJet, they responded that all the equipment used by climbers has to go in the hold as they can be used as a potential weapon on-board. EasyJet said that climbing equipment is a danger on-board and must go in the hold (ropes as well!).

What is classed as a weapon on board an aircraft?
What is exactly is classed as a weapon? Our smelly boots? Are they thinking that our ropes would be used to tie up the cabin crew and our trad gear used to knock them on the head? What about the bottles of wine you can buy in duty free, wouldn’t that be more harmful to knock someone out? 
Is it actual official procedure that all equipment is to be put in the hold?
There are many climbers who have taken their climbing equipment on the flight in their hand luggage and had no problems getting through security, but there are many others who have lost their expensive equipment too. So don't risk it. Put it in the hold!

EasyJet responded that the reason for not allowing the climbing equipment as hand luggage is because they can be used to harm others. Any item which has a sharp edge or can be used to harm any person or any property of the aircraft is classified as a weapon.
However they will be unable to comment on the other passengers who were allowed to take those items as hand luggage. This might be depended on the airport staff discretion.

EasyJet have an official policy for weapons which can be found here

So I need an extra bag, what are my options?

Paying for an extra bag which isn’t classed as sporting luggage allowance would be another option if
another bag is needed.


Extra luggage allowance: With easyJet you can currently pre-pay £7 per kg for extra luggage allowance which can work out quite expensive depending on the weight of your bag.

Sporting luggage allowance: You can also pay £27 for sports equipment allowance for 32kg. But climbing equipment is currently not on their list of items.

British Airways:

British Airways responded that only items that require special packing or handling or exceed the normal size limits are specified on as sporting equipment.

Sporting equipment that fits within the maximum dimensions for standard luggage is accepted without problems and can be booked as normal excess luggage.

Extra luggage allowance: Currently British Airways charge £34 for an extra 23kg bag. Which is actually quite a good deal compared to some other airlines that have been currently researched.

Ryan Air:

Excess luggage allowance fees vary.  A second bag (15kg) in low season will cost £40 and in high season £50. But do not get caught out! You need to pre-pay for these; otherwise you get charged an excess baggage fee of £20 per kg at the airport!

Sporting luggage allowance: Ryan Air charge £50 (pre-paid) for sporting equipment but they do not have climbing on their list of sporting equipment either.

Comparing 3 popular airlines:

•    EasyJet extra luggage fees for an extra 20kg bag would cost £140
•    BA extra luggage fees for an extra 23kg bag would cost £34
•    Ryan Air luggage fees for an extra 15kg would cost £40 in low season

(Please note that prices may change over time; always check with your airline)

Between these three airlines BA is better value if you need an extra bag. It does not matter if it is sporting equipment or not, as long as it meets the size limit and is no more than 23kg. Once easyJet class climbing gear as sporting equipment, then their sporting allowance will be the best option.   There is a big risk that climbing gear such as ropes and quickdraws in your hand luggage will be taken off you if you come across a security officer having a bad day. Even if in the past you have taken climbing equipment through with no problems, it doesn’t mean to say that they will let you again next time.  So a suggestion is to put all of your climbing gear in your hold luggage just to be safe!

By Daimon Beail

In 1978, a young Mallorcan called Miquel Riera, frustrated with the aid routes and traditional climbs of his local area, set off to Palma with his friends (Jaume Payeras, Eduardo Moreno and Pau Bover) to find new lines to free climb. The place was Porto Pi and this became Mallorca’s first bouldering venue. The bouldering soon moved onto the short sea cliffs in the area and this style became known as "Psicobloc," which when translated into English means - 'psycho bouldering'!

Throughout the 1980s, sport climbing grew in popularity, and bouldering along with Psicobloc faded into the background. Miquel continued his obsession with Psicobloc by opening new areas and putting up new lines. He published many articles with the Spanish climbing press and tried to entice anyone he could to try this new style of climbing.

Towards the end of the 1980s Miquel's explorations aided by Pepino Lopez, Xisco Meca, Pepe Link and Miki Palmer had unearthed Cala Barques, Cala Serena and an amazing cliff in Porto Cristo, which was to become known as ‘Cova del Diablo’. Three outstanding lines: Surfing in the Bar, Surfer Dead and Surfing Bird were established before things went quiet on the Mallorcan Psicobloc front.

The 1990s saw an explosion for the British equivalent of Psicobloc; Deep Water Soloing (DWS), which began with Nick Buckley's solo ascent of The Conger back in 1983.  A wave of development on the UK’s southern coast was led by the Cook brothers (including the late Damian Cook), Mike Robertson, Steve Taylor and Pete Oxley.

In 1996, the British Climbers Club released ‘Into the Blue:- A guide to Deep Water Soloing in Dorset.' This was the first guidebook of its kind in the world. It introduced an evolved grading system and a whole new approach to climbing in Britain.
In 2001, British climber Tim Emmett received an email from Miquel showing a picture of Cova Del Diablo in all its glory which triggered a major international visit by some of the world’s best. Mike Robertson, Tim Emmett, Neil Gresham and friends met with Austrian Klem Loskot and his crew to explore Cova Del Diablo and the surrounding areas. Within one week they had managed to put up over twenty six routes ranging from 4+ to 8a, bringing the total on that crag to twenty-nine. Shortly after in February 2002 Mike Robertson published his article ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in British magazine ‘Climber’ describing the venue along with details of all twenty-nine lines on the cliff.


 Later that year, the international teams returned to add additional lines to Cova del Diablo and explore places further afield such as Cala Sa Nau, Cala Barques, Cala Mitjana and Porto Cristo Novo. This trip also introduced Toni Lamprecht to the island, which resulted in a vast number of new lines being established, chiefly at Cala Barques. A short film was released by Udo Neumann, which artistically portrayed the exploration of the east coast, and additionally Josh Lowell’s short film 'Psicobloc', documented Tim Emmett and Klem Loskot's experiences on the first trip to the island in 2001.


Inspired by the latter film, world-renowned climber Chris Sharma soon took his first trip to Mallorca in 2003. With an on sight flash of 'Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels' under his belt, he began to put up more and more challenging lines at the top end of the grade spectrum. His mega-line 'Big Mama' 8a+ S2 was a landmark in what Mallorca had to offer at that time. A number of other hard lines began to emerge in various locations, of which one of the more impressive was Klem Loskot's 2003 route 'Hupolup Kempf', 8b (S2), which crossed one of the largest roofs to be found at Cala Sa Nau.
Further south saw Miquel Riera return to Cala Serena with friends, to establish almost 100 new routes within the space of a month.

In 2003 I took my first DWS focused visits to the island, and in the following years explored Mallorca’s potential and helped develop with friends a number of new areas on the island such as Port De Soller, Sa Calobra, Cala Santanyi and Cala Marcal. I started developing a small guide to the island's Deep Water Soloing venues, which at that time was poorly documented and hard to find.

In the early part of 2004, the sad news hit the climbing world that Damian Cook, a well-known and highly-respected figure in the Dorset’s climbing community, had been killed whilst soloing alone at Porto Cristo in challenging conditions. This shocked the climbing world and emphasised that Deep Water Soloing could hold fatal consequences.

Josh Lowell released a collection of short films under the banner Dosage Vol 2 in 2004. This included a slightly enhanced version of the 2002 film 'Psicobloc' (now renamed 'Psicobloc Part 1') and also a new film called 'Psicobloc Part 2', which documents some of Chris Sharma's first visit to the island in 2003.

The spotlight turned to Porto Colom in 2005 as Miquel introduced Chris Sharma, Toni Lamprecht and a number of international climbers to the venue.  After a short time, the Porto Colom lighthouse area had a good number of lines and shortly after became a favorite venue for many a soloist who knew of its location.

2005 was also a good year for lesser-known venues around the Santanyi area. Cala Llombards was a favorite hangout for Chris Sharma and Miquel Riera but in that time Chris began to get the hunger for a new project, one that could possibly be as hard as 'Realization' (9a+, Ceuse France) but climbed as a Deep Water Solo.
In October of that year Chris Sharma was introduced to the famous east coast landmark of Es Pontas. Chris began to work an incredibly steep and imposing line on the underside of the arch which at that time became known as the arch project. Chris made some dramatic progress the following month by catching the dyno and exiting on the seaward side of the arch. Dissatisfied with this, he began working a right hand finish to the line that would exit on the landward side and tackle the very powerful upper lip. Chris soon realized that although this line was possible, it was very much at his limit and if done might push the boundaries of climbing once again.

March 2006 saw the first Deep Water Soloing guide to Mallorca released ('Mallorcan Psicobloc', by Daimon Beail; published by Rockfax publications). The same year, German filmmaker Udo Neumann released the documentary 'Psicobloc 101,' giving viewers an insight into the previous year’s developments regarding soloing on Mallorca.

In September of the same year, the world of Deep Water Soloing changed forever. Chris Sharma completed the right hand finish to the line that climbed underside of the Es Pontas arch, and rumors spread of a magical '9b' being associated with its difficulty. Even though this grade has never been confirmed, due to the lack of a repeat (at time of writing) it was certainly the hardest Deep Water Solo in the world.

Mallorca began to receive a vast amount of media interest after Chris’s accent of the now named ‘Es Pontas’, highlighted by Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer's 2007 film 'King Lines,' which captured Chris Sharma making that first ascent and thrust Deep Water Soloing once again into the spotlight.

2007 also saw the release of Rockfax's ambitious project 'Deep Water' by Mike Robertson. This book being the first of its kind included a chapter on Mallorca, on which Mike Robertson and my self collaborated. In a speedy response Miquel Riera finally released 'Psicobloc Mallorca,' which acted as a 'best of' guide to Psicobloc on the island. The guide also contained information on coastal sport climbs and bouldering.

The third Rockfax publication 'Mallorca - Deep Water Soloing' (by Daimon Beail) acted as a companion to the book 'Deep Water'. It further expanded Mallorca’s DWS venues to cover a further 11 areas and was released in July of 2008.

In March 2011 a new and fully comprehensive Rockfax guide was released, expanding and updating all things climbable on Mallorca. It is also the first time all the soloing areas are in one book together with all of                                       Mallorca’s sport climbing crags.

What Miquel started all those years ago is now attracting climbers from all over the world, and still today climbers are discovering and expanding what Mallorca has to offer.

The history of Deep Water Soloing on Mallorca is also available at Published on 8th March 2011.

Mallorca Deep Water Soloing History written by Daimon Beail.

Special thanks to: Rasmus Kaessmann for the Es Pontas and Lamprecht photos, Steve Taylor for helping source UK historical photos, Miquel Riera for supplying Mallorca Psicobloc historical photos and Toni Lamprecht.

1. Miquel Riera at ‘Porto Pi’ late 70s; Photo: The Miquel Riera Collection.
2. Miquel Riera on ‘Surfing in the Bar’ late 80’s; Photo: The Miquel Riera Collection.
3. The original UK DWS team: The back row; Joff Cook, Damian Cook, Mike Robertson, Mark Williams, (two random kids), Steve Taylor, Pete Oxley… Front row - Tina Huisman, Carol Robertson, Jane Cook, Jan Rostron;
Sourced by Steve Taylor from Rockfax Dorset (1994) by Pete Oxley
4. Toni Lamprecht; Photo by Rasmus Kaessmann;
5. Climber magazine front cover Feb 2002; Photo by Mike Robertson.
6. Cala Barques; Photo by Daimon Beail
7. Cala Serina; Photo by Daimon Beail
8. Porto Colom Lighthouse; Photo by Daimon Beail
9. Es Pontas; Photo by Rasmus Kaessmann;
10. Mallorcan Psicobloc; Rockfax 2006
11. Deep Water; Rockfax 2007
12. Mallorca Deep Water Soloing; Rockfax 2008
13. Mallorca 2011; Rockfax 2011