Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wednesday and Thursday were spent with Monica and Jane in Snowdonia. They are both in training for an expedition to St Lucia in January to climb The Pitons. We had a great couple of days in blues skies and that subtle light you only get in the middle of winter.
On Wednesday we headed up Seniors Ridge, over Glyder Fawr and across and up onto Y Garn.
On Thursday we enjoyed the North Ridge of Tryfan, posing for photos on the cannon and having the route pretty much to ourselves. Good luck to both of them in St Lucia.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This weekend was spent in North Wales with Lynette, Yas, Chris and Terry on a Navigation and Hill Skills course. The weather was atrocious and Lynette and Yas were being trained and assessed for the NNAS Silver Awards. We had to stay low on Saturday with 80mph winds and lashing rain. The wind dropped on Sunday and we went up Y Garn.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have just got back from a long weekend in the Costa Blanca with Victoria, Jo and Jess.
We flew from Bristol to Alicante and drove to Calpe where we had an apartment booked for the weekend. After a quick lunch we headed to Toix and enjoyed some single pitch sport climbing in the afternoon sunshine.
We went back to Toix and spent the morning coaching movement skills on the single pitch crags. I used the video camera to give the ladies some feedback on their climbing styles and to allow them to see how they looked compared to how they thought they looked.
We put it all into practice in the afternoon by climbing their first multi pitch rock climb, Lara grade 4.
We headed to Sella. Unfortunately Victoria was unwell but still managed to get a couple of routes in during the morning. In the afternoon Jo and Jess decided they were ready to get on the sharp end and I taught them to lead. They both lead a couple of routes and finished the weekend with big smiles on their faces. Well done all!
Flew home from Alicante to Bristol.
You can view the photos from the trip here: http://www.expeditionguide.com/gallery.htm
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I have spent the weekend working in the Brecon Beacons with fellow AMI colleague Pete Stacey. We were providing a training course for 6 women that are working towards becoming Walking Group Leaders (WGL). The WGL award is administered by MLTUK and is for leading people in non mountainous terrain within the UK.
We spent the two days looking at navigation, mountain weather, leadership skills, water hazards and steep ground within the context of the WGL.
Sunday saw the temperature drop and we spent a couple of hours in heavy sleet. It was very nice to get to a warm pub at the end of the day! All 6 women were good company and an enjoyable and informative weekend was had by all.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I spent the weekend at the AMI AGM. It was a great event and I attended a 2 day coaching processes workshop. This was 2 days of CPD aimed at increasing coaching skills for Mountaineering Instructors. It was a good practical course with plenty of climbing and even some skiing thrown in for good measure!
Monday and Tuesday were spent running and advanced scrambling course in Snowdonia with 2 clients. We had beautiful weather on Monday and did the Clogwyn-Y-Person Arete which is shown in the photo. The ground was frozen above 900m and there were large icicles about - the first signs of winter!
Yesterday we went up the Idwal Staircase with occasional showers and heavy winds on the tops. All in all a good 4 days.
Friday, November 02, 2007
The weight is part of a counterbalance and had fallen half the height of the church tower into a pit about 6 feet deep and 1 foot wide. I rigged up a basic pulley system using a length of static rope and managed to attach the rope with a clove hitch to the weight. It was very heavy but the pulley worked and the weight was restored to its hook. And now the church clock is working again - hoorah!
Monday, October 29, 2007
I spent last week in Northumberland with my wife Kate and our 3 boys. We had some gorgeous weather and enjoyed quiet beaches, castles and even a bit of bouldering! The photo shows Archie (5) on a boulder problem that must merit a V3 in wellies!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I am supposed to be working in Wales again today but seem to have pulled a muscle in my back and/or chest so am taking it easy for a couple of days. Lots of tea and sympathy!
Monday, October 08, 2007
A few crisp mornings have got me longing for winter, it promises to be a good one this year for me as I will be in Scotland for 8 weeks and 4 of those are planned to just be out climbing with friends.
This week I am at home. I diarised a quiet month to spend some time with Kate and the boys and to get my admin straight at home. I am in Wales for a learn to lead course this weekend and will be spending this week trying to get the house straight. We have it up For Sale at the moment as we are planning on moving to North Wales next summer. Fingers crossed for a buyer!
Monday, October 01, 2007
This is a slideshow presentation of last weeks trip to the Picos. It will open in a new window. Click on the little box and select fullscreen for best results and then close the window when finished. More details on the course are available at http://www.expeditionguide.com/picos
|Click to play Make your own Smilebox|
Friday, September 21, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
A couple of years ago this route had a fairly major rockfall and the guidebook grade has not been re-assessed since. Their is therefore some debate as to what grade it is now with internet speculation ranging from HVS 5b to E2 5c! It was pretty warm when we geared up at the foot of the route on Saturday but within about 8 metres of climbing I had sweated buckets - and I am not a sweaty person! The start is very physical and does not ease you into the route in any way whatsoever. You climb up under a roof, traverse below it and then pull up through/past it into a groove. That bit is fine. The groove is then reasonably sustained and I found it the most difficult bit of the climb before stepping out into a cave for a breather. The rest of the 1st pitch is pleasant but not in any way hard.
The second pitch has another roof on it and it took me a couple of minutes to figure out the sequence through it. I will not tell you what that is but needless to say feet are the key. Once solved the sequence was not hard but it is intimidating when you are looking up at it. The rest of the route was then pretty smooth.
On belay at the top of the first pitch of Cemetry Gates.
At the top of Cemetry Gates - buzzing!
Monday, September 03, 2007
I met up with the Evans family who were my clients for the first week and we headed off on the Monday from Arolla to La Sage in beautiful sunshine. We arrived as the heavens opened and woke up Tuesday morning to a fresh covering of snow. This made for some stunning views as we headed over the Col du Tsate and the clouds would part every now and again to show us snow capped peaks and tantalising patches of blue sky.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We drove up yesterday morning, had a late breakfast/lunch in the cafe and then walked into Cwm Eigiau having parked at the end of the reservoir. We decided to climb Ampitheatre Buttress which is a V Diff alpine style route which had 10 guidebook pitches. We were at the foot of the route for 2:00pm and were basking in sunshine on warm dry rock for the whole route.
The buttress offers a great mix of top end scrambling, slab climbing and Alpine style gendarmes with just enough interest throughout. We had a lunch break half way up and enjoyed the views across the Conwy valley and out to sea before topping out at about 4:00pm as the first rain showers arrived.
We strolled across to the Foel Grach summit shelter where we cooked tea - army ration packs left over from a job we had done for them at Easter. As the weather closed in and the day came to a close we headed down to the bothy and curled up in front of an open fire with a bottle of scotch.
This morning was wet and windy again so I am home in the warm and dry again!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thankfully friends and relatives were found, some made it home and others sought refuge in strangers houses and the local leisure centre.
Evesham is still very badly affected but the River Avon is now falling. This week I was originally going to be in the Alps but it looks like I will be at home for a few days now!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The weekend was spent on a Hill Skills course with Gerry, Joanna, Susan and Anja which was a lot of fun in good weather. I managed some evening cragging on the Saturday with a friend of mine, Bryn, in the slate quarries.
Monday and Tuesday were spent at Symonds Yat and today I have been putting my new brochures into envelopes for posting. If you would like a copy visit http://www.expeditionguide.com/
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Having talked about it often enough I decided 2007 was the year. The guidebook recommended June as being a warm, dry month (relatively speaking) and so some willing friends were found to enjoy a climbing trip in 24 hour daylight 150 miles north of the Arctic circle off the West coast of Norway. The photos that I had seen showed beautiful granite mountains rising dramatically out of the sea, long multi pitch rock climbs, scrambling along knife edge ridges and golden sandy beaches.
I put the time in my diary and booked flights to Oslo. Folks that had been before were divided on the best way to get their but we decided to drive from Oslo in a hire car. This was the cheapest option and flights would have been spread over 2 days so in theory would not take any longer than flying.
Car hire desks are always a nightmare inevitably having long queues of people moaning in several different languages and hassled staff remarkably similar to the Little Britain travel agent. Oslos Budget desk was refreshingly different and we were greeted with friendly laughter when 4 blokes with excess luggage arrived to collect the budget Suzuki hire car. 4 beers saw an upgrade to a Nissan Almera which meant that climbing ropes did not have to be used to secure bags to the roof of the car after all.
We left Oslo at lunchtime to catch the ferry from Bodo, about 1500km away, by 3:00PM the next day. Some swift driving on roads that we were surprised to find had absolutely no motorway or dual carriageway and very little sleep meant that we made it with a couple of hours to spare.
I had unwittingly booked us onto a Cruise ship across to Lofoten which doubles as an expensive car ferry. This costs about £50 each more than the humble ferry but did mean that we enjoyed a fine 3 course meal in the ships dining room! The German couple that I was sat with over dinner, we all got split up to minimise impact I think, were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and I like to think that my t shirt and trainers helped them relax a little in their fine dinner outfits.
We arrived on Lofoten to blue skies and sunshine, the last week had seen heady temperatures of 20c and 24 hour sunshine. We found a free campsite at Kalle, about 20 minutes drive from Svolvaer towards Henningsvaer. The campsite offered water and a compost toilet as well as a sandy beach and stunning views that lived up to the photos that had inspired me. Our backdrop was the imposing summit of Vagakallen (943m) which has no easy route to the summit and some of the best medium grade Alpine rock routes on the Island. My tent door looked out onto a sparkling ocean across an almost tropical beach and there was granite bouldering all around us.
Monday morning brought heavy rain so we spent the day exploring the local area. Henningsvaer is the centre of climbing on Lofoten. There is a climbing school and café with a new routes book and small gear shop. They have a plentiful supply of the guidebook if you could not get one in the UK – “Climbing in the Magic Islands” by Ed Webster. Food shopping was done at a CO-OP in Svolvaer and as a general rule most things were twice the price of the UK except booze, which was about four times the price. We used our duty free allowance at the airport to buy two crates of beer at near UK prices that lasted us the first wet day.
We then had 3 beautiful sunny days and enjoyed some fine climbing on perfect granite. Our campsite was a 10 minute walk from the sea cliffs of Paradise. This area gets a mention in the guidebook but local climbers want to keep the routes un-recorded to maintain a spirit of adventure. You just turn up spot a line and climb it! We did routes from about VS 4b through to E2 5c. They were all single pitch and mainly crack climbing, some on the sea cliffs and some slightly set back from the sea. None were tidal and all could be walked into rather than needing an abseil. We also found a route at the campsite that Rockfax gave E1 5c and proved to be a brutal fist jam up a curving crack.
We spent a day around the Heningsvaer area and climbed Gandalf, Norwegian grade 5, (about VS4c) a 3 pitch crack and face climb that climbs the right hand side of the cliff known as Gandalfveggen. The first pitch is the crux and is very typical of the climbing that we did on the Island. The route involves laybacking and jamming up a variety of different sized cracks from finger cracks to full hand jams. The second belay is quite small but there is good gear throughout. That afternoon we managed a swim in the sea – not bad for the Arctic!
The next day saw us heading for the Goat. This is a pinnacle of rock that sits above the town of Svolvaer and is in all the tourist brochures and on the front cover of the guidebook. We were expecting something good! We chose the 1910 route, which is 3 pitches and graded at HS 4a. It was very cold and windy and we topped out in heavy snow. Recent rockfall meant that the route was harder, probably about VS4c. The start of the second pitch was on chossy rock that was loose and horrible but does give a fantastically exposed traverse out over a big drop. There is a bolted abseil descent and we were glad to get back down and thaw the hands and feet. Hot aches in June! In good weather the route Forsida looks good with 5 pitches at about HVS 5a.
On Thursday we headed back to Heningsvaer and climbed Applecake Arete, a 2 pitch HVS 5a, Light & Shadow another 2 pitch route at the same grade and Piano Handlers Route, a 4 pitch Hard Severe. The latter route is described as being an extremely poular beginners outing and it was often teeming with people from the nearby climbing school. We climbed it late in the evening and had the route to ourselves and it was very enjoyable. All of the climbs are trad and the climbing tends to be crack climbing with lots of smearing for feet. Consequently the climbs we did in the rain felt nails! If you want to train for a trip then get on some Peak grit and practise jamming, if you are a lightweight like me then practise laybacking as well! All of these climbs were roadside and had good gear. Cams are really useful, take a full set and double up on the mid sizes. We managed to place number 4 cams on most routes upto E2.
The rest of the 2 week trip was wet. I learnt how to play Stop the Bus & Nomination Whist, dreamed of owning a camper van, moaned about the price of beer and sat in the climbers café – a lot. I also managed to squeeze in a day climbing Vagakallen despite the guidebook telling me in CAPITAL LETTERS – DO NOT ATTEMPT THE CLIMB IN BAD WEATHER. The easiest route was a grade 2 scramble and the others were not keen on a day in the rain so I went solo and had the whole mountain to myself all day. The route finding was a lot easier than the guidebook suggests and the difficulties would not be an issue to anyone happy on Grade 2 scrambles in the UK. The first ascent team went from the sea near Kalle so I decided to try and find a way back down that way. I descended to about 100 m above sea level to find steep cliffs dropping into the sea, which resulted in hacking back up hill Indiana Jones style through trees and bushes to get back to a col at 550m. I was knackered by the time I did get back but had not seen another soul all day and barely seen a path. Old school!
Saturday and Sunday night were spent out on the town. The bowling and the swimming pool were both closed at the weekends so it was off to the cinema. The combination of a dark room that was warm and dry seemed the ultimate in luxury so we blew the budget and saw films both nights!
We also managed to sneak in some more climbs on Gandalfveggan, all 3 pitch routes from VS to HVS between showers and sometimes climbing in the rain.
On our last day I managed to persuade the others that the heavy rain was only a bit of sea mist that would soon lift and we walked into Only Blueberries on Pillaren. This was one heck of walk in, hacking though dense trees up hill in the rain. Needless to say the sea mist did not lift and we did not fancy slab climbing in the rain but the route looked great and I would recommend it to anyone on a dry day – 6 pitches at about VS on a friendly angled slab.
On the journey home we caught the car ferry which goes from Svolvaer to Skutvik, a couple of hours drive North of Bodo but much cheaper than the cruise ship at about £10 each. 18 hours of driving saw us in Oslo where we stayed with friends of Rich in a luxury Penthouse apartment in the city centre. The contrast was incredible. We had gone from cooking over an open fire on the beach without washing for a fortnight to luxury city centre living. We enjoyed a fantastic meal and then 3 minutes walk took us to an open air concert with Mel C and Natasha Beddingfield amongst the line up. We survived a minor altercation with the law for drinking and dancing in the streets and flew home the following day.
I had high expectations and the island did not disappoint. In all we managed 6 days out on the hill, which is not bad in a 2-week expedition rock climbing in the Arctic. At times the weather was frustrating but if you go expecting to spend a lot of time waiting then you will be fine. We hoped to climb at night if it was wet during the day but unfortunately it stayed wet at night too.
I will definitely go back but would look at loading a car with food and booze and catching the ferry from Hull to Bergen and then driving from their. You can hop aboard the cruise ship at Trondheim and that would limit the driving.
Before I went I emailed a friend of mine, Twid Turner, who had put a new route on Vagakellen with his partner Louise a couple of years ago. I asked him for advice and ideas and his response was “take plenty of booze”. I should have listened!
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I will be out of contact until 24th June.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
This morning the clouds were low as we left Glen Brittle but they lifted and the sun came out as the day progressed. We went into Coirie Ghrunda and went up Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and then traversed below Sgurr Alasdairs screes to the top of the Sgumain stone shute. On the way down we took Collies route to the Cioch.
A good day!
Monday, May 28, 2007
Today we have been lucky with good weather in spite of a poorish forecast. The rain held off all day and it has not been too blustery.
We did the Clach Glas traverse onto Blaven, enjoying fine views across Skye, Torridon, the Outer Hebrides and even across to Ben Nevis.
Photos will follwo next week as I have forgotten my camera lead!
Friday, May 25, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I spent the last two days in North Wales with Jo & Mark on an intro to scrambling course. It was pretty windy and we had some heavy showers, a real change from April!
We went up Seniors Ridge and down the Gribin (see photo) on bank holiday Monday and hardly saw another soul. The only people we saw were from a distance in Cwm Idwal and again on the tops of the Glyders.
Yesterday we went up Little and North Gullies on Tryfan which were nicely sheltered from a strong Westerly wind. Again we did not see another soul until we reached the summit.
A great couple of days in good company.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This morning was spent at Tremadog on Striptease and Christmas Curry.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday night was spent up at Bishops Cleeve and then Saturday afternoon Alec and I climbed White Knight, a 2 pitch HVS 5a, that was very sparse for protection and got me sweating! We then did an "Alec" route that was not in the guidebook but went at about VS4c over the roof of a cave - I will say no more!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
After work on Friday I headed to Windcliffe with a friend and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours climbing on warm limestone - we could easily have been in Spain.
We headed up to North Wales on Saturday morning and left the crowds behind by doing some good mountain routes, the best of which was Grey Slabs Arete, above and right of the Idwal Slabs, which goes at HVS 5a and is on wonderful rock.
I joined up with another friend, Andy, on Sunday and we headed into the Llanberis Pass. We did Diagonal on Dinas Mot and then Skylon on Carreg Wasted.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Today was glorious and made the drive worthwhile. Pictures will go up on Monday but we had blue skies, cold weather and sunshine. Paddy and I climbed Red Gully in Sneachda II/III which was thin but doable and enjoyable! Belays were great and the ice was complete with the first pitch meriting the III. Paddy had to get off early so we had an enjoyable stroll down in the sunshine and an early finish.
Looking warm again tomorrow so off home!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I am now in Scotland again for a few days winter climbing. I am over on the East Coast and there is fresh snow down to the roads but the hills still look a little bare. Category 4 avalanche report is predicted because of a rise in temperatures and the heavy winds we have had over the last few days. Oh well, we'll just have to go and see!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
There is still plenty of snow about higher up even though we currently have Southerly winds raising temperatures. The current thaw should refreeze over the next few days and bring excellent climbing on good neve.
Out on the Ben for the next few days.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
When we first arrived the snow was confined to Westerly aspects above about 900m. The photo is taken on Aonach Nid getting used to ice axe and crampons in the sun shine.
We had a mixture of weather, from blue skies and sunshine to heavy rain and wind. Generally the weather was wet and warm and a lot of the snow and ice was stripped off the mountains.
I have then enjoyed 5 days of climbing with friends. The temperatures dropped and the sun came out to play and although we did not have any real snowfall we had a great week of perfect snow ice and neve. The photo on the right shows us frontpointing up Boomerang Gully on Stob Corie Nan Lochain. The highlight of the week was Tower Ridge on Wednesday with perfect views. The lack of snow meant that it felt hard for the grade but we had an awesome day.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I spent the week at home with my wife and 3 kids. I managed to sneak a few days out cragging in the Roaches and the Wye valley. Pictured is a friend of mine, Sid, seconding the 2nd pitch of Valkyrie at the Roaches. This must be one of the hardest VS routes I have done, or perhaps I'm just a Southerner!
I am in the office for a few days sorting out the 2007 programme, insurance etc. This weekend will be spent in the Wye Valley climbing again and then off to Italy Ice Climbing at the end of next week.