April 21, 2016
Learning to lead in the Llanberis Pass
I’m Back! and running the full range of rock and mountain courses again this summer.
After spending 4 of the last 5 years working at a wide range of locations in Antarctica for the British Antarctic Survey I am now back in Snowdonia – and loving it!
Already in the last month I have enjoyed scaring myself on sunny sea-cliffs and mountain crags, been for some lovely evening mountain runs over the summits and dusted off the road bike to explore further afield.
With renewed psyche and energy I am looking forward to teaching and guiding in these mountains again. Seeing old sights with fresh eyes after a chunk of time away, while still looking for new challenges and adventures yet to be experienced.
As a ‘welcome home’ gift from me to you I am offering a 20% discount off all guiding rates and course prices on courses taken in North Wales before the end of July.
While the website lists a wide range of courses please don’t think this list is prescriptive. If there is something very specific you want, or you just want to discuss what we could offer that would be suitable for you please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.
I’d love to hear from you.
October 21, 2012
Zeppelin – El Chorro
Halley VI – my new home
OK. So I’m flying back south to Antarctica in just a few hours. This time I “promise” to try and keep my blog a little more up to date than the 3 posts i managed in 18 months last time!!
So where am i going this year? I fly back in to Rothera where I spent 18 months recently. But I am only there for just over a month before flying over to Halley VI on the Brunt Ice Shelf where I will be based for the next year. This is a new base which was only completed last year and we will be only the second team to winter in it.
After a very wet summer in the UK Malcolm Airey and I decided we needed some last minute sunshine before we both headed back down South. So last week we had a great week at El Chorro, staying at the Olive Branch. We had a great week culminating in climbing the classic multi-pitch route Zeppelin in the gorge. We had to hide from the sun most of the week it was so hot… quite ironic given that we will give anything to feel the warmth of the sun over the next year or so.
Tomorrow I should be in the Falkland islands and weather permitting I will be at Rothera on the Antarctic peninsula the following day.
March 11, 2012
North and Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia
After an emotional farewell leaving Antarctica I am enjoying a little time travelling and seeing friends and family in North and South America before arriving back in the UK.
With 2 freinds, Tom and Malcolm who had just left Antarctica with me we headed to Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia, Chile for some climbing. We arrived in the park during an unseasonal settled spell of fine weather. However a mess up with permits convinced us we were going to miss an opportunity before the weather broke. Luck was on our side and on the last good day we managed to grab an ascent of the Monzino route to the summit of the North Tower of Paine. It was great to climb solid granite again after the ‘weetabix’ that masquerades as rock in antarctica.
I am now visiting family in Florida before a couple of weeks with friends in Colorado. I shall be back in the UK by early April and accepting bookings for the full range of Climb-mountains courses for the rest of the year. Please get in touch to discuss any ideas you have with no obligations to book.
Tom in Col Bich between the North and Central Towers
Tom & Malcolm on the summit, North Tower of Paine
June 8, 2011
Camped under the Myth, Adelaide island.
OK. Apologies. Its been far too long since my last blog. Around 6 or 7 months! Finally here is a picture of my new home for 18 months. Thats not to say that the tent in the picture is actually home though I have spent nearly 3months of my time here in one of those tents. We actually have a very well appointed base with all mod cons. Over the summer months there are over 100 folks on base but now during the Antarctic winter there are just 20 of us keeping the base running till next summer.
I have also taken the opportunity to update and expand the photo gallery section of the web site. So if you visit the gallery page you will see galleries for:
North American rock climbing
Nepal – Ama Dablam
Pakistan – Hushe valley
as well as a large gallery of Antarctic images. I hope you enjoy them. I’ll try and keep new images coming a bit more regularly from now on.
November 8, 2010
Beautiful woodland above Punta Arenas
“Hurry up and wait!”
is the unofficial BAS motto. (Not sure what the real one is mind). So after weeks of changed departure dates in the UK – getting all excited and rushing around only to be delayed again I finally left Heathrow on 2 Nov. We then kept “hurrying” around various airport systems and “waiting” in numerous queues in baggage claim, customs and immigration.
The process continued in Punta Arenas. You have to be at breakfast early every day and assume you will be flying that day only to almost certainly be told that you are not and you can have the rest of the day off. However don’t go far just in case the plan changes again…
Hurry up and Wait…. spot on!
We did manage 1 great day out. Hired bikes and cycled through town out onto dirt roads and up to the nearby national park which also has a ski hill. There we dumped the bikes and had a lovely walk through dense stunted woodland. All the trees were covered in hanging mosses which was catching the sunlight in a magical way. All being well my next post will be from Rothera as we are due to fly at lunchtime today. Excitement is clearly building in everyone in the group.
The coastline from Punta Arenas
Patagona - a street sign reminder of where you are.
October 30, 2010
First I was a walker. Later I got into scrambling and only then did I get into climbing. The link through all these was the desire to explore new places, have an adventure and challenge myself. Grades meant nothing, it was all about the experience. If I am totally honest that is not always the case these days. Comparison with your mates, tick lists, graded lists, peer pressure and the ever increasing concentration, by the magazines and websites, on the pursuit of difficulty and comparing performances, means there is often a little devil sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, when I am considering what and why to climb next. It may be telling you to do a route because ‘your mate just did it’ but it may also be telling you NOT to do a route because ‘there is no way I can climb that grade’. Now I am not a surfer but I have tried it a few times. Every wave is unique and different. They don’t have grades you cant compare one to another very easily and you cant go out intending to match or go one-better than your mate. You simply go out and contend with what nature throws at you. Like going climbing but without a guidebook. Now I’m not saying that we should get rid of guidebooks but just that i’ve realised that for me having all that information (and the attempts to be so precise with the grades – E4 hard for the grade, TD-, 5.10R, E2 or E1 for the tall) changes my experience. Some of my best climbing experiences have been whilst new-routing on expeditions abroad. The experience becomes everything again. You may fight for your life on a pitch and there is nothing or no-one to confirm whether you just pulled off the lead of your life, or just made a complete dogs dinner of a really easy pitch! By not knowing you are simply rewarded with the warm satisfaction of completing the pitch, having given it all that you’ve got.
Maybe I need to do more new-routing or go climbing without guidebooks. Or perhaps I should give surfing another go. This video may be about surfing but it reminded me of why I got into climbing and the mountains and gave me a prick of reality as to how far I may have slipped on occasions from my original reasons for getting out in the wild and challenging myself. I hope you enjoy it to.
October 21, 2010
A Dream of White Horses
With my bags all packed for Antarctica I get an email to say my departure date has been put back another week. So with all jobs done (well nearly!) I have some time for some last minute adventures.
In the last week I have been out to Gogarth 3 times, each with a different partner and had some great adventures. First up was Fly Trap. What an trip that is! If you are into routes with a real adventurous feel this one should be near the top of your list. Climbing the inside wall of the sea-cave you then launch out blindly fumbling for the hidden jugs to end up belayed stood on top of the giant chock stone wedged in the mouth of the cave. Brilliant!
Next up was The Sind on yellow walls. No caves this time but still adventurous enough. Soft rock and technical moves in an awkward leaning groove that gets more sustained the higher you get. Don’t snatch for the finishing jugs, because they are not…!
And then just yesterday we went out to ‘just nip up Dream of White Horses and Britomartis’ However the sun does not come around as early at this time of year. The wind was colder than anticipated. So with the cold turning limbs to wooden stumps we settled for a shuffle around ‘Dream’. The sun did warm us on the last pitch and the autumn light was amazing be were still glad to get back home to a roaring fire.
A Dream of White Horses - pitch 2
Fly Trap - the great cave pitch
The Sind, Yellow Wall - steeper and more technical than it looks.
October 3, 2010
map of antarctica
Well they say a change is as good as a rest. So I’m off to Antarctica for 18 months!! It will definitely be a change though I’m pretty sure there wont be much resting.
I shall be working as a field assistant for British Antarctic Survey. The primary part of my role is to facilitate the scientists in carrying out their investigations. As such we will spend lots of time out on the ice travelling by skidoo and on foot over glaciated terrain. Living in 2 man pyramid tents and trying not to fall down too many crevasses.
I shall be keeping you informed of my adventures while I am away and will be happy to answer any questions folk may have about life in Antarctica.
Fact No. 1. Did you know Antarctica is a desert? Not only is it the coldest continent on earth it is also the driest.
pyramid tents out on the ice
October 3, 2010
Matt enjoying Stromboli at Tremadog
Tremadog was definitely the crag to be at the other day. When we arrived around mid-day you could not get parked at Eric’s cafe. Rather than compete with the crowds we chose to drive on another mile and walk up to Stromboli buttress. The rewards for our 10 minute uphill approach was a quality crag entirely to ourselves.
We had a pleasant afternoon climbing, Stromboli, Plastic Nerve and Helsinki Wall before heading home for tea and biscuits just as the rain moved in again. A very pleasant afternoon.
September 18, 2010
SS Special, Clogwyn y Grochan, Llanberis Pass
In an attempt to believe that it was still summer and not Autumn Matt persuaded Adam and myself to the Grochan for a spot of evening cragging. Matt was after some mileage in preparation for his impending British Mountain Guides Rock Induction while truthfully I just wanted to play with my new camera! So Matt led while Adam belayed and I played at being David Bailey. We managed 3 routes before bad light stopped play and we were all reminded of just how high quality most of the routes on that crag are.