August 28, 2010
Chamonix Aiguilles at sunset
Just back from a 9 day trip to the Alps. Unfortunately the weather continues to be very unsettled over much of the alps and I managed to conspire to be in all the wrong places at the wrong times in regard to actually getting any high alpine climbing done.
Such is the way with alpine climbing.
Our one attempt up high was to be one of the couloirs on the North Face of the Chardonnet . Rising at 2am the rain and wind were still rattling the hut windows and we were in the cloud level. There was little change at 4am. Finally at 5 am things improved somewhat so we set off in a hope of achieving something.
As long as you stayed in a trench things were not too bad but step out and you were straight up to your knees in heavy wet snow! With no track in to our route we aborted plans and went for a walk instead.
Back in the valley I did manage some good cragging. With James Thacker we climbed the 6 pitch slab route Autoroute Blanche above the Swiss/French border. On another day with Mat and friends we visited a small crag above Le Buet. This is home to the famous off-width Thai Boxing. First ascended by Craig Luebben this hideously wide overhanging monster recently saw ascents from Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker. We would have got on it of course but we lacked big enough cams.. honest!! Instead we contented ourselves with an equally overhanging hand and finger crack just to the right.
It was however fantastic to catch up with various friends that now live in the alps and relax a little.
"improving weather" near the Albert Premier Hut
James enjoying the technical slabs of Autoroute Blanche
August 15, 2010
Rap, Castell Helen, Gogarth
Yesterday I was out with Mike who was bought a days guided sea-cliff climbing for his 40 birthday present by his dad. And we could not have asked for better weather or conditions.
A busy home life meant Mike had not climbed much recently so we started gently with Lighthouse Arete. After some trepidation on the first committing abseil Mike soon started to relax and enjoy the climbing.
We then upped the ante a little and abseiled back down to climb the brilliant Rap.
We then decided a change of venue was in order to we headed over to Gogarth Main Cliff and climbed the great HVS The Gauntlet. This route definitely gave Mike the full Gogarth experience – shimmering sea, lapping waves, great exposure, carpets of sea grass. . . . . and a classis steep grass top out pitch.
What a brilliant day!!
Mike on his first ever sea-cliff adventure - Lighthouse Arete
August 13, 2010
Alex topping out on the classic Merlin Direct, Tremadog
Its the school summer holidays and that means 2 fairly guaranteed things:
1. The early summer sunshine will be replaced by the welsh monsoon period
2. Young persons courses at Plas y Brenin.
These courses are always great fun to work on. The youngsters are always fully psyched to climb all week and many of them are very capable climbers already. Its just that for most of them unless they have climbing parents then all their climbing takes place indoors. A week at the national centre with the chance to climb outside every day is an annual highlight for many of them.
Climbing to a reasonable grade belayed by a young lad/lass who probably weighs 6 stone soaking wet always focusses the mind when you look down from the crux to see them chatting to their climbing partner and paying you no attention what so ever!
Alex dispatching the crux of Merlin Direct, Tremadog
August 9, 2010
The northern half of the Cuillin Ridge from Sgurr Thearlaich
The last 2 days I have been out with David and Jane prepping them for their upcoming trip to Skye in September. They are heading there with a more experienced friend to attempt a traverse of the Cuillin ridge. While they have both done a lot of mountain walking and completed triathlons and marathons they knew they were lacking in some technical climbing and scrambling skills
So on Sunday we went climbing and climbed routes up to VS and refreshed their abseiling skills. Then today we scrambled up one route on the main cliff of Glyder fach and then scrambled down a fairly direct line on Bristly ridge. It was a great 2 days out and I wish them all well for their trip to Skye.
August 7, 2010
Climbers enjoying the last pitch of Christmas Curry at Tremadog
Mike was keen for his first experience of outdoor rock today and from what I saw today it wont be his last. Despite the crag being damp and greasy first thing we got straight on with it and as the crag dried out we just kept upping the grade and learning more as we went.
In just one day we managed 4 routes:
Christmas Curry (severe)
One Step in the Clouds (VS)
Merlin Direct (HVS)
and on top of all that climbing we learnt to place natural gear, build belays, and discuss everything from stance management to, buying your first rack. Winter mountaineering to alpine climbing. Learning to lead to the legend that is Eric Jones. All in all a top days climbing. And I dont think it will be long before Mike is on the sharp end making his first leads.
August 3, 2010
Jethro and Charlie on Hawks Nest Crack at Frogatt.
Last week I had the great pleasure of working for Katherine Schirrmacher on her Rock Action course for young people. Based in the Peak District this was the second year Katherine had run this course. This year there were more young people, more instructors and better weather – which all led to a fantastic week. The young people on the course had a wide range of experience and ability but what they all shared in abundance was enthusiasm, keenness to learn and a love of all things climbing. During the week the group went bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing as well as evening sessions slack lining and on a zip wire. Its fair to say they all looked pretty tired by the end of the week! For more details see katherine’s blog.
Jethro leading at Stangage
July 21, 2010
Dylan enjoying the climbing at High Neb, Stanage.
Just finished 2 really pleasant days over in the Peak District with Dylan, Rowan and their dad Jonathan. They had all climbed a fair bit before but not in the last year or so. The aim of the two days was to brush away the cobwebs, climb some quality routes, have some fun and refresh the old skills.
Saturday started misty with a threat of heavy rain. Thankfully the forecasters got it completely wrong and we had a dry and pleasant day at Burbage North.
Sunday was a lovely sunny day and we headed for the High Neb area of Stanage. With a day under their belts everyone was climbing much more confidently today and keen to start visiting the Castle climbing wall again when they get back home to London.
Rowan getting to grips with gritstone slabs
Dad trying to stay one step ahead of the girls
July 18, 2010
Descending to an injured climber having already escaped the system
This weekend I have been delivery an improvised rescue for climbers course on behalf of the British division of the Austrian Alpine Club. Mike and Robert and I spent 2 days, abseiling, prussicking, hoisting, escaping the system and generally tying each other in knots!
We spent the first day outside at Fachwen where the guys grasped all the fundamentals really quickly. The weather was not so kind on Sunday so we retreated to a local climbing wall. The abseil tower there was perfect for recreating some further nasty scenarios that you hope you never have to deal with in reality!
prussicking up a free hanging rope
Escaping the system
July 12, 2010
Canon Stone. North Ridge of Tryfan
After the heavy rain of the last few days today was dry but rather cloudy. Simon, George and I had a fantastic day on Tryfan and the Glyders. We started with an ascent of the North Ridge of Tryfan looking to add as much interesting scrambling as we could. The picture shows the guys pausing for breath on the famous canon stone. After dropping down to Bwlch Tryfan we then ascended Bristly ridge again choosing to add some extra difficulty to spice things up a bit. We were still making good progress so there was still time to visit the cantilever stone and the summit of Castell y Gwynt before descending back down via the Gribin.
Today I was working for Silvia Fitzpatrick
The Adam and Eve stones on the summit of Tryfan
adding 'extra interest!' near the summit of Bristly Ridge
July 5, 2010
peaceful scenes in the Llanberis Pass
Its been one of the driest starts to a year on record and we have been sure to get out and enjoy it. We have been scrambling, navigating and rock climbing recently. Coming up we have a problem solving weekend for members of the Austrian Alpine Club where we shall be looking at how to get out of a pickle if things dont quite go to plan while you are out climbing.
There is still availability left this summer so get in touch with any ideas you may have. It does not just have to be in Wales either. If you have always fancied, the Lake District, Pembroke or Scotland we’d love to go there too.
We have a brand new web-site on the way soon too so keep checking back for some new developments…….