Aug 08 2011

Alps 2011

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 4:03 pm

Recently back from 2 weeks in the Saastal valley, Switzerland, just round from the Zermatt valley that has the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa set in it.
Excellent trip, good people (about 16 of us), much fun had. Met some new Scouting friends from West Sussex, bumped into a variety of people from universities and climbing walls whilst out there, and had a jolly good time in all, if a little pricey.

Vague itinerary went along the lines of fly to Geneva, eat food, see live music, sleep.
Travel to campsite, drink beer, chill out, sleep.
Do glacial training with british mountain guide – didn’t learn a massive amount of new things but was very useful to be assured that we’re doing the right things. Played with some toys & broke the guides new Petzl crevasse rescue doofer. Long live the prussik.
In order to acclimatise, me and Matt next walked up to the Alghameller hutte & did the traverse of the Dri Hornli in an afternoon, then to follow it with a small jaunt up the Portjagenhorn. A mere trifle of a route, the description covered 2 pages of small writing in the guidebook and had the suffix (9-10 hrs). We managed to survive, although were beset with minor issues like:

  1. We left the guidebook in the hostel, and only realised 1.5hrs after setting off when we got to the start of the route at 6am.  Managed to get txt’d instructions from Popey several hours in.
  2. The weather was ming
  3. We weren’t acclimatised at all & had some breathing/fitness issues to get over.  Plus I needed to have a dump and Matt did a small amount of coughing up blood.  Mmmm.
  4. Quite a bit of the consolidated snow on the top (as opposed to the snow that was falling on us for a good chunk of the route) was falling to bits.  And as some of it was above several hundred feet of nothing, it made it tricky.
  5. having to deal with moves of probably Severe/Hard Severe in big boots on wet slippy rock.
  6. Lots of variation in route meaning some was pitched, some was moving together.  Matt reckoned around 10 50m pitches, plus a good many hours of moving together, plus an abseil in there too.

All in all then, a good day out.  The fact it was ming helped as we could’t see the massive drop to the Eastern side of us, however it meant we didn’t get any foties.  A great day out, but we were – and we recognised that we were – exceedingly lucky. 

Warning.  Do not do this at home.

We were a little destroyed after this day.  I think the next day we worked on routes at Feechi – a crag just round the corner from the campsite (300m!).  Met a lass who works at Awesome Walls there with her mates.

Next day was a Via Ferrata up the Mittagelhorn (or similar).  A lift up, 1.5 hr round, then 2hrs up in a snowstorm that came from nowwhere, then 2hrs off.  Good fun, shame about the lack of views again.  About 8 of us on that, a good day out.

Somewhere around here was a mass tresspass up the Allelinhorn.  A few parties of ours hadn’t managed to get up anything due to weather/acclimitisation so we figured it’d be a good reason to get them out having fun.  We got the lift, then another, then a train, and popped out of the mountain a LONG way up.  Geared up & then headed up to the top – with the strains of “Tainted Love” and other throwback tunes coming from the pisted area where the children-of-many-colours were sliding around on fat planks.  Or possibly phat planks.

After this … more climbing was had, but managed to trip up in the middle of town & remove most of one palm and bits of another.  Help from Jacob and DaveD in the bogs of the Dom managed to remove all grit & cut off the flappy bits of skin, and then bind my hands enough to prevent escape of too much blood.  Called the Dr & AndyM got me over there, got patched up & returned back with a dented  sense of pride.

Sporting this new injury, I didn’t want to loose any days, so suggested to some of our guys the idea of going round to Zermatt for the day.  Didn’t quite realise the cost of this (around £50 for the day … it’s a long way), but then got the cable car up & spent the day walking on the flanks of the Matterhorn going “OoooOOoooh”.  Chuffin big hill.

Think I had a day off next, but that involved walking from Saas Grund to Saas Almagell to Saas Fee and back.  Spotted a couple of new crags and had a chat with a few people climbing on there.  That was around 1st August, which was the Swiss National day.  Took Popey, Docherty, Stu, Bainbo and Bent up to Saas Fee to see an 8 part yodelling group, 6 part alpenhorn, marching band and similar things.  an excellent night, completed by staggering down the now un-lit shortcut path from Fee to Grund, and didn’t die.

Next day, decided that with gloves on I could probably do VF (or Via Ferrata).  Had a Drs appt to get my hands sorted out, so DaveD and Popey headed on up to the Jagerhorn whilst I went the Drs, then I motored as fast as possible to catch them up.  Meant that a normal 7-8 hr route had me stood at teh top after 2.5 hours, just catching them up after overtaking a lead of people on easy ground.  Not the most straightforward route though, including 90m of suspended wire bridge with around 100m drop, then a 15m suspended scramble then, then exposed VF/Climbing to the top.  Amazing route though. 

So much so, that after a rest that afternoon I took a group up the following day with Geoff.  Excellent day, everyone really enjoyed it (and Julie made proper noises), though we did slightly get caught in an alpine thunderstorm.

After that, beers were had, curry was eaten (again), and fun was had by all. 

Top trip.

Jul 04 2011

The North East

Category: home,Mountaineeringash @ 10:06 pm

Its been a busy old year.

Belgium, Scotland, Scouting things left right and centre … kinda copy & paste from previous years but now I’ve got rid of the TV and am trying to embrace Windows Media Centre. Kinda working, albeit slowly.

Anyway, been off to Northumbria recently, doing some climbing with Sam and Ellie, as well as catching up with Ric and the Charlton, & seeing the Joneses.

We went to Crag lough, and I fought my way up a sod of a HVS. Well, after falling on it once. Obviosuly need to work on my layback technique. However, Sam provided educational skills, and Ellie showed us just how much she enjoys three starred Severe routes. Bear with it, there’s about 8 mins of vid!
[tubepress mode=”playlist” playlistValue=”PLC1202F133AAC69B4″]
It’s a playlist … if it just plays once then click on it to embiggen & it should load the next one automagically.

There’s some pics too … 3701

Dec 11 2010

Wintery Stuff

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 6:18 pm

It really does seem to have been snowing a bit out there. Not much made it to Lancs, although the rest of the country seemed to be broken. However, it does mean that some Winter climbing has been happening.
Last weekend Tom and I headed up to Ambleside. Was tricky getting there, with the crashes, abandoned car, heavy snow and lack of ploughs … without Toms snow tyres we’d have been stuffed trying to get there! After a night on the beers with Si, Terminator and Si’s lass, headed up to Dollywagon Gully at some stupid time in the morning, a la snow chains on the car. Masses and masses of unconsolidated powder in the gully made it an absolute sod trying to move, but there was quite a bit of good nick ice up there. Great fun, but bloody hard work!3649
Yesterday was another visit to the Lakes. There’d been a bit of a melt going on though – air temp jumped by about 10 degrees, so although we carried everything up there, it was more of a practice in dragging winter sacks around. Headed up to Pinnacle ridge instead, as Mark G hadn’t done it before. The wind was up, and the clag down, so it ended up being a good choice of route.
Ended up back in Ambleside to catch up with Malcom and Si. Bobbed to see Malc but he was deep in conversation with Dave Birkett (legendary climber) about the finer properties of different types of wire in particular placements. Sloped off down to see Simon & ended up buying a Paramo top … been after a replacement for my Montane smock for a couple of years – hopefully Paramo can do it for me!
Back home, then out for beers with Ali and Mark, to be joined by Nige, PamLa, Steph and others later on. Today ended up a day of sobering up whilst fixing plumbing.

Oct 19 2010

Pulled from the ashes …

Category: home,Mountaineeringash @ 12:14 pm

After a reasonably well planned weekend went to the wall after everyone I was out with fell ill, I decided to go solo for the weekend.  A night plotting on Friday led me to head for Patterdale on Saturday morning.

Did a solo stomp round the Grizedale valley.  Up the valley then up the zig-zags to contour round to Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag (after picking up the wrong path and wandering round for a bit trying to find the buttress).  Polished off Pinnacle Ridge in about 15-20 mins, then over St Sunday Crag and on to Fairfield.  Down to Grizedale Tarn, then back up over Dollywaggon and over to Helvellyn, then down Striding Edge and back to the car.  A great route, cracking views all the way round.

Saturday night wasover to Poulton in Blackpool for Mac/Gibby/Pierre’s 30th birthday doo.  A great chance to catch up with loads of people – the Sandays, Gassy, the birthday boys, Julie, and many more besides.  An excellent evening, drove over and back, then made the mistake of cracking a beer open when I got back and so staggered to bed at about half 3!

Sunday, quiet morning.  Did some Scouting paperwork/tasks, then off for a run and then over to Rivington with Fitz as she’d not been over there before and was going a bit stir crazy with her latest MS  flare-up.  Went for a bimble (not that long, honest!), then ate fudge, and cake, and drank brews.

Sunday night, off to the Hop Vine for a few beers with Nige, Pam La and Ali D, catching up and talking random crap. 

All in all, a most excellent weekend!

May 16 2010

End of trip …

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 10:11 pm

Back home, awesome trip.  Will start pictures uploading soon.

The next day on Skye was on Beinn Fdehsomething – the one with Waterpipe Gully on it, accessed from the Fairy Pools carpark.  Phil was suffering with ankle pain, so he walked in with us & we then did an awesome scramble up the Northern ridge & then up the main arete.  Took just over an hour to get to the top, victory butties & general feeling of fantasticness on the top.  Decided to bin off Drum na Ramh & go find Phil (awesome day anyway) so got down to find him asleep on the path with bemused walkers steering round him.

Beers in the pub that night (pub definately better for being revamped!), then plotting as the forecast was crap for the following day. Reasoned would be a late start, so me and Julie stayed up til the late hours with a bunch of Yank students on tour.3440

The next day was ming as promised.  Ran back to the mainland, then headed for a Munro that none of us had done in Glen Garry.  Got there late on, did the hill (long & bigger than we anticipated!), so got off at 7pm pretty knackred.  Wild camped in a cracking spot in the Glen, and hit bed quite early!34673491

Over to Glen nevis now to find Stubbs and Lewis (on Ledge Route by this time), then did a scramble on a hill above Steal meadow, tapped on the SE flank of Ben Nevis.  Not hard, not long, but gave stunning views of Glen nevis (W&E), and into the Steal coire.  Really good fun, played on the bridge before we went up (Phil strode through the river saying that he’s not that tall & Julie bottled it – though she did it the following day!).  Met the others in the Clachaig that night, good evening of talking crap and having a laugh.  Wilmott also joined us at this point.

Decided on a scramble as weather was a bit here and there.  Did Broad Buttress on the Buchaille with El, a superb route.  Book reckons it’s better than Curved Ridge, and I’m inclined to agree!  Some superb lava formations which have made perfect steps on steep exposed rock – awesome!  Butties on the top at 12, then weather looked to be turning, so ran away.  We were hoping for the Etive Slabs, but weather not right.  Down to Ardlui and a night in the Drovers – good band on, no space, the others did the Ring of Steal, and grabbed a curry afterwards so joined us later on.  Weather looked ok for the following day, but beer & general tiredness of most put paid to the plans for climbing on the Cobbler, though I think it may have held out.  Hey ho, that’s for another day!3506

Headed back home at a gentle pace, in time to eat at parents, chill out, deal with kit and have a beer with the Fitzcharnocks.  All is good in the world, and hill therapy has worked wonders.

May 09 2010

Scotland May 2010 : 1

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 7:47 pm

An excellent weekend to start the trip. Up friday night quite late, so crashed out straight away. The windy saturday never appeared, so we headed up and did the Anoch Egach ridge in stunning conditions, and in an impressive time, being off the hill for 2.30pm! Victory beers in the Clachaig with a local band of 70-something blues players – an excellent night.

Sunday, woke to broken cloud but still dry. Wanting ot make the most of this weather, we headed up onto the Buchaille and did January Jigsaw (S), a 4 pitch route on the Crowberry Tower. My book reckons it’s a better version of Agags – unsure about that, but had some sporting moves in impressive situations!

Sunday pm, back to tents. A bit shattered, have already been asleep and now rousing self with caffiene to get to the pub, to get a good session going before JJJ and Acklam get here later on (10pm eta).

Car doing bad water things again. Lost it’s entire supply between home and here on Friday. Reckon it’s an issue when I’m pushing the revs, so from here on in it’s bimble mode, and keeping the AA card on standby. Here’s hoping it lasts the week!

Oh, and emptying the contents of your hydration pack into your rock boot is NOT a good idea. It does little to improve your ability, and smells a great deal.

Mar 07 2010

Dave J’s stag doo

Category: home,Mountaineeringash @ 6:22 pm

Up to Nethy House for the weekend in the Cairngorms. Got up there quite quickly, thanks to a ride from one of Dave’s other mates from Blackburn way. Caught up with people in the bar, managed to get shot of a firmin of Sheepshaggers pretty quickly, then crashed at about 01:30 ish, as we had plans for the following day.
The normal ‘urghhhhh’ started the day at 07:00 – the first morning after the drive up there is always a killer. Ate scran, then did some minor faffing and jumped into the cars. The snow was down to valley level still, so no suprise that the Cas car part was full, but they’d only just started in the Ciste, made we could jump onto the bus easily & ride to the day lodge. Most were off skiing, but Dave, me, and a couple of others decided to climb. Avalanche considerable on some slopes, so we mused on routes before picking Schnechda and starting the slog in.
I’d forgotten what a full winter pack feels like. Too many times having punters to carry the load makes you weak!
Got to the headwall. Andy & I headed up for Fingers Ridge, whilst the others went to Mess in Porridge.
Having only been dragged up a grade 3/4 (Invernookie) by Dave about 3 years before, I was quite excited about the notion of doing a grade 4 route. I had no idea whether I’d get up it or not, how I’d feel etc. Due to queues, we started up Broken Gully for a pitch. I let that, some good grade 3 ice and brought up Andy. He swung the next lead, dealing with a tricky corner that required some carefull & delicate footwork & axe placements – quite glad that he led that one! However, found it straightforward so I led the next and final pitch, past the fingers (torque torque) and up the iced up steep wall afterwards. Awesome. Fantastic position, great neve – great moves. Very happy with that grade climbing – looking forward to climbing with Angry Stu on the Ben before the wedding now!
We got off the mountain & met the others later in the day lodge, then back to the house for showers and a very passable Haggis, neeps & tatties. We then tried to get drunk, which kinda worked but the late night, short sleep, big day on the hill & mid-pm gluweiin didn’t help matters, and I was falling asleep (with others too I should point out) from about 11pm onwards. Dave managed to find his second wind though, and through a booze-laden game of Trivial pursuits managed to get pretty stoked. After collapsing in bed & do remember being shaken awake by a wild eyed Dave at 0530 insisting that we needed to get up and start drinking again. Managed to (somehow) stay in the bed & then only got rewoken as he staggered to bed an hour or so later, bouncing off furniture in the room.
Up at 8:30, on the road by 9 and home by 2:45 to sort out District Camp, sort kit & chill for a bit. Need it as off to Dave Matthews gig tonight in Manchester!

Jan 31 2010

ESL Training & playtime

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 10:12 pm

Top weekend up in the Lakes, based around Explorer Leader Training at GT with a 10 hr passout from Hugh.
3232 3236Helped on the Friday evening with the course, then crashed earlyish, and up to cool breakfast first thing Saturday. Met up with Caroline McCann just after flagbreak, then after reporting a crash on the main road due to ice, headed off and up into the hills. Very cold frost, quite a bit of snow left (I peered from Tower Rock), so headed for Helvellyn. Managed to park just down from Greenside mine – luckily, we were a bit late – then headed up from there.

First time with a full winter pack this year, so took our time, then kitted up at Red Tarn – which was pretty frozen. Decided to do Gully 1 – I’ve done a couple of times before but happiest on that ground for first route of the year.
The hoardes had been through earlier in the day, so had the route to ourselves! Caroline got some pretty painful hot aches whilst she was on the crux, but battled through the pain and led through up the snow bank. After there we moved together up the slope – snow was in fantastic condition – and topped out at the summit shelter.

3245 3251
Grabbed a bite to eat, then headed down Striding Edge and off to the car, stopping for a well-earned pint at the White Lion in Glenridding.
Back to GT for food (excellent timing), then sat in on the final module of the day which managed to overrun by several hours – when we’d finished we realised it was about half 11 and Caroline was still with us – a caffine injection later and she was off on her way home. We watched the trainees trying to set fire to themselves for a while, I tried (and failed) to tune my ukelele, then crashed out. Sunday more training, I ran my Activities & Permits one for an hour or so, caught up with Dawny & had a wander round her Sub Camp for Red Rose so that we could get a feel for the place.
Wandered back home with Hugh to chill out and be impressed by photos!

Jan 28 2010

A scottish weekend anyone?

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 6:31 pm

Geoff and Jeff are planning a mission.  Welcome to the world of weekend planning.

Cheers to Caroline for the heads up 😉

Jan 28 2010

One long, grey weekend

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 12:03 pm

Lots of driving, lots of good times, but God the weather’s been vile.

Thursday night met Ye Olde mate from Uni Times – Andy Longworth and headed down to crash at another Uni mate – Pippa Simpson – down in Coventry. Turns out she lives about 5 mins walk from Creed and Phil which is a bit mental, went to the curry house that I’ve been to several times before!  Great to catch up & see what the effect of 11 years has had on people.

Fri we headed up to the peak, and did a few hours of walking just outside of Bakewell, in thick fog & ming.  Fun to be out, good boozer for lunch, but very grey.  Headed back, dropped Andy off then home in time to get to the Ship for pre-Moonlight Meeting.

Saturday was Moonlight.  Good route, weather was worse.  Finding 500 kids in nil-visability fog is not easy.  Needless to say, them that couldn’t navigate at the start had issues, we had 17 teams out of time at the end and had to mobalise a lot of cars to pick people up.  Some useful stuff been identified for the review meeting, but a good event anyway.

Sunday went over to Snowdonia with Caroline & Hugh from Alpenstock.  Were hoping to set her demons to rest over an ill-fated Crib Goch incident many years ago, but the forecast crapped out and it was pretty horrible.  So, went and did THebog instead.  Pretty minging (again), nav was a little off on the top, but an enjoyable day out.  Unfortunatly a cold managed to hit me coming down the flanks of Hebog, and in about 30 mins had managed to remove all energy from my body.  Stuffed extra chocolate down & got off the hill, but felt pretty crap all the way back.  Only a cold, but not the best place for it to kick in.

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