Apr 27 2008

Ardennes Training

Category: Scoutingash @ 10:41 pm

Top weekend, some excellent kids.  Shame about the weather.

Friday night at GT, met the parents, did a presentation etc then did some ice breaker stuff with the fresh and newbie kids.  Saturday was mostly driving (well, getting the caravelle stuck more like it), then assisting Pierre with the mountain biking in the afternoon for a few miles.  Managed to pedal from the ford to the back of GT without stopping or falling off that I was quite made up with – the gym’s paying off!

Excellent camp at the random Field on the shores of Windermere, pissing rain but got a monster fire thanks to Hugh & got them all buzzing and having a laugh – all good fun.  Apart from when I was putting my tent up and the bloody thing bust a pole & ripped the sleeve for no apparrant reason.  Been putting that tent up for about 10 years now and suddenly … SNAP.  Hunting for poles this week.  Excellent kip there and then climbing at Twistleton Scar all day today with 2 groups – lots of rushing back and forth but they all got a climb in, so that was cool.

Everything in my world is now covered in ming and dripping.

Must be a Sunday night I guess ….

Apr 22 2008

No rope cutting, but a whole lotta Mountaineering

Category: home,Mountaineeringash @ 11:12 pm

Just back from watching Simon Yates talk about his achievements at Preston Guild Hall.  Very impressed.  And very motivated.

After doing the Greenland trip last summer, climbing and walking in areas that no-one’s ever been to before, virgin peaks and everything … I needed a bit of a lift to get me going again, and I’m hoping this is it.  Got a trip to wales next week for the welsh 3000’s if the weather holds out, then a week’s worth of opportunity at the Cullin Ridge, then a month or so before I’m off to the Alps for a fortnight to bag a load of 4000m peaks.

But what next …. what’s next?


Apr 20 2008

Mr and Mrs Voller do the wedding thing

Category: homeash @ 11:12 pm

A tremendous weekend of happyness.

Out Friday night in Ormskirk for multiple beers with Voller and Fay plus Chris, Pam-la, Tom, Ali D and several others – plus the wedding party post-rehearsal.  All most chilled which was cool.  We invaded and took over a good chunk of the Cafe bar.  Staggered back with Tom to mine (discovered it’s only 3 letterboxes distance back home), devoured Macallan 10 year old, talk crap and staggered to bed.

In the morning had a Day Today session with Tom, before dropping him off in Ormskirk and legging it to Burtons to get a new shirt.  After getting it home and lobbing it on, discovered that I am no longer a 15 1/2 inch neck.  Hmm.  With mins until Nige collected me, I had no option but to wing it.  Fits, but arms WAY too short! 


Met Voller for beers in Ormskirk pre-wedding, then over to the Church.  Service went well, could tell that Fay picked the hymns!  All good, no problems, then out into the coldness!  Grabbed a lift with Pamla over to West Tower for the reception.


Did photos, grabbed some drinks before the meal, then ate like kings.  Good venue that.  Speeches fantastic – Mal did well, and Vollers was stunning.  Said some very deep and meaningful things that I’d utterly forgot that he was capable of (Has been living a long way away for a LONG time!).  Almost brought a tear to my eye.  Almost. 


I managed to get mentioned twice in the speeches for being the catalyst that brought them together (dragging both Voller and Fay onto our Snow and Ice trip at Nethy Bridge back in the late 1990’s), so it’s all my fault I guess.  After the speeches we chilled and caught up with many people from times past (Dunc Vaughan from my Uni Course who lived with Voller at Uni, Cath and Pete Ashcroft from the Moles), then did the obligatory dancing like a tit, but to a decent live band rather than a crappy disco.


Taxis came, were travelled in, then back to mine for more beers and whiskey (I think).  It’s a mite hazy, Claire and Rick were staying at mine …. I remember getting them Karrimats and sleeping bags out … then I woke at 6am in full wedding garb on the living room floor next to them.  Staggered to the loo, then it made sense to get back on the living room floor again and fall asleep.  So I did. 


The morning came, then Claire and Rick did a good job of feeding me roast pig whilst I swayed about a bit (I reasoned that as I’d been drinking since 12am the previous day through til about 1am I was allowed to sway).  After several hours of sleeping on the couch to a variety of dvd’s I managed to be sober enough to drive, so went to say farewell to Voller and Fay before they headed off to Oz on their Mooning.  Bobbed to the Parents for scran, then back home to sleep the rest of it off, through several more DVDs.  28 weeks later (most excellent), The Motorcycle Diaries (superb) and Hoodwinked (fell asleep).

 Found a message inside a potato from Claire which was rather fantastic.  Now THAT really DID nearly bring a tear to my eye.  Yet another very close friend who I really don’t spend nearly enough time with, and thrive off.  Am so made up that not only has she got herself a mission planned for her life which suits her down to the ground, but that she’s got Rick to experience it with.  One sorted guy, with one very happy Claire.  Chuffin’ fantastic.

Top weekend, with two MOST cool people getting proper hitched.  About bloody time (as a few of us have been saying), but two more perfect people I can’t think of to be honest.  Grinning.

Apr 13 2008

Hills, curry, climbing, curry, roads.

Category: home,Mountaineeringash @ 9:24 pm

What a weekend.

Had been looking at the forecast last week and it looked ok for Wales and ‘orrible everywhere else.  I’d suggested looking at Cneifon arete to Martin in the week, and had mooched at the Guidebooks getting excited.  Dave J had mentioned it the other year & had been really impressed – and it looked like a good objective. I’d mentioned to Caroline that we were heading over & chance had it that she & a mate were having the same thoughts – we agreed to try to meet up. 

Friday came, and so did the weather forecasts. “Proper Rank” would cover it well.  We decided to go over anyway had have a look – we could always find something to do there!  As the day went on and the weather plot got worse, Caroline reported in to say that they may come over Sat am depending on weather – beers in Manchester provided a bigger pull.

So, got to Ogwyn in foul weather.  Drove through Capel & over to the pub before the Llanberis pass to camp, but the weather was far worse here.  Ran away back down to the Bryn Tuerck in Capel, put the tent up in a heavy sleet shower (instant sopping wet tent), then ran to the pub.  Numerous pints followed with a stagger back to the tent.

Sat am came quite early on.  The forecast showed the worst of the weather (big winds, low cloud, snow and rain etc) hitting in the afternoon, so we had agreed to get up early.  We’d risen, dressed, eaten some scran, had a brew, used the facilities, peered at the mountains (Snowdon & Moel Siabod) with loads of snow on, packed the car and driven to Ogwyn Cottage by 8am.  We kitted up (Martin making the occasional comment on how I hadn’t thought it was worth bringing an axe and spikes) and set off, as the weather closed in.  The 20 min walk into Cwm Idwal was accompanied by a massive hail storm, low cloud and blustery winds.  It brought the hangovers out quite quickly ;-).  We walked in, and our intended route was one of two scrambles on the Slabs (used by hoardes of climbers & Uni groups in summer times).  One was on the far right in a gully (we could see the water running down it), the other was up the climbers descent from the slabs.  Safer, but polished.  With lots of wet, non-melting piles of hail on every ledge and hold.

We decided to give it a go, hedge our bets and be ready to bail at any point.  Roped up and moved alpine style up the route.  We got about 80m up before the route kicked to the right above the slabs and the line of holds got decidedly dodgier.  Decided to bail to the left and get on the path proper, which we did.

We packed the rope away, and stomped up into Cwm Cneifon, overtaking a couple of parties on the way.  The slippy hail was making hard going for quite a few people.

We got into the Cwm, to see the whole thing plastered in snow.  About 2 foot deep at the base of the Cwm, banking quite high at the back.  We also got our first view of the Arete, handily pointed out by Martin here.


We chucked some food down (it was about 11am at this point), and made our way over to the route.  There was a lot of snow around, and we had no snow kit, but my logic was that the route stuck to the arete all the way up – we could see it, and it was black all the way – it was very unlikely that we’d hit snow that we’d not be able to pass.  My key worry was that if we hit a patch of ice, we’d have issues.  The route description made note of many spikes to protect scramblers, so we figured we’d abandon some slings and abseil down if it came to it.


We stomped up to the start, and headed up.  The start 10/15m is graded at Diff climbing, and I’d go with that.  An interesting chimney that I had good fun thrutching around in, and Martin managed to smash the face of his phone in.  I realised that we were the first on the route – virgin snow in front of us just before the scramble proper. Fantastic!

Over the next hour (ish) I was grinning like a maniac.  The route was awesome, the moves and postitions were fantastic, the weather cleared right up, the exposure was impressive – everything was ace!



After surmounting the impressive tower, the route topped out on the Gribin.  We hid on the other side and Martin took some Colin Prior-esque piccies of Tryfan in the snow 😉

We made our way down the Gribin, and dumped ropes/harnesses etc at the bottom.  Within an hour we were back at the car, getting trashed on caffeine.  Headed round to Capel then Pen-y-pass, to meet Caroline and her mate in Llanberis for a brew (they’d headed over to go do photo things of Wales in the ming).

We managed to miss each other somewhere up the pass – by the time we’d got to Pete’s Eats and started to eat I got a delayed txt saying that they were heading up to Snowdon way to take snowbased pics.  Realised that we’d not match up as we needed to get back that night, so finished the brew, sent apologetic txt and headed home.

Well, back to Niges.  The flat off Lark Lane in Aigberth, Liverpool was once again descended upon by us mingers.  After drinking his coffee and beer, using his shower and talking toot, we went out with Nige to a ‘bohemian’ pub where we got fed very expensive Bourbon (whisky, not biscuits) then over to the curry house.  To eat big time (it was half 10 by when we got food, but the spud from Pete’s Eats still hadn’t gone through!), and drink.  Staggered back to Niges, fell asleep poking his computer several times.

Woke this morning earlyish again.  Had a brew, got fed pig by Nige, then headed back.  Dropped Martin off at mine to get his car, then Hung up the tent & shot over to see the Gran for 5 mins.  After that swung by the gym to go for a 5km run (very motivational running whilst watching the marathon on the telly!), then back to mine for a shower and grabbed climbing kit, heading off to Manchester. Caroline reported coming down with Tonsilitis & running away home – too low for climbing today.

Picked Fitz up in town, then headed out to Stockport to check the new Awesome Walls over there.  About 1.2 way there when we realised that the txt I sent her (asking to get directions) hadn’t made it to her.  Drive round Stockport for a while – Nige sent a postcode which my PDA tomtom managed to think was actually Stockport station until we rebooted it and started again, when it took us to the right place.  Eventually!

Big place that climbing wall.  Claims it’s the biggest wall in the UK, and it really IS quite big.  Think that the biggest walls at Ratho are round that height, but that’s by the by.  The grades were set a bit harder than the ones at Awesome Liverpool, but se gave it a go anyway.  Fitz hadn’t been climbing for about a year, so we took it easy.  Seconded a bloody hard 5+, then led a variety of 5 / 5+ routes, 2nded some 6a, 6a+ and a 6b, then led a 6a+ which very nearly went pete tong at one point, but held it together.  Had to have a breather at one point, but top route.  Finished it off with a rambling 5+ lead working it’s way around several overhangs on stonkingly big holds to the top. Got kicked out at 6pm.

Headed back to Manchester, but decided to grab some food. Only peckish (still recovering from the curry last night), so obvsiously went to the Nawaab banquet hall in Levenshulme.  £10.50 eat til you explode jobbie.  Bloody, BLOODY good home-made curries.  Tried not to eat too much. One plate of starter, just under two conservativly filled plates of main, and ice cream.  Felt a mite fat.

Staggered back to the car, then drove Fitz home, and home from there.  Now have a world of washing (which will be made easier thanks to the new Tumble drier I bought a few hours ago online), an obscenely fat gut, and a desire to sleep for years.


Apr 09 2008

Better weekend …

Category: home,Musicash @ 12:50 pm

Things brightening up a bit after last week.

Was up with Ormskirk Network at Moor Crag Friday night & scrambling on Jacks Rake/Tarn Crags Sat day.  After several years of the Network operating but struggling in a few different areas, I’m hoping that the new influx that me and Hugh have been working on for 4 years are going to make a real difference.  Quite a few came on a walk that we engineered with Stu and PhiB last year, and Moor Crag was pretty full this year (slightly better than the 7 last year – 2 of whom were leaders, one was an explorer and one was from Fylde network!).  Utterly made up to see them gel and get to know each other a lot better (Forshaw) – as long as they can sort their committee out reasonably soon I think they’ll be on to far greater things in the near future.

Rocketed back after the walk to Liverpool – making the bloody stupid move of going down the A59 from Switch Island on Grand National day.  Won’t be making THAT mistake again.  40 mins, 300 meters, then told to turn round by a copper.

Finally got to Liverpool to meet Martin and Nige, to see the Lancashire Hotpots.  Bloody superb gig – so, so funny.  Support band pretty good as well.  The tune “OAP Love” will stay with me for a while I think.

Sunday was family day, moving Nan’s stuff into her new room at Stocks Hall.  Ably helped by the dog, we shifted what we could whilst trying to make it not look too crammed.

Sun night over to Salford to watch the Stage show of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue at the Lowry.  Not recorded for radio, this one was filmed instead!  The whole crowd was supplied with Kazoos.  It was THAT kind of evening.  Very witty, good laugh.  Humph is about a billion years old, yet can still toot his tooting trumpet in his Jazz tooting style with gusto.  Most good.

Apr 04 2008


Category: homeash @ 5:53 pm

Crap week.  Not only has the Gran been told that there’s sod all the Hospital can do (evan though they STILL haven’t bloody identified what’s wrong in the first place), now we’ve got to stick her in a care home.  Goes in Monday, so weekend cut short to move loads of stuff into her new place.

Managed to stuff up a date in Manchester too last night.  Made the disasterous move of actually being me for the evening.  Got a new friend, but lost a whole lot more.

Whoop de bastard do.  Going to find the World Renown beer selection at Booths in Windermere and ‘deal with it all’.