Aug 31 2008

Africa, Rugby, Goyt and the Sweat of Fear.

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 10:28 pm

IT’s been a busy week. 

After eliminate A last week, did REM gig at old trafford with Caroline, & took her back to hers afterwards as she’s still properly broken after her climbing accident at the Roaches, and hence not driving.  Crashed at hers, then went for a bimble with her, Jean and Dan in the end of teh Goyt valley – realised later in the day that this is where Heather lives, although she was down in London for the weekend.  Back home late on, after a drink in the Beehive.

Tuesday night back to Manchester, to watch Africa Africa, a travelling circus with mad, mad dancing and singing.  And very bendy people.  Most excellent.

Busy week  & general Scouting things (info release week for the Gathering), then Friday drove Matt to Heathers, then abandoned him and went for dinner at Carolines.  Many hours putting the world to rights, watching movies and supping vino, and crashed at 3 am, then early start and back to Heathers for 0830.  Eventually away at about 09:30 and down to the Roaches.

Went (on Heather’s recommedation) straight for Valkyrie – VS but with HVS moments on it, recommended as the best VS and one of the best climbs in all the peak.  Stunning, really cool route.  First pitch was fine, then it involves jamming and descending a flake over nothingness, and an ‘interesting’ step onto a delicate foot traverse with no obvious handholds … a very committing route as if you get the ropework wrong or slip at the wrong time you’ve a massive pendulum going on.  Matt had a go at leading it, but had got a bit ‘over-psyched’ by stories of people ending up in a bloody mess from falling in the past, so didn’t enjoy himself and returned to the belay.  I led it through, after taking pains to make sure the gear was right!

1403  1406  1412

Stunning route, great situation.  Quite glad I wasn’t too aware of the massive drop below me!  Matt followed up, and after getting to the top passed over a couple of slings that I’d placed on the way but he couldn’t get the strength/time to clip them to himself and they’d ended up inside his shirt.  And now damp, with (his words) “Fear Sweat“.  Quite, quite minging.  But reflected just how psyched he’d been about the climb.  Big achievement for him there.1415

Followed that with Sauls crack (I think), an HVS** 5a route that Heather wanted to have a crack at.  She was not on good form due to a few things, and so found it quite hard, and was unable to make a pull through an overhang after many attempts – burned out and pumped, but most importantly not quite long enough to make the key hold.  I followed up and was able to jam, haul up and reach for a small ledge that she couldn’t get.

1421  1430

After this, drove down to Rubgy for Dave and Tracey’s housewarming.  Stunning cottage, great company, keg of real ale to get rid of (did my fair share there!) and music as well.  Really cool night, great to catch up with them. 5am finish though – starting to run out of energy due to sleep loss!  1439


Returned – in a delicate fashion – on Sunday, straight to Tarleton to a MAjor Events Group where I was presenting our case for running a trip to the Dolomites in summer 09 and then to an Ormskirk Gathering meeting for a couple of hours.

And now home to feast on some rather bland nachos.  Kind of forgot to eat at any point today – think tomorrow is going to be a bit hard!

Aug 23 2008

Eliminate A

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 11:04 pm

An awesome days climbing with Matt Forshaw.  Very early start (0530 alarm!) in order to get to the crag first.  Dow Crag, by Coniston Old Man in the lakes.  We started climbing about 10:00 after the drive and walk in, then 6 pitches of most excellent mountain VS.  I led the odds, being a 4b, then 4c and 4c.  The first tricky one was an exposed (very) step around a block with quite delicate holds … not hard, just one to concentrate on – a slip meaning quite a painful fall.  Got round that ok (on pitch 3), then after matt led P4 I climbed up to him, removing a chunk of the mountain as it disintegrated under my hand.

Pitch 5 was the hardest one, and again started as a traverse, with little reliable gear and a very careful slant up a slab, with massive exposure (nothing at all underneath you for about 100m) no obvious holds or protection in sight at all, and a very bold 5/6m section where a fall would have had pretty serious consequences.  Needless to say, didn’t fall off.  Matt led the final one – topped out at 13:15 …. the hardest mountian route I’ve done, and am now gagging for the next VS mountain route, and need to get onto some HVS leads in the quarries I think.  This year has been quite good for climbing, need to make sure I don’t loose it over winter – and hopefully next spring hit the ground at VS to start with and move on from there.

Today, life was VERY good.

Aug 22 2008

Too much coffee …

Category: Musicash @ 12:46 am

Think I’m going to explode.  Just been to see Justin Sullivan (frontman of the legendary New Model Army for the unintiated) in Stoke on Trent, and dropped a serious coffee on the way back to stay awake …. think that’s me awake for the next 24 hours now!

Top gig, mostly accoustic, numbers like Snelsmore Wood, You Weren’t There and No Pain, but a few gems like Ghost of Your Father, Heroes, Lights go Out and Aimless Desire crept in.  Plus a couple that I’ve heard before but not got recorded.  Cracking little venue, got meself a seat next to the merch with a commanding view which was cool.

It’s been far, far too long since I’ve seen them boys live.  And it does seem that Justins voice is getting better as time goes on.  Still playing with 110% power and passion.  Bloody ace!

And now just booked tickets to watch the Prodigy in Birmingham with Creed in December …. 30 seconds later checked diary to find that’s when Slipknot are playing Manchester – arse.  Looks like it’s Slipknot at Sheffield instead then ……………

Aug 20 2008

Too many miles …

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 10:21 pm

From home to Hathersage, to Whaley Bridge, to Hathersage, to Buxton, to Whaley Bridge to home.

Many, many hours in the car.  180 miles.  3 sport routes (hard!)- good routes, good company, good location, but really not worth the hassle.  Won’t be doing that again.

Far too tired – long week.  Hathersage is too far after work to drive to get a route in.  Need to redirect my eyes from the Peak and point them back at the Lakes again.  There be routege up there.

Aug 14 2008

Alps 2008 the second …

Category: Uncategorizedash @ 11:58 am

1337Monte Rosa. After a damn early start we trudged up the back of the hut, avoiding the masses and taking a route that Stu had been suggested by the Guardian, going past the workings of a new hut that we is being built.  Stu didn’t feel so good, so turned back, as the rest of us stomped on, headtorches in full fight as it was about 03:15 at that point.  Navigated a crevaasse field, then about 3 hours later we’d made it to the crest of the ridge itself heading to Duforspitze.

Awesome views.  Proper good.  The Monte rosa set, all of the other Valais Alps, and over to Mont Blanc.  Stunning.  Pretty tired by this point.  I think the haribo came out at this point, and I was desperatly trying to keep my bowels inside (a large tea last night!).  We re-focused and headed up the ridgeline with a couple of other parties, and over the next 2 hours dealt with some steep snow plods, scrambling, fixed ropes, and massive drops.  Pretty technical stuff, all over 4400m high.  Very focused, no chance for mistake, with some tired people!  We summited, ate more bo then retraced our steps as quickly as we could, as we were shattered.  Navigating past about 30 other people on the way back was interesting … it’s not somethign that we really practise in the UK. Especially when you’ve a stack of different languages to deal with (“you come through to here”, “I need to belay on that rock you’re stood on you sod”, “Let go of my rope or I’ll axe you”).

1340After a long, long descent we made it down to the bottom, found Stu and then walked out back to the hut.  Grabbed a rosti (big thing out here!), then stomped out back to the Gornegratt station, and back to the bottom.  Probably followed by beers and a session with Marco the musical Dwarf.

I think we chilled that next day – we were shattered.  Following day we got the lift up to the Klein Matterhorn again, in order to go and have a crack at Castor, Pollux and possibly Liskhamm – 3 of the Monte Rosa set, using an Italian hut for a base.  We got to the top of the lift, then Stu (who hadn’t been looking too happy) announced that he wasn’t feeling right, that he was going down, and actually, he was going home.  We tried to talk him round, but he headed down.  Unsure of what to do, we pushed on (as encouraged by Stu), over to Pollux for 2 hours, then did a scrambly/chain climbing route to the top.  Easy enough but good fun – more than a snow plod! As we were de-kitting, I suggested to the others that the correct thing to do would be to head back down that afternoon, hope that Stu was still around and simply be there for him, as something was clearly not right.  The others agreed, and we headed out.1358  1349

As it was now later in the day, the snow was getting a LOT warmer, and the 2 hour walk in ended up being a 3 – 3.5 hour trudge out – not particularly far, but very heavy going underfoot.  Conversation stopped, heads were down, and we were slogging on.  So much so that I turned round at one point near the end to see an empty rope trailing behind me that should have had a Geoff on it (he’d untied silently and was bimbling along behind) – tried to tell Julie but her head was down slogging onwards to the cable car station & refused to stop due to being on no energy reserves.  Was all a bit tense.  Got to the bottom to find that Stu had in fact left.

We were in a bit of limbo then.  Not knowing why he’d gone, everything was a bit wierd.  The laughing every 5 mins stopped, and we started thinking about what to do – this was Tuesday I think & we had til the end of the weekend.  We decided to go via ferattaing that morning and then head up to Chamonix to stay with Popey & Andrea, as neither me nor Julie had been over.1367  1364

Did the feratta – good fun, spotted a pair of Golden Eagles above us  (really – utterly awesome), then packed kit and jumped on the Zermatt- Visp cogged railway.  An hour later had got to the station, then tried to get our heads around the timetabling as nowhere mentioned Martigney, the station we needed to change at.  Eventually a train came, but with no-one to ask.  We jumped on, with Julie voicing second thoughts (gut feeling perhaps), that this was a bad idea.

The Guard arrived about 2 mins later and we asked whether this was the right train.  We got a world of German back from him, so we smiled and said yes, looking slightly confused.  At the next stop (2 mins later), we noticed that everyone had got off the train.  So, we grab our stuff and follow suit.  Standing around on the station looking confused.  We managed to work out that there was an electrical problem on the line, so we follow the rest (around 700 people I think) outside (through a couple of rammed tunnels) where we wait for buses.1370

Lots of people, lots of luggage.  Many languages, no staff around, at all.  Lots of people very confused, as they’ve never had anything go wrong with the public transport system, EVER.  We’re a bit more chilled about it ;-).  A bus arrives, right next to us.  We lift up the sides, chuck our bags in, and then queue to get on the bus.  Which is the British thing, and not something people understand on the continent.  “Fight like your life depends on it” is closer to the mark.

Next bus, bollocks to the bags underneath, its elbows,  knees and teeth all the way.  We get on, and dump the bags in a pile, then cram to the back.  The door closes, then a woman starts frantically looking around and starts getting concerned.  The shout of “Le Enfant!” starts getting yelled at the driver – she’d got on and left her kids outside.  Utter madness.  From politeness to mindless refugees in about 20 mins, forgetting about children.  Very, VERY wierd.

We ride the bus for 20 mins, then get booted out at a different station.  With more buses and a member of staff, very nice and informative but informed everyoen that she didn’t know anything.  After a while we’re told a train is coming, although not sure where to, or when.  Another announcement comes, with a train, and we leg it to the other platform with everyone else.  Ride that train through to Sion, where it stops – end of the run for that train.  Everyone gets out and stands on the station, apart from us cos we’re bored, so go find a cafe for a beer & chill for 30 mins.

Wander back over to the station, get a train to Martigney, get off that, and on to the Glacier Express train to Chamonix.  Sit there for 5 mins, then go and check the timetable.  although we’re sat on the train, it’s not leaving til 2moro morning.  We’re stuck in Martigney.

So, wander into town, do some investigating through buying beer and asking the barlady about a cheap hotel, then go and book into the Hotel Poste … cheaper than everywhere else we’ve stayed, yet with Breakfast.  And, admittedly cockroaches, but that’s by the by.

Spend a night in Martigney (very nice Thai place), then back on the train to get to Chamonix the following late morning, to Chris who’s waiting for us.  Spend the day in Cham, catch a band that night & get trashed as a result of drinking with Mr Pope (not that THAT’s ever happened before).

Following day we head up to the Albert Premier hut, then go do the Aguille le Tour ridge – cracking route, only 3500m but a clear day where we could see back right over to the Valais alps – a reverse view of a few days before.1376

After this day, back home to pack, final beers and then the following day (after a LOT of sitting about) get an Alpibus over to Geneva airport and fly back- the other two were getting the flight back after me so they were off climbing I think.1379

Top, top trip, lots of hills, just marred by Stuey leaving which really did throw the feeling of the whole trip.  Big shame.  And I think in future times I’ll be running trips with a lot more people.  Just talking to 3 (and then 2) other people for 2 weeks gets a bit stale on conversation!

Aug 11 2008

Alps 2008

Category: Mountaineeringash @ 9:39 pm

Back from 2 awesome weeks in the Swiss/Italian/French alps.  Lots of the tops were on borders, hence the country jumping.  Our intention was to get in 10 4000m peaks – mostly the Monta Rosa tour was our goal which would have got us 11 in 5 days.  However, we were scuppered by not being able to get into a particular hut due to massive pre-booking.  This threw the plans immediatly, so we decided to get what we could in.1258

The party was myself, Julie, Geoff and Stu Peat.  After flying to Geneva and spending a night on the beers in Geneva city, we trained it round to Zermatt in the Eastern Valais alps, booked into the Bahnoff – a most excellent base to work from – and met up with Popey, Andrea, Dave J and Tracey, all of whom had travelled round to see us.  Had a few beers then hit the sack with some plans in.

Our first 2-day trip was round to Sas-Fee, and the Weismess, just over 4000m.  A bit of a hurl into dealing with acclimatization (particularly for Julie who hurled all the way up), really nice hut and good trip out – scrambly ridge for a few hours with an excellent snow ridge at the top.  The 4-o’clock get up was a bit of a mission, but we summitted around 09:00, although the cloud was in so we were prevented from getting the views.  The get-off was interesting, a long stomp down a glacier with some pretty steep sections on it.  Made down to Hosass – a lift station, and got that down to the bottom to celebrate with victory beers!1268 

After this initial 4000m peak, we looked for others, whilst at all time trying to ignore the Matterhorn.  Reason? 3 people die on it per year, it’s polished and full of arseholes throwing rocks at you.  So, we moved on, and looked at the Alphubel, from the Matter valley & using the Tasch hut.  A stunning hut, recently extended, with awesome bunks and top food.  And VERY clear double-glazing, as Geoff found out after a mid-afternoon kip he got up and noticed the stunning view outside, so went to have a look and walked full-tilt into a full-length window.  There was a bit out a bouncing sound, and then a stunned Geoff, and a smudge of the window at 5’5″ matching Geoff’s flattened nose.  Understandably, we spent the next 5 mins killing ourselves at his expense!1292  1286

The Alphubel was an excellent route, a 3am get up but an interesting glacier and then a short exposed ridge before a steep ice section to the summitt.  Front points etc – greeted by stunning weather.  MANY photos taken!  Off back the way we’d come, daintily dancing past fresh avalanche debris.

After this, we decided to head to the Monta Rosa area.  We knew we couldn’t do the full lot, but decided to go and pick a few off.  The easiest is the Briethorn … easiest because you get the cable car to over 3500m on the Kleine Matterhorn!  Not cheap, but straightforward and doesn’t need 2 days with a hut stop.  We bimbled over there and headed up to the top with the masses.  A good route again, especially an exposed section between the main and central summits, and some cracking cornice formations on the top.  Stuey pointed out that our ropework was a little lax, so made an effort of protecting ourselves all the time – particularly when ‘other’ people were around – which made a lot of sense as a guy slipped near us and stopped himself – if he hadn’t then he’d have taken us a long way down the side!  1319  1322

Think we had a rest day after this (we had about 3 dotted through the trip – your body can only take so many early starts and late finishes!)

Next was the Duforspitze.  This is the largest peak in Switzerland, and the 2nd highest peak in all of the alps.  We got the Gornegratt railway about half way up it’s length, then had a 3 hour walk in to the Monte Rosa hut, sat at the side of the main Monte Rosa glacier, with stunning views.  Really reminded me of Greenland – the scale of the glacier, size of the ice falls, and size of the tops surrounding us.

(more to follow)