Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Grim in the Gorms...

Me and Dan headed up to the Cairngorm on Sunday with a view to get some routes done Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunatley we arrived 2 days late!
Most of the Scottish highlands recieved amazing weather over the weekend, with clear blue skies, and great climbing conditions. But Monday was totaly at the other end of the scale!
With an extensive and low cloud base, that rarley broke throughout the day, strong icy winds, (especialy on the Cairngorm plateu), which created severe wind chill, and persistant rain, which wasnt forecast to be as bad as it was, we had a truley grim morning out on the hill.
Having made our way into Coire An T- sneachda, we struggled to find any of the routes as even the base of the crags wernt visable. With already being wet from the persistant rain, it was clear that today wasnt going to be a day for a hard mixed route as we would have liked, as standing at a belay for 40 mins in those conditions would have been horrendous.
We finaly located the base of the Mess of Pottage, after firstly overshooting it and ending up nearer to Aladins Buttresss. We decided a quick romp up Jacobs Ladder, lasting less than 5 mins!, was about all that we could manage, and then a rapid exit from the plateu to 1141 and then down back to the car.
Conditions wise, from what we could see, certainly the Mess of pottage was nicely rimed up. Jacobs ladder and i presume the other easier gully lines was in fine shape, with good neve all the way,(in the morning anyway!) enabling us a quick solo ascent. The gully walls were also nicely rimed, although any ice that had previously formed was dripping today as the thaw set in! The slopes below the Mess of pottage which can be prone to avalanche in unstable conditions, today were pretty firm underfoot in the morning, although i can imagine with the ammount of rain, the snowpack could have became quite saturated throughout the day. Another freeze and some periods of cold weather, would bring some good conditions again as there is still a decent cover.
The Plateu was fairly thin and patchy after the thaw, but more snow is on the cards towards the end of the week.
Also the SAIS starts up reporting this week http://www.sais.gov.uk/

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Swedish Ice Mines

With our planet seemingly becoming warmer, its only a matter of time, (although a good while yet) before climbing ice will be a thing of the past. It looks like Will Gad and Andreas Spak have found the answer......
Ice Mines!!
This footage was shot a couple of years ago, but well worth the watch.

Check this out.......... Mental!!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Crib Lem - Llech Ddu Spur........ and Welsh Winter Over (for now!!)

With the high temperatures the last day or two, pretty much all the snow on the Welsh hills has been stripped. All that remains are small insufficient snow patches, and a blanket on the very tops, well thats on the Carneddau anyway! The Glyders, Tryfan, Snowdon and the other highest peaks unfortunately look to be in a similar condition.

I headed in to Cwm Llafer, where the black ladders where looking pretty bare. Amongst the black buttresses, only the sheltered ledges, gullys and ramps held the remaining snow. We chose to scramble up the Llech Ddu spur on CribLem. Described as the finest scramble in the Carneddau, this long exposed ridge of rocky aretes leads up to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd, taking in the dramtic atmosphere of the secluded Cwm.
Once we had gained entry to the ridge itself, the route became apparent, and looking ahead, the description as the finest scramble in the Carneddau didnt look wrong!

The ridge is technicaly easy, but at times although not that often, there is some serious exposure! Which combined with the route being of substantial length and in a fantastic setting is fully worthy of its 3 star rating!
Its highley reccomended and growing in popularity, so well worth doing. I would however reccomend taking a rope and a very small rack to protect the couple of tricky steps annd exposed situatons if taking a newbie or for people not so use to scrambling/exposure.

Monday, 30 November 2009

New 'Ram's Head', lower-off's at Horseshoe quarry

The BMC have recently employed a rope access team to re-equip 6 routes on the Main wall at Horseshoe Quarry. They have done this as a trial project and have replaced the bolts with, 'p' bolts, and replaced the lower-off's with a new, 'Rams head' design lower-off.
I havent seen them in person, but they look a brilliant idea which doesnt require the leader to untie and re-thread a lower-off as you would normaly do. The new style lower off's enable the leader to neatly and efficiently place the rope behind, 'the horns' of the lower-off without having to faff about pulling a bight up, tying on, untying, passing it through etc etc.
It will be interesting to see how people take to the new design.

For full illustrations of how to thread the new lower-off's, you can visit the BMC website here:

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Welsh Winter Has Arrived

Today me and Dan headed up to the Dinorwic slate quarries, so we wernt up on the tops to give an extensive report. What we did note though was that, the hills of Snowdonia got recieved a good ammount of snow last night. It fell as low as the Pen Y Pass, which is about 350 - 400m i think. All the high hills looked pretty plastered, and the good news is on our return this evening the snow had only retreated to around  600m, so good building conditions. Having not been up high today, i cant state too much, but i really doubt the soft, fresh snow = climbable!! More snow is forecast tomorrow, so this with a few freeze thaw cycles and some low temps then maybe!!

Snakes and Ladders (and Tunnels)

A while back Dan heard of, and told me about an amazing sounding route that runs through the slate quarries of Dinorwic, North Wales. Im unsure of how to describe the route, its kind of a Via Ferrata/climbing/adventure experience. Anyway today we finaly got around to doing it!
The route, 'Snakes and Ladders, and Tunnels', isnt in any guide book of sort, the route has seemed to develop through word of mouth, but all we knew was it took roughly 5 hours and is given an about grade of HVS, so armed with only a guide book to use to navigate from quarry to quarry, (as its our first time here) and a very brief route description written down of the internet, we set off in hope.

We found Dalis hole, where the route begins, a scramble up the slate scree slope leads to a tunnel on the east side of the quarry which inturn leads to another tunnel which led us to California.

Once in California, an old chain, left from the years when the quarries were being worked, has to be climbed to reach another tunnel, easier said than done. With the slate absolutely dreanched, few footholds and wearing big boots, this wasnt going to be easy! Every foot placement slipped of the rock like ice, so i basicially just had to haul myself up, clipping large screwgates through the chain as protection. At the top of the chain is the enterance to the tunnel where a nicely placed bolt and an old spike provided a thankful belay anchor.

From here the short tunnel leads back to Dalis, and an abseil took us down to the bottom of the crag. A short walk to the north end of the quarry, up the slate steps and we arrived in a long, pitch black tunnel, and apparently its cheating to use your headtorch!! Hence we didnt!!

The tunnel terminated in Australia, where a sludge up the oil drum glacier following white paint on the scree, brought us to a series of old fixed ladders, again left here when the quarries closed down. These are to be ascended up to the g'day level and a couple are looking pretty doddgy!! (just look what greeted me as we reached the top, gulp!)

Next was a walk up to the amazing, Lost world, where time has stood still. Here is a extreamly rural industrial settlement, probably late 1800s, where buildings and machinery awaiting the next days hard labour, which never came, have been left to deteriorate ever since the quarry was closed.

From here a series of abseils and ladders enable you to rech the bottom of the lost world via the Heaven walls, a vast quarry which is massively impressive! Another tunnel leads to Mordor, then climbing the final ladder brought us to the Kyber pass!

A fantastic day and a fantastic adventure, really ideal to do on a wet weather day also!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Dean Potter - Adventurer Of The Year

American all rounder Dean Potter has just recently been named 'Adventurer of the year', by National Geographic magazine.

Dean was filmed, as seen in the video below, flying in a specialized 'wingsuit.' He's since worked toward perfecting the art of human 'flying' from several locations around the world. On one of these outings, Dean flew nearly 4 miles in around 4 minutes and breaking a record. His stunts have captivated the world and, apparently, the editors of National Geographic.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Air Time

The wild and windy weather that has been causing havoc across the uk for most, has certainly had its plus sides for some.
Two kite surfers from West Sussex took advantage of strong winds on the south coast and attempted to jump over Worthing pier.
Jake Scrace, 25, and Lewis Crathern, 24, had been planning Monday morning's jump for three years but had to wait for perfect weather conditions which duly arose.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Another 9a for 14 year old Enzo Oddo

Enzo Oddo, the 14 year old French wonder kid, has nailed another 9a in the Gorges du Loup, France.

This is in addition to Enzo climbing 4, 9a's in two months, this time he repeted Dai Koyamada's intense boulder + route combo. The route begins with a boulder problem, 'Inga', weighing in at Fb 8a+,', then continues up, '7pm Chaud', which is 8c in its own right.
The boulder also leads to the route, 'Puntx', which is 9a/9a+, which he has already climbed,  so maybe more scope for a super hard link up!!

Enzo Oddo bouldering the linkup Inga 7pm JP Chaud at the Gorges du Loup, France
Photo by Philippe Maurel, http://www.nice-climb.com/

Enzo Oddo on Punt x 9a/9a+

Sunday, 15 November 2009

SPA Training

On Friday and Saturday i was over in north Wales doing my SPA training, http://www.mlte.org/content.php?nID=57, with David Hooper, http://www.ukclimbing.com/listings/info.php?id=1016.
On Friday we were at the popular Lion rocks near Brynrefail where we got the personal climbing started, then late afternoon we headed to the Beacon CC where David ran through structuring group sessions etc.
Saturday we finnished of with all the group work, abseils, anchors and top/bottom roping etc.
The weather was kind to us on Friday as we just about stayed dry, Sunday though was a different story, as the morning was very wet. On the plus side, the paddlers were out in numbers this weekend, enjoying the huge ammount of water and the ridiculous fast rivers!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thomas Mrazek climbs 9a+

Last week Thomas Mrazek from the Czech Republic has made the first ascent of Xaxid Hostel 9a+ at Misja Pec, Slovenia.
Read more here:

Monday, 9 November 2009

The climbing begins.

The scottish highlands has had more snow over the last few days, there is now a good base up in the Cairngorm and over west too for the freeze/thaw process to begin. There was a over a foot of snow reported on the Ben Nevis summit plateau over the weekend, and the climbing is well under way as routes including Tower ridge, Milky Way and the Seam have all seen some recent action.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Winter Approaches...and Ice Anchor Workshop Movie

With the Scottish highlands recieving another light dusting of snow, http://mountainplan.blogspot.com/  and a forecast predicting more to come, http://www.snow-forecast.com/maps/static/scotland/84/snow, its time to seriously start thinking about this winter season.
Gear is slowly starting to come out of the cupboard, route tick lists are being compiled, new additions are being made to the winter rack and all in vain of another good season which will hopefully live up to the last 2 years.
For this winter i have replaced my boots with the new and different, Millet Radikal Pro, http://www.milletusa.com/catalogue/radikal-pro-p-1004.html?temp=1&typo_prod=1:us&cPath=1_5_23, which are pretty none existant over here in the uk. I will make a short review of how i get on with these after i have given them a blast.
The usual topics are arising on ukc and the like about winter gear, protection, systems, techniques etc, so heres a quick movie i find interesting, which shows and compares different ice anchors, and what actually happens when an anchor fails.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ren hits the rock!!

Dry rock??

Today Rene and I headed out to Lancashire for Ren's first taste of some action on the rock after a few indoor sessions. When i awoke, it looked like a perfect autumnal morning for a climb, fresh, clear and a hint of sun, but by the time we arrived up in Lancashire it was clear by the puddles on the roads that we would struggle to find dry rock.
We made the short approach into Wilton 3, which would have been a good venue for Ren as their are a good ammount of easier graded lines, but unfortunatley the majority of  the rock was soaking. Ren seconeded a couple of V Diff's, (which wasnt easy due to the grease!!), before we headed down to Brownstones.
The rock at the Ash Pit Slabs area of Brownstones was marginaly better. Keeping to the easier lines ment that we could probably get something done, although there was minimal to no friction and greasy cracks, we managed around 5 or 6 problems, and Ren sent his first route!!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Ondra completes his hardest to date

16 year old Czech wonder kid Adam Ondra has climbed his hardest route yet which was also a first ascent.
The route is Marina Superstar (9a+/b, or 5.15a/b) at the Domusnovas area in southern Sardinia, Italy.
Read more here: http://www.climbing.com/news/hotflashes/ondra_completes_515ab_first_ascent/

He also says, "So happy to have some really hard FA! Well, I am not sure about the grade. Definately my hardest yet, but probably not 9b, thus I go for 9a+/b. I have to try more routes from Chris to compare. Beautiful line 35m line in very steep cave. It took me 4 days this year and 3 goes last year. Thanks to Matteo Marinini for bolting and to whole Cagliari!"

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Priests Hole Movie......

Priests Hole Cave Bivouac.

With a dreadful forecast in mind, getting something done was always going to be difficult this weekend. We aimed to head out from Ambleside and up to Priests Hole cave on Dove crag and stay there for the night as its a fantastic bivy spot.
Once in Ambleside, we unfortunatley had to change our plan and had to resort to a less time consuming approach as the weather forecast was spot on, it was horrendus!! We noticed there was a small window of fair weather in the early afternoon, so we drove to Brothers water and headed to Priests Hole from there. We timed it well, the weather eased up for our approach and came in again as we just made the cave which was pre occupied by 3 Geordie chaps and a crazy Labrador called, 'Bergkamp'!! Sounds strange i know!!
We settled in with plenty of cups of coffee, soup and hob nobs. The geordie chaps even had an ipod and speaker system on the go!!
Inside Priests Hole there is a metal box, which contains a visitors book for people to write about there stay, (how good is that!!) and also items left by previous occupants! We made use of a fire log which was in the tin, and had ourselves a campfire on the go to dry off peoples wet gear.

The weather didnt let up all night, but we all seemed to get a good nights kip, even Bergkamp!!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Inspirational Movies....

A couple of truley brilliant inspirational movies are doing the rounds at the minute, and i couldnt resist posting them for anyone thats interested.

The first is of John Griffith and Will Sim climbing the Croz spur with the Slovenian start on the Grandes Jorrasses.

Some amazing footage, and even better climbing!!

Just double click the videos to watch on full screen. It is reccomended!!

Croz spur with Slovenian start- Grandes Jorasses from Jonathan Griffith on Vimeo.

Another cracking short movie around at the moment is that of Rich Simpson climbing Wolfgang Gullichs classic, Action Directe. The video is more of a documaentary of Rich's 'obsession', to climb Action Directe. It shows the gruelling traing sessions and the true strength needed to climb such a powerful route. Bear in mind Action Directe was the worlds first 9a!

The film is just over 25 minutes long, but well worth the watch if you have time.

Obsession from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Workout at Pex

On Thursday i headed down to Pex Hill for a couple of hours training.
I bouldered, stayed on the low wall as i was alone and didnt fancy taking any big falls without a spotter!!
I played around on the traverse, working out the individual moves, hopefuly a couple more times down there and il get the full traverse done!!
The finger felt good again, so its all about building the strength back after a wasted summer!! And there isnt anywhere better for that than Pex!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Another alpine short movie

I have uploaded a new short film to the video wall which was recorded by Dan Robb.
It features some mixed climbing on the last few meters of the chimney pitch on Pointe Lachenal, at the foot of Mt Blanc du Tacul.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Final Makalu Report - Ueli Steck / and back to the training for me!

Heres Ueli Stecks final report from his recent trip to Makalu (8463),http://ueli-steck.petzlteam.com/index.php/. It makes a great read if you have a spare moment, and really tells the tale of how demanding an ascent up the worlds 5th highest mountain in this style is, and not forgetting Ueli is an increadibly fit alpanist! Again Ueli didnt have good conditions at all, a bit like his trip to Gasherbrum II earlier in the year.

And for me, the finger tendon i damaged earlier in the year is coming along brilliantly, probably around 85% back to full fitness. The past week i have been putting in a few light sessions on the finger board, as i hope to build some of the lost strength back, as i feel pretty weak atm!!
Also i have been out with Wayne and Allterrainroutes http://www.allterrainroutes.co.uk/, the past couple of weeks, and had a few great night rides which are keeping the fitness up!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

First snow of the year.

People up in the Scottish highlands woke up this morning to the first snow of the season up on the hills.

Looks like the Cairngorm especially got quite a dusting in yesterdays storms.

Also Ben Nevis and Lochaber recieved a light dusting over the tops, so time to get training for this winter season. Hope its going to be a good one!!

Heres a short movie to get the psche going, produced by Dan at Mountainplan,
http://www.mountainplan.com/, which features me and Dan!

Time to sharpen the axes!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Short Movie - Alpine Climbing

Here's a short movie that i have put together from our recent alpine climbing trip to Chamonix,France.

You can also watch the video via the Dailymotion video wall on the sidebar to the right, along with older productions.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Coed-Y-Brenin Weekend...... With Video!

A group of friends and I spent the recent weekend down at Coed-y-Brenin in Wales, where amongst other things, we headed down to the trail center and had a burn on a few of the routes.
The trails we rode between us included the brilliant, 'Tarw' and the even better, 'Beast of the Brenin.'
Both trails are graded as 'black' trails, and both have some pretty technical sections, 'The Beast',especially caused a few heart stopping moments and with a section of the trail called 'False Teeth', i think i had good reason to worry!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Gallery Updated

My gallery has been updated with a selection of photos from my recent climbing trip to the French Alp's.

Hopefuly a short movie will follow, when ive had time to put one together.



Saturday, 19 September 2009

Peak Sunshine

Had a stroll in the Peak this morning, in full sunshine too!!
We headed up Shining Tor from the Cat & Fiddle, then up and along Cat's Tor up to Pym chair. We then headed down the valley to Errwood, passing the shrine which is very unique indeed to Erwood hall. We briefly stopped in this beautiful location for a bite to eat before heading up Shooters Clough and back to the Cat and Fiddle, and just before the drizzle began!

Pictures above include one of the quaint shrine at Erwood.

Friday, 18 September 2009

First free ascent of the Japanese Direct on the Eiger North Face

Robert Jasper and Roger Schäli completed the first free ascent of the Japanese Direct on the north face of the Eiger in late August. The 1969 Japanese ascent forced a route up the steepest part of the limestone wall, with the aid of about 250 bolts. Jasper and Schäli free-climbed the 1,800-meter route at 5.13b M5 over four days, with serious danger from rock fall and poor protection.

Read more here:


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Clwyd Limestone

Dan and i had a last minute get together and headed up to Pinfold crag, a good spot in the Clywd limestone band near to Llangollen.
We had the whole crag to ourselves, and the evening turned out to be a pleasent one as the dull clouds fortunately didnt materialise to anything.

Care does have to be taken here, as with a lot of limestone crags as there is a lot of loose rock on some routes, especially the top out's!

We managed to fit in 10 climbs in between us, led and secconded, before the lack of light stopped play.
Dan got a couple of good leads in including an e1,5a! Whilst i got a few leads under my belt including a vs, 5a and a hvs, 4c after not climbing for 5 months due to my injured finger,( which felt pretty good btw).

Pictures above are of, 'Toccata vs,5a' and, 'Marander el,5a'.