Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Stitching it up…

The Seam 1V 5

Some pics on the 22 December of Mark and Craig climbing The Seam.

We have been trying to get on this for years but conditions and parties in front finally gave way on a marginal day (for the 3hr each way drive) that gave great climbing on both pitches. Dan came along so the belays were a sociable chat fest!

A really great route well worth the wait and worthy of a repeat if winter returns…

Mr Blue Sky...

The Simply Epic Adventure summer Alps trip was a while ago, but I thought I would write up a paragraph or two more as an Aide-aide memoire to Craig and myself for future trips.

Deciding to drive we hired a T6, great, 3hrs each at the wheel and we would be there in no time! All we could manage was 2 hrs each and even at that, I thought it was hard work. Having driven to the Alps before this was a surprise, but then it was in a fast-sporty car and not a van.

We rolled into the cable station in Saas Grund after 20 odd hrs of driving, tired and weary but with incoming rain forecast we packed light and headed up to climb Alpindurst. This is a great route that I had climbed before with G and knew Craig would love it. The climbing is never difficult but the length, exposure and surrounding 4000m peaks makes for an unforgettable experience.

We climbed fast but after 10 pitches knew that we would miss the last bin down. The rain came in true alpine style as we topped out so we quickly packed and headed for the long walk back to the valley.  This took several hrs and our feet felt shredded, but thankfully neither of us had blisters (note for the future, don’t miss the last bin and thick socks work with trainers).

We popped up the roof and slept like dogs till the carpark opened (again) in the morning…

Craig being super keen went to charm the lift staff with the plan we could use yesterday’s “down” tickets to go “up” so we could bike down. He wore them down. But only to the middle station. The middle station was without staff so we carried on up to Hohass leaving Craig again to talk his version of Swiss German to allow us through the gates at the top… he wore them down eventually and we sat on the edge of the glacier having a Cappuccino (2 shot Americano for me, obviously).

Not having mountain biked for 2 years I felt uneasy but there was only one way off the hill and that was down, so off we went, Craig whooping and doing jumps, me howling and holding on. Once back at the van I had to admit it was thrilling and I enjoyed every (other) minute. We loaded the van and headed for Cham and an improving weather picture.

We arrived to flooded drains and gridlock so made our way to Gaillands to live van life for a week.

The weather improved next morning so up we went to suck some thin air, check conditions and climb Cosmic Arête. This is always good fun and we had it to ourselves. I did the usual comedy act when climbing back onto the viewing platform and got a bunch of kids to haul on the rope to bring Craig up. We laughed and posed for pics with the kids and a group of Japanese people - it was very funny.
The weather for the next week was good in the morning but thunder and rain in the afternoon so we climbed high in the morning from the first bin and mountain biked in the afternoon using the various uplifts in the valley.

Having the van and bikes was great as it gave us the flexibility to do something daily when it rains. The drive back to the UK was as bad for me as the drive out. Craig managed better but we both struggled with fatigue, drank too much coffee and ate things we would never eat only to try and keep awake and alert (note, we would do it again).

Some pics of the trip…

Friday, 1 June 2018


19 May 2018

A couple of pics from the Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgùrr Dearg on the Cuillin a couple of weeks back.  I have the high res version guys if you want them (just laundered your email addresses).

Monday, 28 May 2018

Taps Aff...

Saturday 19 May

Craig and Mark saw the sun and went for Observatory Ridge on Ben Nevis as part of a hopeful plan for the Matterhorn this summer and a good training ground for moving together on steeper ground. Neither has done it before and it was fun 'route finding' on the steepest bits we could find.

It's a wonderful route and well worth a visit but there are some interesting bits which would be more challenging in winter.   That said, it would need a proper alpine start in winter as its a long way with proper route finding challenges no doubt - that's what happens when you don't look at the guide book!

It gives wonderful views over the Minus Face and Orion Face, with a great view of Point Five too - plenty of water running in it!

A very wet Point 5
It's a route that just keeps giving and when you think it's about to level out, another steep wall appears in front to go at.  More challenging than Tower Ridge but just as enjoyable with perhaps a more claustrophobic feel, as TR is not walled in the way OR seems.

Anyway, we enjoyed it immensely and will go back soon to the Ben for training and fun.

Tower Ridge in all its glory
Wintery exit slope :)

Monday, 5 March 2018

Mano Destra Italiana...

3 March 2018

Craig and Mark have had a good couple of weeks climbing...

Raeburn’s Ordinary Route Hand (IV 4) is far from ordinary and is a favourite of ours, we went left from the second belay to make the route even better.

Curved Ridge (III 3) in good but powder snow cover.

Shelf Route (IV 6) (bailed) due to the amount of snow and lack of good placements en-route.

Chockstone Gully (II) suited the high winds and avalanche forecast being low down on the Cobbler.

Original Summer (IV 6) Cairngorms, Dan came along to make it a rather sociable day out.

McLay’s Crack (III 4) on the Cobbler got another visit on a better than forecast day that happened to be Mark's Birthday so Craig carried the rack in and out!

Crowberry Gully (IV 4) in fat easy conditions with views to America from the top.

Italian Right Hand (IV 4) great but short route on a very windy day.

Original Summer Route
Italian Right Hand

Mark topping out on Italian

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Chasing Ice...and sometimes rain

Craig and Mark have been out chasing conditions recently and have had some success and some good days without a route to bag.

We bailed from Shelf Route in soft heavy snow but have also had great days on the Cobbler, Gorms and the Coe.

We've ricked off Chockstone Gully and McLay's Crack on the Cobbler, SummerRoute in the Gorms in nice nick and Raeburn's Route and Curved Ridge in the Coe.  We sought days on routes around Bridge of Orchy without success and await a chance to get on the Ben this season.

Routes on the card include Moonshadow and Shelf Route (Coe), Seam and Patey's Route (Gorms) and Hadrian's Wall and Orion on the Ben; we remain ever optimistic conditions will allow at least some of the action.

Notwithstanding, it's been an interesting winter with much early scoping of conditions, weather patterns and avalanche warnings helping to inform on suitable and safe routes.  We have turned round from some objectives and continue to build on our skills to stay safe in we always say, 'no dead heroes'; the climb will be there for another day.

Mark on Curved Ridge

Mark high on Curved Ridge

Chockstone Gully
Mark on Summer Direct Alladin's Buttress

Craig on McLay's Crack

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Christmas Frolics

Over the Christmas period, the team have tried to get out and do some stuff but generally the weather has acted against us.  Despite that, we got out a bit, got wet, climbed a bit and had fun.

Craig and Mark got out and swam up the Zig Zags in Glen Coe...a fun 'go to' route in poor weather and it was poor that day with water gushing down the route after a turbo thaw.

Mark on the chimney...wet
Next up was a trip to the 'Gorms and finding something to climb.  We got onto Original Summer Route on Alladin's Buttress and found soft unhelpful snow but we had fun and it actually felt like winter climbing for the first time this season.

Craig on P1 

On 30 December, Craig and Mark headed for a very wintery Cobbler and found lots of snow (comparatively) and some wld winds.  We kept to lower ground on Chockstone Buttress area and climbed something at its far end.  It felt a bit thin in the wrong places with plenty snow on the easier angled slopes.  All in, a great wee climb which we thought went around III (4? maybe) with some interesting moves on steep steps.  

Mark getting into the heart of P1t
Earlier in December, we also got into Stob Corrie nan Lochan and got onto Twisting Gully but conditions were soft and thin and after P1 we dabbed off and went for a walk.

Mark coming up P1

A thin gully line!
The NY hopefully brings some colder snaps to freeze the pack and get us climbing some new routes.  This weekend is looking cold and should brings us some nice conditions to get swinging those axes in earnest.

Happy New Year to one and all...let's hope it's a good one.