Monday, 30 July 2012

A Busy Week on the Hill

Last week was a busy one.  Monday was the start of an ML Assessment for Dan McKinlay based in the Duddon Valley.  The 6 candidates put in a good performance through the week, which had very mixed weather.

Day 1 took us up and around a small peak called Caw.  The cloud was low and thick, with visibility very poor.  This was perfect for the micro navigation leg the guys had to work through.  A tough day when you can't see more than 15-20m.

Day 2 was all about security on steep group.  After the guys had navigated us to the climber's decent on Dow crag in yet again poor visibility, we got stuck in.  Taking it in turned to manage are group up,down and around this unfriendly ground with the odd problem thrown in, everyone had a fair bit to deal with.  Once we had finished the steep ground section of our day, a few more nav legs took us back to the hut.

Jim and Tony enjoying the ML experience

The final few days were spent on exped.  in nicer weather.  Walking from Cockly Beck.  We ascended over Little Stile, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike picking out Nav legs as we went, before reaching our camp for the night.  As darkness fell, we were out again to work through the night Nav section of the assessment.  Good technical legs took us up and around Great End and Broad Stand picking out small features.  We returned to camp via the Bermuda Triangle that is Esk Hause for a couple more legs.  The second day of the exped took us up Ill Crag via a pleasant grade 1 scramble which the candidates managed between them as we went.  Once on top, we journeyed up and over Scafell Pike to descend via Mickledore to camp underneath Dow Crag.  At the end off the day I boosted out to Cockly Beck to drive back home before meeting a mini bus to travel north.  Dan and the candidates finished on Friday walking out with a short river crossing.  A good week.

Early Friday morning I was heading up to Scotland to start a 3 peaks challenge on Saturday morning.  We started at 7:30 on the Ben and finished at 6:40 after Snowdon on Sunday morning.  Easily under the 24 hours even with the regulations for the driver stops.  There official time with driving time fixed for a commercial event like this was 21 hours flat.  A very well done.

A day off today and back out to try and climb something tomorrow if the body allows.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Bit of Bouldering at Almscliff

Today was a chilled day at Almscliff.  It had to be chilled as I was also looking after Rose.  I met Elliot and Jacob there as well and ticked off a range of problems to V7.  The best of the bunch that I had not done before was The Dolphin Belly Slap V6.
Bouldering out the Direct start to Arries Ook E4 6c, a great problem in it's own right

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tired at Kilnsey

After a great day at Almscliff on Tuesday, I had planned yesterday to do some light circuits at the wall to recover a bit.  When the weather improved in the afternoon it changed my plans and I ended up trying a range of tricky problems at Woodhouse Scar.

Rob getting stuck into The Directissima

So when we ended up at Kilnsey today, rather than following Rob and Pete up some classic trad routes on Malham Right Wing, it was all suddenly a bit steeper.  Things started on the usual warm up routes, which was good for Rob on his first visit to the crag.  We then moved to one of the few dry routes at a relatively easy grade.  Pete had been trying the left hand finish to The Directissima 7a/+***.  So this seemed a reasonable option for me to try and onsight and Rob could get stuck into the Directissima 6c***.  Pete put the clips in and familiarised himself with the moves.  Then I was up and tried the onsight.  I got through the crux fine, but then tried to go too direct to the final bolt.  When I realised, it was too late and I was in no mans land, off I came.  Rob made good progress on The Directissima, finally linking it in 2 but running out of steam for the redpoint today.  Pete suffered the same on the LH finish.  I had another go and managed to climb the route without much hassle next go.

With how tired I felt this morning when I go up, I was pretty happy to tick something today.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Almscliff Frighteners

With a dry forecast this morning for Almscliff, I was keen to take advantage.  Unfortunately I had no partner today.  Rather than letting that put me off, I decided to go and look at a couple of frighteners I had put off for a while.  First up was Retribution Rib Direct E5 5c**.  The landing psyched me out from attempting the on sight, but after cruising first go on a rope I was regretting it.  I had a little rest, then soloed the route.  Although not difficult, it is a pretty scary place to be as you do the crux move to the jug of jugs.  Happy with this good start, it was off to check out the next objective.
Entering the crux on Retribution Rib

The Orchrist E5 6b* has an easy start and hard finish (crux) at a height that really makes you think.  It is probably on the edge of highball at 11m and not my style being a powerful, burly roof.  After thinking about it for a little while, I opted to give it a bash on a rope first.  I was quite happy about this as it was pretty grainy after the rain at the point you really didn't want it to be.  After brushing a few holds and finding the cheeky, but painful knee bar Egyptian , I had it down.  I shunted it a few times to get the whole route wired, then took a good rest.  After drumming up some more man power, I went for it.  This time I struggled to get the knee bar to sit right.  Looking at my lonely pad, with the burlometer starting to run down I went for the max pain option off diving my knee against the sharpest part of the hole.  Gritting my teeth to shut out the discomfort, I pulled through to the good finishing pocket.  Pretty happy I chilled out for a bit with the burlometer now on empty.

The classic Pebble Wall

I did a couple of classic problems to finish off, the best of which were Pebble Wall V5 6b*** (as always) and a cool V7 6c* that Andy Swann pointed out to me on Black Wall.  It is the true direct start to Aries Ook.

A pretty good morning all round for me, but I am definitely not as fit or strong as I was just after the winter.  It will take a little while before I learn how to balance the joys of parenthood with climbing well.

Monday, 16 July 2012

NGB Weekend

After fighting off man flu all week, it was back to work over the dry weekend.

Saturday took me to The Leeds Wall for a CWA Assessment with 4 nervous candidates.  After a long day, it was smiles all round.  Everyone managed to successfully pass both the CWA and the abseil module.

Sunday was the second day of a SPA training course.  I met the group at Burbage North to cover a the group aspects of the syllabus.  Despite a lot of the things covered being new to the candidates, everyone managed to take it in.  Another long day and more happy customers.

Fingers crossed I will get out and climb something this week, before another busy week next week.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Watson's French Rock Trip

Hamish trying hard on the onsight of a stiff 6b
I have spent the last week in the Briancon area of France with kids from George Watson's College on their annual climbing club trip.  We had an excellent week with great weather.

After a long day travelling on Monday.  The kids were keen to rip it up by the time we got to Rocher Baron on Tuesday morning.  This is a great crag, with routes from F3 to mid 7's.  As a result, most of the group got on the sharp end straight away.  It was great to see them get to grips with leading outside on routes of F5-6a.  Ivan and Hamish had been training hard before the trip, as well as competing in the YCS.  They had slightly higher goals, and Ivan managed to tick his on the first day with an awesome flash of Affirmatif Yaka! 6c**.  A great day for everyone to start the trip.

Jonny cruising a nice 5+
Wednesday took us to La Randouillet.  This limestone crag offered  very different style of climbing from the previous day.  Less positive, it forced everyone to use the feet more accurately.  Again they knocked down pretty much everything we put in front of them.  Gemma seemed to cruise anything that had draws in it, especially a tricky 6a that others found hard work.  Hamish and Ivan worked with Mhairi to see how redpointing worked.  They both put a quick working session into Emoroides 6c+***.  Hamish decided to leave it as his fingers were sore, but Ivan went for it.  He put in a sterling effort, but dropped the route 2 moves from the chain.  He had just not sorted his feet out enough to remember.  The day finished with most of the group again leading most of the routes in good style.

Euan enjoying the Le Bez Via Ferrata

Ivan all smiles as usual
Another nice day and another crag (I can't remember the name sorry).  A perfect venue for a group like ours, with the hardest route F6a.  We arrived and the Watson's machine set off leading anything they could get their hands on.  By the time we left at mid day, most folks had led 5 routes each in a few hours.  In the afternoon we decided to split.  Half the group chilled out and the other half went to do the Via Ferrata at the Le Bez.  This is a great intro for all those who have not been on one before, and the kids loved it.

Vicky enjoying a change

Kirsty and Aileen finishing the exposed traverse
Friday was the big day, with a trip to Ailefroide.  The group managed to cram in around 7 hours of climbing on routes from 4+ to 6b+.  We worked around 2 crags in the La Draye area which gave another rock type and different climbing style.  It was a little damp after the nights rain, so toproping was the best option.  Again the group dispatched everything.  It was only in the afternoon with a few harder routes to go at did they slow down.  Even then it was only one specific 6b+ that caused any trouble.  Andrew stood out for me on this day, for his sheer determination to send everything.  Ivan made an impressive ascent of the Fais Attention 7a/+.  He fell off the crux, which is pretty thin and tricky, only to get back on and finish.  There are too many names to mention to give praise individually, but everyone climbed very well.

Saturday was the last climbing day and another hot one.  We split again so the other half could climb the Via Ferrata, whilst the others went to Le Bez crag.  Once we all came back together for lunch, those that wanted to multi pitch got the chance.  A few laps later and with everyone done, we where on the beach enjoying an ice cream in the sun.

It has been an amazing trip again this year.  I would like to thank all the kids for their efforts, as well as Mr T, Mr G and Mhairi for their hard work rigging, coaching and looking after the group.