Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The 2011 Challenge

This is only short but just to mark the start date of a challenge myself and a few friends have challenged ourselves too. We have made a list of 25routes around the country (rock) that we want to have done by the end of 2011, the last one to complete buys the first round of drinks at xmas this year. Mine isnt spectacular as i dont want to lose but it is a brilliant list, includes stuff like Scoop Wall at Stoney, Exposure Explosion at Ogmore, The Bludgeon at Shepards and the list goes on. In all it includes one E5, four E4's, five E3's, six E2's, five E1's, one HVS, one VS, a 7a+ and a 7b. Should be an awesome year if i get them all done, 69stars worth to be exact. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Bit of climbing minus the light

Been trying to get out as much as possible and to train a bit but with exams and my dissertation being in for next week things have been limited. Managed to get out on the rocks last night. Was a good laugh, didnt do anything of note, just made up eliminates and had a mess about, nice to be outside again though.

The aurderves of the night bouldering video. Im sure bamford will get together to make a cracking video in the end of this grit season.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Scotchland 2-8 Jan

I left my girlfriends house on 2nd after New Year celebrations in search of a good time in scotland. That people is exactly what i got.
After the long journey north to glasgow i piled off the train into my mates skoda and sped off to Fort William. Only managed to grab a MaccyD's for tea before bedding down in the Ben nevis north face car park for the night.

545am the alarm went off. A bit of organisation the night before meant we could have breakfast in bed, and we were away on the track up the hill by 615 keen for a days suffering. Walking into the foot of the Ben the light began to cree its way through the grey cloud. Contouring around past the CIC hut we sped upto the foot of Hadrians wasnt there. Point 5? Tad avalanchy but a possibility. Observatory ice. Point 5 it was.

After gearing up and sorting the ropes out a the foot of the gully under a rock prow i began climbing. The ice was in good nick and the metres sped by, i only managed to place 3 screws in the first 50metre pitch. This however wasnt due to some noble sense for the need for speed more the inability to see upwards for much of the pitch and my distaste for being battered by the spindrift avalanches that were now turning into full on snow ploughs smacking into my head. Getting to the belay i brought James up and was sat next to Pete, who was belaying Jim up after him. At the belay we decided to carry on would be proper type 2 fun, somehting we werent massively keen on as a first day out. So we drilled some abbaloffs and ran away.

Pete hanging out in Point 5

Drilling Abbaloffs, living the dream (Photo: Jim Callender)

Once we were down, we had a lot of wet kit so remembering i had a mate staying in the Glen Nevis YHA we decided to pay him a visit, drying our kit out at the same time. Getting there we realised this could become an integral part of our stay in scotland. Free left over food, drying room, kitchen, and a dining room were all availible to use for a little discretion. Settling in for the evening, we ate well (potatoes, pasta, salsa, tuna and mayo) and discussed our options for the morrow. As it was our first day back in scotland we were gunna take a rest day and do some work on a trip we've got in the pipeline for june. At around 10pm we began wondering where we would sleep, Pete and Jim would use their car but me and James were less keen on this so drove down the road a little, and thankfully stumbled upon the visitors centre. We investigated and the toilets were left open, but more specifically the disabled ones had locks on so no one would disturb us sleeping in the morning. We bedded down for the night- after ditching the car in the local cemetry- in the ladies. It smelt nicer.

After a rest day pestering the Fort William librarians for more time on the computers, we headed back to the YHA to grab our dry kit, eat and then head to the Creag Meaghaidh car park a 45min drive away. Pitching the tent that night you could tell tomorrow would be a good day, all the stars shone jsut that little bit brighter. As they always do when things come together.

Waking up at 545am again we had a slightly slower start to the day and left at around 630 due to the tent being frozen and us being reluctant to move from warm down bags into the cold morning air. The walk in went without hitch and we found ourselves and the bottom of the Pumpkin at about 9am. Pete and Jim had gone the other side of the buttress from us to do Last Post. The route was brilliant, the ice was in good nick, little slushy on the lower pithces and thin in places but where it was needed it was bomber. The last pitches had less gear, keeping you thinking until we pulled over the cornice at 330pm into the sunset. Perfect day out. WE degeared and decided to descend down Easy gully underneath Pete and Jim so we could say hi and tell them our plans. As we bum slid down the gully in deep powder we could see them 3/4 up the route and that they had been joined by another group. So we shouted over what they had left and then carried on our way to the car. Heading back to the YHA when we got to the cars, as we reasoned there would be 4 of them, at least one should have a phone if anything had happened to them. It also meant we could get tea on. We reckoned they would be 4 hours behind us.

At 1030pm we started getting worried so rang mountain rescue to see if they had had any call outs that eve in the area. They hadnt, so we went back to the toilet thinking they had been knackered, slept in the car where it was, and had no signal. We slept thinking they were fine.

The next morning after still not having heard anything we drove the 45mins to the meggi carpark and found their car in exactly the same place. With no one in it, or any sign of life. SHIT!

We rang the mountain rescue again and got fuck all help from a cop who was an utter douche. Eventually he realised we werent tools and sent a cop car out to us. We had subsequently heard reports of an avalanche on meggi the previous eveing. Our thoughts went into overdrive. After hours of useless talking to an anally retentive cop we left the car park and headed to Fort William police station, still ringing Pete and Jim and we did. Still nothing. Then at about 630pm we got a call. They were fine, Jim had lost his bag, the car keys and phone as he had left it at the bottom of th route and it was subsequently covered by a falling cornice. Me an James went straight to the pub for a pint. It tasted pretty fucking good.

The next day i was due to leave for home and the examness of uni to restart. So having one last meal in the YHA and a good kip in the toilet we got up at 7am and headed over to Aonach Mor via the Gondola!! Its quite ironic how we refuse to pay for accomodation or food, but anything that lets us climb is a given. The cornices overhanging the descent were a little unreasuring, but by skirting around the right of them we were able to reach the start of our route, White Shark. This route is much shorter than anything on meggi so suited our needs for the day as i had a train to catch at 530pm. So heading up the perfect snice i was happy with how the day was going. This only continued as i reached the belay, brought James up and watched him lead off on a hard pitch (was at least V). As i left to second i got into the groove well and fully enjoyed the climbing and exposure, finishing the steep ice you are faced with a massive cornice. As i looked across at this monstrosity i saw that James had dug a small tunnel through at the left hand side. Following the rope to this tunnel i pushed and shoved until i got through. Bursting out into yet anohter perfect end to the day.

Getting changed quickly in Morrisons car park and jumping on the train to glasgow i thought back on how much i had enjoyed the craic of the last few days despite the one day fear fest when Pete and Jim went missing. 22hours later i arrived back at Cardiff after a 6 hour stint in Glasgow sheltering under a bus stop, I was a bit hungry, sleepy and thirsty. But my soul had been nourished just that little bit more than it would have been had i stayed at home and gorged as xmas celebrations dictate.

(More photos to follow)