Friday, 3 February 2012

Late Starts, Early Starts

The plan for Thursday was to get upto Pen-y-Pass and race up Crib Goch and be stood under Reades Route at about 2. In reality we left the car park at 2 as Toms lecture had dragged a bit, so going at a reasonable pace meant we were under the route at about 4, not ideal really. 30mins a pitch...for leader and second.....shit.

Uber-Alpinist Tom showing how to carry bags for light and fast ascents

After dispatching the first pitch without too much huffing and puffing. Tom had the lead, which from where I was sat (yes it was a sitting belay overlooking the Pass....Fricking amazing!) looked- and later felt- desperate! Hats off for that one! When he finally reached the top and the ropes went tight on the belay it was most definately dark. So head torch switched on I started up. Now climbing in the dark is all well and good if your head torch lights stuff up enough for it to look like daylight, mine however is less bright than a lunar eclipse, and so finding edges for the feet and hooks proved to be quite tricky at times but none the less I managed to haul my carcass up the route! Stellar!

Tom after eating a shit load of mental-mint cake

Rock and roll.....lads on tour

So after finishing the route to screams of 'Run Ueli, Run' we kept going heading over Crib y Drysgl and Snowdon. According to a wandering soul (who we did escourt off the hill safely...ML practice) who had a thermometer but no idea, it was -8 on the top, probably a bit more in the wind....Cool.

So getting back to the Cott at 10.30 I was pretty tired but had a note off another instructor (Poppy) about going open boating at 8am the next day. Who was I to say no, and it would be a good excuse for a rest day! Getting up shattered and feeling increasingly ill the next morning I crawled to the kitchen, and had a shed full of coffee and weetabix. Buzzing!

Heading to the Dee river we got waylaid but some old fisherman person (fucking hell they're uptight!) so had to move on and get on a bit further along. Ah well. Paddling these tank boats is not to bad really, aside getting freezing cold feet its ok, you can wear Dachstein mitts for a start and look like a proper hero. Because obviously its all about the image of paddling. As we floated down - well I was mostly floating and trying hard to avoid rocks whilst the other 2 stylishly went around on the river - we saw what has been called 'the most scenic and beautiful river in North Wales'. It may well be in autumn but in winter its just a river with loads of dead trees on the banks....

It has been  a pretty full on week to say the least so I think some beer drinking and rugby watching is the next port of call for this wayfaring jippo.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

First Welsh Winter Routes – Ironic

So after catching up on some much needed sleep Monday night and a swift Indy session on Tuesday plans were hatched to head up to the East face of Bristly ridge on Wednesday and prospect for some new stuff. With Gaz leading the way we got upto the routes at 930… this welsh winter stuff is pretty laid back! We went straight for the Giants steps route, well I say straight it took a sliht detour as Baggy was sat under the route Gaz had first had in mind. But we got the better route in the end.

Climbing the first pitch quickly and smoothly it was no time until I was shoved onto the sharp end or my first welsh winter route with the prospect of it becoming a new route at the same time! So with some bomber hooks and half frozen turf I swung out onto the side of the pinnacle, a high step later I was crouched in a small cave contemplating the next few moves. Leaning further and further out on a shit hand jam, I managed to scrabble together a hook for both axes. Lurching my feet higher in the cave now and pulling up to lock off the axes to bring my feet up again onto a small edge and a smear out left. I was up and over. Bit overhangy that!

Me on the crux pitch of Dwarf Steps Variation

Chucking in some gear for good measure it was a pleasant mixed romp for another 20 metres to the ridge proper and the end of our route….Dwarf Steps Variation (IV,5).

Gaz heading back to the East face for more climbing

Heading down the ridge we decided it was too early to head back so abbed off the ridge back onto the grassy eastern slopes and belayed under a summer VDiff rib. It was Gaz’s lead and so he racked up and hooked and smeared his was up another new IV,5 Grooved Buttress (it follows the summer route), a good little route! Baggy joined us on this last route as his partner was ill so had left after finishing their route.

Gaz starting up Grooved Buttress

All in all not a bad intro to Welsh winter with the first routes ive done being new ones, ironic really. Theres so much potential for new lines it’s a bit crazy really. Keen to become normal tomorrow and head to the more classic lines that people actually know what they are. 

A wee Scottish Jaunt

So after work on Friday I raced over to the illustrious Ripleys house to get a lift up north with some unscrupulous characters. Cramming into the car we began our pilgrimage across the border to bonnie Scotland. For me it was the first of the season and shaking off cobwebs was swirling around in my head as the miles sped by.

Detouring slightly to pick up a way-laid Monypenny in Preston we carried on going. Not after a quick visit to one of Ripleys mates houses- who wasn’t in I may add- to have a brew. As he wasn’t about nor were his house mates we managed to get in through an open patio door and helped ourselves to a nice cuppa. Despite the place looking like a murder scene we thankfully found no bodies and could continue our journey north.

Hitting Penrith and mummy Ripleys house at 11 we shovelled some good grub (Thanks again Toms mum) and got 3hours kip before squeezing back into the car and making our way to Lochnagar. Not after considerable deliberation may I add, as we had originally intended to go to the Ben but avalanche predictions didn’t look to chummy so we fled like scared kittens to the safer southern corrie.

After the pleasantly flat walk in with patches of ice spread across it (good signs!) the crag reared up in front of us! But it looked so small from the car park!

Racing up the initial slopes and onto a roomy flat ledge we racked up and proceeded to head toward Polyphemus Gully. This I found was a mistake as after climbing the thin and poorly protected first pitch (its meant to be stellar and easy in good nick) I abed off and Monypenny ran up the first pitch of Moonshadow instead. It became quite amusing as we weaved our way further up the route as flailings and knees became Indy campus strength and the power of Andy Nisbet. Oh how I love winter!

Topping out just as the sun was going down in glorious sunshine it became apparent how lucky me and Monypenny appear to be with weather in Scotland. We should definitely climb together more!

Getting back to the car and our nature reserve visitors centre ‘bivvi’ was a delightful surprise! Not only were we treated to a stuffed animal nativity scene but we had a TV (it only played animals mutilating each other but I’d taken it any day!) and a three course meal (cereal, pasta and bacon and cheese cake!) Fucking bang on as the yoofs say!

A pleasant sleep was had for the first time since Wednesday and after repeated snooze button hits we dragged our warm bodies into the cold morning air. As we had to be back earlier to get petrol for the journey home we decided to have an easier rambly day which meant only one thing. TEAM ASCENT!! So with all four of us puntering up Shadow Buttress A having a jolly old time we managed to get back to the car for 4 and head on back to Bangor! With Radio 4 and the world service holding our sanity at bay for a few more hours.

Off extreme birdwatching with Tom Ripley 

Lochnagar walk in

The luxury bivvi and our mess

Monypenny go(in) Pro at being a Hero

Me after the P2 crux of Moonshadow

On an aside during the journey up north we discussed continuing to the north-west. But it never happened as its fucking miles away but it put it into more perspective how much of a hero Mick Fowler is! Legend!!