Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chamonix Hit

After having only been back at home for 2 days after a school trip I headed back out of the door for Chamonix. Ive been going back and forth for nearly 10 years now which is a massive shock but in the last 5 years Ive only been once much to my own sadness but I am changing that habit now.

After getting to the Shack (see video below) we headed straight up the Grand Montet lift and climbed the Chevalier Coulior and Pepite on the Aig. Caree which is a subsiduary ridge of the Aig. Verte. Spending a few hours trying to hide in the lift we then discovered the lifties there actually didnt give a shit and so we spread out in the rather warm and luxurious toilets. A night spent sweating in our bags left us poised to try the Couturier Couloir on the Aig Verte proper. Unfortunately after spending a good hour wading toward the bergshrund getting hit by lots of mid size snow sloughs we decided to turn around, if this wind continued to push snow down the couloir and we continued to wade we'd be knackered out pretty quick. So we bumslid our way out of there. As always happens a few friends were up there a few days later when the wind had changed direction and found entirely different conditions. Ah well, all's well in love and climbing.

A day spent "shopping" for the cheapest post-season ski's with a better forecast and a lift ticket up the Midi. We got a rather leisurely start and headed toward the Petite Frounet on the left side of the Tacul Triangle. Hard grey ice and a bitter wind made the going slightly less pleasant than other experiences of this enjoyable little playground Ive had, however a route was ticked and we walked back across the Midi Col in a pea-soup which had me wandering down the Vallee Blanche until Joe noticed our mistake and directed us toward the lift again. A less welcome lifty greeted us at the door and said we could be terrorists or something but seemed to see sense and left us to get reacquainted with another lift toilet and a much warmer sleep.

A final day was spent cragging up on the Cherserys above Argentiere, a very pleasant way to end a reasonably productive few days in Chamtown. We didnt get everything we wanted done but that never happens. Psyce for the summer is at an all time high! Well buzzing wicked mate.

Joe approaching Pepite

Joe experiencing his first toilet bivvi.

Helmet bowl - it was a bit frozen as the lifties put the bag outside....

Last day. Psyce buzz!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Spring time cragging

Every year or so a few friends write a list of routes. Now these can be any route we choose, however the other people writing their own lists can veto them if they think you're selling yourself short or will complete your list too easily (and of course win the coveted and seemingly unattainable prize money of ~£20). My list last year got off to a good start but a lack of motivation and life events conspired to put me out of the game with only 50% of my list completed.

This year seems to be a better bet. The routes on the list will push me, hence some training over the winter rather than the normal running, and are a little far flung from sheltered South Wales but so far I have had a great time chasing these lines around the crags of the country. Starting with Chullila down at Brean and yesterday getting Propaganda done at Cwmaman. The routes between these two (all 5 of them) have all been ambitions for a while.

The biggest of which was the Assassin down at Gogarth. This route used to intimidate me somewhat, the picture of Lee Roberts in the Ground Up guide making it look "way out there" and above my pay grade at the time when I lived there. Years passed and that ember to climb it and the shadows that scared me were still present but on a glorious weekend in late March I had a brilliant couple of days mincing my way up various routes with good friends both old and new. I finally got on the Assassin. It was amazing, both the climbing and the situation in the middle of Main cliff with the sun on the sea and hunger in my belly adding to the atmosphere of a great day. So here's to more brilliant days this year and the years to come.

Me seconding the Strand as our warm up before heading over to the Main event (© Tom Ripley)