21 July 2009

Busy Times

I am still alive. I'm just working in the trees, for Go Ape, as much as possible to replenish the funds before starting back at university. However, it does mean that I have little time for playing in the hills, on the crags or on the rivers, which is an awful shame.

I had a couple of days off over the weekend, but could not make use of the heavy rain as I was at a family wedding over in the north-east. I'm off again tomorrow and imagine that I'll be able to get a quick workout in at the climbing wall in Carlisle.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

10 July 2009

Badger Attack

The Traverse (V3). Photo courtesy of Kirklees Climbing.

I never managed to find a climbing partner last night so I resided myself to a spot of bouldering over in the South Lakes, in the Kentmere Valley at Badger Rock. Badger Rock is a great monolith of rock, which stands proud in a field belonging to a local Herdwick Sheep Farmer.

I had a good session, which kind of rewarded the extremely long drive through the Lake District, and managed to tick off a handful of problems. I was hoping to take in Little Font, which is a stones throw away from the Badger, but my fingers were starting to wear and my arms were starting to run out of pull so I headed for home instead.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

09 July 2009


Banzai Pipeline (E1). Photo courtesy of UK Climbing.

How does that famous saying go? A bad day on the crag, is better than a good day in the office. Ok, I don't think it specifically refers to climbing, maybe surfing, but you get the gist and it was definitely the case today.

To begin with, I'm still without camera so the above picture has been robbed from UK Climbing and isn't even of the climb we got on today. However, it is at the same crag, Great End Crag. A small blessing. The route we did attempt was Greatend Corner (HVS) and attempt is definitely the word to use here. The guidebook states that the first 15m pitch is a scramble. However, halfway up we got a bit scared, roped up and finished it off on the lead.

The second pitch went much better until we came to the crux. I tried and failed to work out a sequence and backed off before it all went horrendously wrong. We swapped over the lead and my partner attempted the crux, pushing through it by about a meter before they backed off as well. We pulled the ropes through, leaving all the gear behind and abseiled back to the ground.

Then in a bid to save face, rescue the gear and save our bank balances we scrambled around the side of the crag to the top and abseiled 25m down the line besides Greatend Corner to a tree, which had plenty of tat tied around it. We pulled the ropes once more, rigged them through the tat and abseiled down to our gear, retrieving it all, before lowering off back down to the ledge we had retreated from earlier on. After pulling the ropes through once more, we made one last abseil to the ground, packed our bags and walked off back to the car.

Even though you may class the day as a complete disaster I do not. I walked away unhurt with all my gear having tried to push my grade on a three pitch route in the Borrowdale Valley and also experienced my first multi-pitch retrievable abseil. I'm hoping to be back out tomorrow either cragging or bouldering; I'm just waiting on some text messages to see if I've got a partner for the day.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

08 July 2009

Some more problems...

Looking across to Carrock Fell. Photo courtesy of BBC Cumbria.

I'm halfway through a four day break; I've to be back at work on Saturday. I spent yesterday ticking off jobs, which had mounted up over the past couple of days and then grabbed a quick bouldering session at The Sands Centre. Today, I pottered around the house for a while before getting restless of being locked up inside. In order to get my countryside fix I headed off to Carrock Fell for a session on the southern group of boulders. I managed to get nine problems done, before retiring for the day as the skin on my fingers was starting to wear. I'm hoping to get out tomorrow for a day of cragging and then maybe get one more bouldering session in before starting back at work on Saturday.

One last point. My camera's eventually bitten the dust and is producing some rather interesting pictures. Hence the reason for nicking a photo from the Beeb. A new camera is in the post so hopefully normal picture service will be resumed.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

02 July 2009

Do you want to go to the seaside?

The lighthouse at St. Bees North Head.

Earlier today I posted about yesterday's walk and at the end I mentioned that I was going to go climbing in the afternoon. At that specific moment I was undecided as to where, but a couple of factors made my decision that much easier. The first factor was the distance from Carlisle - St. Bees is only 44 miles away, where as Little Font is 46 miles away. The second factor was the heat - the sea breeze would keep me cool at St. Bees. However, Little Font is in the shade, but that doesn't do much in the way of topping up the tan created in the Alps.

St. Bees North Head it was then. I only got six problems in before I called it a day, but it felt good to get back on the rock and I flashed most of the problems I attempted and some of them were V2 6a. A grade I usually have to work.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

Back to Lake District Exploring

One thing I regretted about the Alps trips was the fact that I wouldn't be able to go climbing for a few days. I hoped that yesterday would have been the day that I could slip back into my stickies, throw the pads on the ground and scale some boulders. It wasn't to be. The Met Office's rain radar didn't looking favourable; it showed a band of rain moving in over St. Bees around 1pm. This was far from ideal for a venue best experienced in the afternoon sun. This left me with some decisions to make, and after trawling over my maps I came up with a walk that would take in a fair few peaks.

The summit of Grey Knotts.

I started out from the slate mines at Honister and made a short, but steep ascent to the top of Grey Knotts (697m) before continuing in a southerly direction to Brandreth (715m). I've visited this summit on a previous occasion and I followed the route I took that time once again to the col at Scarth Gap on the western flank of Hay Stacks.

On the ascent of High Crag.

An ascent of Seat was made before it's bigger brother, High Crag (744m), was reached. From here a westerly path was taken along the top of Comb Crags to High Stile (807m) and then on along Chapel Crags to Red Pike (755m).

Walking through Burtness Woods.

From Red Pike I made a descent to Bleaberry Tarn over some rather loose, sketchy terrain before taking a well made path down the hillside into Burtness Woods, which lines the southern shore of Buttermere. I walked along the shore, stopping once for an ice cream at Gatesgarth Farm, before making my final ascent back along Honister Pass to the slate mines.

I think I might pop out this afternoon for a quick bouldering session to dust off the cobwebs and put my mind at rest after such a long break from climbing in such a long time. I'm undecided as to where at the moment, but it could either be over near St. Bees Head or Little Font in Kentmere. Oh, the decisions.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

01 July 2009

Three Days away from the Durance

Day 4 - The Ubaye including the Race Course.

We eventually managed to head away from the Durance valley on the fourth day and this included a stunning drive over Col de Vars into the Ubaye valley to paddle sections of the river that shares it's name with the valley it flows through. However, it wasn't all straight forward as on the descent from the col we came upon a road block, which wouldn't be open until midday - a hour-and-a-half wait. This wouldn't do. We had to be on the river paddling as that was what we were therefore.

Somewhere on the upper Ubaye whilst avoiding the road block.

The blessing here was that besides the road the Ubaye flowed on downhill unobstructed by the road block and thus provided some lovely Class 3 rapids to take us beyond the blockage. A few of us put on here and headed on downstream, whilst the remaining members of the group waited with the minibus for the road to reopen and join us later on.

Worrying about rendezvousing with the remainder of the group.

There were some problems with reuniting the two groups, but we eventually managed it and paddled a short section of the river, eventually taking out at Jausiers, before heading off to have a look at one of the more common Ubaye runs; the Race Course.

I rafted this section twice last year when out working as a guide. I wasn't a guide on the river, but just sat on the raft and provided propulsion during a Level 2 Raft assessment with Tim Vollum. However, the river was much higher than on my two previous visits, meaning that it was very unfamiliar territory to me. The river had amazing power and volume and the order for the day saw us avoiding some of the bigger holes in the hope of taking drier lines.

On the opening rapids of the Ubaye Race Course.

Day 5 - The Onde, Gyronde and Durance

The opening rapid on the Onde.

Today was supposed to be our quite day as even though we had only left the Durance valley once we had been having long days on the river. However, we were wrong on this one. In the opening rapid one of our group took a swim, snapped their paddle and pinned their boat. This wasn't a huge deal as we got it all sorted and it also provided me with the opportunity to pull out the splits I carry religiously in the back of my boat. However, when back on the river we had travelled no further than 500m before the boulder chocked river took another victim, which resulted in a swim and another pinned boat.

Enough was enough. An executive decision was made to call the trip off for the majority of the group, which did give me the opportunity to test the carry harness I took delivery of the other week for the walk-out back to the minibus. Once we had been debriefed in order to turn the negatives into positives a select group put back on the Onde with the intention of rendezvousing on the Gyronde with those that weren't getting back on the Onde.

One of the boulder rapids on the Gyronde.

We met up with the remainder of our group and carried on downstream before hitting the Durance once again. This was only a short section, but it did take us down to the slalom course at the campsite, which gave us the opportunity to play the river a bit more.

Day 6 - The Guisane

This was the final day of paddling before we would have to subject ourselves to the two day drive back up to Cumbria. The river of choice was the Guisane as the entire group could do an upper section and then a select few could descend the 'harder' lower section down into Briancon.

S Bends, Guisane.

It was notable on the upper section how much every one had come on over the past five days. There were few swims and everyone enjoyed the river by catching eddies and surfing waves instead of being like a race horse all blinkered through the ripples and then stopping at the bottom for a breath before heading off again.

One of the more 'interesting' rapids on the lower Guisane.

I think I'll leave it at that for now, but expect one more post focusing on the Alps trip. I feel some things need to be thought about a bit more before I start tapping away on the keyboard, but in the mean time
more pictures can found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...