31 January 2010

Shunting... Again

Looking up the rope on Phall Direct (E2, 5b).

I've not been up to much of late. Life has slipped into a monotony at the moment, which seems to mean I have less time for the outdoors and have to devote a lot of time to being in front of the laptop, with a text book on my lap, trying to find relevant prose for numerous assignments for my BA (Hons) in Outdoor Leadership. It got to a point this week where I really was struggling to see what the benefit of all the work was, but on reflection I think it is good that at times you have these thoughts. Finally accomplishing the task that you have battled with for so long is a good feeling I can imagine, and if you've succeeding in that task it's nice too know you've really had to work to get that success. So I suppose it's onwards and upwards in my aim for getting a First and getting a doctorate in the Outdoors.

Pulling on the small crimp at the start of Phall Direct (E2, 5b).

In some instances this philosophy and thinking can be carried across into my climbing. I've still got my eye, even though I haven't been up to the crag and seen the route, on leading Gillette Direct (E2, 5b) high up in the Langdales at some point this summer and the preparation for the route is still going ahead, but not as strong as it was before Christmas. Hopefully I will top-out after the 40m of E2, 5b climbing and, like with the University work, have had to fight for that success. This does not mean that, when on the route, I will be foolish in my decision making in order to feel like I've fought to get the success, but the fighting will have come before hand, during the months of physical and mental preparation so on the actual day it goes with as little stress as possible.

Another climber, on a shunt, on either Liang Shan Po (HVS) or Slipway (HS).

I've just started out on a new training regime, which sees me doing some training related activity six days a week and this ranges from an hour on a fingerboard or a day out at a crag practicing movement and getting used to what climbing in the 'extreme' grades is like and that is what I was doing this afternoon at Kings Meaburn. I ticked six different route, which ranged from E1, 5a to E3, 5b, and to be honest I felt really good on the routes. In some instances they felt very similar to some of the stuff I've been climbing on inside at the climbing wall. Perhaps that's what climbing in the 'extreme' grades is like: indoor climbing?

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

25 January 2010

Scrambling around...

Looking down Ullswater.

Confidence roping on some of the steep terrain of Kilbert How.

Scrambling around on Kilbert How.

The final rock wall which leads to the summit of Kilbert How.

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

24 January 2010

A Welsh climbing weekend...

in the Lake District that lasted one day.

High Crag from Gatesgarth, Buttermere.

The plan for the weekend was to head down to Wales late Friday night, sleep at Llanberris Pass in the van and then spend two days climbing on the mountain crags and slate quarries. However, when sat in the Library on Friday afternoon, trying to get some words written for a Social Issues assignment, a quick look at the Snowdonia weather forecast made the climbing look doubtful and not being one to drive a long way for little reward the Welsh climbing weekend was off.

Looking across Fleetwith Pike towards Littledale Edge and Dale Head.

Climbing was still on the cards however. The Lake District forecast looked as mixed as the one for Snowdonia, but at least we were on local turf and therefore a wasted day in the Lakes would not have been as bad as a wasted weekend in Wales. The plan of action was to get up early and get over to Honister Pass so that we could get a look at a little E2 on Moss Crags called Arrest Arete, which is a friend's project route.

Chalking up and rested at the crux of Arrest Arete (E2, 5b).

It was apparent that the day wouldn't be one of those super productive days; the rock was mildly moist, but there was enough dry rock on Arrest Arete to warrant some work on the project. We fixed a line down the arete, abseiled the line to find the rock incredibly greasy and found some marginal protection that may just prevent a ground fall at the crux, before getting on the shunt and working the moves.

Above the marginally protected crux of the route.

The weather did begin to turn around midday so we de-rigged and headed over to Keswick for an indoor bouldering session with the hope that Sunday would be better. However, the weather forecast once again thwarted our plans and I find myself sat in front of my laptop, trying to put off the inevitable University work, whilst tapping out this post.

More pictures can be found here.

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

17 January 2010

Border's Boating

A church besides the Esk in Langholm.

I said yesterday that I would be out and about, with paddle in hand, to make use of this melt water. However, it seems that much of the melt water has been and gone and on this basis I found myself getting on the Esk in the Borders, which was flowing brown, but was not as big as some would have liked.

The main event on the Esk.

This to me didn't really matter. I was on a new river, in my boat floating around, carving into eddies and after such a long dry spell, where the most water my boat saw was the cups of coffee I carry from the kitchen through into the lounge, this was enough to be content with.

Breaking out on the Esk.

Once we'd made the six or so mile descent from Langholm to Canonbie we reloaded the cars and headed a couple of miles up the road for a quick park and huck off Penton Linn on the Liddle. The Linn comprises of four drops, which nearly feed into one another, and is some 500m long, but it provided entertainment and there was some good sinus cleansing as you punched through the sizable holes.

Walking back to the car after paddling Penton Linn on the Liddle.

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

16 January 2010

The big thaw...

Since the flooding in November I haven't really been out and about in the Lake District with a boat, in fact I've not been in a boat since the flooding, and as a result I haven't been able to see what damage the floods have left behind. Anyway after that came the fire that burnt down Penrith's Morrisons and then we had the big freeze. Now we're into the big thaw and I made the most of it this afternoon with a roller coaster ride down a surprisingly high Greta and then an Alpine run down a snow melt chocked Newland's Beck.

The most notable damage from the November flooding.

I've paddled the Greta countless times, and still I have been unable to get a decent picture, which does the river some justice. This was different for Newland's Beck, I'm not saying I managed to take any pictures that did it justice, but I've never paddled it before and so it was a nice change from the normal boating around the Keswick area.

Descending Newland's Beck with Hindscarth in the background.

The main event on Newland's Beck.

Clouds rolling over Skiddaw.

I'm thinking of heading out again tomorrow to make the most of this melt water before another big freeze heads in as has been predicted for the middle of next week.

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

15 January 2010

Nordic Scotland

I think I mentioned in the last post that I would be out and about on Sunday and then off to the Cairngorms on the Monday with University for some winter skills. Well some of that panned out, but other bits did not. I did nothing on the Sunday apart from some grade A vegetating, but I have just got back from Scotland and boy was that some trip.

On the flanks of Cairn Creag Ghiuthsachan.

We travelled up on Monday afternoon and then were up bright and early, Tuesday morning, so that we could make the most of the day. We didn't travel too far, because of the snow conditions, but it was still a productive day; we covered a great range of skills for safe winter walking and such like.

Practicing ice-axe arrests.

It was decided that walking wasn't really an option for the following day, because of the snow conditions, but the conditions were ideal for skiing and that's what we did. We headed up the road to Loch Morlich, hired some cross-country skis and headed off for a journey.

Again we made the most of the day and having started when the ski shop opened we arrived back to deposit our skis just as the light was starting to fade and the shop was closing. The journey was some 7 miles and headed off around Loch Morlich into the Rothiemurchus Forest.

Cross-country skiing through Rothiemurchus Forest.

Once in the forest we slaved on with a vague plan in mind until we had to leave the snowy forest roads and head off-piste in the hope of linking up with another trail besides Rothiemurchus Lodge. We accomplished this and then slid our way back downhill to Loch Morlich to finish off the circumnavigation of the frozen water.

Off-piste in search of Rothiemurchus Lodge.

The next day was our final day and this meant that we were to only have a short day out in the hills. A lot of the group were eager for ice and that is what we aimed to achieve; a spot of ice climbing. On the drive up on Monday we spotted a picture, in one of the Scottish papers, of a frozen waterfall in the rough vicinity of where we were heading and ever the optimist we hoped that it would still be frozen four days later.

That was just the case. The waterfall was still frozen so we set to on ice climbing. The day comprised of a spot of ice bouldering below the main event, before having a quick top-roped climb of the thirty meter cascade.

Ice bouldering at Creag Dubh, Newtonmore.

Top roped climbers on Oui Oui (II/III), Creag Dubh, Newtonmore.

It was then back in the minibus for the five hour drive back south to Cumbria and the start of lectures on Tuesday.

More pictures can be found here.

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

08 January 2010

Back to the seaside...

I was there on Sunday, and I was there again today. The place is St. Bees North Head and I am starting to really like this place. It is just amazing and that is just the setting; the bouldering is up there at the top, it may even be at the top.

Warming up on Problem 1 (V0, 5a) of Boulder 1, Fisherman's Steps North.

Today however I stayed away from where I've bouldered before, the Apiary Wall Area, and instead headed a bit further south down the coast to the Fisherman's Steps area. The descent down the sandstone cliffs is a bit more interesting than the descent for the Apiary Wall Area, but the bouldering is just as good.

Working out the sequence for Boulder 2's Problem 7 (V4) at Fisherman's Steps North.

I managed four hours down beside the sea, before the incoming tide was looking ominously close to the foot of some of the boulders, and the sun was starting to set. However, in this time I managed to send twelve stellar problems ranging from VB to V4. This session was one of the best I've had of late and the main reason being over half of the problems I sent were in the higher end of the above grade range.

The best V2 (6a) in the Lake District: Fisherman's Dyno.

I'm thinking of getting out on Sunday for some kind of activity, and then on Monday, I'm off north, to see what the conditions are like in comparison to the Lakes as part of a Winter Skills residential with University.

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

04 January 2010

Summertime in Wintertime

I went climbing, well bouldering to be precise, yesterday afternoon at what is probably the only dry venue in the whole of Cumbria at the moment. Most slabs of rock have snow melting down them, but with the benefits of the Gulf Stream's warming effect the Sandstone blocks found on the West Coast of Cumbria were nice and dry and what was even better was the fact that it felt like summer. There were no clouds in the sky and the sun had a wonderful warming effect on what would have normally been cold limbs at this time of year.

There isn't much else to say. I dispatched nine problems from that magical grade of VB to V3 and worked a couple of other things, but eventually, like my last afternoon session, the light had the better of me and I had to turn tail, scramble up the cliffs and head for home. I'll leave you with a triplet of pictures from the session.

Boulder 8, St Bees North Head with a friendly fisherman whiling away his time.

A St. Bees local dispatches Block Traverse (V4) with ease.

The sun sinking below the horizon line at the end of a productive afternoon session.

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

01 January 2010

Happy New Year

Looking out to Hartsop-above-How with St. Sunday Crag in the background.

We went for a bit of a ramble this morning to get 2010 off to an energetic start and for some general CV fitness. Hopefully I can improve on this, and my sport specific fitness, throughout 2010 with further training on the wall and at home for climbing, and for paddling I suppose it's just time in the boat that is needed. I had planned on a long walk (9.3 miles with 987m of ascent), but these plans were changed as we started out on the path from Hartsop up to Hayeswater Reservoir.

Hayeswater Reservoir with The Knott, to the left, and High Street behind.

The plans changed for many reasons: lethargy, which does somewhat go against what I just said about improving on fitness, but for the past two weeks I haven't felt 100%, and I'm still struggling to shake off a cold that I've had for a while now. The main reason for the change in plans however, was the weather and the conditions on the high fells. It wasn't what the forecast had predicted; there was a lot of low level cloud and this would probably have meant that there was a white-out on the tops. This would have been made worse by the slight breeze, which was whipping up the fresh-pow that had fallen over night.

Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield.

We decided that once we had reached Hayeswater Reservoir we would turn tail, retrace our steps and head back to where we started. On the descent the cloud did seem to lift, but this alone would not have improved our chances up on the tops; even if there was not a white-out there was a high chance the going would have been incredibly tough without specialist equipment like crampons and such like.

Blencathra from the flanks of Great Mell Fell.

Once back down at the van we headed over to Keswick for some retail therapy before returning to Carlisle where it is now snowing heavily, so it probably would be even worse at 828m on the top of High Street.

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