Friday, December 14, 2012

Trinity Face

I've not written much on here recently as I've got a job and now spend a lot of my time stacking shelves in a supermarket. This isn't so bad as it rains all the time at the moment and I need to save money so I can go on a four month long climbing trip when I graduate in June. 

Looking like a goon on the top of Snowdon!
Amazingly I had a free day on Wednesday, no work, no lectures, no nothing. Even more amazingly the weather was perfect, but at short notice I couldn't find a partner. I'd seen some photos on a friend's Facebook page of the Trinity Face on Snowdon, it looked amazing and as far I could work out the only crag likely to be in nick. The next morning I dropped Nikki at work and sped up the Pass, shouldered my nice light pack and set off.

The walk in took a little longer then expected and it was nice to have some solitude. Crampons on. Axes out. I started the day by soloing up and down Central Trinity, which was good, with bomber neve all the way. Half way up I caught up with a bloke who was making his thirty first ascent of Central Trinity, his first was in 1978! Back at the base of the crag I started up Right-hand Trinity, which was good fun. Cheers to Ray and Stu for letting me climb past them.

The Trinity Face
I then walked to the summit of Snowdon and back down for one more climb. Ladies Gully looked like one of the better lines so I headed for that. The main pitch was interesting, with a fun move out of the top of the gully. Thanks to Mark and David for letting me solo past them. At the top of the crag I head back via Crib y Ddysgl and Crib Goch. Crib Goch was a lot less wintery than I expected, but even so I didn't take my crampons off until I was back on the Pyg Track.

Even more of a goon on the top of Crib Y Ddysgl.
Unfortuantley this isn't much use a conditions report as it started to thaw this morning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Custom made climbing rucksacks?

After many years of being frustrated by the over complicated and often gimmicky designs that dominate the rucksack market I've decided to have a go at making my own simple, durable rucksacks.

The company will sell direct to the customers and will start with four products: a 25 litre running sack, a 30 litre climbing sack, a 40 litre climbing sack and 50 litre climbing sack with an extendable lid.

Each of these products will be available off the peg, but also as a bespoke bag with fit and features customized to suit the individual. The bags will be made in the UK using the highest quality materials.

I'd appreciate it if you would take the time to fill out the short survey below.

Any questions drop me an email:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Expedition report

I've finally got round to writing up the expedition report from my trip to Alaska. Check it out if you want to read a bit more about what we got up to or if you are planning a trip to Alaska. I've tried to put in all the infomation I wish I knew before we set off in May.

Thanks again to everyone who supported our trip.
Bangor University Denali Expedition Report

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Cassin - The Movie

Livingstone has just finished editing a cool little film over our ascent of Denali's Cassin Ridge in June. Watching it reminds how awesome this route is, one of the best climb's I have ever done.

Cassin Ridge, Denali - Livingstone/Ripley from Tom Livingstone on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Duncan figuring out the line of Aura/Pinnacliissima.
Nikki dropped Dunc and I at the end of the road and we started the long slog up to Craig yr Ysfa. We reached the top and abseiled down to base of the Lower Amphitheatre Wall. Aura looked steep. I felt apprehensive. I racked up and gave it a go. The holds were there, the gear was there. My head wasn't. I had a rest, tried to sort myself out and continued. Every time I moved away from gear I got irrationally scared. I lowered off and let Duncan lead it. He cruised it and I had no problems on second. I need to sort my head out!

Me on Aura.
I set of up Pinnaclissima's first pitch, a dirty looking corner with surprisingly good climbing. The crux involved committing all of one's weight to a foothold, with poor handholds. After a few goes up-climbing and down-climbing I managed to figure it out. Duncan set of up the next pitch, a thin looking corner with minimal gear. The back of corner was damp and with no micro cams to protect it we scuttled away. 

The next evening Burrows and I headed to the Grochan, arriving just in time to watch DC cruise Murial. Ollie lead Wind and then lowered off so I could sport climb it on his gear. I quickly lead it, grateful for his move by move beta. Ollie then lead Karwendel Wall, which was very good and probably the most tricksome of the three Grochan hard Hard VSs. I finished with Brant Direct, which I'd seconed a few times before but never lead. Remembering it to be hard I was pleasantly surprised.

Can you guess what we do?
Ollie and I had work in the Lakes at the weekend, but managed to squeeze in an after work ascent of Copenhagen on Hardknott Crag. This was one of my first E2 lead and it was a joy to re-lead it on Ollie gear in the evening sunshine. It's a brilliant pitch, with one move that is desperate for the short (thankfully I'm not!). Unfortunately Hardknott Crag is pretty dirty at present. Apart from Powerglide and Copenhagen all the other routes are caked in moss. Someone local should do the climbing community a favour and abseil down them all with a brush. The other routes I've done there are all excellent and it's a real shame that a roadside crag that catches the evening sun is hardly climbed on.

This is about as roadside as they get and it's filthy dirty: Come on Lakes climbers sort it out!
Burrow low down on Copenhagen.
Me re-leading Copenhagen.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hard HVS's, getting rescued, Pembroke and other stories...

I've not blogged for a while, mainly because I've not really climbed anything of interest or had much spare time. Below is a round up of the routes I've done over the last few weeks.

Carreg Althrem: Gareth and I headed down to this delightfully situated little crag and ticked of Laveredo and Flatricide Wall, which were both excellent. I fancied a go and Panminean Groove, but it was covered with lichen and I didn't have any big gear.

Dinas Cromlech. The next day I slogged up to Dinas Cromlech and held Graeth's ropes on Left Wall. He crushed it without issue. Unfortunately I didn't have the balls to have a go. I then had a go at a rather steepy and snappy E1 called Curfew, but got scared and escaped up an easier route.

Gareth cruising Left Wall.
Duncan and I had a final weekend of work in the Lakes. We cocked up on the climbing front. We drove round to Thrang Crag, a rather esoteric venue with a couple of good sounding routes. I'd been there once before in 2008 and it was overgrown then. Sadly I don't think anyone has climbed there since and the routes are now unclimbable. We also spent an evening at Carrock Fell and I spent most of my time watching Duncan flail on Rouse's Wall. (In a strange coincidence I sold a cup of tea to a nice chap who knew Al Rouse the next day!)

Back in Wales: Garerth and I had a good day at Tremadog. We started with Leg Slip, which I'd done before. I then had a go Pretzl Logic, but couldn't figure out the technical move through the roof. Gareth managed to pull through it. I then lead the excellent second pitch of Venom, which is brilliant long E1 5b pitch in a fantistic position. Gareth lead the final overhanging crack, which is very good but probably not 5c. We finished the day with G String a hard Hard VS to the right of Striptease that I'd not done before. It was good fun apart for the heinous move through the overhang that I got pumped silly on!

A few days later I headed up to the Grochan with Gareth. I lead Kaisergebirge Wall, which I'd done before but built a belay beneath the crux. I managed it fine this time, but was rather distracted by the pair of teenage girls, who thought it would be a good idea to yell at me as I gibbered my way through the crux.

Clare and I headed out to do a quick route on Friday evening. Clare had to be at work by ten, but as it gets dark at nine so we had no worries. Initially we drove into the Pass, but it was too windy so we sacked it off and headed to Gideon Quarries, which I'd not been to before. Two abseils later we're at the bottom of the crag. I led an easy pitch and brought Clare up to a loose stance beneath a blank slab. The slab is pretty easy, but there isn't much gear. After fifteen metres I get a goodish Rock 3 and keep climbing. Twenty metres later and I'm stood in a very precarious position with no more runners. I can't quiet work out what to do and the pitch description doesn't make sense. Eventually I make a scary down climbing move and traverse along a thin crack and up to a belay about 5 metres from the top of the crag.

Clare follows up and I set off to the top off the crag. It's now about 8:45 and very close to dark. The rocks loose and I can't really see what I'm standing on. Then it starts to pour with rain and all friction disappears. I reverse back to the belay. It's now pitch black. We climb off the belay ledge and start scrambling leftwards, hoping we can find away up back to our bags. However the top of the crag is guarded by steep wall of wet slate. We're trapped.

Luckily Clare has her phone in her pocket, but has hardly any battery (mine is conveniently located in bag along with my head torch). I ring Nikki who is out on the piss in Bangor. Can she get someone who lives in the Llanberis to throw me a rope. Then the phone runs out of battery.

Claire and me waiting to get rescued...
Clare and I sit and wait, exchanging stories about various stupid things we've done. Eventually the very bright lights of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team arrive. Nikki couldn't get hold of any of my mates so rang the rescue team, who kindly came and hauled us both out. A big thank you to the guys and girls in the MRT for giving up their time to haul a pair of idiots out. I'll remember to take my head torch next time it's close to dark.
The bright lights of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team.
My Dad came to visit for the weekend. We manage a quick route on Easter Island Gully. I dogged my way up Phagocyte, an overhang jamming crack with poor footholds that had ideas way above its' station! The top pitch was a bold and slightly snappy affair, but thankfully not as strenuous as the first.
Me on the first pitch of Phagocyte - definitely an HVS that thinks it's E1!
Gareth and I headed down  to Pembroke. I'd only done one route there previously and was keen to sample more. Day one we went to Mowing Word. I warmed up on Snozwagner, which was excellent but slightly pumpy. We then did the Heart of Darkeness/New Morning combo, which was also superb. The first pitch is outrageous for the grade. I then abseiled down for Sealhunt and made the schoolboy error of getting hit by a wave. Soaking wet I escaped up a fun VS called The Curver. We finished the day with Lucky Strike, which I really wanted to lead. We abseiled down in fading light and big seas. I set off, but quickly retreated back to the belay psyched out by the massive sea. Gareth cruised it. 

Gareth at the top of Snozwagner.
Gareth on the outrageous Heart of Darkness.
Day two: The weather was really annoying. It was really windy, which made climbing unpleasant, but because it wasn't raining we couldn't allow ourselves not to go climbing. We head down to Manzuko but ran away to Ma Weston's (a bit like visiting a senile relative who you don't really like!) when it started to hail. Returning a couple of hours later there were people on it so I lead Hercules a cool HVS. We then faffed around trying to find a less windy crag. We abseiled down to St Govan's which was pretty calm. Garerth lead Vice is Nice, but took a few hangs because the wind psyched him out. By the time it was my turn to climb it was pouring down so I hauled my way up and we ran away fast!

Day 3: Mother Carey's Kitchen. I lead Rock Idol, which intimidating and excellent. Gareth then lead Herod, which was also excellent, but not quite as intimidating. We then abseiled in to Deep Space, which climbs through some outrageous terrain and is also excellent. Gareth lead this as I was far too scared to lead the roof! We then ran away for an ice cream. We finished the day with Riders on a Storm, which was underwhelming to say the least. 

Deep Space is steep!
Day 4: We did Suprise Attack at Mewsford. It was very good, but I couldn't quite figure out the crux so took a hang. Two grey brass offsets would be handy. Proabley not E2, but the first pitch is harder than 5a. I was then feeling pretty rubbish but Gareth wanted to do one more route. We finished the day with the Arrow. I managed to cock the first moves and get wrong handed (I can see why lots of people hurt themselves on this) and jumped off, but managed to miss the ledge! After that I managed to second it without issue. We stayed that night as Gareth's parents before driving back the next day via Tremadog. We climbed The Neb with the Broken Edge finish. The first pitch is excellent and the second pitch a fun little boulder problem in the sky. Gareth got psyched out by the wind so I lead both pitches.

Surprise Attack at Mewsford.
I wanted a rest the next day, but Gareth was still psyched to climb. We headed to Rhoscolyn. I started up Savage Sunbird, which the guidebook makes out to be a soft E2. I climbed up to a ledge, from, which steep moves on big holds reached a ledge on the right. At this point the holds ran out. and with the gear below my feet and a ledge below that I wasn't too keen to fall off. After three good attempts I gave in and gave Big G the ropes. He cruised it. I did the move fine on second, but it still felt precarious. I finished the day by seconding Gareth up the Sun - his first E3. Good effort!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

UK rock round up...

Looking at my friends blogs (aren't we sad, we all have blogs?) each post seems to have some witty and profound title, followed by reams and reams of eloquent prose (actually that bit was a lie). I'm not that witty or profound so I usually just go with the name of the crag, or the route, or the area. Unoriginal, I know but at least you know what you are letting yourself in for.

I got back from Alaska and had two days back in Wales before heading to Lofoten. In between the whirlwind of washing, unpacking, discussing how crap the weather has been while I was away, discussing the weather in Alaska and a well done for not dieing BBQ I manged to get a quick route in with Burrows.

Apparently a constant deluge covered North Wales for the whole of June. It might have been a coincidence, but my return coincided with the first sunshine for a month. Obviously everywhere was wet so there was one option: Gogarth. We abseiled into the Wen Slab and set off up A Dream of White Horses. This was the fourth time I'd done this route and it never disappoints. The last pitch was pretty soaked, which added to the entertainment.

Ollie on Dream...
Back from Lofoten Duncan, Ben and I headed down to near Blaenau Ffestiniog for some dogging. We started at Craig Yr Wrysgan. I set off up an E1 called Condor, which had tricky and pumpy crack, followed by a bold top out onto a slab. I got up to this point and was too gripped/pumped to do the final moves. I took a hang on the gear and after shaking the lactic away surprised myself by doing the move first go. Duncan then had much the same expirence on Green Wall (E3) taking a hang right near the top.

Dunc on Green Wall.
Dunc and Ben sorting gear at the bottom of Clipiau.
We finished the day at Craig y Clipiau. Ben lead Great Feat/Mean Feat in one long pitch. At the top he untied and dropped his ropes. I then lead it on his gear, but had to belay half way when I got a rope stuck in a crack. Dunc then lead the tricky top corner crack. The climbing is excellent and although slightly esoteric is one of the best E1s in North Wales.

The next day we headed to Pant Ifan. I love Tremadog and seem to spend far too much time there, but Dunc and Ben had hardly climbed there. Dunc set of leading Mangoletsi and seemed to be enjoying it until Mason stomped up to the base of the crag like a petulant child. Having already ditched one belayer, for having the audacity of not answering his phone for thirty minutes, Alex was in need a of a new one. Mason had to climb E6 that day and Duncan was whisked off to the Lleyn to hold his ropes.

Ben lead the excellent top pitch of Itch. After that I fancied a go at Harvey Proctor's Spanking Slab. Ben lead the easy access pitch. I then set off, pulling through the sadly overgrown corner of Monkey Puzzle to find myself at the base of a very thin crack on a very thin slab. Apparently Dai Lampard gave it HVS! Whilst I contemplated my fate I enjoyed watching two elderly gentleman climbing Poorman's Peutrey, and exclaiming things like: "I say Nigel, the exposure on this route is outrageous." When they were at most twenty metres above the tree line. I up climbed and down climbed the crack for a while, before deciding that discretion is the better part of valor and escaping up Monkey Puzzle's flared crack.

Dunc and I had to be in the Lakes at the weekend for work, so we drove up on Thursday night with the plan of cragging on Friday. We went to Goat Crag in Borrowdale. We'd planned to climb the classic E2 Tumbleweed Connection but thought we'd warm up first. I set off up DDT a HVS I'd not done. It had ideas way above its' station and was pretty hard and scary. Thankfully I managed to gibber and shake my way up it without too much trauma. Back at the bags Dunc realized he'd conveniently forgotten the lunch and we ran away.

Dunc showing DDT who the boss is.

The tree belay mentioned in the guide didn't exist, so I had to make do with this. Luckily Duncan doesn't weigh much!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Nikki and I have just returned from a two week trip to a very cold, wet and windy Lofoten Islands. The place would be cragging paradice if the weather was half decent! We flew to Kiruna in Northern Sweden (Cheaper flights and much, much cheaper car hire) and drove east to Lofoten. With the frustratingly slow Norwegian speed limit (80 kph) the drive took about six hours.

Then, in the evening light, the Presten loomed into view. A beautiful granite slab, five hundred metres high and home to Vestpillaren the route I was most psyched to climb.

The Presten in all her glory.
The first route we climbed was the excellent Piano Handler Lund's Route. A real fun Hard Severe with a couple of interesting jamming sections. The next day we climbed two brilliant routes Applecake and Light and Shade. The Lofoten Islands are really beautiful and we were really enjoying the granite cragging and the scenic views. 

Nikki topping out on the excellent Piano Handler Lund's Route.
Nikki on Applecake Arete.
The cost of living in Norway is astronomical. Thankfully there is free camping at the bottom of Gandalf one of the most popular crags. We had a pleasant day climbing there. Enjoying Guns and Roses (although I wussed out of the steeping jamming section), Gandalf and the first pitch of Gamle Rev, a really fun E1. I would have like to climb the second pitch, but rain stopped play.

Our campsite at Gandalf.
Nikki on Gandalf.

Four days of unwelcome rain followed, when it cleared up we headed west to the end of the islands for a change of scene. We climbed a HVS slab climb called Sea Breeze. It gets top 50 in the Rockfax, but I'm not convinced either of authors had climbed it to check! It does have some good climbing with lots of bold slab padding. It also has some pretty crappy over grown climbing and some loose rock. The clag came in at pitch 4 and the by the penultimate (crux) pitch it was raining lightly, which made for challenging climbing. Nikki knocked a big block off and watched it bounce down the slabs, across the road, narrowly missing our hire car and into the sea. I thought this was pretty cool, but it freaked Nikki out a bit. At the top of the route we were both pretty drench. We then spent the next few hours abseiling down the wrong descent gully, which was now a scary, loose waterfall.

Sea Breeze.
It's getting atmospheric.
A traumatized Nikki.
Abseiling down Death Gully...

Back at the car, soaked to the skin.
The next day the weather cleared up and after drying all our gear in the sun we had an enjoyable climbing at Festvag. We started with a cool E1 called Cuckoo Crack. As I arrived at the top the easy access pitch the leader of the team in front of us whimpered, "take" and then proceeded to take a horrible gear ripping inverted fall. Thankfully she was ok, but I was pretty sure Nikki was going to have use her doctoring skills.

The crux pitch wasn't too bad and I laced it with even more gear than usual. The top half was superb with brilliant, steep climbing on massive hold with good gear. In the afternoon we climbed a crowded Puffin Club, which was also very good. The layback section through the overhang on pitch 2 was excellent.

Nikki on pitch one of Puffin Club.
The next day we went to do Vestpillaren, but there were already eight parties on it at 10 am so we sacked it off. The next day it rained again and continued to do so for the rest of our trip. I'll definitely be back to climb it though.

A cool fountain thingy near Narvik that we stopped to look at on the drive back.
If anyone wants any beta on how to do Lofoten on the cheap get in touch. 

It pays to be attentive in Norway - Our crag swag haul after two weeks!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Livingstone's side of the story.

Tom Livingstone has written up an account of our trip to Alaska, which is worth a read if you've got a minute:

Tom Livingstone descending the West Buttress at sunset after our acclimatization ascent: by far and away my favorite photo from the trip.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Cassin Ridge

4:22am. Shit! As usual the alarm on my expensive alitimetre watch had been too quiet to wake me. I shook Tom awake and he quickly got the stove going. Over the next hour we ate oatmeal and brewed up. At six we shouldered our miniscule rucksacks and set off. We soloed the first part of the Japanese Colouir to the start of the difficulties where we put the rope on. Tom lead a steep bulge reminiscent of the Rouge Pitch. The wide gully above looked straightforward so we simu climbed, reaching its’ top three hours after we’d crossed the ‘shrund.

My block was straightforward easy snow climbing followed by the alleged crux. The guide said 5.8 so I was expecting a VS fight but was pleasantly surprised to find a straightforward gully that was barley Scottish IV. Tom lead off up the Cowboy Arete finding secure snow with the occasional bomber screw. Stupidly I’d put my water bottle in my sack and was suffering for it. I had a big drink and clipped it to my harness before setting off up the towards the First Rock Band. At the ‘shrund below we stopped and brewed up for an hour. The weather was still perfect and we were both pretty upbeat and pleased with how well we were moving. We talked rubbish and tried to pick out Nick and Andy’s tracks on the glacier below.

I then set off into the First Rock Band, moving together through easy mixed terrain until I ran out of gear. Tom lead a tricky goulette and I continued upwards on easy snow towards the start the second rock band. Both tired and out of water we stopped, brewed up and ate a freeze dried each. We turned the radio on 8. Lisa’s forecast wasn’t good: snow the next evening, but we still had twenty four hours she reassured us. Silently we packed up and set off, both knowing we had to get out of here.

I was pretty spent and let Tom lead us up the straightforward mixed ground through the Second Rock Band, while I plugged into my Ipod and escaped. At midnight we arrived at the small ledge that was the poor bivi marked on the topo. Even though there was only two more pitches of climbing to the top of the difficulties, after twenty hours of climbing we were too tired to continue. I brewed and boiled water for hot water bottles, whilst Tom struggled to make platform large enough to squeeze our tiny tent on. We slept tied in.

We didn’t set an alarm and were alarmed when we woke to snow, which had arrived early. This wasn’t in the plan. After brews and breakfast we set off, apprehensive about what the day would bring. Tom lead off and after dispatching the a tricky slab struggled up a tricky crux corner, with spindrift pouring down. We were now atop the Second Rock Band, the end of the route’s technical difficulties. However the prospect of 6000 feet of wading in a whiteout on North America’s highest mountain meant we were far from relaxed.

I broke trail across Big Birth, squinting through the clag for the colouir that bypasses the Third Rock Band, scared that I’d miss it or follow dead end. Thankfully I choose the right fork and kept stomping up. We were both concerned about the weather and the snow were considering bailing leftwards towards the safety at the earliest opportunity. After a while a tent platform appeared. We stopped, sat on our pads, and dozed while we melted snow. The clouds parted, the summit was back on.

We kept trudging upwards through the calf deep snow. Swapping over every hour and using my altimeter to monitor our progress. The top of the Cassin went on and on and on. We stopped to brew up at weather time and shared a freeze dried meal. We were both tired and would have gladly stopped for the night but the forecast told us we had to keep going. We kept going avoiding the freezing shade, eventually reaching Kahiltna Horn, lungs bursting, feet freezing around eleven pm. We dropped our sacks and walked the final few hundred feet to the summit.

Exhausted. I stumbled down, bent double, in a world of my own, wondering why Tom still looked fresh. My water had frozen. The final tiny hill back in 17k Camp was my stumbling block. Head in my hands I sat on the snow. Tom picked up my sack and carried it into to camp. We’d planned to just brew up and continue down to our warm beds at 14k camp, but our stove wouldn’t pressurize. Too tired to fix it we admitted defeat and collapsed into our tiny tent.

When I woke I went over to the rangers tent and sheepishly asked to use their stove. They knew what we’d done and were relieved to see us. They plied us with congratulatory hot drinks. After a couple of hours talking gibberish in their huge party tent we set off on our tired legs back to 14k Camp.

Anyway enough waffle from me here are some photos: 

Descending the Wickware Ramp with Andy Houseman and Nick Bullock.

Me in the camped below the Japanese Coulior. Photo: Tom Livingstone.
Tom Livingstone on the crux of the Japanese Couloir.
Me straddling the top of the Jap Couloir. Photo: Tom Livingstone.
Me leading the 5.8 crux. Photo: Tom Livingstone.
Brewing up beneath the First Rock Band.
Tom in the First Rock Band.

Tom in the Second Rock Band.

Tom in the Second Rock Band.


In the couloir that bypasses the Third Rock Band.

The weather cleared up so we kept going...

And going...

Until we got to the top!

Tom on the summit.
Summary: An account of a two day ascent of Denali’s Cassin Ridge in late June 2012. Tom Ripley and Tom Livingstone are indebted to following organizations who provide their expedition with financial support: British Mountaineering Council, Mount Everest Foundation and Welsh Sports Association. They are also indebted to the following companies who provided them with equipment: Anatom, Cotswold Outdoor, First Ascent and Mountain Equipment. Thank you.