Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 - Another year...

2014 has been a bloody great year! It seems to have gone on forever. It started slowly with unemployment, which meant lots of Gritstone but no money for trips further away. Then it all got a bit exciting. I got a job and got married in quick succession. The rest of the year has been a bit of a blur with lots of ace weekend's away to cool places with even cooler people. Below, in no particular order, are some of the photographic highlights. Nikki and I are off to Kenya on boxing with the aim of climbing Mount Kenya. Here's to 2015, I'm sure you'll be a good one.

My wife completing her Ironman. What a hero!
Malcolm Scott and Clair Muir on Concrete Chimney. Later that day I slayed the Strand, finally leading it after three previous attempts spread over seven years.
Dad on Communist Convert on Raven Crag Thirlmere. An underrated gem.
I've done a lot of great climbing with this chap this year. Here he is, cool as a cucumber, at St Govan's East.
The Leap at Easter. Strong scenes.
Malcolm Scott leading Lyme Cryme after work. My first route as a married man.
Me showing off my legs on Dark Side of the Sun at Boulder Ruckle, mid way through a terrifying bank holiday extravaganza.  
Leading the top pitch of Daydreams at Mewsford on Stag Doo. 
Team Stag - Woof!
Wedding scenes...
More wedding scenes...
Caitlin climbing Preying Mantis. Dad dragged me up this as my second ever E1 back in 2003. It was great to go back and lead it one August evening.
Hamish Dunn pitched up beneath the Sella Towers in the Dolomites. Bad weather meant out trip with less productive than we'd hoped but we still managed a couple of routes. 
Duncan crossing the river after an unsuccessful afterwork jaunt to Cheedale. 
Nikki loving Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs in the rain.
Having a doze beneath the Rocher du Midi, whilst waiting for the clag to burn off. It didn't. 
Isla Wormald experiencing hot aches for the first time, after a stormy ascent of Christmas Crack, and hating it. 
Tim Osbourne at the top of the difficulties on Pot of Gold. My only winter climb in 2014. 
Rob, Dunc, Heather, Hamish and Me psyched to climb on the morning of my wedding. 
Me questing up Helfenstein's Struggle on the morning of my wedding. 
My family and other animals (Robin) on holiday in the Calanques.
About to set off up Dreadnought's seconding pitch. One of my best leads of 2014.  
Nikki re-learning to love climbing at the Calanques. Psyched to do more climbing with her in 2014.
Our bags all packed up for Mount Kenya - Excited!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


As usual I've not written much on here for a while. Climbing, work and plain old life have gotten in the way. Below are some photos of some recent highlights.
A late August trip to the Southwest with Duncan. We climbed Pat Littlejohn's outstanding route Dreadnought at Berryhead one of my best climbing experiences of 2014. 

Duncan mid crux on Dreadnought. Seconding I managed this bit fine, but got pumped and scared in the cramped, sandy final traverse so pulled on a peg. 

Me - about to get involved with pitch two.

Questing upwards before making improbable moves to gain a horizontal letter box. More tenuous climbing followed before I reached the huge thread belay. 
The next day we climbed Malbogies in the Avon Gorge. A total sandbag at HVS. 
The next weekend - rather unpredictably - we found ourselves at Gogarth. We headed down to Red Walls for some chossaineering. I hadn't climbed on Red Walls since a harrowing ascent of Red Wall in 2009.  This time Duncan and I climbed Wendigo, which felt more straightforward.
Duncan and I halfway up Wendigo. We climbed the route in two long pitches, belaying at the the Blue Rembered Hill stance, which worked well. The rest of the day was a comedy of backing off, with attempt at T-Rex and the Trap, before an ascent of Britomartis as the sun set. 
In September Nikki and I went on a family holiday to the Calanques in the South of France. With perfect limestone by the sea it was impossible not to have a good time. 
Dad and Nic climbing the Petit Aiguille on the first day.
It rained on the second day so Nikki and cycled 21km and 1500m vertical up Mount Ventoux, one of the most famous hill stages of the Tour du France. Here I reach the top after having been unceremoniously dropped by my wife for the last 5km. 
Nikki at the top.
The G Unit - both well into their eighties and still loving life. Inspiring. 
More climbing. Dad on le Pouce Intergral.
Dad cranking on Super Sirène, a brilliant 6b first climbed by Gaston Rebuffat back in 1941.
Nikki getting to the top of the Saphir. Another brilliant climb.
Autumn equals Gritstone season. Me leading Kayak at Curbar.  I seconded this last year and couldn't imagine leading it. 
Duncan reaching the top of Bird's Nest Crack at Almscliff. Flo's second ever trad climb. 
Me at the Top of Great Western - with a view like this you can see why they call it t'best crag in t'world. 
Duncan seconding Great Western as the sunset. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reviving the Lake District

Dad climbing Communist Convert.
I've spent the last couple of weekends up in the Lakes and have managed to get a bit of climbing in. On the first weekend despite a less than ideal forecast I headed out with my Dad. When I was a student I'd have probably laid in on an iffy forecast but five days of work and five more days to follow is a stern motivator. We headed to Raven Crag, Thirlmere which was brought to my attention by the Arc'teryx Lakeland Revival, a great initiative to encourage folk to climb some of the less frequently ascended routes in the Lakes. I'd climbed at the crag a few times before and it was great to revisit. We climbed Communist Convert, which was really good and not at all dirty. Go and do it.

After that we headed to the even more esoteric Thackmell Crags on the side of Thirlmere. After bushwhacking our way through vertical grass I did a great E1 wall called Yowie in the drizzle. Still hungry for more we headed to Harrop Tarn Crags, also known as Fairview Dome - don't get too excited the resemblance is only passing - but by the time we arrived it was properly raining. We called it a day and headed to Needle Sports to collect my free chalk bag.

Caitlin climbing the third pitch of Preying Mantis.
I was back up again for the August bank holiday weekend. I wasn't really supposed to be climbing but managed to convince my sister to come and hold my ropes on Sunday evening. We climbed Preying Mantis on Goat Crag. I'd last climbed this in 2003 or 2004 with my Dad. It was the second E1 I ever seconded. I got dragged up it. I can distinctly remember watching Dad lead the crux and a big positive hold on the second pitch, which was still there. The climb is brilliant, quite low in the grade, well protected, clean and dry. Saying that the top pitch felt quite tricky for 4c with darkness fast approaching.

The guys at Arc'teryx have made a brilliant little film about climbing in the Lakes. If watching this and the prospect of a free chalk bag for just climbing a route on the list doesn't motivate you to get up there than I'm afraid I can't help you.

Arc'teryx Lakeland Revival

Friday, August 15, 2014

Recent Antics

It's not that I haven't been getting out. I have. I just haven't had time to write about. Here are some photos of some (but by no means all) recent antics in no particular order:

Have I told you about my wife the Iron Man? Nikki chuffed to bits crossing the finish of her first Iron Man.

Seconding the Gates on the Cromlech. I ha a great day out with Heather Florence, despite backing of Left Wall for the second time. I've seconded it now, maybe one day I'll be good enough and brave enough to lead it. 

Onsight soloing without a clue what you are climbing. Does a climbing experience get more pure than this? Malcolm Scott leading the way at Helsby while I show my enthusiasm. Photo Ben Silvestre. 

Hamish Dunn camped by the Sella Tower during a week of awful weather in the Dolomites. I now have a severe case of van envy after spending a week in Hamish's VW T5. 

Duncan wading back across the river after an after work trip to Cheedale. I got spanked by Meditation but got up with a rest and a point of aid and Duncan forgot his rock shoes.

Hamish at the top of the Kasnapoff route on the Second Sella Tower. The next day we managed another route on the Sella Towers in between showers. Before escaping to Switzerland, where the forecast was better. Guess what, it rained. Oh well. 

Malcolm Scott and Clair Muir having a ball on Concrete Chimney in Wen Zawn. This was one of the first routes I did at Gogarth back in 2007 and it was a pleasure to climb it again. 

Me having a snooze beneath the Rocher du Midi. After our abortive trip to Switzerland Hamish and I tried our luck in the Chartreuse Massif. We got to the base of the route and the clag came in so thick we could barely see the base of the route. We sat and waited expecting it to clear. It didn't and we came back empty handed. 

Clair Muir leading Britomartis. The next day Ben Silvestre and I did Bluebottle a brilliant rising traverse that starts at the same point. 

Duncan leading Sirplum at Cheedale. My thirtieth route in Hard Rock and a pretty tricky one to boot. I've got to do thirty more to tick the book. Needless to say that means a lot of routes in Scotland and finding someone who wants to aid the Scoop.