Thursday, December 24, 2015

That was 2015

2015 has been another good year and I've been lucky enough to climb a stack of great routes. The year started well with Nikki and I climbing that standard route on Neilion, on Mount Kenya, on January 3.

Nikki near the top of Neilion.
Once back home I spent all my weekend's (I only missed one weekend between the middle of January and Easter) winter climbing in Scotland. Needless to say I managed to a fair bit done. Highlights included getting dragged up the Shield Direct in a storm by Pete; climbing Crowberry Gully and Route Major with Nikki and a perfect weekend in Lochaber, climbing Northeast Buttress and Stand and Deliver with Tim. 

Pete at the top of the Shield Direct
Nikki pleased to be back at the car after Route Major.
Tim on a bizarrely desserted Northeast Buttress. Every other route on the Ben was rammed.
Me trying to control the pump on Stand and Deliver on Anoch Beag.
In May, Nikki and I with our good friends Heather and Jonny climbed the Old Man of Hoy. Our slightly ambitious plan was to climb three sea stacks (Hoy, Stoer and Am Buachaille) in a four day round trip from Sheffield. The four of us successfully managed Hoy; Heather, Jonny and I managed to struggle our way up Stoer in the drizzle; but bad weather and a lack of moral fibre meant we weren't sufficiently motivated to attempt Am Buachaille in the rain.

Nikki and I scope out The Old Man of Hoy. 
On the top. Left to right: Nikki, Me, Heather, Jonny. 
Another great day out in May, and no pushover, was the Stanage VS challenge. This involves climbing the 36 routes that are graded Very Severe in the 1989 guide book. Tim and I had blast doing them all in slightly under eleven hours. 

Tim and I at the top of Crab Crawl - The final climb of the challenge.
For Nikki 2015 has been mainly about suffering. She has undertaken a load of gruelling challenges to raise money and awareness for male cancer. (Her dad was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year.) You can read more about her suffering here and can donate here. June saw two of her most bonkers challenges. First, she attempted to bike from Lands End to John O'Groats on her own in seven days, failing 55 miles from the end due to illness. Second, she became to the first woman in the UK to 'Everest' a hill. For those of you not in the know, Everesting involves biking up, and down, a hill until the the vertical relief of Everest is achieved. Nikki choose Froggatt in the Peak and biked up and down it 38 times in just under 25 hours. In other news I lead Comes the Dervish my first E3.

Nikki back in Sheffield after almost LEJOG.
Nikki midway through "Everesting" Froggatt.
Me leading Comes the Dervish.
In July Nikki and I headed to the Alps for a two week holiday. Unfortunately it was unseasonable hot and Nikki was unbelievable tired, after her Ironman the week before, so the trip was less productive than I'd hoped. That said Matt and I had a great trip up the S Ridge of Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, including an impromptu night of snuggling. At the end of the trip Nikki climbed the Allalinhorn, her first four thousand metre peak. 

Matt low down on the S Ridge of the Noire. 
Matt enjoying his shiver bivi.
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August was another productive month for rock. Highlights included: a brilliant evening doing Nightmare of Brown Donkeys at High Tor with Dunc; went on an afterwork soloing rampage at Bowden Doors; climbed the Lakeland classic Gillercombe Buttress with Nikki and did the chosstastically brilliant Fantam B on the Lleyn Peninsular with Josh. 

Duncan reacquainting himself with trad climbing on Nightmare of Brown Donkeys. 
Bowden - I can't believe I'd never climbed in the County before.  
Nikki at the top of Gillercombe Buttress. 
Josh taking in some of the best Choss the Llyen can offer. 
In September Nikki went back to finish the last day of LEJOG; Dad and I had a brilliant weekend climbing mountain routes in Scotland and I had a week of holiday in the Alps. 

Good things come to those who wait. Nikki at John O'Groats.
Dad half way up the Pause. About twelve pitches through our 16 pitch day on the Etive Slabs.
Me looking down Loch Avon after climbing the Needle on Shelterstone Crag.
Will and me on the Rebuffat Gully on the Tour Ronde. 
Will, Heather and Me on the summit of the Tour Ronde. 
H-Flo styling on the S Face of the Midi.
In early October Nikki swam the length of Ullswater while Dad and I canoed beside her.

Nikki swimming like a fish. 
Two weeks ago I finished working for First Ascent and headed to Scotland for a week of winter climbing with Hamish. Unfortuantley after three days a big thaw set in, curtailing our plans. I can't complain too much as one of those was a day of near perfect weather in the North West Highlands. 

Hamish enjoying the sensations of Deep Throat.
Me climbing Central Buttress on Beinn Eighe. 
Hamish getting grumpy because it is getting dark.
Pete in his element.
On Boxing Day I'm heading here for Six weeks. Should be great. 

Hopefully the weather will be like this...

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