Friday, 5 September 2014

Blast in Wales

I have just been down in Wales for a spot of climbing as I had some work cancelled.  It was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it was fantastic weather.  I met up with Donald for the first two days for a few classics which I have never done before.  First day we went to Tremadog.  I have only really worked here, only on two other occasions have I done any personal climbing.  So we went to Craig Pant Ifan warmed up on the hardest E1 I have ever done...Barbarian!  Brutal!  Then went onto the hardest E2 I have ever done...Pinchusion!  Also brutal!  Donald then led up Falcon (E1 5b) which to be fair was no pushover!  Despite the time we were keen for another route so we climbed Valor (E2 5c).  This turned out to be reasonable for the grade I thought.  I dont know if I was just being weak but all the routes today felt haaard!

Abbing into Rhoscolyn
Day 2, Donald and I went down to Rhoscolyn.  A crag I have not visited and it was brilliant.  A stroll along the top was the closest I had been a few years ago.  We warmed up with Donald leading up The Wild Rover (E1 5b) and then I dispatched the amazing classic The Sun (E3 5c).  Aptly named route as it was beating down on us all day.  After this great line we then climbed The Mask of Red Death (E3 5c) which was a great route with 2 nice cruxy pitches.  Temps were still high so lots of chalk was used but it didn't take anything away from the brilliant climbing.  It was a brilliant day and plenty to come back to.

Me on Centrefold
Day 3 was climbing with Dave.  We were keen for some Gogarth action as I haven't been here much and Dave had a good route in mind.  The route may well have been in the hottest place in Wales.  It was baking on Red Walls, the abseil in was hot work!  Dave dispatched Heart of Gold (E5 6a) as it is a little above my leading grade but was fantastic to second.  Amazing climbing and never desperate (I did have a top rope remember!).  The gear was fiddly (for Dave) so if i had led it I would have got pumped out of my mind and definitely fallen off.  A brilliant day on an amazing crag.
Dave on Jub-Jub bird
Dave on Heart of Gold

Day 4 and everyone was psyched.  Dave, Donald and I all headed back to Rhoscolyn where we all had our routes in mind.  Donald had a sore ankle so didnt want to lead so I started off on a HVS called Fanfare to warm us up.  I then led up the classic line of Centrefold (E3 5c).  What an amazing route.  Well protected and wild situation, well good fun!  Obviously Dave wasn't pumped so he amazingly dispatched The Jub-Jub bird (E6 6b) whilst Donald and I were in awe.  When he topped out Donald and I had a raised eyebrow smile to each other and got psyched.  I was amazed I managed to hold on through the steep ground, power screaming my way through and eventually arriving at the resting ledge...the skin of my teeth.  An amazing day and one of the best I have had in Wales.  Ace company, ace climbing, ace location and such a good laugh.

Dave preparing for the pumpy bit on Jub-Jub bird

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dad's and Lad's do Ben Nevis

Today I was back on Ben Nevis, out with a great team from London.  4 dads and their 6 boys all aged 12.  They were super keen for Ben Nevis.  Fortunately they had wind of the North Face and wanted to go and check it out.  So we explored our way up to the CIC hut when we all went inside for a lunch stop.  The boys were super interested in the history of the hut and some of the great climbers that have been here.  The weather had closed in, very unpleasant in fact but after much Haribo and chocolate we made way for Coire Leis and made our way up the back head wall.  The boys were fantastic at moving around the boulders and the rough terrain, not an easy feat for even experienced walkers.  The summit had its usual mob so after a few photos and some food we made our way down to the Lochain and back to the taxis.  A brilliant day but no views and no shots from my camera.  I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Guiding on the Isle of Skye

Red Cuillin in the background
Pinnacle Ridge
After a fantastic break in the Alps I was back to Skye for my final stint of work.  I managed to smuggle the sunshine through customs and threw it into the sky as I crossed onto the Island.  This week I was with Greg and the aim was to have some good days in the hill’s on some routes and summit’s he hasn't done before.  Quite a tricky task for someone who has done all the Munro’s and significant peaks and most of the classic routes.  We managed to fill 3 good days, 2 on the Cuillin and one out on MacLoed’s tables.  Or final day didn't get going as customs caught up with us and took the sunshine away and our punishment was some very wet weather.  Greg decided enough was enough and with 3 good days under his belt we called it a day.  I was working for Moran Mountain.

View of the Cuillin from the Macloeds talbles

Greg on The Spur

Greg after the Spur

Friday, 8 August 2014

A week on Skye with family and friend

We did all sorts on Skye, both in the mountains and as tourists.  Skye highland games was a particular highlight, I think I will enter next year!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ledge route Stag do

Before, stag on the right
First hands on rock
Today I was back on Ben Nevis with 4 lads from London who have come up for the weekend.  There was meant to be more but by the sounds of things they bailed out as they thought they were not fit enough. So with our strong team we made a rapid ascent upto the CIC Hut, bearing in mind we left the car at midday after the guys had a long drive up from London.  We tackled Ledge Route, picking out lots of little tricky sections just to add spice to the day.  We reached the top, made our way to the summit, where there were still plenty of walkers on the tourist route so we carried on away from the crowds

Still lots of snow up there

Dream Team

and came down into Coire Leis vis the old abseil posts.  A brilliant day for the lads as the saw the best part of the mountain and had a great challenge.  I hope their night out in Edinburgh was a success too.  3 weeks off for me now, week one family holiday on Skye, week two and three in the Alps.  Have a good August!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Salvage Day

Today was my last day out with John after our ridge traverse attempt.  We opted for a section of the ridge that John hadn't done before so we went up from the fairy pools and up Sgurr an Fheadain and then on up to Bidean Druim nan Ramh.  From here we went over An Caisteal and up onto Bruach na Frithe before coming down its north west ridge.  I didn't take my camera with the given forecast, it actually turned out quite nice.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

You win some, you loose some.

A promising start to the day
More mist
I cant quite decided if we have won or lost over the last two days.  How do you measure success and should we be unhappy with failure?  My client John wanted to do a Cuillin Ridge Traverse,  he has 20 years of Cuillin experience, he knows the Isle of Skye better than I do.  But at the age of 60, he needed a helping hand along the ridge.  The plan was south to north including everything possible.  Munro's and all the rock climbs.  Day one went well, we moved through the cloud all day, climbing the TD gap, third time lucky for John and an big weight taken off his shoulders, up King's Chimney, another big ambition, Sn Stac, In Pinn and on the the bivi at Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh.  Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and persisted through the morning.  We made the decision to head off the mountain as it was going to be very slow progress and pretty unpleasant.  So unfortunately not a complete traverse but John succeeded in two ambitions on the first day.  A success within a failure I guess.

John in the TD Gap

More Mist

Bivi in a cave...sub optimal

Sunday, 27 July 2014

He who dares my son, he who dares!

Brothers Mike and John

Coming up the Pinn

Somewhere on Skye...Could be anywhere

Top of the Pinn

Team summit selfie

Tried to clear out but not quite

John backing up mike on abseil

Persistanced paid off today for John, Mike and I.  Our combined team age of 174 years (I'm 27 by the way) watched as two other guided parties drove away from the car park as it was raining.  I convinced John and Mike that it was to clear up and we pressed on.  3 hours later we were stood at the foot of the Inaccessible Pinnacle deciding whether to climb it or not.  It didnt take long, we were going for it.  The rain had subsided, the timing was perfect.  As we made many pitches up the ridge the rock was so warm and was drying off perfectly.  It was a dream come true for John and Mike.  Unfortunately the cloud didnt lift but this left us with some very atmospheric situations.  We all abseiled off and headed down into Coire na Banachdich just as the rain started.  Persistance paid off.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  We ventured and John and Mike achieved a lifetime ambition.  A great day in sub optimal conditions.  Sweet!