Monday, April 14, 2014

The Relief of Spring

In the past, winter has always been my season - (well perhaps autumn and winter). But recently winter climbing opportunities have become so squeezed and fleeting that they feel like isolated moments rather than anything with momentum or weight. This winter I managed six routes with one of them a real standout - Centurion on the Ben. Almost as many days were spent walking in, in horizontal rain and North Wales didn't have a single proper winter day. I also had to cancel my Norwegian trip through lack of cash. So when the days began to lengthen and the garden began to wake up I felt the natural relief of Spring much more strongly than I have for years.

One of the joys of gardening is that you never quite know what is going to pop up each year from all your hard work, so this year has been a real joy to see some sections of the garden really taking off. Couple that with a little bit of climbing fitness sneaking out and that this month I've managed to nurse my knee through three weeks of marathon training after a similar time off means that I'm in that glorious Spring state of mind where the summer feels like an exciting world of possibilities. We'll see how long that lasts!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What a week

Just got back from a life-affirming week at Glenmore Lodge as a host on the BMC International Winter Meet. Very inspiring on many levels. Despite pretty poor weather most days, the list of routes climbed was incredible (There's a partial list on the BMC website report here). Really impressive to see so many climbers thrown in at the deep end and adapting so positively. Personal highlight of the week was climbing a very wintery Centurion on The Ben with Canadian guest Michelle Kadatz. Afterwards she wrote on her facebook page 'Crazy day climbing on Ben Nevis with Ian Parnell. I don't think climbing can ever be the same again. A new level of commitment, psych and suffering has been obtained.' Which sums up the week well. Here are a few pics.
Day One - Olov Isaksson on Inclination in Glen Coe
Me on Inclination Pitch 3
Teams on Central Grooves and Buttress
Olov on Pitch 2 of Slenderhead at Stob Corie nan Lochan
and again on Pitch 3
The line of Centurion on The Ben
Looking up the first two pitches of Centurion - about to spontaneously combust with excitement
After sitting for a hour watching horizontal rain in Torridon heading for plan B at Applecross
Result! Meall Gorm - the shortest winter walk in in Scotland
Michelle on pitch 2 of a variation on Blue Lampost

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dubh Loch Jan 4th 2014

I managed to kick off my winter season with a visit to the mighty Creag an Dubh Loch in the Southern Cairngorms with Ben Wilkinson. We weren't alone as fired by a photo of the first winter ascent of The Giant, thanks to unusually icy conditions and the gene pool of the Hawthorn family, several teams also fancied their chances on Saturday. In the end I'm not sure how many of those teams completed anything as temperatures were several degrees higher than predicted. We had brief dabble on Vapourizer, Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell's uber ice line that cuts through Vertigo Wall - unfortunately the ice was refusing to hold body weight or stay stuck to the wall. Instead Ben and I sneaked up Vertigo Wall (VII,7) in 3 pitches which lived up to it's reputation as one of Scotland's finest winter routes.

If you are considering a visit this week, there is a lot of ice but it needs a good solid freeze. There is also a lot of powder snow which has buried often unfrozen turf, plus the rock cracks are full of crudy ice - conditions are challenging but could pretty quickly turn superb or as quickly melt away. Such are the joys of Scottish winter climbing.

A continuous line of ice down The Giant waiting for a good freeze.
The line of Vapourizer again unclimbable on Saturday. Vertgo wall takes the left to right diagonal forming an X with Vapourizer.
A nice view of the 'mush icicle and tied off stubie belay on our final pitch.
Trying to master the 'art of pulling on axes without pulling' - I believe the true line of Vertigo Wall is some way to my left.
Two winter beauties.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Garden 2013

Whilst I've neglected it in the last few months, my garden has given a huge amount this year - from a much needed breathing space for the head to courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, lettuce and apples for the taste buds. The amazing variety of wildlife for such a small garden (particularly since it's terrorised by our cats) has been particularly uplifting. So here's a year in snaps.

April (sorry 2 shots - great month for the garden as well as climbing!)



Here's wishing everyone a rewarding 2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Climbing Year 2013

Been a mixed year, some months have gone by with just a single route, others have been amazing but all in all 2013 has been good. Norway had the wow factor but the best thing was feeling like a proper climber again.

January - Central Grooves (VII,8) Lech Ddu
February - Awesome trip to Lyngen Alps in Northern Norway
 March - Nice new route (VI) on Lech Ddu 
April - North Wales just keeps on giving. The Appendix at night before Chequered Wall the following morning (left of folk on Central Icefall here)
 April - Sorry two pics it was such a good month. Opening Gambit (MXS) 
May - Traditional Pembroke bank holiday Playstation (E3)
 June - Nightflight (HVS) Whitestone Cliff
 July - Capital Punishment (E3), Ogwen
 July - Yes two again, just a great summer. Abseiling in for new route at the Iron Age Fort Area Range West
August - Rapture of the Deep (E4), Gogarth
September - Outstanding trip new routing on the islands off Skye
 October - Mantrap (E3) Gogarth
November - Which Doctor (E5) cheating headpoint as can't climb grit
  December - Falling off at White Goods in preparation for a superb start to 2014