Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Something a little different

I was hoping to be up in Scotland climbing steep hoar frosted cracks but the cold but dry weather means there's very little in condition up there I'd like to climb. To keep from going stir crazy Jon and I headed down to the Welsh borders to check out an area a friend of mine, Ramon had told us about. White Goods has been developed as a specific dry tooling crag one of the few around. One of the difficulties is finding steep rock that no-one would want to rock climb on. White Goods manages this thanks to muddy shale bands between the roofs and a popular fly tipping site. Aesthetic it is not. Infact all that seemed to be missing from the ambience was a stereo blasting out Industrial Noise by Skinny Puppy or perhaps the less gentle tunes by Pantera.

Never the less we had a fun trip, climbing the easier angled Kitchen Garden routes (D5-D7) and then I surprised myself by hollering my way up Jaz a steep D9 (although I suspect pretty soft at the grade). Dry tooling in some people's minds is about as low as climbing can go, but Ive found it to be fun and the perfect option to get the guns reloaded for when conditions kick in again up North.

There's more info on White Goods here http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=3826 and here http://www.drytooling.co.uk/articles/files.display-4.html. I think its a very worthwhile venue and certainly more enjoyable climbing than Birnam, the other major UK dry tooling venue, which is almost entirely drilled.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The future of Scottish winter climbing?

Many of you will know about this already. But for those who don't check out the following photos
They're of a couple of friends Pete Benson and Guy Robertson climbing a new route The God Delusion grade IX on Beinn Bhan in Applecross. They had the perfect adventurous journey to get up this thing. Guy had been in several times before, including once with myself to catch conditions on what he'd dubbed "The Eiger Project" (the face looks a little like the North Face of The Eiger). A few days before success the pair had made an attempt, reaching about half height where Guy took a lob when a massive block in which both his axes and pro were in broke free. On the return visit Pete and Guy left the car at 1am, in warm wet drizzle. Infact it was so poor they considered turning around. Luckily they persevered as within touching distance of the climb's start the rain turned to snow. They started climbed at 5am repeating in the dark their previous pitches. It was lucky they started so early as the climbing was so involved the final pitches were climbed by headtorch. Again fortune was on their side as it was a clear night and their was a big bright moon. The night shots in particular show what a magical voyage this was. Add into the equation that its a winter only route and you have something super special.

The title of this post is obviously hyperbole as there are many different versions of the way forward in Scottish winter climbing. But I hope any youngsters getting into winter climbing will realise that even though routes like this don't have the very biggest of grades, their length committment and style of approach make them world class efforts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Post Duel

Looks like we got our timing spot on with our climb on Monday, as a fairly heavy thaw has set in. However continuing stormy weather should keep the snow pack topped up and provide a great base for the rest of the season. While the arms have recovered now from our trip, I'm not sure my back has, infact its beginning to feel like I might have cracked a rib close to my back during the Beinn Eighe avalanche. Hopefully plenty of Christmas cake should cement things back in place. The other thing that bust recently was my axe.3/4s of the way up the wall pitch on the Duel I suddenly realised my axe was feeling a bit wobbly. Infact the whole handle had sheared off.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another "interesting" Scottish trip

After our last visit Jon and I were after a more normal outing up North. As well as getting avalanched with me Jon had managed to crash his car skidding on black ice on a previous trip so we were in a loan car from the insurance company while they patched his together again. Alex joined us to make 3 which was cosy to say the least in a Nissan Micra but once on the motorway we made good time, at least on the down hill bits. Crossing Ranoch Moor I slowed for the herds of deer crowding the side of the road, and settled behind another car. Within sight of Glen Coe I had just requested "the track" by The Fall - "Its a curse". When the carcass of a deer loomed 30ft ahead of us slap bang in the middle of road. I couldn't believe it as the car infront hadn't swerved or moved at all. I guess it must have been a high wheel base four wheel drive as the little Micra ploughed into the already dead animal. Initially there seemed little damage but within a few minutes it became obvious we no longer had a working radiator and the Micra was dead too. Luckily we managed to hitch a lift to Kinlochleven and crumble into bed at 2am. Jon volunteered to sort out the car aloowing me to hook up with Andy Turner for a day out.The dawn from Stob Coire Nan Lochan after a very pleasant approach on good neve.
A plastered Central Buttress with the long groove of Unicorn in the center a route that both Andy and I had both done previously.
We opted for the Duel IX,9 a route that took Cubby and Rab Anderson 7 seperate visits to heroically establish. Me on the wall pitch as the weather deteriorates, note the plume of spindrift above my head. Loads of verglass led to even thinner climbing than normal, with the crux for me high on this pitch just beneath the roofs. Unable to get at the rock hooks I had to chip 5mm edges into the ice to pull up with awful footholds 10ft above a cluster of dodgy gear. All in all I must have spent close to 3 hours on this pitch.
Andy making much quicker work of the 3rd pitch off width. We took 11 cams in all including two size 6s but due to the vergalss didn't place a single one. Superb route though, one I've been wanting to do for quite a while. Great to climb with Andy though, who gave me much needed confidence as I was fighting the demons of my last trip. Luckily the arm and back held out OK, although it was a very tattered Parnell who hobbled down to the road at the end of the day.

Throughout the afternoon a thaw set in which seems to be building further today. So even if we get the car sorted we will probably head home. Jon I think might be looking for psychological help after the run of luck he's had.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Leeds Lecture

I'll be lecturing in Leeds this Wednesday, 8pm at the climbing shop Mountain Intelligence (where to find them here http://www.mountain-intelligence.co.uk/ )
As well as explaining what exactly is "British Style" and showing how Sir Ranulph Fiennes tried to kill me, I'll be giving the full story behind my war wounds picked up in Scotland. Hopefully see some of you there.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mental, Mate!

I was deliberately vague yesterday about what went on on Beinn Eighe. Friends who I've given the full story have joked that theres a Joe Simpson style book in it if I wanted. Well I'll just settle for a quick story in Climb Mag. But here's a pic of the aftermath. Before that happened I'd been on a more interesting journey onto the West Central Wall. I was intrigued to learn that the late Alan Mullin had been trying to climb the same area I found myself in. It brought back quite a few memories of Alan, he exasperated, offended and made me laugh in equal measure but he was never boring. Alan would have absolutely loved the epic we went through on Wednesday. I've a vivid image of Alan's manic eyes burning through the storm announcing at every twist and turn "This is just mental, mate" although perhaps with the odd adult only adjective mixed in for emphasis. I shared a few adventures with Alan, but I struggled to be the friend Alan needed. It was nice to think that I'd shared a little of Alan's wild vision with our attempt on Beinn Eighe, I think he would have approved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The good, the bad and the downright terrifying

I've just got back from two extraordinary days on Beinn Eighe in Torridon. I won't describe all that went on as I'm writing a short piece for Climb Mag. All that I can say is that Jon Winter and I saw every possible aspect of the Scottish winter game including some sides I'd be quite happy if I never saw again.
The incomparable Tripple Buttress of Beinn Eighe. On our first day in after 4 1/2 hours trail breaking we picked our way up the classic West Buttress IV,4. A 400m traditional mountaineering style route, one of the best of its type I've done. Day 2 and Jon experiencing the good and the bad. The sweat and suffering of 3 1/2 trail breaking to the summit but under the magic of a Torridon dawn.
The West Central Wall, for me the future of Scottish winter climbing. We attempted something new, climbing 60m before blank rock and gathering darkness nessitated running away. I'd love to go back and try again but the horror of what ensued on the descent will have to fade.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ben and Glencoe winter report

I'd been planning a week in the Alps for my big winter holiday but they've had shed loads of snow and the faces were looking more like Patagonia than France. Interestingly the very conditions we crave for winter climbing in this country. With a very promising forecast I swapped Fort William for Chamonix and headed up with Andy Benson. Andy's particularly keen at the moment having had a superb trip a week earlier with Rich Cross (Sioux Wall, FWA Heidbanger and East Face Direct on Stob Coire). On the Saturday we were met with snow down to sea level (the pic shows Andy ankle deep at about 500m alt) and a 4 1/2 hour trail break up to the Ben, much enjoyed by every one who followedAndy approaching Trident buttress with the line of Devastation a summer E1 marked, which we think hadn't had a winter ascent yet.Andy on the steep start to the first pitch. Ther were 2 tough pitches but there was gear available at regular intervals although it involved a bit of digging and fiddling. As a result the route proved easier than expected probably VII,8 Sunday morning dawned a perfect winter day, blue skies and -6c. We headed up to the Raven Gully area on the Buchaille. Eventually opting for Ravens Edge, Rab Anderson's big VII,7.
This proved to be a superb and very sustained route which led us to climb the last pitch, a fairly savage offwidth, in the dark This pic shows Andy on the 3rd pitch, the open book corner with Slime wall and a plastered Guerdon Grooves behind him. As an aside we were able to check out Cubby's legendary route. Which lookeed very hard, insecure and bold especially without ice, although personally it didn't float my boat. The line which I'm sure was logical for the first ascent from afar looks very random and uninspiring, there are other unclimbed lines on that wall that do look superb however.
Ive got a couple more days up here and am thinking of heading up to the North West. For those thinking of coming up, temps have gone up a little, all snow so far has been unconsolidated powder, there is some ice, and exposed turf is frozen up high although most bigger clods were insulated by a blanket of snow and are pretty soggy. There's certainly fun to be had though.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

White Magic part 2

So on day two we went new routing... Well that wasn't the plan. We actually went looking for a nice sounding grade V called Into the Groove but I think we probably walked over it as we made our way along the beach. This happens alot on chalk. Infact the only feature that didn't seem to have fallen down on the whole of the cliffs west of St Margarets was the finishing Tube of "The Real White Cliffs Experience". Which had a nice sounding direct start called "Better than the real thing". A great name but unless the first ascensionists couldn't grade for toffee their route also seems to have collapsed. But we started up any way. Chalk climbing is the best training on the planet for ice climbing. That is if you like iron hard black ice at minus 30c. Just getting a decent stick with your tool takes up to a dozen swings and getting the gear in is a herculean task. Traditionally warthogs are banged in with a lump hammer by clipping into your axes but I had the stupid idea that I wouldn't bother with that and I'd just hang on as I would ice climbing.
The result was the mother of all pumps, much groaning and lock tite cramps in both arms on pitch 2. Eventually I was forced to place the last few warthogs on the second pitch on aid before lowering down to climb it clean. Pretty mad pitch that one, it looked slabby but turned out to be overhanging the whole way.
Jon did a fine job following this and getting the gear out but I think the toll began to show when we topped out just as it got dark. All in all a fine day out for all the family.

White Magic

With proper winter conditions still seemingly a few days away Jon, Paul and I headed south with our winter climbing kit. For Jon and Paul it would be their first taste of chalk climbing. On the first day we headed to the extraordinary feature of the Tube (95m Grade IV), the relatively ammenable classic of the area.The initial wall as usual felt steeper than it looked but lucky the route is relatively well travelled so there are decent footholds. The tube itself is pretty steady with the crux provided by a large piece of metal plate that needs to be crossed halfway up. For anyone competent with their axes (solid at WI4 or Scottish V) the Tube is very highly recommended, we all agreed it would make the UK's all time esoterica top ten. The White Cliffs really are one of the most striking bits of adventure on offer to climbers in the UK. Some of the lines would compare with anything around, heres a pic of the grade VI Channel Holes, remember the whole cliff is close to 80m high so those caves (and roofs) on the top pitch must feel pretty airy. One for a future visit.
Oh, and we stayed down for a further day managing quite a little adventure. More of that tomorrow...!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Winter Tick List

OK with the rain washing away conditions here's some more psyche up for the winter conditions. This is my mini winter version of Jon Read's superb Grit List http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/4755/climbing/gritlist/gritlist.html detailing all the routes (I can remember!) at grade IX and above in the UK. Elitest, of course it is, but hopefully inspiring. (Note the M grades are largely my guess)

Don't Die of Ignorance XI,11 Ben Nevis f.a Andy Cave, Simon Yates 1987. f.f.a Dave Macleod, Joe French 2008 repeats none.

Scotland's latest super route. 8 pitches in total but its really all about the first. A long overhanging well protected traverse culminating in desperate moves away from gear. The first free ascent took 6 attempts by Macleod who stuck to figuring out the sequences ground up despite a sizeable fall. In the region of M10. To get a real flavour of what's involved here's Macleod from his blog "The axe slid and jerked a centimetre. My heart missed a beat and the jolt nearly made me fall, my hand sliding down the upside down axe to the head and rolling onto three fingers. I dynamic match and kung fu allowed one foot to swing onto the wall to the right and up to the peg I got in on Friday. The vertical wall above was climbed in an utterly ‘go for broke’ style, axes ripping , dropping onto one hand and gasping with pump and shrieking for slack. All a bit full on."

The Hurting XI,11 Coire an T-Sneachda

f.a Dave Macleod 2005 repeats none
A summer E4 (supposedly very hard for the grade). Climbed in winter after abseil inspection, a scary fall from near the top on the first lead attempt, then further abseil inspection? before the successful lead. A very insecure vertical wall with rounded hooks and minimal gear leads to a flake and then a steeper finish with poor turf. The crucial gear is a rock zero. M9+/10 with possible ground fall and claimed as the worldest hardest winter trad route at the time. An onsight ascent would be a tour de force.

The Cathedral X,11 The Cobbler
f.a Dave Macleod 2004 repeats none
Scotland's steepest winter route, emerging from the cave left of Lobby Dosser. Multiple can opener moves and overhead heel toe jams seem to be the key to success, oh and a reasonable level of fitness. It's worth remembering that the first ascensionist was fresh from a repeat of the Swiss M12 Vertical Limit. One 30m pitch with good pro and perhaps M9/9+.

Frozen Sorrow X,10 Lochnagar
f.a Alan Mullin, Steve Lynch 2002 repeats none
Unsurprisingly considering who did the first ascent this climb proved pretty controversial. There were rumours of summer pre practice with ice axes and of the climb not being properly wintery enough (latter disproved when photos were published) and finally the route wasn't included in the latest guidebook as the route finishes in the middle of the wall. Nevertheless it looks an amazing piece of climbing. Running paralell to Mort on the Tough Brown Face with a wild crux section of roof climbing followed by thin ice and mixed. Given E3 6a in summer. A full ascent linking into Rolling Thunder awaits.

The Steeple IX,9 Shelter Stone
f.a Alan Mullin, Steve Paget 2 aid points 1999. repeats 1 f.f.a and f.o Pete Benson and Guy Robertson 2006
Tour de force first ascent by Mullin and the under-rated Paget named "Dawn to Dusk" and climbed in a 24 hour single push (much of that at night). Mullin used 2 nuts for aid starting the Steeple corner. The summer line was largely followed except for a variation around pitch 4. The second ascent was made entirely onsight in 12 hours although the first pitches of Postern and then the Needle were used as this was felt to be the most logical winter line - one of the best winter performances in Scotland to date.

Pic n' Mix IX,9 Coire an Lochain
f.a Tim Emmett, Ian Parnell 2006 repeats none
Climbed late in the season but with the tower heavily hoared. Filmed for the DVD Hard XS. On the first attempt, Emmett tokk a fall on pitch 1, and Parnell hampered by lots of digging took two falls and failed to finish the crux. The pair returned the following day with Parnell cleanly clibing pitch 1 and Emmett fighting through rope drag and high winds just managed the second pitch. Pitch 1 is VII 8/9 with one thin tough section, whilst the second crux pitch involves steep laybacking to a very technical and bold exit (a 40 footer if you muff the top). Filmed for the DVD Hard XS. M8.

Happy Tyroleans IX,10 Coire an Lochain

f.a Schranz, Netzer, Heinz Zak 2001 repeats 2 Dave Macleod, Tim Emmett

Climbed during one of the international meets after Alan Mullin pointed out his project to the Tyroleans. A couple of days later it wasn't his project anymore. Initially graded VII,9 probably because the visitors weren't too familiar with Scottish grades. Upgraded by Macleod, who came close to an onsight (falling off one of the last moves of the first pitch) although he still needed several more visits before he could make the coveted second ascent. Emmett's ascent was made on his second go after a slip halfway up the first pitch, and he linked the two pitches together. He reckoned a similar grade overall to Pic n' Mix. Perhaps M8 or M8+? Amazingly, considering its position, that it is well protected and that it's in condition regularly, it still awaits an onsight.

Demon Direct IX,9 Coire an Lochain
f.a Alan Mullin, Steve Paget 2001 repeats 1 Dave Macleod (f.o)
Mullin returned shortly after the international meet of that year, where one of his projects had been nabbed to become Happy Tyroleans. This paralell line based on the summer E2 The Demon shares the same top pitch but with a bolder start that took Mullin several days of attempts. Macleod's onsight repeat came on a season where he climbed 3 grade IXs. The peg protecting the crux roof is rumoured to be in deteriorating condition. Prob M8.

Mort IX,9 Lochnagar
f.a Brian Davison, Dave McGimpsey, Andy Nisbet 2000 repeats none
A well known last great problem finally climbed by one of the UK's strongest and darkest horses. The history of attempts includes an extraordinary effort by Colin Maclean in 1985 who reached within 15m of easy ground. Attempts since had seen some monster falls Davison took a 20m fall on one attempt) and even one of Scotland's toughest campaigners reduced to tears in-extremis. Very run out, technical as well as strenuous Mort is felt to be the definitive grade IX. 2000 was an exceptionally icy season and conditions have never been close since, an onsight repeat remains probably the most coveted ascent in Scotland.

The Scent IX,8 Beinn a Bhuird
f.a Rich Cross, Guy Robertson 2007 repeats none

Two attempts were needed, the first retreating from nest of poor gear beneath a very thin ramp on pitch 2. Robertson "manned up" on the return describing the crux as "hard - very precarious, blind and rounded seams - and it didn't yield any pro at all for maybe 20ft....amongst the most committuing bits of climbing I've ever done." Gulp!

The Duel IX,9 Stob Coire nan Lochan

f.a Rab Anderson, Dave Cuthbertson 1999 repeats 1 Dave Macleod, Alan Mullin (f.o)

Incredible perseverence by Anderson and Cuthbertson with over 7 attempts over several seasons before the successful ascent. Perhaps Scotland's first grade IX? A side runner was used on the initial bold section of the crux second pitch, although this was elminated on the onsight second ascent by Macleod. This pitch has also been onsighted by Es Tressider although the third pitch a grade 8 offwidth (big cams needed) wasn't climbed.

The Secret IX,9 Ben Nevis

f.a Andy Turner, Steve Ashworth, Viv Scott 2007 (f.o). repeats 2 Ian Parnell, Mark Garthwaite, Guy Robertson. and Blair Fyffe and Tony Stone.
This much eyed crack-line fell to a very psyched Turner in thick early season hoar with very sustained can opener moves needed on the second cux pitch. Initially given X,10 and claimed as the hardest onsight first ascent in Scottish winter climbing. The repeat just over a month later in easier conditions brought the grade down a notch but the first ascent effort still rates amongst the best around. Good protection but thin, technical and strenuous on the crux. Probably M7+.

Defenders of the Faith IX,9 Creag Coire an Dothaidh
f.a Dave Macleod, Fiona Murray 2006 (f.o) repeats none

The first grade IX to be established ground up with a clean onsight. The long crux pitch involves a bold start leading to a roof and overhanging headwall. Needs turf to be frozen, thought to be M8+. One of Macleod's most impressive winter efforts.

Slochd Wall IX,9 Beinn a Bhuird

f.a Pete Benson, Guy Robertson 2008 repeats none

Latest addition by this powerful team. Climbs a summer HVS with a particularly bold lead required on the second pitch. Benson initially rested to excavate a crucial runner before lowering and and reclimbing the pitch to make the big runout through the crux overhang.

Other Possibilities

Guerdon Grooves IX,8 Glen Coe

f.a Dave Cubby Cuthbertson, Arthur Paul 1984 repeats none

Initially attempted by Al Rouse, then Cuthbertson and Paul, the latter pair returned to make a gripping ascent of this summer HVS in icy conditions. Serious with long runouts. Initially graded VII after several terrifying attempted repeats the current grade is a modern guessed re-assessment. Time will tell if this really was the first grade IX in Scotland by 15 years!

The Tempest M9 (X,9/10?) Stob Coire nan Lochan
f.a Neil Gresham 2001 repeats 1 Innes Deans

Established using redpoint tactics - top roping followed by an ascent on pre placed gear. The top section relies on a thin layer of ice which obscures many of the protection placements which would likely make an onsight very tough indeed. Was repeated in the same season with Mark Garthwaite also coming very close.

Logical Progression M9 (X,10?) Loch Vorlich

f.a Mark Garthwaite 1999 repeats 1 Dave Macleod

The first Scottish route to "overtly" use red point tactics in winter. As a result no traditional grade was given. This gently overhanging crack was worked with Neil Gresham who fell off some of the final moves on his best attempt. The gear was placed on abseil on the first ascent although on Macleod's repeat he placed the gear on lead (I think?).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lleyn Adventures

When my job is good it's very good. Ive spent the last two days down on the Lleyn Peninsula photographing for an article in Climb Magazine. The first day was one of the most rewarding Ive had for a while. I woke up in some dodgy Travel Inn in Oswestry to torrential rain, this continued at Llangollen and I was on the verge of giving up and heading back to Sheffield. Luckily I couldn't get my partner for the day, Pat Littlejohn, on the phone so I kept driving and miracle of miracles the day turned into one of the best of recent months. Blue skies and sunshine meant that we ended up shooting 4 routes that day each on a different crag. Highlight of the day though was that I even went climbing, managing the rather fine 5 pitch MXS Hornblower at Paitsh. For more info Pat wrote a little piece on UK Climbing here http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=672Pat pointing out the line of Hornblower up the yellow spur.
Pat on pitch 2 (By the way if anyone is bored of doing laps on Rhapsody and Walk of Life there is an E13 to do up to wall to the left)
Pitch 4 in rather lovely late evening light.
End of the day, another tough one at the office.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let the games begin

Finally I can post about actual climbing rather than endless "virtual-psyche ups". So here's a few pics from the last few days in the Northern Corries. Still having to pinch myself that it's still October. Tuesday the 28th I think we were the only ones doing any climbing, perhaps folk had been put off by the road being closed. We opted for Andromeda IV,4 a fine route on number 2 buttress finishing in rather full on blizzard conditions. Definitely a goggles day although both Jon Winter and I had forgotten ours! Number 3 and 4 buttress (Tues 28th)Number 1 and 2 Buttress (Tues 28th). Andromeda goes directly up the centre of Number 2.Jon on the Crux of Andromeda.
Looking up the grooves of Big Daddy (VII,8 ha, ha!)
The following day, Wednesday 29th there were a couple of parties heading in the Sneachda but we were alone again in Coire an Lochain. I had my eye on the incredible grooves of Number 1 buttress shared by Big Daddy (VII,8) and Daddy Longlegs (VIII,9). Perhaps it was early season wobbles but I managed to first drop my axe and then take a lob battling with a frozen friend and icy crack on the final roof of pitch 1. A brief attempt on the deeply hoared top cracks of Daddy Longlegs ended after only a few feet as my arm locked bent with cramp so I opted for the offwidth finish of Big Daddy. Thankfully easier than it looked. Incredible route but this must be the hardest grade VII in Scotland (it used to be g8iven VIII). Whilst things have warmed up a touch there should be plenty more fun to be had over the weekend and I imagine many other higher areas are also in good nick.
Jon at the top of Pitch 1 of Big Daddy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New gallery and Newtown lecture

My Himalaya photo essay has just gone up on Planetfear

Also worth mentioning is a show of mine this Saturday (1 nov) at Theatr Hafren in Newtown
More details here http://www.theatrhafren.com/whatson.htm
This will be much more expanded than my recent Vertigo shows with twice as many expeditions, images, stories, films, dirty bivis, falls, breaks and laughter. Should be good hopefully see some of you there at 7.45.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Canon G10 first impressions

Just picked up a Canon G10, their new top end compact digital camera, so here are a few initial impressions after 30 minutes use this afternoon. It's on the large side for a compact (but for those of us used to 35mm film compacts it feels the right size for a quality compact camera). The controls on the whole are by large buttons and chunky dials - one of the main reasons I choose the G10 over rivals, as I'm hoping this should ease use with big gloves. The screen is BIG, bright and has great colours (more saturated than on my Vaio computer screen). Speed of use with Jpegs is pretty fast, with RAW not bad - certainly better than many other compacts. Here's a few pics, the first showing the colours This second is shot at ISO 100
....and here's a crop to show detail (no sharpening done in photoshop)
This fourth shot is at ISO 800 1/60th second (it was getting dark)
...again a detail showing obvious noise but not bad.
All these were shot on Large Jpeg, the G10 of course shoots RAW, which should have better results. I'll post up more images and thoughts once I've had a bit more chance to play.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Winter is coming part 4

Steady tigers! there's rumours of snow falling this weekend. If you're not beginning to get psyched for the winter you're either an indoor climber or on your way out of this world. Just in case you need nudging out of your summer stupor here's some pics. The madness of the friday night drive.
Dream conditions (2003 I think?) on Liathach, here's hoping this year....
Late season perfection Astral Highway on the Ben.
One of the best short grade IVs around The Seam in the Northern Corries.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Gallery

There's a new gallery 20 of my shots just gone up on Planetfear http://www.planetfear.com/gallery.php?id=98&image=1668
Yosemite Leaves
Dave Pickford is doing a great job of resurrecting Planetfear after it looked like this fine website was dissappearing down the virtual tubes. It's now got daily updates with lots of interesting articles, photo galleries and reviews.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Winter is coming part 3

A third lot of gratuitous winter eye-candy Dawn start at Lochnagar with the incredible Tough Brown face (in not good nick lots of white but no ice) home of some of Scotland's finest winter routes.
Andy Kirkpatrick on Fall Out Corner VI,7 one of the most lusted after mixed VIs.

Pete Benson knee barring his way up the first pitch of the Link Direct VIII,7 Lochnagar.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Onsight Night

Last night was the premier of Onsight, Alastair Lee's new film. This was particularly exciting for me personally as it was the first night my wife and I were able get a baby sitter and get an evening out together. Also it was interesting to see what Alastair had done with the footage of our climbs on the Ben and in Iceland and check out the extraordinary levels of commitment required to onsight E7s and E8s.Ian in Kaldakinn, Iceland from the film Onsight.
Its impossible to be objective about projects that you've been involved with closely. But I think Onsight is pretty special on several levels. Visually its stunning (the film is the first climbing one Ive seen in High Definition and on a big screen its mindblowing). Alastair has really raised his game on the editing, the dictionary of climbing definitions is hilarious. But most impressive is the effort of bringing out the drama of onsighting - surely its a miracle to turn 2 hours spent faffing on the crux of a climb look exciting?
Anyway a very large thumbs up at least now we know what to get those climbers in our life for christmas now. www.posingproductions.com is Alastair's site if you want to buy a copy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Winter is coming part 2

Last nights show was down in Worthing, a 4 1/2 hours drive from Sheffield. So that gave plenty of day dreaming time, which with me usually means wondering what we'll be getting up to this winter. So here's a few further pics to help wet the appetite.
Babylon VII,8 high on Number 4 Gully walls is proving to be a pretty popular mixed challenge on Ben Nevis. It's probably had a dozen or more repeats now and combines the superb Gargoyle crux cracks with a delicate bold wall, an exciting overlap and a great top chimney. Highly recommended. This is a little more obscure. 30 minutes from the car Applecross's Sgurr a Chaorachain has a couple of excellent icefalls including this one Blade Runner IV,5. After this first pitch theres a very entertaining squeeze cave to finish. Thought I'd put this in as it captures that weary "that's the nth time Ive been dumped on with a load of spindrift" look. One that most winter climbers know all too well. Luckily its usually replaced after the climb with big grins especially when you get views like the following shot from close gto the summit of the Ben.