Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Climbing year that was

So like a lot of climbers I started off the year with a long ludicrously ambitious tick list, and now looking back, also I suspect like most, I've ticked almost none of it. In many ways it's been a good year though, as I've visited some really top drawer spots.

January - My winter visits to Scotland this year almost all went a bit pear-shaped. This was an example - a quick hit with Will Sim that included a broken down car, getting lost on a walk in, getting up the crux of this cool route in Glen Coe, Eggäschpili, before failing on a verglassed easier pitch and plenty of trail breaking but only 1 pitch climbed

February - Up to the Northwest with my old alpine partner Kenton, again we didn't complete a route and did far too much driving, but climbed 6 and 3/4 pitches this time and came very close to doing the first complete winter ascent of the Cioch Nose feature in Applecross

March - After my ankle tendons said no more to marathon training, I visited the magical Churnet, trying to get some modicum of climbing fitness for the summer. One of my favourite climbing areas despite my boulderphobia

April - One of the highlights of the year was visiting Donegal's sea cliffs and being shown around by local hero Iain Miller. This shot from Owey Island will probably be too small to see but halfway up the pointy pinnacle (The Blade) is a yellow dot - thats me Mum!

May - The Ten in Ten for Nepal event was a great opportunity to raise money for the Nepal Earthquake appeal and also have a bit of fun on the local crags, so I set myself the mini challenge of climbing100 routes, although nothing much harder than this HS, the beautiful Manchester Buttress

June - One of the best days out this year was with one of my an old Exeter
University Climbing Club mates Derek, in Twll Mawr climbing Joe Browns superb Hamadryad followed by Super Massive Black Hole - 8 pitches of top quality trad and sport

July- Another fine plan that didn't quite work out but got me to climb at a crag I'd always been intrigued about - Lliwedd. Drove over early from Sheffield hoping to solo as many routes as possible. As I passed the Llanberis village sign the first rain spots started - managed one route in drizzle before sanity prevailed - magical spot though 

August - Great month with trips to Skye, Fontainbleau and Lundy. The Skye trip included a spirited attempt on a very steep crack sans tape. Failed but chuffed with myself for even giving it a go as steeper than my usual plodding terrain

August again - Lundy was another year highlight. First time Ali and I have got away climbing since we became parents

September - Another great trip this time with Gary to Orkney and Hoy. Plan A didn't quite happen due to changing forecasts but we still managed the South Face on the Old Man and a big new route at Rora Head

October - Family holiday to Gozo and managed to sneak in a couple of routes including 3 at the extremely characterful Underworld crag together with its equally characterful developer Stevie Haston. A highly recommended venue

November - Nothing, although I did start training perhaps inspired by October's Maltese shrinking violet.

December -  An early season winter punt up to Scotland with Dave just paid off with a snatched ascent of Swallowtail Pillar which I found desperate and was glad for Dave's snug rope as I seconded the crux.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Autumn Garden

Autumn seems to be really bringing the garden alive at the moment.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Scotland the Brave

Living in Sheffield I'm surrounded by thousands of routes, many of them amongst the most coveted climbs in the country - but when I have any major block of free time my heart leads me further north as soon as possible. Trips to Skye earlier in the summer and most recently Orkney were both extraordinary experiences. Here's a few pics

Welcome to Skye
The amazing Blade
New routing
One that got away
Let the adventure begin
Route-free multi pitch cliffs
North Gaulton in typical sea conditions
An old man
Another old man
An an even older one
Goodbye till next year

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Woolpacks

The British landscape constantly surprises me. I'd seen the odd pic of this beautiful place on the south edge of Kinder but it was much better than I'd imagined. Called by some the Mushroom Garden I prefer the name The Woolpacks as described on the OS map.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Donegal April

I was lucky to get a week climbing an the extraordinary cliffs of Donegal in Ireland at the beginning of April and even more privileged to have 5 days of sunshine. Here are a few pics (click on them to get a bigger view).

This is Sail Rock, and the E2 Mainmast - the first route we did. What an introduction. After a scrattly first pitch, there's a 55m rope length of pure quality climbing. 
That same day we visited a tide swept and damp Muckcross but managed an excellent VS.

Some landscapes mainly of An Port, a beautiful wild bay filled with sea stacks
We'd hoped to climb the 4 pitch stack on the left but the Atlantic swells meant we ended up doing the small one (40m) called Lurking Fear Stack
The team on top of the Lurking Fear stack after our new route
Landing back on the beach
One of the highlights was 2 days on Owey Island including a chance to climb the Blade. 
Ben heading up the Blade with the Atlantic making its presence felt
Jon finishing a typically high quality route on Owey with the Holy Jesus Wall in the background, home  to the island's toughest routes.

Many thanks to Iain Miller who helped us out so much on this trip. Iain is one of the main pioneers in the area and runs his own guiding business