Monday, 6 December 2010

New website is now up, take a look!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Peak District Ski Season

3rd December : Mam Tor Ski

So the wind had scoured the slopes a bit. And there was a lot more snow in Sheffield but we went out to Mam Tor in the Peak for the second day of Peak Skiing. Fun fun fun!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Perfect days on the Grit

We have had some unique and beautiful days here on the grit this week. Some wet ones too! Here is Sam on the Deliverance Traverse. So close...

Going to the Lakes this weekend to work, Kendal Film Festival is on which should be fun. Out to Chamonix on Monday for a few days!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Berghaus Adventure Challenge Shortlist : Mount Hayes Expedition

Wow, a good day in the office (via the Climbing Works), my workout was cut short by my eagerness to get back to the computer to promote the fact that we have been shortlisted for the Berghaus Adventure Challenge 2011.

Please could you take a second to vote for us, all you need to do is hit the button - no need to fill any forms in!

The link is here:

This is what we are planning on doing:

The British Mount Hayes Expedition 2011

The proposed adventure, due in May 2011 is to complete a full traverse of the large and remote Mount Hayes (4216m) in eastern Alaska. For this mountaineering adventure, the party of 3 aim to travel by air taxi to the nearest glacial approach then travel by ski to establish a base camp. The group will seek the best conditions to establish the best route to achieve the objective. A full traverse of this rarely climbed mountain would be the first of its kind. it is likely that the party will come across significant but achievable mountaineering and skiing challenges.

Thanks for voting.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Gritstone Freedom

We have had some really mixed weather recently. Autumn is definitely turning to winter here in the Peak.

Gavin, Rick and I have got a bit of spare time this week so watch this space for some Esoteric and worked Grit routes that we just cant wait to get stuck into next week!

We went out in the drizzle today and top-roped Pebble Mill (E5 6B) until it got too wet. Really great fun looking at pushing the grade a bit. More of this please!

Pebble Mill, Slippery when wet... Easier if you are tall!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Yosemite Cowboys : The Arrogance of Youth without Stubborness of Age.

24th September : Yosemite Cowboys : The Arrogance of Youth without Stubborness of Age.

A couple of days after returning from 'the valley' and a bit of reflection time is needed. What a great holiday. Byron and I set out for 3 weeks after a 6-8 months of learning, thinking and dreaming of climbing some big walls in Yosemite.

Over the 3 weeks we had a bit of a roller-coaster. During the first week there was a heat wave in the valley at around 95-100 degrees. Sticky weather to be training for aid climbing in. Our confidence far outweighed our ability and as Stinger (Top Gun) would say:

"Son, your ego is writing checks your body can't cash. You've been busted, you lost your qualifications as section leader three times, put in hack twice by me, with a history of high speed passes over five air control towers, and one admiral's daughter! "

I guess this slowed us down heaps. We were taking twice as long to aid through long A1 pitches as we had hoped. A bit disheartened with our 'road to the nose' we decided to go for trip on Snake Dyke (aka Snake Hike) which involves a 15 mile round trip hike with 600ft of 5.7-5.4 climbing. Great fun and as we got higher, the breeze cooled us off.

A few more days out cragging and cranking up some of the 5* jamming routes in the valley and a trip on Washington Column was due. Washington Column is a 600m Big Wall and is deemed one of the easier Big Walls in Yosemite valley.

On our first trip we took Tina (the pig/haul bag) out for a spin. Hauling was not so bad, getting caught up every now and then. This is a little bit like car -camping of the climbing world. Without too much difficulty we made it to Dinner Ledge where we met a couple of other Brit's struggling with strong winds getting over Kor roof. We decided to chill at the ledge for the night as they played on higher up. That afternoon, as I was eagerly awaiting 'Stagg Chilli Opening Time', I was alerted by the familiar noise of fluttering rocks.

Looking up, about half a dozen rocks came flying down nearly missing both Byron and I (I had dived for Byrons helmet at this stage, sorry Byron). That was a close one, we deemed these trade routes quite safe from rockfall, there were no parites above us. Leave us alone mountain!

That afternoon, we kept one eye looking up, bad vibes, we abbed on down.

A day after, we met a couple of yanks that we had chatted to as we set off on the column, one of them was called Chuck, a great name! They greeted us with "I thought you guys were dead maaaaan", as they reported the rockfall to look a fair amount bigger from their angle as they rested high on the Prow. These fellas were the real deal, 'Piratical' bearded, portaledged, bandana'd and lots of 'psyche homey'. They smashed back cans of bud at the crag and were generally legendary!

Coming down from Washington Column, Half Dome N Face in the background.

Jugging up to Tina

Back at base camp we got stuck into 'King Cobra' 75c beers and jumped back and forth over the fire pondering out next move. We wanted to jump on the nose, but something was holding us back (common sense). Several parties hard already been on, failing fairly low. Due to being too slow.

We were getting quicker but needed to learn more. We got back on Washington Column.

This time, we moved fast through the first few pitches and arrived at the large ledge again. Only Kor roof was in our way. We aimed to fix to pitch 5 that night then we could 'jug' the ropes and climb to the 9th pitch the following day.

That afternoon, I spent an exciting hour and a half or so swinging around 300-400m from the valley floor aiding bolt to bolt to the lip of the roof. Over the roof you go for it to a blind pocket. Using a bit of muscle memory I slotted the no.0 DMM friend and up you go, another size 0 metolius mastercam and you are off. A rising traverse continues for another 10-12m to an intermediate belay. It is important to protect your second here, as it is just a little too easy to slot no.1 friends in all the way along the aid crack and then back clean.

I stopped at the intermediate stance. Fairly wired, fairly excited, I had just experienced the most absorbing time of my life. An hour or so later and Byron's legs are seen swinging round and around under the roof! Wow, he must be having a hell of a time, its pretty exposed right there! I finally saw his head stick over the lip.....ahh the familiar face. I have seen that one before. The last time I came across this particular Mr.Buck expression was when Byron had inverted once in North Wales. This was not a good face.

The awesome, Kor Roof.

Chilling on the ledge

I had been hanging around for a little while, we were both fairly wired by this awesome experience. We decided to give the 5th pitch a miss until the next day. We abseiled over the roof back to the bivvy ledge.

That night, it didn't take much for us to hang up the aid gear, the fifi was cut from the harness and it was game over. We love free climbing, aid climbing feels slow and involves hating life. At least that was our attitude at the time. I think now we have learned so much about aiding and the mind-set you need to be in. I think we will go back, in-fact we have started to plan the trip already. Spring/Autumn 2012. Now we know what we need to know, we can train better.

All in all, an awesome trip! Back at camp 4, we chilled for a bit went cragging and then got the bus to Vegas. Lets go on holiday!

Aid Routes:

La Escuela (El Capitan base) Pitch 1 A1
Pacific Ocean Wall (El Capitan base) Pitch 1 A1
Washington Column to Dinner Ledge (take 1)
Washington Column to top of Kor Roof (take 2)

Free Routes:

All sorts on Swan Slab, near Camp 4
Snake Dyke
Bishops Terrace, Church Bowl Buttress
Church Bowl Lie Back
After 7, Manure Pile Buttress

I am going to write a little article on 'the Camp 4 Craic' as it takes a wee while to work out the best way to do/wangle everything there. It did only take us a couple of nights of 'King Cobra' beers before we plucked up the courage to start chasing bears in the woods!

Freddie the bear even came out in the day time.
Waiting for the rangers to 'pop a cap in his ass'

During our time in the Valley 'Steve' climbed El Capitan. An amazing feat:

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Granite and Clotted Cream

23rd-27th October : Cornwall Learn to Lead Course

Wow. What an amazing week Dave and I have just had. I was running a learn to lead climb week in Cornwall. Could not have had a better 5 days of work really. One day rained off (went indoors) and on the other days we visited Sennen, Bosigran, Lands End and Chair Ladder. Dave and I had only one cheeky evening cragging session and during the day we ticked the Classic Rock Cornwall section.

Great week with clients Dan and Antoni.

Dan on Demo Route, Sennen.

Antoni seconding Dan on Cracked Corner, Sennen.

Doorpost, Bosigran

Pen Olver, Lands End

Our final day at Chair Ladder enjoying the classic Terriers Tooth and Pendulum Chimney

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Gogarth, the Pass and Climbing Life

Climbing Summer

I have not posted up here for a long time. And going by the number of hits I am receiving, I assume a few of you are looking for route beta etc and searching through Google. At least all that hard work was worthwhile. Anyway, I have not given up!

Just been in the UK recently. I have had some great days out cruising with mates and working around Swanage, North Wales, Lake District, Peak Grit and the Isle of Skye. This week we have been on Gogarth, North Wales. An amazing place home to some truly absorbing adventurous climbing. Dave Chapman and I found a dry day on Dinas Mot on Monday and we did Superdirect. I have been waiting to do it for ages. It really is an amazing route!

Dave in a great position on Imitator.
(thin moves pulling onto the slab, then it eases!)

Dave at the belay on Lighthouse Arete.
(I got a soaking at the first belay!)

Yosemite Plans

We set off in a couple of weeks. Pretty psyched for it now. Byron and I have been occasionally training and climbing and talking about training (drinking tea). We have been constantly ordering kit which has made it seem like we are not spending a lot of money!

I think we have our system fairly nailed. It is just a case of doing it lots. I have spoke to a few people who have done the Nose this week and they have been really good to have a chat to.

I was planning on climbing about 30 E1's this summer in preparation for our trip. I have not quite achieved this but the list is now around 25 multipitch E1-E2's. Maybe this autumn will bring some trips to Cornwall and Pembroke.

I am going to Cornwall with work next week and am really looking forward to it. I have just bought the new copy of 'West Country Climbs' , another beautiful book from Rockfax. This covers all that you would expect plus Swanage and a nice little section on Lundy. I am working for Highpoint Mountain Guides on a learn to lead week, so driving aside - should be fun.


Alaska plans are fairly slow, if anyone has any inspiration or knowledge or great photos about possible new ascents/descents in the St.Elias range, be in touch. Next stop the Alpine Club library in London.

In the words of Mr.Kirkus, Lets go climbing!


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Millstone Aid Continues

Another day out on the Grit today... "It'll never catch on!'

This time we have got our system fairly nailed. We focused on testing gear. This involves jumping up on down on the gear to see if it pops out. To be honest.... it is hilarious fun!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Swanage Climbing

Loose top-outs on Cormorant Ledge

Abseiling into Guillemot

Wow, It is wild down here!

First time for me on Swanage, serious rock type / soap and head game issues!

Still, a great 2 days spent in Swanage climbing with Rick.

The Wall (HS, 4B.. believe it or not!) Steep, steep, steep

Cormorant Ledge