Sunday, 31 March 2013

SPA Training

Over the weekend I have been running an SPA Training in the Peak.  There is still a lot of snow around, but enough rock to run a full course.

Yesterday we went to Stanage Apparent North for the personal climbing section of the award.  This gave each candidate the chance to lead a couple of routes each, and also look at a personal abseil.  We then moved onto the Foundry to look at the use of climbing wall and introduce the groups aspect of the syllabus.

Today we went to the small bay at Lawrancefield.  Despite the snow in the quarry, the top was pretty clear, so anchors were not difficult to find.  The normal abseil spot needed a small cornice removing, but was good to go after that.  It was a thorough day of group work, with everyone getting a lot out of the training.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Making the Most of the Time You Get

When you have a little one, the reality is you need to take any chance you get to climb.  As a result, I've been winter climbing in Chew Valley and today back at Woodhouse Scar for a quick hit.  Only 5 mins from home, it keeps me going with what seems like an endless number of possible new challenges.

With that in mind, I got stuck into a couple of new things today.  I quickly managed to add an extension to Snowball f7b, which gave the good sustained eliminate Snowball Extension f7c**.  It utilises the same start as Weeping Angel to join Snowball and finish up that.

Working very hard on Low Lip Traverse

The next to go was a traverse of the lip on Cave Buttress.  This already has traverses on it, but they all use the back wall which makes them quite straight forward.  This new addition eliminates the back wall, leaving only the lip for feet, and makes a much harder problem.  It took a fair bit of effort to tick as it is not my strongest style.  The hands follow that of Low Traverse f7a+, but with only the lip for poor heel hooks it changes the problem a lot.  This new version, Low Lip Traverse f7b+ is a fingery and quite strenuous problem that give yet another option on the buttress.  If you add in the big letter box hold, it makes a cool f7a+.  There is still the Low Low Traverse to be done eliminating the back wall, but this will be much harder.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Chew Mixed and New Route

Elliot and I went back to Dovestones Quarry early yesterday to take advantage of the new snow and overnight/early morning cold.  Again the steeper things that I fancy trying were not white, so we opted for a run up Initiation Groove V,6***.  This follows the summer E1 line up an obvious feature and would be a truly horrible overgrown route.  In winter however, it makes for good sport.  There is a bold section in the middle, but the crux is well protected if you hang around long enough to dig it all out.  Steep, committed pulls on turf is the name of the game for this one.
Elliot enjoying Initiation Groove

Still Early we fancied another.  I had spotted an obvious set of cracks that came out of the grassy terrace near the start of Brass Monkey and Garn.  The route descriptions for some of the routes here are tricky to follow, so I'm not sure if what I climbed is a summer line or not, but with the amount of vegetation on it, I'd hope not.  Description below:

Pinnicel Cracks, VI,6*.60m, 2 pitches. Gain the grassy terrace by any easy way or other route. From the grassy terrace a set of twin cracks lead directly to the final corner of Mike's Meander. These cracks are gained via steep turf and climbed using torques and hooks. More steep turf is then followed to join Mike's Meander. Finish up this.
Adam Hughes & Elliot France 27/Mar/2013

Monday, 25 March 2013

Chew Valley Mixed Climbing, and New Finishes

Today I met Elliot at the Dovestones car park to go and take a look at the winter routes in the quarry that are described in the Over the Moors Guide.  We knew that a team had been there yesterday and climbed Waterfall Direct IV,4***, so there was definitely something to climb.  When we arrived in the quarry, there was not evidence that anyone had been there yesterday.  Fresh windblown snow had covered any tracks on the route, and put a good dusting over some of the lines that has wait features and turf to catch it.
Elliot enjoying his first taste of steeper mixed climbing

 I had hoped to look at some new lines I thought might be good, but all were not in enough.  Instead, we opted to do one of the 2 hardest routes the quarry has to offer, The Green Man VI,7*  This had some great climbing, with some good tricky section all the way to the ledge on the arete.  At this point I could not remember what the guide said, and we had left it at the bottom.  Looking straight up looked steep, but entertaining.  So, that must be it?  That was not it, but it was the way I went.  This gave a us a new Direct Finish which went at around VII,7** and just increased the quality of the climbing.  Positive hooks, big moves between them and small foot holds made this a joy to climb.  The hooks took a little digging out, as did the gear, with ice filling a lot of the cracks and hiding foot holds.  We had hoped to do a couple of routes, but Elliot chipped a tooth and needed to run to the Dentist.  That said we left with a new route in The Green Man Direct VII,7**.  As the sun came out as we left it had started to dry out and strip a little of the aspects that were exposed.  There are still lines available to climb though, and with the wind pushing any lose snow around that's left, it could help some others out.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

CWA Training

This weekend I have been running a CWA Training course.  Day 1 was based at the Leeds Wall for the personal climbing day.  With the group section of the award being cover at Harrogate Climbing Centre today, along with the abseil module.  There was a great mix of experience within the candidates, which really added to the course.

Another successful weekend.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Back on Rock

I have been trying to get out a little since I've been back to see how much strength and fitness I have lost.  despite fighting off baby germs, things have been better than expected.  My core is extremely weak on really steep stuff, but the fingers have stood up ok.  I have not managed to pick up where I left off, but I am not as far behind as I thought I would be.  Getting back on the harder things from November has meant I knew the problems, so would not lose loads of energy working them out, but still have to try hard.  This has seen good sessions sending problems up to font 7b+ already.  some going easier than others.

Elliot pulling hard

Today, despite the weather.  Elliot and I managed to add another cool eliminate to the Clingen Face at Woodhouse.  Snowball V8/font 7b has some cool climbing and uses holds that are not on the of the other eliminates.  I feel it is another good addition to the face which offers a place to climb in most weather conditions.
pulling hard

Drop that knee

Saturday, 16 March 2013

SPA Training Day 1

Today I was at a damp and cold Stanage for the first day of an SPA Training course.  Despite the rain overnight, it was not too cold or wet up there and we managed to cover all the personal climbing aspects of the award.  We also went to the Foundry to look at the climbing wall section of the award and introduce the group work section.

It was a far cry from the dry, clear days of the of Scotland last week.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

CWLA Training

After one day back home, it was back to work on the NGB's.  Today I was working with Dan on a CWLA Training course which we based at the Leeds Wall.  The 6 candidates came with a good mix of experience which really added to the course.  The standard was high today and there were many good discussions around different teach techniques, games etc.

I think it was colder in the wall today stood around, than the last few months in a fantastically dry Scotland.  It was a bit weird climbing with my hands again too, bring on the weakness,

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Taxus Icefall Finish

Yesterday was the first day of Andy and Mark's intro to winter climbing course.  We spent the day in the Gualch looking at skills whilst seconding.  After climbing around 180m of ice and mixed, we were set for a go route today.  With that in mind Andy, Mark and I headed to Beinn an Dothaidh to climb Taxus Icefall Finish IV,4***.  This was a good option as it gets more interesting the high you go.  The lads did excellent and put all the skills learnt yesterday to good use as they cruised the route.  After chatting through some snow stuff, we had a leisurely walk down and the fella shot away to catch their plane home.

It was a very cold, dry day which made the ice extremely brittle of the crux pitch,  Phil and Dan climbed Cirrus IV,4*** and found the same.  It was also on the lean side making it very sporting at the grade.
Mark cruising the Icefall finish crux pitch

happy faces at the top
This is final day of my Scottish Work season, and it has been a stunner in good company.  A fantastic week has been had by my clients, but I'm not sure they had as much fun as me.  Despite not being up North, I will still be available for Lakes and Wales guiding if conditions allow.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Ben Nevis Ming!!!

Andy and I battled up to the hut this morning in some very strong winds and driving snow.  On arrival it was obvious it was not the best day for climbing.  Teams staying in the hut had been out and bailed and other folks were turned round and running away.  After having a brew and talking through options, we headed down and to the wall to look at some climbing movement that Andy wanted to improve on.  This turned out to be a very productive afternoon, and the end to an outstanding week of classic V's.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Boomer's Requiem

Today Andy and I had the full Scottish winter experience on Boomer's Requiem V,5***.  Another route that is high in the grade, with a very steep crux section.  This is a route I had wanted to do for a while, so was pretty happy to tick it off today, despite the gale force gusts and drippy ice.  Even though the temp had gone up a little today, the ice was like plastic and a joy to climb.  We made good time up the route, then descended an extreme gale force Ledge Route to grab a brew in the hut and catch up with folks before walking back down.
Andy running up the first pitch

One more day left of Andy's climbing course, but at least one more grade V in him I think!

It was a wet and wild one, so not sure if pics will turn out.  Will at some once I've checked.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Vanishing Gully

Andy cruising up pitch 1

Approaching the belay
 Today we wanted a short walk, short day, but still a good grade V.  Vanishing Gully V,5*** fits the bill.  This is in great condition, with hero sticks the whole way.  The belay in the cave was a little wet, but it did not detract from the quality climbing.  Andy was quite glad that the route was much easier than yesterday, and is now hopefully rested to do a bigger V tomorrow.  There were loads of teams out and about again today taking advantage of the excellent ice.

All smiles aftyer the crux

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Stand and Deliver

Andy approaching the first belay
Today Andy and I went for a shorter day, but without dropping any quality in the route we chose.  Aonach Beag was a good option for this, and Stand and Deliver V,5/6** gave us the quality route we wanted.  An easy long pitch takes you to the main event, which is a steep curtain that has an icicle through the centre.  Good climbing leads to the icicle, then a very steep, sustained section leads to easier ground. An outstanding pitch and as the guide suggests, high in the grade.

Me lovin' the crux!

Andy happy to be at the top!

Another team showing the scale of the route
Other teams, climbed our route, Royal Pardon and Kings Randsom.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Orion Direct

Alex cruising up pitch 2
The weather was better than forecast today on the Ben, with great views across the summit and all the ridges.  So, what better way to take it all in, than a stroll up Orion.  Andy and Alex wanted to to a big Ben classic V, and they don't really get much better.  We lost around an hour and half behind a couple of slow teams, but it is hard to be too mift on a day like today.  The route was in great condition overall, but a little thin after the second slab rib as normal.

There were folks climbing all over the mountain today, with many routes in excellent condition after the cold night and much cooler day today.  I know Vanishing, Point 5, Slav Route, Hadrian's, Indicator and Vade Mucum were all climbed today, along with Tower Ridge.  Another good forecast tomorrow, so get out and send large.

Andy approaching the belay

Alex crossing the basin

Andy exiting the final chimney

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Ledge Route

Ginny and Mike enjoying Ledge Route
Today Ginny, Mike and I headed up the Ben for an assault on Ledge Route II****.  This is an awesome journey at the grade, with great rock scenery along the way.  After the slog up from the bottom carpark, we were soon kitting up beneath No.5 Gully as the masses arrived.  There were big footsteps up the route, which made it easy going, but the snow has started to soften.  Hopefully the predicted cold snap to night will firm it up a bit.  We made short work of the route, topping out in under 4 hours from the carpark.  A nice cruise down the Red burn on soft snow was a joy for the knees, before the descent to the car.  A great weekend in good company.

Cruising to the summit

A happy summit team

Despite being soggy, there are still plenty of options up there.  The weather looks ok until Wednesday, but who knows after that.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Stob Corie Nam Bieth

Today I was out with Ginny and Mike for their first ever winter day.  We walked up into Stob Corie Nam B and had a wicked skills session in and around the area under Deep Cut Chimney which was climbed today.  The snow was a mixture of firm and a little softer which made step kick realistic.  Unfortunately, it was not as good for cramponing, but there is loads of ice around for that, so all good.  We had a good sliding session, before trucking around the corie using our new found skills.

There are still a few options of routes up there, and the Church Door area looked like it could have options also as teams headed that way today.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sneachda Ice

Yesterday was a bonus day for the Life Systems and Life Venture shoot, with the idea being to get some good climbing shots for their catalogue and some for Montane who had provided waterproofs.

We climbed Patey's Route IV,5*** which was in outstanding condition and climbed completely on snow and ice.  We then came down and climbed Aladdin's Mirror Direct IV,4***. This has great ice on it at the moment.  It also has a very steep pillar that runs it's full length if taken direct.  To get better pictures this is the way I went.  Excellent vertical ice with a slight overlapping fringe to an a bit more steepness made this a joy to climb, but not grade IV!

This wraps up the shoot, and hopefully I will have a couple of images to share soon.

Some parts of the Fiaciall had survived the rain/drizzle of Thursday, as well as parts of Fluted Buttress.  Unfortunately, the majority of the coire looks black.  This did not stop some teams dry tooling the cracks with some snow and ice on ledges, it depends where your ethical compass points.