Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Little Langdale and beyond

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Late April's bank holiday weekend meet was to the Fylde hut in Little Langdale, a place we know quite well, but a poor forecast put a few people off.

Carmen Donal and Simon went climbing on Saturday in Langdale proper, starting at Stickle Barn Crag and moving on to Tarn Crag, intending to do a link up finishing at the summit of the Langdale Pikes. However, it was bit nippy in the fresh breeze so they stayed at Tarn Crag before descending for a couple of routes on the ever popular Raven Crag.

Pete B and I set off for the Ennerdale horseshoe a bit later than planned. Pete was ready at 8(!) but I didn’t reach faff escape velocity until well after 9 and a surprisingly long drive brought the NT carpark at Bowness Knott (armed with Rob's dodgy NT badge). However it was not a problem as the plan was always to bivvi somewhere half way round. A stunningly clear, windy day striding along the ridge over red pike and up to High Stile and down to Haystacks.

Pete found fantastic bivvi spot in a sheep fold just under Green Gable. All fed, tucked up cosy and warm by 8pm we enjoyed a beautiful clear night but with howling winds that brought down some nearby tents during the night. The shelter did its job and we were fine and didn’t even need to spoon (Pete B had bagged big spoon), which allowed me to sleep like a log for 10 hours waking briefly at 1am to look at the stars and pee a his bivvi bottle.

Sunday was lovely but very windy (notice a trend!) and soon on top of Great Gable we met a group huddling behind the cairn. Pete overheard them congratulating themselves on getting to the top of Scafell Pike so easily. He kindly and gently pointed out Scafell Pike on the horizon and showed them on our map (they didn’t have one). A little deflated, but surprisingly undaunted they trudged off in their trainers.

The wind got stronger throughout the day, at one point in a gap in the ridge, it sounded like a fighter jet and almost took Pete off his feet. Since my secret weapon is having no pride, I crawled across. A little later we met a little old lady, 75 at least and looking like my grandma, on her own coming up Black Sail Buttress. Happy as Larry and clearly fit as a butcher's dog. Up to Pillar and incredible views, but by now we had just about had enough of getting blown about so headed down Pillar to the quiet of the valley below. Back to the hut in plenty of time for an exceptionally big YAC tea. All in all a grand couple of days out.

On Sunday Carmen and Simon went mountain biking. Donal had picked up and injury and decided to call it a day. Monday was forecast wet so Pete and Karl, already a little damp from bivvi bag condensation, decided to bail too. For Simon and Carmen though, Monday turned out to be the best day of the three climbing at Kettle Crag.

Banff Mountain Film Festival – York Barbican Weds 8th March

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

A great turn out from the club for the first Banff mountain film festival to visit York. 17 members went along to enjoy the 7 films featured in the ‘blue’ programme. A good variety of adventure sports were featured including climbing in Tasmania, mountain biking, extreme skiing in the alps, kayaking through Papua New Guinea, trail running, a documentary on threats to an Alaskan salmon river from a proposed dam project, and finishing with some wingsuit stunt flying – plenty to inspire us for more adventures!

Winter adventure talks series 2017

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the winter months of 2017, the club ran a monthly ‘adventure talks’ social evening at the Falcon tap pub in Micklegate, York. The idea being that we have a couple of short talks by members or visiting speakers about a trip they’ve been on, and get a chance to have a drink with friends, meet new members and find out more about what people have been up to, hopefully getting inspired for the coming year at the same time!

We’ve had some great talks this year, starting in January when Dave told us about his trekking and mountaineering trip through Peru and Bolivia, and Peter described his adventures horse riding and trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

February took us to New England with Carmen and Simon to see the fall colours and of course do some walking and climbing, and then over to Northern Sweden with Donal for a multi day hut-to-hut walk along the Kungsleden or ‘King’s trail’.

Finally, in March we got on our bikes with Chris who competed in the transcontinental cycle race from Belgium to Istanbul (everyone was exhausted just listening!), and then Rob gave an introduction to lightweight backpacking (with props!) along the Haute Route Pyrenees.

Many thanks to all the speakers for giving their time to put a talk together and present it, and to all those members who came along to support, hopefully have some fun and learn about somewhere new. Looking forward to more adventure talks next year!

Ben Broken

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Karl and I headed for the Southern Highlands last weekend for a bit of walking as the weather looked ok, if a little windy.


We stayed at the Wigwam campsite again, just south of Tyndrum. With a Snow Moon, the Feb full moon, (and a comet and eclipse neither of which we saw) and a decent level of the snow the Crianlarich Munros mountains looked absolutely stunning in the moonlight. Quite a surprising view.

In the morning we did the short drive down towards Oban to walk the Ben Cruachan & Stob Diamh but were quite late so had to squeeze Knob2 in the layby. The walk up through the woods to the huge dam went quickly and we were greeted by 40mph winds. Along the reservoir we headed up the valley to the col catching a few groups up. As we approached the ridge we were past by about 6 people who had turned back due to wild winds blowing across the ridge. We pressed on.

The ridge proved surprisingly calm and long, with granite boulders hiding beneath the snow, quite tricky and slow. We were after about 3:30, about 20 mins longer than the summer book time. Blue sky and magnificent views to Mull (Ben Mor visible over K's shoulder) and all the Glen Etive hills made for a good lunch stop. We decided (well I did) to head along the ridge to do the full horseshoe, which was interesting. After just 50m a bad step had stopped the parties ahead. I had a long sling which I used to protect all 5 of them and K & me. In another 10 mins we were stopped by a snowy exposed slab and opted to traverse under the summit, a long step kicking exercise. The Glasgow students bailed but the dad and son paired followed us.

All this messing about meant we were both quite late and tired by the time we got to the second Munro. Karl was really feeling it and took a bit of encouraging to top out. The above picture shows a beautiful sunset and K's state! It hadn't escaped our notice that we had to get a shift on as it would get dark real soon !


Over the last bump on the ridge the descent is really rather easy, especially in the snow and we made quick progress with only a few hundreds falls for K. We sparked up our torches close to the reservoir path, before rejoining the path through the woods. We caught up team dad & son, the dad was struggling badly with fatigue and they were torchless having only one phone so I stayed with them back to the road for about 7.30.

The kitchen and diner and showers were most welcome and we crashed out about 11. Karl was a bit the worse for wear and entered the Brown-Bradshaw zone of sleeping in, eventually surfacing at 10:45 – so we chilled out and came home.

Great quick hit, fantastic mountains and stunning views.

Wet Grange

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

img_20161112_124514171A last minute cancellation of the hut in Newlands left us scrabbling around for a place to stay for novembers meet. Luckily the CC hut in Borrowdale was available and Rob made a quick booking to secure it. The hut is the Old School House and fantastically situated, and we managed to fill it in time.

img_20161112_123030802_hdrSat was pish weather so Karl, Russ, Paul, Dave D and Rob walked the 1/2 mile along the road to the campsite and over to Gate Gill and spent the next few hours getting a right soaking and having a laugh whilst not actually going very far. The mountain bikers (Jamie, Donal, Annie, Peter?) pushed their bikes somewhere around Borrowdale/Newlands and the walkers headed for opposite sides of the valley. Simon and Debra walked the ridge behind the hut from Catbells and Simon and Carmen went on a bog trotting expedition above Watendlath. Grahame ran half away across Cumbira alone on a mission. Peri went ice climbing and cake eating at Keswick wall/cafes.

Sat evening's feast was started in style by Paul with home made pate, followed by a Foxy Chili and the Inaugural Triffle-Off featuring three contrasting dishes. True to form Karl presented an adolescent dream of a trifle , with multiple layers and beverages, almost an engineering feat getting so much into a dish. Rob went all poncy with individual fruit laden pots but had a technical failure with the jelly, and Carmen cheated by actually making a proper nice trifle.

Sunday we tried to walk off the calories, Russ Karl and Rob went for a wee wander near Watendlath (a beautiful place), Paul & Jamie did the scramble behind the hut. A big team (Simon, C, Donal, Dave D, Annie) went to Seathwaite for some scrambling fun but greasy wet rock ut pay to that and a stroll around the Gillercombe area of Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable, Base Brown made for an acceptable day.

Quality meet, despite the weather and a good craic. Greta hut for a summer meet with all the climbing walkable and even some biking for those so afflicted.

Scottish winter skills course – February 2016

Monday, April 18th, 2016

As part of the Glencoe meet in mid February based at the SMC Lagangarbh hut below Buachaille Etive Mor, we had arranged for a couple of days with IFMGA Mountain Guide Graeme Ettle.

Day 1 – Saturday.

This was a winter hillwalking skills course, and had begun in the hut the evening before as Graeme chatted to Peter, Mike, Warwick, Jake, Jamie and Dave about the equipment required for a day on the hills. We did a quick crampon and boot check to ensure we were all set to head straight out the following morning, and discussed the weather forecast, good and bad route choices and possible locations for the following day.

Saturday morning we made the short drive to the head of the Lairig Eilde, and headed up the valley towards the saddle of Buachaille Etive Beag. As we made our way up through the snow, we passed 3 French tourists struggling with their crampons – they'd never used them before and had no idea how to put them on. A good lesson if ever there was one for doing your homework and preparation before you set out!

Graeme assessing the snowpack

Graeme assessing the snowpack

Graeme found a suitable snow slope for some ice axe arrest practice, and we spent some time sliding down in various scenarios – backwards, forwards, headfirst, feetfirst while practicing arresting technique. It wasn't too bad in relatively soft snow but we were reminded that on a harder icy slope things could be a lot different, and the best possible way to avoid this is to try and stay on your feet in the first place!


 

Hiking further up, it was soon time to put crampons on and get in a bit of practice with cramponing technique. Graeme then got his shovel out and talked about the snowpack, his experience working at the Scottish Avalanche Information Service http://www.sais.gov.uk/ apparent as he explained the various processes and factors that can affect it. The block of snow he isolated sild from the snowpack below with surprising ease, shearing at a weak layer and demonstrating why the avalanche risk for the day in some areas was 'considerable' as we'd discussed when looking at the forecast the night before. It wasn't long before we were all digging out our own test pits with axes and showels to test the layers (and keep warm!).

Mike taking in the view down Glen Etive

Mike taking in the view down Glen Etive

We continued with the walk, gaining the col and then turning NE to the summit of Stob Coire Raineach (925m) and a new munro tick for all in the group. We were rewarded with fantastic views down Glen Etive to Loch Etive in the distance, across to the Aonach Eagach, east to the Buachaille, and further afield.

Heading back down the same way, Graeme continued to impart his wealth of knowledge, stopping to point things out, chat about the snowpack some more, answer questions and share his enthusiasm for the mountains.

After dinner back at the hut, it was time to think about day 2, which was to be a winter course aimed more at mountaineering / climbing skills. We discussed and sorted out the gear required for the morning, and Graeme gave a short lesson in some alpine rope skills such as how to take coils and correctly tie into a rope team for moving together.

 

Day 2 – Sunday.

Mark testing out his buried axe anchor

Mark testing out his buried axe anchor

Another great day of settled weather, and we all set off early to catch the climbers gondola at Nevis Range, and head onto the slopes of Aonach Mor. The drive down Glencoe and along Loch Linnie was picturesque as always in the early morning light. Gearing up in the car park was when Warwick realised that he didn't have his winter boots with him. After a quick assessment of the options (there weren't many!) he jumped back in the car to go and fetch them.

 

 

 

Jamie, Carmen, Mike, Mark and Peter took the gondola up to the top station, waiting for the cafe to open so we could grab a coffee. Graeme spent some time talking about the avalanche forecast, route planning, weather and mountain hazards while we waited for Warwick to return.  It was then out onto the hill, watching out for wayward or out of control skiers as we went.

Mike and Carmen in their bucket seats

Mike and Carmen in their bucket seats

After quite a bit of debate over the seemingly easy question 'when should you put your crampons on?' we headed up onto steeper ground and did some assessment of the snowpack stability, before arriving at a spot relatively sheltered from the cold wind to do the ropework.

Warwick trying out the stomper belay

Warwick trying out the stomper belay

We then spent a couple of hours learning and trying out various techniques for building snow anchors, such as buried axes, bucket seats, snow bollards and stomper belays, and discussing when we would use each one. Mike had brought along his 'deadman' which he'd carried out a very impressive repair on involving an angle grinder, and was keen to learn how to place it, so we all had a go at that too. Frequent sprints through the snow and stops for snacks kept us warm.

Learning how to place Mike's deadman

Learning how to place Mike's deadman

Mike testing his snow bollard - fit for an abseil?

Mike testing his snow bollard – fit for an abseil?

 

After lunch, we headed up Nid ridge for a bit of a walk. By now the cloud had come down, so we got a chance to assess our navigation skills based on timing, paces, dead reckoning and anything else we could get a clue from as to where exactly we were! We then headed back to the Gondola and joined the queue of skiers and boarders heading home after another great day.

All those who went on either course agreed they had learned something (or lots of things!), and had a great day out. Thanks to Graeme for his enthusiasm, teaching and keeping us entertained!

The excellent visibility didn't quite last all day!

The excellent visibility didn't quite last all day!

Scottish Winter – Lagangarbh Feb2016

Monday, April 18th, 2016

From the 11-14th February, the club headed to the SMC's Lagangarbh hut, sitting at the head of Glencoe beneath Buachaille Etive Mor. As we made the drive north on the Thursday night, a promising weather forecast and good winter conditions meant things were looking good for the weekend. The gamble to book for 3 nights and take a day off work for a long weekend looked like it may pay off, and we weren't disappointed!

Lagangarbh Hut, Glencoe

Lagangarbh Hut, Glencoe

On Saturday and Sunday a few of us were booked onto winter skills courses (see separate post) that the club had organised. everyone was free on the Friday though, so we were all keen to get out into the snow and make the most of the good conditions.

Warwick at Glencoe mountain

Warwick at Glencoe mountain

Peter, Dave, Mike, Warwick and Jake headed to Glencoe mountain for a day on the slopes. The cloudbase remained high enough to give some great views across Rannoch moor to the mountains beyond, and some nice powder on the slopes made for a good day's sliding. Peter tried out his new touring skis with a bit of skinning later in the afternoon before all retired to the Kingshouse hotel for an apres-ski pint. Leaving the bar, a couple of red deer were happily hanging out just across the river.

Deer by the Kingshouse

Deer by the Kingshouse

While some were skiing, a winter ascent of Curved ridge (II/III, 3) on Buachaille Etive Mor right behind the hut was the objective of most of the rest of the group. The fresh powder that the skiers were enjoying was probably less than ideal for the route, however everyone enjoyed the day out and the settled conditions.

 

 

Rob and Carmen on Curved Ridge

Rob and Carmen on Curved Ridge

On Friday night, the day's stories were shared over the obligatory YAC feast, before Graeme Ettle, our Guide for the weekend's winter skills courses arrived. He had a chat to the group and outlined the plan for the next couple of days.

Saturday dawned clear and cold, and Peter, Warwick, Mike, Jake, Jamie and Dave headed out with Graeme for the winter hillwalking course. Buachaille Etive Beag from the Lairig Eilde side being the chosen location for the day's activities.

Checking snowpack stability on the winter skills course

Checking snowpack stability on the winter skills course

Richard, Rob, Paul and Mark headed up the same valley to Sron na Lairig (II) leading up to the SE ridge of Stob Coire Sgreamhach for a good route and an airy finish, while Simon and Carmen headed off to ascend Ben Starav and also add a couple of tops to their ticklist. Graeme S headed out along the ridge of Buachaille Etive Mor. Unfortunately Liz was feeling pretty ill so opted to stay at the hut for some R&R, working her way through a book.

We woke on Sunday scarcely believing our luck, as the high pressure remined over Scotland, bringing a third day in a row of cold, clear weather. The weather was due to change later in the day, so people were keen to head out early and make the most of it.

Day 2 of the course was more focussed on rope skills for mountaineers, so Jamie, Mark, Mike, Warwick, Carmen and Peter headed off with Graeme to Nevis range to make use of the climbers Gondola up to Aonach Mor. Warwick decided the picturesque drive through Glencoe and along Loch Linnie was worth doing twice that morning by leaving his boots in the hut.

Liz was still feeling under the weather, so made an early exit back to York with Richard. Graeme, Jake, Dave and Simon headed off to the Corbett of Stob Dubh for some more excellent winter walking conditions and great views.

Simon on Stob an Duine Ruaidh

Simon on Stob an Duine Ruaidh

Back at the hut after a third great day out in a row, there was enough of Warwick's chilli left over to feed everyone with tea before setting off for the long drive south after an excellent weekend. We had been really lucky with the weather, some of the club had consolidated existing knowledge or learned new skills on the winter courses, and the evening meals and company in the hut had been excellent as always.

Sadly the weather we'd been lucky to enjoy all weekend had a sting in it's tail. As the weather finally broke, blizzards and a closed A1 on the way home made for some interesting driving conditions, and a much longer journey than planned for some.

November 2015 Capel Curig Meet

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

Capel Curig Meet, weekend of 20th to 22nd November 2015.

The meet was well attended, total of 13 of us, with 3 staying in their vehicles.  The hut (belonging to the Gwyndur Mountaineering Club) was good.  Note Karl’s edifice.

P1090255

 

Saturday

The morning was bright and sunny though crisp with snow on the tops.

12241508_1059051940785260_2486267452522695829_n (1)

On the basis of this most of us went off to Tryfan.  Simon, Carmen, Richard, Mike and myself (David D) walked there for the hut.  Ascending the ridge we came upon Rob, Karl, Peri and Peter B who had driven in.

DSC00018

Come lunchtime the weather had closed in and it snowed, which made the return a bit more adventurous for most of us.

Meanwhile Peter E and Ann had gone for a bicycle ride.  They met Peter’s brother John visited the mountain biking centre at  Penmachno and did both the 19km and 11km red route trails. Penmachno is on the B4406 south of Betws-y-Coed).
Paul and Peter W had gone for a run on the Carnedds. Lunch at Ogwen cottage then back to Capel Curig, Apparently that was enough (35km)?  And I thought they were going to tick off Tryfan on the same jaunt as well.

Sunday.

Simon and Carmen set off very early for a running event in the Peak District.  The rest of us got up somewhat later, though Richard had been up and down Moel Siabod before the most of the team set off!

Peter E and Ann did a walk north of Betws from Llyn Geirionydd to Trefriw.

This left the rest of us to clamber up and down Moel Siabod.  Ascent via the SW ridge.  I had not done this before and I think I should do it on a summer’s day so I can see what it looks like!   The clag was down.

P1090262

the mysterious crag x….

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

20150627_15343620150627_155517_HDRHey all, spent a lovely sunny afternoon bouldering at a new crag. Just over an hour from york, lovely moorland surroundings, tons of low to mid grade routes, none too high, all in superb frictiony gritstone with less polish than Mrs Brown, and soft bilberry and turf landings. "Where is this unspoilt gem? " I hear you all cry (except for Simon Caldwell who's muttering "bloody bouldering"). Ah, but to learn the answer you will have to bribe Peri and Catherine with cake….

Crianlarich

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

The last meet saw us heading to Crianlarich. Unfortunately, the ideal winter climbing conditions did not last and there was a thaw just before our visit.  However, that did not deter Rob, Will & Paul from heading up a day early. After a not particularly early start they headed up to Ben Nevis and climbed 2 pitches of The Curtain (IV, 5) before an abseil retreat.

Ascending Ben Lawers - spindrift

Ascending Ben Lawers – spindrift

By the time they arrived back at the hut a number of us had arrived. Sat was forecast to be the best of the remaining days – with unknown conditions for local ice-climbing Simon, myself and Pete W opted for a walk. I was keen to get a few more munros ticked off – so we headed over to the Eastern side of the Ben Lawers range. It was a snowy walk in (but not too deep) and once higher up on the ridge progress was easier – that is when we weren’t head on into the wind.

Ascending Ben Lawers, An Stuc in background

Ascending Ben Lawers, An Stuc in background

There was a strong wind on the initial ridge up Ben Lawers with plenty of spindrift making it atmospheric (balaclava and goggles remained on for the majority of the day).

Starting descent from An Stuc

Starting descent from An Stuc

We carried on to An Stuc – the descent from which was more than a walk – with some careful route choice and front-pointing required. The rest of the walk proved a lot simpler, and with the wind behind us was more pleasant. 4 munros in all – making a good winter circuit.

Meanwhile, Rob, Will and Paul were still keen to climb and this time headed for Beinn an Dothaidh to climb Stairway to Heaven (III) which was rather banked out with snow. Peri, Liz and Mark headed off with the plan to traverse the Aonoch Eagach, however, the snow conditions called for a change of plan (they meet a couple of other teams retreating) and decided to head up a Corbett instead. Karl, Jamie and Russ also went for a winter walk taking in Ben More and Stob Binnein. Mike unfortunately soon realised that he was not fully recovered and had to turn back and headed back home.

Sat night saw us eating Rob’s leek, potato and chilli soup followed by oodles of cream courtesy of Pete’s whisky cream (to accompany the ton of haggis) and extra cream in the marmalade bread and butter pudding from Peri – thanks chefs. Sat night we checked the forecast hoping that it might have improved – it hadn’t and had actually got worst with gusts of 60-90 mph forecast, along with snow/rain. With a similar but less windy forecast for Monday, a number of lightweights (sensible people) headed back to York.

Simon & I got up early and headed back to the Ben Lawers range to take in a Corbett (Meall nan Maigheach) close to the road. This plan paid off, although the drive was much longer than anticipated due to the ungritted road and finding a sensible place to park.  Navigation was easy as we followed a wall until it stopped and a short walk on a bearing took us to a cairn– not knowing whether this was the highest summit we took a bearing to the other cairn and then retraced our path back down.  It took us just over 2 hrs – even with the car parked further downhill than ideal.

Rob, Mark, Paul, Pete and Will went for a low-level walk along the West Highland Way and returned to the hut rather soaked – at least we had only been snowed upon. Everyone else had fled. Pete decided a bit more exercise was called for and headed out for a run.

By Sunday night we were down to 3 (Simon, myself and Pete) we enjoyed a smaller variant of the communal meal I had planned. We opted for an earlish start on Monday – to get out before things deteriorated. We were a little surprised to look out the window and see everything was now covered in snow at ground level. Attempts to push the car were unsuccessful, so after a session of shovelling we finally made it away from the hut (thanks Pete). We attempted a Corbett just down the road from the hut. Unfortunately, strong winds and deep powdery snow meant that we did not make it to the summit – even using snow shows we occasionally sunk up to our thighs. At just over 700m the wind was unpleasant, visibility was almost zero and we had lost all depth perception – it was time to give up and head home. Meanwhile, Pete opted for another run from the hut before catching the train to Edinburgh.P1120221