Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

A Cold Bank Holiday

Saturday, May 11th, 2019
On Beinn a' Chaisteil, with Beinn Dorain behind

We were supposed to be spending the early May Bank Holiday weekend in the Arrochar Alps, climbing on the Cobbler, but the weather had other ideas.

Forecast temperatures on the crag were due to be a few degrees below zero, so a new plan was needed! For most, that plan involved staying at home. Rob and Mike climbed on Llanberis slate, but Carmen and I stuck with the original destination, and spent a few chilly days in the southern Highlands.

Beinn nam Fuaran

Saturday was cold but sunny, perfect walking weather, so we decided on the group of 5 Corbetts south east of the Bridge of Orchy. Not a hugely long day (around 15 miles), but being Corbetts there's a lot of ascent between each, the total for the day being over 2000m.

Eagle

The walk was excellent with some superb views, but the highlight of the day was a chance encounter with a golden eagle, feeding on a sheep carcass only 10m or so below us. It soon caught sight of us of course, and was off, but I've never been this close to a wild eagle before, and am never likely to be again.

Mill Bay

Sunday's forecast was for the best weather was near the coast. So we drove for 2 hours towards Knapdale on the northern end of the Mull of Kintyre, for some esoteric cragging at Mill Bay. Good rather than great climbing, and freezing cold despite being only 10m above sea level, but in a superb setting. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Snowtastic

The next day the plan was to climb Meall an Fhudair, another Corbett across the valley. The summit area is a complex mix of knolls and lochans, so we wanted a clear day for it. As we sat in the car at the campsite, the rain was coming down steadily and the cloud lowering so we almost bailed, but luckily it had stopped by the time we parked the car.


Meall an Fhudair from
Beinn Damhain

We almost turned back on the initial ascent, as the cloud came down again and it start to rain, soon turning to snow. But again, before the decision point had been reached it cleared, and the rest of the day stayed dry and sunny. So much so that we added on an extra summit at the end, the rocky Graham of Beinn Damhain. Another good day, and a fine little hill for practising navigation, with great views over the Arrochar Alps, Loch Fyne, and the Ben Lui range.

All in all, a great weekend, and despite the bank holiday crowds on the West Highland Way and no doubt the nearby Munros, we only met 3 other pairs on the hills all weekend.

North Wales Nav weekend

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

On the weekend of the 6th of April six YAC members headed to North Wales to attend a Navigation course at Plas y Brenin. We based ourselves at the Dolgam campsite near Capel which I would highly recommend, really nice clean site with great facilities.

Saturday dawned and for a change we were hoping for low cloud and poor visibility to make the most of the Nav course, the sky couldn't have been clearer. The sun was out and the temperature high, think we all regret the winter trousers and warm base layers, so much for the poor weather nav.
After Jane had put her Shepherd's skills to test rounding up an escaped lamb at the campsite we headed to the centre for the course.

Despite the clear conditions the course went well and I think we all got something from it and at least the nice weather made for a more pleasant relaxed day. It was the first time for most of us in the Plas y Brenin centre and we were all impressed, so much so we headed back there for an evening talk involving polar bears and canoes rounded off by dinner (that's two mains and two puds for Karl) and a few drinks in the bar.

Sunday morning was cloudy and cool so plans to climb were put on the back burner and we headed for a group ascent of Tryfan. After a minor incident where Karl narrowly escaped serious injury or death (Simon to the rescue) we arrived at the summit and the crowds.


The skies had cleared, the sun was up and it seemed even warmer than the Saturday.

From the summit we continued up Bristly ridge, the group showed great support and Jane was especially pleased to complete this classic scramble. We returned to the cars via the Y Gribin ridge with perfect clear conditions and some great views.

Great  weekend with crazy weather for that time of year.


Snowless in Elphin

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019
Arkle
Arkle

For the 2018/9 New Year meet we returned to the excellent little hut in Elphin, up in the far northwest of Scotland. One of these days we'll get there to coincide with some good winter's weather, but not this time, mild weather through December led to largely snow-free conditions.

Of course, that didn't stop us 9 of us making the long journey north, and it's a fantastic place to be in (almost) any conditions.

Ben Hope

We arrived on Boxing Day, and the following day the best conditions were due to be further east, so Carmen and I headed north and east for an ascent of Meall Horn, a Corbett near Arkle. An overcast day nevertheless stayed dry and the cloud mostly above the summits, with some great views to the sunny peaks around Ben Hope. Meanwhile, Annie and Peter diced with death on Cul Beag but lived to tell the tale.

Meall Doire Faid

The next day we headed south, again chasing the weather, and again got lucky with a sunny ascent of Beinn Enaiglair, another Corbett near Braemore Junction. A long approach spiralled round to the far side of the hill before climbing old stalkers' paths to the top, descending the other side and back up from the col to bag a Graham summit, Meall Doire Faid.

Annie and Peter set off to walk up Quinag, but after half an hour sat in the car park watching the rain, they settled for a walk to Eas a Chual Aluinn, the highest waterfall in the country.

On 29th the rest of the group arrived, so of course the weather took a turn for the worse.

Mike, Pete W and Rob repeated their now traditional late start on a long walk near shortest day with an ascent of the Assynt Munros, including some consternation about the descent from the ridge (minor epic narrowly averted) getting back just a tad after dark.

Carmen and I headed south again, to pick up an insignificant Munro Top near Meall nan Ceapraichean – the only Munro summit in the Beinn Dearg group that we didn't go up on the 2011 LAMM – we'd traversed 20m below the summit! Today we weren't so lucky with the weather, which stayed resolutely damp and dismal with low cloud, so having ticked the summit we headed back, detouring slightly to visit one of the impressive waterfalls in the glen (an advantage of the poor weather!).

Peri and Karl found the best weather on Ben More Coigach, a fine mountain overlooking the sea north of Ullapool.

Falls of Kirkaig

The next day was once again damp and windy, with cloud levels even lower, so we had a team walk to the Falls of Kirkaig, impressively full of water after all the rain.

New Year's Eve was a repeat, only windier, so various groups did various low level bimbles – some to the Clachtoll Broch, others to the crags at Reiff, others to the coast near Lochinver.

Then it was the traditional NYE haggis over-eating, over-drinking, and struggling to stay awake until midnight, followed the next day by fine weather, snow on the hills, and a long drive home.

Some more photos here

Costa de Langdale

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Langdale in November, pack your waterproofs and hope for the best. Except we should have packed our shorts and vests cos this was incredible weather.

Staying at the Wayfarers excellent Hut (for the last time before they became a mixed club) we were 20 odd people over the weekend. The oddness level varied as people came and went at different times

On Sat 4 teams headed for the ever reliable Raven Crag, south facing low lying and crammed with good routes (and other people) Rob and Pete B did a bunch of routes that Rob thought he hadn't done before (he had!) Peri, Adam and Andrew ticked some classics (Revelation HS & Bilberry Buttress VS) and Mike and Paul were encouraged to tackle Pluto (an excellent HVS 5a traverse) amongst others. Dave W climbed with a new recruit Daniel and Simon and Carmen were hoovering up routes at minor crags and most of us met up at the Far east single pitch venue as the sun was going down.

Retreating to the ODG for a beer we met up with the walking team ( Jayne, Karl, Donal, Toasty, Richards H &P, Ann … ) who'd been up to Jack's Rake and beyond, and Pete W who'd tagged a run on the end of the valley.

Abandoning the drinkers a few of us headed back and commenced a Roast Ham and ten veg for 20 people, which was a tad late but worth the wait. Suitably stuffed we retired for the evening of gentle banter then not so gentle snoring.

Next day 3 teams headed for Pavey Ark, Pete B and Rob did Coati (VS) followed by Crescent Slabs while Mike S and Andrew did the slabs then got on Golden Slipper (HVS *** with a queue to math and still on my list to lead). Peri and Adam also tackled Coati, starting a little later and finishing well late (after we had all gone back to York!)

Simon & Carmen went climbing easy stuff on Harrison Stickle in the chilly wind and managed three fairly long routes

Another large walking team headed out to the end of the valley to the Crinkle Crag, Bowfell area in stunning weather. A scramble was tackled and great fun had, sorry no pix as yet…

We all (bar Peri and Adam) made it back before dark and headed home – quality weekend in a great place

More Photos: so many great ones …..

YAC Autumn Ariege trip

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Last October 7 YAC members (me, Simon, Ann, Peter E, Peri, Dave D and Mike) plus James and Sara went to the Ariege (foothills of French Pyrenees). It is a lovely area that Simon & I were keen to return to. Peter and Ann hired bikes for a couple of days and were doing a mixture of cycling and walking and even the occasional rock climb. Sara was also doing a mixture of cycling, climbing and walking activities, including a sightseeing day with Dave D to Carcasonne. The rest of us just climbed – as there is so much climbing around. We were overall pretty lucky with the weather. Any heavy rain fell overnight and we were able to get out climbing everyday.

Several days were spent on the local limestone crag of Calames – climbing some of the quality long single pitch and multi-pitch climbs. Couple of trips to the brilliant granite crag Auzat – La Sabine is a must do route (just as good as we remembered). A trip to a new gneiss crag of Junac, not in the current Rockfax which turned out to be rather good and complete with cheeky goat. A trip to Baychon where the routes were of variable quality and grading – but a beautiful outlook over the valley. Some of the team climbed at Aux le Thermes and some of us went for a long multi-pitch on Dent d'Orlu (granite) which was a top day out with fantastic views and we had the East face to ourselves. Worth saving for the good forecast.

Still plenty more routes and crags not visited. It is a beautiful area with a good variety of rock types and route lengths. I think we might be back again some day (hopefully).

James on La Sabine -Auzat
Simon at top of multi-pitch
la voie des peres tranquilles – Calames
Peri climbing at Baychon

View down valley from Baychon
Mike on classic
Fleur de Rhodo – La Dent d'Orlu
Dave D on
Fleur de Rhodo – La Dent d'Orlu

Tremadog September 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Only 7 of us stuck with the plan and went to Wales on Friday night.  A few cried off due to poor forecast – but the forecast turned out to be ever changing.

Saturday morning was meant to be dry but it started spitting soon after we went to the upper tier of Craig Pant Ifan. Jayne came up with us – but then headed off for a walk/scramble up Moel Hebog and dropped down to Beddgelert before heading back to the hut. She enjoyed a long walk, arriving back at the hut via a lift from a friendly bus driver.

The rain held off for a while so we got a few routes done before the rock was saturated again. So we went back to the hut for some food and drink and warm up. Come 3pm the rain had stopped and sun gradually came back out – so Simon and I, Peri and Dave D headed out and climbed Christmas curry. We had the crag to ourselves. The first 1.5 pitches were on wet rock but after that it was all dry and lovely later afternoon.

Meanwhile Peter had been out on his bike from Tal y Bont, on A496 between Harlech and Barmouth, a circular route taking in Pont Scethin, 12 miles, hard and short, pushed up the two steepest hills, one customary crash on way down Bwlch y Rhiwgyr. Rich arrived Saturday evening and was soon telling stories of D of E chaos. Soup, sausages, veg and scones were swiftly consumed. This was accompanied by squeals and swearing as the size of the kitchen spider was realised (by Peri). Has any of us brought it home??

Sunday morning was dry and soon turned sunny. Rich was going to climb with Dave D but injured himself on the way to the crag – so Dave D, Peri and Pete B climbed together in the Yogi area – climbing Yogi and Smarter than the Average Bear. Meanwhile Simon & I climbed Valerie's Rib Direct, Tro and a newly cleaned Quercus.

Meanwhile Jayne and Peter went for a walk – Rhinog Fach starting up Cwm Nantcol then via Lyn Perfeddau and Lyn Hywel – and were rewarded with good views and mountain goats. Back at the crag the rain started just as we were finishing climbing and we managed to be back in the hut when the heaviest shower arrived. The walkers soon returned.

A good weekend's climbing/walking/cycling despite the weather forecast. Never fully trust the forecast!

 

Newlands Valley August Bank Holiday

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

For the August bank holiday we headed to the Newlands valley (Stair) to avoid the crowds in the Lakes.  Good turnout for the trip – 15 of us present at some point over the weekend.

Saturday – Simon & myself walked from the hut up towards the head of Newlands Valley to climb Direct route with bolt finish (allegedly S **)  on waterfall buttress and then grey slab (VS 4b **) on grey buttress.  The first route wasn't worth any stars (damp/wet, mossy & vegetated) second one was though (clean, solid rock, variety of moves).
Mike & Rob  set off just before us and were a little further up the valley on Miners crag – words from Rob.  "Miners Grooves, horrible approach pitch, pretty good P2 & P3,  Jezebel , terrible P1 and start or P2, with 10m of good climbing  and Tahulah – great clean climb on good rock !  I actually quite liked the crag (remote, quiet, easy to get to, sunny after 11)  but the starts of these ** routes are wet, mossy, sh!te.  I will certainly be more circumspect about belaying well out of fall line with this sort of route.. obvious in retrospect but maybe a reminder for others".  I hope Rob's foot improves soon!
Meanwhile Natalie and Russ went for the classis of Troutdale pinnacle on black crag followed by Little Chamonix at Shepherds- somehow managing to time things right and avoid queuing.   Peri, Adam and Andrew also went to black crag in the hope it would be dry enough to do The Shroud and The Mortician. Arriving there they found The Shroud was absolutely soaking. The Mortician looked as if it might be dry after the first pitch so we started up that, but bailed when they found the second pitch was a river. So like everyone else on the crag they defaulted to Troutdale Pinnacle which was lovely.  "A really enjoyable day out even if we had to change our plans".  Annie and Donal went for a mountain bike ride  around Blencathra and Skiddaw – which they seemed to enjoy a lot.  Dave D having reclaimed his car keys from M&S (don't ask!) arrived at the hut after a walk up Helvellyn (apparently that's where the crowds were).  Unfortunately Saturday turned out to be by far the best day.  Sunday and Mon am were wet.  There were 2 walking groups up Newlands valley on Sunday – taking in Cat bells and the ridge along Newland valley.  Natalie extended the walk somewhat by running back to Keswick and meeting Emma for a session at the wall.  Meanwhile Simon, myself and Alan took part in the 3rd race of the Kong mini-mountain marathon series, which started off from the outskirts of Ambleside – cloud was down in places, windy in places and rather wet, especially when wading through bracken – all good fun. Monday am most people left decided to leave the Lakes as it was still wet.  But some stopped somewhere en route for a bit of exercise – Annie did a walk from Arnside, Donal cycled round Dalby forest, Natalie, Russ and Mike went bouldering sans mat at Roundhill, Simon & I stayed in the Lakes for a trip to Leighton Moss.  C3 and Karl were heading to the Keswick show – but opted for Netflix instead.
Good weekend – despite the weather, good curries and cake.

 

Cairngorm winter – February 2018 Glen Clova

Monday, February 19th, 2018

The Scottish trip in February saw us heading to Glen Clova in the southern Cairngorms, keen to make the most of a good forecast and hopefully some great conditions. Axes and crampons were sharpened, skis dusted off and way too much food packed as we made our way to the newly refurbished Braedownie hut, which is owned by the Carn Dearg MC.

A few keen members had gone up early to try and get an extra day in. On Friday Paul and Jamie took the gear for a walk up Corrie Fee, sadly the conditions weren't quite as good as hoped, and all the gullies looked a "bit deathy" (Jamie's words!), so they followed Simon and Carmen up the buttress of Craig Rennet (deep, soft snow and heather).

Rob takes up the story for Saturday: "After much discussion and lots of delays while waiting for the rain to stop, Jamie, Paul, Rob, Dave, Russ, Dan and Peri headed off towards Winter Corrie in the light drizzle. The Walk in is quite straightforward and takes a little over an hour. We were greeted with a view of much snow and huge cornices overhanging the main buttresses. The line of Diagonal Gully did appear to have lots of ice on it but we decided against it. Peri retreated back to the hut before taking a stroll to Corrie Fee, the rest of us made our way to the centre of the Corrie and had a lunch break by the huge boulder.

We picked a route up the eastern (less loaded) slopes which was cornice free and with rocks to join up in a route to the rim. We all trudged up, put our crampons on before tackling a few rock steps on the way to the top. Dan ran laps around various bits of the slope with a huge grin on his face.

We topped out in calm, bright sunshine and blue skies and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. The team then plodded to Driesh summit and hid by the trig point before splitting up. Paul, Jamie and Dave route marched over to Mayar and down the Kilbo path. Rob Dan and Russ navved back to the corrie and descended the spur, which was occasionally eventful with deep snow and large patches. At the bottom, they crossed the style of doom and the found the bridge which made a short walk back to the hut".

While they were all playing in Winter corrie, another group of 6 headed further on to Corrie Fee to have a look. Again this was found to be powdery and unconsolidated, although everyone managed a route of some kind, sticking well clear of the unstable looking gullies. After ascending the left hand side buttress, Richard and Pete continued over the plateau to the Munros of Mayar (928m) and Driesh (947m) in the sunshine, with some great sastrugi patterns to admire on the way across.

Jamie: "On Sunday, being pretty knackered and thoroughly sick of carrying a big sack, I went for a wee run in the snow, telling Paul I'd be back in an hour, which turned out to be 13km, climbed to over 700m (at the shelter) and took 2h15m. Only out by 125%!" .

Pete, Mike and Richard having seen the cracking conditions on the plateau the day before were keen to get the skis out and head up for a day tour. After boot-packing up Glen Doll they popped the skis on at the forest edge and skinned up Jock's road past the emergency shelter to tick off their first munro on ski (Tolmount, 958m).

The tour continued over the Munro Tom Buidhe (957m) as the viz came and went in the strong wind, and then the cloud came down properly, resulting in some challenging navigation to get off the plateau. Turns out trying to estimate how far you've travelled and contouring on skis is pretty tricky! Sadly they couldn't do the best downhill ski sections justice in the white out, and found their way down corrie fee before hiking back through the forest to the hut.

Monday was the day to travel home, and with a poor forecast most were planning short trips out before hitting the road. This resulted in a pleasant group walk up to Loch Brandy from the valley bottom behind the hotel. Some carried on to the Corbett 'The Goet' (Ben Tirran) unfortunately no views to reward them, but they did find a bothy to eat lunch out of the weather. Peri went for a 'powder swim' up driesh in an 'epic' amount of snow following fresh falls overnight getting some fabulous views before the clag blew in.

Apologies I don't have a record of what everyone got up to, but all agreed it was a great weekend of winter adventures, hanging out in the mountains with friends, and of course calorie loading YAC style!

Patterdale Pogg-out

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

This weekend we were at patterdale in the Cleveland clubs hut, but without the drunken offensive violent member in tow. Friday night's entertainment was Richard H's Pizza Carbonella.

Sat dawned dry but not too clear and teams headed out in all directions. Simon and Carmen running south over the Dodds collecting Wainwrights in quite an impressive haul starting at Sheffield Pike area and ending on Arnitson Crag (despite some impressive nav errors). Donal pushed a lump of iron up a hill to access the High Street plateau and long ride, bringing quite a lot of the hill back with him on his bike.


Karl tackled the classic round of Striding and Swirrel Edges and pub. Dave Wiffen made the day trip and teamed up with Mike Shaw on Pinnacle Ridge before heading over to Helvellyn. Mike W clocked up a 60 mile road ride to approach is annual 5000 mile target, but did have to visit Shap for his sins. He was rewarded with a huge Staveley breakfast before an up'n'over Kirkstone pass and coast to the hut with mud to rival Donal.

Richard, Richard (that's two people) and Annie went Wainwright bagging close to Brothers Water – taking in Hart and Dove Crag and Red Screes and Middle Dodd. Paul ran a slightly brownian route to the Helvellyn ridge before traversing all the way to Red Screes and back to the hut. En-route he met Karl, Dave + Mike, RR+A and Rob. Rob was on a bit of a mission (see other blog soon) to finish the Wainwrights, which he did at 1.30 on High Hartsop Dodd (a pimple!) shortly after meeting RR+A. Paul caught him up with 100m to spare for the top out then headed off to catch the others whilst Rob started the long walk back to Grassmere to collect his car and arrive last back to the hut at 4.30

Karl was back first and set about raising the temperature of the whole valley using just the coal stove as his weapon. A standard YAC feast ensured lots of bodies stuffed with excess garlic bread lying around moaning before we even got to sample Carmen's Rice Pud with chicken bones lemongrass. Of course, we managed that and quite a deal of wine & beer to boot. Karl rounded off his day with a snore fest comatose on the sofa.

After a warm night with some Everett-esq snoring from Richard H we were greeted by a spectacular day- there seem to have been a frost everywhere except in a 10m radius of the hut! Richard P headed off to bag a few Dodds on his way home, Mike broke the journey home with a bike ride but on icy roads was a little spicier and harder than expected. Annie and Richard H headed east from the hut around Angle Tarn and Place Fell.

The rest of the team went to Pinnacle ridge which was in spectacular condition, dry and empty. Karl came with us for a bit but walked directly up St Sunday so he could get home early in prep for a mammoth week of traveling and teaching. The slog up to the start is a bit tough but short and we all arrived after 1.15 hours or so (despite two separate routes). Paul and Simon raced off, followed by Carmen and Donal. Rob and Mike got waylaid sodding about on all the variants they could find, descending as fast as ascending. This soon turned into a team sport and culminated in 3 variations of the crux pitch and 3 of the chimney/rib a little further up by 3 or 4 people.

Eventually we had to finish and head to the summit of St Sunday before a leisurely stroll to Grisedale Tarn and back along the valley. What a cracking short day – 5 hours hut to hut.


The hut was duly cleaned, tea and cake consumed and most people were way before dark.



Simons Pix on FB:

Dodging the rain in Northumberland

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

With a mixed forecast and coming so soon after the Skye meet, numbers were predictably down for the late May Bank Holiday, and in the end only four of us made the trip north.

We camped at Greencarts Farm, a nice enough site but they didn't make any attempt to keep the party goers quiet and they continued their merry making late into the night, every night.

On Saturday, Carmen and I made an early start to beat the expected rain and headed for Crag Lough.

We started with a few obscure but good routes around West Corner at the far right of the crag, before heading left for Jezebel Direct, a great VS 4b lead by Carmen – no stars in the guide, whereas the disappointing and vegetated indirect gets 3 – perhaps they got them the wrong way round! It started drizzling so we started to head back, but it dried off so we finished with 3 routes at Peel Crag near the car park. I backed off leading a VDiff, but I'm not going to mentioned that.

10 minutes after we drove off, the heavens opened and we had a cracking thunderstorm for 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, Ann and Peter did a circular mountain bike ride starting from the campsite and getting as far north as Bellingham, The route crossed Simonburn Moor, where they had major mechanicals and both Peter's pedals collapsed! After this the track cut into Kielder Forest at Stonehaugh and then headed for Bellingham where they had a tea stop at the Rocky Road Cafe. The way back took them on the Sandstone Way, a marked route. Signposting at Shitlington Hall was hard to follow and they ended up at Esp Mill where the house owner plied themwith elderflower cordial (!) before directing them back on route.

Shortly after they were caught in and drenched by a ferocious thunderstorm at Gofton Burn. At this point they decided to cut the route short and and after a long downhill stopped at Simonburn for (yet more) tea and cake and to dry out. Two miles later they were back at Greencarts.

Sunday started damp and very windy, so we went for a run along Hadrian's Wall for a couple of hours until things improved. Then we headed back to Crag Lough where we repeated a couple of routes we last did a decade or more ago, and I finally got round to leading Hadrian's Chimney – a great route of its type, better and harder than it looks.

Ann & Peter did an 8 mile bumble from Belsay taking in Bolam Country Park, Salters Nick, Shaftoe Crags and Shortflatt Peel Tower, great views from the Devils Punchbowl. Refreshments after at Belsay village shop.

Bank Holiday Monday lived down to the stereotype, and rained. So we all went home.

A few more photos here