Archive for the ‘Mountaineering’ Category

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

Dolomite adventures

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Due to an imminent change of lifestyle, I was desperate to get in a big climbing trip whilst I still had some freedom. The plan had been to get a core group of 4 together to simplify decisions and arrangements, then open it out to the rest of the club. Unfortunately due to my inability to organise a piss up in a brewery, there were still no firm arrangements a week before our planned departure date (and a month before due date)! After about two hundred emails back and forth we finally agreed on a 4 bed apartment in Arabba, a tiny village close to the Sella group in the centre of the Dolomites. The team was Mike Shaw, Pete B, Rob and myself, with Paul coming later for an extra week with Rob…

We arrived at the apt (Cèsa Raggio di Sole) about midnight and were pleased to find the extensive dithering had paid off. A great little apt, newly decorated, comfy, and cheaper than camping. Though we had no crags right on our doorstep, we were pretty well located for the Western end of the Dolomites, with a huge selection of crags (a.k.a. mountains!) within an hour's drive, inevitably involving going up and over a mountain pass – we got very used to those hair-pins.

As we'd arrived late we hadn't had chance to pick up any food but with the weather forecast warning of storms later in the week we wanted to make the most of the good weather despite our late start so grabbed a meagre breakfast of apples and cake in the local shop and headed to Sella Towers, a group of three towers right by the road at the top of one of the passes, with a selection of long easy routes to go at. Mike and I climbed Via Fiechtl (V-), a nice route with the crux (for me) being the awkward offwidth on pitch 2. The route culminated with a fantastic couple of chimney pitches, proper traditional back-and-footing, which proved rather easier for those closer to 6ft than 5 ft! Pete and Rob climbed a neighbouring route which shared the first 1.5 pitches.

A great start to the weeks climbing, but we got back to the car too late to make it to the shops (silly continental Sunday trading hours) so we scraped together some dinner from the basic provisions we'd got that morning and Rob's secret stash.

The following day, despite the lack of a proper meal for almost 2 days, we opted for another big route before the storms arrived, this time on Piz Ciavazes. Once again, Mike and I teamed up for 
Little Micheluzzi (Direct Start), a three started V- culminating in a fantastic juggy traverse with spectacular exposure hundreds of metres above the valley floor.

The following day had rain forecast for the afternoon so a roadside sport crag (Penia di Canazei) seemed like the perfect option for the morning. This turned out to be a humbling experience, with most of us struggling on 5s and 6s, and I even managed to fall off a 4! The rain arrived just as we were running out of routes, and pulling power so we took the opportunity to do a proper shop, at least that was the plan, continental trading hours had other ideas, so an hour or so was killed mooching around the town, but we finally got some proper supplies.

More sport the following day, this time at Sass de Stria, a much better crag with more realistic grading. A few of Rob's mates who'd been camping nearby made an appearance.

More suspect forecasts the next day prompted a bit of via ferratta. A grade 4c (out of 5) on Sella Towers, which was great fun but over all to soon. The descent from the top was a different story, going via a couple of summits just under 3000m and taking several hours, only to emerge on the road about a mile and a half downhill from where the car was park. I drew the short straw so ditched my bag and went to retrieve the car, however karma was clearly on my side as the others got midged whilst waiting.

paul at rest

Paul had been due to arrive that night but due to a delayed flight (a sign of things to come) he resorted to kipping in the car and arrived early Friday morning. With a good forecast one last big route was called for so we headed to Falzarego Towers. Since they were climbing as a three Pete, Rob and Mike went for the easier option of Comici – South Arete (V- *** 6 pitches) whilst Paul jumped in at the deep end and joined me on Dibona (V+ *** 11 pitches). This had some great climbing throughout, culminating with a scary unprotected chimney pitch behind a detached pillar (crux IMHO) leading to a fantastic belay perched atop said pillar. The final pitch (and technical crux) stepped back across off the pillar and pulled through some wild and steep moves to reach the summit. A great start/end to our respective trips.

That evening we celebrated with pizza and beer and went our separate ways the following morning, Paul and Rob to find a campsite for the next week, the rest of us squeezed in a couple more sport routes at Sass de Stria before heading to the airport for our flight home. The less said about that the better, let's just say there's a few of us who won't be flying with Ryanair again. An otherwise great trip! I would certainly go back either to the same area (as there's so much more to go at) or elsewhere in the Dollies, maybe in 18 years or so.

Pix (more to come): https://photos.app.goo.gl/HLSwkcdnDmFTyNgw8

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!

A swim up Blea Water Gill

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

On Sat. Peri, Mike, and Rob did the early(ish) start and drive to the Lakes to check out Blea Water. Arriving at the car park about 8.30, the drive being interesting for the last few miles along Mardale. It was a bit warmer than hoped for and the mistier but we were walking by about 9. The large snow deposits had made the hills very pretty but the walking awkward. the snow was soft and deep a but fortunately, there was a trail to follow!

The walk-in should take about an hour to the tarn but was a little longer and once we had sorted out our destination we skirted the left edge of the tarn and arrived at the chimney pitch to be greeted by Yorkie Jim Croft and his son Euan. We thanked them for their hard work trail bashing and chatted about the poor quality of the ice in the chimney. Rob had a look and declared it climable but a long way from good. Jim & Euan were contemplating bailing but we decided as a team to skip around the first pitch and head for the main icefall which looked ok.

When I say skip, what I mean is swim. Snow up to our waists and soft and squishy. Never felt like it would slide off but it wasn't reassuring. After a bit of a battle, we all made it to the buried belay ledge and dug out the boulder.

Mike set off leading up some bulging ice with an awkward step. Peri followed and I went up a little to the side. Jim then led Euan up, who learned the hard way about getting cold hands whilst belaying. The belays are not that great at the top and it took Mike a while to find a decent spike at 50m. Jim on longer ropes found a place to bring up Euan.

After that pitch Jim and Euan decided to head off home, traversing the hillside and back to the tarn. Rob led a pitch with some icy steps and we unroped after that. Stumbling onto the summit ridge we were greeted by a wonderful sunset, and we traipsed off over Mardale Ill Bell and down to Small Water – a lovely wee tarn with a group camping.

We nearly made it back to the car without head torches and the drive back (after pushing a tourist out) got us back to York for 8ish.

Another great day despite poorish ice conditions

pix by Peri, Mike & Rob

Ecrins

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

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In case you missed it YAC lived up to its name this year with a trip to the Alps. Big mountains, long days, the lot. For just over a week 9 of us based ourselves in La Berarde, recommended by Dave W (1st out of the 9) as a quiet(ish) location in the Ecrins Massif. La Berarde is a small village at the head of the Venon Valley, as far as you can go on the road basically. It’s roughly 2 hours from Grenoble and sits next to a lovely glacial run off river. There is easy (ish) access to a number of huts with more mountain routes than you can shake a stick at, for the rest days the valley has a number of sports routes from single pitch within spitting distance of the campsite to all day 15 pitch beasts.

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The first day got off to an exciting start, Mike and Russ had a pop at Pain Grillé (V+) on Tete de la Maye, but finished the day coming to the aid of two climbers who’d been involved in an accident. The injured climbers were safely delivered to the ground thanks to the help of Mike and Russ, not daunted by this turn of events they returned later in the week to complete the climb. Rob and I also did this climb later in the week and I can say it is an excellent 15 pitch route, the grading is quite homogenous, the bolts good and the start within a short walk from the campsite. Tete de la Maye has may multi pitch routes and is within walking distance of the village which makes is a great option for a late stare

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After a couple of days acclimatising the whole team set off for an assent of Pic Geny arete est. Perhaps this is considered a minor peak in Alpine settings but it provides an excellent 1000+m of climbing (PD+, according to camptocamp https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/54110/fr/pic-geny-arete-e), in UK money I say most was close to a grade III scramble with a couple of slightly harder climbing pitches (Diff/VDiff), culminating with a superb pointy summit. The decent, by a number of crumbling gullies and abseils, takes you back to the Venon valley by way of the Sellier hut. Our route description was in french which made this quite exciting — certainly motivation to recall to distant high school classes. The whole route took around 15 hours door to door but could include a bivy close to the start of the route if you didn’t fancy such an early start. I’ll leave the final word to DW who said this was a contender for his finest mountain day.

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The following day saw us retreating to our tents as a monster storm dropped so much rain on us Rob had to dig storm drains around his tent with an ice axe. I the meantime Carmen and Karl had retired to the local climbing shop/ cafe/ bar for a session on the aperitifs. We joined them later for a meal in one of the local restaurants, when you’re sick of cooking on the camp stove there are a few places to eat in La Berarde, not overly expensive either. The next morning we found a landslide had covered the read and a walk up the valley showed quite a lot of the paths had been washed away, along with bridges.

The other big tick for the week was the magnificent pinnacle of La Dibona that soars above the Sellier hut. Despite the freezing start there were reportedly crowds on the popular lines. Three three teams did different routes including the Madier Route (TD).

Teams also visited l’Encoula Barfly are, where the route that follows the right side of the waterfall provides a very nice day out.

Scottish Islands Part 1 – Arran Easter

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

14 of us headed to Arran for Easter – camping at Lochranza.  The ferries from Ardrossan were all booked up well in advance so whilst some of us went over that way – others headed in from the North from Kintyre.

The campsite grew rather wet and squelchy over the course of the weekend – with a few tents requiring shifting to higher ground.  However, Sunday was the only wash out day (with various low level walks undertaken).  The other days were fine for trips into the mountains and ridges.  Due to the reversal to more wintry conditions it turned into more of a walking and cycling rather than climbing trip (so much for third time lucky!).

Annie and Pete E cycled around the island over 2 outings on road bikes.  Jamie and Esther also cycled on one of the days.  Most of us went up Goatfell at some point.  Karl went on a backpacking adventure testing out his new kit.  Paul and Jamie were the only ones to get some rock-climbing inclimbing at the crag above the campsite on Monday.

Great trip despite the lack of climbing – plenty of good walking/scrambling instead.

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!

YAC go north – Achnasheen February 2017

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Long overdue, but I've finally got around to catching up with some blogs, and what better timing to get you in the mood than when we're just getting ready for another round of winter trips!

The club Scottish winter trip to Achnasheen headed to the Jacobites MC hut in the Lochcarron valley. This was a 3 night trip so we made the long drive north on the Thursday night, and soon settled in.
The weather for Friday was looking like the best day of the weekend, so we all headed out keen to make the most of the winter conditions, which were threatening to break later in the weekend.

Pete, Dave and Nan headed for Beinn Damh, parking at the Loch Torridon hotel, hiking up through the forest and then following the path up the valley to stay low and out of the winter wind as long as possible. After summiting, they followed the ridge NW and got some great views on the way down when the clouds briefly lifted.

Over on Liatach, Mike, Rob, Karl, Paul, Mark and Russ were having a big day out, which began with some slippery boulder fields as they left the valley and passed the snowline. This soon turned into a powdery covering as they headed up, making progress slow. Never the less, they completed the ridge traverse and made it back after an epic day knackered but with smiles on their faces and ready for the usual food fest! Richard and Phil headed out to do the A'Chioch ridge on Beinn Bhan, Applecross while Simon and Carmen ticked off the snowy Beinn Eighe Corbetts of Meall a'Ghiubhais and Ruadh-stac Beag.

Saturday brought the thaw as forecast, and after the big winter days out on Friday, people were keen to take it easier. Dave, Paul and Rob headed out to tick a munro in the Cuillin forest, Carmen and Simon walked up the corbett An Ruadh-Stac, Mike, Mark and Russ headed low for a walk around Loch Torridon, while Pete and Nan did the same, checking out the coast around picturesque Plockton. Richard and Phil were more adventurous, climbing up the munro of Fionn Bheinn not too far away from the hut.

Sunday it definitely didn't feel like winter anymore, with the thaw having flooded a lot of the land around the hut, thankfully the raised walkway took us over most of it, and across the swollen river without getting our feet too wet.
Most of us headed south for the long drive home planning for a food stop on the way, Richard and Phil however got the prize for being the most keen of the weekend, scampering up the Sow of Atholl on their way down the A9. So a good selection of routes, summits and walks done over the weekend, making the most of the changeable weather.

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.

January Wales Meet

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

For the January meet we decided to try a different hut: Tal-Y-Braich, situated between Llanberis and Bethesda. Meet got off to an interesting start as we managed to lock ourselves out within 10 mins of arriving – doh. Just as well it was a dry, clear evening.

Nice little hut with a large wood burning stove. Living/dining area would be rather cramped if full – but good beds and view. Saturday was amazingly clear and sunny for the majority of the day. It was rather chilly for rock climbing & no winter climbing options – so Richard P, Liz and Mike headed off to do the classic Snowdon horseshoe.

Meanwhile Simon and myself walked from the hut to Carnedd Y Filiast to do The Ridge a Mod/3S scramble and finished by walking over Foel Goch to Y Garn and back again over Elidir Fawr, down to the hut. I carried a rope and slings etc just in case – which needless to say remained in the sack all day. Annie, Pete and Donal also walked from the hut taking a similar route without the scramble diversion, and heading on to the start of the Glyders.

Being the weekend before Burns night – we thought we would celebrate with a ton of haggis and mash. Simon lit a fair amount of whisky – which kept burning for sometime afterwards!

Sunday morning the weather was not so great – low cloud and damp. Hardly bad – but nothing like the previous day. Donal needed to head to Manchester airport so made a plan for a walk around Conway mountain. Most others decided to join in – not entirely sure if everyone went. Simon & I set off from the hut a bit later and also headed to Conway mountain – taking in most of the summits and stopping to watch the foals.