Archive for the ‘Weekend Meets’ Category

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.

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.

 

Cwm Glas Mor – new meet, new hut

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

15326606_1349349478422170_3886202714005874998_nFor the first time we had a early December meet to compliment the upcoming extended Christmas trip, and held it at the CC hut in the Llanberis Pass.

As it was a first we were worried about attendance, Id been banging on about sucha meet for ages so stepped up to organise it and suggested the compact and bijou CC hut slap bang in the middle of the pass. We needn't have worried as we easily filled the 9 places and then some, relying on Peri and Karl to sleep in vans at the large hut (Ynns). The Hut is not on the road and involves a 400m or so walk from the parking at Ynns, unless you are Paul or Peri in which case add another 400m or so Brownian Motion to that. A cosy hut requires some organisation to not trip over each other but it all worked out ok, even the one shower and separate toilet block,

Despite the late three teams headed for Tremadog and grabbed a bit of sunshine (Pete B, Karl, Jamie, Peri, Mike, Dave W and I)

A smaller team (Paul, Simon, Carmen, Pete W ) walked up behind the hut to the Parson Nose scramble and onto the summit before heading down Y Gribyn ridge.

Given the time of year we were all back quite early and we had Petes Moroccan treat to look forward to but not until we had scoffed some soup (I think !) Peri produced excellent homemade mince pies and tons of cream, so we were as usual, stuffed.

Sunday was cold and windy but bright blue skies. Simon & Carmen headed along to Pen-Y-Pass and up on the glyders with fantastic views.
Paul and Jamie also headed onto the Glyders but from the Nant Peris end enjoying sunshine and views and avoiding the wind

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riverside bimble in beddgelert

The rest of us headed for a bimble around Beddgelert in lovely conditions and a cup of tea post scotch-egg-in-one for the prof.

We all somehow managed to be back at the hut at approximately the right time and after some car shuffling and hut cleaning were away home before 5.

Great little hut in a stonking position and with requests to book it again for a summer climbing trip.

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.

Clapham – Yorkshire Dales Meet

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

The October meet had us returning to the hut in Clapham. There was an interesting start to the meet when we couldn't get into the hut!  A few phone calls later (and the correct code) we were in p1040296

Forecast was good for Saturday with mild and quite sunny conditions on the card.  So the climbers after a relaxed start (myself, Dave W, Rob, Justine, Gav and Karl) headed off to Twistleton which proved to be warm in the sun but a bit chillier when in the wind.   A good days climbing was had – ranging from quality more frequented routes, to some more obsure, somewhat vegetated climbs.  Rob managed to climb despite suffering with a dizzy head.  Meanwhile, Simon C nursing a dodgy knee took himself off for a 16 mile walk around the Forest of Bowland – which he rather enjoyed (made a change from the usual Dales hills).  The bikers (Annie, Pete E and Donal) went mountain biking in the Dales – which left Annie (recovering from a cold) totally exhausted.  As customary, we ate tons of food Saturday night – thanks to Annie's vast quantities of sausages, Yorkshire puddings and roasted vegetables (and Justine's gravy).  Of course that was after soup and followed by plenty of apple crumble and custard (thanks to Pete E and Donal).p1040287p1040315p1040294

Sunday was somewhat colder and declared too cold for climbing.  Gav and Justine headed back home.  The bikers – well they went out biking again – on a shorter possibly more enjoyable route this time.  Simon and I set off on a walk up Inglebrough on a circuitous route from the hut (passing Robin Proctor's Scar and Crummackdale en route).  Before we got to the summit ridge we bumped into Karl, Rob and Dave W so joined them in taking in an extra lump before the summit itself.  It felt absolutely freezing on the summit ridge in the Northerly wind – was a relief to drop down, walking  back via Gaping gill, Trow Gill and the waterfalls.  We also did our bit tidying up markers after an event held earlier that month.

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A good weekend.

Bryn Hafod Meet 2016

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

10505245_1724819451076031_5260905827964329654_oSeptember saw YAC heading to a new location, Bryn Hafod near Dinas Mawddwy in mid-Wales on the southern edge of Snowdonia. This place really is a world away from the popular tourist spots of the northern part of the national park. The hills may be less craggy and imposing but the rolling slopes and tranquil green valleys combined with the absence of crowds create a beautiful, peaceful setting. The hut is located at the head of the valley a few hundred meters walk up a track from a small car park and shares the valley with only a couple of farms. Built by members of the Mountain Club (of Stafford), the hut consists of a large kitchen and living room downstairs, and a couple of dorms upstairs (one for members only) providing space for 18. As there were only 7 YACers present, we had bags of space, even with the handful of members who came and went over the course of the weekend.20160917_175502

The local crag (Craig Cywarch) has a reputation for being rather vegetated but the hut owners have recently been fairly active at cleaning things up and provided a handy list of cleaned (or otherwise climbable) routes. The ominously named "Doom" seemed to be top of everyone's ticklist so Simon and Carmen headed off to find this on Saturday morning, Pete B and I following along behind some time later (purely to avoid the queue of course, nothing to do with our inability to get up in the morning). On arrival at the crag (a short walk from the hut) Pete and I spotted S and C warming up on one of the recently cleaned VDiffs so decided to do the same and headed for Will o' the Wisp, a classic rock tick Pete had done before but couldn't remember much about. Apart from an ill advised scramble up a steep vegetated gully, we found the route fairly easily. It proved to be pretty good, with some fantastic positions and views down the valley, only spoiled slightly by me ignoring the guidebook description and traversing past the arete with steep juggy moves up a wall in a fantastic exposed position (apparently the best bit of the route), in favour of a steep vegetated corner, with minimal holds or gear. Oops! Simon and Carmen followed us up (the conventional way) after retreating from a wet slimy slab on the crux of P1 of Doom.20160917_131706

After lunch S and C went back to tick of the rest of the VDiffs where they started while Pete and I went in search of Buzzards Balcony, a 3* Severe at the far end of the crag. However, after 1.5hrs of bashing through bracken and brambles we decided it was a bit late to start another route and headed back to the hut to make a start on dinner (via a less direct/vegetated route!). Rather a shame as the routed looked to be in good nick.

The others (Pete E, Donal and Annie) had a good day out biking, despite the cafe on route being shut so had to survive on Donal and Annie's sandwiches, Pete's pies, cake purchased from a farm on route, and a cream tea at the cafe at the end of the route. Meagre rations indeed!

Sunday we awoke in the clag so settled for a pleasant walk around the Aran's, except S and C who ran a similar route in the opposite direction.

A good trip in a nice location but must get a bit more climbing in next time.

Stair

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Combe GhyllAfter a long absence, June's hut meet returned to the Fylde MC hut at Stair, in the Newlands Valley.

The forecast was for a mixture of sunshine and showers, but we decided to risk a spot of climbing anyway and headed for Raven Crag. I was tempted by Raven Crag Gully, which has long been on my to-do list as a summer route (we've done it in winter), but it was dry and sunny so we opted for Corax (HS 4a **) instead – basically a harder variation start to Corvus.

The first pitch was excellent, the second pitch good but dirty, with no sign of any recent ascents despite its stars, which made route finding tricky – so it's possible I went off route! Felt more like VS 4b. We then moved left to finish up the last few pitches of Corvus, which was as good as ever.

We followed this with Raven Crag Buttress (VD ***) which I've done before but Carmen hadn't.  A good route but lots of grass, not really a three star classic at the moment.

Crystal SlabMeanwhile Daves W and D had arrived, and after one or two of the short single pitch routes on the left, did Crystal Slab (MVS 4b **) – an excellent bold first pitch followed by some unpleasant jungle bashing. They finished with  Raven Crag Buttress, while C and I moved further down the valley to Glaciated Slab, where we did a couple of poorly protected Severes and soloed a VDiff.

It had stayed dry all day up until that point, but made up for it with a cloudburst as we left the crag, we were all drenched in minutes.

Having left it for almost 3 months before writing this blog, I can't remember exactly what anyone else did, but I know there was climbing done at Black Crag, Shepherds Crag, and Buckstone Howe, and walking and biking in various places!

Sunday's forecast was similarly iffy, with a greater chance of rain, so we went to Shepherds – a crag I tend to avoid due to the crowds. In the event it wasn't too busy, probably many had been put off by the forecast.

ArdusWe started with Ardus (MVS 4b ***), a brilliant 3 pitch route, Carmen took the steep second pitch, I got the bold final one. Next Carmen volunteered me to lead the crux first pitch of  Brown Crag Wall (VS 4b **) – good but a bit traumatic! We finished with Brown Slabs Face (VD **), which despite being really popular somehow managed to be only marginally polished – maybe we were off route? Great little route anyway.

With impeccable timing the heavens opened as we walked out again. Most of the others had also climbed further along Shepherds, but I'm not sure exactly what!

Some more photos here

 

The end of winter

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Snowdon HorseshoeThe May Day bank holiday meet returned to Bryn Brethynau near Capel Curig, and hopes were high for some Spring sunshine and warm rock. The weather had other ideas however!

On Saturday, Dave D, Carmen and I did a clockwise circuit of the Snowdon Horseshoe, which was very much in winter condition with fresh snow from about 600m. It was sunny though, with the occasional shower, and cloud bases most above the summits with the exception of Snowdon itself.

QueuesNot that many people on our route considering it was a holiday – but looking down to the Miners Track it was a non-stop line of people throughout the day, there must have been many hundreds of them. The final pull up to the summit was under deep snow, more than a foot of it, but of course most people weren't equipped for it, slipping and sliding all over the place. No reports of accidents though so presumably they all lived to tell the tale.

13092150_1164685633555223_2947748059213386847_nThe weather saved its best for the final traverse of Crib Goch, we even had good views of the summit.

While it was still winter on the tops, things were a bit more like Spring in the valleys. Justine Gav and Pete B climbed a 7 pitch Severe, Canyon Rib, in Aberglaslyn Gorge – so obscure that even I've never heard of it, but by all accounts it's worth doing so now on my list!

For DebraRuss and Mike went to the ever-dependable Tremadog where they did 4 routes including One Step in the Clouds with its new first pitch following a recent rock fall. Apparently it was quite hard!

Meanwhile Donal went mountain biking, and Annie did a nice sunny walk over to the Crafnant Valley, calling in at the oldest church in Wales on the way.

Crafnant ValleyThe next day was wet and windy. Carmen and I went on a run, a variation of Annie's walk from the day before, where as well as the church we found a ridiculously overhanging bolt line, presumably someone's project, and returned via Swallow Falls.

The others went on a variety of walks, both low and high level, the common feature being getting wet.

Monday dawned even worse, with just as much winds and even more run. Most people cut their losses and went straight home.

World's EndCarmen and I waited for the promised improvement for the afternoon, and drove east to World's End , one of the limestone crags near Llangollen. We stuck it lucky, as by the time we got there the sun was out. We managed 4 routes before a sudden heavy shower put an end to proceedings.

Justine and Gav headed for Tremadog, where the weather turned even better, and they stayed for another 2 days to make the most of it.

All in all, a pretty good weekend despite the mixed weather, but next time we'll be due our fair share of warm sun!

Some more photos here

 

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.