Archive for September, 2011

Far End Foray

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Midweek skiving saw Peri, Carmen, CourtnAy and I head south to the Peak on thursday in the sunshine. We eventually decided upon Stanage Far End (closest to us) and unsurprisingly had it to ourselves.

The End Slab was as green and greasy as a tree frog, never known it that bad and it only caught the sun as we were leaving so no time to dry out, but the rest of the crag was dry and clean. Peri tactfully avoided the Vice and mopped up all the close by route with CourtnAy alternating leads on various S and VS.

Carmen choose Dr's Saunter VS 4c *** an indirect start to Surgeons Saunter) 'hmmmm bit of a reputation these routes thinks I'. It's fair to say she struggled (gallantly) to the top and probably also fair to say its feckin hard for VS and probably has a 5a move as well.

After a spot of lunch I did Old Salt (HVS 5a ***) an excellent route with a tricky start and steep finish but tons of gear and Peri and CourtnAy ticked the nice ungradeable (used to be Diff now VS/HVS 5b/6a !) offwidth Nursery Crack with the CamaHuge deployed (see pic).

We finished up a few solos and Carmen leading Feb Crack and me leading Drs Chimney which CourtnAy had previously done (and Peri snaffled the crag-swag that Carmen had spotted during her siege).

To round of the day we had a 30 min battle trying to remove a cam – epic fail 🙁

RAB Mountain Marathon 2011

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It's unusual to find a mountain marathon in North Wales, as apparently it can be hard to gain the necessary permissions. So we were rather looking forward to this year's RAB, starting and finishing in Bethesda and heading into the heart of the Carneddau. Even the ominous weather forecast didn't put us off too much.

The format of the event is time limited, with 6 hours on Saturday, 5 on Sunday (an extra hour per day for the Elite class), to pick up as many points as possible. Controls scored anything between 5 and 50 points, with most of the big ones being a long way away; points are deducted for being late. The master maps displayed in the event centre contained rather too many out-of-bounds areas for my liking, too often this leads to limited route choice.

The strong Friday night winds in the campsite (school football pitch) didn't bode well, and the next morning it was raining for good measure and views of the hills were non-existent. We were raring to go!

A quick glance at the map as we crossed the start line and marked up the control list gave a number of options, but the one that stood out headed up onto the high tops for some high scoring controls, with various options available near the mid camp depending on how well we were going.

Heading south east towards the lower slopes of Carnedd Llywelyn we were soon faced with our first big decision, whether or not to take on a 350m climb to the north ridge of Carnedd Dafydd for an extra 40 points before losing all that height again, or just to contour up the valley to the next control. What the hell, might as well go for it. It turned out less hideous than it looked, and only added around 50 minutes, so probably a good move. From here we lost all the height we had worked so hard for, with the next control down in the valley bottom. A group of people were looking too hight and by the wrong stream, but we went straight there by following the right stream throughout. As we left, one of them spotted us and made for the checkpoint – one person then stood by it and whistled loudly and waved to her partner on the other side of the valley, so giving the location away to everyone within a mile or two!

We now followed the main ridge northwards, with detours off each side to collect controls, and as we had plenty of time spare managed to add in an extra dog-leg for 20 more points near the end. Finished in 5 hours 50 minutes, timing it well (despite both forgetting to note exactly what time we started!) with 10 minutes to spare, not enough to have added any extra controls, so we were pleased. 255 points, 39th out of 300 overnight, though that fell to 44th after they'd adjusted other teams' points due to two missing controls.

The weather had gradually improved all day, with rain turning to showers before stopping, and cloud gradually lifting to give a fine sunny evening. The overnight camp was excellent, in fields at the edge of the open fells above Abergwyngregyn – lots of space, so easy to find a pitch, and plenty of soft vegetation to make for a relatively comfortable sleep.

The next day we were greeted by continuing sun, and were soon off. Again, one route suggested itself immediately – unfortunately this was pretty similar to Saturday's route, visiting many of the same controls and following the same ridge. As it turned out, probably due to the improved weather, it all seemed very different.

A steep slog up the hill at least had the benefit of getting us onto the tops as soon as possible. After revisiting two of the last controls from the day before, we dropped over a col to another of Saturday's sites, but from here we contoured round the side of the ridge rather than going over the top. This leg was potentially confusing in mist, luckily it was clear, and as we approached we saw the usual group of people clustered round the control, showing everyone else where it was (for once I was pleased!). Another short climb back to the ridge was followed by some more contouring for a 40-pointer. We were wondering whether to go straight on or right after this, but everyone else headed left, so I checked the map and found an extra easy control hidden over the fold – so we duly followed them leftwards.

We were now thinking of options for the finish. An extra 15-pointer involved 150m ascent so we ruled that out, but there were 3 5-point controls near the end, I reckoned we'd probably get them all with 10 minutes to spare. Carmen didn't believe me, and was right, we got one of them and sprinted in with just 7 minutes left.

210 points, 42nd on the day, so pretty consistent, and pulling us up to 41st overall out of 300. Very pleasing, given that we've done very little preparation this year and I had a knee op in January.

Alan K was the other club representative, running solo. After a disappointing Saturday he pulled the stops out on Sunday (scoring the same points as the day before) to finish 134th.

An excellent weekend, in an interesting and unusual area. Next, an appointment with the OMM…




Route Day 1

Route Day 2

Robin Proctor's Scar

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Wheels On Fire 6a+

No, not an episode of Embarrassing Bodies, but a rather fine bolted crag overlooking Crummockdale.  Our original plan was to visit Pot Scar, but when we arrived it was soaking wet. So Rob, me, Richard, Ali and Poppy were forced to wait for an hour in Elaines Tea Rooms drinking tea and eating carrot cake to see if it dried out – it was hell. Finally we decided it wasnt going to dry up (this coincided with running out of room for any more cake) and decided to take a look at Robin Proctor's Scar instead.

Which turned out to be a very good decision. The crag was as dry as a bone and its a very pretty spot indeed, one of those crags which stands up impressively above its valley. As we walked up the sky began to clear and by midday we were basking in mediteranean style sunshine. Shortly after we were joined by Jenny, tempted out by the wall to wall sun.


tombstone blues, 6a

The crag used to have a reputation for looseness seriousness but now it is all bolted, with enough routes in the lower grades to keep us busy all afternoon, starting in the 5s and 5+'s. The character of the routes tended to be more or less vertical, with really positive flake holds to get your fingers behind. My favourite routes were  Wheels On Fire,  which follows a brilliant flake line but at 6a+ saw a bit lot of swearing and the odd rest on bolts from ..ahem.. a couple of people, though Ali and Rob did it cleanly, the big show offs , and Tombstone Blues (6a) which undercuts a big flake then does a slightly precarious feeling high rockover move.  A lovely spot, and one for the "visit again"  list.


few more of rob's pics here

I suppose this is what they call 'training'

Monday, September 26th, 2011

This month's hut meet in Little Langdale unfortunately coincided with a rainy weekend, so the planned climbing went out the window and floated off down the road.
So I checked the internet and found that there was a fell race on Saturday that started almost on our doorstep. We've got a mountain marathon coming up next weekend and haven't done any running or even hill walking since the Bowland in July, so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

An impressive 297 runners started in heavy rain, but the cloud was above the tops and the wind non-existent so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Most people started quickly, across the river near the Fylde hut and along farm tracks to the intake wall, so we were soon both overtaken by most of the field before the first killer climb, 550m straight up up the side of Wetherlam. In an ideal world, I'd have overtaken them back again when they got tired, but unfortunately when they got tired I got even tireder. The section from Wetherlam to the Three Shires stone was actually good fun at the time – the rest had to wait for a good dose of hindsight. On the final ascent of Lingmoor Fell both legs cramped badly, so just getting to the finish was an achievement.

The winning time was a few seconds over 2 hours. Out of 288 finishers, I was 257th in a time of 3.52.12, Carmen 279th in 3.44.12.

After this, the sensible course of action was a rest day on the Sunday.

So we were up at 7 and off to Cartmel for the Cartmel Three Peaks Outing (C3PO, geddit?). There are 3 routes – a 4/5 mile family walk, a 13 mile walk/run, and a 22 mile walk/run. So naturally we went for the 22 mile option. This took in all three of the 'peaks' – How Barrow (170m), Hampsfell (222m) and Humphrey Head (53m – sic!). There was the option this year of omitting Humphrey Head as the routes both there and back were flooded, but we did it anyway, 2 feet deep on the outward leg, just a foot deep on the road on the way back.

We finished in 7 hours dead, with the emphasis being on 'dead' (though it would have been slightly quicker without a short stop to pick some rose hips).

A good little event, hopefully it'll be more popular in future years, it deserves it. The 13 mile route is possibly the best choice (it's the same as the 22 miler for the first 11 miles), as there's too much road running/walking on the longer route. On the other hand, the long route includes the fine peninsula of Humphrey Head, and also a stroll along the prom prom prom of Grange-over-Sands.

Not sure exactly what everyone else did during the weekend. On Saturday, Alan had a fine run along Crinkle Crags and Bowfell to Scafell Pike, then back via Eskdale and Mosedale. Andrew went biking, Gordon went drinking, most of the others walked over the hills to the pub in Elterwater and back. Sunday, some more walking was done, and Peter and Annie badly miscalculated their biking route and didn't have time for a cafe stop.

Three Shires: