Archive for June, 2012

Curbar and the Midges of Doom

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

mass midge attack on PMC1!

Another week, another washout weekend forecast. Bah humbug. Me and Rob decided it was time to use some midweek holiday time before the next typhoon hit, so off we went to Curbar.
After a quick and pleasant warm up on PMC1, we headed for Avalanche Wall. For some reason I had got into my head that this was a delicate slab, must do my research better. Anyway, it looked amenable enough, and fairly geartastic, so on we got. From below it looked as if the crux was reaching the niche, in practice both of us found getting into it wasnt so bad, it was the getting out again that caused cursing, and it was hard to avoid getting sucked in both to place gear and for the welcome moment of rest (I'm sure someone comes and tilts the angle of routes a little steeper once you're on them, it definately got steeper once I was on it). Anyway, we got out full value out of it, first I led, then abbed off and stripped the gear, then Rob led, then I did it again on second.
After this we were both sweating buckets so looked for something a little less full on. Owls Arete, fitted the bill, this was the only non-crack of the day. Some nice moves, if only the route was more independent I think it would deserve a couple of stars. Argosy Crack looked like fun too, but by this time the midge equivalent of a facebook party was in full swing, not even slatherings of smidge would deter the little fiends, so we noted it down for another day and legged it in search of a midge free zone.
Stop 2 offered up a couple more interesting looking cracks, short but steep looking. Inch Crack was good offwidthing fun, not nearly as much of a thrutch as the guidebook made it sound, and provided an outing for the Monster Cams of Doom. Little Innominate just to the right looked interesting…
Little Innominate turned out to be the sandbag of the day. You have never heard so much swearage as me and Rob tried our best to make upward progress, even the midges (who had returned with extra mates) were complaining . Turns out our jamming needs a bit more work, neither of us managed the thing cleanly, will have to get back to Curbar soon – preferably accompanied by a squadron of extremely hungry bats with an appetite for Midge on Toast.

Wet Weekend

Monday, June 18th, 2012

This weekend we headed for Holwick, in Teesdale, supposedly for a camping trip. But the weather was so bad that Alan kindly took pity on the few who made the trip, and we ended up sleeping in spare rooms and on various bits of floor in his house opposite. Thanks Alan!

Friday night beer and Saturday morning rain made for late starts all round. Debra still being out of action headed with Simon to knock down various bits of their new project in the Dales. Peter and Donal competed with each other to see who could do most damage to their bikes – it was a draw and both were soon back in Holwick for a walk to High Force. Alan did a short run nearby.

Carmen and I meanwhile went for a slightly longer run to take advantage of the weather to see som3e of the local waterfalls at their best. Gibson's Cave was followed by Low Force and then High Force, before we headed up river to Cauldron Snout. The plan from here was to cross the river and take a more direct line back, but the river had other ideas and was too dangerous to cross.

So we retraced our steps before picking up a track which should have taken us direct to Holwick Scar, but after two knee-deep wades across side "streams" we had to detour a mile u[p the next to find somewhere to cross (I waded crotch-deep, Carmen went another quarter mile and found a bridge!).

On Sunday, Peter and Donal were joined by Annie and went off to push their bikes along some old railway lines, while the rest of us opted for varying degrees of inactivity.

More photos here
and a few videos of waterfalls here

Midgetastic LAMM

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It was that time of the year again – time to kick start the mountain marathon season with the LAMM (Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon) which is always held in Scotland. Last year was a Northern year – so this year we knew it wouldn't be quite so far. Simon & I were already holidaying in Scotland – so even less of a drive for us. Fortunately there was a mobile signal in the camp site at Morvich so we were able to find out the location of the event centre (always only released on the Thursday before the event) nr Ben Cruachan.

It was lovely and breezy when we arrived at the camp site in the afternoon. Unfortunately this did not last long and by evening it was getting rather midgy. The midges were even more irritating in the morning. I gave up trying to scoop the midges out of my tea – it only seemed to make more space for others to land! I ate my malties walking up and down frantically and having the occasional respite with the midge net lowered.

We had an 07:30 assembly time – so left the camp site at 07:20. At 07:45 we were on the coach and driven off to the mystery location of the start. This turned into a much longer trip than ever intended – the coach driver took a few wrong turns and took us to Victoria Bridge via Glen Coe. Hence we arrived at the start at 09:10 with at least one later bus arriving before us.

We were on the score course – planning our own route and had a number of alterations throughout the day. We didn't feel that we were choosing the best line and doubted anyone else would have chosen the same order of controls. As we headed back towards the finish time was running out fast – we were forced to run all the way from the last control to the finish, passing Rob and Pete B along the track to the finish. They thought we must be hours late given our earlier start time (unaware of our mystery coach tour) – however we made it back with 24 seconds to spare (out of 7 hours). The weather was excellent all day, with just a couple of passing showers, in stark contrast to the forecast rain and low cloud!

Rob & Pete had their own agenda for the weekend. Both had injury problems and decided to take it easy. Rob was in Munro-bagging mode and used the opportunity to visit summits which had no controls on them! They scored other points along the route and didn't do at all badly given they were not really trying.

The overnight camp site was in a lovely spot but was midge hell once the wind dropped. Most people were driven inside tents rather early due to the swarm of midges. Annie you would have loved to have been there! Things were not any better in the morning – I didn't remove my windproof and midge net until we had finished marking up the maps and were off on the move.

The cloud was rather lower today and so we decided to stick to controls that should be easier to find. Fortunately we did not get too wet until the last hour or so when the rain started and soon became rather heavy. We managed to finish with a whole 2 and a bit minutes to spare this time. Meanwhile Rob and Pete had been off bagging a couple more unnecessary Munros and sauntered in with 22 mins to spare.

Overall we finished 14/81. We were rather amazed as we felt we had chosen poor controls and I was unable to run much given the ever lasting cough and lack of training. Rob & Pete finished 47/81 without even trying and having bagged four new Munros not on the scoring route!

More photos here
Our routes Day 1 and Day 2
Results and reports here