Posts Tagged ‘sun’

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.


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.


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.

Sumer is a-cumen in

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

No cuckoos yet, loude or otherwise, but the skylarks were singing their hearts out on Sunday as 6 of us drove down to Stanage for the day.

Warmer than most summer's days, it was great to be out climbing (and occasionally failing to climb) in the sun. Various routes were led, a few were backed off, Karl surprised himself by leading an HS before collapsing in a heap, Mike led some hard and bold things, and we all had a great time!

Back to normal next weekend, with wind, rain, and snow on the tops forecast…

Carmen on Wall End Crack, Karl on Wall End Holly Tree Crack
Sarah on Ladder Cracks
Simon on Ladder Corner
Mike on
Death and Night and Blood

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


Another 24 hours

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Lowther HillsThe Marmot24 is a 24-hour mountain marathon, though with a 12-hour option available. Open to pairs, solo runners, or teams of 4, this year both courses started together at noon on Saturday, with the 12-hour finishing at midnight and the 24-hour at noon Sunday. It's a score course, so you can visit as many controls as we wanted, each one scoring the same, 10 points. Finishing late incurred minor penalties at first, ratcheting up to a loss of all points if half an hour late!

It was possible to return to the event centre for a sleep, food, dry clothes, etc, and the position of the event centre made it quite easy to plan a route to do this. Some people carried tents with a view to camping out on the hill; others bivvied to save weight. There were even tales of people stopping for a pub meal in the evening. But the truly certifiable stayed out and on the move for the whole 24 hours.

Before the rainAfter last year's inaugural event, my blog entry concluded "I'm really glad we did it, but next time I think the 12 hour course may be a better choice, I wouldn't do the 24-hour again." And so, 12 months on, we drove up to Durisdeer in the Southern Uplands to compete in the 24 hour class. Inevitable really. We'd been to the Lowther Hills for the 2007 OMM, but couldn't remember it at all, so it was to all intents a new area for us.

After a leisurely start (we had our big tent, so plenty of room to cook a bacon, egg and bean breakfast) we picked the map up at 9am, giving just under 3 hours to plan.

OrchidThe southern half of the map contained what appeared to be relatively gentle hills, though with a lot of the controls looking potentially difficult to find (re-entrants, isolated crags, etc), and a few long gaps between them. The northern half was a lot steeper, with controls closer together and on more obvious features (stream functions and summits). We guessed that this meant that the running was easier in the south, rougher in the north.

Like last year, we decided to go for the harder navigation first, while we were fresh, and so worked out a route looping south to start, with various options for a smaller loop back north at the end. We intended staying out all night (last year's return to the event centre for a rest didn't work out very well).

It was slightly disconcerting at the mass midday start to see the clear majority of people heading off north! But we had a plan we were confident in. Last year we played cat and mouse with another team for the first few hours, but this year we found ourselves on our own after only 5 minutes. Despite occasionally seeing a few people in the distance, and crossing paths a few times with some, we pretty much stayed on our own for the whole event.

Evening sunThe first half dozen controls went smoothly though mostly without paths, until after a couple of ours the rain started. No problem we thought, the forecast was for dry conditions with occasional scattered showers. It didn't stop raining for about 6 hours! Apparently the northern part of the course stayed dry. So it goes.

What looked like a good track up the valley in the south east corner turned out to be a bog, slower going than it should have been and getting quite chilly in the rain. We stopped briefly at Burleywhag Bothy to escape the rain, dry off a bit, and have some food – if we'd known about the bothy in advance we might have planned a nap!

Last year I felt sick after about 10 hours and had trouble eating for the rest of the event; I put this down to not having eaten or drunk properly earlier on. So this year we'd supplied ourselves with plenty of food, including lots of home-made coconut ice, a packet of jaffa cakes, some bombay mix, 2 pasties, and a pizza! No, really.

RainbowsA couple of hours and 3 controls later it finally stopped raining, the sun came out, and gave us a series of rainbows. Missing an outlying control as it looked to be over the other side of a tussocky hill, we found ourselves with a bit of spare time before dark, so added in a spur-of-the-moment dogleg for 20 points. Unfortunately one of these involved a there-and-back knee-deep stream crossing, which didn't start the night off well.

By now dark, we headed for the Southern Upland Way, which we'd planned to follow through the night on the assumption that it would be easy to follow and it took us to some simple-looking controls on obvious features. It quickly became obvious that this was no Pennine Way – a narrow boggy path kept disappearing and reappearing, and gave us some of the hardest going of the event! At least it followed a fence line all the way up making navigation easy.

Sunset over Green LowtherNearing the top of Lowther Hill, the SUW path took an unexpected detour away from the fence. Not sure exactly where it went (it's not marked on any map) but it seemed to involve rather too much height loss that we then had to regain. Perhaps it actually stuck to the fence, and I was hallucinating.

Unfortunately the cunning food plan had made no difference and my stomach was suffering, but I battled on, groaning bravely throughout.

We eventually reached the summit, with its incongruous golf ball, tarmac road, and street lights, all part of the national air traffic control system. We followed the road to a control on the trig point of Green Lowther, unable to run even the downhills. The last 4km, that looked easy on the map, took us an hour and three quarters, and it was getting cold. I'm sure there was some frost among the dew.

DawnAfter a couple more controls, it was at last light, and the head torches went away. It didn't take long until the sun came out, the best weather of the event, though a chilly breeze meant the waterproofs stayed on. At last we could start thinking about the route to take back to the finish.

A brief scare when Carmen thought it was 8.00am was quickly resolved when it turned out to be 6.00 after all – we're not used to being up this early! So we had plenty of time to pick off a group of 5 controls close to the event centre. In fact we had so much time left that we were forced to add in two more as well, adding a steep 200m climb just at the point we didn't want it. All that remained was to sprint quickly/stagger slowly (delete as applicable) back to the finish.

6.20 amWe'd scored 300 points in 23 hours, 36 minutes, and 35 seconds. First mixed team, and 5th overall (on the same score as 4th place, but 10 minutes slower). The winner scored 360 so we were at least in touch.

Yet another really great event, and one that I'd urge anyone else to try (if you like mountain marathons of course!). Don't be put off by the epicness of the 24 hour event, most people take the sensible option of either the 12 hour course, or stopping for a break somewhere on the 24 hour version. They need numbers to increase if it's to remain viable in the future, so don't puit it off too long or you'll miss the chance!

Finally, thanks again to Shane (organiser), Gary (course planner), and everyone else involved.

More photos here

Results here

Sumer is i-cumen in

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

so it's time to stop moaning about the cold and start complaining about the heat. Which is what we duly did at Wharncliff on Tuesday.

We started with a few obscurities – Ladder Crack (Diff), Biffo (S) and Wobbly Block (VD, though I made it look much harder), before returning to the beaten track. Richard led Hell Gate (VDiff – but felt harder with the polish); we all soloed Hell Gate Gully (Mod); and Carmen led Himmelswillen (VS).

Much use was made of knees by all concerned.

A few photos here

Little Langdale

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Langdale PikesIt was looking for a while like there'd be hardly anyone on this meet, perhaps people were put off by the thought of Langdale crowds on an August Bank Holiday weekend. But after a flurry of late sign-ups it was almost a sell-out.

Saturday's forecast was for sunshine, and it didn't disappoint.

For many years I've meant to walk round the Eskdale skyline, but it's somehow never happened. So Carmen and I decided to take advantage of the weather and run an extended version of the route, starting and finishing at the hut. I say "run", but it was actually almost all walking! From part way up Wrynose, we headed up Pike o' Blisco, then across Crinkle Crags (there's definitely an extra crinkle every time I do this!) and Bowfell, over Esk Pike, and on to Scafell Pike.

Scafell PikeDespite being a sunny August BH weekend, there were surprisingly few people around, and we were wondering where they all were. As we approached the summit of Scafell Pike we got the answer, the place was heaving!

From here we descended under Scafell Crag, pausing to admire a hardy team of climbers on a very Upper Eskdalecold-looking Moss Gill Grooves. As we scrambled up Lords Rake and the West Wall Traverse we were on our own again. Then over Scafell summit, down the south ridge over Slight Side, before descending into upper Eskdale, across the Great Moss and over the col into Mosedale. We briefly considered dropping down to Cockley Beck and finishing over Wetherlam, but rejected this as we needed to get back to cook dinner before Annie starved to death! So we traversed to the Three Shires Stone, over Wet Side Edge, and down the valley back to the hut, where we were surprised to be first back!

Our route here for anyone interested.

The Coniston range from Pike o' BliscoMeanwhile, Alan did his own long run, starting up Wethlam, Swirl How and Great Carrs, before a descent to Three Shires Stone. From here, another big ascent over Cold Pike to Crinkle Cragsand a descent of The Band led to a pint or two in the Old Dungeon Ghyll and a return via Blea Tarn.

Steve, Rob, Luke and Mark spent the day climbing on Raven Crag, above the ODG. After a number of excellent severes, Rob and Steve climbed the route Rob had come for, Pluto (HVS ***). 3 Great pitches, a classic crack, an out there traverse and a lovely wall pitch, followed by a pint in the pub while waiting for Luke and Mark to find their way back down after an interesting choice of descent from their last route.

Inverno cruxOn Sunday, we headed for White Ghyll, with Rob, Steve, Mark and Luke. Always keen to try the obscure, I'd been looking for something from the Lake District Revival list. This crag provided the perfect route for me – Inferno (MVS), involving some back-and-footing at the crux. The first pitch looked a bit scrappy but the in situ heather didn't affect the climbing, which was better (and harder) than it looked. The long 2nd pitch provides the meat of the route, with steep parallel cracks leading to a niche in the overhang and the promised chimney practice. Pausing to clean the grass out of the cracks and place loads of gear, everything turned out to be a lot less traumatic than expected, with just a brief moment as the final pull onto the upper wall required unearthing some holds from behind the heather.

The rest of the route was a bit scrappy, but we topped out anyway. For future reference, an enticing diagonal line rightwards from above the crux looked a better option, and I later discovered is recommended in the new guidebook. Despite the vegetation, it's a really good route, full of character, and with a bit more traffic would once again deserve the 2 stars it used to get.

White Ghyll WallHaving humoured me by climbing a route from the choss list, Carmen now got her reward as we did White Ghyll Wall (VS 4c). I led the easy first pitch, Carmen led the crux second, I did the not so hard but quite bold final pitch. We finished the day with a repeat ascent of Slab Route 1 (Severe). A fine route, rather bold in places, Steve and Luke also climbed this earlier in the day.

Rob and Mark started with the excellent Slip Knot (VS 4b) before heading for Haste Knot (VS 4c). A nice first pitch despatched by Mark with ease then the meat of the route, the traverse. Rob's verdict – "Blimey, if you think Pluto is nuts this is bat shit crazy. Well protected with small wires but wild."

Blackpool Tower from WhitbarrowMonday was cold and grey, so we joined Peter, Annie and Steve for a short walk round, round, round, and finally up and over Whitbarrow. Highlight of the day was finding loads of wild damsons! Afterwards we popped into Ambleside to pick up our rewards for doing a route from the choss list – a free T shirt and chalk bag each!

Rob, Mark and Luke manage to fit some more climbing in, doing a couple of good short routes at a different Raven Crag, this one at Walthwaite, before rain stopped play.

More photos here


Three Peaks

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

A weekend of clear sunny weather was too good an opportunity to miss, and when Carmen suggested going for the often-planned but never-realised run round the Yorkshire Three Peaks I didn't need much convincing.

A rather more leisurely start than was wise saw us at Horton in Ribblesdale for a 10.15 start. Pen-y-Ghent first, a stiff pull got us to the summit by 11. The descent was slower than expected due to extensive sheet ice, and walking poles came in handy crossing a not-quite frozen river. But the next long boggy section was frozen solid, making it easy if sometimes slippery going. One fall each on the ice.

After Ribblehead Viaduct we opted to stick to the path rather than take the direct route up Whernside, possibly a mistake in hindsight as the path was mostly covered ion sheet ice so we spent as much time off it as on. We reached the summit a little after 2pm.

The descent to the Hill In took only half an hour, and it was tempting to call in for a pint or three, but Ingleborough (and the approach of sunset) beckoned. We reached the top shortly before 4pm. Sadly the hoped-for sunset wasn't visible due to a bank of cloud over the Lake District to the west, but at least that meant we didn't stop for an extended photo session.

The long descent to Horton was again quite slow due to ice, and slower still once night fell and the head torches came out, but we eventually reached the car just before 5.30, a hardly impressive 7 hours 9 minutes after setting off (the record is a few seconds shy of 2 1/2 hours!).

A magnificent day to be out, cold, clear, sunny, and hardly a breath of wind. Perfect conditions for my first ever time round the 3 Peaks.

Vital statistics: 24 miles, 1500m ascent.
More photos here
Route map here


Saturday, March 17th, 2012

There was another good turnout for the March trip to Patterdale, staying at the Cleveland MC's Agnes Spence Memorial Hut for the first time in over 10 years.

On Saturday, an unusually large mountain biking contingent went off pushing their bikes round a series of cake shops. Rob and Nigel did a fine little scramble up the outlet gill from Angle Tarn, followed by some navigation practice and a few more Wainwrights for Rob's tick list. While I went for a long run/walk, Carmen decided on something easier due to a nasty cough, but still ended up doing a 15 mile round of the Helvellyn Range from Raise to Fairfield and St Sunday Crag – unfortunately mostly in the rain, which the rest of us managed to avoid.

My run took me on an extended circuit of Ullswater. Fast going along good paths took me quickly to Pooley Bridge. A short diversion to the (rather disappointing) earthworks of Maiden Castle, was followed by another diversion up Little Mell Fell and back. From here I crossed Great Melldrum and Gowbarrow, before a long slog up to Stybarrow Dodd, and then back over Sheffield Pike. Route map here.

Sunday was bright and sunny, and most people went for a walk (or run in Alan's case) up Helvellyn via Striding and Swirral edges. Carmen, Rob and I headed for Gouther Crag for some climbing, but spent more time sitting in the sun listening to the birdsong and Carmen's coughing. We did manage to fit in ascents of Kennel Wall (S) and The Fang (MVS).

Simon & Carmen

Coniston Snow

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

After a largely snow-free start to the year, a couple of days before the January meet we were treated to some heavy snow for the Lake District. It hadn't been cold for long enough to give decent climbing conditions, but walking conditions were superb.

Saturday was cold, bright and sunny. The mountain bikers chose to take advantage of this with a long cycle through the valleys. Rob and Carmen did a snowy scramble on Coniston Old Man, finishing at the summit, where they met up with Mike, Antony, and Dave for a walk over the rest of the Coniston range to Wetherlam, returning via valley paths to Walna Scar.

I opted for a long run, the plan being to start up Coniston Old Man, cross the range before descending to Wrynose Pass, then up to Crinkle Crags and seeing how far I got before time ran out. Fantastic running conditions on the Coniston hills were replaced by deep powder snow for the ascent of Cold Pike and the continuation to Crinkle Crags, slowing me to snail's pace. A brief attempt on the Bad Step was abandoned due to chest-deep drifts, a steep slightly worrying scramble to the left reached the crest again. My original idea of continuing as far as Scafell Pike was by now abandoned due to the snow conditions, so I carried on over Bowfell before descending from Ore Gap into Eskdale and back down Moasdale to Cockley Beck.

There was still plenty of time, and the weather was still good, so rather than heading down the Duddon Valley to pick up the Walna Scar road, I decided to head back for the tops. A long slog up Grey Friar led to a second traverse of the range, this time finishing at the col above Goat's Water. Thoughts of finishing over Dow Crag were abandoned as the light began to fail so I returned from here direct to the hut. A great day, even though the running element had finished at the Three Shires Stone!

Route here

Sunday was much cloudier, but still dry. Carmen and I headed for Grasmere, where we did the Fairfield Horseshoe – unfortunately mostly in the clag. Most of the others were temporarily blocked in by Andrew's flat tyre and then Annie's car parked in the gateway, but Rob and Dave managed an afternoon ascent of Blencathra and the hills behind. Not sure what everyone else did, sorry!

More photos here
Rob's photos here

Late Autumn Sunshine

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Tryfan from Careg Mianog

The warm autumn weather this year encouraged people out and the November meet at Capel Curig was almost full – in fact we had trouble fitting people round the table in the evenings.  Rob had also brought his Movember  'tash.   A full pack of mountain bikers was there, with the obligatory start – an On The Spot repair of Annies bike by Pete the Pie. The weather on saturday was beautiful, so while the bikers biked, the climbers headed for the rocks- except for Simon and Carmen who fancied an 8 hour run round the Carneddau.

Rob, PeteB, Angela and me headed for Tremadog to bask on the sunny rocks like lizards. After a lengthy gossip in Eric's Cafe, me and Angela headed for One Step in the Clouds, a 3 star VS which I have wanted to do for ages. It was as good as I had hoped, an easyish start then a delicate and exposed traverse followed by an airy hand traverse along a flake which finishes at the prettiest belay ever, a mossy rock ledge surrounded by holly bushes and rowan.

We arrived at this point late in the day as we had to divert part way up the route to help a team on Hail Bebe who had a dramatic fall after going off route. Neither was badly hurt, but the belayer was pulled from the stance and was unable to get back up by himself due to rope burns. So I was very glad Debra and me had been on a self rescue course the year before which helped deal with the situation – thanks, Paul! There was a slightly surreal moment when another member of their club arrived by abseil announcing "Hello, I'm a doctor". For one moment I expected him to whip out a sonic screwdriver and take on the Cybermen.

Next day was still dry but a lot chillier, so while Angela and a friend headed for Holyhead Mountain, where she did her first ever trad lead – well done! – and Simon & Carmen headed for Tryfan,  I teamed up with Rob and Pete who were heading for Careg Mianog, an obscurish but accessible crag with a reputation for catching the sun. Which I'm sure it would have, had there been any sun to catch…

Biceps Wall, allegedly Vs 4c

The walk in was flat but marshy so probably took us about 40 minutes. We found the crag wet in places, and all the grades seemed on the stiff side, the phrase "[insert grade here] my arse!" was used a few times. However we had the place to ourselves and it felt wild and woolly, with spectacular views of Tryfan.  In particular we thought Biceps Wall a complete sandbag at VS 4c – tough moves and not very reassuring protection at the start. We ran out of daylight and bailed from the second pitch, managing to get across the marshy section just in time to avoid complete darkness.