Archive for the ‘Climbing’ Category

Mid Wales

Friday, October 1st, 2021

Originally scheduled for last year, we finally managed our planned return to the excellent Bryn Hafod hut in the beautiful Cym Cywarch valley. We'd hoped to climb on the Cywarch crags, perhaps even managing an ascent of Doom from which we retreated on our last visit due to wet rock. But heavy rain over the previous couple of days ruled that out, so on Saturday, 6 of us drove west to Cadair Idris for a climb or scramble (depending on conditions) on the Cyfrwy Arete.

The cloud was low as we approached, but there was a team high up on the crag and the rock was dry, so we decided to stick with Plan A, which was Table Direct (VDiff) followed by the arete itself (Diff). Reduced to 5 courtesy of Karl's dodgy knee we climbed as a 2 and a 3, Carmen and I going first.

The VDiff seemed easier than the Diff that followed but the climbing was good throughout. The cloud lifted and the sun came out, with some good views of the crowds on the tourist path, but we met just one other pair on the crag.

After sitting in the sun for a while, we decided to head for the summit. From there we walked out to the subsidiary top of Mynydd Moel and back, hoping to bump into the others on the return. Of course the clouds dropped as we approached the descent path so we headed down the killer screes and back via Fox's Path to the car park, where we met the others picking blackberries.

Meanwhile Pete and Aoife went for a walk in the Arans above the hut – misty on the tops but stayed dry and they almost had the hills to themselves. And Ann and Pete went mountain biking round Lake Vyrnwy – I don't have details but tea shops were probably involved!

The traditional over-eating duly followed with a chunky soup from Pete E, Mexican tortillas from Pete B, and a rhubarb and newly-foraged blackberry cake from Pete W.

The next day the same 6 headed for Barmouth Slabs for a spot more climbing, but without the long walk in. The rain started as we parked the cars. Light at first, it stayed light until we'd decided to climb anyway and were almost at the top of the first routes. It then became heavier, but most of us decided to keep climbing anyway and managed another route in the pouring rain (fine leads by Carmen and Rob) before running away. Not quite what we'd hoped for but fun in a type 2 sort of way! A nice crag, if polished, one to return to in better weather sometime.

Pete and Aoife went for a very wet run along the Mawddach trail from Barmouth towards Dolgellau. The sun came out so they went to the beach and Pete had a swim in the sea before the rain returned so determined to enjoy their 'day at the seaside' they bought chips and then went to the amusements!

All in all, another excellent meet. And we still need to return to the hut so we can manage an ascent of Doom!

Some more photos here

Bank holiday in a hut – hooray!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

After the last 18 months or so, the lifting of restrictions meant that the possibility of hut meets going ahead again became a reality in August, and a small group headed to the Yorkshire Ramblers’ Club Lowstern Hut just outside Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather forecast was looking good, and we made plans on friday evening while settling in and poring over maps and guidebooks as usual.

Saturday began with a dry sunny morning, and breakfast outside on the benches overlooking the rolling countryside at the back of the hut was a great way to start the day. After waving Simon, Carmen, Ann and Peter off on their bike ride, David and Kasia headed to Giggleswick North for a day of bolt clipping. Aoife and I went for a walk up Pen-y-ghent, avoiding the traditional 3 peaks route and choosing to have lunch on Plover hill to the north meant we missed the crowds, and the biggest gathering was probably for ice creams in Horton in Ribblesdale on the way back. Back at the hut the cyclists returned having been over 40 miles and 1300m ascent to the forest of Bowland and back. Needless to say a YAC size curry in the evening went down well, followed by excellent cake from Kasia. 

Hull Pot and Pen y Ghent
Perfect Cycling Conditions in the Dales

Sunday began with an early start for Simon, Carmen, Aoife and I who headed to the Howgills to take part in the Kong mini mountain marathon – a 4 hour orienteering event. A challenging course with plenty of ascent and descent as we attempted to choose the most efficient route to collect the most points without being late back and loosing them all again. Carmen took a gamble which paid off, giving her the best result of us all and finishing well up the field – an excellent result. The post event soup and cake in the Tebay village hall gave us the chance to compare routes and catch up with Alan, another YAC member who was there for the day.

Aoife on another steep Howgills ascent

While we were in the Howgills, David and Kasia were enjoying the sunshine climbing at Robin Proctor’s scar, and Peter and Ann went for a walk taking in the Norber Erratics, Crummack Dale the hamlet of Wharfe, as well as a cafe stop. Back at the hut we enjoyed drinks out in the sunshine before Peri arrived just in time to join us for Carmen and Simon’s delicious vegetable stew and more cake from Kasia and Ann.

Ann Chillin'

Simon and Carmen

Bank holiday Monday brought another day of fine sunny weather. Aoife and I headed out for a walk on Peter and Ann’s recommendation pretty much repeating their route from the day before. Simon, Carmen, David and Kasia made the most of the weather heading to Attermire Scar for some more climbing, led there by Peri who took them on what she describes as a ‘long shortcut’ ! Ann and Peter probably went biking again, but I can’t remember where although I’m pretty sure a cafe was involved.

So an excellent weekend and great to be back in huts again after so long, as well as catch up with members old and new. Fingers crossed for more of the same from now on.

Carmen on the sharp end
Kasia and David at Attermire
Makes the uphill worth it 🙂

Scuggy Sunshine

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

Thunderstorms were forecast for later in the day so Guido, peri and I got an early start to Scugdale for a quick hit on the sandstone. We started on the usual easy stuff and ticked the routes we knew well, despite some curious aspects of Franco's new guide,.

After an hour or so we were delighted to be joined by team strong, Russ and Sarah, not by arrangement but by good judgement.

We all got baked and with a stack of pads as large as an American pancake breakfast we felt quite safe. We scurried up 20 or 30 routes each until we had worn out our fingers, and the lure of the bike-shop cafe in the village (recommended) drew us away.

Baked Flakes

Thursday, July 1st, 2021
Flake Wall VS 4b

Peri and I headed over to Crookrise to join in with a FRCC day meet.
Leaving York in cloudy weather we had extra clothes incase but once near Skipton the weather changed and it was toasty.

In fact too hot to do much and hard to trust handholds. We bagged a S 4a and VS 4b before a break to wander over and chat to the FRCC team. They were packing up (mostly locals) as it was just too hot!

oof
arrr
done

After lunch I goaded Peri into climbing Slingsby's Chimney HVD 4a which felt more like VD 5b to me. Getting into the chimney is really hard, after that some knee bars leads to (scrapped knees and) lovely bridging to the top. Best of all it was in the shade.

Midges put an end to the day after an abortive attempt at some routes on Sunshine Slab which seem well undergraded at MVS4b in the heat.

Lovely place, with great views about 45 miles from York with free parking !

England 2, Germany 0, Almscliff 3

Thursday, July 1st, 2021
jamie climbing
pothole directs tough 5b start

Jamie Peri and I made it to Almscliff this weeks outing, and were rewarded with a quiet evening until about 8 or so.

We each climbed a classic VS. Peri on Traditional Climb (VS 4c), Jamie on Pothole Direct VS 5b and myself on Crack of Doom VS 4c.

Rob climbing
Rob on Crack of Doom VS 4c

It was toasty on the approach but as Jamie found to his cost the wind was chilly and jackets required towards the end, flip flops not being optimal for insulation

Wainstones Evening

Friday, June 25th, 2021

We took advantage of a good forecast and late summer sunsets to make the longer drive up the A19 to the Wainstones on the north side of the moors. We were 8 by the time Jamie arrived.

For some of us it was the first time back on rock for quite some time, so took it steady and got back into the swing of things, with even the lower grades feeling tough on out-of-practice climbers. Some of this could have been down to some dubious grading in the variety of guidebooks old and new we had with us, or possibly the fact that at times we weren't exactly sure which routes we were on!

Anyway the sun stayed warm and there was just enough breeze to keep a full-on midge invasion at bay.  A few runners and walkers passed us on the Cleveland way as we enjoyed a pleasant evening ticking off some routes, capped off by a fantastic sunset. No idea who did what, although Jamie should get a special mention for persevering and figuring out the moves to get up Flake Wall and Crack (VD/HS/MVS/VS4b, depending which guide you consult) just as the light was beginning to fade and the evening cool down.

Great to be out enjoying an evening adventure again. 

some Wallpaper Simon found on the internet 🙂

pix © Simon Caldwell

Duddon Valley Camping

Monday, September 30th, 2019

After a hut booking cock up (not our fault) we decided to head for the same location but camp at the excellent Turner Hall campsite for the September meet.

Mike W got busy on the phone and we were booked into the site and for a Saturday evening meal at the local pub.

It was a popular meet to this quiet valley with many of the usual suspects arriving Friday either during the day or a tad later. We all set up our tent (and Vans)

Sat was a good weather day, and we were greeted by Mike, Russ and Lucas arriving very early from York. Most of the climbers headed for Wallabarrow Crag, where Anna and Rob got ticking with Anna leading her first multi-pitch and practising removing awkward wires (oops). Peri, Richard H and Jayne got stuck into some classics as did Neomi and Dave D. Simon and Carmen and Annie turned up a bit late (after a brief visit a wet crag), Russ climbed with his son Lucas and Mike soloed about. So lots of routes done by lots of teams.

The cyclists did a little differently, Mike W going for a typically huge road ride and Karl typically falling off his mountain bike a few times

After all arriving back safely and showering (excellent facilities) we headed for the pub and after some discussions over numbers had a pretty good meal and beer or two. We retreated to the campsite and the YAC shelter and firepits, miraculously we didn't burn anything down.

Sunday morning was grey and more of a walking day, a few teams headed for the tarn, a few for minor bumps close to Harter Fell. We all eventually packed up our tents and headed home, some of us after a little wait in the pub for Karl !

Though the majority of our meets are to huts there are some excellent campsites around and offer more family-friendly meets, and as long as the weather plays ball – are great fun.

Thanks to Peri for pix, let m know if you have any more.

Needle in the Sky

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Best laid plans and whatnot meant that after a few weeks of team shuffling, three of us went on a lightweight, faff free and cheap week-long trip to the Swiss Alps. More precisely, Myself, Mike S and Russ W drove across to the Salbit Area near Andermatt. The area is famed for its granite rock climbs on 3000m mountains and there is an amazing amount of rock out there. Unfortunately so much of the info about the climbing is in German and in local guidebooks, hut topos and most likely websites I couldn't understand. We looked at great walls of granite, several hundred metres high with teams scaling them but didn't know what they were on (or more importantly the grade). Mike, in particular, had eyes for many fine lines, likely hard.

After a 20hr drive we arrived on a mid afternoon to a small campsite in Goescheneralp. Basically its a tiny hamlet with a Hotel, a few houses and nothing else except a campsite, lakes and mountains. Not quite as tranquil as it sounds since the campsite is squeezed into a tiny area for no apparent reason. Its something between a festival site and a Refugee camp, with tepees, caravans and all manner of wooden constructions adjoining.  Oh, and it has two toilets and no showers. Still we squeezed into a bit of land, gentleman's agreement about not washing for a week, and got on with it. Something a bit boys own 'vietnam' about it all, but by the end of the week I quite liked the place. and it was cheap.

The main focus of the trip was the South Ridge of the Salbit. (grade D / 5b). This is often called the 'best route in the alps of its grade'. We'd see. The first few days promised settled weather so we decided to hike up to the base of the mountain and maybe 'knock the bastard off'  by day two! Typical Brits with a lack of German, not much money and a penchant for outdoor life we decided to bivi (near the Hut). 2hrs walking got us to the hut, an hour scouting around found us a bivi spot with access to water and then it was onto a 'warm up' route. 

I'd chosen the Huttengrat,on the Gemsplanggenstock 14 pitches and alpine '4c'- (ADish). about 30mins from the bivi site. Block leading saw us getting into the swing of climbing as three, the two seconds simultaneously climbing whilst the leader belayed with a guide plate. Pretty efficient. I thought the climb was great, interesting, enough fixed gear, finishing on a summit (2600m), no one else on route and not too difficult. A scramble and a couple of short abs got us back for tea and early bed ready for days two attempt on the 'big one'.

Arising early, (well 6am as it was getting light) we headed up to the Salbit South Ridge. This is a popular route and our fears about queuing were well realised. In fact we waited a bit before getting going and there must have been a dozen teams on the mountain, most of them in front of us. Setting Mike off first saw us getting up the first four pitches and abbing into a breche. We'd just been behind a team of three Germans who appeared pretty experienced and knew what they were doing. At this point they informed us they were abseiling off the mountain as rain was due to come in. The nature of the ridge makes escape tricky (in short bloody scary)  with this first breche being a classic 'point of no return'. So deferring to their experience and knowing we had a long way to go, we also abseiled off. 6 abseils got us back down the mountain and avoiding a loose gully scramble that we'd gone up. Midday by know and no real sign of rain, just cloudy. In fact the rain did not turn up, no storm and we felt a bit silly for bailing. Hindsight is magic. A slow walk down the mountain feeling slightly sorry for ourselves for afternoon frolics

The next few days were very unsettled and we made the best of it. We hiked up to a another refuge and did some single pitch bolted climbing. Slabby granite with wonderful views, but I found them a tad tricky. An afternoon sheltering from rain in the refuge, exploring other granite walls and back down before we got too wet.  A via ferrata near Andermatt filled another day along with the age old alpine exercise of checking the 'meteo'. The last two days promised good weather so it was decision time. Back for round 2 or go and see something different.

Better the devil you know proved the decision. It is 'world class', 3 stars etc and I was 2 hours hike away, had two rope guns with me and a favourable forecast. Not many times that happens in life. So back up to familiar bivi sight. A bit of single pitching on crags in the cirque filled the afternoon before bedding down. Refined tactics now.

We decided to start earlier to be ahead of the crowds, aiming to arrive at the base at first light. Also, we'd take a short cut and do a two pitch route up to the breche where we'd abseiled from. Justified as we'd done the first part of the ridge previous. I took the lead at the start, got lost, tested an old piton (if it has pitons must be a route….as opposed to the shiny bolt 10ft away just out of sight.) sweated a puffed and got us back to our high point. Expediency (and a bit of fear) meant I put the 'A team ' out in front to get us up the tricky stuff over the next 10pitches or so.  Mike lead the crux (5b) freely and we kept ahead of all other teams much to our joy. We let a pleasant swiss pair pass so we could enjoy the climbing and experience. And it is a good route. Interesting, slightly devious and keeps you guessing and needing some mountaineering nouse. Bolts are spaced, 5-7 per 50m pitch. To paraphrase the Welsh Slate guide 'enough to save you from the mortuary, but not enough from Ysbyty Zurich'. I'd been warned about the grade being 'tough' and certainly felt the swiss grade were comparable with English. i.e 4c swiss = 4c English. So good going by Mike n Russ. Good time as well, about 6hrs up the ridge.

It has a final 'sting in the tail' in that the summit itself is a 15m needle sticking up above the surrounding shattered blocks. A 4c slab pitch protected by one bolt sees you to point were there is no higher. We all took turns to stand, kneel, touch the summit before lowering / abbing off. To put  ourselves into too much perspective we meet another English team who'd done the West Ridge, Mega classic ED1 (English E2 and 20+ pitches) in the impressive time of 7hrs. Skilled in the dark arts they were (and young and fit and good).

A pleasant scramble down and back to reality. Next day it was raining (good) and packing up and a steady drive to the tunnel and back to the mountains of York. So finally, thanks to Mike S and Russ, without whom none of the above for me would have been possible.    

Summer Langdale

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

The club's July meet was in Langdale at the Robertson Lamb Hut. Currently undergoing some renovations this huts in a great location for lots of accessible climbing, scrambling and walking and should be even better when the renovations are completed.

The walkers in the party Andrew and Karen, Pete and Oifie, Donal and Dave D all headed out in good time on Saturday morning to complete their various excursions.


With lots of rain overnight most of the climbers opted for a later start on Saturday, eventually we all headed for Scout crags. Simon and Carmen headed straight for the upper crags and ticked a handful of the routes on there. The rest of the group made the most of the lower crags, Peri, Jayne and even Anni climbed Cubs Groove and Cub’s Crack, .Ana, Adam, Jamie and myself ticked off Cubs Arete, Cubs Crack and The Slab.

In the afternoon the four of us headed to White Ghyll and left the others to do some abseil practice. Quite a few of the routes still looked pretty damp but we managed to climb The Slabs Route 1 and 2 and Haste Not which has an awesome traverse, not hard but exposed and pretty exciting. Some of the guys headed to the Pub for a quick one then we settled down to another legendary YAC meal.

Sunday was forecast to be dry, which it was but quite windy. Pete, Aoife, Jayne and Anni opted for a walk and scramble on Bowfell via the climbers traverse and easy slabs to the top. Then on to crinkle crags where they encountered near whiteout conditions in the low cloud and had to put their navigation practice to good use.

All the climbers headed for White Ghyll this time which turned out to be a good option with the low cloud and strong winds high up. Simon and Carmen climbed The Slabs this time, Peri and Dave D climbed Slip Not, Jamie and Adam did Hollin Groove while Ana and myself tackled Laugh Not. Great name, wasn’t much laughing from me just a lot of huffing and puffing. We abbed off then Ana led slip Knot which has an excellent first pitch, better than the second pitch I thought which is over too soon.

On the way down we spotted Carmen and Simon climbing the classic VD Route 1 on upper Scout Crag so decided to follow them up. Ana led both pitches on this one, the second pitch been the main event with some great climbing as you step round onto the arete. We were soon at the top then descended and headed for the hut just as the rain started and only half an hour later than planned, time to head back home.

Given the dodgy forecast can’t complain with pretty much two full days climbing, still need to get up to Gimmer at some point though.

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.

Eagle

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.

Snowtastic

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.