Posts Tagged ‘blue sky’

Midweek escape to Curbar

Monday, October 8th, 2012

To make the most of the midweek sun before the uni term began, Rob, Pete, Tony and I met at Stanage last Thurs for a day's climbing in the peak. Following some sophisticated weather forecasting (i.e looking where the clouds were then heading in the other direction) we headed off to Curbar.

Apart from a pair of boulderers and a paraglider that scared the hell out of me by appearing suddenly over Rob's head whilst I was belaying (and to which he was oblivious) we had the place to ourselves.

An empty Curbar in the October sun

Pete and Tony set off to attack Pete's ticklist, whilst Rob kindly continued my education in trad gritstone by sending me up the easiest(!) chimneys, offwidths, slabs and cracks he could find. I can now recognise the verb “to udge” and have the bruises to prove it. Every climb I seconded was enjoyable in different ways – I hadn't realised before the variety in styles you could have within a grade range along a short stretch of crag, and learnt a lot along the way.

I may be sticking my tongue out in concentration, but look, I'm using my feet!

I learnt the perils of relying on guidebooks after failing to trust (and falling off) the large and loose-feeling flake at the top of 'Slab route' an S route in the rockfax guide, that Black Rock to Froggatt grades harder and recommends be avoided as a finish as its decidedly dodgy. I agree!

Pete started his way carefully up the classic Elder Crack, until placing a massive Cam of Doom ™ allowed him to retreat. Deep in the crack, this then evaded retrieval via abseil, a tense scenario, finally resolved to the relief of all (but particularly Pete's wallet).

We ended the day on a pair of Severes, one of which I seconded then led on preplaced gear. I really struggled with the top section the first time up, and nearly wussed out of leading it at all, but glad I did as was so much easier once I knew where the holds are. Sounds obvious but I hadn't twigged this before. Rob's last suggestion was that I lead the adjoining route. I was nervous because I've only led a handful of routes on my own gear, (M-VD) but sodded it and had a go.

It went fine until I got to the top section (which I had already climbed as it was shared with the previous route) and got a bit stuck. Knowing that I had placed the gear I was above freaked me out. (It was a bomber nut, but I didn't know that :p ) I was too scared even to swear (my usual coping strategy) but with the sun setting and everyone else getting chilly I talked and tiptoed myself up it cleanly and was proper chuffed in the end.

We then packed up and descended down the wrong path in the twilight, but found the car park eventually and headed for home. An excellent quick trip, definitely beats a day in the office.

Three seasons in a weekend

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The theme for the weather in the days before the February "winter" meet was one of warmth, wetness, and rapid snow melt. Then as the weekend grew close, the Met Office issued a weather warning for heavy snow and storm force winds. So a typical trip to Scotland then.

Carmen wanted to get some Munros bagged, but has done everything within striking distance of Laggan (the Raeburn Hut), so we drove up a day early to Arrochar. Here we made an Alpine start for a walk up Beinn Narnain and Ben Ime, in normal Autumn conditions – mild and cloudy but with a cold wind on the summits and a thin covering of snow over the highest tops. The forecast was for heavy rain later in the day (hence the early start), and it wasn't wrong, luckily it waited until we were in the car.

We met up with the others at the hut that evening, and made some half-hearted plans for the next day, safe in the knowledge that they'd be scuppered by the weather. But Saturday morning brought blue sky and sunshine, so we had to go out and do something after all. Peri, Antony, Jamie and Paul headed for the trip of Munros south of Loch Laggan. I was dying of man flu, so Carmen and I opted for a low-level walk from the hut to look at the Dirc Mhor (a ravine caused by a landslip on The Fara). Will and Rob decided on the east ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn (grade II), as if the blizzards did show up it should be a bit sheltered from the westerly winds.

Of course the weather didn't disappoint, and Carmen and I were soon battling into strong winds and horizontal snow along the glen. Being quite low down though, we did get the benefit of a few breaks, with some fine views and even sunshine. It was a bit of a soul-destroying slog thgrough heather and tussocks for the last 3 miles, but we eventually reached Dirc Mhor, and had a brief look at the ravine before it disappeared into another snowstorm. We walked up the Dirc Beag (a companion landslip) and then back over the summit of Meall nan Eagan (just 658m but hard to stand upright in the wind).

The Munro-bagging posse meanwhile had persevered to the summit of Creag Pitridh before seeing sense and saving the other two summits for another less exciting day. Quite impressive they managed to get as far as they did!

Will and Rob completed their route, despite serious doubts at the foot of the ridge as to whether they should continue. "A very wild day with gusts of about 70-80mph and tons of spindrift. The ridge itself is very nice," said Will. "Wild, crawling along some sections, we played making it hard at start and then got a shift on, no cornice where ridge meets top. bearings off top in gusty conditions," said Rob. Will's brave decision to wear brand new plastic boots then led to a slow descent and a return to the hut a few hours after dark.

Sunday was due to be the best day of the trip, and so it turned out with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. Will was still crippled, but equipped with Rob's spare boots and several pairs of socks managed to join him to bag a couple of Munros near Roy Bridge – Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg.

Carmen and I meanwhile headed for the route they'd done yesterday, the east ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn – my man flu had subsided but I still didn't fancy anywhere with a long walk in. Conditions were brilliant, sunshine and gentle winds, a quick walk through the forest being eventually slowed by deep powder on the approach to the ridge. The route itself was great, several tricky options available (most of which we took), with easier alternatives (though still quite serious with some big drops). As expected, the rope we'd brought "just in case" stayed in the sack all day.

The sunshine eventually succumbed to approaching cloud, and the summit was in the clag, but the day was so good (and the hour so early) that we decided to add a few miles to the day by completing the horseshoe to the east and going to the summit of Creag Meagaidh. This was my 3rd visit, but the 1st where the summit was actually visible! A long descent down the south ridge took us back to the car. Despite the fine weather, we had the hills to ourselves, apart from 2 skiers we saw in the distance.

Monday was due to be warm and wet again, but Rob had arranged a guide, so he and Will were up by 5am to try to get to the Northern Corries before the turbo-thaw hit, which they managed with a quick ascent of Droidless (VI 6). "Full winter condition at start of first pitch, after which a spectacularly fast thaw stripped the rime completely by the start of the second pitch. The cracks were still icy on the third pitch so it still felt in winter condition overall. Very cold hands from the running water!".

Also up an an ungodly hour were Paul and Antony, as they needed a lift to the Cairngorms from Will. They made a brave attempt at Cairngorm via Coire an Lochain, but made a tactical retreat after being blown over a couple of times in fast-melting snow. The day was saved with some excellent cake at the cafe!

The sensible among us had a lie-in, followed by a token ascent of Geal-charn Mor, a Corbett near Aviemore, in the drizzle. Almost all the snow from the weekend had gone – winter was over again.

Lots of photos here.

Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The forecasts for last weekend's weather were getting worse by the day and it seemed like yet another weekend of dodging the showers was on the cards. But on Friday, the predictions changed suddenly, with the main area of rain moving south where it belongs. Carmen's enthusiasm overwhelmed my inertia, so on Saturday morning we drove to the Lakes. It rained for much of the journey, even as close as Dunmail Raise, but as we approached Langdale the clouds cleared and we were rewarded with blue sky and sunshine (remember that?).

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Raven Crag (Walthwaite), just 15 minutes walk from the campsite in Chapel Stile. I'd hoped to climb the classic offwidth VS of Walthwaite Crack, but found that it had fallen down 4 years ago, but there was plenty still standing and we climbed Enterprize (VS 4c **), Route 2 (HS 4b,4b ***), Walthwaite Gully (VS 4b 4c **) and Route 1 (S 4a **).

The next day dawned even brighter, with a cloudless sky, so we decided to make the most of it and start on the Picco Harrison Integrale – a long link-up suggested in the guidebook of VD/S routes on Lower Scout, Upper Scout, White Ghyll lower, White Ghyll upper, Pavey Ark, and finally Harrison Stickle.

Lower Scout – Cub's Groove (VD *) horribly polished.
Upper Scout – Route 2 (VD ** 4 pitches) very pleasant, not much gear.
White Ghyll lower – Slip Knot (VS 4b *** 2 pitches) harder than planned, but it was on the tick-list and there was nobody on it! A welcome escape from the heat of the sun.
White Ghyll upper – The Slabs Route 2 (S 4a ** 3 pitches) I ran all 3 pitches into 1 due to failing to find the belays described in the guidebook! Carmen then added on the last pitch of The Slabs Route 1 to make up for it.

Due to the earlier choice of a VS we were now running short of time, and Carmen's feet were suffering, so we decided on Rake End Chimney (Diff ***) on Pavey Ark – a very traditional route! and only 2 main pitches. This wasted a good half an hour as I started off and then retreated as it was (a) very wet, and (b) not the sort of route to climb with a rucksack on!

It was obvious now that we wouldn't have time for the route on Harrison Stickle without risking an epic, so we chose Cook's Tour (VD ** 5 pitches) to finish the day. A strange route, 50% walking, not sure of its classic status. Though our impartiality may have been impaired by having been eaten by midges for the last 3 pitches!

A glorious descent in the evening light finished a long 11 hour day.

The rain's due to return tomorrow…

More photos here.

Tis the season to get lost

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Niched WallTis the season to get lost again and again and again……(well for me anyway) which is a little harsh on everyone else.  Yes, it’s o-ing time again and so Simon C, myself and Rob headed down to the Peak for a South Yorkshire Orienteers event held at Treeton.  The clouds increased the further south we got, but it stayed dry (the puddles on the roads suggested it had only recently finished pouring though).

Shallow Rib (VDiff)Rob and I opted for the blue course, while Simon as ever went for brown (the longest).  For those not aware of the orienteering scale it goes white, yellow, orange, red, light green, green, blue, brown with increasing length of courses and technical difficulty – although the latter has already reached maximum at green.  Anyway Simon had a good run and was pleased to finish well within brown standard.  Rob had been going relatively well (compared with me) with just a couple of time consuming controls and was somewhat surprised to find himself disqualified – having inadvertently missed out two of the controls altogether.

Rebaissance HVS 5bNo surprise that they were both sunning themselves at the car when I finished.  I had got myself lost far too many times and the only positive points I could muster were that I completed the course and always managed to locate myself again – it is so much easier finding the controls when you know where you are.  (And also did better than Rob – ed).  I was amazed to find that I hadn’t come last given the numerous errors.

CurbarBy the time I had finished the clouds had dispersed and left a clear blue sky so naturally we wasted a good hour or so debating where to go.  Eventually, Baslow was the chosen crag as none of us was feeling that energetic after the run.  It was well worth the bit of a drive over, as we were rewarded with glorious warm sunshine and lovely views of Curbar and surrounding fields in the autumnal light, followed by an even better sunset.  An array of easy routes were soloed mainly by Rob and Simon.  Rob led Niched Wall (S) which Simon had abandoned (ie wimped out of – ed), opting for Death to Khomeini (VS 4b)  instead.  Which were pleasant little routes.  We also threw a rope down an unprotected 5b to finish off on.  A good day out and a nice surprise end to the day given the cloudy and damp start.

More photos, by Simon and Rob