Thursday, 11 January 2018

Masson Lees Dry Tooling

Happy New Year and all that jazz.....I’m genuinely excited to see where life takes me this year. Everyone knows I like a plan, and this year I have quite a few ideas. 

Working over Christmas and New Year gave me the chance to make the best out of being on the unfortunate shift. I took the time to give a new training style a go. Cycling gave me a high level of endurance, fuel and cardio efficient. But body strength wasn’t developed and I’d lost the muscular endurance that I’d gained through Climbing. CrossFit training gives you an all round fitness, and I’m very interested in giving it a solid go. To meet new people, train hard and have fun whilst doing so sounds good to me. And you can do it anywhere. It wasn’t by coincidence that CrossFit has been chosen. Vic has had a passion for the sport for a few years and has got very good at it. It’s made her laugh, made her cry, made her fit and made her friends. And I kinda owe her to have a go. 

Watch this space for my first report on how my first Crossfit session goes. Plan is to go tomorrow evening. Eeek

First day home I went to Masson Lees. A relatively newly developed limestone sport Climbing crag where they have also included some tolerance for dry tooling. This is a good thing given my distance from Scotland and the premier winter climbing locations.

Posing next to 'Geoff's Bench'

This was my first venture tying into the sharp end for over 3 years (?), primed with some New (to me) BD Fusions and motivation to get strong / used to tools again before the Scottish Winter climbing road trips planned this Month (Inc the BMC Winter Meet). I felt like the complete beginner I had become.

The rock here is pretty soft Limestone, and the dry tooling area has been tolerated only because the rock in this section is either too blanks, too soft or too steep for any other climbing.

The goal was to do a couple of leads on the two easiest climbs, 'The Warm Up' and 'Tenuous Link', M6 and M7 respectively.

Laps on Tedious Link - Like the Fusions btw! 

Despite having pretty weak arms my head got back into the game quick enough, and the movement on the rock, obviously not great, was still there. The climbing moves through some steep moves into drilled slots through the blank sections. 12m's to the top for both routes. Quick, and fun, and I didn't fall off. Happy days. Pumped during the routes was a tell tale for the pain coming at the winter meet where I'll be following up VI's and maybe more (new routing can be anything I guess :/ )

Thanks for the belay Vic :) x

2013 this logbook last saw an entry

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Toubkal 4167m Morocco

First trip away from a Cycling focused one since 2013 brought me and Joe to Marrakech, Morocco. 

Arriving in Marrakech late Saturday Night our first experience was walking from the taxi rank near the Koutoubia Mosque to our Riad (Hostel). The walk went through the famous Jeemaa el fna. A Market square basically but a sensory overload. Sneaks, monkeys, mad locals, musicians, dancers, food stalls and souks that sell anything and everything. 

We had 4 days exploring this mad city before travelling East to a Small village set in the Atlas Mountains called Imlil. Imlil is the first stop on the way to the Atlas Mountains highest peak, Toubkal 4167m. 

Walking through Imlil

November usually sees snow on these peaks and having packed for this we were a bit disappointed to not see any. From Imlil it was a 3.5hr walk up from 1650m to the CAF refuge at 3200m. Unfortunately I got ill this same day. Missing lunch I showed Joe how to ice climb on a small ice smeared slab. And after getting back to the refuge at 15:00 I slept until 6 the next morning. Man flu!

Summit day dawned and there was 30cm of snow already! And high winds. Just as well we packed full winter walking kit. Feeling very rough we set off, with me personally not having an expectation of making the summit. 3hrs struggling against spindrift and low visibility we made the final summit slope. Still around 30mins from the summit I called it off and turned back. I needed to change gloves and put an extra layer on but with no shelter and quickly getting colder it was best to lose altitude to shelter.

Warm walk in


The Adrar won the battle today but not tomorrow. The next day was a thousand times better day to go and climb Toubkal. Feeling a little better and with blue skies, little wind and a nice cloud inversion to top it off.

The ascent way ace, perfect snow and weather. We summited in just under 2.5hrs with the views  being enhanced with the same distant cloud inversions. Met the cutest puppy on the way back to Imlil as a bonus.

For any winter climbers wanting a new place to explore there are loads of options around this area. If you fancy a long alpine day/days, mountaineering, easy or hard mixed / ice climbing then this place has it all. The height should ensure reliable conditions. Unsure how much hard new routing has been done in the area as I haven’t seen a detailed guide book (only the obvious routes) but worth a look!

Summit View

Summit View

Friday, 22 December 2017

Finding my way again

Starting my blog again. The previous missing  years were due to a few life changes. I started racing bikes on the road competitively which culminated in me racing for Leisure Lakes Bikes. A Nottingham based team who race at Regional and National level  in the UK. 

Having always ridden bikes I quickly improved with training to winning races frequently. This started in Scotland while still living in Keith. 2014 I moved to Derby to move in with Vic and carried on in the same vein. 

3 years later I had experienced a lot of racing and time on a bike. Trips to Mallorca, French Alps and Southern Spain training were great ways to see the areas while improving my fitness. 

Good and bad came out of racing and my competitiveness, drive and single minded nature made the enjoyment factor dwindle. This, coupled with a change in work pattern, whereby I now work away for longer, made the progress I wanted to make too difficult. 

Since recently stopping the racing lifestyle I have started to naturally find things in life that excite me. Climbing seems to have made a reappearance. Hence the start of the blog. 

I have talked with Vic about my reasons for stopping Climbing in the first place. Improvement and self imposed pressure to climb hard routes, again, took some (not all, as a previous post reflected that to get maximum fulfilment out of a day Climbing you need a physical and mental challenge) of the enjoyment out of it. Moral of the story is enjoy it...onwards and upwards. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Filling in the Blanks

Its raining, so this calls for yet another post of how lacking my blog has been of updates recently. Today dawns with a big effort to catch up but filling in the last 18 months with 3 climbing trips each over 10 days in length is going to test my memory. But, tempted to use the ' a picture paints a thousand words' as a lazy option this may turn into a scrap book rather than a blog. I'll do my best. Below is a round up of what to expect, however they will be backdated so if interested search back to October 2012 for the first update.

Peak District September 2012 - Rivelin, Burbage and Stanage
October 2012 - West Coast Scotland inc Torridon Boulders, Diabeg, Creag Nan Luch and Gruinard
November 2012 - Coire an Lochain and Fallout Corner
Febuary 2013 - Creag Meagaidh and The Wand
April 2013 - Costa Blanca
May 2013 - Peak Polished Limestone Hell
August 2013 - Wales
August 2013 - Alps

What a chore!! Ha! Serves me right for being lazy with it.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Huntly's cave Projects. 1 failure..ish 1 success

The second day that Vic was up we decided to visit the small crag of huntlys cave. For such a small peice of rock it provides loads of stuff to go at. Most of which provides steep and strenuous crux's. We started off on Double Overhang, a lovely HVS 5a that tackles an impressive looking roof. Chose this route first to give Vic a flavour of what Huntly's Cave is all about. It provides relatively long routes too which is a bonus.

Huntlys cave, Me and Spot

A quick ab down led onto one of a few routes left that i have yet to climb, Huntly's Jam. A steep, hard crux E2 5c. I had previously climbed up to the crux and bottled it after not feeling confident going through the roof. This time i had more confidence and flew up past the crux and found myself stopped panting for breath on a pedestal. Still steep but not steep enough to warrant a push to the top before i fell. I rested here sussing out the final moves up the vertical headwall. Got to the top very happy with how i felt on the route and how i climbed it. Bring on one of my main projects :)

Just before the Jam

Lime street has all ways seemed to hard for me to even bother with. It looks a bit full on and desperate from the ground with no real beta from wherever you look at it. I got on the route with the mentality that i would probably climb up, not fancy it and ab off/downclimb scared. However, I got sucked into the route and soon found myself battling with the crux 6a move.

I had got to the crux feeling anxious, apprehensive and a bit scared. In reality i was safe as i had good gear and could of easily done the crux if hadn't hung around on steep ground for around 5 mins. Justifying a try at the crux i went for it, moving up to the crux crack and placing a solid nut i went for a high right hand finger lock which is the last pull before the finishing jug. Unfortunately i missed the finger lock and didn't have the strength/bottle to try Fell back to the steep rest, placed another bomber wire to sort my head and got the crux second go kicking myself at how amenable it felt with fresh arms. Ah well, will have another go next time. Hold on though! Whats this...the guide book mentions finishing through a roof. No problem i thought, it wont be as hard as that crux so i will be ok. Climbed up to the beck of the roof and looked back at the 1.7m span that the roof provides! No way does it go up there, twice i tried the second crux and twice i didn't want to commit as i couldn't find any decent holds to feel confident on after my previous knock in confidence. Damn it! Finished up the HVS to the left and that was that. El-bottle collapsio. 100% i can climb this route though, just need some trad mileage to get the technique, stamina and mind boost that it will take to climb and enjoy it.

A good, promising day out :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Souter Head

In Aberdeen for a two day Work related course gave me a chance to explore the Aberdeen coast. Never seem to get too excited about this part of Scotland. Think its due to my lack of knowledge about the great but scattered routes that are on the NE coast. Each venue seems to struggle to provide more than 4 worthwhile routes, one place that is an exception to this rule is Souter Head. Kev and Tony had managed to get some time to get some routes done in the evening, we aimed to get an easy day of trad in the sunshine. As usual the forecasters had failed to deliver a forecast with anything above a 10% accuracy rate. We had good fun on slab top chimney, a route Kev and Tony had wanted to do in a while, until the drizzle started.

Grassy Pinnacle
 We quickly climbed Brookers arete, a lovely little route that climbs a striking arete. Although the conditions weren't great all three of us enjoyed the route.
The Pobble VS 4b
 I then wondered over to the grassy pinnacle to have a look at the classic E1, Mythical Wall. Unfortunately it was too wet to climb and we decided to climb The Pobble. Having climbed the Pobble last year with Ali i knew what to expect so was happy to climb it in less then dry conditions! Its a good route with a steep start leading to a nice pull onto a safe and steady traverse across the slabby upper face.
The Pobble

The next day Vic came up from Derby to join me on an awesome sunny afternoon. The plan was to tick all the routes on the same Pinnacle as Pobble. These being Mythical Wall E1 5b, Over the Top E2 5b and Pickpocket E2 5c. Super sunny weather stayed with us the whole afternoon and all three lines were climbed O/S. First route, Mythical, was still a little damp but soon gave way to dry crack climbing above which was great fun and safe. Next route, Over the Top, shares the same start but goes straight up instead of following the fault left. after a couple of 'looks' to work out the thin and strenuous pull through the roof i went for the crux move successfuly. Ended up getting pretty pumped though so slowed down my climbing trying to get rid of the pump. Awesome laybacking moves to the top finish the route.

Last route climbs the seaward face. Pickpocket climbs the thin wall, it took quite a while to suss out the sequence as the holds are quite hard to read from below. Once the niche is reached one more 5b move see's you on the run up to the top.

Great two days, Vics up now for two days so see what other places we will end up.


Friday, 20 July 2012

Coire Lagan

Morning Coire Lagan
Final day dawned another great day, a bit of cloud hangin around sgurr sgumain and Alasdair but nothing that looked as if it wouldnt clear during the day. Most importantly it was dry.

Boots touched down on Bastinado at 9 and we were discussing our next adventure at the Glacis by 3. 6 hours of great climbing in a place that gets better every time you go, as you learn more about the history, geology, climbs and geography of the place.

Bastinado a 2 star route is a 4 pitch E2 5c with a reported 'brutal' crux. Martin lead off on the first pitch, taking a nice 40m layback crack to the 1 st belay.

Martin P1

2nd and third pitch was combined to give a warm up crux of 5b and the actual route crux of 5c in a nice 30m pitch. Crux was pretty desperate, not hard physically but just a really long, awkward, frustraintingly close to getting it hold. But once caught it leads onto a nice exposed flake line leading to a belay. The final pitch leads easily up below the great hanging slab of the Cioch.

Bastinado E2 - 1st crux

My lead again and it was great to climb up the slab and Arrow Route, passing the great fun looking line of overhanging crack on the Cioch itself (note to self: get on this next time). No gear, just really weird bobbly rock. Great fun.

Arrow Route - VD

Last butress was breached by climbing Atropos. Atropos gets a bit of bad press on UKC being apparently a rubbish line, loose, poor belays but I liked the climbing. The first slab is really nice and the second pitch feels like your free climbing 2 overlaps in one pitch and ending up on the glacis is a great feeling no matter how you got there. The second roof is a bit loose but this is the mountains, just got to be careful. A great day ended by finding martins bag of biscuits and my lunch box half way down the crag in bits after the local crow had decided he was a bit peckish. Got to commend them really, swines!!!!!

Atropos P1 - E1

Decided to drive home late that night to convert the van the next day.

Campervaning it up living the life

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Skye - Kilt Rock

Kilt Rock - Amazing Place to climb
Second day dawned sunny but with some ominous looking clouds above. On the road to Kilt Rock we drove through several showers that started to dampen our spirits somewhat. However at the turning north from Portree all was well with the Old man of stoer looking awesome in the summer light.

After the walk across the field that leads to Kilt Rock i got my first sight of the columnar jointed mega seacliff. This place has loads of character and an air of scaryness that i started to feel at the top. It was Martins lead and he chose to get on the nice line of Tartan Terror to the left of Skyman, my eyes were on this for the day until i got there!!

Martin post fall on Tartan Terror

Martin did a good job leading the 25m to the crux, he geared up, psyched up and went for it. And then he went for some flying lessons, after a much fought battle he had to concede and take a winger onto the bomber gear. Good effort though, and from the ground it looks good and doable. But when your starting up the crux you soon feel the sustained nature that consumes so many of this jamming crack paradise (or any other way you feel about jamming). So after more minutes of grunting and sweat Martin got to the top after winning an impressive battle against the crux crack. My turn on second and got up but had to learn how to relax whilst using jams pretty quick, very nice but pumpy E1.

Abbing down Grey Panther
Next up was the 45m crag classic Grey Panther, E1 5b ****. It doesnt take the normal crack line as most others do, instead a cunning use of Bridging has to be used to wiggle your way up the impressive and never ending Dolarite corner. Half way up you start to think you havnt even made a dent in the route as there is still so much climbing to come. Then the thin for the feet crux comes and i started to sweat underneath my jacket in the warmth of the sun.

At the top looking down the route is great, so many quality moves all the way up. A climb i wont forget in a while :)

Last route to wind down for the day was the classic HVS Electric Bagpipe, by the way, a freezing belay seems to ensue during the leader dispatching the route. Nice climb aswell, very worth while abbing down the gull once more at the end of a day for a wind down. 115m of climbing in three routes. Day is over but im definitely going to come back after a longer running spell of climbing hard (and using my new learnt and trusted jamming techniques ;) I have a few more of the harder classics to get on!! Cuillin tomorrow

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Back to it - Skye - Neist

Neist Point Lighthouse and Harris

Neist - Arrived late Tuesday night at Neist Lighthouse car park. Nice weather and a decent breeze saw the worst of the midgies away. I got the familiar feeling of being somewhere new and being excited about the climbing to come in a new place. Also being at Neist Point with the weather as it was confirmed how much i love being in, and exploring Scotland.

Lazy morning breakfast finished and the boots donned, it was time to head off to the Financial Sector for the action to begin. This will be the first time i have been outcrop & Sea cliff cragging in Skye with my previous trip being up the cuillin. It was a great day, i started the day with Bridging Interest, a lovely climb that, as the title suggests, has some good bridging moves.

Bridging Interest HVS 5a
Martin led Insider dealing, being another good route going through a roof with the 1st of many jamming moves to come on this trip. Two more good routes soon followed with an interesting wall climb, Security Risk and a rediculous climb, A fistful of Dolarite finishing the morning session. A handfull of good wee routes to warm up on in a great setting and even better rock. Eyed up the better climbs on this cliff, in particular Wall Street and Hurricane Hideaway, the former being a route when im climbing a bit more.
Security Risk E1 5b

To finish off the day i fancied heading to the Bays, Bay 3 had a nice looking crack line going at E2 5c I was a bit apprehensive but got on it anyway and had to rest on the crux after misreading a thin move to get into the main corner crack. Above this it was an awesome crack line and really enjoyable climb. Loved it, supercharger looks doable!!!!