Posts tagged Sport Climbing
Winter is near...go sport climbing
A crag with a view to Telendos

Over the last 11 seasons of winter climbing I realise that it is far more enjoyable after a good trip sport climbing or even rock climbing to round off the summer season.  As I spend most of the season trad climbing, I find it quite enjoyable to go sport climbing, fall off lots of routes and hopefully get up something harder than previous years (it happened this year!).

Most days ended like this
Lou and I blasted off for a wee while to soak up the sun then hide in the shade when it was too hot.  We decided early on to go for 2 days on and one day off giving us time to try hard and time to relax and enjoy the islands we were visiting.
Busy traffic on the water

Im sure most of you will recognise where we were climbing, if not, i'll give you a clue.  Somewhere in Europe and it wasnt the UK.  So I'll not bore you with lots of words but here are some pictures.
The storm ame on our rest day.  So we went plastic bottle collecting
Bagged the local hill
Busy day at Telendos
Lou diving in to protect our lunch
Lou's first go...scariest part of the trip for me!  She bossed it!
Lou cruising another 3 star route.  Just her style...techy wall climbing
1st crag, first day, a 40m route and we then had to deal with a head injury from a fallen climbing.  Glad I did my first aid a week ago!
Climbing is full of bum shots

Snatching another route before the sun causes problems
A week in Wales
After wrapping up in the Alps for the summer I decided to head straight to North Wales for an annual 'working holiday' there.  I had a few reasons to go.  See important people, do some work, climb some routes and hopefully climb a particular line I have been hoping to do for a long time.  The way it worked out, I did about 80% of that...the particular line will have to wait!

Crags don't get much better than this

After arriving back I teamed up with my regular client Sean.  We have had a trip to Wales in the past and managed to escape the weather but this time luck wasn't on our side.  A forecast nobody really wanted to be out in, so as we had the option we chose to go to the Beacon Climbing wall which served its purpose.

Thumbs up for greasy, tech big boot climbing!
Sean happy to be high
 Our second day wasnt much better.  Anyway, we got stuck in.  On a previous trip we climbed Original Route on Idwal Slabs but this time we opted for the harder Hope.  I had only done this in dry conditions so it was great to seek it out while it was soaking.  It went fine, our big boots did the job, however I do remember having to do quite a few strenuous moves to advance up.  A strong effort by Sean to dispatch this.

Katya, an IML, gets stuck into rock climbing
Rope shortened, Katya leads to glory...in the rain
After this followed a spot of personal climbing, surfing and catching up with friends.  Before I knew it, I was back out working with Katya and Aide.  We have done heaps in the past, mostly in winter so this time they were keen to advance their skills rock climbing.  So day one they swung leads on Original Route on the slabs (in the rain) in their big boots, put alpine skills into practice to scramble off which was packed with some good laughs and piss taking as we always do...and obviously some technical input! ;)
First time on the sea cliffs...Check out the power pants!

Aid negotiating the crux of Lighthouse Arete
Day two they were sold on some sea cliff climbing.  So an early start saw us abseiling into Castle Helen before anyone else had turned up.  I led them up Light House Arete, Rap and Pel before we shifted over to Holyhead Mountain so they could do some more leading before we called it a day.  As this seemed like the last day of nice weather, my mate John drove out at warp speed to meet me after work so we could stretch the arms and do a couple of pitches in the fading light.  A mint day.
Hanging out at the seaside
A rare shot of Aid smiling and not swearing.  A classic Aid quote 'Put my foot up there?? Im not a f#@king gymnast!'

My last day, I was climbing on the Orme with the Evans.  It was a multi activity day.  Sport climbing, Trad climbing, bouldering, falling off and good craic.  I do quite like Wales...I always feel like moving there when I'm on my working holidays there.  Maybe one day.  Anyway...back to Scotland...hopefully in time for an Indian Summer!
A week of Alpine rock
With a week off between Part 1 and 2 of our Alpine Training, I teamed up with fellow trainee guide Jack Geldard for some rock climbing and acclimatization.

Our first day we decided on a sport climb in the mountains and headed up onto Brevant and climbed the brilliant 8 pitch La Fin de Babylone (TD+ 6c) of the South face.  I remembered how to climb granite with sun on my back so I was keen for more routes in the mountains but with less bolts and more trad gear.

Day two we climbed on the Red Pillar on Aiguille de Blaitiere.  We opted for Majouette Thatcher (TD+ 6b+)...in British money we thought it was E3 6a.  Superb route with 5 brilliant pitches after an 1.5 hour walk in. (no pics from the first couple of days)
Day 3 we climbed on the South Face of Aiguille du Midi.  We climbed the Contamine Route given ED1 6c+.  In british money, we thought E4 6b, it was a fight.
Jack on the crux pitch of Contamine

After 3 days of sore feet in climbing shoes, we ditched the torture devices and went mountaineering with Emily on the Clocher Ridge (PD+ 4a).  A great mountaineering ridge which is a brilliant introduction to the Alps.  I suspect I will work on that route quite a lot.
Mont Bianco, Emily and Jack...cruising.

Day four Jack and I went back to the Blaitiere and climbed the classic L'eau rance d'arabie (TD+ 6b), probs around E2 5c.  8 superb pitches of pristine granite cracks and a few testing slab for good measure.  A great day out.
Pitch...
...after pitch...

...after pitch of excellent climbing.  Superb Route MT
To conclude the week, Jack, Emily and I teamed up with Kenny for a day on the mountian bikes which was brilliant fun up at Le Tour.  Lift assisted Mountain Biking...what's not to like!?

Now for Alpine training Part 2...
Costa Blanca
Just back from a superb week of work in Spain.  A week of sunshine, great views, bolted limestone and great company.  We had a great haul of routes, from single pitch cragging to long 16 pitch multi-pitch routes.  The highlight for us was climbing on the Penon with the sea below our heels.











Summer in Wales and BMG Summer Test
It has been a great summer for me and all the hard work has paid off.  I spent the 4 weeks after India, in the mountains of Snowdonia.  I was climbing, mountaineering and getting to know the place as best I could.  My final week there I was assessed as part of the IFMGA Guide Scheme and happy to report that I passed this first step.  A massive thanks goes out to my clients I had this season, all the other candidates on the scheme and all my climbing partners and those willing to come out on the wettest of days.  Couldn't have done it without you!  Now I can look forward to the winter aspect of the British Guides Scheme, another training course followed by a 6 day assessment!  Is it winter yet?

Great weather in Ogwen

Dave on Gambit Climb

Dave on Tryfan

Dave doing his thing

Client Sean scrambling in Ogwen

Evening cragging on the Slate quarries

Evening cragging on the Great Orme

More routes at Gogarth

Essential post climbing analysis

BMG assessor Graham Ettle at Gogarth

Sunshine and sea at Gogarth

Jack leading on the Guides assesment

Evening cragging

My teaching day on my guides test (Photo credit:Steve Long)

Excellent summer or luck of the draw?
The start of another successful Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Two is the magic number. In this occasion, two is the amount of times I have put on my waterproofs whilst at work since April.  And I have been working in Scotland and Wales.  First time was half a day in Snowdonia and the second was for half an hour on the ascent to the start of the Aonach Eagach.  Now this is not to say it hasn't been raining, it has, I have managed to avoid it.  Being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this next week should see my waterproof usage double if not treble!

Father and son James and John put in a great performance...
...and provided some great whiskey
 To kick off I had a successful traverse with John and James, the hardest part was finding water for our bivi.  I ended having to drop off 300m and carry 10 litres back up hill.  The weather turned the following day from clear and humid to cloudy and humid but we still made it.  James was keen for a third day so we went and made a quick ascent of the Cioch.
Highlander moment coming soon
Is a cow a suitable navigation feature?
 Between other spells of work and days off, I have been working with SSE.  Their request was some navigation training which included evening theory sessions and practical hill days.  Over the course I worked with 20 folk with different roles within the company, all with the common likely hood that they may have to walk over the lowland hills in Scotland.
A nice change from the big hills
Usual Scottish conditions on the Great Ridge
 As the weather has been quite good it was nice to go out with regular Grahame.  He is keen for adventurous hills and happy to move away from his usual munro bagging routes.  So with his two gift vouchers he needed to redeem, we took the short ride over the Corran ferry over to Ardgour to climb the Great Ridge on Gars Bheinn.  It was a fantastic climb on beautiful Gneiss, a must for any who haven't ventured here.  The rock climbing here is amazing.  We then ventured down into Glenfinnan, more rain dodging and more fantastic scrambling in a very peaceful location, only the noise of the steam train broke the tranquility

Big smiles down Glenfinnan
I have also managed to squeeze in some personal rock climbing into this time with a couple of hits down in Glen Nevis, a day climbing with the legend John Lyall at Creag Dubh and a Tunnel Wall session with Blair.  With many damp evenings I have also made use of the brilliant new climbing wall in Fort William, The 3 Wise Monkeys.
Andy enjoying some great after work conditions
Brain and Martin trying to decide if this was a good idea!
 Ossian's Cave.  If you have ever driven through Glencoe you will have seen it, high on the hillside, a tall, dark, damp slot carved out of the North Face of Aonach Dubh.  Martin had this idea bubbling over the fire for years and we organised a day out to put it to bed.  Martin brought Brian along and between them, did a great job where they both dug deep.  Given that neither of them have a great deal of experiance in the hills it was always gonig to be a tough objective and initially we saw it as a training day rather than to get into the cave.  But with plenty of coaching we all made it to the base of the cave and I made it right inside but climbing into the cave was a few moves too far for them.  We already have plans in place for a rematch next year so I hope we have some more nice weather.  It felt great to climb the first ever recorded route in Glencoe

In the cave!!

Realisation that the hills in Glencoe are not a walk in the park!
The following day I was straight out for another Glencoe classic.  The Aonach Eagach.  This was with some members from the Connersville Walking Club.  With 8 signed up for the ridge I enrolled Andy Hogarth, to help guide them along.  We were also assisted by Andy Hauge, a MIA-trainee looking for some experience, who helped out making our life a lot easier.
Cloudy but dry
Andy organising a wee descent
 After the Aonach Eagach, only 3 were keen for the final day on Curved Ridge.  Again we were lucky and made a really nice ascent to meet the rest of the club on the summit.  It was nice to see a few other teams out and about.  Shame about the ropes hanging off Rannoch Wall.  Looks a bit of a mess!

Andrew, Alan and Sean
Getting to grips with it all now
So after a great few weeks in the hills I can look forward to more adventures.  A week on Skye, a two week boat trip out to the Western Isles and St. Kilda, 23 days in India then off to Snowdonia to prepare for one of the many assessments I have to pass to become a British Mountain Guide.  Eeek it will be winter soon!?
Back in Scotland
Perfect conditions in Glen Nevis
After a little time away from Scotland I was glad to get back and find some relatively settled weather.  Enough to get out climbing before the work season starts.  On my way back to Fort William I headed over East to climb at Weem Rock which is a fantastic sport climbing crag with a nice variety of styles.  Weather stopped play the following day so a day at Ratho was in order which is always brilliant fun.  Once arriving back in Fort William I managed to climb in Glen Nevis twice, Creag Dubh twice, had a day in the brilliant new Three Wise Monkeys climbing wall and also a day climbing on the Buachaille.  I'm ready for a busy summer of new clients, Cuillin Ridge and further afield.

Climbing on the Buachaille

Andy 

Kenny

The wind changed direction and soaked our route after we climbed it

Kenny running up Engineers Crack
Setting up for the summer
They might be small but The Lake District has excellent crags and mountains
With my planned winter work well out of the way I'm now looking forward to the transition into the summer season.  With winter still stubborn in the mountains I will still be carrying axes and crampons on some of my objectives.  No light weight summer bag just yet.  I have been looking forward to 2016 I turn 30.  As do several of my friends and between two birthday weekends last month, one at a beer festival in Stuttgart and a surprise party down south, I have been trying to regain some rock climbing fitness, see friends and family and do a little exploring.  Whilst being in the Lakes we managed to get some days climbing at St. Bee's, Langdale, Borrowdale and near Thirlmere.  The nice weather has been surrounded with wet days so I have made use of The Ice Factor, Kendal Wall, Keswick Wall and Ratho.  Unfortunately, I'm weak as a kitten after winter.  The new wall opening in Fort William might help build up a little strength for the coming climbing projects this summer.
Can't go to a German beer festival without wearing a Leiderhosen and drinking a few Steins
Another course done, another signature in the book
Whilst in the Lakes, I embarked onto my first training course (after the inductions) to become a IFMGA Mountain Guide.  The course, Rock One Training, focussed on all aspects of British summer mountain guiding.  It was a great week with a wide range of fellow candidates, some with instructing and guiding backgrounds and some new to the concept of managing and guiding novices.  I have been asked to write a course report on the week which will be put on the new British Mountain Guide website soon so feel free to have a read.
Mountain cragging on Pavey Ark
We had fantastic weather

The milestone of turning the big 30 this year will be marked with some interesting climbing trips with friends, family and clients, both old and new.  I hope we all have dry rock and full chalk bags.  I left my camera up north so only have a couple of picture of my phone.

Bouldering ayt St Bee's whilst the crag dried
We were pretty lucky with the weather
Got very close to this little fella

Kalymnos

What a great couple of weeks.  I have dreamed about going to Kalymnos for quite a while and finally the star aligned.  I went out to the Greek Island with old friends Kirby, Ali and Donald.  Fortunately Kirby and Ali had been before so they knew all the good places to eat and knew where all the laybys were for the crags leaving me to ride my scooter without crashing and climb as much as my arms would allow.  I teamed up with good friend and regular climbing partner, Donald.  We're both quiet at this time of year with work so use it as an opportunity to get some last minute sun before the winter and build up a little bit of strength for some winter climbing.

Mike on one of the many no hands rests.

We missed some horrible Scottish weather at home!
With 9 days of climbing on the island, we barely touched the surface.  There is so much to do there to keep any climber (and non climber) entertained.  The perfect destination to take family even if they don't climb, something for everyone.  We climber every day except one.  We should have had two rest days but our first one ended up in some sea level traversing followed by some deep water soloing....and plenty of swimming!  As there was so many cool lines to climb we ended up just climbing as many routes as possible rather than spending a few hours, mornings or days on one particular route...if we fell off them we moved on.  Fortunately most of the time we stayed on but as usual we also took some hugggeeee whippers!  Might need a new rope now!  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking....im off to sharpen my ice axes!
Most routes ended like this....tired!

Our tour guides...Ali and Kirby

Dream team heading to a smaller island 
Looking back to the Grande Grotte

Kirby smashing his first ever 7b+

From inside the Grande Grotte, all about the tufas


Donald and I trying not to look tired...truth is that our arms barely function

See you next year!
More photos on facebook HERE
Autumn catch up
It has been a wee while since I have had a sit down to write a wee update, which is great as it has been such an action packed few weeks.  I guess the brilliant weather has helped.  Fortunately I haven't had to travel around too much as the rock has been dry and work has been local.  A couple of visits to Brin Rock and Tunnel Wall helped kick of Sport Climbing season, given that I haven't had a great summer of rock climbing, I felt I was doing ok.  Really enjoyed the routes I tried.  Really pleased to climb Uncertain Emotions in Glencoe after a couple of visits.  I also made the most of some nice days with cragging at Creag Dubh, bouldering at the Skeleton Boulder in Glen Nevis and mountain biking at Wolftrax  before work kicked in.  I have just finished my 3rd week working at the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre in Ballachulish (the military version of Plas y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge).  I have been working on a host of instructor training courses, two weeks of rock climbing instructor training and assessments and a week of Mountain Leader Training.  We visited a whole host of single pitch climbing venues, some with a lengthy drives but worth it for the dry rock and the climbing.  Its been great working Monday to Friday 8am-5pm, feels like a 'real job' with time to spare and weekends to catch up with folk.  With an upcoming trip away sport climbing on the Greek Island of Kalymnos I have been trying hard to build some fitness to get the most of the trip.  So a few trips to Ratho (best indoor wall in Scotland...if not the UK!) and mid week bouldering have been doing the trick.  This week I am working on Mountain Leader Assessment so will be out on the hills for the week which will be great, before flying out at the weekend.   I'm hoping that when I return at the start of December I will be straight into winter climbing so watch this space.
Brin (Zed Buttress) with Mhairi and Murdoch


Good views in Glen Nevis (above Skeleton Boulder)

Creag Dubh...beaut day!

Kingussie Rock training

Group abseil

Setting up climbing at Glen Nevis

Team at Kingussie

Where is the Loch?

Inversion on the Buachaille

Mountain Leader ropework

Walking out of the Buachaille

Good navigation training in Glencoe

Dream team loving learning new skills

Training at Dave Mac's wall