Tuesday, 17 November 2009

November Rain

Well the rain and the wind has been pretty much incessant here in Snowdonia for the past 2 weeks! Its a good job I'm off to sunny El Chorro in Andalucia for 2 weeks on Thursday! I have mainly been sheltering in the climbing wall but today I thought it might be possible to sneak a route in on the quick drying slate. After some extended procrastination and a coffee or two Jim, Lucy and I wandered up to the Rainbow Walls in the Dinorwig Quarries.

Amazing colours on the slate

Its always nice to stroll through the quarries, to discover lost gems from times past and to soak up the amazing atmosphere. Thankfully as the first of the heavy showers rolled in off Snowdon we found a little shed, complete with old fire place, next to a winding house - probably used as a Foreman's office when the quarries were running. We quickly realised that climbing wasn't going to happen so we made our way back to Llanberis - getting fully soaked in the process!


You've got to try huh?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Perfect Grit Day

Autumn is often the best time for climbing on the gritstone of the peak district - the cooler temperatures means that holding onto marginal sloping and friction dependent holds is much easier. However it is also wet in November so getting good crisp, sunny days is fairly rare! I was climbing at the Roaches in Staffordshire on Monday and it was one of those rare days when everything comes together - the weather, conditions and my climbing.

Those of you who have experienced gritstone will know that it requires a certain zen - an ability to see holds where there are not, trust sloping footholds and smears and often to have the confidence to commit to insecure moves a long way above your gear!

On the drive to the crag there was a hard frost on the ground and the sun was filtering through a thin morning mist, its rays illuminating the last golden leaves hanging on the trees. I new it was going to be a good day. After a quick play on the boulders I seconded Jim up Smear Test E3 on the Lower Tier. Some damp was clinging to the rock here so we made the stroll to the skyline area which catches all the sun going. We quickly dispatched San Melas E3 and soloed up the short but excellent Wild Things E1 before getting stuck into Wings of Unreason E4. This has been on my ticklist for a long time and features a tricky undercut start to get established on to one the most perfect grit slabs around. The meat of the route involves a jump to reach the top - I was stood on the slab for about 20 mins psyching myself up before going for it and thankfully catching the top - wild!!! Unfortunately the photos below aren't mine - I forgot the camera so found these on the net.

Jump from here to the top!

We then headed down to the Third Cloud and I led the beautiful Appaloosa Sunset E3 just as the light started to fade and the cloud rolled up from the Cheshire plain like the incoming tide. Perfection!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Look at these beauties

These just came through the door this morning, a pair of La Sportiva Nepal Evo - and with snow on Ben Nevis I'm getting excited!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

New Kit

With the summer well and truly over and thoughts turning to winter I have started shopping again. Everyone loves shiny new kit! I needed some new walking boots as my trusty Scarpa Nepals are no longer waterproof and the leather is splitting. Working in the outdoors means my kit takes a hammering!

First up a pair of Scarpa Charmoz: I needed a boot that would give me security and technical performance on scrambles, be light enough for everyday use and also take a crampon for winter walking/climbing. Waterproofness is a must! Like most purchases it is a bit of a compromise (unless you can afford 8 pairs of boots!), I have some slight doubts over the boots long term durability and waterproofness... but for comfort, weight and technical performance I think they will be great!

When it comes to working in winter lightweight waterproofs are just not good enough. As my old Berghaus salopettes have had it I purchased a pair of Mountain Equipment Karakorum pants - here is what ME have to say about them:

For mountaineers who like a high waisted fit trouser rather than salopettes. These durable pants are the first choice of mountain guides, ski instructors and many other outdoor professionals. They are made from our own exclusive Drilite Extreme fabric which is very hard wearing and now have an integral internal gaiter with a gripper hem.


  • Full length reversed side zips with storm flaps for total extreme weather protection, the 2 way zips open completely and give versatility when changing
  • Stretch Panels in the knees and seat for fantastic freedom of movement
  • Fully adjustable, detachable braces and a half elasticated, high backed waist give the user full protection and a great fit
  • 2-way front zip for added convenience
  • Simple pull-aside seat saves weight and allows for easy toilet stops
  • Fixed internal gaiters have a gripper hem to keep then in place plus gaiter hooks and anchors for added security
  • Triple stitched reinforced crampon kick strips for durability
  • Fully concealed tethered drawcords at leg hems

I'll let you know how I get on with them.