Thursday, 31 March 2011

Inspiration - Climbing Literature

Words and photos have the ability to inspire our lives and our climbing. I tucked into my first mountaineering tome when I was just 7 years old. Intrigued by it photos of ice clad peaks and distant places I was sucked into Chirs Bonnigtons Everest Years. Now this is probably not a classic of the genre but it opened my eyes and imagination to high places and adventures. I think I read it twice that holiday - I decided that one day I would stand on the summit of the highest mountain in the world.

My ambition and focus in climbing has changed since then - switching more to big rock routes, with lots of technical climbing rather than high altitude snow plods - however I feel that I still gain inspiration from words.

There is a book that I received for my birthday last year and I read it cover to cover the next day and I have kept returning to it for inspiration and pysche. It will never be a literary classic - it is ghost written in a simple style - but this is part of its charm. Like Jerry Moffat the book doesn't mess around getting accross its stories and message. If you were ever in any doubt how much of legend The Moffat is then you need to get hold of Revelations published by Vertebrate Publishing. There are no stories of epic retreats from big peaks or cold unforced bivvies, just the story of how he became the best rock climber in the world! What really stands out is Jerry's drive, ambition and will to succed. Its very empowering and definately make you think what COULD I do if I REALLY tried!!!

"I had just done Genesis and Pyscho. I had flashed Supercrack and Equinox. These were some of America's hardest routes - the world's hardest routes. I had done them... Nothing could possibly make this any better, nothing. Cars, money, fame. None of that mattered... I was twenty years old, and here I was, arguably the best climber in the world."

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Snowdon Guided Walk with Lisa's Ladies

Yesterday Lou took Lisa and her team of ladies on a guided walk up Snowdon. Lou and I decided that the best route to climb Snowdon would be from Rhydd Ddu. This is a great track as it is always much quieter than the main routes and there are not the parking issues that you get at Pen y Pass. The ladies did really well and enjoyed a fantastic day on Snowdon. Amazingly they only saw 2 groups all day until they reached the summit which was predictably very busy. They are hoping to come back in October for something a little more challenging!
Unfortunately I have no photos from the day - I hoping Lisa might send me a couple that I can post here.
Sarah has just emailed me the following: "Thanks for the email - we are driving back to Kent and still trading stories from yesterday - laughing so much which says so much for Lou! She was a fantastic guide and gave us just the right amount of much so that we really would like to do something else with you guys in October"

Navigation Course with Helena and Rick

On Saturday I took Helena and Rick out for a day of mountain navigation instruction. The day was a Christmas gift from Helena to Rick so the pressure was on to give them a good day out. Snowdonia put on its finest show and gave us wall to wall sunshine and warm temps - which is maybe not ideal for a nav course (lots of cloud and hill fog is better) but it certainly made for a stunning day out. Snowdonia was quite possible THE place to be. We made our way up to the summit of Cnict looking at various navigation techniques as we went. I also got Helena on a small amount of scrambling ground to try and get her to overcome her fear of steep and rocky ground. Rick and Helena got loads out of the day and didn't bicker too much. Hopefully they haven't got lost on Moel Elio today.

We ended the day in the best possible way - with an Ice Cream from Georgios in llanberis.

Rick and Helena on Cnict Summit

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Lead climbing course and perfect weather

From Wednesday to Friday I was working for friends Silvi and Simon of the Rock Climbing Company. I had three awesome days with Patrick who was keen to get leading on rock and push his grade. Patrick has a good mountaineering background and he has done a lot of classic routes in the alps and loads of skiing. He really wanted to push his rock climbing so he could get on harder routes in the alps and not rely on his friends to lead him all the time. On Wednesday we headed into the pass and climbed Crackstone Rib , Phantom Rib and Kaisergerbirge Wall. Its such a treat to climb in the pass in warm sunshine this time of year. On Thursday we headed to Tremadog and Patrick got on the sharp end and lead all the pitches of Boo Boo and Oberon - a really good effort.
On Friday we wanted a bit more of a mountain adventure so we headed into Cwm idwal where Patrick lead 2 pitches of Hope. We had plenty of time spare so we carried on up Lazarus and the Arete - a great day out.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Snowdonia Rock Climbing at its best!!

Today I woke to glorious sunshine in the mountains so Rhys (of V12 Outdoor) and I shelved plans to go to the Orme and headed up the Llanberis pass. It was so warm for March - I even managed a couple of routes in just a t-shirt!! We made the short walk up to the Grochan and climbed Kaiserbirge Wall HVS, Hangover E2, Slape Direct E2 and SS Special E2 - not bad for an early session session.

Rhys on Kaiserbirge Wall

Spring in the Llanberis Pass

It clouded over a bit in the afternoon so we retreated for a rest and coffee in V12 before strolling up to Vivian Quarry and climbing Last Tango In Paris in the warm evening sunshine. What an awesome day.

Last Tango in Paris
 The weather looks set pretty fair for the next few days and the crags are nice and dry - time to kick start your rock climbing year. I'm hoping to be back in the pass tomorrow doing some guiding. Should be a great day.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Self Rescue Climbing Course

Today I took out 6 members of Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club for a day of rock climbing self rescue techniques. WMC had applied for an instructor grant from the British Mountaineering Council and hired me for the day to show them some skills. We drove round to Willies crag in the Ogwen valley and enjoyed beautiful spring sunshine for the whole day. The team picked up the ropework pretty quickly and we covered tying off and releasing a belay plate under load, assissted and unassissted hoists and escaping from the system. There is so much to learn with self rescue that we could have easily spent another couple of days working on the ropework!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Weekend Scrambling course in Snowdonia

Back in January I booked Paul and Craig in for a weekend of mountaineering skills. Ideally they wanted to work on winter skills but were also keen to get involved with some scrambling and navigation if snow and ice was lacking. With winter very much on the back burner in Snowdonia we spent Saturday looking at basic mountaineering skills on the Glyders. We focused on navigation and grade 1 scrambling ground. We headed up the side of Gribin Facet and then onto the classic grade 1 Gribin Ridge. The cloud was low and very thick which made route choice and navigation tricky but provided excellent conditions for learning! Craig and Paul navigated across the plateau using their newly learnt compass and map skills and got us safely to the top of Gyder Fawr and down past Llyn y Cwn and into Cwm Idwal.

Summit of Glyder Fawr

Scrambling on the Gribin Ridge

On Sunday I jetted off to France for some skiing and left the boys in the capable hands of fellow mountaineering instructor Paul for some advanced scrambling. It turned into a fine and sunny day so Paul took them up Seniors Ridge direct start (grade 2) and then the awesome Cneifion Arete (grade 3). Paul got the boys to do some leading and belaying to introduce them to the skills needed to tackle grade 3 scrambles.
It was a great weekend and I look forward to seeing Paul and Craig some time soon for some more adventures!

On Cneifion Arete

Craig belaying using an Italian Hitch