Weekend Bliss And Suffering.

I’m really digging having an extra day off a week. This weekend was a good mix between sublime autumnal adventures and purgatory suffering, topped off with great weather and alright company. I guess.

Friday

Psyche was high and the weather was good.  The plan was to meet up with fellow Salomon athlete (ahem) Philipp Brugger for some easy mixed cragging on the Triangle du Tacul.  I haven’t swung tools in what feels like a year so I  was glad for an easy re-introduction into mixed climbing. We climbed most of the German gully then finished up the Cosmiques Arete.

Conclusions: Mixed climbing is in fact like riding a bike.  Even if you never do it, you still remember how its done. Got cold toes and fingers but I remembered how to suffer.  Drank 6 pints to try and forget the pain.

Saturday

Woke up with inevitable hangover as Midnight Express was shut and we couldn’t buy cheep burgers to absorb the beer.  Drove to Italy (where the weather is always nicer) with Ally, Ross and Tom (who seemed less hungover than me (perhaps not Tom)). Flailed about on some rock climbs that I shouldn’t have been flailing on.   Enjoyed the sunshine and amazing scenery of the Valgrisenche. Ate pizza, drove home.

Conclusions: Beer is bad, especially for my guts. 6b+ is hard. Italy is beautiful.

Sunday

When the alarm went off at 6.45 I thought it was a bad joke. Driving to the Midi my psyche was low but the can of red bull helped a lot. The plan was to climb the Eugster Direct on the North Face, again with Phillip.  Stumbled over the moraine to the bottom and got to the Bergshrund in good time.  Spin-drift hell was pouring down the gully and we decided it wasn’t  for us. We ummed and arrred about what to do and took a look at another entry to the face to the right (about 150m to the right). It went and we were soon (but not that soon) in the gully.  The crux pitches looked kinda dry and we didn’t want to sleep in the toilets (we have jobs don’t you know) so we bailed up the Diagonal instead.  I was feeling the burn in the top half but we made alright time. Cheese burgers at Macky D’s afterwards.. Cus we are true athletes.

Conclusions: 4h 30m  on the stair-master-3842 is tiring.  Weekends are great.  Water is overrated.

Here’s some proof!

BUY YOUR CLIMBING/SKIING KIT HERE!

The Cullin Ridge AKA The flight of the Midges.

Scotland is an amazing place with endless adventures to be had.  There are two big problems with Scotland that have meant that my tick list up there (in summer at least) is rather pitiful.  The first problem is it is 9-12 hours away from my home in Devon and the second is the G-damn midges…  They really are spiteful creatures and their persistence and annoyance could only be matched by my partner for this mini expedition,  Emma Crome.  Ever since I’ve been back from Chamonix Emma has been hassling me to go to the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye.  This week I gave in to her incessant nagging and headed up north with the hope to complete this wild and stunning mountain adventure.

We made the drive up from the south which took me 13 hours in total including swinging into Bristol to pick Emma up and a McDonnalds-carbo-loading stop. We got to Glen Brittle at 1.30 am on Sunday morning both feeling pretty wasted already. We managed a few hours sleep before getting up (after a prolonged snooze button session) and starting to get ready for the off. Inevitably we had a few false starts on the way up to the base of the ridge through weariness and this picture paints a thousand words…

LOL

LOL

This half an hour gave me the first real chance to get to grips with what was involved in the ridge and read the guidebook description which spans some 13 pages of the Skye Scrambles guidebook.  I can’t say that I was that mentally prepared for what was involved in the route and I didn’t really know what was involved until this point.  I’d heard it was long, and I knew it was a ridge, but I didn’t realise it was 13km and involved some 4000m of ascent and descent, usually takes a couple of days and covers 12 Munros ( peaks over 3000ft). Ok, so its going to feel more like an alpine route as opposed to a few days scrambling.

On the approach to our starting point (Sgurr nan Eag) the heavens opened which meant our motivation wavered and thoughts of retreat started to creep in.  We had a chat and decided to keep going, agreeing that if it got worse we would go down, but before long we were on the first summit and heading off down the ridge in the swirling clouds.

Heading off on the rather moist ridge on sunday at about 1pm

Heading off on the rather moist ridge on sunday at about 1pm

Emma exiting the TD Gap

Emma exiting the TD Gap. the VDiff climbing here hurt my knee quite a lot and was pretty wet.  not much fun but the toughest part done with..

The way through the mountains.

The way through the mountains.

On the Inpin

On the In pin. Don’t let go!

Higher up on the In pin

Higher up on the In pin, the great stone shoot in the background.

Abseiling off the In Pin

Abseiling off the In Pin

This down climbing to an abseil was greasy and scary!!

This down climbing to an abseil was greasy and scary!!

Settling in for the night

Settling in for the night.  

We settled into an awesome bivi after getting down from the In Pin. Of course I decided to continue with my long standing tradition of never taking a sleeping bag (Eiger, Grandes Jorrasses, Dru) and we shivered one out gazing out over the ocean and watching the setting sun.  It was only dark for a few hours (3 maybe?) and we were soon ready to get going after only being in the pits for about 5 hours.  The next day was just as stunning and we made steady progress along the ridge.

Fun rays of the day and an awesome cloud inversion.

Fun rays of the day and an awesome cloud inversion.

Emma on the Last peak, Sgurr Nan Gillean.

Emma on the Last peak, Sgurr Nan Gillean.

Happy times!!! finished and ready for the pub..

Happy times!!! finished and ready for the pub..

Still one more abseil to get there.

Still one more abseil to get there.

An top notch adventure all in all and a stunning place to visit.  We met a 80 year old man and his daughter on the ridge at the end (I’m sorry their names have eluded me) who thank fully gave us a lift back to Glen Brittle after we had had a few beers and some dinner.  A few was all I needed. Him and his daughter are only a few Munros off ticking the whole lot and I wish them the best of luck!!

I look forward to going back in the winter at some point!

Hunting Chickens in Amazonia.

Johnny V on the 2nd Pitch of Amazonia in the Envers Des Aiguilles.

The unusually high temperatures we have been experiencing this month have really drained me. I’m much more of a cold weather person so finding psyched to trudge about on a falling apart glacier in the baking heat is difficult. Luckily Chamonix provides ample opportunities to find perfect granite with minimal glacial faff and a fine place to look is the Envers Des Aiguilles. This past trip with kayaking legend and general cool guy Johnny Vincent is the third time that I’ve been to the Envers this summer and this short trip provided us with a great route and an opportunity to hunt the elusive chickens that can often be found stuck in up to there necks in the granite.

We chose the route Amazonia on the first point of the Nantillons which is a stunning 370m 6a on pristine granite with a mixture of cracks and slabs (Michel Piola waz ‘ere but must have been having an off day as the slab pitches aren’t sandbags for a change!).

We started at about 8pm and with all told made it back to the train in good time so this route is a good day route to do at the end of a trip to the Envers if your reasonably efficient (which we weren’t as I got us lost at one point, dropped my belay plate and generally was a little spaced out due to the heat and having just finished work in time to get the last lift the day before, hense not feeling like much of a winner).  Here’s some photo’s….

In the Envers refuge wondering why I can’t make head nor tail of the guidebook I brought.

Super fun Climbing.

John Vincent dodging belay plates.

Poser.

We found the chickens. They were amazing.

Team summit shot.

Thanks John for a great day. Sorry for all my screw ups but at least we made it back down to the train on time.

The weather is getting cooler now and it feels a lot more like autumn which is very good in my opinion.  Getting pretty motivated for  some big face action and the Himalaya’s…..

Rocking out in the Envers.

Just got back from a super fun trip in the Envers des Aiguilles.  Despite being shut down by the weather on both our climbing days spirits ran high and many fun pitches of granite climbing was experienced.  I’m a big fan of this zone and i’ll be back soon for sure.  Maybe with a lighter pack, warmer weather, less snow and a more stable weather forecast!!

Still pretty snowy on the walk in but not too bad.

Continue reading

Digital Crack.


Me on the first pitch, Copywright Jon Griffith.

The other day me, Ally Swinton and Jon Griffith headed up to the Grand Gendarme on the Cosmiques arete to get a few photo’s. It was a super fun morning, make no mistake we weren’t there to climb it! It was pretty damn cold and pretty damn hard. We did however get some good photo’s.

Continue reading