Sunday, 26 May 2013

Guess who's back!

Last couple of years have seen a focusing on training rather than tripping.  Have done a bit of skiing, done a lot of bouldering, got out to cham but got washed out, got on a few routes, got heavy and stronger.

Last summer we did an epic 650km journey across iceland from the south to northern tip, unsupported, we think this was the first.  Max milage was 52 in a day, it was about 6 though when we started off in the mountains at the start, with 40kg rucsacs overflowing with food.

Now, I'm off on an even bigger adventure this summer to the mountains of tajikistan, trying to get on some first ascents.  Driving 6000 miles to get there cos we're too fly to fly.  Sponsored by some cool guys.

Here's one of the two pics that exist of the area, looks quality.

Follow our journey, we have a sat phone and should get some pics up on route as well. -

New posts coming soon on an even more handsome blog, about more adventures...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The scottish summer summary

Pre - summer goals:

Monar - got here, extraordinary.

Ben Alder - no (been before)

Carnmore - no

Orkney - no (been before)

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair - no (been before)

Hell's Lum - no ish (looked down, didn't get on project, have been before)

Corrour - no, been before

Barns of Bynack - yes

Undoubtably the find of the summer is monar, incredible lines and an incredible place. Already thinking about a winter visit. Sam's palace is a close second.

Pre home for winter training goals -

Do A Different Game, I'm not too far away, tools getting stuck in the crack is the main obstacle. Have been sussing training possibilities for this, got a few lined up.

Get better at converting gastons to straight arms.

Do a few V5's.

Link the training traverse.

Winter doing goals -

Go to monar

Go to corrour

Go to culra

Get on one big summer route

Get to duntelchaig

Get to crags around loch ness

Go to slioch

Go to skye

Climb one or more roofs

Learn to ski, the recent trip to bynack more reminded me how good it'd be to be able to roll across in the winter.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Barns of Bynack

Eastern cairngorms are rarely visited, I had heard about bynack more and wanted to check it out. I'd seen pictures and it looked similar to natural grit in style, loads of rounded breaks, just hopefully without the ridiculous friction.

Mclells rolled up as rope boy.

Initially, I optimistically hoped for a first winter route of the season, in previous years I've missed a couple of opportunities and I wasn't letting this one go.

However, it was not to be, some hurricane was rolling in from down in mexico, bringing forecasted 100mph winds and warm air.

The walk in was pleasant, we ran past the green lochan in sunshine, yes, it was going to be perfect.

The weather started to get a bit blustery, some clouds were lurking.

When we reached the summit of bynack mor, the rain was kicking in to the mix.

We then spent a short time chasing a hare. A couple of bearings were required to reach the little barns, which we passed pretty quick, and then out of the mist, the real barns loomed.

I was super excited. We got the tent up without too much bother. Rivers were running down the rocks, I had a play about and realised why it's rarely climbed on. The rock's coat is savage sharp crystals, which often break off. Perhaps with a winter coat it might be more fun. Loads of offwidths and chimneys.

In the night, the wind got up, so even in our relatively sheltered position, the ICMC tent I'd borrowed seemed unhappy, and we took it in turns to hold it up while the other slept.

The next day, the weather was a little better, showery but the wind was strong and I thought there might be a side that'd be dry, we had a good scout around but it wasn't to be.

This was what I was here for, this arete looks brilliant.

Steep slab climbing also available.

However, this was as much climbing as I got done.

Plenty of interesting things to scramble about on, even in the rain.

We decided to either head to fandouran, the shelterstone or home. Home won in the end.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Monar puzzle

Me and chizzy rolled into achnashellach, intending to head to bearnais bothy and then over to monar.

The initial section to bearnais looked easy. We walked out the village, through fields, into a forest, looking for the bridge (which we found later was dreamt up by the kalidiscope mind of an OS map boy in the eighties) . After about 3 hours of looking for the imaginary bridge, we gave up and waded the river, straight into an enormous gorse field. Once we'd battled through it, the walk to bearnais was easy, passing some inspiring lines on the way.

Central crack line looks wicked, hopefully doesn't ice over with seepage in the cold. It's less than an hours walk in if you don't get lost, so get on it.

We got into bearnais midafternoon, faced with a dilema whether to go out and suss it out that day, facing certain benightment, or wait till tomorrow.

An excellent late lunch settled the decision.

Need to get a bigger pan.

We decided to get up at 4am the next day, jumped over the pass to monar, very swampy.

Saw some sawn off unicorns (or possibly silver ponies), the cloud lifted, the sun came out, everything felt lush.

Saw two particularly brilliant projects. No pics of them till I've done them.

1) A wall with a corner on one side, the corner is pretty steady bridging to begin with then slopes off to an easier slope then gets gently overhanging, ballpoint V ish. A direct finish rather than sloping off looks desperate, bold and thin, will try it in summer if it ever dries up.

2) A magical slab, broken up by 6 roofs, each bigger than the next, one line of weakness that's still gonna be really hard, serious.

Nights are drawing in, write your story in the mixed.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Have eight legs, party all night, weigh a gram

Moving effortlessly up my wall, the spider shows the way, no hesitation, the only holds it needs are in it's mind. On the topout, a bird swoops and eats it.

Bored with the inverness wall, which consists of textured panels at a vertical angle, and problems which are mostly easy or desperate, I decided to make a change. A days work and I have a board. Been adding more and more holds to make it easy for me to get to the top, it's ace rolling out of bed, out to the garden, on the board.

At a 35 degree angle currently, it is adjustable down to about 55 or so, but 35 is enough to make me fall off alot.

We made most of the holds ourselves, apart from the small footholds, pretty easy to make 50 holds an hour when you get the method dialed.

It is brilliant, next for some soft big numbers trad games or a fashionable finger injury...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Beinn Eighe

Me, chizzy and sam rolled up to the poolewe palace for a few days. Adventures were had, during which chizzy broke his arm, once back at the palace, I made an excellent splint out of a wooden spoon, we whisked him to raigmore, picked up mckinns and headed out west again.

We then mourned the death of chizzys arm with eating.

Scone and tunes, when we do it we do it big.

We headed up to the hills around beinn eighe for a look.

I especially liked the look of this gently angled corner, one to come back for for sure. The steep wall above might also be good.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


good eating, good climbing, sun and every prickly thing you can imagine pretty much sums it up.

We got on an excellent route up a gully, featuring an interesting section with an overhanging flared offwidth, actually pretty easy as the footholds were there. However, the exit slopes were softening so we bailed, descended, got a little unaware of where we were, then ended up doing 3k ascent that day, by the end of it we were suffering. The next day, we went for a hike, deciding to have a nap in the sunshine at the top of a pass, it was amazing.

Steep stuff was everywhere, caves, long, short, generally good holds, it was ace, inspiration to convert to the cult of bouldering. The rock quality was amazing, plenty of worrying breaks to poke a hand into and hope that nothing bites. We did an easy footless traverse across this cave while eating lunch and enjoying the shade.

The choss enthuasiast would not be disappointed either.

Lots of inspiring things to go at dans l'hiver, decent gully line right to the summit. This ridge line looked ace but we didn't get on it.
Lightening was present as usual, though mostly just the pleasant late afternoon/dinner bell stuff.

We got to the top of toubkal (biggest mountain in north africa at about 4000m but not technical) one day to hear a rumble, within 10 minutes we were enveloped in it, hailstorm, dodging a few rocks dislodged by it, it felt just like being back in the alps, wouldn't have fancied abbing off a route in it. We stopped under the shelter of a rock and watched it, chilling with a few oranges, ace.

Great trip, keen for a winter visit.