Showing posts from August, 2010

Slate Dry Tooling

Winter has arrived!...well temporarily for the first half of the bank holiday weekend in North Wales. Cold northerly winds and showers made the slate quarry's feel pretty grim and wintry on Saturday. I went along with Ritch Simpson to check out the manufactured dry tooling route Ibex which is in the Monkey Bar area of Never Never land in the slate quarry's.

The route is graded M8, which is not particularly easy. The main difficulty was finding the drilled holes used for axe hooks and mono point crampon foot placement. Having not done any dry tooling before I found it desperate, don't think I have ever been so pumped! It was quite an experience. Bring on the winter!

Dwarf Shortage

Today I tried to make the second ascent of Owen Barni's new route Dwarf Shortage. The route takes the wall to the right of Central Sadness in California and finishes up the E3 6a finger crack at the top of Central Sadness. While Central Sadness has two pitches, Barni's route is one mammoth 50m pitch.

Enjoying the technical moves on the lower part of Dwarf Shortage
The lower part of the route follows a line of 7 (spaced but mostly well placed bolts). The lower section features got some great thin and technical 6a moves. The upper section crux is just before moving left to join the bottom of the top finger crack of the top pitch of Central Sadness.

The crux is a fantastic rock over to a small crimp which broke off during my ascent resulting in a whipper, a cut to the hand and the move being make even harder.
The top crux rockover

Barni gave the route E3/E4. I (in my limited hard slate experience) felt the route merited E4, possibly now 6b with the broken hold on the crux. The cr…

Alpine Van Tour...Fontainebleau

Next stop on the alpine van tour was Fontainebleau. We decided to stop off in Fontainebleau partly to break up the drive home and partly because I have heard so much about it but never been.
I was blown away; Fontainebleau is such an amazing place: Pristine sandstone boulders everywhere with nice sandy landings. The forest is also a very beautiful and peaceful place, it would be a great place for a family holiday.
Forest wildlife 1
Forest wildlife 2
Forest wildlife 3
I didn’t have a bouldering pad or a guide book, so I was basically just running round climbing random problems. Probably nothing too hard, but it was great fun. I can see why the place is so popular.

Me on unknown problem 
Boulders everywhere! Trystan on unknown problem 
Me on unknown problem 

Alpine Van Tour...South of France

I have never been on what many people would consider to be a 'summer holiday' sun, sea, sand...ect. I have always been on some sort of climbing trip. The plan after the Ecrins was to head south to warmer climates for a bit of relaxation...and also some more climbing! I don't think I would enjoy laying on a beach all day anyway!

We drove down to the Calanques region near Marseille. The Calangues region is an un-developed area of limestone cliffs between Marseille and the tourist town of Cassis.

Straight to the Cassis beach after 5hrs of driving..well worth it! 
Stormy Weather Over Cassis
I was psyched to visit the super steep cave of Saint Michel in Les Goudes. It did not disappoint. The cave was an amazing place. While in the cave we were lucky enough to experience a sound wave phenomenon. The cave acted like a giant ear, collecting and amplifying the music of a band which was playing in town. The result was quite amazing.  

On the first day I onsighted a fantastic 7a+ calle…

Alpine Van Tour...Ecrins

Next stop on the alpine van tour was the small village of Ailefroide near Briancon high in the Ecrins. The drive from Chamonix to the Ecrins took about 5hrs and was awesome. We drove over Col du Galibier 2642m! It is probably safe to say that that is the highest altitude the van will probably ever get to!

After a short detour to check out La Grave we arrived in Ailefroide just as it was getting dark. We found a great little bivi spot above the village. The next day we checked the weather forecast while eating a pain au chocolat. The forecast was for at least three days of unbroken alpine sunshine. After two weeks of genrally being rained on in Chamonix I got pretty excited. We decided on an objective of Dome De Neige Des Ecrins 4015m, a subsidiary peek of Barre Des Ecrins, the highest mountain in the Ecrins. 
Great bivi spot in Ailefroide
That afternoon after an epic gear faff session we walked up to Refuge du Glacier Blanc, carrying with us food for three days. I had discovered in Chamo…

Alpine Van Tour....Chamonix

My time in Chamonix is coming to an end. I’ve just dropped David off to get his airport transfer. Later on this afternoon I’m meeting Amy and Trystan at the train station and driving to Briançon Ailefroide area in the Ecrins tomorrow.
 For the past couple of weeks David and I have been living in the van in ‘Cham’. We drove down over two days through Belgium and Luxemburg to avoid motorway toll charges. Van life has been awesome, epically better than camping. We have been staying in random parking spots in Cham to avoid camp-site fees. The French seem much more tolerant of such antics than in the UK. We have been parking next to many motor-homes doing exactly the same thing.  Van Life
Home for two weeks 
The weather as usual has been pretty poor. I don’t think we had more than two consecutive days of sunny weather. I think we managed to make the most of the weather; the walk to check the ‘meteo’ became a daily (sometimes twice daily) routine.
As usual we didn’t manage many of the routes …