Summer Plans!!

Today has been an epic 10hrs of sorting and packing my life (more than usual) into my converted van, not my most favourite activity but all this pain is for a reason... I'm moving to the alps for the summer! Leaving tomorrow..

As I've mentioned once or twice before on the blog over the past year or so Trystan and I have started running our own business, developing and building both hardware and software open-source tools for energy monitoring. Much of the work we do is computer/Internet based. This trip is a bit of experiment to see if it's possible to combine work and play;  I'm hoping to do some climbing and Trystan's into mountain biking and loves a good adventure. Trystan and I usually have quite a flexible work life balance and are quite good at mobile working, so we don't expect the trip much of a disruption. Actually we're hoping a change of scene will be good thing to drive motivation and new ideas. 

Here is a cool timelapse video Trystan made of a day in our lab, a routine that is set to change this summer: 

First we're attending an energy monitoring conference in Germany than onto Chamonix where we're going to live and work for a month in May. May is a bit of an 'off season' in Chamonix so we have managed to secure a chalet with wifi to work out of, it has a balcony overlooking the valley which gets to evening sun...pimping! 

Mid June Amy, Chris and Jenny are coming out and we're heading to Italy, first the Dolomite's then Arco for a couple of weeks of climbing. Then finally in July Chris and I are fitting in a weeks climbing in Ceuse, often referred to as the 'best crag in the word!', guess I'll find out! 

So if you know me and fancy some climbing and a place to stay in Chamonix in May get in touch, same goes for the rest of the trip

Oh, and also I'm squeezing in a quick trip to Lundy for Amy's birthday this week! Fingers crossed the weather will be as good as last time

Good bye North Wales, you will be missed

March the new summer?

This last week the weather has been amazing in North Wales, temperatures have regularly been into the upper 20's. Mid week I spent a couple of days living in the van and climbing on Anglesey with Luke Brooks.

On the first day we got some hot and sweaty crag miles in at Rhoscolyn: climbing Mask of the Red Death E3 5c and Wild Rover E1 5b with a coffee and ice cream break in-between, then finishing the day on Centrefold E3 5c. Centrefold in particular was amazing; great climbing, well protected and in lovely golden evening light.

Andy Turner on Warpath E5 6a at Rhoscolyn

Centrefold E3 5c

Mask of the Red Death E3 5c

On the second day we ventured onto Gogarth Main cliff nice and early to get on Ordinary Route. The name is a bit misleading, it's the only 5-pitch E5 6a 'ordinary route' I've ever done! Luke smashed out the first meaty 6a pitch before the sun hit the crag. I got the second pitch which was the pumpy Positron headwall crack pitch. Despite early season lack of fitness I battled my way along the rising crack line, fighting the pump till I was a few feet from the belay. Here I started trying to go directly left to the belay in the Mammoth chimney, which was hard, at this point I succumbed to the lactic acid in my arms and rested on some gear. Now more chilled I realised that the route goes up for a few meters before moving left into the chimney, via some easier moves higher up. Finally I reached the hanging 'belay' in the overhanging Mammoth chimney, which was not really much of a rest. Even setting up the belay was a fight against the pump! With the belay set up and clipped into I sat back limply in my harness, removed my tight climbing shoes and prepared myself for 2hrs of uncomfortable and dizzyingly exposed free hanging above the sea. 

Ordinary Route P2 'belay'

Luke seconding Positron headwall crack pitch

Luke shuffled his way along the next pitch which was 40m of 5c traverse, crossing all the most impressive and steep bits of Main Cliff. It was not without drama, Luke pulled off a hold and experienced his shoulder semi dislocating itself during a reverse-arm-barring move. This pitch made for a spicy second. By the time I reached the belay we had been in direct sun for over 4 hours with limited water, it was fair to say we were both feeling pretty goosed. Two more pitches remained. These were dispatched much more easily, but they were still mentally tiring; negotiating loose rock and Gogarth grass.

Luke enjoying a non-hanging belay!

Final pitch of Gogarth grass up a rather nice pinnacle

6 hours after starting the first pitch we arrived at the top of the crag, sun baked, de-hydrated and very satisfied to have experienced a fine adventure on a fine cliff on a very fine day.

The last couple of days I've found myself down in Bristol after missioning it down in the van on whim after Amy locked her self out of her house. My van stepped in to provide temporary accommodation complete with me, van cooked curry, red wine and good music. The next day which happened to be Sunday I went climbing at Brean Down with some good friends. Brean Down is renowned for being a total Southern sun-trap, Sunday was no exception. After warming up I surprised myself by managing to flash Storm Warming 7c+! Although it was very soft for 7c+.

Today Amy and I headed to Cheddar Gorge. Unfortunately Cheddar Outdoor, the only source for the Cheddar climbing guidebook had completely sold out. So we spent the day following the sun around the gorge climbing whatever lines took our fancy! It was actually a very refreshing climbing experience, I would recommend everyone to try climbing information blind at some point! When setting out on a route it was nice not to have any grade preconceptions or expectations. Routes today only had two grades, one's that I could climb and one's I couldn't!