Céüse 2014

Last week I got home from a couple of weeks climbing at the best crag in the world, Céüse! It was almost exactly two years ago I was last at Céüse, it was just as good as I remember.

Never get tired of looking out at this view from the crag, mixed weather in the first week gave us some dramatic scenes

Céüse by night from the campsite, thanks to Greg for photo

When I was climbing in Morocco a few months a ago I had the pleasure of meeting Arnaud Petit. As well as new routing all over the world Arnaud lives at the base of Céüse and obviously knows the crag like the back of his hand, if you haven't already seen it the video of Arnaud climbing Black Bean on gear is well work a watch. As I headed out to Céüse I dropped Arnaud a message asking if he had any route recommendations for me, very kindly he responded with a list of his favourite routes at 7c-8a+. This list became a kind of tick list for me during the trip! Arnaud's recommended routes did not disappoint, every one I got on was amazing. Here's Arnaud's list:

Face de rat, Femme blanche Encore, Poinçonneur des lilas, Berlin, Makash walou, Femme noire, Tout n'est pas si facile

The highlights of the first week include Blocage Violent 7b+, la Chos and Arnauds recommendation Tout n'es pas si Facile 7c+, I was very please with managing to just about flash this route, Arnaud has recently climbed an amazing looking extension to this route on trad gear.

Where are we going to climb today?!

Super Mickey 7b in less than perfect conditions! 

Successful but (unexpectedly) cold red point of Blockage Violet 7b+ (ard!)...thanks to Bob Hats for keeping me warm!

The amazing Cent Patates 7b+, next route along from Jungle Boogie 9a+!

The climbing highlight of the second week was climbing the amazing Face de Rat 8a+. The route was recommended by Arnaud. The route has its own sector named after it (which is always a good sign!), the Face de Rat sector is the most undeveloped sector of the whole crag, it's just so steep! There are some great clips of Chris Sharma and Daila Ojeda climbing Face de Rat as well as footage of Chris putting up a new superb hard line close by in this video from Petzl. Face de Rat is longer than most routes in Céüse; it's got two distinct and contrasting sections: at first super steep on mostly good holds then a super technical upper section with an amazing sequence on perfect little pockets on a vertical bulging wall. The difficulties of both sections are similar but very different styles, this makes the route feel well rounded. The route took me three red-points over three sessions.

Enjoying the view before setting off for another attempt at Face de Rat #bobhat!

Lowering off after successful redpoint of Face de Rat 8a+

Dramatic scenes

Hanging out at Céüse is great, the place is so beautiful and always full of many other climbers for many different nationalities to chat to. This time of year Céüse is one of the best places to climb in Europe, this draws in all the big names! One day I found myself belaying Amy on a warm up with Adam Ondra belaying his partner to the right of me and Alex Megos doing the same to my left! I got to watch Alex make a super quick ascent of Biographie and Adam give the route some red point attempts:

Full moon! Thanks to Greg and his amazing camera for photos

Rest day expedition up Petit Céüse (little outcrop opposite Céüse, with a fun grade I scramble ride) 

Stunning alpine flower up Petit Ceuse
Amy enjoying a multi-pitch adventure, and topping out Céüse!

Multipitch top-out into paradise!

Céüse summit panorama 

Morning coffee by the lake looking at the imposing grandeur of Céüse 

La Chèvrerie de Céüse - awesome organic goat cheese farm also with free wifi just up the road from the camp-site

On the way home we met up with our friend Sarah near Lyon who's biking by herself down through France, very impressive! As it was on our route she recommended that we stop off in a little place called Pommard in Burgundy....   

We ended up spending two nights in Pommard and Nuit Saint Georges just South of Dijon in Burgundy, highly recommended. Beautiful place and lovely wine :-)

You can take a man away from the Orme...

North Wales Summer! Featuring Central Pillar, Castell Y Gwynt

In the past year or so I've found myself making often making the pilgrimage along the A55 to the Limestone mecca of the Great Orme. More often than not the destination is LPT (Lower Pen Trwyn) or occasionally The Diamond. However the Orme does have many more sectors which I've yet to explore. This summer I'm keen to explore some lesser trodden parts of the Orme.

The crag Castell y Gwynt probably falls into this category, while not particularly hard to get to it certainly feels more adventurous then it's neighbours. A steep grassy descent followed by a little scrambles and rope assisted down-climb sees you at the base of the crag.

In my second session last week I managed to redpoint the awesome Central Pillar, a 25m/30 8a/ (+?). It's one of the best routes of it's grade in the area and climbs very different to the neighbouring routes at LPT. The route was originally given E6 6c and relaid on several rotting threads, last year a couple of extra bolts were added and Tommy climbed the route at hard 8a. I believe my ascent was the second ascent of the route in it's current state, when I was trying it a foot hold broke off on the crux making the setup a little more involved necessitating a heel hook although I don't think this made the route much harder. I thought hard 8a / soft 8a+ was about right.

The climbing position is amazing, the crux involves a wild large go-again move on a vertical wall with very poor hand and footholds, above this comes the red-point crux, technical and powerful moves to a small pocket then a big cross over sees you on on the finishing jug rail. The route took me about three red-points over two sessions of effort.

Castell y Gwnyn in golden evening sunshine

Central Pillar takes the sky-line in the photo, shame there was no photographer around to capture the ascent! 

Working the crux moves on Central Pillar 
Also of note is Cruella Deville 7a+ on Castell y Gwynt, another great three star route. 

As well as climbing on the Orme I've also been taking advantages of the dry and sunny weather in the mountains fitting in a few after work hits on Dinas Mot with Amy climbing Super Direct and Plexus which are both fantastic routes at E1. I also headed up to climb on Cryn Las, since the more popular routes were busy we opted for The Edge of Time E4 5c, a route taking the right hand arête of the crag climbing direct into The Overhanging Arête E2 5c. The climbing and position of the Edge of Time were amazing, it's just a shame it was so dirty! This excellent route could really benefit from more traffic, as-expected Overhanging Arête was simply amazing at the grade, most exposed heel-hook in the pass! 
The Edge of Time P1

Konrad on (/off!!) Overhanging Arete

The Edge of Time P1
Powered by Cliff Bar, really been enjoying reading the book Raising the Bar by Gary Erickson the founder and sole owner of Cliff Bar 

Amy on final steep pitch of Super Direct E1, Dinas Mot
I was totally blown away by the quality of the rock on Pleuxs on the West Buttress, well done Amy leading the crux 35m pitch

Happy Girl!  

Amy leading the long crux pitch of Plexus
Evening sunshine, we managed to climb till dark on the day after summer solstice, quite a feat!

Last week Trystan and I took a Nissan Leaf 100% electric car out for a test drive. We were super impressed with the way it drove, just like a normal car of it's class but turning Eco-Mode off the acceleration was phenomenal! With a range of 80 miles at a cost of 2p/mile this should be plenty for most commutes. We used the car to go climbing in the pass, it coped well with the hills around North Wales. The technology of the future has definitely arrived. 

Cruising up the pass in the Nissan Leaf electric car

Nissan Leaf test drive
This week with the sun continuing to shine we enjoyed another gorgeous sunny evening climbing on the Orme after work. I was pleased to onsight the route White Hopes 7b, it's a route I've wanted to get on for a long time. It did not disappoint. Clipping the chains at 9pm in golden sunshine was an amazing experience.  

Happy boy after on-sighting White Hopes 7b