Summer in Les Contamines … week 1

With the UTMB looming at the end of August, Anna and I decided a few months ago to have a couple of weeks in Les Contamines to coincide with the race and her birthday (30 something, I believe). We had entered the OCC, part of the UTMB program, but failed to get a place as it was over-subscribed.

Despite not getting into the race, we have been alternating our days with some high mountain runs, hoping that the altitude will help when we get back to Cumbria, with the Derwent trail almost immediately we are back. The Parc Loisirs is also only 800m from the appt., so we’ve also tried a few routes on the local crag, used the open air swimming lake (with beach), and biathlon.

On the ridge to the top of Mont Joly
On the ridge to the top of Mont Joly

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On the way to the col de la FenĂȘtre
On the way to the col de la FenĂȘtre
On the run from Megeve back to St. Gervais
On the run from Megeve back to St. Gervais
Anna on the biathlon course
Anna on the biathlon course

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Buttermere Shepherds Meet Race

This weekend was scheduled to be the Buttermere Shepherds Meet and Show. Disappointingly, due to an over zealous poor forecast which was wildly inaccurate, the show was cancelled. There was only slight, occasional drizzle on the day, and the race, part of the show race series went ahead.
Being a show race, it was only short, about 3km, but very steep. This fact I had omitted to tell my sisters 2 girls, who were up from London for the weekend. As the show was cancelled, the juniors were allowed to compete in the main race. They arrived with completely inadequate kit and footwear, but still took part and finished as first and second junior girls!! (they were the only junior girls). They weren’t last as one adult dropped out, and there dad, Steve came in woefully trailing them!! It was a great effort and they were pleased to get a prize. Anna managed 2nd in her class, and despite the forecast, the turnout was excellent for a show race…. over 50.

The start of the race
The start of the race
The field ascend from Langthwaite green to the top of Whin Ben
The field ascend from Langthwaite green to the top of Whin Ben
A sprint finish from Crystal
A sprint finish from Crystal
....closely followed by Emerald
….closely followed by Emerald
well earned scones in the Buttermere tea shop
well earned scones in the Buttermere tea shop

A successful first fell race for the girls, and hopefully they will have fell shoes for the whole show race series next year (hint to my sister!!)

Fairfield Horseshoe and Latrigg

Someone from Staveley once told me that there was no point going abroad in May, as it was the best time to climb in the Lakes. Well, that was a few years ago, and climate change has since been introduced by the government. Also, in that time, Anna has taken up fell running, which can take place in all weathers. Lucky really. Last Saturday dawned with low cloud and driving rain. Not the best conditions for the Fairfield Horseshoe Race, but this was an English championship race and the 500 or so competitors were not to be put off.
The race was delayed by half an hour with cars struggling to get into the car park field(bog), and this allowed the cloud to lift above the summits and the rain to stop. It was still soaking underfoot and very muddy and slippy on the descents.

Mad dash at the start of the Fairfield horseshoe
Mad dash at the start of the Fairfield horseshoe

Despite the conditions, Anna had a good run, equalling last year’s time.

Anna powers up the finish hill....
Anna powers up the finish hill…..

Not content with one race a week, Anna entered the “sprint” of a fell race, up and down Latrigg overlooking Keswick. This is only 3 miles long but with 950 ft of ascent. The winner only took about 18 minutes!!

The start from Keswick cricket ground
The start from Keswick cricket ground

Anna had another good run, getting another bottle of wine (I think most fell runners must be alcoholics), but I think she is more suited to longer, stamina based races…… bring on the Borrowdale later in the year.

The field near the top of Latrigg
The field near the top of Latrigg
Anna in high viz gloves ( in case she needs to wave in the dark) in the finishing straight
Anna in high viz gloves ( in case she needs to wave in the dark) in the finishing straight

Fairfield Horseshoe Recce

With the Fairfield Horseshoe Race next Saturday, Anna and I decided that it would be a good day to recce the route. “Only 14.5km and 914m of ascent” I was told, and as I’d nearly blown a gasket on last year’s recce run, I knew it would be hard work. At least the weather was predicted by the ever reliable BBC met men to be sunny………. DOH! they got it wrong again; the sun appeared in the late afternoon after we’d finished. On the tops it was misty, cold and windy, but I was sweating like a good’un and it takes more than a breeze to blow my bulk around!

Anna coming off the top of Fairfield
Anna coming off the top of Fairfield

Anna races past
Anna races past
.....and continues towards High pike. She took some catching!
…..and continues towards High pike. She took some catching!

With the thick mist it was difficult to spot a lot of the short cuts and faint trods that miss the tops that aren’t checkpoints, but it was a worthwhile run as Anna got to take some bearings off the top of Fairfield, and if the weather is the same next week this may prove invaluable……..
Log on next week to see how she does!!!!

Coniston Fell Race

Being a glutton for punishment, Anna decided that today she would enter the Coniston Fell race; 14kms, with 1065m of ascent. “It’s just a short one” I heard her mention in the van on the way down to Coniston, a round Wetherlam, Swirl How and The Old Man of Coniston. Lucky for me, it’s an area we don’t often get to, so I knew that once the race had started there would be a lot of coffee shops to scope out. Also being in the S Lakes, we noticed a lot of different club vests on show, from the Peak and North Lancashire.

The field attack the first asent
The field attack the first ascent
Anna picked out on the first ascent
Anna picked out on the first ascent

The conditions weren’t as good as the weatherman had promised with thick cloud on the summits, but Anna emerged in a good time, with only a few cuts and bruises from falling on the descent.

Anna in the fishing straight
Anna in the finishing straight

OW!!
OW!!

So our journey to the south Lakes was deemed a success, with Anna beating her target time of 2 hours by a full 3 minutes. I couldn’t find a decent cake shop though, and now I’ve been left with the washing up………. oh well , that’s what support is all about!

Last Day of Cragging at Gaillands

The morning dawned misty in the valley, so after a late breakfast of pain au chocolat and coffee in town we had a late start for a short midday session at Les Gaillands. The crag was deserted, as the holiday period was over, or was it because only English climb in the heat of the sun?

Pete leads a 5c pitch on the Pettit Gailland
Laetitia leads the same 5c

Pete led three routes which we alternately followed or led.

Ian going for non-existant holds on a 6a pitch

As it go hotter we ventured higher up the crag to get the full benefit of the searing heat! Pete found a powerful corner 6a which he led, Laetitia followed, and Ian swore at!

Pete bridging the corner before the powerful moves (Ian’s legs aren’t this long)
Pete & Laetitia happy on the belay

As the heat took its toll we escaped to the bottom of the crag where Pete showed off his slack-lining skills to the locals. While Ian and Laetitia went to the ice-cream telepherique to cool down.

Waiting for the cable car to depart!

Once again there were lots of small creatures to avoid on the crag. Can you name them?

A
B
C