Cornish BMC International Meet

I just attended my fifth BMC International Meet, and my third in Cornwall based at the Climbers’ Club Count House hut. These meets are an amazing opportunity for over thirty climbers from all over the world to come to the UK to sample some of what makes our world class traditional climbing so special. Plus of course it gives over thirty UK hosts a chance to show these special climbs off to the world, share some traditional climbing skills with people who may have never climbed with leader placed protection before, and have a right good knees up! The meet is fully catered – so the seventy odd climbers on the meet don’t have to lift a finger to look after themselves, we just go climbing … a lot! The catering is managed by the very able Peters family, this year led by the seemingly perpetually happy Daisy. Thanks to Daisy, Tom, Iain, and their many helpers for looking after us. 😀

The weather on two days, Monday and Tuesday, was less than perfect. But every other day was mega. More climbing, hard climbing in an awful lot cases, gets done on these days than most people are used to. My shoulders, three days after getting home, are still sore.

I got to climb with three great people over the week: Alice Thompson from New Zealand; Diego Dellai from Italy; and Michal Czech from Poland.

In my rush to leave the house before the meet I forgot my camera. This is a great shame as the opportunity missed to get some photos for the forthcoming south coast climbing guidebook is sad. But even worse is the fact that I don’t have many pictures of the great memories and new friends from the meet. However, here are a few I snapped with my smartphone…

Alice Thompson (New Zealand) – actually she was an imposter as she’s lived in Manchester for a couple of years
Scott Titt and Stephen Farrugia (Malta) at Sennen on one of the two damp days
Sandra Mazeikiene (Lithuania), Alice Thompson (New Zealand), Diego Dellai (Italy), Boel Aniansson (Sweden), and Sayaka Masumoto (Japan) at Carn Kenidjack
Diego Dellai (Italy), Sandra Mazeikiene (Lithuania), Paul Seabrook, and Pete enjoying a post-climb pint in St Just

BMC 2017 AGM

The 2017 BMC AGM was held on the 22nd April at Plas y Brenin, coincidentally Earth Day (more on that later).

The AGM promised to be an extraordinarily complex event with two major motions on the agenda including a motion of no confidence in the BMC executive. Perhaps it was these issues, and the CC’s campaign to get its members to provide their proxy vote to the club’s president, that led to what I think might be the CC’s biggest ever proxy vote…

Steve proud to have 96 proxy votes at the 2017 BMC AGM

As it turned out the motion of no confidence was heavily defeated. However, at the end of the AGM Rehan Siddiqui resigned as BMC President. He stated that he was resigning due to the level of personal attacks, which were impacting on his family and business. The damage, pain and suffering caused by the daft motion is really sad. I reckon most in the room (including me) were crying when Rehan resigned. But I think the strength of the BMC is probably proven along with people’s love of what it does for us all…

After the AGM, which finished a little late but still early enough to get out in the sunshine, we headed off to the Milestone Buttress. Steve and Ted enjoyed the Superdirect route. Laetitia and I decided to follow. However, perhaps the emotional events of the day were in my mind and I managed to slip off the starting polished footholds. Having not yet placed any gear I plummeted maybe three metres to the ground! It could have been very serious, maybe fatal. Luckily it was just a case of being winded, a little embarrassed, and knocked about. I got back on and was fine, if a bit shaky. Anyway, that’s what happened on my Earth Day!

Steve doing a much better job on Superdirect at the Milestone Buttress

Sunday was a fine day too! So after the BMC National Council meeting in the morning Fiona and I joined Laetitia, Steve, and Keith in Australia in the Welsh slate quarries for some more climbing. It does Make a BMC business day far nicer to also squeeze in some climbing! Sorry there’s no pictures though.

Finally, here’s a shot of the gang on route back north after a day on the Welsh slate…

Steve, Zac, Pete, Fiona, Scamp, and Keith enjoying fish and chips in Conwy on the way home after a sunny weekend of BMC business and climbing in North Wales

l’Etape du Tour Training Progress

l'Etape du TourClimbing ChallengeGan FondoMy training for the l’Etape du Tour is progressing. It started just four weeks ago with a tough hilly ride of just 37k. Yesterday I managed a 104k ride and I’ve completed two of Strava’s challenges for the month, the Gran-Fondo (100k in a single ride) and the April climbing challenge (7,500m of climbing).

Here are a couple of selfies from recent rides…

Steve and Pete at the top of the Barbondale Road

Pete & Rachel near Sedbergh

There’s still a long way to go though! l’Etape du Tour in 2017 is 178k long with over 3,500m of climbing. Plus there’s the added difficulty of the race finishing with a wicked climb up to the Col d’Izoard, the highest point of the day at 2360m. That climb is gonna be really tough with over 130k already in my legs!

The profile of the Étape du Tour route – 178km with 3,529m of climbing

Cycling … Carbon Fibre versus Steel

Twenty-five years after I gave up competitive cycling I went and bought a new road bike! What was I thinking? Have I some how forgotten the endless hours of pain and loneliness out on the road? Or the misery of riding in the rain? Or maybe I’ve simply gotten caught up in the UK’s post-Olympic cycling success fever? I’ve no certain idea. But it’s an awesome machine! So different to bikes from the 80’s… More “Cycling … Carbon Fibre versus Steel”

l’Etape du Tour Training Finally Starts…

Well, the l’Etape du Tour training started in earnest today…

I’m too not sure how to feel about my performance, but I guess it was the first time out on my bike for over a year so I shouldn’t feel too bad. I managed just over 37k, but was I totally knackered on the climbs! The route I took kicked off almost immediately by heading straight up the old Sedbergh Road out of Kendal. From there on every single little rise was an absolute killer. Nearing the end of the ride I didn’t think I was gonna get back up to Crook at all!!!

When I watch this video I’m left with two competing and equally massive feelings:

  • What the hell have I done entering such a mind numbingly massive event?
  • Riding a mountain stage of the Tour de France a few days before the Tour itself will be awesome!

A Cheeky Weekend in Chamonix

For no other good reason than, we could, we joined a few of Laetitia’s mates in Chamonix for a cheeky weekend of skiing before winter gives way to spring … one last blast of ski fun before rock climbing takes over our lives again!

The gang of cheeky skiers – Georgina, Dawn, Laetitia, Beverley, and Pete (Nikki was also there – taking the photo)

Ghost River Wilderness

We made two and a half trips in to the Ghost River Wilderness area… Rob and Pete made the first trip in to the South Ghost to visit Wicked Wanda. Although we ran away from the top section fearing that some of the wet and poorly formed 10 metre long hanging daggers of ice might break off and squash and kill us!

Ghost River Wilderness
Wicked Wanda
Pete and Laetitia in the North Ghost

The second trip to the North Ghost was made with the help of Terry’s friends John and Alvin who have awesome off-road equipped Jeeps perfect for the journey. The route in to the North Ghost is much trickier than the last time we visited in 2007 thanks to the awful floods of 2013.

The temperature was -24 °C, plus there was a brutal wind blowing through the river valley making for a minus who-knows-what-temperature! So to make sure we all stayed warm we opted for a very sociable mass solo of This House of Sky.

Rob, Terry, and Alister in This House of Sky

The final trip was an aborted trip! Our normal SUVs were just not up to the job of getting in to the Ghost – we failed to get past the first bridge…

Our Jeep stuck in the ice at the first Ghost bridge!

After wasting the morning pulling the SUV out of the ice twice (!) we ran away to some close by road-side (ish) ice to salvage the day’s climbing. Wedge Smear was selected.

Pete leading up the central pillar of Wedge Smear with spindrift falling from above (photo by Terry)

Nothing to do with the Ghost River Wilderness, but here’s a neat picture of our host Terry on Melt Out

Terry following second pitch of Melt Out, which is along the Icefields Parkway (photo by Alister)

Parties & Rest Days

Laetitia took a few more rest days than normal as part of her recovery. She did enjoy a very indulgent salmon and cream cheese bagel on one of her rest days – although she made up for the calories by then going to the excellent Canmore swimming pool at the Elevation Place!

Sorry no pictures, but we must also send thanks to Joanna Croston (and the Canadian Alpine Club) for the amazing “welcome to Canada” meal she prepared for us! 😀

Plus we were lucky enough to coincidentally time our trip to Canmore with a full on major birthday celebration…

A live band at the Drake
Craigs Waystation – perhaps the best all-day breakfasts in Canmore?
Pete enjoying a late breakfast at Craigs before heading off for a trip to the Banff hot springs
Will celebrating his birthday!
Pete, Terry, Laetitia, Rob, and Pete at Will’s birthday party
The gang – Laetitia, Pete, Terry, Pete, and Rob – having a fine dinner at the George Town Inn on St Patrick’s Day evening