Our Final 2 days in the Costa Baltic…….

On Wednesday we decided to head for Aventador about an hours drive north; this proved a good choice, loads of 6’s all around 30m in length – it was still quite chilly and sun only shone periodically. We all managed 5 routes which equated to around 150m of tendon pulling, forearm pumping climbing; the rock was very sharp in places and Fiona’s ‘udder cream’ was much appreciated…… After a long day we went out for a meal in the evening although we did make a slight detour to the supermarket to stock up on Hagen-Das of the Belgium Chocolate and Strawberries and Cream variety; Keith wanted this as a starter but we managed to wrestle the two tubs off him and get them into the freezer until we returned from our meal out…!
Today we headed for Alcalali; steep, hard but finally some sun ūüėÄ This was to be a ‘last-day’ go for it; however I was completely buggered after yesterdays exertions; Keith however was in his element: Formally known as Keith ‘The Godfather’ Sanders, it’s now 6b Keith and as for The Barnsley Beast Mr Paul Hallos; there was no holding him back…! Paul and Pete and Keith managed 4 routes, I managed 3 but my arms are now another foot longer. We called it a day at 3.30 so we headed off for a last day beer in the nearby village.

Gearing up at the bottom of Aventador
Keith cruising the N332 girls, sorry I mean OV 6a+
More cruising from 'The Godfather'.
Pete and Richard trying to make sense of the guidebook......
Richard "My bloody finger tips".
Keith 'The Godfather' Sanders.
Paul 'The Barnsley Beast' Hallos.
Keith on La Barra: 6b.
.... and again.
Pete 'Just call me Stirling Moss' Sterling on Elendigliches 6a+

Birthday Blog from the Costa Baltic……

Yes, it’s still the Costa Baltic: yesterday, Monday, it rained all day so apart from a drive up the coast towards Gandia not a lot was achieved (we did learn however, the young ladies standing by the side of the road were actually selling their ‘charms’; I thought they were waiting for a bus)…..!

Today dawned overcast but at least it had stopped raining; unsure how long our luck would hold on the weather front we headed for Altea as the climbing was only 30 seconds from the car. Our plans were soon thwarted however, due to extensive building in the area, access was next to impossible, undeterred we changed tack and ended up at Toix West. A good days cragging was had in the end until around 3.30pm when we noticed Benidorm had vanished from view (this can only be a good thing in my book) a few minutes later we were forced from the crag; the rain had finally caught up with us, this gave us the perfect excuse to retreat to Calpe for a birthday beer or two……….

Yes, Paul did drink all the beer; honest.......
Where does this bloody route go; and what's all this blue stuff in this Rockfax topo, I've not seen any blue sky in Spain for days.........!
Keith 'The Godfather' Sanders on the first pitch of 'Espolon Limaban'
Pete on the first pitch of 'Dedi - UBSA'
.... and Pete again following the Barnsley Beast (aka Paul Hallos) on the first pitch of 'Carlos' and to the left Richard starting up the first pitch of 'Posi
Richard again; on the finishing moves of 'Posi' (it should be noted that today was my 49th birthday so I have only 12 months left before old age and decrepitude start to take hold)...!
Birthday bonus - apple pie and ice cream courtesy of a nice Geordie cafe owner in Calpe
A last minute Birthday cake........

The Costa Baltic…….

We left Liverpool very early on Friday morning and arrived in Spain around mid-morning. After a guided tour of Sella by our helpful landlady Angela, we settled into our accommodation “The Casa Blava’. After a brew and a spot of lunch we set off for an afternoons climbing just up the road at the well-known crags of Sella….

Richard, Keith & Paul looking keen at the bottom of Sella
The three stooges (again) this time at the bottom of Toix
The Toix bolt fund has obviously run out - seems anything that can be stuck in will do

No Sterling adventure would be complete without the mandatory cakes; we found these on the way back from Toix…..

.... and yes, they tasted even better than they look.
Richard & Paul in Sella village square - shame about the carrier bag; spot the Brit...!
Sherpa Keith (aka 'Rope Boy') and before you ask he denies ever knowing Dennis Gray; as for the red pants!!)
.... just call me Heston.....
Richard climbing the first pitch of 'Tupungato' at Sax
Pete on the top pitch of 'Super Directa' - looks like he's standing on the bolt but he's not really...!
Back at Sella - Sax was very cold but a last route at Sella was no problem despite the distance back; 160 kph in a 1.1ltr Ford Fiesta, it is a hire car after all....

Alpine Gullies & Mad French Skiers

Somehow I got my arm twisted by the Pete and Laetitia (they can be very persuasive after a few beers) to embark on a winter alpine adventure. The chosen objective was The Chevalier Couloir on the Petite Aiguille Verte, a classic gully graded AD+; we were then to round off this adventure by skiing down form the top station of the Grand Montets cable car station – what had I let myself in for……

In the event it all went pretty well, the snow conditions were not great making the climb quite exciting – three of us moving together with minimal protection, and near the top we had a 1000 feet of 55 degree snow plunging down to the Argentiere glacier. The highlight of the ascent (if you can call it that) was when a French skier decided to ski down the gully sending huge amounts of snow and ice pouring down on top of us – I think Laetitia was a bit shocked at my use (and knowledge) of English swear words and it’s probably a good thing the Frenchman couldn’t make them out either.

Getting back down to the cable car station took a bit longer than anticipated due to the continued poor snow conditions, but we eventually arrived back at our skis at about 4.15pm.

The ski down from the top was hard work, we all had rucksacks on carrying our climbing gear, being the crappiest skier mine was considerably lighter than Pete or Laetitia’s though, we arrived at the bottom for a well earned beer, being the last people on the piste!

A bit of pre-route preparation...!
Pete & Laetitia at the beginning of the day
Richard at the bottom of the route
Pete & Laetitia on the first pitch
Richard just before the avalanche caused by the French skier
Laetitia 'topping' out
Richard getting 'gripped' down climbing bullet hard ice
Laetitia skiing down at the end of the day

Tired thighs in the Valleé Blanche

Another leisurely start today as we headed for the Vallee Blanche. For those not in possession of a Chamonix season pass its a ¬£50.00 round trip; ¬£50.00 to get scared witless on the ‘Midi’ cable-car contemplating your chances of survival should the cable snap and then, at the end of the day, you have to climb a million stairs to take a poxy little cabin back to the Montenvers train in which you’re packed like sardines for the journey back down – the skiing bit in between is just fantastic though…….

Below the south face of the Midi
Richard with the Dent du Géant behind
it all goes 'tits-up' shortly after this shot was taken.
Salle à manger, and Aiguille Verte behind
Richard at the Ice Grotto at Montenvers, Les Drus behind
Beer Celebrations
Cake Celebrations
Strawberries and Myrtles

Today (and yesterday) I went skiing – sort of….!

Decided I needed some winter sun so I took Pete and Laetitia up on their kind offer of a weeks ‘sofa-surfing’ at their place in Chamonix. Pete was feeling decidedly rough on my first day so it was left to Laetita to show me the delights of the Brevent ski area. After a very leisurely start (about 10.30) we hit the piste; a day of fantastic sunshine and great snow conditions ensued…….

Does it get any better than this.....

Laetitia wanted some ice with her drink!

Today (Saturday) we managed to drag Pete out for an easy day at Le Tour, again, the weather played ‘ball’ and we had another great days skiing despite Pete trying his best to kill me on some desperate ‘off-piste’ excursion through the trees.

Beats walking any-day
Off-piste gone wrong....

El Chorro: Sunshine & Shorts

All this talk of snow, ice climbing and skiing is making me feel cold. :freeze:

So Helen and I escaped to southern Spain for the 3 B’s: Bolts, Beer and more Beer. The week was generally sunny; a bit chilly if you were in the wind but it was still warm enough for shorts and T shirts…..

El Chorro Cragging - Bolt protected cracks (!) at Valle de Abdalajis; a 2 minute walk in and sunshine all day....

A Day on Gandalf…!

Today we went climbing – wall to wall blue sky (note for Terry here: I told you it never rains in Lofoten).

Pete and Laetitia started out with Guns ‘n’ Roses (this led to many appalling renditions of Sweet November Rain, Sweet Child of Mine and Paradise City; those of a certain age and musical disposition will know what I’m blathering on about); they finished off doing Gollum.

Pete at the start of Guns n Roses
Pete at the start of Guns n Roses
Laetitia near the top of Gollum
Laetitia near the top of Gollum

Rich and Paul started out with Gollum and finished off doing Gandalf – bit of a Lord of the Rings theme going on here me thinks….

Paul on Gollum
Paul on Gollum
Me on Gandalf!
Me on Gandalf!

The other highlight (!) of the day was a second meeting with Sir Christian Bonington who also did Gandalf (that wizard has had a lot to put up with today) – Laetitia got very carried away and went all giddy in such esteemed company; the memory card on Pete’s camera has been well and truly Boningtoned……

Chris Bonington, also on Gandalf!
Chris Bonington, also on Gandalf!

Finally, not wishing to leave Terry out of the proceedings for too long – tomorrow will be wall to wall sunshine again – yawn, yawn…. :mrgreen:

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