Costa Blanca ’16/’17

Just back in the UK from a ace extended week in the Costa Blanca. There was a massive gang of people there over the New Year period and so we were lucky enough to snag a doss with our friends Steve & Sandra! 😀

Here are a few pictures from the trip…

El Diamante
El Diamante follows the pillar in the centre just right of the pale yellow area in six pitches. Although I managed to spurn the 6a+ pitch thinking it looked too easy! What a fool. Ah well, I climbed a nice 6c pitch instead! 😉
El Diamante
Steve figuring out the line of the penultimate pitch of El Diamante
El Diamante
Steve happy back on the ground after El Diamante, and with no stuck ropes after all the abseils!
Magical Mystery Tour
Clair on the abseil approach to Magical Mystery Tour – the ladders are a relic of fishing (or perhaps smuggling given the theme of the route names hereabouts). They are VERY unsafe, dropping some 40 metres attached to the rock with nothing more than electrical flex in places!
Magical Mystery Tour
Clair on one of the easy traverse pitches of Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour
Looking back to the belay on the penultimate pitch of Magical Mystery Tour – Clair led the last crux pitch – good job!
dinner
A select gang enjoying a more traditional Spanish dinner at a tiny local restaurant in Calpe
Vuelo del Aguila
Steve starting the second 6a+ pitch of Vuelo del Aguila in the Mascart Gorge, a tricky chimney carried on above Steve
Vuelo del Aguila
The top of Vuelo del Aguila with the Penon and Calpe beyond
walk
Laetitia walking on New Years day – on the way to take a peek at the Barranc de l’Infern
Barranc de l'Infern
The waterway scenery below of the technical section of the Barranc de l’Infern
Barranc de l'Infern
The supposed “duck” at the end of the technical sections of the Barranc de l’Infern – how deep does the water have to be to make this in to a duck?!
Arenal
Crowded scenes at the climbers gathering bar, the Arenal
Parle
The stunning abseil in to the Parle sea cave
Parle
Steve climbing out of the awesome (a word that is used too often, but in this case correct) Parle sea cave
Toix West
Pete, Keith, Fiona, and Steve at Toix West – enjoying a chat, the sun, and then some more routes!
L'Atzúvia
The gang at the new crag De L’Atzúvia (not in the Rockfax guidebook). Many of the routes were not properly shown on our poor topo, and most were graded “approximately” – anyway I did a great 6c route to finish my trip on! 🙂

Venues

1.markerworld-linkEl Diamante
2.markerworld-linkAlcalalí
3.markerworld-linkMarín
4.markerworld-linkParle
5.markerworld-linkMagical Mystery Tour
6.markerworld-linkVuelo del Aguila
7.markerworld-linkDe L'Atzúvia
8.markerworld-linkBarranc de l'Infern

Another Dry Lakeland Bank Holiday

After an amazing start to the summer weather in May and early June, July and August have been quite disappointing really. More wet, grey, and disappointing weather days than the proper summer sunshine we had hoped for. 🙁 However, despite that we’ve been out and about on the Lakeland crags a fair bit. 🙂 Then, as luck would have it, the August bank holiday was again (mostly) dry and sunny. Unfortunately we’ve both been ill so this held back adventures somewhat, but not completely… More “Another Dry Lakeland Bank Holiday”

Amazing Lakeland Bank Holiday Weather

The weather this past bank holiday has been amazing in the Lake District. In fact the whole of the North West has been enjoying a prolonged period of settled sunny weather. 😀 Especially nice that, in an unusual turn around of the normal way of things, the South East has been getting rained on. 😉 More “Amazing Lakeland Bank Holiday Weather”

Springtime France

We’re recently back from a couple of weeks in France, what an amazing (and weird?) series of spring weather conditions we had though… More “Springtime France”

Mini New Year Break in Chamonix

The snow conditions were looking very poor in Chamonix with the endless sunshine in the Alps. The Atlantic frontal systems that should have been delivering frequent snow storms were being concentrated in to torrential rain over the north west of England. However, it still seemed like a better option than watching that endless rain in Cumbria…

Rock Climbing

Oddly for the time of year our first day out wasn’t the seasonally normal activity of finding our ski-legs – we went rock climbing!

Sport climbing at Malsaire
Sport climbing at Malsaire

Celebrations

After our family Xmas celebration at home we continued the fun in France with New Year…

Xmas dinner left-overs - turkey, gammon, and leek pie
What an awesome way to enjoy some of the Xmas dinner left-overs – turkey, gammon, and leek pie. Thanks Paul Hollywood!
Zac getting ready for the traditional Chamonix New Year madness
Zac getting ready for the traditional Chamonix New Year madness
Laetitia and Pete out in Chamonix centre seeing in the New Year
Laetitia and Pete out in Chamonix centre seeing in the New Year
Casino and Fireworks
Chamonix’s casino and some fireworks overhead – despite fireworks having been banned due to poor air quality trapped in the valley by the endless high pressure weather
Chamonix on New Year's eve
The traditional madness that is Chamonix on New Year’s eve – champagne sprays, (banned) fireworks, hundreds of people, etc.

Skiing

Skiing at Grand Montets
After the New Year eve’s light snow we enjoyed a day of skiing at Grand Montets with slightly improved snow cover – still only a few runs were open and nothing down to valley level though
Laetitia trying to re-warm her feet
Laetitia trying to re-warm her feet at the Logan lift station at Grand Montets

A Chamonix Painting Expedition

Time to Work

Last week Ian and I went to the French Alps to get a load of apartment maintenance work done. The lounge area got a complete floor-to-ceiling paint job (there was a nasty crack in the ceiling to repair too), and Ian’s kitchen area got a new worktop…

Fitting a new worktop in Ian's kitchen first required us to make a very big mess removing the old one!
Fitting a new worktop in Ian’s kitchen first required us to make a very big mess removing the old one!

Here’s a shot of the lounge area freshly painted and looking neat and tidy ready for guests in the forthcoming ski season…

The newly redecorated living room looking fresh and clean!
The newly redecorated living room looking fresh and clean!

Pet Passport

One of the fun, or at least new to me, attributes of the journey was taking Zac to France with me. He’d had his rabies injection and was kitted out with a brand new pet passport. 😀

Zac's Pet Passport
Zac’s Pet Passport

One irksome thing about pet travel is that despite the ferry companies not charging any more for a car with five passengers than they do for one with just one passenger (i.e. just the car is charged for) a pet costs £15 extra each way. What is that charge for? There are no special facilities provided, not even a dog walking area at the port areas. Seems like simple unashamed profiteering to me!

Before coming home we had to take Zac to a French vet (between 24 hours and 5 days before returning to the UK) to get his special worming tablet for some kind of wicked dog and cat tapeworm that isn’t present in the UK, and they want to keep it out as it’s transmissible (and can be fatal) to humans.

So all in all a bit of extra cost: rabies inoculation, pet passport, micro-chipping (if not already done as it was for us), ferry passage fees, and French worming treatment. But well worth it – having Zac with us painting, relaxing in Chamonix, running, climbing, and sharing the long drive to and from the Alps was brilliant! 😛

Zac relaxing after a hard day painting with a Gin & Tonic
Zac relaxing after a hard day painting with a Gin & Tonic

Time to Play

After all the maintenance works Laetitia joined us. Typical girl – swans in after all the hard work is done, strokes our egos a bit with the odd tiny compliment on the work, cracks out the gin & tonic, and then drags us out to play the next day…

Laetitia and I had already spent the previous day at the easily accessible Les Gaillands (it was easier to go there as we could take Zac!) but today all four of us went up in to the Aiguille Rouge. Ian and Zac went for a run from Plan Praz to La Flégère and Lac Blanc… Laetitia and I went for a climb…

Interestingly, I guess because it was such a wonderful and still day, there was a constant stream of BASE jumpers leaping off the top of the Brevent. Each one of them whooped as they hurtled towards the Chamonix valley. This is the first time I’ve been close enough to see wing-suit jumpers exiting. They really do “fly”. In just a couple of seconds they have picked up enough speed to inflate their suit’s wings and then they seem to shoot off horizontally at incredible speed. It looks like a fantastic buzz! But what a risk – 1 in 60 die! Take a look at this infographic…

Your Chances of Dying

Anyway, back to the matters in hand – climbing! A much safer activity. Oh and running, safer still!

Pete looking after Zac on the Brevent cable car - he was very anxious
Pete looking after Zac on the Brevent cable car – he was very anxious!
Laetitia coming off the top lift station of the Brevent - there was loads of frozen snow underfoot and a beautiful inversion in the Arve valley looking towards Sallanche
Laetitia coming off the top lift station of the Brevent – there was loads of frozen snow underfoot and a beautiful inversion in the Arve valley looking towards Sallanche
The first pitch of Crakoukass
The first pitch of Crakoukass
Pete descending from Crakoukass - the right-hand skyline of pillar behind is where the 6b pitch goes
Pete descending from Crakoukass – the right-hand skyline of pillar behind is where the 6b pitch goes

Zac and Ian go for a Jogette

Zac the Mountain Poodle trotting along the Aiguille Rouge trails
Zac the Mountain Poodle trotting along the Aiguille Rouge trails
Pete and Ian enjoy a beer at the end of a hard days play in the Aig. Rouge
Pete and Ian enjoy a beer at the end of a hard days play in the Aig. Rouge

That evening poor little Zac was utterly knackered! He immediately curled up and went to sleep when he got in. A little later, when we decided to take a stroll though Chamonix to see what was going on in town, Zac was so stiff he could hardly walk. 🙁 Poor thing. But he recovered quickly and was full of energy again the next day! 😀

Time to come Home

Laetitia left Chamonix by Easy Bus to catch her Easy Jet. Ian and I settled in for one last night with a beer before the long drive home. But at 11pm we got a text message from Laetitia, her flight had been cancelled due to fog in the UK! There had been travel disruptions for a couple of days in the UK due to fog. So surely they could have predicted this and saved Laetitia the scary prospect of travelling right across Geneva to a hotel, alone, at night, and in an unfamiliar intimidating city!!! Terrible customer care.

Then to top it all, the next flight home that they could get her on wasn’t for four days!

Luckily Ian, Zac, and I drove through on a rescue mission the next morning and all four of us travelled home together. Not the journey Laetitia had planned, she missed a couple of really important business meetings thanks to Easy Jet’s ineptitude, but at least there were four of us to entertain each other and share the driving…

Zac taking on his share of the drive home
Zac taking on his share of the drive home