Thirlmere Canoeing

When Paul mentioned his plans for a trip to Scotland next spring: canoeing along a loch, along a mountain river, spending a couple nights wild-camping, and climbing a Munro from one of the camp sites, I got quite excited at the thought of joining the team… But, I’ve never even been in a canadian canoe before – so how hard can it be? More “Thirlmere Canoeing”

CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet

Thanks to the extra holiday the four day jubilee weekend made for a perfect opportunity to head a little further afield than a normal bank holiday weekend allows. More “CC Gairloch Jubilee Meet”

Friday 13th is 2 Weeks Late

Halley Construction

The season is moving on and there are only four weeks to go before we have to leave on the ship (so we’re not stuck here for the winter). All the efforts through early January to meet the Friday 13th deadline – decision day – were brought to nought by the failings of some of the systems on the mechanical and electrical side. At the time BAS did not have 100% confidence that the life support systems would be wholly efficient to take on the base for the winter, so the decision was delayed for two weeks, and its been an all out effort including late nights to move the project on sufficiently for BAS to make their decision.

The good news is that yesterday, with the arrival of a BAS board member by plane, the decision was made and they will winter in Halley 6. All the major systems are now functional and the large areas are finished. From next week we will be having all our meals in the new base.

Completed areas of the Halley VI base

Some of the lads haven’t really been pulling their (considerable) weight though and for some of us it’s been really frustrating to work on Sundays and until 10 o’clock most nights to be held up by wiring not done by guys who are “tossing it off” all day and finishing early.

As you can imagine, it’s the end of the season, we’re all getting a bit crabby, and there’s been some words said and some raised voices. (Yep, I’ve shouted at a few people!) How some of them ever get anything done at home eludes me.

Anyway despite this work has continued to put the finishing touches to the modules…

Work continuing, inside and outside Halley

The science modules are all but finished and this week BAS move into them to set up and continue the science that has been continuing at Halley 5. The main module is looking more finished and the glass spiral staircase was fitted this week, while the command module (Base commanders office, surgery, comms room, server room and laundry) was completed and handed over last week.

With all the work, I’ve not got out skiing much, so the half marathon race from Halley 5 to 6 in two weeks time is looking like it might be quite slow. However, we did have time for a BBQ last Saturday, just getting it in before it was too cold to stand about outside. (We ran out of meat again!)

Halley BBQ

Windy Bay Penguins

News on the Windy Bay penguins is that the sea ice stayed for long enough for the young ones to fledge into the sea, and we now have the first few Adelie penuins about that are coming in to moult.

Adelie Penguin

With the first sunset due in two weeks and the time seeming to fly by, it won’t be long before we’re packing up. There’s still lots to do, so I’ll keep you posted on progress…

Three More Sunny Days

Wansfell Pike
On Thursday we walked to the garden centre in Ambleside via Wansfell Pike, locating the Wansfell letterbox on route…

Laetitia on top of Wansfell Pike with the Kirkstone Pass in the distance
The Wansfell Stamp

High winds from the east were forecast suggesting a colder day so we sought out the shelter of Trowbarrow Quarry. What a mistake, the place was like an oven! Way too sheltered!

The first route (Assagai) wasn't too bad, with a the light cloud cover the quarry was delightful.

Later though when the cloud evaporated and the sun started cooking the contents of the quarry we got weaker and weaker and more and more lethargic.

The classic Coral Sea
...and Jean Jeanie

The heat in the sheltered quarry was taking it’s toll… After we had cooked for a few hours and a few routes we had no sweat left in our bodies, at which point we rushed off to rehydrate with a large cool Pimms each! :yum:

Black Crag
We’d arranged to meet up with Ian at Shepherds Cafe on Saturday… The forecast was still for strong winds from the east. However, many of the popular crags in Borrowdale face west-ish so we hoped to shelter from the wind and enjoy the sun once it had had a chance to come round. We were right – Black Crag was in fantastic condition. But, just about everyone else in the world was there too giving the classic Troutdale Pinnacle a hammering. We counted 16 people on that route at one point and there were at least that many waiting still to climb at the base! Busy!! This didn’t affect us too much on our first route, Raindrop, until the final pitch where Raindrop and Troutdale Pinnacle come together – here we waited for the team in front patiently sitting on top of the pinnacle for some 45 minutes.

Ian on his first rock climb since last summer, the second pitch of Raindrop
The top of the Troutdale Pinnacle; a super spot to catch up with Ian's stories from Antarctica. Ian and Laetitia also practiced their Oops Upside Your Head dance routine...

We finished at Black Crag with a made up line directly up the pinnacle taking in some of Troutdale Pinnacle Direct, Super Direct, The Mortician, and The Mortuary. Unfortunately although Ian had a good view to get some pictures the shadows of this overhung groove line didn’t do them justice. But Ian did get a great shot of Kelda!

Kelda taking a break in the dappled light of the trees at the base of Black Crag
After that we headed off back with Ian for an Aspatrian BBQ…

All Work and No Play

The build is continuing and some of the module interiors are really taking shape, with rooms, stairs and kitchens all going in.

Inside the centre module of the new Halley base

It has to be remembered that for some of the workforce there is time in the evenings and on a Sunday to relax and enjoy the surroundings. The leisure activities include walking, running, x-country skiing, kite boarding and skiing, and being dragged behind a skidoo on skis. Yes, you’re right it looks dangerous and I’m surprised it’s not banned with the prospect of injury quite high.


I have found that the technique for x-country skiing bears no resemblance to ski-mountaineering on wider skis with edges and skins, and some of us have picked it up better than others. James, who sees himself as a bit of an all round sportsman had a bruising tour of the perimeter, but like all of us is determined to improve. Brian, who has been doing it for years makes it look effortless.

James taking one of many falls
Brian making it look effortless

We have also had a BBQ for New Year, which although chilly was ok after a few beers!!

Halley BBQ

Wet Welsh Holidays

Wales was quite wet last week…

As I’d said in my previous post, my sister had booked a cottage for the whole family to get together. We hardly ever manage to get everyone in the same place, not even at Christmas, so this was a great opportunity for all the nephews and nieces to get to know the extended family.

Caroline knew that we wouldn’t probably go if the cottage wasn’t in a climbing destination, so she booked a fantastic place just south of Blaenau Ffestiniog…. shame she couldn’t also book wall-to-wall sunshine.

You’ll have seen from the previous blogs that Sunday and Monday were fine. Tuesday was damp, but we were cooking and preparing for the evening’s entertainment.

After heavy rain over night, Wednesday started off reasonably dry, so we planned to tackle the adventurous nine pitch Avernus on Trwyn y Gorlech out on the Lleyn peninsula. It is supposed to be quick drying, but there was just too much water about so we abandoned that plan… it’ll have to be saved for another day.

We made our way back towards Blaenau Ffestiniog and headed in to the Moelwyns for some micro navigation practice. After four hours of taking bearings, pacing, timing, and deciding Pete’s ancient compass needs to be replaced, we headed back to the mansion for a feast of fish & chips.

There are some amazing mine spelunking in these ancient mine workings...

Thursday we had planned for a trip into the Devil’s Kitchen. Only the Martins were up for it – this was the first trip into the mountains for the boys and they were keen to slay the dragon who evidently lives up there. Armed with their special swords and shields (purchased the day before in Caernarfon Castle), they braved the streams of dragon pee, the piles of dragon poo, and marched towards the misty dragon breath that capped the hill tops. Luckily (?!) there was so much rain, they didn’t find any dragons.

I practiced my leadership skills and attempted to get them interested in man eating plants, such as sundew and butterwort, but they didn’t seem too bothered. Oh well. It would be odd if boys of 5 and 7 were interested in plants.

Llyn Ogwen
A Dragon Slayer?

A traditional tea and cake finished the day and we headed back to the mansion for a not so sunny BBQ. My parents had joined the group and it was Maddies’ birthday, so we had a bit of a party with jelly and more cakes.

Friday was wet again. We picked some bilberries, did some reading, checked out the Glaslyn Ospreys (cool!), and ate left-overs.

Credit, RSPB

Saturday was still wet. Oh well!

We didn’t get a lot of climbing done during the week, but it was good to be with the family…. although I could now do with another holiday. The final thing to do was pack up, take a family photo and head on home to make something naughty with the bilberries.

The Family
Homemade Tarte aux Myrtilles

Grange BBQ & Beer Meet

It was the Grange BBQ and Beer Meet this weekend. I’d promised to help Ian, but after a long week away in Nottingham I was a bit late getting there.

Pete and I eventually did arrive, just before 11am, and we found Ian, Paul and Richard planning the day’s events over many cups of tea.

Just one more cup of tea...

Another cup of tea later, and an exciting visit by a red squirrel, we eventually got our act together and made our way to Quatfoot Buttress.

Red Squirrel

Pete just had enough time before the CC Committee Meeting in the Peak to drag me and Ian up Go Between. I started the route by taking the first two pitches of Quayfoot Buttress. Nice and easy, despite being polished in places. Pete managed the thin moves on the crux of Go Between with style; Ian and I managed it with a lot less style and a lot more noise of the “take in” variety.

Quayfoot Buttress

After Pete left, Ian and I went up Abberation which is great fun and gave us no problems.

Ian enjoying Abberation

Ian and I left Paul and Richard at the crag to go shopping for more supplies and to prepare the food. It was an inspired moment when we decided to cook the pizza in a wok – the oven was broken.

The BBQ & Beer Crowd

We had a good crowd. Ian had prepared a quiz – Lakeland crags and climbs – which was great fun. I’m glad I was in charge of the stopping and starting the slides, cos I only knew a few of the answers. The quiz was won by Paul and Richard (Peak District in-comers).

I drank a whole bottle of wine!

After a night of snoring (apparently I also snored?!?!) we woke up to a very grey day. It wasn’t long before the forecasted rain came – horizontally. There was no climbing to be done, so we all packed up and headed off for a Sunday afternoon of other activities… to be continued…

Thanks for organising the meet Ian. Maybe it should be a regular event?