Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing

Last week we were visiting Chamonix for a week of winter sports. We weren’t sure the skiing would be up to much as this year as there has been very little snow. So we had prepared for what might be ideal alpine winter climbing conditions. However, as it turned out there was a large dump of snow over the first weekend of our trip, and there is nothing that beats skiing fresh powder! More “Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing”

Kendal Mountain Festival ’14

Last weekend was the Kendal Mountain Festival, the biggest event of its type in the world! Laetitia and I often work as volunteers at the festival, however, this year I asked my boss for the weekend – Andy Perkins – to only give me a small number (1) of presenting jobs as we had our friends, Rebecca and Mathias, visiting. Rebecca and Mathias had finally succumbed to my endless enthusiasm for Kendal and had made the journey all the way from Germany to sample the madness that is the world’s most attended festival of all things mountain…

Open-air opening ceremony of the Kendal Mountain Festival
Andy Perkins presenting the open-air opening ceremony of the Kendal Mountain Festival on Kendal’s main shopping street – Strickland Gate

I always think the KMF Trailer is one of the best bits of film at the festival, it captures the mood, excitement, and of course some of the best moments from a select few of the films…

We had a full house for the festival as we also had Mark Vallance and Anna and Ian staying with us. So this year it was an especially busy and entertaining long weekend for us! ๐Ÿ˜€

On Thursday Rebecca, Mathias, and I went up to Tarn Hows for a look around and a short walk to appreciate the views across to Langdale and the Coniston fells. It was pretty moody weather as you can see below. Then on Friday the weather was still dry so Mathias and I enjoyed more of the Lakeland landscape by squeezing in a quick scramble up Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark before nipping over to Harrison Stickle and on down for lunch at the Stickle Barn.

Rebecca and Mathias at Tarn Hows
Rebecca and Mathias enjoying a wine-gum (or two) at Tarn Hows looking towards Wetherlam

Of course the main event is really the craziness of the festival’s main day, Saturday. With over a hundred films in the competition I can only imagine how hard (and at times fatiguing) the judge’s job is to select the winners. But for me the main attraction is the massive gathering of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, the networking opportunities, and the fringe events like the BMC’s lunchtime presentation and Glenfiddich’s whisky tasting…

Scott Titt talks BMC
Scott Titt talks “BMC” with Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Dave Turnbull, and John Ellison waiting their turn to speak…
Dozens of glasses of Glenfiddich Whisky
Dozens of glasses of Glenfiddich Whisky ready to be tasted… :yum: :yum:

Nuclear dump threatens Lakes

The BMC are encouraging their membership to stand up be counted by signing the No Nuclear Dump In The Lake District e-petition. I’ve already done so, which is super easy to do, so please consider adding your name to help protect this…

Eskdale

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in our country, if not the world, and an environment enjoyed by many millions of people every year. Sellafield nuclear site, on the west coast, has been part of the Cumbrian economy for decades and nobody wants to harm that industry and the jobs it brings. However, the decision to explore the development of an underground store under the fells could be a disaster for tourism and the District. The government and local councils are pressing ahead with these plans, incentivised by a โ€œcommunity benefits packageโ€ for the area, against significant evidence [Nirex’s 1997 Refused Plans, Friends of the Earth, Cumbria’a unsuitability, Save our Lake District, Radiation Free Cumbria] about the areas unsuitability.

Stand up and be counted: sign the e-petition, and contact your MP! :angry:

Cornish BMC International Meet

I’ve been to the past two BMC International Meets held in North Wales at Plas y Brenin. They were great! So the chance to take part in my third meet was not to be missed, especially as it was taking place at the CC’s hut in Cornwall – the Count House at Bosigran

Cornwall doesn’t offer quite as many climbing options as North Wales, particularly in poor weather. But, is the weather ever poor in Cornwall? Despite the occasionally cold north wind, and a few showers, we climbed every day! ๐Ÿ˜› The flexibility offered by the Count House accommodation combined with world-class traditional climbing provided for a unique week.

Here are a sample of pictures that I hope capture the amazing week’s events…

A first, the BMC and Climbers' Club team up to delivery a fantastic sea-cliff climbing international meet
Craig Harwood and I travelled down to Cornwall together and grabbed a few routes at Bosigran on Sunday before the international guests arrived
Pat Littlejohn, Iain Peters, Becky McGovern, and Dave Turnbull kick off the Cornish Sea-Cliff Climbing BMC International Meet
Inbar from Israel Israel enjoying the sun at Chair Ladder
We also visited Bosigran and Gurnard's Head together
Jiri from the Czech Republic Czech on The Spire (E3) with Andy Stotesbury belaying, and
Pete on Bishop's Rib (E1) with Inbar belaying.
By the end of the week Jiri was on-sighting E6! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Sinisa from Croatia Croatia (left) at the BBQ.
'Sin' and I enjoyed two excellent days of climbing at Carn Kenidjack, Sennen, and Bosigran
Krzysztof (centre with the 'hair') - from Poland Poland - and I debated long and hard about what constituted a 'wall' as opposed to a 'slab'; he thought Cornwall only had slabs and roofs...
Iain Peters, in charge of the BBQ and all Count House facilities (accommodation, catering, etc.)
Sunset outside the Count House, complete with BMC marquee (mess-tent)
Masses of UK host's tents outside the Count House at Bosigran in West Penwith
Erik from Belgium Belgium following Desolation Row (E2) in the Great Zawn
Erik and I also visited Bosigran, St Loy, and Whirlpool Zawn
BMC Meet UK Hosts and International Guests gathered at Zennor Village Hall for dinner and the final night celebrations

:star: A fantastic success – dare I say even better than Wales! ๐Ÿ˜€ :star:
Lets hope the BMC and the CC team up again, perhaps next time at Ynys Ettws for (probably) the best climbing and the best accommodation option in the world…

BMC Lakes Festival of Climbing

This weekend was the BMC supported Lakes Festival of Climbing in the Duddon Valley. Unfortunately the weather forecast looked a little dodgy. However, Saturday dawned quite bright, and despite a few spots of rain on the windshield driving over to the Duddon Valley, it was dry when we got there. It did mean the high Lakeland crags would be damp though, so combined with the late start we all (Richard, Paul, Anna, Ian, Laetitia, and I) agreed on the reliable Wallowbarrow crag. Amazingly, with the festival in the valley, this popular crag was almost deserted when we got there. I guess the morning rain showers had kept people in their tents? It did of course get steadily busier as the day went on.

We did a few routes in the glorious summer sunshine at Wallowbarrow, including Marilyn, a tricky HVS that I reckon might warrant notching up a grade… Later after we’d finished Grey Wall (a nice, un-starred, but star deserving E1) we noticed a leader falling from the crux of Marilyn! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Marilyn

After a spell of sun bathing on the rocks at the bottom Wallowbarrow we retired to the campsite at Turner Hall Farm to get our ยฃ1.50 BMC vouchers towards our dinner at the Newfield Inn. ๐Ÿ™‚ Everyone was there, well okay nowhere near “everyone” … but mostly! ๐Ÿ˜› Remembering that this was a BMC event, there were loads of non-climbers there too; walkers, skiers, anyone interested in mountains really…

Martin Kocsis manning the BMC bacon butty stall!
Martin Kocsis manning the BMC bacon butty stall!

Sunday was another stunning day. But we were tired (and a little hung-over), so the short approach to Black Crag Wrynose was selected. Quite a few E-points were scored by the amassed team on Glass Slipper and Yellow Wall, but mostly we enjoyed the hot weather with awesome Lakeland views in every direction. It would have been a good day for Esk Buttress or Scafell, if it hadn’t been for those hangovers and the strong wind that developed in the late afternoon.

Ian at Black Crag
Ian at Black Crag
Paul and Richard on Glass Slipper
Paul and Richard on Glass Slipper

A brilliant weekend, rounded off by a trip the Chesters – a top rate (we are talking better than Chamonix patisserie top rate) tea and cake venue at Skelwith Bridge! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tremadog Festival

The Tremadog festival is all about looking after the crags (especially the ones managed by the BMC) at Tremadog. Which mostly means keeping the routes clear of the encroaching ivy and other plant life that keeps endlessly growing up the cliff (imagine it, plants that grow! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

The BMC registration tent outside Eric's cafe
The BMC registration tent outside Eric's cafe
Abseiling in with bags full of secateurs, bow saws and patio knifes to clean out cracks!
Abseiling in with bags full of secateurs, bow saws and patio knifes to clean out cracks!

However, whilst all that good work was taking place (mostly on Bwlch y Moch) Steve, Laetitia and I headed over to check routes for the new Tremadog guidebook on Craig y Gesail. A crag with a reputation of being the poor neighbour of the glamourous Pant Ifan, Bwlch y Moch, etc…

A quick top rope inspection
A quick top rope inspection...

… and back to the clipboard to make notes and changes. Note how the author sits about writing stuff while the editor stands around managing! HE HE! ๐Ÿ˜€

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After all that Steve wanted to check the “hardest route on the crag”. And so it was that I found myself following Wow Factor

Wow Factor, E4
Wow Factor, E4

After that, more top rope inspection….

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And finally (no pictures sorry) we got back down to Eric’s cafe for free beer provided by the CC.

South African International Climbing Meet

When I saw the opportunity on the BMC site for the South African Mountain Club‘s international climbing meet it was too great an opportunity to miss. All I had to do was get the time off work and make contact with the super efficient Ulrike Kiefer to get my place sorted…

Here’s a short (as it can be) report from what was a super packed climbing adventure to what may well be climbing’s most adventurous venue – Africa!

Cedarberg

After being collected from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport by Neil Margetts (who kindly let Friedrich [Fritz] BloรŸe and I stay the night at his flat) we headed off to Cedarberg, near the Mountain Sanctuary Park. The road out from Johannesburg was okay until we got to this typical South African “dust track”…

Bad Road
“Dust” Road

The approach and climbing at Cedarberg were very pretty. But the rock was a bit of a shock with very little friction. Similar features to Gritstone, but little of the friction…

Cedarberg Approach
Fritz enjoys the Cedarberg approach

Neil Belays at Cedarberg
Neil belays at Cedarberg

Cradle of Human Kind

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse. It rained, a lot! It didn’t stop all night and was still going strong the next day. Luckily the trip’s principal organiser, Ulrike, had a plan to amuse the group at the nearby Cradle of Human Kind.

Later, with the rain still coming down hard, the group messed about slack lining and getting to know Neil’s bird, Ruby…

Alex & Ruby
Alex Messenger & Ruby

The rain was depressing, and the promise of drier weather towards the next venue, Blouberg, galvanised a few to pack the tents in the heavy rain and set off…

Blouberg

Blouberg was a very long way from Johannesburg, driving North of the Tropic of Capricorn, and then requiring a hard walk late into the night to get to our bivouac. Ged Desforges, Leonie Seelen and I were accompanied by “locals” Steve Broccardo, Tony and Charles Edelstein (aka ‘Snort’), who assured us that – if nothing else – the trip to Blouberg would be memorable!

Tropic of Capricorn
So, how do you spell that again? ๐Ÿ˜†

Kids
Some cheeky kids who accompanied us on the first section of the approach walk

The approach walk was hard work – very hard work. Every bush, plant and tree in South Africa is armed with serious thorns and needles designed to stop animals eating them and climbers from passing them! Leonie in particular found it hard going. Perhaps Steve’s quote sums it up, “Africa is not for sissies”! On top of that I think the locals have a kind of masochistic love for the bush whacking – all part of the African climbing adventure…

Blouberg Bivouac
Ged at the Blouberg bivouac

The Blouberg cliff is a massive (up to 400m high) rock wall. The next picture is taken from the “big grass ledge” three pitches up. Unfortunately that’s as far as we got! We’d made a few mistakes like hauling far too heavier pack along with us (full of waterproof jackets etc. for fear of the rain returning), but mostly the climbing was too tricky for Leonie (sorry Leonie).

Panorama from Blouberg
Panorama from Blouberg

Waterval Boven

The next venue was Waterval Boven. A lovely location with ace camping and easy access sport climbing – such a change from the serious bush whacking at Blouberg.

Steve, Leonie & Phil at Waterval Boven
Steve, Leonie & Phil Welchman at Waterval Boven

Waterval Boven BBQ
Waterval Boven BBQ (braai)

Ged at Waterval Boven
Ged at Waterval Boven

Blydepoort

Our last venue for the week was Blydepoort, and this time we weren’t camping! The bunkhouse style accommodation was a welcome change for my sore hips and shoulders from lying on the hard South African ground all week.

Blydepoort Panorama
Blydepoort Panorama

Saturday 22nd – Manoutsa

The last day of my trip (the meet continued for another day, but I had to leave a day early to make it back to work ๐Ÿ™ ) was spent climbing a nice route (Hard Rock Cafe) at Manoutsa with Rebecca Rutschmann.

Manoutsa
Rebecca scrambling off the top of our route on Manoutsa


African art!

Back at the Blydepoort accommodation Neil had bought me a “nice” steak to cook on the BBQ for the my last meal in South Africa…


A massive “Texan” steak! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

What a great adventure! Thanks to the South African Mountain Club, Ulrike for organising everyone and all the complex logistics, and all the local climbers who looked after us – especially Steve and Neil…