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
Pete and Michal Czech (Poland) after climbing Desolation Row in the Great Zawn
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

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”

Rjukan Ice Climbing Meet, 2016

Introduction

After some indecision Joe finally agreed to go on this year’s Climbers’ Club meet (held jointly with the AC) to Rjukan in Norway. The late decision worked in our favour though as perhaps strangely and unusually the cost of the Ryan Air flights to Oslo (Torp) had dropped a great deal. This combined with sharing a car with Lindsay and Sue made for a pretty cheap week of ice climbing fun in the famous frozen Rjukan gorge.

However, not having our own car did lead to a fair few compromises on venue choice, plus a number of interesting and fun lifts from others on the meet and kind locals who dropped us back in town after a day on the ice. Although we did manage a lift everyday it is certainly easier to have your own transport!

Rjukan’s ice climbing is near to the Vermork power plant, which was the only place in Nazi occupied Europe readily producing heavy-water and thus supported the German research effort into creating a nuclear bomb during World War II. The sabotage of the plant was the basis of the classic WWII film – The Heroes of Telemark.

Below I have highlighted a few pictures from our ace trip with a brief account of each day’s adventures at these locations…

Venues

1.markerworld-linkOzzimosis
2.markerworld-linkLower Gorge
3.markerworld-linkVermork Bridge
4.markerworld-linkKrokan
5.markerworld-linkUpper Gorge
6.markerworld-linkMael

Day 1: Ozzimosis

Our first day was at the Ozzimosis area – and easy single pitch venue to remind the muscles how ice climbing works. Although I spent my time selecting the most tricky pieces of climbable ice I could see…

Climbing an ice pillar not described in the guidebook
Climbing an ice pillar not described in the guidebook (photo Colin Knowles)

Day 2: Lower Gorge

Although the Lower Gorge is another single pitch venue it does offer a much larger number of routes.

The view from the Lower Gorge area down the Rjukan valley with the Gaustablikk ski area's pistes just visible
The view from the Lower Gorge area down the Rjukan valley with the Gaustablikk ski area’s pistes just visible (photo Joe Gittins)

Day 3: Vermork Bridge

We were stumped for a ride on our third day, no one seemed to be going our way or have space left in their car. Luckily Gary offered to run us up to Vermork Bridge. Amazingly he also came and collected us at the agreed time of 5pm. What a superb team effort – a real champion. 😀

Climbing the steepest line on the classic and easily accessed Vermorkbrufossen Vest
Climbing the steepest line on the classic and easily accessed Vermorkbrufossen Vest (photo Joe Gittins)

Day 4: Krokan

Joe (in blue) below Kjøkkentrappa packing up to leave the Krokan area
Joe (in blue) below Kjøkkentrappa packing up to leave the Krokan area

We had struck out on attaining a ride home from the Krokan area but luckily we blagged a lift with a Norwegian couple who were looking to leave just as we were. They dropped us off at the cable car station just outside town before they headed off up to the Hardangervidda for a hut-to-hut ski tour.

Day 5: Upper Gorge

The ultra classic Sabotørfossen
The ultra classic Sabotørfossen (photo Joe Gittins)
Joe walking out from the Upper Gorge
Joe walking out from the Upper Gorge

We bumped in to Jack and Nick who had just finished Rjukanfossen as we topped out on Verdens Ende. Walking out to the road together Jack and Nick were met by Gary and Chris for their arranged ride back to town. What a tease, they had a lift home, while Joe and I only had a very long walk to look forward to! But again our champion Gary came to the rescue and we managed to cram all six of us and our gear in to their super small VW Polo hire car. It wasn’t a comfortable ride, but it was a ride, and for that we were massively grateful. Plus of course it was a laugh squeezing everyone in to the tiny car. Especially so for Chris as she laid across the laps of us three lads sat in the back seat!

How to get six climbers and gear in to a small hire car!
How to get six climbers and gear in to a small hire car!
L to R: Jack, Joe, Pete, Chris’ hand, Nick, and Gary driving

Day 6: Mael & Vermork Bridge

On mine and Joe’s last day we went out to take a look at the Mael area with Steve and Chris. It was quite a long walk to the venue. And then we were faced with an uncertain abseil approach, a lot of bush whacking, and what looked from above like heavily snow covered climbs. We retreated. (Later we learned from Jack and Nick, who had walked in a little earlier than us, that this was likely a good decision – they got back very late and very knackered, and reported that the routes were indeed very snowy and hardly worth the effort.)

With half the day gone we opted to rush back to the Upper Gorge from Vermork Bridge, this being our best option to get to classic routes with an easy approach.

The Upper Gorge with Nye Vermorkfoss clearly visible below the heavy-water plant (now a museum)
The Upper Gorge with Nye Vermorkfoss clearly visible below the heavy-water plant – now a museum (photo Laetitia Sterling)

rjukan

Accommodation

Special thanks needs to be called out for Smiler and Peri who organised the meet. Thanks guys! It must be tough organising the accommodation at the very comfortable Rjukan Gjestegård. On my previous trips to Rjukan I’ve stayed at the cabins at Rjukan Hytteby. However, this guest house is much better. They allowed us to use their kitchen in the evenings to cook our dinners, provided a nice breakfast, and included supplies at breakfast to make our own packed lunches for our days out on the ice. Plus they even made their facilities and projector available for me to give a presentation on Canadian ice climbing.

The title picture from AC Canadian Ice presentation from 2015
The title picture from my AC Canadian Ice presentation from 2015

Finally, with respect to the self-catering at Rjukan Gjestegård, Joe and I joined forces with Chris, Steve, and Colin to create a cooking co-op. The idea being the each of us took turn to cook for the gang. Each night we each created our own three course menu. We each also included a beer or wine with the meal – a real treat in Norway, booze is seriously expensive. This idea worked out great. We had five superb meals and yet only had to cook once each. Result. Thanks to Chris for dreaming up that idea. 🙂

😛 A great meet! Gotta love ice climbing! 😛

September Sunshine

Black Crag – Camless

Last week my great pal Boris was visiting the Lakes and we stole a couple of days to get Boris back on the rock…

On the first day we went to Wallowbarrow in the Duddon valley for a gentle reintroduction to climbing rocks. I didn’t get any pictures – it was overcast and a bit cold so we had to keep moving to stay warm. And for the second day we went to Black Crag in Borrowdale. Steve came with us as the forecast was supposed to be quite a bit sunnier, although still cold, and Steve wanted to try and get a photo or two for the forthcoming new FRCC Borrowdale guidebook…

Steve eyeing up the wide crack on Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect
Steve eyeing up the wide crack on Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect with Boris belaying below (the other team are heading off right on the normal Troutdale Pinnacle route)

Unfortunately I had forgotten my cams when we packed our sacks in a bit of rush earlier in the day. This made for some slightly more exciting (and traditional?) climbing when Steve and I also did Raindrop a little later!

Black Crag – Wrynose

On Saturday I had allowed us to become double booked on to the SMC meet in Langdale at the Wayfarer’s RLH hut due to my forgetting to write the date of the CC‘s Mix ‘n’ Match meet at our Grange hut in Borrowdale in to my diary. No matter, we can do both we decided… We climbed in Langdale (at Long Scar and Black Crag Wrynose) Saturday daytime, headed down to RLH for the wonderful catered SMC meet in the evening (massive thanks to Dick for the awesome four course meal followed by SMC supplied malt whisky :yum: ), and then we’d drive across to Borrowdale on Sunday morning to catch up with the Mix ‘n’ Match antics there…

Pete on The First Touch - a route he's done god knows how many times, it's that good!
Pete on The First Touch – a route he’s done god knows how many times, it’s that good!
Laetitia on the steep crack of Something Stupid
Laetitia on the steep crack of Something Stupid

Goats Crag – Mixed and Matched

And finally on Sunday we got back up to Borrowdale to join the final day of Hilary’s Mix ‘n’ Match meet. There was an imperative to come along as Laetitia needed to discuss a few matters with Hilary about a very exciting meet the Pinnacle Club is planning for 2016 – an International Women’s Climbing Meet hosted at the CC’s Ynys Ettws hut in North Wales. Hopefully the BMC will be supporting the meet so there will be much more detail later… 😉

We wanted to choose a crag that would be in the sun all day, trickier in Borrowdale than Langdale as here most of the best crags get the sun in the afternoon. We chose Goats Crag. It was a very sociable day out as there were loads of us – Hilary, Adele, Laetitia, Peri, Steve, Mick, and myself.

However, a bigger gang makes for easier photo taking…

Hilary on Emma Line
Hilary on Emma Line
Laetitia on Inner Limits
Laetitia on Inner Limits
Pete on Optional Omission
Pete on Optional Omission
Adele on Inner Limits
Adele on Inner Limits