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…
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”
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…
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…
Day 2: Lower Gorge
Although the Lower Gorge is another single pitch venue it does offer a much larger number of routes.
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. 😀
Day 4: Krokan
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
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!
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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…
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…
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…
I seem to have fallen in to the same trap as my FB friends. That is, not that I’ve actually starting using FB and giving away more and more personal details and preferences so that they can bombard me with marketing More “A digest of recent weeks…”
Last weekend was the Llanberis Tradfest – a celebration of traditional climbing based in North Wales’ Llanberis Pass. The event was laid on through a collaboration between DMM, The Climbers’ Club, and V12 with additional support from Scarpa and The North Face. More “Llanberis Tradfest Weekend”
Wednesday was the first of this summer’s CC evening climbing meets in the Lakes. Thankfully the weather was perfect – sunny, warm, and of course dry. Hooray! Strangely with such lovely conditions only a select gang bothered to turn up. I wonder if it was the choice of venue? Lower Falcon Crag in Borrowdale is not the most friendly crag and has very little to go at in the easier grades. Perhaps the next meet on the 11th June at the super friendly Black Crag on Pike o’Blisco will be more popular…
In my humble opinion last year’s CC AGM was a fantastic success. For me there are a lot of boxes to “tick” when deciding where to have the AGM. A location that offers: outdoor activities for all weathers and all pursuits; a quality indoor climbing wall that will join in the fun; an AGM and dinner venue that is big and comfortable enough and is able to provide good food; all that, and it needs to be relatively near to where a large enough number of CC members live. This isn’t an easy combination of attributes to put together. And unfortunately realistically there aren’t that many major climbing areas that can provide all of these ingredients. So this year the CC AGM machine made a repeat visit to Kendal. However, there’s likely at least two other venues that can also fit the requirements: Bristol and Sheffield. Watch out for where the AGM will go to next year…
Friday night, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley – The President’s Quiz
Friday night saw the start of the opportunities to have fun with a light hearted quiz, with our President Richard as the quiz-master, at Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley. Amazingly Pete put in his best ever performance in any type of quiz; a winning score of 21 out of 25! Ye ha, a couple of spangly new colourful carabiners as prizes!
Saturday morning, Mountain Biking around Kentmere
Saturday’s weather forecast was quite pleasant. That is, pleasant in a particularly damp winter in a particularly damp part of the country, the Lakes. So rather than going to the indoor climbing wall in Kendal we opted for the mass mountain biking adventure around Kentmere, led by one of our Vice Presidents, Steve. I’m sure the wall would have been great – there were coaching sessions and climbing challenges with big prizes. However, the lure of the great outdoors was stronger for us…
Saturday afternoon, The Climbers’ Club Annual General Meeting
Saturday afternoon was time for the AGM itself. There were some big issues to cover at this year’s AGM: a big rise in annual subscription charges to cover the rapidly escalating costs of running eight club huts; and Pete’s election to Vice President! 😯
Saturday evening, the AGM Dinner
The dinner at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on Saturday evening, organised by Alison Athroll and Steve Crossley, was of course another amazing party. The word must be getting around that CC AGMs aren’t as stuffy as they might once have been perceived to be – numbers were up significantly on last year.
Duncan Bourne’s artwork for the dinner cards were to his usual incredibly high standard! However, I was a bit shocked when people started asking Pete to sign it thinking it was supposed to be him! 😯 Of course it isn’t. But Duncan hardly helped when he started laughing and encouraging the notion! 🙄