Lofoten – and to finish, Vestpillaren

The last three days of our Lofoten Island rock climbing trip were the most amazing of the trip…

Paradiset

Laetitia on the Paradiset beach
Laetitia on the Paradiset beach

Richard and Laetitia led the very fine and un-protected slab pitch of<br data-recalc-dims=By the Dashboard Light” title=”_PWS5554″ width=”399″ height=”600″ class=”size-full wp-image-5881″ />
Richard and Laetitia led the very fine and un-protected slab pitch of By the Dashboard Light

Then it rained! So we went to Svolvaer for coffee, cakes, and ice-cream. Richard wanted to go back every day after that for more Royal ice-cream! πŸ˜€

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Vestpillaren, take-1 and Store Festvag
Friday’s forecast was awesome, sunny, warm, and no (arctic) wind. Richard and I planned an ascent of Vestpillaren. According to the guidebook, it is the MUST DO route of the Lofoten Islands. Vestpillaren is nearly 500m long – a 12 pitch monster of a rock climb!

The only problem was that everyone else thought the same about the weather. We arrived at 10am (no rush with 24 hours of daylight) and were still waiting in line at 11am. The (British) team in front had taken over an hour for the leader to do the first pitch. When the second then decided to take a pee before starting to climb, followed by falling from the first move of the pitch we realised we were behind a seriously slow team! Plus there were at least ten more people above them on the route already – traffic jams were guaranteed. All that with a minimum of eight hours climbing with a clear route and two hours descending after that looked bad. We decided to come back on Saturday, and join Paul and Laetitia at Store Festvag

What an awesome place. Perhaps some of the best pitches of climbing of the holiday.

Pete at the top of the 3rd pitch of Lundeklubben
Pete at the top of the 3rd pitch of Lundeklubben
Paul following Laetitia on the last pitch of Lundeklubben
Paul following Laetitia on the last pitch of Lundeklubben
Richard at the top of Lundeklubben with Henningsvaer behind
Richard at the top of Lundeklubben with Henningsvaer behind.
The slab is much steeper than it looks in this ultra-wide-angle shot.
Laetitia on the crux of Gaukerisset
Laetitia on the crux of Gaukerisset

We resolved to get up at 6am to be first on Vestpillaren on our second attempt; our last opportunity before leaving the islands. Unfortunately, Friday night is party night in Henningsvaer! At 10pm we went to bed. At midnight the party started! It was loud! Richard declared that there was no chance of getting up early and climbing a 12 pitch route with no sleep, and a headache. So we turned our alarms off and got what sleep we could.

Vestpillaren, take 2
At 11am on our last day we drove below Vestpillaren to dream of what might have been. Amazingly with the help of Paul’s binoculars we could see that there wasn’t a single party on the whole line! πŸ˜› Game on. πŸ˜€ Unfortunately Richard was wasted – his and Paul’s room was directly next to the bar where the party had been the night before. However, luckily for me Laetitia was up for it, and after some fast re-packing we set off…

Vestpillaren
Vestpillaren
If you know where to look there's a couple of pin-prick dots high on the face; that's us!
Laetitia on the 3rd pitch
Laetitia on the 3rd pitch

The crux, the Slanting Corner, was fantastic. And a relief to get behind us as, excepting the long descent walk, was the last difficulty. The corner itself can just be seen as the lower of two features near the top on the right hand side of the mountain shot above.

The crux 9th pitch, the Slanting Corner
The crux 9th pitch, the Slanting Corner
Seriously knackered at the top, with gathering clouds!
Seriously knackered at the top, with gathering clouds!

What a brilliant route! The best end to the holiday! πŸ˜‰

That night we enjoyed the party atmosphere in the bar ourselves, this time not cursing the noise!

Excellent live Norwegian entertainment
Excellent live Norwegian entertainment

Kalle
While we climbed Vestpillaren, Paul and Richard went round to Kalle and climbed the Puffrisset… A desperately thin main slab pitch followed by a poor top section. Are those top pitches ever climbed?

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… and Finally

We counted up our empty beer cans (and other recyclables) to take back for 1NK each refund!  Don't even ask how much this lot cost us!
We counted up our empty beer cans (and other recyclables) to take back for 1NK each refund! Don't even ask how much this lot cost us!

Staveley Beer Festival – Beer, Gurning and Music

Every year the Eagle & Child holds a beer festival on the first May Bank Holiday. This year this coincided with the end of Rebecca and Mina’s visit, so we thought they should be entertained with true Cumbrian culture… πŸ˜‰

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There was plenty of choice of beer (and cider) which helped loosen the inhibitions for the evening’s entertainment. We were definitely entertained!

Festival visitors were cajoled into entering the gurning competition, children and adults alike. We hadn’t downed enough beer by this point to be courageous enough to take part. But perhaps we should have looking at this lot…

The face Mina should have entered!
The face Mina should have entered!
...and then we all had a go!
...and then we all had a go!

The gurning was followed by a live band, who were fantastic.

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Here are the competitors. Can you tell who won?

Boxing day dancing

Down South, in Hook, I went to the local pub with my father and we had a beer or two while we watched the Hook Eagles, the local Morris Dancers. My father used to be a member, but a knee injury put him out of action.

But seeing them perform has inspired him to go again.

Here you can see my Father catching up on the news.

Morris Dancers
Morris Dancers

And here they are performing what looks easy, but you have to be careful not to hit your colleague on the head!

Music and tales from Ireland

I’d seen Colum Sands some 4 or 5 years before at the Acoustic Tearoom in Kirkby Stephen and enjoyed his music and stories.

Tonight was no exception. He produced an excellent evenings entertainment and told some lovely tales.

And Penny’s fine cooking made for a superb evening.

To find out about Colum please take a look at his website columsands.net

Staveley Beer Festival

After a good day at Wilton Quarry and with the glorious summer weather we decided on an impromptu BBQ. While we were finishing eating our tasty pork and apple sausages :yum: we heard some very loud and lively music coming from somewhere in the centre of the village. Was someone having a party and had they forgotten to invite us? We decided to investigate…

Turns out it was a brilliant live rock band at the Hawkshead Brewery Summer Beer Festival being held in Staveley Mill Yard outside the Hawkshead Brewery.

Brilliant summer evening weather, an excellent band and a few pints of lovely Hawkshead bitter (on top of the wine we’d had with our BBQ and the drink at the Wilton Arms after climbing earlier in the afternoon) made for an amazing night out! But, much later – back at home, the toll was paid! We were drunk! 😯 Climbing tomorrow might be a bit slow… 😈

Hard Act to Follow

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Three days before departure Richard bought tickets to see Split Enz. They were relatively cheap seats in the TSB Arena in Wellington as they had an obscured view. We wondered whether this meant that we’d be sitting behind a post; this was thankfully not the case—we were sitting in the front row! Split Enz are a Kiwi band, with front men Neil and Tim Finn; these guys went on to form Crowded House. This concert was one of eight shows that Split Enz were doing on their reunion tour. We arrived and realised that our view was only slightly
obscured…by the main speakers; so there was no concern about now being able to hear what was going on. It was an excellent show, with the highlights being when Noel Crombie played the spoons.

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Las Vegas Lights

It actually looks quite a bit like the real Eiffel Tower...
And, just across the road - New York!

Las Vegas Boulevard – The Strip – what an amazing place! Entertainment city. So many lights, so many gimmicks trying to lure you in to spend your money. We spent a few hours wondering up and down the Strip, mostly just looking at the outside of the buildings but occasionally taking a look inside to check out what was on offer – lions in MGM Grand, canals in The Venetian and numerous shops. If you were a shop-aholic (which of course I’m not πŸ˜• ) you would think you had died and gone to heaven. Pete picked up a bargain at the Apple store, and I at the Levi’s store.

My favourite of all were the fountains set to music outside the Bellagio. Beautiful.

We went back a couple of days later to see one of the Las Vegas shows, Blue Man Group. Excellent entertainment!

The Belagio fountains are amazing, dancing to music!