We got up a little late today; the after affects of yesterday’s wedding party!

After much guidebook scanning the short approach walk of Yorkshire Limestone was selected. Plus, not having a long mountain approach meant we could take a decent camera to get some good pictures of the Salomon Elios 2 GoreTex approach shoes I got to review this week from Fitness Footwear. As usual the delivery was ultra fast, arriving the day after they were ordered! 😎 The colour scheme suggests a woodland theme – Swamp, Thyme and Wood Beige.

They have lots of features

  • Waterproof oiled nubuck leather
  • Mesh sandwich
  • Molded EVA Midsole
  • GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Footwear membrane
  • Gusseted tongue
  • Anatomical EVA footbed sockliner
  • Protective rubber heel cap
  • Protective leather toe cap
  • Heel foam upper construction
  • Waterproof bootie construction
  • Contagrip® Outsole
  • 3D Fit Padding

One of these features I’m bit worried about is the leather toe cap. Approach shoes get a hammering from the rock and I’m worried that the toe area might get holed quickly. Perhaps they might be better described as Salomon trainers? There is no sewn-in loop behind the heal for carrying them on your harness for walking down after a rock climb, so that also supports the “trainer” definition. However, having said all of that they do function great as approach shoes…

Duh; Approach Shoes silly!

It’s been raining solidly over the past week, and thanks to the Gore-Tex they kept my feet nice and dry walking in to the crag over the saturated ground. 🙂 Something that Laetitia didn’t benefit from, unfortunately she had wet feet by the time we got to the cliff base. 🙁

After all the shoe testing, it was time to climb…

Excellent fingery climbing up the bold start of Ohm's Law (E2)
Crummackdale is beautifully situated looking across to Ingleborough

We finished on Definite Trods Revived. Laetitia had a fright at the crux though… Exactly when she didn’t need it I screamed (a manly exclamation) – I’d felt a cold slither across my ankle! I glanced down and saw a light brown snake1 sliding across my new shoes and ankle! 😯 I “exclaimed”, panicked, and kicked my foot out wildly! Both shoe (which was unlaced) and snake flew off down the grassy slope beneath the cliff! 😳 A few minutes later after my heart had stopped pounding madly Laetitia got back to concentrating on the climb, it’s a good route but it did have a little lose rock! At the final move, after all the difficulties, I’d stopped concentrating and had started chatting about the ‘snake incident’ to Laetitia above belaying. At that moment the massive chunk of rock (about a foot square) I had my right hand on broke off! 😮 It tumbled on to my right thigh, ankle, and foot! :angry: Luckily I only sustained a few grazes, and even luckier there was no one standing at the base of the crag, it would have certainly killed them! Ouch, my ankle is stiff and sore now! 😥

Laetitia on Definite Trods Revived

1 On reflection after the initial panic had subsided and I’d had a chance to calm down a bit, I think it was probably a slow worm not a snake. We’d probably disturbed him enjoying the sun at the base of this unfrequented part of the crag.

F%£K that, you’re on your own!

I’d promised myself that as soon as we got bad weather I had to go out and do some poor visibility navigation. I had threatened to force the gang out with me, but I took pity on them and decided that I would only take Pete.

“F%£k that, I’m not going out in that rain… you’re on your own”, were his words… but I persuaded him in the end.
Actually by the time we left it had already started to get a bit brighter in the village, but fortunately at the top of the Kentmere valley there was still plenty of mist and rain.

I’d already picked out the marks I wanted to find, a re-entrant here, a sheepfold there, a spur a little further on. Pete also helped with a few extra marks on the way.

Laetitia striding off into the Kentmere hill-fog

At times the visibility was really bad, at others it was just bad, but I was really pleased with my progress. Despite not being able to see very far I found all the marks with a combination of taking bearings and pacing.


As the weather cleared up I decided to let Pete have a go – I chose a re-entrant in pretty rough ground, but he found it ok.

The weather turns out nice again, and Pete gets a go!

On the way down back to the car, Pete’s eagle eyes spotted an adder. Cool.


It was probably only a baby and I hope some other eagle eyes don’t spot it and make a meal out of it.

Castle Rock and BBQ

Anna and I met Pete And Tish at Castle Rock, where after weeks off climbing due to various injuries, we bimbled at the easy end of the crag to get some “rock time”.

Anna on Slab Climb

After climbing we headed back to Aspatria for the pre World Cup BBQ. Not all of the following animals were eaten!!!

Oliver meets a tortoise.... perfect in a large Bap!!! Yum!!
Baby ducks on the pond..... cook well to get crispy!!!!!!
Tish considers her dinner is not quite cooked

Pete brought his croquet kit, but as the lawn was prepard by me, I won! And then Anna beat Pete aswell!! (and she admitted afterwards that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing). You can get your revenge next time Pete…..


California holidays I

After spending a week in Monterey at a conference, Richard joined me for a holiday in California!

We spent the first day on the coast looking around Lobos Point where we saw numerous seals, sea otters and birds – Richard plans a separate wildlife blog after we have downloaded the pictures from his camera!

Lobos Point

We then made our way to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, spending the majority of time in the latter. Before we arrived, we were a little concerned that the snow conditions may have reduced our possibilities for overnight backpacking trips, however we were happy to find that some areas were relatively snow free. We therefore chose a trip that started from Roads End in Kings Canyon. The walk took us up the south fork of Kings River, into Paradise Valley and then into the valley of Woods Creek up to a junction where the path joined with the John Muir trail. We camped near the highest point of the walk, at a place called Castle Dome Meadow – a great place for watching deer whilst cooking dinner!

We’re off to Yosemite tomorrow….

a) Richard packing for the backpacking trip, b) Garter snake, c) camping spot in the woods, d) Richard looking over Woods Creek, e) Castle Domes, f) Castle Domes, g) Rope bridge, h) King's River

The Road to Morocco – Facts and Figures

Laetitia and Pete

Here is some beta (facts and figures) to help other potential Moroccan adventurers…

We flew from Geneva, however, both Ryanair and EasyJet do the usual job from numerous airports in the UK. For Tafraoute it’s probably better flying to Agadir, and for Todra Gorge probably Marrakech.

From Marrakech we took the scenic route to Tafraoute (about 10 hours!). Some of the roads had been washed away in the rain, but usually the whole route should be on tarmac. Jon flew to Agadir, spent a night in the car ( 😮 ) near Tiznit and then drove on to Tafraoute. Later, he, Rebecca and Mina drove from Tafraoute to Todra for some bolted sport climbing.

A view of Tafraoute

Car Hire:
We used Auto-Europe. The car was a bit of a banger (they all seem to be in Morocco), but it did us proud over the rough terrain.

We stayed at Les Amandiers. My advice is to phone them direct and mention that you are climbing to get a good deal (be prepared to speak French). The hotel isn’t exactly in a romantic Moroccan Riad style, and it’s a bit old fashioned, but it’s clean, the service is excellent, it sells alcohol, and it has free WiFi. Dinner costs 120 dirhams (starter 35, main 65, and desert 20). The menu doesn’t change much, but it’s not all tagine and couscous 😉 . Beer was 55 dirhams for 2 bottles – not bad for a ‘dry’ country.

Hotels and food are a bit cheaper in the centre of Tafraoute.

Alternative accommodation for climbs in the north is Tizourgane Kasbah (follow the French link, the English one wasn’t working when I tried).

The obvious one is Climbing in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas by Claude Davies. There are loads more routes now, which have mostly been logged in the many route books kept at reception at Les Amandiers. There’s also the on-line data documented by Steve Broadbent. Claude’s book doesn’t provide intricate detail of the routes, but that adds to the adventure 😛 . And of course, you can easily go and find a new route, but don’t forget to add it to the new routes book so it can be included in a new guide.

When to Go:
I would recommend early March. It was bit hot for us in late March, mostly above 25 degrees. The heavy rain in late February did provide us with a wonderful array of spring flowers…

What to Buy:
If you want to buy presents and things, I’ve heard Tafraoute is cheaper than Marrakech. Of course it’s all in the haggling, and the reality is, if you’re happy with the goods and happy with the price, then you’ve probably got a decent deal. I bought a rug (of course) 🙂 .

After all that climbing, and shopping, we took a road trip from Tafraoute to Essaouria, which lies on the coast about 170km west of Marrakech. The journey, via Agadir, took about 5 hours. Here are some views along the way…

We hadn’t booked a hotel in advance, but we found a beautiful Riad, Dar L’Oussia, near the port just inside the Medina.

Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed city…

The busy port

And finally Marrakech. An overwhelming place of sights and sounds!

We stayed in Riad Nomades which was reasonably quiet… until the birds woke us up early. :angry:

Here are some pictures from Marrakech…

Tea and cakes... of course
Snake charmers in Djeema el Fna
Djeema el Fna

Five Days in Sydney

Five days in Sydney sounds pretty good until you think about the 24 hours of flying required in each direction to get there. That’s why I’ve added a few days of adventure to the five day conference I was sent here for. The adventure starts tomorrow, but in between sessions I’ve at least seen a bit of the city, and its very attractive botanical gardens. The highlight was the enormous colony of fruitbats that have taken over a chunk of the gardens. They hang from every branch, scratching and fidgeting like sugared up teenagers, and every so often something disturbs them and they take off in clouds, even in the middle of the day.

Fruit Bat
Fruit Bat

The gardens also run to a variety of other wildlife, including cockatoos and ibis, as well as lovely views of the opera house and the coat-hanger.

Opera House
Opera House

The last picture is from a little further afield—Botany Bay, a short train ride south of the city, and is my first deadly creature of the trip, a red-bellied black snake. I’m off diving tomorrow, so hopefully will be adding to my deadly creature list.

Red-bellied Black snake
Red-bellied Black snake