Garburn Pass & Trowbarrow

Saturday – Garburn Pass Mountain Biking

The weather on Saturday was cold and showery. So after a late start and some essential household chores had be achieved (including second breakfast and a café latte 😛 ) we decided the best way to get some fresh air and exercise was a ride on the mountain bikes. We’ve been out on the bikes a few times in the past weeks so our legs are a bit more used to the pain, and our bums are a bit more used to the saddle, so we decided to go over the Garburn Pass and descend towards Ings. Wow, the slog up from Kentmere to the col at the top of the Garburn Pass is a killer. I was knackered. We were even overtaken by a fell runner. But we did manage some overtaking of our own, passing another pair of cyclists.

The Garburn Pass used to be a really rocky and technical descent. However, its been significantly improved and levelled. Not so much fun from a technical point of view but a good deal safer and a whole lot faster! 😮 Not that it was possible to go at full-speed as the slate used to improve the trail was very wet. We even had a snow storm going over the col!

Laetitia successfully crosses the ford above Kentmere
Laetitia successfully crosses the ford above Kentmere
Laetitia on the fast, and much improved, Garburn Pass descent
Laetitia on the fast, and much improved, Garburn Pass descent

Here’s a GPX track of our journey…


Sunday – Trowbarrow Quarry

Sunday’s weather was much nicer. Sunny! 😀 However, it was still very cold so a sheltered and sunny location was required for the day’s outdoor entertainment. Trowbarrow Quarry is a little over familiar. But there’s a reason for that – it is sunny, sheltered, and has a selection of really great routes across a good range of grades. Perfect really.

The weather was a threat though. We could see intense storms rolling off the Lakeland fells, and every now and again we could just make out a few drops of rain in the air. We kept our fingers crossed and hoped the squalls tracked south and missed our location. Of course we couldn’t be lucky every time. One squall came right over us and for 30 minutes or so we were pelted with hail stones! Luckily I was at the top and missed having to climb in the onslaught. Looking down the route at Laetitia the crag had adopted a wintry look – all the edges and ground had become white, covered in a thick layer of hail stones. 😯 These promptly melted when the squall passed and the sun came out again. Then of course the rock became soaked. I sat on top, damp and cold, Laetitia stood at the bottom (wrapped in her duvet and waterproof jackets), wondering what to do next … the rock dried off … and we started climbing again! 😀

It was cold though. So much so that I think I put a fair bit more effort in to the climbing than I really needed to. This is something I’ve noticed I do often when I can’t feel my fingers, I pull extra hard to be certain I’ve really got hold of the holds. I can see that I’m holding on, but I can’t feel that I am. Anyway, today my arms and fingers are sore. 😉 A great day and adventure even in a very familiar location.

Sunny for now, but another hail storm approaches from the direction of Coniston
Sunny for now, but another hail storm approaches from the direction of Coniston

Birthdays and Snow

The weather this weekend is cold! But unlike the past several weekends that have seen brilliant winter climbing conditions in Scotland there’s a strong wind and almost blizzard conditions prevailing outside right now! More “Birthdays and Snow”

Letterboxes, Birthdays, Climbing Wall & eBay star

Awful Weather

The weather this past week (month!) has been utterly awful! June was twice as wet as any June in (at least) the past seven years – this table shows just how wet…

Rain Database (mm)
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2006 200.6 74.0 124.8 61.2 106.8 101.0 101.8 160.0 165.6 276.8 1372.6
2007 244.2 106.2 121.6 75.0 82.6 137.8 139.2 99.4 79.2 76.6 99.2 176.4 1437.4
2008 256.2 135.0 138.8 94.0 45.0 116.2 116.4 199.8 150.4 311.2 123.2 128.0 1814.3
2009 194.2 21.4 106.8 60.0 136.0 75.6 185.8 212.6 72.8 139.4 334.8 131.8 1671.3
2010 72.6 53.4 110.6 49.2 19.6 47.6 253.2 94.2 182.2 106.8 128.2 37.2 1154.7
2011 146.6 203.6 81.6 92.2 147.8 58.4 104.8 164.2 205.2 192.0 1396.5
2012 124.2 89.2 42.8 47.8 90.4 210.4 9.4 614.2
Database Summary
Min 72.6 21.4 42.8 47.8 19.6 47.6 9.4 94.2 72.8 76.6 99.2 37.2 1154.7
Max 256.2 203.6 200.6 94.0 147.8 210.4 253.2 212.6 205.2 311.2 334.8 276.8 1814.3
Avg 173.0 101.5 114.7 70.3 92.3 101.0 130.8 145.2 131.9 158.8 170.2 157.0 1519.4

This incredible weather has led to many things, some being: flooding all over Cumbria, a series of almost adventure-less weekends, my having to rescue Laetitia from Carnforth when the West Coast Mainline train system was brought to a halt by a rain-induced landslide near Tebay, and Rachel getting national exposure on BBC television for her knowledge and research in to sustainable drainage!


Anyhow, Saturday was only moderately wet, too wet to climb, but not too wet to get out for walk and a little letterbox hunting, or as Paul amusingly phrased it, “it’s a bit like cunning running in’it”.

Newby Bridge
Laetitia tunnelling through a dry-stone wall!
The weather turned out nicer than we’d expected as the day went on… In fact the evening was clear with a wonderful moon. Why is it that the fine wether never seems to coincide with the daytime?
Finsthwaite Tower stamp Finsthwaite High Dam stamp

Sorry the stamp impression for Finsthwaite Tower is so poor – it isn’t actually a stamp, it’s a B&W picture from the cover of the letterbox log-book. The stamp had been taken away and the book itself was water logged.

Fiona & Richard’s joint Birthday Party

As their birthdays are either side of summer in the damp and miserable winter months, Fiona and Richard decided to hold a joint birthday party in June to take advantage of damp and miserable summer weather instead! 😯 They’d chosen Consiton as there’s a great little hall there, the Coniston Institute. Plus it is really close to the MAM hut for those people travelling to join the revelry.

We all had to bring an offering of food to help create a very impressive spread that ranged from chicken curry to baked potatoes, from quiche to prawn salad, and from rhubarb pie to chocolate torte! :yum: In exchange – as well as the amazing company – we got treated to a brilliant band, and far too much Coniston Blue Bird bitter! Richard had bought a barrel from the Coniston micro-brewery and far too much of it found it’s way in to my glass… 😳

A party – beer, music, and climbers – a recipe for a hang over the next day!
(Sorry the photo quality is so poor 🙁 )

Climbing Wall & eBay Stars

On Sunday, with a very heavy head (due to too much consumption of Coniston Blue Bird), we dragged ourselves out of bed, managed to eat a couple of slices of toast, drink a few mugs of tea, pop a couple of paracetamol, and eventually – as the weather was yet again raining – get ourselves to Kendal climbing wall. Not much to say about that really – I find pulling on plastic quite dull to be honest, I’m not very good at it as I lack the stamina, and I don’t go often enough for it to make any difference to my rock climbing ability.

Ah well, there were two much more fun events when we got home: 1) Sarah was calling round for dinner and to chat about a forthcoming trip to Chamonix she and Zac are planning, and 2) those nice people at eBay gave me my 100th star.

Dovedale Rock and Cake

We met up with Paul to try out some of the routes from his Dovedale post. Although the weather, typically after having been gloriously sunny all of the working week, was a little grey and quite chilly. More “Dovedale Rock and Cake”


The Journey
We knew our flights (via New York and Washington to San Francisco) were going to be hard to bear, but when our flight from New York was delayed by an hour making the onward connection impossible we knew it was gonna get worse, much worse… After some hasty negotiation with the United representatives at New York we were fixed up with connections via Denver and Los Angeles, and finally to San Francisco! There were three impacts to this:

  1. I kicked up a fuss, earned us each a $10 meal voucher.
  2. Our already marathon journey was extended by two hours.
  3. Boris, who had a different flight and was expecting to meet us in San Francisco at 9.45pm, was quite perplexed to instead get a text message from us saying “We are in Los Angeles.”, we arrived at 11.30pm.

We reached South Lake Tahoe the next day, after a night in a cheap motel.

At Lover's Leap campground with the Leap lit by evening sunlight on our arrival

Unfortunately the previous evening’s sun had been replaced by light grey clouds and a cool breeze, however, we headed out to the Lover’s Leap’s East Wall to ease ourselves in to Lake Tahoe granite climbing… Our first tick was the ultra-classic (5 star!) 5.7, Bear’s Reach.

Laetitia and Paul survey the lines on the East Wall of Lover's Leap
Our first route, the three pitch line of Bear's Reach, is the pale strip in the middle
Paul grabs a great shot of Boris in a patch of sunlight arriving at the belay at the top of Bear's Reach

After Bear’s Reach the weather hadn’t improved – it was cold! So another moderate route was called for, Laetitia and I chose Surrealistic Pillar while Paul and Boris chose the campsite and a cup of tea with a biscuit! I think this was probably a better choice – Surrealistic Pillar is pretty hard for the grade (especially in the cold), a little scary, and a lot run-out.

Laetitia and Pete on Surrealistic Pillar

Sunday night was bitterly cold. Paul even had frost on the inside of his tent on Monday morning! :freeze:

Paul, Laetitia, and Boris enjoying the warm Californian weather
Escaping the weather (and potential frostbite) with a trip to Starbucks!

After warming up in town with coffee and hoping the sun might have warmed the rock a little, we headed back to the Leap. It wasn’t sunny and it wasn’t warmer. In fact it was freezing. But we are tough! Two single pitch routes on the Hogwild buttress were despatched before light drizzly rain arrived…

Pete on No Gaynor (5.9) and Boris on Hogwild (5.7) at the Leap's Hogwild buttress

The Outlook…
Tomorrow it is forecast to snow, a lot!