Today I was back in Stoney Croft Gill with the Fusiliers. The heavy rain overnight had bought the levels up slightly making conditions slightly more challenging. The company are squeezing in some adventurous training in between returning from Germany and guard duties at Windsor Castle, all on the back of an Afghanistan tour. Today I was working for More Than Mountains.
One of the many plunge pools
The same waterfall as yesterday - with a bit more water
Today I've been working with a platoon from the Royal Fusiliers in Stoney Croft Gill. They've recently returned from Afghanistan and are enjoying a weeks Adventure Training at Warcop on the Pennines. Despite the gill being very dry we had a fun and challenging descent before they headed in to Keswick for bacon sarnies and coffee. Today I was working for More Than Mountains.
The last couple of days I've been guiding on a well organized and ultimately very successful 3 Peaks Challenge for Mountains to Water. This popular challenge involves summiting the highest peaks in Scotland, Wales & England in 24 hours. Unfortunately it's been a victim of its own success which has created a number of issues with landowners and local residents as discussed in TGO in Jan 09. This event ran from south to north, made use of the new facilities at Wasdale and had a small guide to client ratio, all of which minimise the impact of the group. We also allocated 10 hours for the driving which allowed the group 14 hours of walking time and reduced the temptation to speed in the event of any delays.
An easy start on Snowdon's Miners Track
The weather was perfect if a little to hot for Snowdon & Scafell. The participants had a wide range of fitness and we had some very quick times on all the peaks eg Scafell from Wasdale in 1.15. We had allocated 4 hours each for the first 2 peaks and 6 for Ben Nevis. In the event a couple of folk were just outside the guide time on Snowdon but made up time on a stunning evening on Scafell. A few hours later Ben Nevis was a wee bit damp and cloudy but everyone put in a top effort and ultimately 17 from 22 were successful in summiting all 3 peaks in 24 hours. I'm back out again on Thursday for my second round in a week. Perfect training for Muztag Ata (7500m) next month!
No cheating allowed!
Cooling off after a very hot Snowdon summit
Evening light and a banana on the summit of Scafell Pike
Snow on the Ben Nevis plateau
Following the new Ben Nevis cairns in the mist
Guide Guy Steven enjoying the conditions after 24 hours on the go
Descending from the Ben after ticking the final summit
Hazel & Steve on Gangway Climb - a mini Overhanging Bastion!
This week I've been working with Hazel and Steve developing their confidence and techniques to enable them to push their grades. While Steve was building back up to a previous level it was all new fro Hazel so what better way to finish the week on the uber classic Overhanging Bastion (VS 5a) back on Castle Rock. This climb follows a natural ramp line through some very steep and exposed terrain up the highest part of the crag. After warming up on Gangway Climb (VD) and Via Media (S) we headed over to the imposing North crag. Steve made his best lead of the week linking the first 2 pitches with very little input from me. Due to the overhanging and traversing nature of the 3rd pitch some rope trickery was in order to get myself in place on a fixed line to offer support and help if required. However Hazel made a very controlled climb of her hardest lead to date making short work of the bold step off the pinnacle. This week I was working for Adventure Peaks.
Good stance management on Via Media (S)
Steve on the sharp end on Via Media (S)
Hazel on the gangway of Overhanging Bastion (VS 5a)
Enjoying the challenge
Steve following the gangway of Overhanging Bastion
In an effort to keep stretching Hazel and Steve we opted for Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale. In a similar vien to yesterday they built up slowly through the grades (Donkeys Ears S & Chamonix HS) until they made a very smooth ascent of the tricky Adam (VS 5a) with a couple of preplaced runners. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks
Hazel enjoying the hand traverse out from under the Donkey's Ears
Hazel on the crux 2nd pitch of Adam (VS 5a)
Concentrating hard to make the 5a moves
Watching Steve on the 2nd pitch from the comfort of the tree on Adam!
Steve enjoying the security of the tree niche on Adam (VS 5a)
After our efforts yesterday Hazel, Steve and I made the short walk up to Black Crag from the top of Wrynose Pass. The focus of today was on pushing their grade and working on their climbing technique. Hazel began with a very smooth lead of Jolly Corner (D) closely followed by Steve on the arete of Sharp as Glass (S). We then dropped a rope down the classic Glass Slipper and they both made very controlled onsights of this thin E2 5b.
Hazel enjoying Glass Slipper E2 5b
With everything going well we opted to put Hazel on the sharp end on the steep Slipshod (HVS 5a). She made good progress despite a puddle in the triangular niche before gaining a reasonable rest at the loose block. The crux groove proved a bit more problematical and she took a couple of rests before powering to the top of the route. For folk wishing to gain experience of pushing their grade in a safe environment, having an instructor alongside you on a rope offering moral support and an extra runner can really allow you to push the envelope. Hazel put in a really determined effort and now has a real feel for what leading an HVS feels like. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks.
Today Hazel, Steve and I headed up to Gillecombe Buttress for the classic rock tick of the same name. This severe is very worthwhile with some exciting moves inter spaced by easy scrambling. However when we'd traversed in from Honister Pass we found a team of four enjoying the first pitch. On noting that a couple of them were on their first climb in 20 years (Whillians harness, EB's etc) we opted to climb a lovely route just to the right.
Hard at work in the 'office'
Gillercombe Bastion offers 2 pitches on good rock up a slanting ramp line at MVS. For both Hazel and Steve this was as hard as they'd climbed this year but they both made excellent leads of their pitches with some definite improvements from yesterday. We abseiled back to the bags and made a late start on Gillecombe Buttress. They each led a couple of pitches before I ran the rope out to the top so they could relax and enjoy the climbing on the last two pitches. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks
This week I'm working with Steve & Hazel. They've plenty of experience on the easier grades but have reached a bit of plateau with their climbing. The plan for the week was to get out and climb some classic multi pitch routes, push the grade, polish their technique and increase their confidence. With the Lakes drying out from the heavy rain on Sunday we opted to head for Castle Rock to work through the techniques of multi pitch climbing. Hazel was straight on the sharp end on Yew Tree Climb (VD) on the friendly South Crag. The climbing was well within their limit with both demonstrating an excellent foundation of skills on which to build. After lunch they made a secure ascent of Via Media (S) before we looked at various ways of escaping the system in case of emergency. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks.
Siobhan enjoying the delicate traverse at the start of pitch 2
For the final day of weeks Lakes Classic rock we headed up to Gable Crag aiming for the intimidating Engineers Slab (VS 4c). Once again Siobhan was climbing with Paddy and Patricia was seconding me. Despite getting stuck behind a fairly slow team we made a good ascent breaking the route down into four small pitches. The traditional finish was looking very dirty so we climbed the far more satisfying and exposed slab and arete to the left. The Ennerdale fell race runners provided a great backdrop as they traversed below us. Well done to the dozen or so runners who had to take avoiding action due to a very large boulder that careared down the screes below Green Gable. We topped out on Great Gable to great views over the Lakeland fells before descending to Honister over Green Gable. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks
Gable Crag in the morning sunshine. Engineers Slab takes the obvious central line on the square buttress
Patricia 'in' the awkward sentry box belay
Siobhan wedged in the intermediate stance on pitch 2
Patricia enjoying the fine arete finish.
A well deserved cup of coffee at the end of a great week.
Patricia on pitch 2 of Eliminate A with Paddy & Siobhan on the 1st stance below.
Dow Crag was our choice of venue today and the stunning line of Eliminate A (VS 4c). This impressive line winds it's way up the steep front face of A Buttress with plenty of exposure. Paddy & Siobhan went for the same option making a very sociable day. There were a couple of wet holds but the brisk wind had dried the rest of the crag and the early morning cloud lifted as we arrived at the gearing up point. Patricia took a small swing into space on the first crux traverse but was soon back on the line and enjoying the warm dry rock. There were a couple of other teams about and the crag was looking in good condition. The Peregrines nesting in Great Gully were very busy, and vocal, bringing a selection of small animals to their brood. We had one stunning flypast, only a few feet out from the rock. Back at the base of the crag we were serenaded by a Ring Ouzel,the first I've seen in the Lakes for a long time. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks
Patricia on the second belay as Paddy approaches from below
Paddy Cave enjoying the 2nd pitch of Eliminate A
Patricia topping out on Eliminate A
Paddy & Siobhan at the top of the exposed Eliminate A
Patricia on the Hard Rock tick - The Crack on Gimmer Crag
Aiming to tick another couple of big routes Patricia and I headed up to Gimmer Crag in Langdale today. Surprisingly we had the crag to ourselves despite a dry and warm day. First on the agenda was The Crack (VS, 4c), which features in Ken Wilson's Hard Rock. There was some seepage in the corner but plenty of dry holds where it mattered and the route was quickly dispatched. Our second route was going to be Kipling Groove (HVS, 5a) but this was impersonating a waterfall with several wet streaks from below the overhang and out of the groove which gives access to the headwall. We opted for another couple of classics with ascents of D Route (S+) and F Route (VS+). As a fitting finale a Peregrine Falcon was soaring on the crags updraft as we had a late lunch. Today I was working for Adventure Peaks
Approaching the Bower on the 2nd pitch of the Crack VS, 4c
Gimmer Crag in profile dominated by the corner of The Crack VS, 4c