Sunday, 26 September 2010

Rab Mountain Marathon

Just back from a great couple of days running in the north east Lake District for the 4th Rab Mountain Marathon. This was my first foray in to the Elite category and really pleased to have come out with 12th place and 9th in the solos. The weather was absolutely perfect which usually favors the runners - I'm more of a navigator - but I made some good route choices and got some nice lines which meant I finished with a score of 465 points. In total my running time was just over 12 hours covering 65km with 6700m of ascent. Even more pleasing was that these were my 13th & 14th days out on the hill on the trot. All good training for Ama Dablam in a couple of weeks.

Route Gadget UK has my routes for Saturday & Sunday compared to some of the other competitors.

A couple of reprobates found at overnight camp!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Napes Needle

Stood on the top of Napes Needle!

Sue on the final tricky moves on to the top block.

Jude enjoying being lowered off the Needle.

The Wasdale Valley from the top of Napes Needle

Sue topping out on Great Gable

Morning light on Buttermere

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Langdale Adventure

Jude scrambling in Mill Ghyll

The next band of rain was forecast to roll in from the west so we opted to head in to Langdale and link a few scrambles together. Mill Ghyll was in spate but the upper falls offered good sport. We traversed over to Tarn Crag and made an ascent of Route 1 (Diff) before lunch on the top. The rain was holding off so we continued to Pavey Ark and the classic Crescent Climb (Mod). There was plenty of drainage but all the holds were clean and this very impressive undertaking was a lot easier than first impressions would suggest. The route tops out half way along Jacks Rake so we finished off by scrambling to the top as the rain started to fall in earnest. We picked up the small trod that traverses over to the main Harrison Stickle path and made a quick but soggy descent to the Sticklebarn.

Sue & Jude on the exposed traverse of Crescent Climb (Mod)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Pinnacle Ridge

Jude on the crux corner of Pinnacle Ridge.

Today Jude and I headed over to Patterdale for an ascent of the classic Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag. This route has become very popular since appearing on the front of a guidebook and has settled down as a hard grade 2. We took the entertaining direct line up the ridge which was dry apart from the crux corner. The only problem with this route is that all too soon it's over so after lunch at the top we headed up on to Fairfield and Hart Crag. From here we descended to have a look at one of the the top bivi spots in the Lakes, the Priest Hole on Dove Crag. The wall has been built up making it more weatherproof in an easterly wind but unfortunately there was plenty of rubbish. We traversed over to the Hartsop ridge for the final leg back to Patterdale.

Thanks to Liam & Tony who were ahead of us on the ridge and took
this great photo of us crossing one of the pinnacles.

Herdy watching the world go by!

The Priest Hole on Dove Crag

The view from inside the Priest Hole

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Greasy Dow Crag

Jude & Sue on pitch 3 of 'C' Ordinary

This week I'm scrambling in the Lakes with Jude & Sue. With an improving forecast we braved the wind and rain and headed up to Dow Crag. Goat's Water was looking fairly dramatic and the crag was shrouded in cloud but we were pretty sheltered by the stretcher box. The cliff was running with water so we opted for 'C' Ordinary, a classic diff. This also meant we wouldn't have to top out in to the gale streaming over the top of the crag as you make a quick descent from half height by way of Easy Terrace. Conditions were tricky but we made good progress and were rewarded with sunshine as we topped out.

Better weather coming from the south

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Gill scrambling on Tryfan!

Chris on Tryfan's Wrinkled Tower

After a night of heavy rain but with an improving forecast Chris and I headed up into the Ogwen Valley to have a look at a couple of scrambles on Tryfan. We splashed up to the west face and made an ascent of the Wrinkled Tower. This is a great grade 3 scramble which bring you out on the north ridge just above the Cannon Stone and deserves to be far more popular. We avoided the crux, a greasy chimney and exposed traverse by straight forward grass slopes to the left. Once on the north ridge we made a quick ascent to the summit in strengthening winds and driving rain, descending by the quick and easy West Gully. Chris then headed off to Plas Y Brenin to make full use of their drying facilities and make his final preparations for his MIA assessment. Through the next five days he'll be assessed on his personal climbing, rescue skills, short roping, teaching and navigation. Good luck to everyone on the assessment and hope the weather improves.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Climbing in the rain

Chris topping out on a wet Brant Direct (HVS 5a)

This weekend was a quick trip down to Snowdonia for some wet rock! Chris has his MIA assessment next week and was keen to get some last minute mileage. With heavy rain forecast we headed into Llanberis Pass to try and grab a quick route. We alternated leads on the classic Brant (VS 4c) before a couple of abseils bought us back to the base of the crag as the rain started. The steep groove of Brant Direct (HVS 5a) looked like it was staying dry so I headed up to have a look. In the end only the last 15' were running with water and we headed off for a brew pleased to have beaten the weather.

Ab-ing off before a brew in Pete's Eats

Friday, 17 September 2010

Sunrise at Codale Tarn

After a cold and breezy night we awoke to a beautiful morning. After a good breakfast we headed up and over the ridge to Stickle Tarn discussing and experimenting with emergency procedures, improvised carrying and river crossing techniques. In time honored tradition the expedition finished at the New Dungeon Ghyll pub with a lemonade in the sun! This week I have been working for Apex Training.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Night Navigation

Night navigation practice

The final two days of an Summer ML training course are an expedition with a wild camp. From Red Bank we walked up the Blea Rigg Ridge in glorious sunshine, looking a micro navigation on 1:50,000 maps. This is ideal terrain for practicing contour recognition which provided some tricky navigation despite the excellent viability. Despite forgetting my pegs we pitched our tents at Codale Tarn before heading out for some night navigation practice. This emphasises the importance of pacing and timing while following an accurate bearing. After some impressive performances in a very cold northerly wind we were back in the tents just before midnight. Today I was working for Apex Training.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Mountain rescue training

Day three of the ML Training course saw us looking at the various aspects of working with a group on steep terrain. In driving rain we headed up over Little Bell and up the Coniston pipeline discussing the merits and pitfalls of route choice, group management, spotting and the use of a rope. The focus of the day changed slightly when one of the groups found a severely hypothermic tourist wandering by the Puddingstone. His blazer, jeans and slip on shoes weren't providing much protection from the elements so he was immediately placed in a Blizzard Bag and in the shelter of a bothy bag we were able to start the rewarming process. We requested assistance from Coniston Mountain Rescue to evacuate him and he was soon on his way in the back of one of their Landrovers. Meanwhile we continued up towards Levers water exploring the remit of the ML award and some variations on the ropework from yesterday. Today I was working for Apex Training run by birthday boy Paul Platt!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ropework in the wind

The ML syllabus involves taking groups on to steep and varied terrain and the use of a rope in emergency conditions. Today I was working with the team on their ML assessement so we headed up to the south west ridge of the Old Man of Coniston to allow them to demonstrate their skills in route choice, spotting, belaying and abseiling. The strong northwesterly wind was funneling down the corrie making conditions very challenging. Huge sheets of water were being lifted off Goats Water and a rucksack was blown clean off the mountain in one particularly violent gust. Everyone coped very well and there were plenty of learning opportunities for them to further develop their skills. Today I was working for Apex Training

Monday, 13 September 2010

ML Summer Training!

Micro navigation in full on Lake District conditions

This week I'm working on a Summer ML (Mountain Leader) training / assessment course for Apex Training. Today the weather was diabolical, perfect for looking at poor weather navigation, route choice strategies and relocation. From the Three Shire Stone we used the heavily featured area around Wrynose Fell to challenge the group and to test their waterproofs! The rivers have come up extremely quickly and with the heavy rain forecast overnight some routes could become impassable.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Helvellyn Triathlon

Competitors enjoying an 'iced bath' after the race.

The Helvellyn Triathlon is one of the UK's most scenic and toughest races and was to be my only triathlon this year. Now in its seventh year the route is a 1 mile swim in Ullswater, a 38 mile road cycle including the Struggle up Kirkstone Pass and finishing with a 9 mile run up Helvellyn via Swirral Edge. 700 plus competitors started the swim in three waves which must have looked pretty impressive. I had a poor swim exiting in a slow 37:15. Transition went well and I was soon climbing up towards Dockray on the bike leg. The weather was pretty good for racing although the strong headwind through Thirlmere slowed everyone significantly and one big gust almost had me in the ditch. The Struggle had a lot of folk walking but it all clicked for me and I pedaled over the top feeling pretty good. The very quick descent of Kirkstone gave me a bike time of 2:32:51. Transition again went well and I was away feeling strong on the run, my favorite discipline. The weather was perfect and I was able to pick up plenty of places especially on the steep descents completing the run in 2:04:54. In the end I finished in 05:18:57 in 383rd place from 581 finishers, knocking 20 minutes off my PB.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Gimmer Crag

Gimmer crag dominating the Langdale Valley

The weather was still holding so Chris and I headed up to Gimmer Crag to tick a couple of classics and ensure his MIA preparation was still on track. We started on Gimmer String (E1 5b) which gave a good tussle. A quick abseil and we started on Kipling Groove (HVS, 5a). However after one pitch we found a team having an epic on the crux so we retreated to F Route (VS, 4c)
As usual Gimmer was allowing folk to display their competencies and incompetencies in a grand setting. Amongst the confusion there were teams 'death roping', climbing through each others ropes, getting their ab ropes stuck, letting go while belaying and abseiling without backup! This crag seems to attract these climbers and I'm always surprised that there aren't more incidents with all the dangerous practices we've witnessed up there.