Friday, 24 December 2010

Friday night film

A wee bit more training required I think! Happy Christmas!

Action Direct, F9a,

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A snowy Lake District

Skiddaw from Binsey Pike

Sunset from Binsey Pike

A frozen Thirlmere.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday night film

Geordie Stewart is currently out in Antarctica attempting Mt Vinson as part of his 7 Summit challenge. These 3 videos were from his unsuccessful Everest attempt last year but he's returning in 2011 on the Adventure Peaks trip on which I'm joint leader. Best of luck down south Geordie.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Anatomy of an Iceberg

With the Antarctic summer fast approaching and lots of folk heading south for Mt Vinson, the South Pole or even to paint an Antarctic base! here's an amazing image of an iceberg as a taster for this extreme continent. Good luck to everyone.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Searching for ice on Great End

Above the clouds on Great End

Despite the extensive thaw of the past couple of days we headed up to Great End to see if the gullies still contained any ice. There had been a frost overnight and the freezing level was hovering around 600m as we trudged up the path from Seathwaite. What snow that remained has formed good neve. The crag was shrouded in cloud but we could see teams heading for Central Gully & South East Gully. We decided to solo Window Gully (II/III) which was still climbable but very thin in places. The two icefall exits on the right wall were both extremely fragile and we opted for the sensible option, staying in the gully to the summit. The top of the crag had some frosting and there was a thin layer of rime on the rocks down to the base but none of the mixed routes looked anything like they were in condition.

A quick descent of Cust's Gully (II), which contained unbroken snow with a complete staircase of footprints, brought us around to the foot of Central Gully (II). This was even thinner than our previous route but again climbable with care. There were folk on the left hand exits but we opted for the right hand icefall which follows the true continuation of the gully. We emerged at the summit just as an inversion developed which gave us a stunning brocken spectra.

Great End this evening with light rime on the summit rocks

The right hand icefall on Window Gully (II/III)

Cloud inversion looking towards Great Gable

Brocken spectra from the summit of Great End

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday night film

The Petzl Road trip in the amazing winter of 2009/10

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Crowds in Launchy Gill

Malcolm soloing the steeper left hand finish to the main falls with the crowds below!

After another stunning but cold day, observed from the comfort of the office, we headed up to Launchy Gill (III) after work. It's seen plenty of ascents over the past few days (and nights) and we were keen to have an adventure before the forecasted thaw tomorrow. There's still plenty of water running but the main falls and the right hand finish are both well formed. The latter giving a steep finish on very featured ice which we put the rope on for. There were nearly 20 folk in the gill tonight which gave a very sociable atmosphere - everyone enjoying the best conditions (since last year!)

Organ pipe ice formation in the upper gorge

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Alpine Lake District

Approaching Green Gable

Today was almost alpine in the Lakes. Blue skies, cloud inversions, sub zero temperatures and a complete covering of snow. After the warm temperatures of yesterday the overnight freeze had brought plenty of routes in to condition. At valley level there was a good icy crust but this soon disappeared as we climbed to leave plenty of unconsolidated snow with a good covering of surface hoar. There was plenty of evidence of a number of small slides on various aspects in Gillercombe caused by yesterdays warm temperatures on the new snow. However things were pretty stable today.

We decided to have a look at the classic Gillercombe Buttress (IV 5). However the sun had done it's job and stripped the crag before we arrived leaving unconsolidated snow on the ledges and plenty of black rock. One team were seen heading up but I'm sure they'll agree the route was defiantly not in winter condition and shouldn't have been a attempted. By the time we were returning to the car at last light the crag was almost black.

We opted to continue up to Green Gable Crag which was looking very wintery. Epsilon Chimney is a gem of a grade III route with plenty of gear and good hooks up a technical groove. We also climbed the 3 star Garden of Eden (III) which was a wee bit thin and Beta Hammer Belter (III)

Unsurprisingly the hills were very busy today. Looking across to Great Gable there were teams climbing Engineer's Chimney (V 4), Bottleneck Blues (IV 4) and in-situe on Engineers Slab (VI 7). Snickersnap (VIII 9) also had an ascent on Saturday.

A quick round up of the rest of the action this weekend.

The usual suspects, Brown Crag Coves, Helvellyn, Low Water Beck and Great End were all busy as usual with multiple ascents of most of the routes. A few more unusual climbs included Pendulum Ridge (III 4) on Scrubby Crag , Woodhouse's Route (IV) & C Ordinary Route (IV 5) on Dow Crag, Ledge & Groove (V 6) on Bowfell Buttress, Slingsby's Chimney (V 5) on Scafell and Step Gully (II/III) on Greenhow End.

On the flanks of Dollywagon Falcon Crag Gully (II), Dollywagon Gully (III) and Chock Gully (IV 4) all received ascents although the latter looked extremely thin when we looked at it on Saturday morning. Up on Bowfell Links - No 1 Gully (I), Hidden Gully (I) & Two Under Par (II) were all climbed while over on the west Great Gully (III) and Right Hand Branch (V 4) on Wasdale Screes received ascents

A few of the gills have been coming in to condition - Carrock Fell Ice Fall (The Trough, III), Pudding Beck on Force Crag (III), Newlands Hause Waterfall (III), Whitewater Dash Waterfall (II), Launchy Gill (III) and Shoulthwaite Gill (V) were all climbed this weekend. The Honister Pass Ice Falls (III-V) have also been receiving a lot of attention although it sounds like the drainage patterns have changed creating some very strange conditions.

Gillercombe Buttress - Not in condition!

John on the initial moves of Epsilon Chimney (III)

John engrossed in the technical grove of Epsilon Chimney (III)

Chris on belay duty enjoying a few fleeting moments of sun.

Topping out on to Green Gable as the sun sets

Cloud inversion from Green Gable

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Post Holing in the Lakes

After the heavy snowfall of yesterday picking the right crag was always going to be critical today. Surprisingly the road up to Dunmail Raise was clear and we opted to head around to the Falcon Crag area on Dollywagon Pike. There was one team ahead of us putting in a good trail but it was still hard going in knee deep snow. The temperature was above freezing and everything was pretty damp. There had been some drifting on the north westerlies overnight and there were a few small patches of soft slab on slopes with a south easterly aspect. However the rise in the temperature was preventing much movement of the snow today.

A couple of teams climbed Dollywagon Gully (III) reporting good conditions on the top two pitches. The only other realistic option for us was Tic Tac Man (IV 4) which looked to be in good nick. However we continued to traverse/swim through the deep snow round to Cock Cove Crag which gave us Coco-Tara Direct (IV 4), a great little route with a short crux up an overhanging corner.

Sounds like a lot of teams made the sensible choice today and headed into Brown Cove Crags which doesn't get loaded on north westerlies. Left Buttress (II) and Right Buttress Crack (III) both saw a number of ascents but a team backed off Twin Grooves (IV 6) due to the amount of snow. Please bear in mind that the topo in the current Lake District Winter Climbs guidebook is labeled incorrectly which can make for an interesting day!

Launchy Gill (III) in Thirlmere recieved a fairly damp ascent but should be coming in to condition with the return of the colder weather. Low Water Beck (III) is now well established and seeing plenty of action although the first pitch is still a little thin.

The current forecast for freezing temperatures tonight should produce some very good conditions tomorrow. The wet snow pack will freeze and consolidate giving a lot more options.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Latest Conditions in Ambleside

Snow, snow and more snow. It has been snowing almost continuously since 10am this morning which is creating a few problems on the roads. The temperature has never risen above freezing and there's even ice forming on the beck in Ambleside. There's been almost no wind today so they'll be a uniform blanket of snow over the hills tomorrow with a corresponding avalanche risk unless the wind gets up overnight. Be prepared for plenty of digging if you're climbing tomorrow!

The main road through Ambleside at 10pm

Friday night film

The late Dan Osman - a legend in pushing the limits.

Ambleside Climbing Wall

The Ambleside Climbing Wall is opening its doors tomorrow for the first time. Situated above the main Adventure Peaks shop on Lake Road this new development offers leading & top roping on 45 routes up to 11m high, plus a dedicated bouldering area. As the facility is developed over the coming months there will also be a cafe in addition to the existing shop. The opening hours are going to be 9am - 10pm every day and their is a public car park directly next door. There's even a series of evening lectures by such climbers as Steve McClure, Ian Almond, Stu Peacock & Bill Birkett.

Brown Cove Crags

Roger starting the crux variation of Step Buttress (III 4)

Tonight was abolutely stunning up on Helvellyn. We'd headed up to Brown Cove Crags for a night ascent of Step Buttress (III) under a full sky of stars. There was a good trail in through the unconsolidated snow with just a few areas of neve to keep us on our toes. The snow was a little firmer than the previous night but there had been lots of movement in the wind and there were some pretty big drift on the lee side of boulders etc.

Several other teams also had the same idea and we saw the headtorches of parties on Two Grooves (IV) and Right Buttress Crack (III). The temperature was around -6 and the occasional low lying clouds ment that the rocks were heavily frosted. We climbed several variations on Step Buttress giving mixed climbing up to grade IV. Be warned the latest guidebook describes this route as 100m long. After 300m plus of climbing we eventually reached the ridge at around midnight!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Low Water Beck

Team Lowe Alpine following us up Low Water Beck

It's been another cold day in the Lake District with a few snow showers. Teams have been up on Scafell with Pisgah Buttress (V 5) and Steep Ghyll (V 4) both receiving ascents. The turf was well frozen and the highest north facing buttress are still frosted. Helvellyn, Brown Cove Crags and Great End have all seen some action today on the trade routes. A few of the more interesting ascents today were Rescue Groove (IV 4) on Dollywagon North, Fight or Flight (VII 7) on Cambridge Crag and Parallel G (III) on Green Gable

We've just back from a quick evening jaunt up Low Water Beck (III) which is just about in condition. It's fairly bold as the ice is still fairly thin but it's all there and has seen plenty of action already with another team following us up in the dark. There was still plenty of water flowing and you had to be selective with your route but still a fun route to get the season underway. The snow is still very powdery and unconsolidated on the approach and there was some movement when the wind got up.