Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lakeland 100 UTLD 2011

Lakeland 100 UTLD 2011 from Mountain Zac on Vimeo.

Lakeland 100 Report

224 folk lined up for the start of the Lakeland 100 - only 116 finished!

Well the wheels eventually came off at Dockray, 49 miles into the event. Everything was going incredibly well at around 35 hour schedule when my right foot packed up reducing me to a very slow hobble. An old knee injury sustained at the 'Howling Howgills' KIMM in 1998 had been troubling me earlier in the event and I suspect that in overcompensating for this I increased the stress on my ankle and foot. Full results of a great event are here. Huge congratulations to Gary who finished in 49th in a time of 32:05:30. The winner Terry Conway broke the course record in an amazing time off 21:58:19

Gary Johnson & myself at the start

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Lakeland 100 final countdown...

Some great reads about last years event (thanks to Strider on the Lakeland 100 forum)

"At Kentmere, our team served 421 bowls of pasta, 348 bowls of rice pudding and we made over 100 litres of fruit smoothie!" Paul Cosgrove of Montain -

“DNF? No, just a training run for next time” Andy Cole’s wonderful account of the 100.

“UTLD really is a brilliant event. Yesterday I was sure I didn't need or want to do it again. But already, I'm thinking maybe...” Anna Finn’s account of the 100, beautifully told.

“Charlie the dog ran the 50 and ate 1.5 cornish pasties, 10 sticks of flapjack, 2 slices buttered soreen, 2.5 bowls beef stew, a dog treat from kate and gerraint, and x litres of water fresh from the fells”

“Best of all, though, was the man who selflessly offered me his chips!!! Swallowed down with a couple of ibuprofen it was a heady combination and one for which I am eternally grateful - whoever you are, thank you” Lucy Colquhoun ran the 50 very quickly indeed!

"We were a team, the Sunderland Summit Toppers, and we had a vision and a proper division of labour: Chris would navigate (‘cos he’d been on a course), Andy would monitor the written route description (‘cos he could read) and I would manage pace-setting (‘cos I was the slowest)."

Nice photos of a recce event... "If you have entered the ‘50’ or the ‘100’ – good luck! It will be a tough day or two days out. You will be rewarded with stunning terrain, stunning scenery, brilliant organization and an experience to cherish. If it was easy, everyone would do it....."

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong."

Monday, 25 July 2011

Lakeland 100

This coming weekends entertainment is courtesy of the Lakeland 100, a 103 mile trail run around the Lake District with a 40 hour time limit. Training's been going pretty well but I suspect I shall be taking full advantage of the time entitlement! The event starts from Coniston at 5.30pm on Friday evening. From here we visit the Duddon Valley, Eskdale, Wasdale, Buttermere, Braithwaite, Blencathra & Dockray through the night. I'm aiming to be at Dalemain, the half way point, by mid morning on the Saturday from where the 50 mile event starts at twelve oclock. The second half of the route goes via Howtown, Mardale, Kentmere, Ambleside, Chapel Stile & Tilberthwaite before returning to Coniston before 9.30 Sunday morning. For me the crux will be at around 85 miles when we pass within 100m of my house containing a very comfy bed! I will endeavor to provide some updates on Twitter so you can share the blisters and hallucinations! The Lakeland 100 website will also have live tracking throughout.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Blue Ice Choucas Harness Review

Blue Ice Choucas Harness

I received a Blue Ice Choucas Harness just a few days before I was due to fly out to Kathmandu to lead an expedition on the North Ridge of Everest. At 170grams this harness is spookily light but the Dyneema webbing is incredibly strong and having had a quick play with it I felt able to leave my old heavyweight Bod at home (495gr)

In action it was very similar to the Bod with a number of advantages, the obvious one being the weight or lack of. There was plenty of adjustability in the medium/large size which fitted comfortably over my down suit but also clinched down tight over a pair of soft shell trousers lower on the mountain.

One great feature is the red belay loop which makes it very obvious even when peering down through goggles and an oxygen mask past a bulky down suit. I now extend my abseil device on a cows tail to remove the potential for error but if you chose to clip into your belay loop then this feature is a life saver.

The buckle was very easy to use even with big gloves on and it never froze, a problem I’ve experienced several times with other harnesses. Toilet stops at altitude are an interesting challenge usually occurring at the most inconvenient times but the spacing of the rear elastics meant that, without being too graphic, nothing restricted access and you were able to stay clipped in, an important safety consideration. Tried and tested at 8700m!

If you’re competent on Scottish style mixed ground then there’s not many opportunities to abseil on the North Ridge but on the couple of occasions I did the harness was surprisingly comfortable providing plenty of support to the legs. Some lightweight harnesses can ride up and restrict your breathing but in this case I think I can blame it on the altitude!

For me this is unarguably the best harness I’ve used for climbing at altitude. Like all Dyneema products it would be vulnerable to friction but after two months use of Everest it still looks as good as new. It would be ideal for many commercial trips such as Cho Oyu, Island Peak, Muztag Ata, Denali, Vinson etc but you would probably need a slightly more supportive harness for technical peaks such as Ama Dablam. It would also work great for easy alpine routes and ski mountaineering where weight is key. Overall a superb harness and one which I'll be wearing for scrambling, ski touring and general mountaineering in the next few months.

The Blue Ice range is currently stocked at Lakes Climber in Ambleside

The Choucas in action on the North Col of Everest

The Challenge

Enjoying the challenge of Freeze Beck

For the past couple of weeks I've been back at Outward Bound in the Lakes working on The Challenge, the initial week of a three week development program for school leavers. The weather has been pretty mixed with one expedition being a pretty soggy experience with rivers flowing through the tent and the other camped on top of Helvellyn watching a spectacular sunset. The groups have also completed a couple of long canoe journeys on Ullswater and a challenging ghyll scramble in Freeze Beck.

Another Challenge group show us how to do it...

Now it's our turn! - Rowing on Ullswater

Canoe sailing down Ullswater

Catstycam & Ullswater from the summit of Helvellyn

Red Tarn & Striding Edge from our campsite on Helvellyn

Helvellyn sunset

Friday, 8 July 2011

Friday night film - Lakes 100

A few short films about the 2010 Lakes 100, a 103 mile ultra trail race with a 40 hour time limit. Roll on the 29th July 2011!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Everest Summit Attempt

Climbing to Camp 3 on oxygen

The team spread out along the traverse to Camp 3 above 8000m

Everest's north east ridge with the prominent Second Step

Stunning sunset from the highest camp in the world at 8300m

Sucking on oxygen at Camp 3 prior to our summit attempt

10:30pm on the 25th May and getting ready to depart on our summit attempt

Sunrise from halfway up the Second Step at 8600m

The summit pyramid from the top of the Second Step

The mixed ground leading to the Third Step

Climbing above the clouds at 8700m

The final slopes to the summit of Mt Everest

The 8848m summit of Mt Everest, 9.35am on the 26th May 2011

Prayer flags on the summit of Mt Everest with Makalu in the background

Self portrait on the summit of Mt Everest

Back safely at Camp 3

Camp 3 perched on a steep & icy slope

Descending to Camp 2 in high winds

Descending in to the clouds towards the North Col

Cho Oyu above the clouds 17km away

A double sun halo from ABC

A final view of Everest from Base Camp

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Everest Acclimatisation to 7500m

The view from ABC with the summit on the right

Advanced Base Camp below the North Col

Climbing the fixed lines to the North Col

Only one ladder this year, crossing the bergschrund just below the North Col

Chris topping out on the slopes to the North Col

Camp 1 at the North Col from the ridge to Changstre

Our North Col camp perched on the edge

Setting out from the North Col on our final acclimatisation to 7500m

Looking back towards the North Col from 7500m

Andrew & Geordie relaxing at 7500m

Self portrait at 7500m

Descending from our final acclimatisation climb

Chris arriving at Camp 2 on our summit bid