Sunday, 17 April 2016

Into the Wide Blue

Telendos with humid cloud cap
Almost six weeks since we arrived on Kalymnos and it feels like summer is just around the corner. It has been noticeably hotter that normal, almost too hot to climb some days and warm enough to swim in the sea - which is definitely unusual. Also the spring greenery is starting to fade, it looks like there will be precious little rain now until the autumn.
I have continued to climb and as always have especially been on the look-out for routes I haven't done before - I have completed almost 750 different climbs on the island now and there are still new places to visit, such is the continued pace of development.

Still looking for new routes to do
A couple more weeks to go and then we will have a month in France before heading to the far north for the rest of summer again to complete the work on the new version of Lofoten Rock. Currently Kalymnos is 30C and solid blue, northern Norway is snow-bound with temperatures around 0C - I guess variety being the spice of life is as true as ever.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Peace and Quiet

Easter Sunday on Skalia Balcony
We have been in Kalymnos almost two weeks now and it has been great. The time has been notable for two things - firstly much of the time there has been a nagging northerly wind keeping the the temperatures down and secondly the place is incredibly quiet.
This is the fourth spring we have spent on the island but the 1st when Easter has been so early - Greek Easter isn't for another month yet - and the place is virtually deserted. The lack of flights from northern Europe into Kos appears to be the main reason. Colin and Andy flew in via a change in Athens and we are all enjoying the peace and quiet - having crags to ourselves that are normally rammed. I guess the hoards will be arriving some time soon!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Round the Loop

Day 1 - Route 5

Back to Kalymnos (or at least s far as Kos) was pretty easy - though as there’d been no boats for two days we thought we might be stuck in Mastichari. In the event the place looked pretty much shut up and the famous ‘Pirate Boat’ - the Anna Maria was in harbour. After some consideration, and with considerable trepidation we hopped aboard. The crossing wasn’t quite as horrendous as some of the tales we have heard, but it was pretty bumpy and quite a few of the locals (it was packed) started throwing up. Plastic carrier-bags, paper towels and wet-wipes were produced rapidly to stem the tide!

Day one was five easy routes on Sea Breeze just to start the skin growing game, finishing off with tea on the terrace and a classic Kalymnos sunset - it felt nice to be back and to be a little bit ahead of the crowds that are forecast to be arriving this weekend (plus Andy and Colin on Monday) - always assuming that any of them can get across the water!
Same as it ever was!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Over the Hills and Far Away

Almond blossom and deserted roads
Our time in the Ariège is winding down, we need to head back to the UK in about a week, though only for a few days - just enough time to get sorted before heading to Kalymnos for the glorious spring season.
 We decide on a quick 'slider' trip and so drove back over the Pyrenees to visit Colin and Jane at Santa Egracia above Tremp in Catalunya.
We climbed on a variety of cliffs, several of which were new to me, which is always nice. The contrast between the Spanish and French sides of the mountains is always interesting with it being so much quieter on the Spanish side. The almond blossoms were especially spectacular at this time of year.

Sunset at Sant Egracia - above it all
I have continued working on Lofoten Rock - due out towards the end of the year -  and that is going pretty well. We are looking forward to getting back to the Magic Islands and the Land of the Midnight Sun in June and spending a couple of months up there working on the book. I started getting my State Pension back in October which is a bit of a depressing thought - but it is more funds to put in the 'travelling pot' - maybe getting older but there is no time to stop just yet!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Away From It All

Crowds - Yeuk
Two week back from Lourdes and back into the groove - working, climbing, wandering, wondering. We only have a couple of weeks left then we need to find a way to get us and the car back to the UK (nothing booked as yet)  - albeit briefly before travelling back to Kalymnos to catch the best of the spring - before the hoards arrive.
And there's the problem, we like nice places but hate crowds, noise, queues - people in general really. Sadly you can't expect to have Paradise to yourself!
Sweet Solitude.
The photographs illustrate the issue, and a solution - the Plateau de Beille is a superb area of high land at around 6000' and only a 30 minute drive from Chez Arran. Head up there on a good day in the French winter holiday season - which is most of February - and you will find it rammed - I reckon there were 500+ cars up there a couple of days ago.
We drove back down the hill about  a kilometre, bumped off the road and headed into the wilderness, pristine snow with a few animal tracks and total silence - perfection really!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

A Change is as Good as a Rest

Cirque de Gavanie
Pont d'Espagne
 We fancied a break for a few days - the seaside was one possibility but in the end we headed over the small town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas which is tucked in close to the Pyrenees to the south of Lourdes, where the roads to Cauterets and Gavarni split.
It is an area we visited briefly over 10 years ago and never made it back - a return was long overdue. The weather was a bit 'mucky' on the first couple of days but we managed a days climbing and a visit to the magnificent Cirque de Gavarni - the place was atmospheric and deserted, just how we like it.
The third day was clear and cold: -3C in the car park at the Ponte d'Espagne but climbing was possible on the small granite cliffs that pepper the valley-side.
On the final day we visited another small granite/gneiss crag in glorious weather before making the steady drive back to the Ariège - almost 20 routes ticked, I think it will be a lot less than 10 years before we are in the area again.
Now there is the small matter of a guidebook to Lofoten that needs addressing!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Old Games, New Diversions

Perfect snow-shoeing conditions in Andorra
We have been back in the Ariège a little over the week - winter has started to bite a little, with a good depth of snow on the mountains though the colder days have been interspersed with warmer spells. This has meant we have been able to snow-shoe and rock climb within days of each other, both in near-perfect "Goldilocks" conditions. One especially memorable day in Andorra was probably the best conditions we have ever come across - and only a short tramp from the ski crowds and we were in a pristine white wilderness with just animal tracks and the silence for company.
Poets - sample screen shot from the Rockfax Kalymnos App
The big new is that next week should see the release of the Rockfax App for smart-phones and tablets to sport climbing on Kalymnos. I have been working on this for four years and it includes a massive 2600 routes - which is a couple of hundred more than the recent 'definitive' guide to the area. It will be interesting to see the reception the App gets - as ever there will doubtless be a few folks that moan and a lot that enjoy the work we have put into it.