Friday, 28 April 2017

Spring is in the Air

Lindos Acropolis on Rhodes
Andorra late April - unusual conditions
The six weeks on Kalymnos had been great and now it was time to move on. Flight back to the UK from Kos were pretty expensive but much cheaper from Rhodes so we decided to make a 'short break' of it. We caught the high-speed catamaran, and had a few nights at the Agla hotel in Kos town, where we did a bit of 'touristing'.
Compared to Kalymnos, Rhodes was pretty busy - it is effectively a year round destination nowadays. The high-light was visiting the Acropolis at Lindos - the first temple was built there at around 400BCby the ancient Greeks - though the area has been occupied for around 5000 years. It has been added to by the Romans, the Knights' of St John and the Ottomans - amongst others.
Then it was back to the Ariège via a night in Stansted. We arrived to cloudy skies and sleety drizzle - what a contrast. After a couple of grizzly days the sun came out to reveal the Pyrenees in all the snowy glory. We have a couple of weeks here before we head off on the slow drive home - and some climbing.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Deserted Island

We have been on Kalymnos for almost four weeks now and as ever the spring conditions have been superb; warm and sunny, without the oppressive heat of later in the year, and delightfully green and floral.
Flowers and greenery
Despite the pleasant familiarity of the situation something is different - the almost total lack of climbers is really surprising - though not in a bad way - at least for us. The locals appear rather stunned by the silence, all the shops and restaurants that geared up in good time for 'the rush' are largely deserted and some are even closing early.
The reason behind the lack of traffic is pretty simple - RyanAir pulled out of Kos last year because of some wrangles with the mayor/council - and flights from all over Europe stopped.
What really surprises me that climbers - fun loving, adventure seeking, individualistic types can't cope with having to change planes in Athens!
All quiet in paradise
We had friends here for a couple of weeks and they manage Manchester - Athens - Kos - Kalymnos comfortably in day and the same for the return, using the time in Athens to have a meal. And for a very reasonable £170 return.
Bizarrely I have even heard of teams of climbers booking a fortnight's package holiday in Kos, but heading to Kalymnos
instead - paying for accommodation twice just for the convenience of flying from a local airport.
I am sure the season will pick up in May, and Kalymnos will once again be crowded with jolly climbers enjoying their two weeks bolt clipping in the sun and the locals will be happy. As for us - we will be somewhere quiet!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Peak Greek Season


Andy climbing at Black Buddha - prime conditions
Two weeks ago today we made the bumpy crossing back to Kalymos, and back to Babis Bar. The first week was cold with  a brisk northerly, we got a bit of climbing done, and a bit of taking it easy.
Pretty much all of the cats have made it through the winter thanks to 'Cat Man Steve's' daily visits to scatter a bit of biscuity happiness about. Sherri has ensured they have all done a bit of 'beefing up' since we arrived - with a couple of regular feedings every day.
Sherri's Cat Cafe is open for business
Andy and Colin arrived five days ago and brought some proper summer weather with them - we have taken to climbing in the shade it has been so warm. The various Arginonta Valley crags have been the main venue of choice, good long routes, accessible, shade plus some climbs we haven't done before.
The place has been exceptionally quiet which is just how we like it - and so green and floral - not the Greece that most people expect.
Doubtless the crowds will start to arrive soon and spoil everything, but we will work round them!



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Coming Soon

Lofoten Climbs Edition II Cover - photo Andrew Burrr
We have been in the Ariège for about 10 weeks now, and it is six months since we left the UK - way back on September 1st.
The peace and quiet of the mountains is always a great place to get work done - no distractions means I can really crack-on. The first job was a refreshed 2nd Edition of my Cote d'Azure guidebook which is due in UK shops next week.
Next in line is Lofoten which we have been working on for a couple of years now. We have rephotographed the whole area and added in 100+ new routes, many of which are very significant and redesigned the whole look of the book. Some great photographers have been involved with the project, American Andrew Burr bagged the Front Cover (left) with an iconic image of Vestpillaren, Lofoten's most famous route. We hope the book will be available in time for the main Lofoten season - currently we are aiming for early May.
Next weekend we head back to Kalymnos, to grab the prime spring season before the crowds arrive. It is definitely time for a bit of Greek sunshine and more importantly - some climbing - you know what they say about "all work and no play"!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Home and Away


Perfect snow-shoeing at Beille
Getting back from the hustle and bustle of Gran Canaria to the peace and quiet of the Ariège was as pleasant as ever. We have had some glorious days snowshoeing in some of the best conditions we have ever known in the area. The main resort section were rammed and the car parks were over-flowing, but as ever with just a tiny bit of imagination it is possible to escape the melee that so many people seem to enjoy.
Book work has progressed well - working on two volumes at once is always a tussle but Cote d'Azur is done and dusted and should be in the shops in a couple of weeks.
Castelldefels and the endless beach
Lofoten Climbs is not too far behind and is looking even more magnificent then the previous award winning volume. We have added the Stetind area which should add the books already considerable appeal.
Chez Arran was very full over the French holidays so we booked a few days stopping just south of Barcelona for a bit of beach time and some climbing.
Unfortunately after one day on the rock we had a meal out on the 2nd night and the fish platter made me very ill - five days later and still suffering!
Break your own 'Golden Rules' at your peril.


Monday, 23 January 2017

Deep South

Thorbjørn and Lutta's house on Gran Canaria - lush
Maspalomas Beach - another world
 After three weeks in the Ariége and some rather cold and unsettled weather we had to head south to meet Thorbjørn for a final push on the new Lofoten guidebook. He could have come north but on occasionally you have to suffer for your art :-)
Of course the day we were due to leave the snow came down and blocked all the Pyrenean passes (just like last year) so we had to go the 'long way round' - 5.5 hours rather than 3.5 hours but at least Barcelona was sunny and warmer.
An easy flight and we were in the semi-tropical paradise of Gran Canaria. The place was really busy but I guess it is peak holiday season, especially for Scandinavians escaping the 'dark'.
In the event, it has been rather pleasant - work sessions morning and evening, with a break for a bit of down-time in the middle of the day. There may be pleasanter ways of making a living but non spring to mind.



Spring is in the Air

Lindos Acropolis on Rhodes Andorra late April - unusual conditions The six weeks on Kalymnos had been great and now it was time to m...