Thursday, 14 July 2016

New diversions - Noodling around Narvik

Reflecting on life
There's a moose in the garden!
We the forecast of a little unsettled weather in the pipeline and a need to get Colin a little nearer Evenes Airport for his homeward journey, we moved over to Thorbjørns 'seaside' cabin close to the small city of Narvik. As with hall his and Lutta's residences, it is well appointed and has been a superbly tranquil spot to stay.  So far we have had a great mix of taking it easy, hiking in the spectacular mountains that surround the area and working on the new version of Lofoten Rock which should be out by the end of this year - apparently they just sold the last copy of the old book in Henningsvær and the season is still in full swing so demand is going to be high.
High above Narvik and still miles to go.
Thorbjørn turned up for a couple days, to escape the current madness (Disneyland) in Henningsvaer. That gave us the chance to do some serious socialising and making good progress on tying down many of the loose ends that research for the book has thrown up. Details of many of the newer long routes out in the west have been difficult to track down, we have a trip out there pencilled in for the next spell of good weather.
On one on the clearer days we caught the cable-car  up from Narvik and hiked to the top of Naviksfjellet - the big hill right behind the town. The views were spectacular with unknown peaks arrrayed in all directions and bizarrely it was rather too hot for comfort - in the Arctic!



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Loitering on Lofoten

 After a cool week at Riksgransen on the Norway/Sweden border, with snow showers and night-time lows of 2C we made the four hour drive to Lofoten and booked into a cabin on the Ørsvåvær campsite for three weeks.
Colin flew into Svolvær after a trouble free journey, and we nipped out the same afternoon to do the classic Pianohandlers route on Pianokrakken. The weather was great and to our surprise we had the crag to ourselves - a rare thing in the high season.
10 days in and the weather has been quite unsettled, with a number of grey days, though there has been little 'real' rain as we have manage to get out and climb on a regular basis.
The whole place is busy with tourists and camper-wagons but there doesn't
appear to be a huge number of climbers about - the camping area at Gandalf has never had more than 3 or 4 tents there,
Colin leaves in just over a week, then we can go back to working on the book and taking it easy - the forecast is much better too!
Talking of 'the Book',  work on the Lofoten rewrite has progressed well and most of the popular areas around Henningsvær are pretty much finished. We will need to spend some time visiting the remote crags out West and for that we will need some proper summer weather - we have all on July and part of August to work with, so bring it on.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Round the Circle

Down some lazy river - summer in the Ariège
The month in the Ariège passed too quickly, but it always does so that shouldn't have come as a big surprise. The journey home was as easy as ever though the queues at Carcassonne airport were a bit of a shock to folks not used to travelling in the summer - good job we didn't leave it too late arriving there.
The call of the Grit - mint conditions on Stanage
The UK was a bit of a contrast, initially three days of a chilly northerly and temperatures around 10C - it didn't feel much like June.
Then the sun came out,and a jolly team assembled on Stanage for a day on the Grit. It was very convivial, loads of routes were done and there was plenty of time do discuss aliments, injuries and operations - the joys of growing old.
Anyway, the big bags are packed - time to head for the far north again. For the second summer we are flying into Sweden en route for Lofoten as the car hire prices there are about 1/3 of those in Norway. It currently looks a bit cold and unsettled up there, I don't think the short Arctic summer has started properly yet. We will need to pack plenty of warm clothes but hopefully we won't need snowshoes or skis!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Herault - somewhere Different

Our place in the country
Escaping the Gorge de Joncas
After 10 days back in the Ariège I fancied trying somewhere new - Sherri would probably have stopped at Chez Arran and looked after the cats but I was aware that long-time acquaintance Keith Sanders has a pad in a small village to the north-west of Montpelier - about three hours drive away in the Herault region.
I had never been to the area but there appeared to be quite a bit of climbing scattered around, so it had to be worth a look. Keith's pad was very well appointed as well as nice and central, it suited us just fine - apart from my involuntary descent of the stairs on our first night there - the bruising has nearly gone!
Orchids
We visited four different cliffs and did a couple of decent walks too, one up the highest peak in the local area, the Pic de St Baudille and another around the edge of the Lac de Salagou. The climbing was a good and varied and the weather was fine but we did get a bit scorched one day in the Gorge de Joncas where there wasn't a breath of wind and the cliffs were full in the sun. Looks like the area would be worth a visit at a cooler time of the year - we will have to pencil it in.
Just under two weeks more in the Ariège then it is time to think about heading north - the Artic beckons.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Back to the Pyrenees

Looking down towards Barry de'n Bas in the Ariège
Seven weeks in Kalymnos were great and I felt a rare rare sadness when we left - but it was getting busy, hot and bug-ridden so we really had to go. A couple of nights in the Radisson was our 'treat' - internet and TV in bed were real novelties.
Then it was an easy flight to a windy Carcassonne and onwards to Chez Arran. The cats met us on the drive and were starving - good job we had stocked up with cat food and treats 'en route'.
It is great to be back in the mountains, the high peaks still look pretty snowy, we need to head up there to have a look around as soon as possible.
We have both been stuck by the amazing greenness of the place - spring is here and the fresh growth and the bird song are fantastic. We have a month to play with before heading north to the midnight sun - a bit of climbing would be nice.

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!