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.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Catalunya Cruising

Casa Mauri - really out in the wilderness
We had to move house at Chez Arran due to a long-standing booking so we thought we would take a trip over the mountains and into Spain to visit Colin Binks who is stopping at Casa Mauri - Jane Newman's place above Tremp. It is something we have been meaning to do for a long time.
The 1st attempt failed because of an epic snow-fall the morning we due to travel - we turned back just above Ax-les-Thermes, but the 2nd attempt went better and we drove though spectacular scenery and along quiet roads to arrive at Jane's place which has the most amazing setting.
Climbing in the Collegats Gorge
We have had a few days reacquainting ourselves with this great area, we spent a lot of time around here more than 10 years ago, before other destinations and projects got in the way. I have been climbing with Colin on some very varied rock-types, it has to be admitted the grades are a little on the tough side even compared to the Ariège cliffs, which have always been regarded as a bit stiff.
I have been photographing all of the cliffs as we have gone along - old habits die hard, and the shots may come in useful down the line.
Colin appears to have got himself semi-permanent a job here helping with the reconstruction of one of the buildings/garden areas so I am sure we will be back sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 - A Retrospective

It has been a busy year:

Arctic Sweden
Buis les Baronnais

back to Kalymnos
and back to Ariège - for the full circle.

 And not forgetting five weeks in the UK
530+ routes climbed, a best-selling book published, some great places visited and times spent with good friends - lets try and do it all again next year.


Friday, 18 December 2015

The year turns - All the Best to Everyone

Friday, 4 December 2015

Winter - Kind Of!

Babis Bar, Myrties - there are worse places to spend December
 Almost three weeks back at Babis Bar - winters spent in Greece never pale. The place was still a teeny bit busy when we arrived, but for the past 10 days it has been almost completely deserted - we have had cliffs to ourselves that are normally packed in the high season.
I have continued to work on a Rockfax App for smart-phones to the climbing on Kalymnos - it has been a long running project - several years so far and counting.
We hired a boat and took a ride out to get some photos of the South Face of Telendos - a very pleasant way to spend an early December day.
Fresh fish and Greens/Reds courtesy of Babis
I'll be pleased to get the App finished and get on with a 'proper' book - Lofoten is next in line. I am looking forward to getting stuck into it and there is little doubt where we will have to spend next summer - but that is no real hardship.
A couple more weeks in the Greek sunshine then back to Ariège and the mountains of the Pyrenees - it is  such a great place to work as it is so quiet, and of course the weather and scenery are pretty good too!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Back To Basics

White Cat's rather sad ears after surgery
The week in Ariège was very pleasant, and (as ever) very quiet, we did a bit of climbing a bit of walking and a lot of taking it easy. Our long-term 'pet', White Cat had a nasty growth on her ear which we had noticed last time and assumed it was scab from fighting - but it was actually a tumour due to sun exposure. We showed photos to the vet on Saturday, and she was booked in for 8:30 Monday morning. For a couple of days she was in a sorry state but by the time left - five days later - she was well on the way to recovery. By the time her hair grows back she will be as good as new (-ish). Interestingly the number tattooed into her ear told the vet 'she' was 10 years old and actually a 'he'!
Kalymnos Sunset - same as it ever was
Then is was a quick flight to Stansted, a too short night in the Raddison, then onwards to Athens - for £20 each). We caught the late boat over to Kalymnos, and were in Babis Bar in time for a beer and chill. Unusually the Bar is still pretty full - perhaps we should have kept quiet about how good Kalymnos is in November!!!!!
Day One: four easy routes on Sea Breeze - in the breeze - and a perfect Kalymnos sunset, it is great to be back.