Saturday, 7 July 2018

Back to Burning Blighty

Seven Deadly Virtues (E1 5b) Harpur Hill
After a couple of months in Switzerland we headed back to the UK. The weather in the Alps had been unseasonably cool and unsettled for the whole of our trip, although this may have been a blessing in disguise - climbing conditions were perfect and everywhere was lovely and quiet.
By complete contrast the weather in UK has been quite bizarre, unrelentingly hot, blue and dry. With temperatures regularly in the high twenties climbing has always involved seeking out shade.
Harpur Hill Blue Lagoon - looks inviting
Harpur Hill Quarry has been the crag of choice, usually it is a bit of a dismal spot, but with the sustained good weather the place is bone dry, and may routes are in excellent condition.
There has been a regular and large turn-out of the "Grumpies" - the group of retirees who climb every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Apparently I am too Grumpy to qualify for membership!!!)
Full team turn-out at Pic Tor, Matlock
I find it odd that we are away for 10 months, then when we call back we see the same people, meeting at the same (excellent) cafe, going to the same crags and often doing the same routes as a year ago, we will join in for the summer before we head off again  - though I may need to investigate a new car first!

Monday, 18 June 2018

A month in Switzerland

Gornergrat - rammed
A month passed in Switzerland and it has been very pleasant, climbing, hiking, chilling and even doing a bit of touristing. Compared to last year the weather has been pretty unsettled for the whole period, though on the plus side, it hasn't been too hot - last May/June was withering. Around eighty routes completed so far and some great crags visited.
What has been pleasant has been the lack of people, with the notable exception of Zermatt/Gornergrat (top right) which was packed - 90% of the tourists appeared to be Chinese/Japanese ticking Europe - next stop Venice or Santorini maybe?
Arolla - tranquillity
We need to think about heading homeward soon - 10 months since we locked the door and headed south. The car needs a service and so de we - doctors, dentist etc - we need to get an overhaul ready for the the next trip - I wonder where that will be to, I am sure Sherri has some plans?

Monday, 28 May 2018

Swish Swiss Action

Mont Collon
After Colin left we spent another 10 days around Briançon enjoying the varied climbing, the fantastic scenery and quietness of the 'between seasons' time. Then it was time to head north and east towards Switzerland.
It is five years since we were last here - on the previous occasion, in September, the weather was unsettled and cold - at the end of a 10 day spell we decided we had done with camping, and we haven't pitched a tent since - in fact we sold all the camping gear once we got back home!
We spent a week in Martigny, which pleasant, and not too warm, unlike this time last year in France. Then we headed up to Arolla, a place I had read about back in the 1969 and always fancied a look around. On the day we arrived I did a clutch of routes on the local crag, which brought my tally for May up to 102 - that's something that doesn't happen very often.
Amnother gorgeous Swiss meadow
We stayed in a delightful old converted Swiss syle house, enjoyed the cool weather up at 6000' and had a walk up towards the mighty Mont Collon - in another life I would liked to have a crack at the striking line of the North West Couloir which splits the face!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

"50 Years Ago Today"

Big Chris and Smaller Colin - 50 years on and still getting wet!
Colin was heading back from Spain to the UK so he called in and we spent 10 days climbing together - initially at Orgon - and later around Briançon. The weather was a little unsettled but we managed nine days on the rock and around 40 routes.
Part way through the trip - 5th of May to be precise - it was out 50th anniversary - I first climbed with him at Brimham Rocks on the 5th May 1968. He followed me up Lichen Slab (VDiff) and Birch Tree Wall (VS) in his farm boots.
Half a century on and we still love it!

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Seasons Swing

DEEP snow on the Col de Palhiers
 And so back to the Ariege for a couple of weeks. Apparently while we were in Greece and Turkey it was exceptionally cold and unsettled in the Pyrenees - the spring was up to four weeks late according to some sources.
Right on time, the sun came out and the temperatures shot up, 27C in the valley was a bit of a surprise. Climbing, hiking and planning the onward trip - back to the UK but looking to take six to eight weeks over it and visit as many crags as possible on the way - no plans for the summer yet.
Summer is here!
The bumper new Kalymnos guide is due out in a  couple of weeks - as expected the news of its imminent publication caused a bit of a brouhaha. That is a word taught to me by the late Walt Unsworth when my first ever guidebook - the Costa Blanca was published way back in May 1990. In the intervening 28 years and 25 guidebooks later, virtually ever one has upset somebody - we were even accused of destroying the volunteer guidebook effort in the UK.
In the end, the sky didn't fall in, there were no losers and the winners were the guidebook buying public as everybody else raised their game - long may that continue to be the case.

Monday, 2 April 2018

A Tiny Trip to Turkey

Posh Turkish accommodation at Kemer (€23 a night)
 With the Kalymnos guidebook away to the printers and just for a change of scene we thought we would take a trip to Turkey and specifically to visit Geyikbayiri, to check out what is supposed to be the country's premier sport climbing venue.
We caught ferries Kalymnos to Kos and on to Bodrum, all very easy and efficient. After a night in Bodrum we found a hire car company, picked up a slightly tatty Renault, and six hours later rolled into Kemer. The accommodation there was best described as impressive - possibly the classiest place we have ever stopped, for a meagre €23 a night - astounding.
Deserted beach at Olympos
After four days there - and an abortive attempt to climb as Olympos (road closed for resurfacing) we moved to Geyikbayiri. is currently banned in Turkey so we used Airbnb and ended up with a big house up the mountains - it looked like the owner would be back any minute as it was filled with all manor of junk!
The climbing was excellent, the area was pretty quiet and the novelty of having to set a fire everyday to keep warm was interesting - it took me back 50+ years to my childhood.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Done and Dusted

Ten days in Kalymnos was a necessity to get the last few bits and pieces for the new Rockfax guidebook to the island, due out later this year. I was rather concerned, as I had been told by a couple of people that I wasn't welcome - for having the audacity to write a book about a place where we have spent three years living - and climbing. In the end all the locals we know were as friendly as ever and super supportive. Plus of course the cats were a delight.
Sunset from Basbis Bar - mid-March
We had a lot of discussions with Sue and Steve McDonnel of The Glaros Bar - who have lived there for about 30 years - about the history of the various bolt fund initiatives and the shenanigans that have gone on down the years. Anyway - funds raised from sales of every copy of the new book will go into the Glaros Bar bolt fund, towards the equipping and re-equipping of routes on this magnificent climbing destination.

Back to Burning Blighty

Seven Deadly Virtues (E1 5b) Harpur Hill After a couple of months in Switzerland we headed back to the UK. The weather in the Alps had b...