Monday, 25 May 2015

Corsican Reprise

Grand Dalle Rt 2 at Bavella
 We visited Corsica last September for the first time and were impressed by the great scenery, quality climbing and general quietness. A return visited was pencilled in and so a week ago we collected Colin (reinforcements) flew Toulouse > Bastia, collected the hire-car and headed back to the Residencia de Canella in the south-east corner of the island.


The Col de Bavella and its superb Corsican Pines.
One week in and it has been as excellent as hoped for though climbing at the Col de Bavella has required a bit of application - one day it was blowing a gale, one day we got soaked and the third visit was a Bank Holiday with its attendant crowds - we got routes done on each occasion so all was well.


Sherri doing a bit of 'coasteering'.
On the one(!) rest day we explored the local area, there are some great beaches and some interesting scrambles. We have one week left and are moving round to the south-east coast tomorrow - a new area so that should be great. On the way we are going to have a poke around the bouldering on the headland of Capineru. We don't really 'do' bouldering but it looks great in the photos so must be worth an hour or two of our time.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pootling around the Pelopennese

Climbing up on Didemon at 3500'
 After six weeks on Kalymnos we were ready to try somewhere a bit different so a short flight to Athens and a brief drive west found us at the impressive old Hotel Cokkinis where we spent three days exploring the area and doing a bit of climbing.
Wheat fields -
not what you expect to see in Greece
Then it was a three hour drive past the impressive gash of the Corinth Canal (thronged - it was a Bank Holiday) and onwards to Argolis - the easternmost finger of the big peninsula of the Pelopennese. We had an excellent 8 days there, exploring the ancient history, the superb deserted beaches and the rather good sport climbing. We never saw another climber; indeed the area appears to be virtually unknown to British climbers which is odd considering the high quality routes, on a good variety of cliffs in a relatively compact area and a classic Greek holiday setting. We stopped in a superb hotel (the Blue Beach) right on the seashore and for a very reasonable price - for most of the week we were the only guests which is just how we like it.
Flashy hire-car and wind-farm
Finally it was up-sticks and thee hour drive back to Athens in time for an afternoon flight to Stansted and a night in the Raddison  - time for a little bit of luxury - a bath, a TV (not that there was much on) Internet in bed and l-o-n-g bath. Sunday started with the 'meg-breakfast' then an easy flight down to Carcassonne and onwards to Chez Arran for a brief rest. It is great to be back in the mountains.
And in just over a week we are headed back to Corsica.




Monday, 27 April 2015

Kalymnos - Winding Down

Kastri Castle with Olive Press

Homeward to Telendos
 Our six weeks on Kalymnos are almost up and it is time to think about moving on as the summer season is bearing down on us. The first few weeks here were quite unsettled but we got plenty done and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place.
For the past two week we have had Colin and Andy here - a very pleasant and mellow time was had by all. We visited a good variety of crags - always chosen by seeing which venues had the least number of scooter parked there! The weather for the whole of their stay was superb, warm and sunny, often with a cooling breeze, but never too hot and no rain. I ticked my 100th route of the trip just after they left - that includes around 35 I had never done before - they get harder to find as time goes by.
Andy hanging around
Tomorrow we head to Athens and the Pelopenes area for somewhere completely different - the climbing looks pretty good so watch this space for a report. After that it is onwards back to the Ariège for a short break then  to Corsica. We were very impressed with the place last autumn and this time will have Colin in tow which should result in more routes, harder routes and hopefully some multipitch fun.

Can't wait!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Kaly Dreaming

Arginonta - waiting for the season to begin
Almost three weeks back on 'the island' and life has been very pleasant, despite some fairly unsettled weather which is unusual for this place. We have managed to climb every other day or thereabouts and done almost 50 routes: a good start to get back into the climbing groove and grow some thicker skin on my finger-ends.
Andy Nicholson and Colin are arriving next weekend so presumably we will have a couple of weeks of galloping around like maniacs getting plenty of routes done and hopefully get to visit a few of the newer cliffs.

Classic Kalymnos sunset
It seems quieter here than any other year - there are quite a few climbers about but there have been a lot less low-cost flights from northern Europe flying into Kos so that has reduced the options for getting here easily.

After the guys have gone home we are headed to the Peleponees - the big peninsula to the west of Athens - we have heard good things about it and always like to visit new places - and after that maybe back to Corsica because we like to visit old place too!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Eastward for Easter

Up near Styx - amongst the greenery
We bailed out of the Ariège and cruised across France - a steady nine hours - for the evening boat out of St Malo - by lunch-time the following day we were back in Sheffield for a hectic five days.
Telendos from Massouri
A week after leaving Chez Arran and were established back in Kalymnos. The winter has been the worst in living memory according to the reports with lots of rain and near continuous northerly gales battering the island. In the week since we arrived we have had a couple of wet days but also some glorious sunshine. On the plus side the rain has meant that everything is looking really green, the flowers are out and there is a real feeling of spring every where. It may be a while before all the tufas dry out but I am sure we will cope.
Eastern Grit was finished and sent to the printers whilst we were in the UK - that should be in the shops in three weeks - just too late for Easter, but I expect demand will be high with the previous version having been out of print for three months.
I have time on my hands which is a rare thing -I am sure I will be able to find a project or two to keep me busy.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Into the Sunrise

Plateau de Beille: -6C and blowing a hoolie
Eleven weeks in the mountains and it is time to think about moving on - heading east to a small rocky Greek island. Last year we left at the end of March, parked up the car in Ariège and flew Carcasonne to Stansted to Kos for about £30 each. This year we will get the car home 1st and stick it in the garage - we might be in Greece for quite a while!
The weather this winter hasn't been quite a good as normal - much better than the UK of course, but not quite the settled warm spells of previous years. Despite that we have kept ourselves pretty busy and fit with lots of short walks up in the hills - as is usual around here we hardly ever see a soul.
Great views above Saurat
The book is being tied down now with less than two weeks until it goes of to the printers. Currently it is looking pretty good - 560 pages, (Rockfax's biggest ever book) 4000 route and 36 graded lists - that should keep most folks happy for years. 
We have six days in the UK then onwards to Kalymnos  - the winter there has been unusually unsettled too, cool, damp and very windy - I am sure it will sort itself out over the next two weeks.
Long-term friends Andy Nicholson and Colin Binks are coming out in April so I have a couple of weeks to get fit and grow some skin - can't wait!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Spring is in the Air

Plateau de Beille
It is nine weeks since we left the UK - the time has zipped by as it always does down here in the mountains. We have passed time in the usual ways, walking, climbing, snow-shoeing and working.
The days have drawn out nicely, when we arrived the sun went off the village at 1:30 in the afternoon, now it is nearer 4:00 - almost time for the 1st BBQ of the year!
Auzat - mint February conditions
Only three more weeks now until we head back to the UK for five days (a bit too long but we will doubtless cope) then onwards to Kalymnos for the spring season. It will be nice to have a few weeks there before the crowds start to arrive around Easter time.
Unusually we have no plans beyond Kalymnos - though there are plenty of options. I would like to go back to Corsica, there is all the new stuff Aris's Greek guide and of course there a big chunks of France that are in prime conditions in the later spring. A final possibility is a flight up to Northern Norway for a few weeks of midnight sun - time will tell.
 It is always nice to have options.