Sunday, 26 November 2006

Stanage - Weekend Cobweb Removal

A grey morning but forecast to brighten later sounded just the ticket, and as occasionally happens the Weather Girl got it right. Usual partners were overseas, out of commission or climbing on limestone(!) so I thought I would take my new Nikon 18-200 lens out for a test-drive. I parked and wandered up towards True North, it was wild but exactly what was needed. A solitary boulderer was tackling Mating Toads (V2), blowing his own cobwebs away, as I scrambled up to the trig point and hoovered up some lung-fulls of the west wind.

Along the crest of the crag there were the usual convoys of weekend walkers, as we trooped past each other pleasantries were exchanged in the time-honored fashion. Peering off the edge I spotted a couple of copies of the new Eastern Grit guide being used; daft I know, but it always gives me buzz. A youth was trying to top-out on Right Unconquerable (HVS) though the gale whipping over the edge wasn't helping as he was enveloped in clouds of chalk at each attempt, I wonder if his ascent should have been classified as wind assisted!

I dropped out of the wind onto the flagged path though the Plantation; it was a different world down there - late November and as mild as a May day, strange indeed. The place wasn't heaving, but it was certainly BUSY - there were boulderers everywhere! I watch a guy on Tower Face Direct (E2) make very neat ascent and cracked of a bunch of shots, also noticing the chalk on Flight of Ideas (E7), it looked like there had been some daring deeds done recently.

I wandered on down to the road and set of back towards the car. The Edge was quite busy now, and several teams were enjoying the low winter sun shining straight on to the cliff. I mulled over the idea that with the new lens, when Eastern Grit needs a rewrite in five years time, I might be able to get the required crag shots without even getting out of the motor!

Back at the car and time to tootle back down the long hill home, invigorated, mind cleared, I felt a bit more ready for Sunday dinner and the working week. As to the lens, its a bit of a big brute but overall, I'm impressed.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Ariege - A Flying Visit

1st - 5th November
Return flights from East Midlands to southern France for £30 a pop was too good an offer to miss. Dave Gregory and Colin Binks joined me and Sherri, an early flight (7:15) meant we were in Carcassone before midday and at ClimbAriege - in a steady drizzle - in time for a late lunch. The clouds hung on the hilltops but we decided to have a ride up to the granite crags at Auzat - 'just in case'. Halfway there the roads dried up and at the crag conditions were fine if a little cool, half-a-dozen routes later we staggered down through the gloomy woods, heading back for a late evening meal and a welcome kip.

Morning was cold and clear, the max/min thermometer showed a low of -4 the night before, the grass was covered with hoar frost. A steady climb saw us up at Calames and superb and extensive cliff which was full in the sun. Turns out it was half term week so the place was quite busy. The locals were amused at out attempts to climb as a three on 40m pitches, with a 60m and 30m rope but we managed OK. It was HOT!
Mid afternoon and we were frazzled (November!) so it was time to head to the Supermarche to stock up.

Another superb clear day so it was back to the granite and a visit to the slightly more remote Montcalme area - we didn't see a soul all day. Ten routes later we were homeward bound, Dave and Colin were starting to like the area!

For the final day it was something different, an impressively tall limestone crag with a ruined castle on the top, and with quite an English feel about the place. It was one of the first cliffs in the area to be climbed on, though in those days, bags of pegs were used and the routes went all the way to the top - nowadays it is the lower pitch - (or occasionally two) that is bolted up. Our host , Graham from ClimbAriege turned up and joined in the fun. Eventually after some excellent if occasionally loose and polished (I said it was like the UK) routes I rested my fingers and escorted Sherri up the steep path for a wander round the castle, the views were superb but I bet the postie used hate delivering there! Finally we wandered back to the village and sat on the edge of the fountain feeding the goldfish with the remnants of our butties, sadly tomorrow saw an early start and homeward bound.

Monday, 20 November 2006

A Burbage Round

Sunday Nov 19th
Cold and clear, with a biting north westerly, it was a good day for a walk and a chat. Dave Gregory was the usual partner and subjects cover the gammut of saving the planet, the way climbing guidebooks are going, scientific topics galore and of course where the next trip away was to be to. We saw a few folks climbing in the shady depths Millstone (heros!) and the usual teams of boulders swarming over Burbage North, though we decide that keeping on the move was more appropriate in the conditons.
It got me thinking, I assume a large part of the attraction of bouldering is in the camaraderie, the whooping, hollering and back-slapping, though I must admit it doesn't do a lot for me - I still see the hills as a place for a little solitude and 'time-out' even in the ever-busy Peak District!

Dreaming of the HubenDolomites

High above Canazie Canazie and Marmolata The ten days in Austria were great despite a breakdown in the weather towards the end of ...