Sunday, 31 December 2006

Sella dwellers

Colin's flight was on time (after a 3:30am start), so it was the traditional approach of up to Sella to crack off a few routes, we did three for starters up to 6b. It was hot on the face, and the places was quite busy, sadly all the routes we did are suffering a bit from polished holds nowadays.
After a buttie break we did Marion, its over 15 years since I first (and last) did this classic route, and I am pleased to say it remains as good as ever - at least it does once the first four metres have been done!
We abbed off and headed for home.

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Midwinter Sunshine

Better and better; firstly a pleasant day climbing at Gandia, the place was heaving with 40+ cars parked below the crag, and teams lined up side by side (I suppose we all know who to blame for that!) I was even spotted by some looking at the mug shot in the guide! Then it was time for a trip to the beach. Bizarrely we had that to ourselves a great contrast to the elbowing going on at the cliff.
At the beach I spotted some odd transparent quill-like shells, a web search later revealed them to be the shells of the fan mussel, quite rare apparently. The golden cloured threads that attach them to the sea bed are spun to make 'sea silk', a skill that still survives in Sardina having been originally introduced into the area by the Phonecians!
Another day a bit of exploration of the local area turned up a Crag X or two. Mind you I am not sure if 300 foot high sea cliff, bristling with overhangs is quite the place to start a new routing campaign!

Thursday, 28 December 2006


A marked improvement in the weather, and an unwinding from the journey came together, it looked like the hassle might have been worth it. There is a rare pleasure in actually having a bit of time to settle in, without the pressure of heading back home agian next week. Just need to get a bit of climbing done now.

Sunday, 24 December 2006


Three days behind the wheel to escape the fog and frost of the UK. A reasonable drive (1370 miles) and the rain started as we pulled off the motorway at Denia - three days later and its still spitting on, cold and windy.
Breaks in the weather allowed us to explore the local area - there are some impressive sea cliffs out there - and the weather will get better!

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Froggatt - mid-winter visit

December on Froggatt, little wonder we had the place pretty much to ourselves, I could have stopped at home but Graham is always keen for a bit of Grit. Trapeze Direct was the warm-up, the grade remains a bit of a puzzler, HS or VS, and 4b, 4c or 5a? Its as safe as they come though its a tricky pull with little for the feet. Chequers Arete (HVS 5a) was catching the sharp edge of the north-west wind, a true classic with superb positions and lovely balancy climbing. I have done it dozens of times and it is always worth the effort.

Three Pebble Slab (HVS 5a) was a bit more sheltered, and the sun came out for a while, and then to finish with it was a quick trip up Nanoq Slab, a real rarity a Froggatt route that neither of us had done before! The grade in Eastern Grit is E3 5c, though I must be honest, I don't know where that came from, E1 5a is nearer the mark, and although a bit of a filler in we both enjoyed it.
The sun was dipping fast so we rattled back down through the woods into the gathering gloom.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Slipstones - swift attack

A sunny forecast and the need to do the Christmas present run gave me the chance to sort another set of crag shots for the up-coming Northern England guide. An early start from Sheffield and we were in Coverdale by mid morning.

Despite the bitter wind the car parking was already just about full with a dozen or so vehicles, and it has to be admitted it was quite pleasant on the crag, its reputation for being a solid winter venue passed muster. I first visited the crag way back on 4th February 1967 and commented in my diary that we "managing "about 20 routes", so really I should have known it would be OKay!

The various teams on the crag were engrossed across the grade spectrum from a couple spotting each other on a three metre Moderate to afficianos 0n Holeshot (V9).
Thirty minutes later I had cracked off 60 shots and was headed back to the car ready to complete our journey north, I vowed to get back to the cliff sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Chatsworth Perambulations

Another weekend, another mid-winter ramble. Dave was back from his short sojourn on Tenerife's sunny shores, so we mustered at the Robin Hood car park and set off south for Chatsworth and Hob House. A big patch of blue sky blew in from the north west and although the Edge was in deep shade, the bigger buttresses looked surprisingly dry. Mind you, an air temperature of seven degrees meant climbing was only for stalwarts.I thought back to the last time I was there, back in early May when conditions were perfect, Puppet Crack, Pearls, Despot, Vibrio and a few others made for a great day out. We skirted round the small quarries of Dobb Edge, the temptation to have a poke round for 'last great problems' was tempered by the fact that I gave the place a good going-over when I wrote up Chatsworth for the BMC some years back.

We stopped briefly at the Hunting Tower, a substantial building with its expansive views out over the estate and inevitable 'private' signs. The path loops round the Emperor Lake which feeds the 'biggest fountain in the UK' far below. We mulled on the kind of wealth that allowed successive Dukes of Devonshire to construct buildings on a mind-boggling scale, and transform the landscape long before the advent of mechanised earth moving machinery, doubtless with an army of 'slaves' - or labourers as they were known back then.

A bit of a wander up marshy tracks led through the pine woods until we eventually arrived at a locked gate, the sign on the other side declaring 'private - keep out' - hey ho! A quick poke round Hobs Hurst House (an earthwork of unknown date) and lunch using the wall as a wind-break and we headed back towards the car. Glowering clouds and an increasing strong wind with spats of rain kept us on the move, as shafts of sun light up the distant gritstone Edges, there would doubtless be a few teams up there making the most of the remains of the day.

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 ...