Monday, 31 December 2007

The Last Top of 2007

The last day of the year and another glorious one so we decided on a walk up to one of the tops in the Massif de l’Esterel, a range of granite hills right behind the house. The Pic du Cap Roux (1620') fitted the bill, and gave us a pleasant three hour round trip, with great views out over the Med, and from the summit, along the coast to Cannes and Nice and on to the snow-plastered peaks of the Alps Maritime over 50 miles away. The ever-keen (ever-green) Colin and Dave Gregory arrive tomorrow (along with the rain if the forecast is to be believed) so we will doubtless be going climbing whenever possible.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

That's Better!

After a few cool days, the forecast was right on button and we woke to be greeted by wall to wall blue sky. I decided a gentle day on St Jeannet might be the ticket to ease back into things - the last time I touched rock was a cold grey day on Burbage North well over a month ago!
St Jeannet and its soaring rock faces dominates the country north west of Nice, I first visited the place with Graham back in 1984 and 85 when we did amongst other routes the magnificent La Mafia. With eight pitches up to 7a+ it was described in Pete Livesey's guide of the time as "very difficult to free climb" - after a winter training in the garage we were ready and we managed to storm it - all free, of course.
Today's plans were much more modest, with short and easy pitches a gentle 20 mins from the car. Who cares that they were easy, six routes in the sun were pleasant enough - and every Renaissance has to start somewhere!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Relocation, relocation, relocation

Sherri packed in work (for good this time), left school at little early any by 5:00 we were in Hull ready to board the Pride of York. Considering it was the middle of December, the crossing was as calm as you could have wished for - though Zeebrugge was a shock, foggy, -5 degrees and everything covered in hoar-frost. Things went well enough until Sally SatNav blotted her previously good record and took us towards Paris; by the time I realised what the game was - it was two late! The three hours spent crawling around the Periferique were a lesson never to be forgotten - Hell on Earth. Eventually we got on the E6 and 53o miles from Zebrugge, and several hours late we booked into a hotel in Chanas - knackered!
The next day went better and by 2:30 we were in St Rafael having passed some fine looking cliffs on the way down - the most interesting of which (consulting Jingo Wobbly) were at Orgon, looked well worth a visit some time soon.
In a re-run of last year the rain started when we were about an hour from the pad - never mind though - a couple of days rest are what we need for starters.
Then the sun came out - lovely stuff!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Christmas Aniversary

cb-6c-alcalali.jpgI think it was 1987 we first went abroad for Christmas, to the Costa Blanca and that was a revelation. Previous years we had been to Scotland, Pembroke, Cornwall and done a lot of caving. We usually manage to get something done though it was always a battle - Spain changed all that! Twenty years on it remains one of the most eagerly anticipated trips of the year - well along with Easter, Whit and the long summer break!

This year we are headed down to the Nice area for something a little different, I have climbed there quite a bit over the years, but don’t know it anything like as well as the Blanca - and a change is a good as rest!

If you are headed to there Blanca here is a small update to the Alcalali section of the guide on my RockFax blog (download it via the link at the bottom of the entry) - there has been a lot of development there including a superb crop of new routes. There have also been problems generated by the routes on the far right which overlook the gardens of the villas - avoiding these would be a positive step.

Enjoy your break!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Northern Rock

brimham.jpgThe only half-decent day of the week prompted Alan andaj-brimham.jpg myself to go a do a little bit more checking for the Northern England guide. We were a bit tardy at actually biting the bullet and getting away from Sheffield and by the time we got to Caley it was almost midday. Conditions were not too bad though and we galloped round the boulders, sketching, checking and photographing a variety of bits and pieces.

Heading back towards the car it was obvious from the thunderous black clouds rolling down Wharfedale that Almscliff (Destination II) was going to be wet! We tooled up to the parking and it was already hammering down, though brighter skies to the north tempted us onwards to Brimham where the sun came out for the 1st time. As anyone who knows the place well will testify (though not as strongly as those who don’t) this is one crag that will tax any guidebook writer’s skills to the max - suffice to say we are working on it! After a complete tour of the place we joined the queuing traffic on the A1 heading for home.

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 to...