Friday, 29 February 2008

Leaping Year

DG arrived and the forecast rain didn't - a nice change. Airport day was cloudy but dry and warm so we spent a short afternoon at St Jeanette.

Friday was warmer still and sunny, so we visited one of the smaller cliffs in the Gorge du Blavet - coarse granite, almost with the feel of a grit crag, well apart from the fact it was well bolted throughout.

There was a largish group there being instructed, they were quiet and pretty focussed, and we managed to keep out of their way. At three o'clock they moved off and we had the crag to ourselves.

All in all it proved to be a very pleasant day - we cracked off 10 routes - and I never even got a marriage proposal, phew!

Saturday was hot an windy - very unusual conditions. We headed for Chateauvert, deep in a sheltered valley it was perfect, again quite busy, but with plenty to go at! Brilliant rock, big pitches, fat bolts - a cracking spot!

Oh - and the good news, Northern England saw the light of day on Friday - what with Lofoten moving along well, it could be two books published in two months - now that is novel!

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Gorge du Blavet - never heard of it!

I have to admit, the older I get and the more places I visit, the more convinced I am that we got the sh1tty end of the stick in the UK when they were dolling out the rock resourses - and don't get me going on the weather!

We took a ride up to the Gorges de Blavet, about 30 minutes from St Rafael today, to have a wander round. It looks mighty complicated in the new guide, and it is. though a couple of hours spent exploring the area soon had it sorted out in my mind.

I had never heard of the place and I bet 95% of UK climbers haven't either, 300' granite walls, a sunny side and a shady side, a downhill approach and heaps of great looking routes many in the upper grades.

There is even a sunny beginners' cliff a short distance above the road, a bit of something for everyone really! And is it on the circuit - not a chance!

Then there are the many fine limestone cliffs around Toulon, we have pretty much had to ourselves during our weekday visits - they are at least as good as their vaunted counterparts on the Costa Blanca and a lot less polished too. Have we heard and English voice there - of course not!

Saturday, 16 February 2008


Thorbjørn has been and gone! An intense two days of pouring over the Lofoten manuscript looking for Norwegian spelling mistakes on a chugging laptop left me knackered, it is surprisingly tiring just sitting staring at a screen for 12 hours, and sure brings on a quality headache! Long working days lead to late night drinking sessions (just to unwind of course) and 2am is too late to bed for a man of my years!
Thorbjørn was especially impressed with the way we utilised iChat to talk things through and shunt files back and forth, he said he almost expected Alan to be sat there with a big white cat on his lap, controlling his far flung minions! What an odd way to work though - Alan sitting in Sheffield would ask us, sat in the south of France a question about the book, then Thorbjørn would phone Arild Meyer up in Lofoten or Odd-Roar Will sat on an oil rig in the North Sea, and a few minutes later all would be sorted.
Alan is working his magic and the book is beginning to look stunning - possibly the most visually attractive book we have ever done. Even the locals back in Lofoten are starting to get excited - though apparently they have been asking whether we just do guidebooks or are we real climbers too!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Halfway to Somewhere

Seven weeks gone and seven more to go - how time flies, especially when the weather is as good as it has been recently. Apart from a nagging aching wrist that I can't shake off (arthritis?) things have been pretty good, the current almost daily activity is searching the the local hills for wood to keep the stove going! That and walks in the Esterel or along the coastal paths that run in both direction from St Rafeal.
We had a slight shock yesterday when Alan informed me that the binders our printers uses had gone bust - Northern England should have been there this week, though unfortunately (!) there was a last minute delay due to the paper not having arrived from Spain - phew!

Thorbjørn arrives this week for a few days to proof the Lofoten manuscript, Alan has only had it for a few days and already it is looking quite superb. Then Dave Greg is back for another week on the rock - I better get the wrist sorted.
Then of course there is the big question of where to go next - Sherri has no job to go back too - so hey-ho!

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...