Wednesday, 31 December 2008

That Was The Year - That Was

New Year's Eve again - 2008 has spiralled down the temporal plug-hole, time for a quick review of the year I guess.

We stayed down on the Cote d'Azure until April which was a great way to start the year. Sadly I didn't get too much climbing done due to a persistent problem with swollen joints - a long-time worry but it was certainly great to sidestep the UK winter. The Northern England guide was published whilst we were away - I was well pleased with that one.

We left the coast in April and headed for home via two weeks at Buis de Barronaise (I had forgotten how good the area was), ten days at climbing and Via Ferrating at Les Vigneaux near Briançon and a spectacular week in Chamonix. The highlight was a trip up the Midi cable-car, across the Vallee Blanche to Italy and back again - the amount of snow was a surprise and the scenery was astounding! It brought back memories of Alpine epics from 30 years ago.

After three weeks in Blighty, we flew up to Lofoten (a nice change from the usual week-long drive/boat/drive/boat scenario) for the launch of the new guidebook. We had a late night 'bash' in the Climbing School (the menu was fish soup - what else), Alan James and Mark Glaister were fresh from Presten's West Pillar and the guide had arrive just that morning - pretty good timing! The guidebook was well received by all concerned and the evening was massively convivial. Driving home (OK being driven home by Lutta's Taxi Service) from the party at 2am with the sun already rising high on Vagakallen was unreal.

Then it was back to the UK for the summer (the first time in 20 years) to get all the remaining crag shots for the new version of Western Grit. As it turned out the summer was pretty poor - and got worse. Regular trips up Kinder were interspersed with visits to a host of Lancashire quarries (Sherri wasn't all that impressed when I look her for a couple of night B & B in the Red Rose County, but needs must).

By mid September I had enough of the crap weather - even though a long planned trip to Kalymnos was only a month away, so we zipped off to Ariege for 10 days and very pleasant it was too.

Trips to a prof at the Royal Halamshire semed to have finally sorted my swollen joints out so it was off to Kalymnos. That was the revelation of the year - what a place. I got more inspired than I had been for years, did 123 routes up to F6b (I know the grades there are soft, but don't spoil the moment) and we even let the plane go home without us and stopped on for two more weeks. Whilst there I got the great news that Lofoten Rock had won the guidebook catagory at Banff. I phone Alan who was on holiday in Holland to share the great news. It would have been good (and expensive!) to go to the award ceremony but I wasn't ready for leaving Kalymnos just yet.

Then in mid-December we loaded up the car and drove back to southern France to start work on a guide to the Cote d'Azure cliffs. So that was that - full circle in every way - I wonder what next year holds?

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