Thursday, 21 February 2013

New Routes, New Venues

Whilst we have been at ChezArran John has been disappearing off, and coming back late, working on a new route somewhere not far from home. A couple of days ago he asked if I wanted to go along to get involved with the 1st Ascent so I though hey-ho. Little did I know that the route was going to be called Le Trog and started in the back of one of the huge caves that riddle the area, or that it hadn't been cleaned yet.
The ascent was 'interesting', the 1st pitch (F6a) was a huge slabby corner, with a smattering of loose rock, draped with million year old cobwebs and completely smothered in fine dust. The 2nd pitch (F6b+) climbed a long wet groove and technical slab but at least there was some light there. The final pitch to the exit hole was a long diagonal to the crux moves  right at the top (F7a apparently - I declined to follow). A brilliant effort by John and once clean it might even become quite popular - though either way, I won't be going up there again!

A little video by Ben Lear of our escapade: "Le Trog" is rather neat.
Next Monday we are away to Sicily for a couple of weeks to meet a big jolly(?) team of the Sheffield Grumpies - looks like a great venue, lots of routes, decent spread of grades and a lovely setting. I am just hoping there isn't too much in the way of dust, loose rock and climbing in the dark!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Tarascon sur Ariège hasn't been a bad place to spend the winter - surrounded by the glittering snowy peaks of the high Pyrenees. According to local sources it has been the 'worst' winter for quite a few years though seen through eyes that have seen too many UK ones it has been pretty pleasant really. There have been a couple of short wet periods but we have managed to get out almost everyday. In less than two weeks we should be meeting a team from Sheffield in Sicily to sample another rapidly rising sun-rock venue - Bring it On!

The new Costa Blanca guide has been published around a week early - 1st reports are very positive - job well done by all involved!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Rockin' in the Free World

We have had a bit of an unsettled spell (much better than the UK though) so more snow-shoeing was in order with some fantastic conditions on offer - apparently two metres of snow have fallen on the upper slopes at Ax - and there is more on the way!

Left: snow-shoeing in perfect conditions at Ax les Thermes

Then things perked up nicely for the end of the month - it was a balmy 17C on the 1st of February which was a treat.

We have arranged to meet a jolly team from Sheffield in Sicily later this month, the guidebook has arrive (looks great with loads to go at) the flights and accommodation are organised; they are opening the campsite just for us! Now it is just a matter of getting a bit fitter to make the most of the visit - three days out on the local crags and a session on the bouldering wall have hopefully laid a small foundation.

Right: Mint conditions at Auzat

The Blanca guidebook should be printed in a couple of weeks - our biggest book ever. It has been out of  print for a good few months and the Spanish winter sun/rock season is in full swing - so lets hope it starts flying off the shelves. The Ariège guide appears to have been well received - even by the locals - which is nice.

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...