About Me

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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Borrowdale - With Andy Swann (& 'The Lads')

 The past week I spent a couple of days climbing in the magnificent Borrowdale in the Lake District with Andy Swann of 'Grit, Track & Trail' and 'The Lads'. 'The Lads' being the dreaded midges! 😀
Tuesday - and I met up with Andy, who holds the MIA award and has been helping me improve my climbing technique and grade, to drive up to Borrowdale which is found south of Keswick in the Lake District.
 Even though I have the excuse of being a very late starter to climbing, I am still a little embarrassed to admit this was my first climbing trip to the Lakes. With the weather forecast to be fine I was more than looking forward to it.
 Leaving the vehicle in Grange we made our way on foot to 'Black Crag', which is a rhyolite (volcanic rock) crag with a number of multi pitch routes, through the surrounding woodland.
Unfortunately we were soon joined at the bottom of the crag by 'the lads', midges! Although I can accept that these tiny flying critters have their place in the food chain is there any need for so many of them to be in action at once, swarming over any bare flesh and leaving itchy little bites??? 😀😀 I had applied jungle formula insect spray containing the chemical and I swear I caught one licking it off my the back of my hand!
 I thought the rock was top drawer to climb and the routes we did (The Shroud VS 4c** & Troutdale Pinnacle Super Direct HVS 5a***) outstanding. Climbing alternate pitches gave me chance to practice not only my climbing but gear placements, rope work, building belays, and change over stages while accepting any tips and guidance on where anything could be improved from Andy (who has climbed a bit previously!).

Wednesday - we made the hour long walk in to 'Sergeant Crag Slabs' from Stonethwaite. The thought was to gain a little more height and be exposed to some stronger breeze which the midges can't handle, the bast@rds were there in force and battling the strong breeze 😀😫.
Andy taking extreme fashion measures to combat the midges!
But midges or not this again was a great crag. 'Friendly' rock, good gear placements and great routes.
 I seconded Andy on 'Lakeland Cragsman' (HVS 5a***), 'Terminator 2' (HVS 5a***), 'Between The Lines' (E1 5b**) before going back to 'Lakeland Cragsman' to lead it myself.
 Being keen to improve my grade I was happy to second the routes to gain some confidence. 
Summary - a quality couple of days!
I'm very aware how quickly I can fall into bad habits so to climb with Andy whilst also be given advice on best practice and  pointers as to where I can improve worked well in my 'sort of' training plan.

Monday, 13 June 2016

North Wales Climbing & Gardening!

Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th May.
A couple of weeks ago (been lazy and neglected my blog πŸ˜”) I spent a few days in North Wales climbing and catching up with Rob Gurr of Summit Adventures, Stephen Hobdell of Steve Hobdell Mountain Adventures and John Deakin who chops wood for the Queen!!
Monday - and after being far too optimistic about the M62 traffic I arrived late (early evening) in the Ogwen Valley to catch up with Rob & Stephen.
They were climbing on 'Bochlwyd Buttress' which is just a fifteen minute walk in from the car park. It also catches the afternoon sun though is fairly Baltic at all other times it seems!
It was good to catch up with Stephen who I met a couple of years ago whilst shadowing Rob Johnson on a winter skills course, we had also spent a damp cold day at Stanage last May which felt like another winter day!
 Having just sat in traffic for nearly four hours and having had to spend cash at 'Joe Brown's' on another climbing helmet (left mine on the kitchen table!) I was happy enough to second routes whilst Rob & Stephen led.
Tuesday - myself and Rob had decided to spend the day climbing at Tremadog and met at Eric's cafe. I had spent the night sleeping in the back of the car (it's part of the climbing apprenticeship) and had woken early as Eric came to make sure I was going to pay the £6 fee without driving off!
Having already climbed here a number of times, leading some lower grades and seconding some higher graded routes, I was keen to get a couple of the well known routes ticked off.
We spent the day battling with midges whilst climbing 'The Brothers (VS 4c**), 'Shadrach (VS 4c**) and 'One Step In The Clouds (VS 4c***), with the latter route having the added pressure of a small roadside audience during the top pitch!
Midge Protection
Wednesday - and I had the day to myself as I wouldn't be meeting Rob until late afternoon due him having work that day, bit inconsiderate in my opinion!
We went to Australia Quarry above Llanberis to climb some slate sport routes at 'The Sidings'.
At this time of writing the blog I do not have the routes we climbed to hand but just to say it was disappointing to be struggling on lower grades routes first climbed by an 11year and 7year old brother and sister! πŸ˜”
The reoccurring comment was 'bloody kids' and we weren't too disappointed when it started to rain.
More practice on slate is needed!

Thursday - and myself and Rob met up with John Deakin who had driven up for the day.
Meeting at Siabod Cafe in Capel Curig we had originally planned to climb in Llanberis pass but the weather was looking doubtful and with John only having the one day we opted for another trip to Tremadog which tends to get less rainfall than the mountain crags.

We again went to the popular Craig Bwich y Moch at Tramadog, again it was extremely popular with the dreaded midges!
 We first climbed 'Grim Wall' (VS 4c**) and concentrated on our rope work, gear placement, bringing seconds up in parallel and adseiling. This was more a result of us being joined on the crag by a couple of groups who were on their British Mountain Guide assessment and we didn't want to look like amateurs....!

We (John) decided we would climb 'Clapton's Crack (VS 4c*) after lunch and off on an adventure we went!
Finding the start of the route through the under growth was a turned into a gardening mission and then there was the scramble to the route base proper whilst carrying ropes and rack.
To be fair the first pitch of the route was very good with bridging moves whilst going up a corner crack and nearly made up for the under growth scratches and cuts getting up to it!

The second pitch was covered in undergrowth for the most part but was fairly simple climbing though quite exposed.
I think the route might benefit from being climbed more regularly to keep the shrubbery down and the scramble up to the route less 'green'.
I know will carry a life long scar on my shin to remember the nature trail to the route by but I wouldn't hold John in any way responsible due his choice of route, it's not as though there are many great routes at Tremadog to choose from...! πŸ˜‰
After the route John had to leave to make his way back 'down South' (where ever that is!) so Rob and myself went up to Bus Stop Quarry where I led 'Equinox' (VS 4c**) and my first trad route on slate.
Unfortunately we have no pictures of this as most of the time our attention was on a guy climbing a 7b sport route at the side of us who seemed to be holding on to thin air! Pretty impressive to watch though also slightly depressing given our performance at 'The Sidings' the evening before.

Summary - a good few days better spent out climbing than wasted doing something like working or alike!
I was happy to tick some classic routes and felt happy with my climbing.

It was also good to catch up with Rob, John and Stephen who all share my love of all things mountain!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Stunning South Wales Sea Cliffs

Tuesday & Wednesday 7/8th June.
With the weather exceptional and a few days to squeeze in some climbing I made my way to South Wales to meet up with South Welsh native Dan Bryan and on to climb on the sea cliffs of Pembrokshire and the Gower.
Tuesday - and after traveling down to Bosherton in Pembrokshire Monday evening we were up early to get some breakfast and get set up for a good day on the sea cliffs near the village, then there was a change of plan....!
 The area is used by the Ministry Of Defense as a live firing range and today they had put the red flags up, signalling they would be firing and we would be climbing else where.
 With Dan having local knowledge, and more importantly a guide book, we made our way to St David's, the smallest city in Britain, and on to climb at Craig Caerfai. The rock here is of sandstone slab and I found it good to climb on following small cracks and using the friction of the rock, though I found good gear placement spots were a little sparse on a couple of routes.

 I was pleased to clean 'Unknown Sentry' which was my first HVS lead climb before Dan made easy work of 'Armorican' which had been on his tick list.

Routes we climbed were Mildred Mindwarp(HS 4b*) Nameless(VS 4c*) Unknown Sentry(HVS 5a*), The Bryn(VS 4c*), Caerfai Crack(HS 4b*) White Corner(D*) and Armorican(VS 4c***).

  For the afternoon we made our way to Initiation Slabs for a couple of routes then demanded an abseil in to the start of the route and building a hanging belay. 
To be totally honest I wouldn't have comprehended being able to do a route like Aries even earlier this year! A poorly protected traverse from a hanging belay over a tidal rocky bay then climb a poorly protected arΓͺte, I would just about have looked at the photo! Dan telling me it had a sign of a 'fluttering heart' next to the title in the log book whilst I was mid traverse didn't help my shaky leg but I had enjoyed it when I got to the top (possibly!).
The routes we did were Aries(VS 4c**)and Capricorn(HS 4b*)

Wednesday and after spending the night in Bosherton, with the sounds of machine gun fire and the blazing sight of military flares in the sky, we drove to the Gower Peninsula and the beautiful Rhosilli where we met up with Andrew to climb on Kings Wall.
 The towering cliffs here are of limestone with 'wobbly' cracks, lose blocks and polished holds to think about whilst climbing. We started doing a couple of climbs from the terrace above the sea, with Andrew leading 'ISIS' which was on his tick list. Whilst we completed these climbs the tide was on its way out and we could then walk over the beach to the lower climbs..

 For some unknown reason I wasn't feeling it today, and it was annoying me that I wasn't feeling it! The weather was excellent, the setting was outstanding, I had been looking forward to the climbing and had led my highest grade to date just the day before but I felt as though I couldn't lift myself. It could possibly have been delayed shock from parting with £10 for a breakfast and a coffee earlier with me being a devout Yorkshireman!

 I seconded both Dan and Andrew before leading Frigg (VS4b) on King Wall and whilst I enjoyed the climbing and felt I was climbing comfortably within myself my mind wasn't there which resulted in me practically soloing the route and poor rope work when I made the occasional gear placement. I wasn't using my own rack which could have played a part but in the end I suppose I can put it down to experience and learn from it in the future.

Climbs we did were Gethsemane(S 4a**), Isis(HVS 5a***), Ragnorak(HS 4a**), Frigg(VS 4b*).

Summary - overall an excellent couple of days climbing on tidal sea cliffs. Like anything that holds a risk element, or is out of the normal comfort zone, the more you expose yourself to what's involved the less daunting it gets as you become accustomed to the risks and rationalise them. That's what I think and I'm hoping it's going to work!
Pembrokeshire and The Gower are stunningly beautiful areas and to be able to enjoy climbing there is straight from the top drawer of my 'best days out' and I will be returning before too long!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Yorkshire 2 Peaks.... & Pub!

Wednesday 1st June and myself, Clare, Sam and Owen decided to do part of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks route.
 Nothing better than a stroll around the route of the Yorkshire Three Peaks to make us Yorkshire folk feel reet proud so I'm always up for a day out in the Yorkshire Dales (Clare is nearly Yorkshire due to her having completed the route twice before, starting to lose the ability of saying 'the' in a sentence and being notoriously shy when it's her round!).

Sam, Owen and Clare had all completed the route in the past but were up for another trip around the 24 mile route.
 Leaving the 'Old Hill Inn' at 08:30am we made good progress towards Ingleborough and up the dreaded 'Devils Staircase' before being enveloped in low cloud on the summit plateau.
 With gales force winds, low cloud and the constant threat of a shower it was a typical British summer day in the hills as we headed towards Horton In Ribblesdale and on to Pen y Ghent (aptly meaning 'Hill of the Wind'.
 Stopping at Horton for a short break I set the challenge of making to the summit of Pen y Ghent with in 1.5hrs, as it went we made it in 1hr 5mins without a murmer about the steepness of the seemingly never ending ascent, what a team! 😳
 With a bit of a breeze blowing through we didn't hesitate for long on the summit and made our way down and along the route towards Ribblehead.
 It's some 8miles approximately between Pen y Ghent and Whernside and this part can really sap the moral and see the start of aches and pains in the joints.
 As we neared Ribblehead an injury appeared in our merry group and the best solution was thought to stop at the 'Station Inn' and assess the situation.
As it turned out the ankle I had gone over on at the start of the day decided that the stop was the right time give me a painful reminder that me decision to wear 'approach shoes' rather than walking boots may have been a poor one. After the compulsory 'Station Inn' pork pie and with an eye on the dark clouds over Whernside it was decided the day was to be a training day and we had done enough!
 We WILL be returning to complete the further route later in the year.

Summary - with approximately 18miles and 2 peaks completed it was a shame not to finish the route on the day but with 20 completions of the route between us and safe in the knowledge we will be back to do it again it didn't take too much debate, the pub may have helped a bit.
A great outing in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales with good friends can be nothing but good!