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Hello Wales!

When my boss told me I was getting an extra (unpaid) day off this week it couldn’t have worked out better, because it co-incided with a trip Mark was planning to Wales.  I knew I’d love Wales, and I did, because it was amazing.

Tuesday dawned damp, but then I’m cumbrian and this summer has taught me patience. So tea was drunk and papers were read, and more tea was drunk, and the sun rose above the yard arm and the sky began to clear.  We’d originally been thinking fast drying quarries, but the lure of the mountains was to strong. Our timing was perfect,  the first party to arrive at the bottom of Idwal Slabs, but not the last. Although the sky was now dry the rock was still in speight, so we opted for easy climbing in our trainers; The Ordinary Route (D). At the top we kept going up and made for the Cneifion Arete.  A few pitches then a scramble to the top with no-one but the goats in sight. I liked the goats. I liked this day, a lot.


Scrambling on the Cniefon Arete (photo by Mark)

Tuesday, and our numbers were swelled by old timers and a newbie. Time for something a little different; slate.  New to most of us, and new enough to the rest.  Highlight of the day; belaying Atsuko on a route, she last climbed when she was 50; 28 years ago.  She didn’t take much convincing to be geared up, and just padded up a route, clearly happy being on rock.


The gang in Australia

Climbing wise I managed to lead 5b, so pretty happy with that.  Also managed to scare the shit out of myself seconding a traverse; down climb on mono, above missing bolt, nothing for it in the end but to commit – eek! The day finished with a walk home in the sun, past some legendary climbs.  Seeing the quarryman groove was pretty cool.


Walking home in the sunshine

Thursday, and just Mark, I, and the sunshine remained. A day of climbing in the pass beckoned. First up some unfinished business on Brant (VS) for Mark, just the first pitch, but still a suitably pumpy warm up.  Next up Phantom Rib (VS), 4 pitchs – with the meat in the first 3.  Mark was after 4c ticks, so that meant P2 was his, and P1 looked steep so that was his too. It was steep; i found it the hardest bit of the route.  P2 was delicate and called for small gear – which was a shame as most of it had been used to build the belay; still, nice climbing. I giggled my way up the awkward, but well protected P3, which i’m quite proud of as i’m a total novice on multipitch VS. We were closely followed up the route by 2 ladies from Dundee, so had a bit of a natter at the top, before an abseil descent.  what a lovely climb, what a great finish to our time in Wales.

On the drive home I kept dropping off , to dreams of climbs and sunny Llanberis; it’ll take a while to come down from this. Thank you guys!

Esk Pike Flora/Scramble

Carpet, originally uploaded by lenoclimb.

More rainy days in the Lakes. Time to tick off a few missing Wainwrights; Rossett Pike and Esk Pike. The later by a grade 2 scramble along the North West Spur. Grey, humid, spits, spots. But under foot and hand a wealth of treats for a wild flower freak like myself.

Lakes Classic Rock

Tophet Wall, originally uploaded by AHuddart.

This summer I want to climb all the Lakes’ Classic Rock routes – I’m half way through. But the ones still to go are all a bit further away, and now it’s raining.

Tophet Wall looks ace though doesn’t it? – and maybe the sun will come back soon.

(i Ihink that’s Breathless in the background?)

Tower Ridge and Ben Nevis

Whilst Up in Scotland supporting Karl with his west highland way race attempt, I just had to squeeze in a bit of hill time. Cath was pretty keen for Tower Ridge, and I was keen to make my first time on ‘The Ben’ special; so that’s a plan! Just left to rope in Susie in for a touch of local knowledge and some gear and we had a team.

After the weekend’s persistent rain, Tuesday’s forecast look positively good.  Knowing the morning capabilities of our group packing the night before was deemed wise; sitting around catching up on gossip over a bag of gear and guidebooks. Still not what you’d call and alpine start but only 30mins later than the 9am plan.

A sunny walk up the Allt a Mhuillin, and never having been anywhere near Ben Nevis before my eyes were taking it all in, Susie pointing out options for ways down and other routes up the hill. Lunch gave us time to check out our objective, pretty awe inspiring.

Lunch Stop by the CIC hut

A sunny lunch stop by the CIC Hut

We ended up going quite high on the approach path, before contouring in to the approach gully, but it worked out OK as there was a nice big ledge to stop and put harnesses etc on. We used the route description from Dan Bailieys Scottish Mountain Ridges book for the route itself.

We got the rope out for the access chimney, but were soon scrambling off up the ridge after that.


The way ahead

We got the rope out again for the slanty ledge, but back to soling after that.  We made a few trips along promising looking paths – looking for the eastern traverse – but (correctly) wrote them off as unlikley candidates.

Tower Ridge Cave

Really obvious when you find it; enter and climb out through the hole in the roof

When we did find the eastern traverse – leading to the cave it was super obvious, and right below the vertical part of the Great Tower.   I felt like I was getting used to the scrambling now – even on easy climbs I would normally opt for my rock boots – but I was starting to use my feet, and move more confidently.

The weather closed in pretty heavily as we reached the top of the Great Tower, and rain started to fall in earnest. Just in time for Tower Gap. We could just about see it as we peered into the mist.  Ropes out again.  I was secretly a little bit pleased that nobody else was up for leading this. Actually it felt kinda quite easy; one of those reach your tippy toe down moves like the descent from Raven Crag.  Then to belay everyone else across and get into warm clothes.

The guide suggests striking a macho pose at the top of the route – but there was no one there to see. Instead we had a group hug and giggled a bit. Having come this far we then of course had to make a trip to the summit – where we sat in the refuge and and drank tea.

The Top of Ben Nevis

You'll just have to take my word for it - the UK's highest point

A wet descent down the tourist track to the half way lochan, then following the outflow back down to the top car park, and a slow trudge down to the North Face carpark. Last car in the car park, everyone looking very tired.

10 hours car to car.

On the drive home we’d occasionally turn to each other, smile, “hey, we climbed tower ridge”, “giggle giggle”:  still doing that now.

FS: 5.10 Anasazi – Size 5 (UK)

5.10 Anasazi – Size 5 (UK), originally uploaded by lenoclimb.

I’m selling a pair of rock shoes. Five Ten Anasazi Verde’s in Size 5 (UK). £40.