Category: outdoors

Alpine Daydreaming

Mont Ruan, originally uploaded by <<<...Buddhamountain....

A dear friend bought me “Trekking in the Alps” for Christmas. A nice glossy summary of 20 classes routes. But where to start?

Trekking in the Alps, a Cicerone GuideI’m quite fancying the Tour of Mont Ruan. There’s dinosaur footprints and no guidebook. It’s also 5-6 days so doable in a weeks holiday maybe?

There’s long term goals of Tour of Mont Blanc and HRP also in my head, so this might be a good introduction.

The good news, there’s a website, the bad it’s in French. This seems to suggest 4 stages, so I guess the summit side trips make it longer.

Let the research begin!

Fresh Perspectives

Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, originally uploaded by lenoclimb.

Took a wander up a new, to me, hill yesterday. Swirl How, up the west side edge and back over Weatherlam.

An early encounter with Highland Coos, and an absence of motorway style paths brought a faint wiff of Scotland to the day.  The steady climb round the skyline was rewarded with new and exciting views of some old favourites.  Bowfell exerting a certain majesty, Crinkle Crags looking fine.

Nice to get off the beaten path a little and appreciate the classics a bit more because of it.

‘Gorm Backpacking

It seems like a bit ago now, but about a month ago, I got away for a weekend backpacking with the girls. Simple idea. Drive up to Aviemore on Friday night, walk over Braeriach on Saturday, camp Saturday night somewhere, walk back on Sunday.

The Friday plan didn’t go quite as planned, all the Avimeore campsite were full (which was repeated last week when we tried to find one there abouts – I guess folk must be staycationing this summer).  We ended up sleeping in a logging lay-by up Glen Feshie. What we saved on camping fees we blew on breakfast in Aviemore.

Chalamain Gap by fiona

Chalamain Gap, Photo by Fiona

The walk in was hot, the walk up was in cloud.  We didn’t see anyone after the Lairig Ghru until the summit, so it was just us girls laughing and gossiping in the mist.  We started to drop down to Glen Einich – but as we did found a great place to camp.  Below the cloud – waterfalls behind us, babbling burn to the front ,and flat.  And like *the best views eva*.

Sunday we just walked the long, but flat way out, more gossiping and chat, a bit about the merits of going bra less on the hill; more breathable and less to get wet/smell, but when it’s cold men do stare in quite an alarming fashion.

Also much chat about the foot path signs in the Rothymurcas estate, a rather patronising scene of a male, with a protective arm around the woman (she was wearing a skirt) guiding her along.  I mean who wears skirts for walking? and well the protective guiding thing?  what were they thinking?

From the write up it sounds like we had a very political time – we didn’t we just had  good fun time, mucking about on the hill.  It were great

Longer View

The first hour, and coincidently the first uphill are always the hardest. The body is fighting back and the mind is racing. Thoughts flit, used to a constant whirr. Calves burn.

But as the hour passes you settle to the task, and your outlook grows; this isn’t short term, there are hours ahead. The new pace is accepted, the view gets longer. I like that.

Vercors Climbing

des Allières

A small crag, with an easy walkin – not the most picturesque location (althought the valley is), but for what it’s worth in my book ideal first day crag. Its situated above the Village of Lans en vercor, and next to the fire road leading to the des Allières Auberge. Much used by groups, softer grading, and in the words of Mike “where you want a jug, there are three”, all make a good confidence boosting start to holiday. And the best thing about this crag? In the shade until about 2pm.


Wow! The cliffs here are BIG. 300m in places. If you aren’t impressed, then you probably aren’t a climber. Presles is a catch all name for a multitude of sectors on these impressive cliffs which sit below the village of Presles, which inturn lies on the plateau above. We stayed at the municiple campsite at Coronche, which lies in the valley bottom. 2 of the days we where here it was hot hot hot (doh – that’ll be July then!) So we stuck to climbing in the morning and evening, at the Tina Dalle sector. it’s a little polished in places, and the gradings quite stiff – but plesant.

Salad Days IMG_5598
Salad Days. Does this count as one of my 5 a day?

Our third day here we spent at the less accessible Sector Guarany. After bushwacking down trough the steep wood, we found lovely if slightly ‘salad’ like climbing (some of the best all holiday I thought) – shame rain stoped play after just 3 climbs.

In summary, Presles is one of those places that makes you want to be a much better climber – there clearly loads of amazing routes in far out places- and despite it being great to climb there, doing easy stuff on polished single pitch sectors seems a bit of waste.

Lans en Vercors

A deceptively large crag, with loads of different sectors, and a wide grade spread (3b to 8a). From the road you can only really see the Sector des Trous (sector of holes), but round the corner there is another 5 sectors. We climbed mainly in the Sector Humour Noir, and the Sector des Trous.

Lans Pierre in the Sector des Trous

The crag reminded me a bit of a Guadi cathedral or a Sudano-Sahelian mosque – It’s hard to explain, but have a look at pictures of these buildings and it might be clearer. At an altitude of over 1000m we never really found it too hot to climb here, although the weather was less hot in general while we were here.

Les Trois Pucelles

You can either translate this as the three virgins or the three maidens depending on your sensibilties. Les Trois Pucelles dominates the skyline at you look up from grenoble to St. Nizer.

Les Trois Pucelles

The first ‘getting’ lost happened in the woods on the way up – which is a thin trail up through the woods, and then up the gully. You start the route round the corner in the gully then traverse left to right, to get to the base of the middle virgin. First pitch, fell to me – a sparsley bolted traverse, when you set off you have about 5m of space below you – by the end of the pitch about 50m, but all OK, because even if it’s slight pokey, the climbing is easy. The second pitch is more wandering through a wood attached to a rope (think the 2nd pitch on Little Chamonix – but longer). The third pitch we never found. We thought we found it – but it wasn’t bolted. We tried some alternatives – random bolts leading us down dead, vertical soil, ends. In the end we abbed off, and went up the gully. This turned out to be a whole big adventure in itself – of the loose rock and caving variety.

In conclusion The Vercors is a good climbing destination – but probably best not to go in July.