Thursday, 21 March 2013

Get ya (two) grooves on.

yesterdays adventure took me to the lake district and to a route called two grooves on brown cove crags, which is situated on helvelyn on the first shoulder which can be seen from the swirils car park.

Once id met cliff at a car park in ambleside we set off in separate vehicles only to my amusement about 2 minutes down the road cliff ringing me to tell me he had left his BOOTS at his digs, hahaha.

As we set off up the path the weather came in the higher we got and by the time we got under the crag it was blowing a hoolie. thankfully its a short walk in.

In my natural habitat

geared up and ready to go i cracked off up the first pitch which was a bouldery ramp into the first groove, i placed some gear and attempted the first hard section of climbing, the snow was soft and unconsolidated, it had built up in the groove and provided no solid placements what so ever, it only hid all the decent placement rather than providing any.

 on first attempting the groove i wasn't paying attention and naively made placements which i expected to hold and before i knew it with i slight shift of weight i popped off, as i fell i managed to arrest myself and not even load the belay.(i also managed to put a hole in my boot and my foot with my front point of my crampon)

after falling i realised the error of my ways and bucked up my ideas and concentrated on what i was doing. spurred on by the buzz of my fall i nailed the first pitch and set up the belay in blizzarding conditions. lol

Next was cliffs turn and he set off up the soft, sketchy ramp leading to the mouth of the first groove, but i could tell he wasnt happy about the conditions of the route as his body language was screaming out.
from my position at the belay it wasnt filling me with confidence. The soft unconsolidated snow on top of the slabby rock wasnt the best and cliff decided to back down of the lead n see how i got on with it.

i set off up the slabby ramp taking my time to get positive foot and axe placements a torque here a stienpull there and i was up on the ledge to the entrance to the main groove. all the snow that had built up in the groove proved to be hard work clearing it before i could place my axe and move to the next hidden holds and repeat.

i absolutely loved this route it was awesome, if you havent done it already you need to put in on the things to do list. you wont be disapointed, and if when you do it theres still a piton in the upper crack its mine (cliff couldnt get it out)  ENJOY...........

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Super duper super alpine gloves

On my trip to the ben this weekend I took my new mountain equipment super alpine gloves. I also took my old faithful gloves just in case the super alpines weren't so super and my old faith faithfuls never left the sac.

I was exceptionally impressed with the warmth and dexterity of the gloves as my hands never felt cold at any point throughout the day. They dealt with place screw, nuts and tying knots no problem what so ever, also whether I had my hands buried in deep powder trudging up gullies and snow slopes or stood on bleak belay stances they stood up to every test.

The only thing I noticed which I thought could be improved on is the finger length, it seemed to be a touch short, I got a medium which the fingers fit great but the large gloves were baggy but the finger length is the same for both sizes. I don't have massive hands so I reckon mountain equipment could re look at there sizing.

They are a highly durable and reliable glove which will be in my rucksack on every trip here on out.
Highly recommended and you won't be sorry if you decided to get a pair.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Green gully fun.

Another successful trip completed by the Dalton and son climbing duo. Today we set off with the intention of doing green gullly IV 4 *** and on the intial walk from the cic it was looking good.
From the get go from the CIC hut we had no fresh tracks in front of us (which i  was very happy about) and the weather was looking perfect, blue clear sky & no wind. The only problem was the snow as it was like little polystyrene balls under youre feet once you broke through the intial thin crust which didnt fill us with confidence.
With the sketchy snow conditions in mind we treaded carefully and made our way upto the base of the route,which is located inbetween the comb and number three buttress.
After the customery brew we set off up the first pitch which i led. The ice on the route was in great nic abit stepped out but solid ice, there must have been heavy snow over the last few days as all the hooks and the slopes had been filled with deep powder.
Trying to find belays was intresting as we had to dig out the ice and snow from all the cracks to find anything worth using.
It was eds first trip to the ben and he really enjoyed it. He did the second and last pitch which he had an fun time getting through the cornice at the top (hahaha)
I did the crux pitch which had a great vertical section of about 30ft, which could be avoided to the left if you wernt keen.
All the pitchs on this route had good climbing, intresting climbing and rightly so has three stars. Its also good that it finishs on top to which helps with getting down.
Hopefully this amazing winter season isnt over just yet and we can get back before the winter gates are closed on this iconic mountain and its spectacular routes.
Many thanks to ukc member yorksclimb67 for his post on wanting to do the route and giving us the motorvation to get up at 4am and get up there before anyone else.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A good reason for an alibi

I recently had a an issue with my old mamut gloves whilst drytooling at the works, which led me to throw them away in a rage. Without realising I needed a set of gloves for a trip I had planned to Ben Nevis the following week.
I ended up buying a pair of alibi 2s from The outside shop  in hathersage, 
they were £52 on sale from £65 (result).

Although this wasn't the best choose of glove for Scottish winter climbing 
I also took with me a pair of extremities, which were water proof and a good
warm belay glove. 

Thankfully the conditions were incredible and the gloves were ideal, I found 
them great on the Technical sections of the climbing with the tight fit & there
dexterity was great for placing gear Like ice screws and small wire. They were
also brilliant for setting up belays as there was no Issue tying off or doing up
screw gates because of there superior dexterity over many over gloves. 

However the second day out was wet (see vanishing gully post) and they in 
turn where extremely wet to as they are not Water proof in any way. Luckily
 for me it wasn't that cold andthe insulation they provided was More than
sufficient and I didn't suffer with cold hands what so ever, which was great.

I wouldn't recommend the alibi 2s for Scottish winter unless you're very lucky 
with conditions, but they are Brilliant glove for steep technical ice climbing or
drytooling. Ideally you want to use they in dry conditions 
But they do still keep you're hand quite warm even when wet, as long as you keep active. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Old school BMC quarry

Tonight i finished work early so i nipped over the road to a quarry thats in the old bmc kinder guide book but unfortunately no longer climbed.
I gained permission to climb there as its now private property and started to clean some of the routes a couple of weeks ago and then the bad weather kicked in so ive had been back till tonight.

I set up a top rope and used an accender to climb the routes as i was on my own. i did three roue which ranged from VS to HVS, a nice warm up back into outdoor rock climbing after not been on the rock after my spate of winter,drytooling and ice climbing routes over the previous months.

Big Ben Nevis.

Friday 1st march 2013

Our first days climbing had begun like any other, however this was my first time climbing on Ben Nevis and i was sooo psyched it was untrue. our plan was to head up and climb either the curtain or Glover's chimney depending on conditions.
mega excited.
The alarms sounded at 5:00 am and i was that keen i was bolt upright and getting ready in seconds( which isn't like me), wasting no time to get on the hill. once we'd had breakfast which was porridge pots (yum yum) we were off.

Leaving the north face car park (which is located in Torlundy on the way out of fort William on the way to speen bridge), i didn't know what to expect whilst walking through the woods but couldn't wait for what was in store for us. we where sure on what the weather was going to be like as the night before was quite cloudy but once out the woods we got a view of the kingdom of Ben Nevis which had zero cloud and glorious blue skies all around. i couldn't believe my luck, first time Scottish winter climbing and these were just amazing conditions to cut my teeth on.

at the CIC hut we decided to go against our original plans and headed over to minus three gully IV 5 ***.

Photo: Our route on the Ben 1/02/2013...Possibly one of my best days out for a very long time :-)
image curtisy of cliff lowther

the route was in great conditon and amazing climbing all the way to meet the north east buttress. we did the route in 4 pitches and enjoyed every one. at he top of the gully we had to opions, we could ab down or continue up north east buttress.
we obviously decided to continue up the ridge and we were glad we did, what an amazing route it was and for anyone doing the route dont avoid the man trap :-p
we rapped down number 4 gully using an already in palce snow bollard and walked back down to the car.
what an AMAZING day.

The next day we had a rest day because we were in bits, lol.

On our final day we decided to do vanishing gully V 5, the walk up this time felt alot easyier and at the bottom of the route everything was sweet.

cliff led the first pitch, which was a great pitch and he gad a monster run out on step technical ground( very impressive) as i popped my head over the the top and all i could see was cliff stood in a water fall at the belay( not gonna lie i found it funny). 
the second pitch was mine which consisted of step ice and long run outs (paradise if you ask me).
We rapped down 1934 route and we were off.

my first weekends climbing on the ben and im hooked, there something winter climbing that just sets it aside from any other form of climbing, its an adventure and its not just all about the route you climb but the lead up to it, the company and the getting down off the mountain that all adds up to a exceptional and memorable day out.

with other styles of climbing you remember the routes in bits and bobs but Scottish winter routes have more depth and stick with you longer.