Well, the clue is in the name. You can’t really start out on this climb unaware that some bit of rock is going to wobble when you hold on to it. However, some of the wobbly rocks are more obvious than others and the guidebook doesn’t mention the most important of them. Read more
“All the Grindelwald via ferrata are closed.” The woman at the tourist information office said these words in a firm, brisk tone that indicated that she didn’t realise that I would find them disappointing. I knew that there was a risk that the long, cold winter might mean that some mountain routes would still be impassable with snow that the hot July sun had not yet melted. I had started to accept that this might be quite a high risk when I had seen snow clinging to slopes and hiding in gullies as I looked out of the train window on the way in to Grindelwald. My trip to the tourist information office in Grindelwald had been done in the hope that I would be told my concerns were unfounded because there was one via ferrata around Grindelwald that I particularly wanted to climb. Not only had the tourist information woman confirmed that I wasn’t wrong, but added that there was also a risk of rock fall. I could have not let this news stop me from trying to climb, as you can’t, strictly speaking, close a cable and a series of ladders running up a mountain. However, I know the importance of listening to local advice about mountain conditions if you want to stay safe and so thanked the woman before walking out dejectedly. Read more
Rain, or the threat of it, is a big part of the life of an English rock climber. A fair amount of time is spent planning how to avoid rain, waiting for rain to stop, finding somewhere that it isn’t raining or just being rained on. In 2012, I seemed to spend far more time than usual in this dance with the rain and so wanted somewhere for my honeymoon in November where I could climb without having to worry too much about rain driving me off the crag. Gran Canaria, the biggest of the Canary Islands, was the destination my wife and I settled on.
By being off the coast of North Africa, Gran Canaria has a warm climate that is prevented from being too hot by the trade winds that blow in off the Atlantic. During the time I was there, the temperature varied between 23C to 29C and could be pretty humid. The rock is volcanic and made up of strata formed by eruptions and eroded into a rugged, mountainous interior with canyons (barranco) fanning out from the centre like the spokes of a wheel. Read more
I think this route is missing a tree. The guidebook says there are three trees, but I only found two. This made Pinnacle Ridge surprisingly confusing.
Pinnacle Ridge is a two-pitch, Severe graded rock climb at Polldubh crags in Glen Nevis in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a lovely and interesting climb and it feels justified that the guidebook (Scottish Rock, Volume 1, South by Gary Latter) gives it two out of four stars. The route pretty much follows the crest of the buttress and so I thought route finding would be easy. However, I was trying to judge the exact positions of rock features by refer to trees. Read more
Rock climbing guide books are an invaluable resource and are essential to ensure that you don’t end up climbing the wrong route or no route at all (both of which can be scary and/or dangerous). Unfortunately, the features of the routes that guide books describe do sometimes change. The route descriptions in the books also need to be quite brief and this lack of detail can sometimes lead to you being surprised by some aspect of a route. For these reasons, I am starting a regular series of posts on “what they don’t tell you in the guide book.” The first such post is about Craig yr Aderyn.