The woods around Fontainebleau have a reputation as one of the best places in the world to boulder. Thousands of sandstone boulders, with tens of thousands of boulder problems, scattered about a pretty forest that covers some 300 square kilometres. Fontainebleau also has a reputation as being a great place to take kids. That’s a … Read more Bouldering in Fontainebleau with a Toddler
“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 … Read more A Little Bit of the Eiger – the Rotstock Via Ferrata
Windy, wet and grey – last weekend had a lot in common with other weekends I’ve spent in the Peak District at this time of year. It was still fun though, particularly as I set out to go to bits of the Peak District I’d not been to before. This meant heading around the edge of the moors to the East of Kinder Scout on Saturday.
My route up Grindsbrook Clough.
Walking up Grindsbrook Clough to get onto a windy Kinder Scout.
Looking down Grindsbrook Clough.
One of the many fords I crossed when walking around the edge of Kinder.
Looking across to Grindsbrook Clough from the edge of the moor.
Look towards Jaggers Clough, with Ladybower Reservoir just visible in the distance, from Crookstone Out Moor. I didn’t get much further than this before I got the full force of the wind and decided to turn around.
By Sunday the wind had become so strong that walking around the tops looked impractical (and certainly like a lot of hard work). Read more →
Sometimes the day works out better than you expect. The forecast last weekend was for low clouds and showers. That’s certainly how the day started out, but by the time I’d walked up to the edges and tors above the Derwent Valley a low autumn sun had broken through to create one of the best days I’ve had in the Peak District. Read more →
Rock climbers are advised to work on their weaknesses in order to get better. The trouble is, since my injury, I’ve had quite a few weaknesses.
A piece of advice that I’ve read in lots of different places is that you should work at getting better at the things you are weak at if you want to become a better rock climber. The thinking behind this is that people tend to avoid the things they’re not very good at. A lack of practice means that you don’t get better at the thing they’re shunning and so continue to avoid it. In rock climbing, you could be avoiding something because you find it’s too physically hard and/or you cannot master the technique. For the first few years after I started climbing my particular weakness was smearing. It felt insecure, unnatural and unsafe. So, I tried to climb routes using as little smearing as possible. This was a bit of a challenge as I was doing a lot of gritstone climbing at the time. However, somewhere along the way I did enough smearing to get the hang of it. It went from being unnerving, to being another useful way of getting up a climb, to being fun. I now really enjoy smearing up a featureless gritstone slab. Read more →
It’s been a year since I climbed on real rock and six months since the accident. After lots of physio exercises, surgery and weekly sessions at climbing walls to remind my body how to climb, last weekend I finally got back to climbing outside. It brought a smile to my face and reminded me of why I love to climb.
The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more →
Why does the best weather always seem to happen the weekend before I go on a climbing trip? Sunshine, clear skies and low winds bless the destinations of my long-planned climbing trips on the weekends before I try to go climbing. The weather forecasters often refer to “unseasonably good weather” when talking about those weekends, before going on to say “but the weather will change mid-week.” This means that by the time I try to go climbing the weather is rainy, unsettled, changeable or in some other way not really ideal for rock climbing. That preceding weekend feels like a teaser of what might have been. It makes not being able to climb because it’s raining that little bit more annoying.
This is what happened last weekend. A weekend of good weather in the Peak District was followed by an intermittently rainy weekend. After a couple of abortive attempts, Read more →
Climbing in the Peak District at this time of year usually means three things for me. Hoping that it won’t be raining so that I can actually climb. Trying to avoid climbing on rock covered in damp, green lichen that it’s easy for my hand or foot to slip off. Plus, climbing at a level that I can manage and enjoy when I either have a cold or am recovering from one.
The rain that had poured down on the Peak District last Friday disappeared by Saturday to leave clear skies and brilliant sunshine. It was great weather for bouldering and I was really pleased that I could try out bouldering at Curbar Edge for the first time. Read more →
My self-rescue skills became rusty because I never got into the sort of trouble where they would be needed. That’s definitely a good thing. My self-rescue skills also became rusty because I never practiced them and didn’t get refresher training as often as I should have. That’s definitely a bad thing. The self-rescue course I did at the weekend highlighted for me just how risky it had been leaving it so long to get a refresher. There were so many aspects of the rope work that I had forgotten and other aspects that I wasn’t particularly confident on. The instructors were great at talking me through the steps of a variety of techniques and putting them to use in different scenarios on the rock. I feel more confident about self-rescue now and determined to practice it more often (although, only in pretend situations).
Me practising tying off a belay.
A view of Hathersage from Lawrencefield, where I did the first day of the self-rescue course.
Me prussiking up a rope (badly).
Me learning how to do a hoist
Sam abseiling (rappelling) past a knot.
Burbage, where I did the second day of the self-rescue course.
Me abseiling down to check on my climbing partner after having removed myself from the system.
What a great weekend of climbing in the Peak District. I did a selection of varied and interesting climbs, the sun shone (mostly), it wasn’t raining (mostly) and there was enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay.
Me seconding Ash Tree Crack (VDiff) at Burbage.
Leading Wall Corner (HVD, 4a) at Burbage.
Leading Wall Corner (HVD, 4a) at Burbage.
Me at the start of my lead of Ring Climb (Severe, 4a) at Burbage
The Grand Hotel bouldering area and the Goliath’s Groove area of Stanage Edge
Me leading Hollybush Gully Right Direct (Severe, 4a) at Stanage.
My climbing trips this Spring have had cold winds, some bright sun and (thankfully) no rain. This has given me the chance to really get back into climbing on rock and to do some great climbs. It feels like I’ve warmed up for the rest of my climbing year.
My first trad lead of 2016 on Recess Crack (VDiff) at Bamford Edge.
Climbing the absolutely brilliant Gargoyle Flake (VS, 4c) at Bamford Edge.
Climbing the boulder problem Big Slab Right (V0+, 5a) on a wonderfully sunny day at Higgar Tor.
Hound Tor and Haytor
Me on the top of the pinnacle on Pinnacle Buttress at Dewerstone (thanks to Peter for the photo).
A busy Spring day at Stanage Popular end.
The BMC Guidebook describes this climb (Mantlepiece RIght, HVD) as a “bit steep and scary.” The scary bit probably comes from how hard it is to get a second piece of gear in, but I finally managed it.
I didn’t know how Leo was going to feel about his first camping trip last weekend. He’s not yet two years old and being taken away from his home and routine to spend a long weekend camped in a field at night and bouldering in the day might have been a bit too much for him. My main concern was that he would be nervous of the tent. I wondered how Valerie and I could coax Leo into what might seem to him to be a giant orange monster. Read more →