Showing posts from November, 2013

A New Route in Coire an Lochain

There was plenty of activity in Coire an Lochain on Saturday with teams on many of the classics. Plan 'A' had been The Hoarmaster but there were climbers already gearing up at its base. Instead we turned our attention to a line left of Oesophagus that was missing from the guidebook. It looked a strong enough line with a clean corner distinguishing the first pitch. Too good not to try we thought.

My partner Michael led the first pitch up parallel grooves with sparse protection. Some strong pulls on turf at the top of the grooves confirmed that it was totally frozen solid. Then the left-facing corner, which offered up plenty of bomber hooks and gear. A further short step brought Michael to the belay above an excellent first pitch.

I led the second pitch, which continued up an obvious off-width crack. I considered that maybe I had a potential fight on my hands were it able to fit my girth. 'Fortunately' this was not the case and I managed to largely bridge my way around t…

Cote d'Azur, France

I had plenty of annual leave to take during the second half of 2013 as a consequence of being out of action through the first half of the year. Trips to Ariège, Bregalia, and Lundy had started the ball rolling. Even with an ice climbing trip to Cogne booked over Christmas and New Year I still had a week to play with. Where to spend a week in November? Wadi Rum appealed but was maybe too long haul for a week. We considered the Alps but concluded November might prove too much of a gamble. There was always the UK but the wet weather did not overly inspire us to stick around.

In contrast the South of France sounded appealing. Particularly in light of the great trip to Ariège earlier the same year. There would be sunshine, cheap wine and good cheese on offer and hopefully some good climbing, albeit with weak fingers. Most of my prior training had focused on winter. Lots of chalk climbing and weights. Not much time at the wall pulling on plastic and one very wet weekend at Portland where I…

It's Not Sport Climbing Folks...

I was falling… My hip crashed into the cliff three bolts below my high point. I looked down to see blood dripping from my fingers and a bulldog and quickdraw dangling from my rope. The last piece of in-situ gear had blown during the fall. I had fallen a good five metres. Fortunately the bolts below the bulldog were sound enough to catch me. My hip felt sore from the impact. I had been only a few moves below the lower-off of Cold Front (C5+) at the Eastern end of the cliffs. Almost close enough to reach out and touch the lower-off ring with an axe. I was clueless as to what had caused the fall. I had done the hard moves out right above the roof and seemed to have it in the bag. The composure and tension had felt controlled. The last thing I remember was trying to get my feet set above the roof. But then I was off. Maybe a foot hold broke off? I have no recollection.

A second attempt was out of the question. Blood was running down my fingers and my hip was sore. The main problem though …