Tag Archives: Pete

I shit on your Death Gully

16th September 2019

Dolomites
Punta Sud from the wrong direction

So this should have been a exciting and dramatic start to our adventure in the Dolomites. With a full blue sky day almost guaranteed and a fantastic Via Ferrata in Tomaselli the destination what could go wrong. Or in our immortal team moto, “Whats the worst that could happen”. Well it did!

This is what happens when you combine over exuberance, with unfounded assumptions and poor decision making. Access to Tomaselli should in theory be straight forward. Get the Lagazuoi cable car and then follow the signs for the Via Ferrata on path 20b. We even had a map to complement the cicerone guide. So how did we miss the right fork and end up dropping the entire length of the valley before realising we’d gone wrong.

Then the second mistake. Instead of returning and finding the correct start I recommended coming at the ferrata from the ridge of Cima Scotoni, described as an exposed walk into the Tomaselli VF. The map showed a route in and in hindsight (always reliable 🙂 ) it probably was ok, but once again we made an assumption which was ill founded.

We set off up the very steep pass of Forcella di Lech and then branched off up towards Cima Scotoni. The track is marked by Red and White flags and is a treacherous ascent up a scree filled valley which goes on and on and on and on finally reaching a flag on a blocky outcrop. From here the flags seemed to stop suggesting the very steep gully to our right was the way. Incorrect assumption number two. Logic had it that if we cut the ridge of Cima Scotoni then we’d pick up the ridge path and be able to follow this back to Punta Sud and then Tomaselli.

But having reached the top of the very loose, fragile and snow filled gully we were presented with two teetering piles of choss on either side. I tried a sortie to get on the ridge but everything moved and given this was Pete and Tony first foray into the mountains it was no a clever idea to get us stuck on the crest of a dangerous ridge. Also I had no gear and only a 10m rope.

Only one course of action…. retreat. “Whats the worst that could happen” out the window and rightly so as this was only going to end in disaster if we continued to pursue our current course. Pete’s remark of the fact it was only 1pm was right, but its easy to forget the scale of these peaks and even if we had found the correct ridge it would have meant completing the walk into Tomaselli and descent in 6 hrs. Sounds a lot, but we’d have missed the Cable car and it would have been a staggeringly long day.

As it was it turned into a feat of endurance. What an introduction for Pete and Tony! So it was back down Death Gully (after me and Pete both marked our territory), a scree down the main path with everyone adopting interesting techniques for skiing on scree. And then the awful slog back up to the Cable Car which never got any closer. Not sure what we would have done if we missed it, but we scraped onto the last one with a huge look of relief from the crew.

So these kind of days are a testament to what adventures in the mountains are like. No pain, no gain. Despite not achieving our goal, we had an epic mountain day. Massively tiring, but we went to places we will never go to again (hopefully). Well done on Tony and Pete for persevering – not that they had much choice.

Very much in keeping with Rule 4

Cleaning out the Gutters

26th July 2019
Snowdonia National Park

So there were some interesting statistics acquired on this walk from a combination of fitbit data and Strava. 6850ft of ascent, 28.95 miles covered, 17 hrs of walking, 6,874 calories burnt, 6 x 3000ft peaks summited, 1 x Grade 3 scramble, 1 x Grade three RRR (triple R rated) descent, 3 wrong turns, 2 packs of Uncle Bens rice eaten and 14 midge bites.

Crib Goch

Not bad for a failed attempt at the 3000’ers. However you could argue some mitigating circumstances. 35 mph winds, low cloud, rain and a propensity to chat to every stranger who came within range.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jF-g7CqTx-XeSROlI0DrA26qgNOdUCXs/view?usp=sharing

The link above gives a flavour of a great day out. To be fair it was a really tough day, with a 3.30 start to maximise the daylight time (turned out we needed it as we rolled into Gwern Gof Isaf at 10 pm!)

The killer from Nant Peris to Elidir Fawr

So we started on a very blowy Crib Goch, moved onto Garnedd Ugain in the clouds and then Snowdon itself. Then down the Llanberis Path where we dropped off (literally as we took our own route down a suicidal field and into boggy woods) to Nant Peris. Then we got a little lost, the slogged it up the diagonal path from hell to the top of Elidir Fawr. Around the horseshoe rim of the col to a slope up to Yr Garn. Down to above Devil’s Kitchen and then skid up the scree to Glyder Fawr. Rock hop to Glyder Fach and down a treacherous descent to the saddle of Tryfan. Quick scramble up the South Ridge and then the long walk out to Gwern Goff Isaf campsite.

Our alternative descent of the Snowdon spur

That equated to 17hrs of walking with only a few breaks for trail snacks and water. Not bad for a bunch of old crocks.

What do you mean he’s not damaged!!?

2nd November 2018

Luckey Tor

Eagles Nest – Severe 4a – Lead
Original Route – Severe 4a -Lead

Sat on the ledge at the top of Eagles Nest, Pete and I reflected on what it means to be able to enjoy the opportunity for a bit of solitude and time away from the usual influences of everyday life. I know that there are people who go to extremes to capture moments like this, but here in our own backyard is a little bit of paradise.

What light!

It’s not good to gloat, but sometimes it’s so nice to realise that you’ve captured a moment in time which only you (and a few close mates) are privy to. Staring out across the canopy of trees towards the dart Pete and I, for a while, were the only people enjoying one of the most beautiful views in Devon (Dave and Tom were battling up an adjacent climb). It was also nice to be able to completely relax. Another thing our culture ensures is in in short supply.

Life Affirming

Enough of the eulogising. The walk in and out of Luckey Tor is nothing short of breathtaking. Moss covered boulders; twisted tree trunks and roots; a rock strewn river and an umbrella of trees accompanies you to a hidden gem of a crag. Tom and I had been here a few times before, but it was Dave and Petes first time. The video clip says it all!

The four of us concentrated on two severe’s for the day, but both were tough for the grade and also very good for the grade. Eagles Nest is all about the final ‘out there’ move through the V cleft, whereas Original Route has a gnarly traverse (poorly protected on the lead). They made for some real entertainment on this day.

Pete jammed in approaching the crux on Eagles Nest

Most importantly was the return of Pete, following his retirement. Great to have him along for the day. A real return to a fun day out. Dave and Tom seemed to have things wired as well, with two good leads. Got to love these Dartmoor sandbags 🙂

This plan sucks!

8th July 2016

Lands End / Dingo Area

Blue – HS 4b – Lead (just…)

The header just about summed up my feelings as I started on the opening moves of Blue for the umpteenth time (8 or 9 attempts at least). A period of inactivity, too much good food and a liberal dose of wet rock was playing devestating games with my confidence.

OK, lets try not to break anything here....

OK, lets try not to break anything here….

A actually really like Lands End. There is something special about climbing on the tip of England and as usual the views are stunning. If there is a down side it would be the varying rock quality, which can feel insecure and crumbly. This is possibly due to lack of traffic, but the integrity of the rock does change.

Heading for a little sit down

Heading for a little sit down

Joe and Nick were definitely suffering from this over on Dr Syntax’s Head, finding some nasty HVS’s to occupy themselves on. Meanwhile Dave, me and Pete were wrestling with Blue. From below it looks reasonably inoccuous. But this hides the steepness and difficulty of the opening moves. It overhangs for a start and the holds are small.

Your a Bas#*rd Riddell

Your a Bas#*rd Riddell

Gear is OK but you make the difficult moves above it until you reach the first break. With wet holds I continually found myself slipping off until after one abortive attempt where I had to lower off, I managed to climb it clean. I was so stuffed by the end though. Absolutely drained in fact.

Dave looking very calm and collected

Dave looking very calm and collected

Its a great climb in fact, but not HS and harder than 4b. VS 4c probably, because of the opening moves and the top jam. The wet didnt help, but it was still hard.

"So anyway. As I was throwing for this dyno mono........"

“So anyway. As I was throwing for this dyno mono……..”

Good on Pete for a stirling effort after a long period of semi retirement. Good to see him back on it and no mishaps on this day. Dave, who is climbing better and better made short work of it. Many thanks for the patience they both showed in waiting for me to sort my head out.

Nick on some kind of Mare at DSH

Nick on some kind of Mare at DSH

I am going to return here and repeat this one in good conditions (and the tough and bold looking VS to its side), hopefully on the same day I bag Cormorants Bill. 🙂

25% Pink??

17th July 2015

Oldwalls Point

Matchless – E1 5b – Lead

According to my DNA listing I am roughly 5% Irish, 2% Iberian, 2% North African, 46% Western European, 20% Anglo Saxon and 25% Viking or Pink as the boys put it. I prefer the analogy with hairy arsed, ax wielding, pillaging fellas from up north personally.

View north from Oldwall

View north from Oldwall

Mind you, being part viking would help on a day like this, where the walk in was equally as terrifying as the climb. Teetering pile of choss is a good description for the area around Oldwalls Point. Looking at the huge fin of rock I wonder how long it can survive. I’m glad I got on it now.

The fin of Oldwalls Point

The fin of Oldwalls Point

After a sketchy traverse onto the ridge above the wall/slab you are faced with an abseil down a grassy gully and down to the beach. Pete, using his particular branch of warped logic felt that extending the gully out onto the wall might create a fun situation. It duly obliged, launching him into an arc across the face resulting in ‘resistable force meets very immoveable object’. Hence Pete spent the rest of the day bleeding over the beach and anything else that came close to him.

Pete, post abseil

Pete, post abseil

Chris and I set up for matchless, which was … well ‘matchless’. Its quite unique in the climbs I’ve done, with a full on wall experience which makes mincemeat of your toes. The crux is fairly low down ( I always hate that) with a series of difficult moves past a rusting old peg. The committing part is starting off past the peg. Tiny holds and smeary foot placements get you into slightly better territory, but not enough to set and place gear, so I had to push on a ways until a nice thank god hold appears allowing for everything to calm down.

A rest of sorts but your feet are screaming by now!

A rest of sorts but your feet are screaming by now!

From there it just keeps coming at you, consistently good climbing with pretty good gear up to the pancake. The next dilema is ‘push on through the veritable forest’ or take the clean unprotected arete. I took the arete which is fairly easy but needs to be treated with real care.

Chris about to find out the Pancake isnt any easier

Chris about to find out the Pancake isnt any easier

All in all, a fantastic route which Chris smiled his way up, with a few cheek puffing moments. I think this one suits both our techniques which is why we were so chuffed with the route.

Joe on More than a Match

Joe on More than a Match

Meanwhile Joe was fighting his way up More than a match, the E3 next to Matchless. It looks to be in a similar vein except for some grunty moves at the bottom. It does have a 5c move so one to consider for the future maybe. Thats if I can be pursuaded to clamber back across the nightmare that is the walk in and out.

The treacherous escape

The treacherous escape

Pete, Chris and I exited off the beach, saving the most dubious climbing until the end with Chris nearly getting stuch in a pile of shale and Pete threading his way up through a boulder field and remarking on how one particular boulder the size of a Mini was loose. It happeded to be right above me and thankfully he treated it with kid gloves.

Now the most scary part. Explaining Pete’s injuries to Melis!!!

Crock Fest

31st October 2014
Carn Barra
Edge Street – VS 4c – Lead

This was a long awaited return for both Dave and Pete to the group, having spent the last weeks recouperating from ripped tendons/ligaments and a broken ankle respectively.

Rough Seas at Black Carn North

Rough Seas at Black Carn North

We spent a couple of hours checking out Black Carn North which shows loads of promise but was a bit exposed and damp on this day. We spotted three good routes and an E2 which looks tough but do-able.

Looking across at Carn Barra

Looking across at Carn Barra

Retreating to the upper cliffs of Carn Barra turned out to be a good call. A little less exposed and Edge Street was very worthwhile. A technical first pitch leads to a run out second. The arete is very bold if followed religously, but I veered off left to place some pro before returning for the final exposed moves.

Dave enjoying Edge Street

Dave enjoying Edge Street

Dave finished it off with a strenuous final pitch involving a a bouldery move to get established on the face. Tom and Pete meanwhile were engaged in a sort of jigsaw climb where they pieced together pitches from at least three routes into what looked like a reall good climb.

A fun and welcome return to climbing for all of us.

 

 

Blood Brothers

9th May 2014

Logan Rock

Lightning Crack – HVS 5a – Lead
The Wormhole – V Diff – Solo

God I hate the guide book comments on Logan Rock. For the most part the Climbers Club Guide is brilliant, but they had an aberation when it came to Logan Rock. Normally I pick up one route and from there everything falls into place. Not here. Everything is so vague you cant even pick one out.

The line of Lightning Crack

The line of Lightning Crack

Still after a little tantrum early on Pete and I set off on one of our ‘Adventures’! It was so much fun. Abbing in with the tide pushing  and swell charging into Castle Boot Zawn. Hanging just above the surge made for an exctiting belay and the initial moves meant dropping down to sea level and quickly moving back up before a wave got you. Speed climbing.

Me posing at the belay in Castle Boot Zawn

Me posing at the belay in Castle Boot Zawn

We negotiated the initial moves setting up an improvised belay part way up the groove to avoid rope drag. It’s all a little off balance but great climbing. Then the main event. The pull up into Lightning crack through an overhang. Well protected but scary. And after a few good holds its all jamming. My footwork was appalling resulting in me getting stuck lying along with my right foot jammed. After some serious grunting and heavy breathing I managed to untie myself and get some poise back. Then its a balancy mantle onto the face and its all done. Simples… Except I left blood all over the place in my desperate attempt to untangle myself. Its amazing how adrenaline masks the pain of jamming in sharp crystaline cracks. I’m feeling it today though.

Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers

Meanwhile Dave was finding out about Logan Rocks serious issue with undergrading. The two HS cracks are probably VS and E1. The whole place is full of great potential but a lot of it is hard.

Dave wondering how an HS can be so hard!

Dave wondering how an HS can be so hard!

The end of the day saw Tom and Dave working some of the hard routes on the short face in the main bay (Crack 1 and 2 area).  Pete and I undertook some caving finding a bizarre route which worked its way from the bottom to the top via hollows between jammed boulders and narrow gulleys and chimneys. Probably not a new route but I call it ‘The Wormhole’ and grade it V Diff just because its so f@#!k#$g awkward and tight. Pete is coming along great guns and his confidence is soring. We both solo’d the whole route. Never high, but committing all the same. More fun than chasing cats!

Climbing or Caving?

Climbing or Caving?

The Logan Rock Inn provided a fitting end to an amazing day in a stunning breath taking location. How can you not feel happy when you have this on your doorstep.

Vegetables are good for you. Sometimes…

2nd May 2014

Pen Olver – The Lizeard

Lying Eyes – Severe 4a – Lead
The Womb Tomb – Severe 4a – Second
The Giant Carrot – E1 5b – Lead
Sesame Street – V Diff (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha………!! ) – Second

Before we even got to Pen Olver I knew I would end up preoccupied with The Giant Carrot. I’d checked it out on our previous visit but didnt have the nerve to do it. This time I thought I’d better give it closer attention.

Pen Olver_May14 002

Pen Olver was looking its best. Calm seas. light winds and a cool temperature. Typical spring day really. Chris and I paired up, with Tom, Dave and Pete in the triumvate. I suspect Pete felt that Dave and Tom might give him an easier time of it so he could rest his damaged leg. I think maybe he was wrong here as Dave set off on the brilliant but tricky ‘The Peoples Queen’.  Pete who has been climbing superbly recently had time to squeeze in an ascent of Lying Eyes, my first lead of the day as well. No rest for the …..

Pen Olver_May14 005

Lying Eyes is short but OK. A good warm up route and it gets you to the top of the pinnacle which is always a treat. Looking across at Dave fighting his way up TPQ ,I think Chris and I had the easier option but Dave despatched yet another VS to add to his growing list.

Pen Olver_May14 007

Chris then subjected himself to a bit of ‘trollism’ as he negotiated the fantastic ‘ The Womb Tomb’. Anyone who goes to Pen Olver should do this climb. It is excellent. The final exposed traverse just caps off what is a truly different experience form most climbs. And the famous cave painting is still there. Or is it a fake??

Pen Olver_May14 011

So onto my main event. Or would it be? From below I thought I had this one sussed.But once on it, it becomes a different beast. Not sure I agree that there are small wires to be had on the traverse. I placed two in what appeared to be good slots, only for one of them to shatter when Chris removed it. A crucial cam in the face settled my nerves and I was away. It was scary, but scary good. A few difficult moves later I was sucking in air on the arete and feeling decidedly sick. Way too much adrenaline. But what a buzz. I was soooo pleased to get this one, especially after making a couple of false starts.

Pen Olver_May14 020

The adrenaline wasnt finished for the day though. Chris was scratting around for a lead wanting something around HS but not finding anything. So he settled for a really good looking line called Sesame Street. Given V Diff in the book. V Diff My Arse!! I always trot out the saying that if it looks hard from the ground, it is hard.

Pen Olver_May14 028

Chris found this out, battling up the route and getting a real shock at its difficulty. Looks like he got his VS, because I rekon this was the more appropriate grade. It made for a fitting end to what was a great day out.  Tom spent a lot of the afternoon racking up leads on the Main Face with Pete. Looks like Pete might get his 60 after all.

 

Clouds to right of them, Clouds to left of them, Clouds in front of them, Volley’d and thunder’d;

21st March 2014

Bosigran

Venusberg – VS 4c – Lead

Ok a bit over dramatic but as has been typical of 2014 the weather was iffy. We spent the day watching dark squalls slowly travelling cross the ocean passing to our left and right, but somehow missing us. Tennyson’s poem seemed apt. How we escaped the rain I dont know but we did and I’m grateful for that.

Moody Bosigran

Moody Bosigran

Pete and I teamed up to have a go at Venusberg while Dave and Tom went off to do Ding. Chris had done Venusberg a while back with Nick and I’d always wanted to try it. Described as one of the more technical VS’s at Bosi it lived up to its reputation. The four pitches have a bit of everything. Pitch one deals out a tough mantleshelf, some abck and fronting up the back of the pinnacle, run out balancy climbing on pitch 3 and a very windy exit on pitch 4.

Happy Pete

Happy Pete

I think that Pete may have enjoyed this one more than me judging by the massive grin he ws sporting. A real adventure on a day when we had no right to expect to be able to climb. Lucky us!

Dave does descending

17th January 2014

Trewarvas – West Crag

Mouseproof – S 4a – Lead

A late start meant that Pete and I only had time for one route and Mouseproof proved to be a worthwhile undertaking.

The big Reach

The big Reach

For a Severe it is quite bold. Pro is tricky to find and a couple of the balancy moves require you to gain height before placements become available. I really liked it and enjoyed the exposure of the final moves.

Dave high on Avalanche Direct

Dave high on Avalanche Direct

Meanwhile Dave, Chris and Tom were on Avalanche having a go at the direct variation. This is an entirely different proposition to the regular route. Much thinner in the top section and much more difficult. Dave could testify to this as he put in some air time during a valiant attempt to clean the final few moves. Pete managed to sail through Avalanche making the top moves look fairly tame. They’re not!

Pete on Avalanche

Pete on Avalanche

A short day really, but hopefully just a taster for what is to come.