Tag Archives: Tony

I shit on your Death Gully

16th September 2019

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.


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.

The bleaker the better

1st – 4th November 2012


This is becoming a regular outing, one way or another. On this occasion Dave, Tom, Chris and Tony were along for the trip, with a cameo from Bart and his mate Adam. And each year brings something a little different. Last year it was torrential rain, with the paths flowing like rivers; the year before heavy snow and this year probably somewhere in the middle. Only once have the conditions been spot on for climbing, so maybe its time to move the trip to earlier in the year.

Contemplating the North Ridge

In usual fashion we arrived in the dark to set up on a very wet site. My tent decided it had had enough and became wetter on the inside than outside. For a Macpac I’m a bit disappointed. They are regarded as bombproof but this is anything but, with the bucket sheet losing its hydrostatic ability completely. Still, Macpac have offered to replace it, so it’s not all bad.

Getting stuck in

The two days ended up being centred around walking and scrambling. Not a bad thing, although I’d set my heart on climbing. The hills had a fair amount of snow on them and the decision to do the North ridge turned out to be a good one. Although a bit icy, it was great fun and some sections needed a bit of tenacity to get past slippy and damp slabs and holds. As usual the views from the ridge were stunning.

Success. Close to the summit.

The next day proved a bit of a dilemma. I wanted to check out Criag yr Ysfa with a view to doing one of the V Diffs there, but in the end the cold beat us and we set off on the Carnedd ridge walk finishing at Pen yr Ole Wen.

Craig yr Ysfa but a bit cold for 7 pitches

With strong winds, snow/hail storms and generally inhospitable conditions it was fantastic. Regulating your temperature is so difficult in these conditions. One minute hot, then freezing – I must have taken my jacket off a dozen times during the day.

The weather closes in

Having done this walk, I would like to do a bit more in snow and ice. Maybe some of the scrambles as long as I have crampons.

Descent off Pen yr ole wen

What I have discovered though is that cold is not my favorite condition, as I know from my surfing. Maybe its time for some winter sun destinations instead!

Magnificent Triffan


13th October 2012

Chudleigh Rocks – South Face
Inkerman Groove – VS 4c – Lead

Of the four people Tony and I spoke to at Chudleigh all mentioned the ‘polish’. I think this probably gave a good indication of what we could expect from the venue. Having said that all said how good the climbing was so there must be a balance somewhere.

Chudleigh Rocks isnt hard to find, but its nicely tucked away in the woods and feels quite isolated despite its proximity to the village. The climbs are fairly straight forward to identify, especially as Oesophagus, a destinctive crack E1 is one of the first you come across. The other climbers recommeded a couple of routes but the one that looked in best condition on what was a damp day was Inkerman Groove.

It was a good choice. The start was hideous, covering the same ground as the inappropriately named ‘Wogs’ and very wet and slippery. This was almost the crux for me, but I’ve never liked climbing in the wet. Once I reached the traverse everything became much more enjoyable. Its quite technical and exposed but just brilliant climbing. The groove continues the adventure capping off a very memorable climb.

I checked the comments in UKC later when I got home, and many consider this to be the best limestone VS in the country. As its the only one I’ve led I cant comment except to say I’d recommend it to anyone.

Clearly loads of climbing to be had

In a bid to avoid getting washed out on another climb (we’d ridden our luck a lot on this day) we decamped and headed up to Hound Tor for a mooch. This is a startling place, very moody in the late evening sun and packed full of good climbing. In the pub on our return Tony and I agreed we needed to return with the full crew for a days bouldering and to do the great looking suspension flake.

The suspension flake buttress

Speaking of the pub. What a starnge place. No power (you can hear the generator), full of youngsters (I mean twenty somethings, not just peole who are younger than me) and completely isolated in the middle of the moor. I wish I could remember its name….


One demon down. Another one added…..

8th September 2012

Pordenack Point / Carn Boel

Friends – VS 5a – Lead
Immaculate Groove – E1 5b – Second

A really foggy morning greeted us from our tents at Treen. Treen has a great campsite and was a good choice of venue for the BMC meet. Shame then that most of the BMC was at Treverven Farm campsite on the other side of the valley! It appears Treen hadnt been warned so we ended up on the wrong site.

Even with an inauspicious start the day turned out to be a cracker. The previous evening in the Logan Rock I’d arranged with Nick to meet at Pordenack which would give me a chance to have another go at Friends, the VS that had bested me previously.

Hot. The weather that is... not me!

With everything heating up nicely Tony and Joe set up for the tricky Nothing Much. I set off hoping that things would be easier second time around. They werent. But Friends is such a good climb. Once you are past the overhang the pressure is on to get through it. There are no good rests so by time I reached the atmospheric top out I was fairly pumped, but well chuffed to have made it clean this time.

Tony on the final section of Nothing Much

For Tony, it was straight in at the deep end on Nothing Much but he made a good fist of it, making it clean and getting Joe’s pro out, including the bit he fell on doing the difficult traverse. I think after three HVS’s in a row Joe was pretty knackered.

Me and Nick after some strenuous climbing on Immaculate Groove

Nick had his eye on an E1 on the point across the bay called Carn Boel. Immaculate Groove turned out to be just that. A brilliant technical slab leads to a brutal overhang which needs to be dealt with through jamming. Nick made the slab look straight forward, but found the crack tough on the overhang. Fair play though, he made it even if it cost a little blood. I didnt fair so well, slipping on the slab and then just running out of energy and strength when I needed it most.

So a fair trade. One nemisis conquered in Friends and another created in Immaculate Groove. I will return…

The upper section of Carn Boel, called Terrace Cliff has some meandering routes. From the bottom they look poor, but actually they offer good climbing. I’ve done Kari before which turned out to be a tough V Diff. Tom led Bitter End, another challenging climb which goes up through the heart of the cliff.

Pordenack Point from Carn Boel

And so ended another great weekend. Lots of good routes and good company.


Bleak Horizon

10th July 2012

Rough Tor

Our luck this year was always going to run out eventually. We have dodged the rain on numerous evenings and got away with it, but this was to be blind optimism taken a bit too far.

Un-named Traverse

Tony spotted the storm heading our way and there was no avoiding it. It’s quite elemental watching a dark mass of rain gradually obscure the north coast of Cornwall. Of course we were certain it would miss……

We managed one traverse and then bolted for the summit and shelter. And that was it as the rain set in. Oh well. Next time eh.

Old Guns!

29th May 2012

Carn Gowla – Triple Buttress

Rainbow Games – TR
Four for Texas – TR

I thought that with the dry conditions of recent weeks an inaugeral trip to Carn Gowla for our little group was in order. It turned out to be a good call with perfect conditions.

The perfect Evening

To keep up the momentum of recent weeks, we set up for some top roping. Time to just climb hard and enjoy it without the hard work and mental stress of leading. Mind you, Carn Gowla is intimidating in its own right and coming face to face with the overhanging Buttress C sobered everyone up quickly.

Chris tackling the tricky start on Rainbow Games

By the end of the session though everyone had got some good strenuous routes done and given the jump in grade it was a good effort. Both climbs are slightly overhanging and both have tricky starts.

Dave low down on Rainbow Games

But once going the climbing is strenuous but fun. The hardest part is setting up the belay on rock your never quite sure about.

Ian on FFT

Having climbed Rainbow Games for the second time and intend to go back shortly and lead it. It suites my style of climbing perfectly, and whilst not being an onsite it would make a great first E2 lead.

Moor please

30-31st March 2012

Hawks Tor and Trewortha Tor

West Chimney – V Diff 4a – Lead
Crack,n,up – V Diff 4b – Lead
Cat Nap – Severe 4b – Lead

This trip came about because of a discussion on camping out on the moor. We had been thinking about doing this later in the year, but with the warm spring it was a case of striking while the iron was hot.

Tony getting ready to take care of those pesky Squirrels!

Our backyard for the night

Hawks Tor is a stunning location. Bodmin moor is bigger than you may think and the collection of Kilmar, Trewortha and Hawks Tor’s are isolated and give a remote feeling you would not expect. We found a perfect spot, flat ground and sheltered from the cold northerly. Fire bucket in tow and Jagermeister stowed in the hip flask we were destined to have a great night.

Bed pal. Courtesy of by Jane

Those pesky Squirrels were back, this time hiding in my sleeping bag, but I made short work of this one; taming it by the morning. Whilst Tony fry’d up his three course breakfast, to complement his steak from the night before  and as an appetiser for his sausages at lunch, I eye’d up the climbs. Tom wanted to do some leading so we concentrated on the South end of the Tor.

Tony negotiating the hard start on Cat NapDave on Cat Nap

The two V Diffs I lead were both good climbs. West chimney was slightly better, but both had challenging finishes. I would say that for a V Diff West Chimney is bold. Straight forward climbing but little gear. The final move can be protected by a carefully placed cam, but your last gear is a long way below and it is an awkward move.

Cat Nap….. Welcome to the ultimate sandbag of the Tor. Graded Severe, but knocking on top end Very Severe. It’s more friendly with a bouldering mat under you, but placing gear is challenging (it is there though) and there are a series of slopers and jams to negotiate, and blood to leave.

Mats heading for Trewortha

Tony, Dave and Tom made it up with varying degrees of style and success. Nick showed us how it should be done. Shame I hadnt given the same example of technique as I fell off the opening moves about a half dozen times! I finally worked out that it was better to undercling than go for the slopers.

We wandered over to Trewortha were I was thoroughly defeated by Just Good Friends, a climb I cruised through the last time I was here. Still, it happens. The best thing about Trewortha is the bouldering. There is loads, and lots of it very hard. We found an 8 inch offwidth on a curved boulder. Laybacking all the way, but suprisingly the hard parft is when the lopes eases. You end up in a quandry as to continue laybacking or get your foot on the face. We all bellyflopped the top which as Nick said, could be the best way to finish it. The whole team negotiated this one which was a great end to a fantastic couple of days on the moor.

Ian's Atlas impression


3rd March 2012

Rosemergy Towers
Flash Back – Severe 4a – Top Rope
Go Shorty – E2  5C – Top Rope

This was a bit of a team outing and a chance to go through a few of the basics of setting up a belay and abseiling. Rosemergy was deserted as it often is, so we had carte blanche to set up a couple of top ropes on the main face and Go Shorty, the tough E2 on the right.

Team Rosemergy

Flash Back is a climb in its own right, with a chimney start and then slab and crack climbing up the centre of the central slab. However it also provides a lead into a number of other variations on the arete and right hand slab. The biggest advantage of this is that it gave everyone a chance to climb on a bit of everything and practice their technique’s.

Pete coming out of the chimney - Flash Back

Dave, high on Flash Back

Now ‘Go Shorty’ was a different proposition. From down slope it looks almost as though it is about a 45 degree angle, but once on it you realise this is just your eyesight playing tricks. This gave a chance to test out just how well we were all coming along after a winter of indoor climbing. As it happens, not badly at all…

Tony working hard - Go Shorty

It is a climb with two crux sections, but is tricky right through with a succession of 5b moves leading to a final move for the top which is given 5c but I think is probably harder. Either that or my fingers are very weak.

Dave working through the perplexing lower moves - Go Shorty

Crimping on the top move - Go Shorty

It's not much, but its all there is.. - Go Shorty

Best of all it gave everyone a taste of what hard outdoor climbing is like and everyone duly donated blood to the cause. The granite here is very crystaline and some bits are like razor blades. Pete and Tom particularly felt generous on this day and all we needed was St Johns Ambulance here to complete the process.

Chilling between climbs

We all spent time falling off, but maybe that’s the advantage of spending time on a hard climb. It gives you an idea of where you are and what you need to improve. By the end of the day we were all knackered, but how lucky were we! Sunshine all day, a bit blowy, but ultimately a perfect day out on the rock.

Another stolen day

7th January 2011

Chair Ladder
Terriers Tooth- V Diff – Lead (top two pitches)

This was my first proper multi pitch climbing day with Tony and I figured Terriers Tooth would be a pretty good way to get off the mark. Given that the weather had been crap for the last few days and the forecast was equally rubbish, we picked this window as our only opportunity to get on the rock.

Terriers Tooth

I knew that the tide and swell would be against us so it was likely that we would start on pitch two, but the traverse across is not difficult, even if it is a bit airy. Terriers Tooth is an iconic climb. Its situation and isolation make it stand out as a V Diff. I’ve always thought that it is tough at the grade and the descent is worth adding a grade in its own right.

A fine view of suicide pool

Tony finishing off the top slab

The second pitch is steep but with good holds and gets you straight into the rythm of the route. It also opens up a whole world of exposure as you get higher. A precursor for the final step up above suicide pool.

Abbing off the tooth

Tony’s head for heights was fine though ( honed from years of playing around in tall trees) so this wasnt an issue. In fact he loved every minute and for a first multi pitch we made good work of it.

End of a stolen day

The final step up onto the tooth proved memorable as the wind had picked up and standing tall you felt very vulnerable. Still we both did it and finally abseiled off the pinnacle feeling very smug with ourselves. Given the cold conditions we decided to call it a day and turned our attention to our next outing…… probably commando ridge.