Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Kenton Cool is renowned as one of Britain's top alpinist and Himalayan guides having been to the top of Everest on seven occasions now. The lecture itself was mainly about his professional working relationship and involvement with Sir Ranulph Feinnes. Apart from discussing Ran's (as Kenton called him) foibles Kenton went into the type of character that has seen Sir Ranulph establish himself as Britain's greatest living explorer.
A few beers after (ok it was one coz I was driving) finished the night off
Monday, 22 February 2010
‘Shit! What the F*@*$? ‘. They were the first words that came to mind when my car died early on Friday evening. We (Jon Denise and me) were on our way to Kinlochleven to spend two days at the FRCC hut (think luxury) and ice climb the place to death. The problem with the car was identified as my fuel pump so that put an end to Scotland. It took nearly five hours to get back home via relay and I was only just North of Alnwick!!!! The conditions in the Lakes were supposed to be good so I arranged for Jon and Denise to pick me up late Saturday tea time, hopefully giving me enough time to get the car sorted, well booked into a garage anyways (I didn’t!).
Making use of Jon’s FRCC membership allowed us to stay at Salving House another ‘hut’ owned by FRCC at the bottom of Borrowdale. This would allow us reasonable easy access to any of the Northern Lakes crags.
An early start (well it would have been if Jon had his act together) saw us hiking up the gully from Dunmail Raise towards Grisedale Tarn and Dollywaggon. The weather forecast seemed to be a little wrong as it promised a 70% chance of clear summits and we were being snowed on! Arriving at the small col between Dollywaggon and the crag (Dollywaggon North) we realised we weren’t going to get the spectacular views of my previous weekend at the same crag. Visibility was down to around 5 metres and the wind was blowing snow everywhere.
While Jon finished off getting sorted I decided to check out the descent which would take us to the foot of the crag. Wind-slab was starting to form but not so much that I was worried, Jon confirming my theory on his descent. The route I wanted to have a go at was one I had spotted the previous weekend (Rescue Groove IV **) and looked to be in good nick. We also planned our next route, Dolly Mixture IV, for our return. The Rescue Groove follows a groove/slabs which in the current conditions were covered in lovely neve, what I wasn’t anticipating was the poor protection. However, my confidence was high and I dispatched the route with no real problems that was until I got to the cornice. The snow which was being blown around was starting to form lovely ice cream whirls at the top of the crag. I excavated a passage through and over, nearly drowning myself as I did. A further 10 minutes of bumbling and pushing through the horrendous soft snow and one almighty mantle shelf saw me on top.
Jon arrived, impressed with my gear placements (not!). We then discussed conditions and wondered what effect the falling snow was having on the already laden slopes. Following a hot drink and a bite to eat I lowered Jon over the edge so he could take a better look and make an informed decision. The decision was made to abandon as we were worried about the upper slope, again just before the cornice. 1330 hrs saw us back to Keswick and drinking tea and eating cakes (very healthy ones J)
When we arrived back down at Dunmail Raise we got talking to a local from Penrith who had just come from Nethermost cove (Further along from where we were). He informed us that he had triggered a small avalanche there. This was good confirmation about our decision to abandon. It’s so very easy to allow self imposed pressure, usually from not wanting to look like a wimp, affect your decision but in this case we were happy. As well as this I have just read of an avalanche on Pinnacle Ridge, St. Sundays that occurred Monday and which injured three people and shook another badly. Further confirmation of our decision.
Funny moment of the day, getting back to the car at the end of the day, Jon jumps in the driver’s seat and tries to turn the engine over….unfortunately Denise had forgot the lights were on and had drained the battery….not just a little bit but a big bit! So much so that it wouldn’t start with a bump. We pushed it down to the next lay-by where the Penrith local kindly accepted our request to jump start it. Of course Jon just forgot about it and never mentioned it anymore that day….did he Denise? Hahahahaha.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Following the shocking incident on Gable Crag, which my friend Craig witnessed and helped with, I offered to take him straight out onto the hill in an attempt to get rid of the demons which had been hounding him since Sundays events. Unfortunately at the last minute Craig had to pull out.
Mike one of my Schmoolz colleagues was happy to stand in....so at 05.30 am departure saw me driving in heavy fog towards the Lakes. Mike lives in Newcastle so we arranged to meet at Penrith and travelled the last bit down to Borrowdale together.
The weather forecast wasn't great with rising temperatures (2 degrees) and rain expected. Walking up Grains Gill towards Great End didn't do anything for our confidence and we thought that we'd missed our opportunity. However, upon arriving at the base of the crag it was obvious that it was in good nick....hawed up rocks, firm snow and the ice pitch on Central Gully Left Hand looking awesome! This was our route of choice today....and perfect as one other party on South East Gully had beaten us to the base.
The route was perfect for Mike too, as prior to this experience today, he had not climbed on much ice at all. His winter experience had involved scratching up a few mixed routes!
Most of the day Mike and myself discussed this strange game of risk we play....unbeknown to us we actually were getting rid of the demons too...reflecting on the nasty incident, last weekend, got us trying to put things in perspective. Although I have been out quite a lot already this winter (including a new route) I still found myself today checking everything twice. I love it when I climb confidently and without hinderance, but sometimes I worry I'm getting complacent. It's a fine line! In some respects if anything good did come from the incident it makes us realise accidents do happen, risks are taken, adventure is had and I guess that's why we do what we do....
The route held out and Mike got to try 'real ice'....the walk down went without incident. 7 degrees by the time we got back to the car!!!!!
Funny moment of the day....Mike leaning against the window while I was driving him back to his car at Penrith...He dropped off to sleep and literally fell off the window hahahahaha poor tired puppy!