Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ready, Steady, Go

FFS - raining again!!
 It has been six weeks since we arrived back in the UK, it is amazing how the time rolls buy.  It has been a sociable time with plenty of walking and climbing with the usual suspects though the weather has been a bit of disappointment - I guess some things never change.
One of the reasons we came back was to try and get an old injury to my big toe sorted out. I have seen my GP, had X-Rays, seen a specialist and finally got a date for him to shave the bone back to something like its normal size. I guess six weeks for that from the NHS for something so trivial is pretty good going. I had the same operation done 30+ years ago, but the wear, tear and pressure of too many tight boots and shoes means it finally needs doing again.
Toe the line
Anyway a date towards the end of September means we can shoot off for a month, so Switzerland and Austria here we come. Possible venues include the Øtzal, where we have never been, and the Val di Mello, where we haven't been for about 15 years.
After that it is back home to get the 'procedure' done with the hope I will be fit enough to push off to Greece by mid October - about three weeks later. We have appointments with Kalymnos and the Peleponnes and they won't wait.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Still Here, Still Waiting

Graham on a 6b+ at Sit Down Buttress
 Four weeks ago today we hopped aboard the Zeebrugge to Hull ferry - four weeks back in Sheffield that have passed rather slowly! We have been pretty active with jobs climbing and walking - but generally we have been killing time, waiting for the NHS, doctors and dentists and thinking about where to go when we get released!
Summer has long been a problem, Europe is too hot, everywhere is busy and expensive - we can't wait until the school summer holidays are over!
Currently Northern Norway is still the favourite for an August trip, but already we are looking towards the autumn and escape. Current plans include Austria, Switzerland, the good old Ariège, Kalymnos and the Peleponese.
We managed 10 months away last time we left - might have to try and beat that next time around.
Sherri on top of Carl Wark with Higgar Tor behind

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Back to Blighty

Yarncliffe Quarry - hot
After a great 10 days in Chamonix it really was time to get back on the road - a steady ride to Zeebrugge and then the ferry back to Hull - with the usual free upgrade to Club Class was as easy as it gets.
We arrived into heavy rain, thick spray on the motorway and traffic jams - oddly that was exactly the kind of welcome back to the UK that we had been expecting despite it being the end of June.
In the first week it was the usual round of visits to the Doctors (x3), the Dentists, the Hospital (x2), the Garage, the Opticians and a ride up North to visit our parents - never get a minute to yourself.
Colin - Horse Thief Wall, Stoney Middleton
Then Colin came to visit, he did some very useful work on the flat and we went out climbing several days on the trot which was very nice.
We mixed it up, alternating bolt clipping on the limestone with days on the Grit, and despite the rather oppressive heat it was novel to be back climbing in the Peak.
Already we are getting itchy feet - we will have to see develops. I am hoping (hopping?) to get a minor operation done on a bony lump on my big toe - but maybe we can fit in a slider whilst we wait for the NHS to sort me out.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Mostly Rambling Northwards

Panorama above the Col de Galibier
The Maurienne - off the beaten track

We left Briançon and made the short (1hr 30mins) journey via the very pricey (€44) Frejus Tunnel back to Aussois, and the same apartment we used back in September. Just like then the area and the accommodation were deserted.
Despite a small patch of dirty weather we explored the area and did some great climbing. After the week was up, and despite the fact we were supposed to be heading towards the UK via Chamonix, we decided to double back to Briançon for another week. A good call as it turned out, we walked or climbed every day and managed to avoid both the heat and the crowds that were starting to appear.
Then it was really time to get on with the journey home - 3.5 hours saw us in Chamonix at Thorbjørn and Lutta's lovely apartment right under the Bossons Glacier. A week here should just fit the bill before we are obliged to head for Zeebrugge and the ferry 'home' - almost 10 months after we left!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Orpierre versus Briançon

Orpierre, even the out of the way cliffs were busy
From Orgon we moved on a couple of hours northwards and had a week in Orpierre. The first few days were pleasant, there were quite a few climbers around but it was possible to get stuff done by being flexible and shuffling around. Then came Thursday and the Bank Holiday/long weekend - I have never seen so many climbers in one place - every cliff in the area was packed.
Of course this is the downside of Orpierre as a destination - despite it being a lovely mellow spot, the fact that you can walk to many of the cliffs means that it is always popular and especially with 'groups'. Also many of the routes are badly polished now, which detracts from the overall experience.
Briançon - a bit more like it
Briançon is a different kettle of fish, a small city, high in the mountains and surrounded by cliffs of all shapes, sizes and rock types. The extra altitude (4,400') means it is cooler than most venues at this time of year. The sheer amount of climbing on offer means that cliffs are generally quite - though it is always worth keeping a look-out for mini-buses in the parking areas and having a Plan B.
Next week it is onwards to Aussois and the Maurienne - if our experience from last September is anything to go by, that is one area that should be really quiet.



Friday, 19 May 2017

Orgon for Beginners

Sherri above of Orgon
Orgon - polished but pleasant
The slow journey home started after a couple of pleasant weeks in the Ariège, and initially we decided to head to Orgon, about four hours northwards. The venue was well known for its hard climbs many years ago but it was a spot I have never visited. It turns out to be a lovely little area, a quiet campsite, ringed by the cliffs, with 300+ routes to go at across the grades. It has to be admitted that a lot of the climbs are pretty polished now - a common problem with lower grade limestone routes across France - but the approach is short, the setting is sunny and the bolts are fat.
It is looking like May is a good time to be wending our way through France - it is pretty hot - up to 28C - but everywhere is so quiet - just how we like it.
From here, next stop is Orpierre, then after that - time will tell, we expect to be back in the UK in about a month, so no great rush.



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Flying Visit

Stanage perfection
It was my mother's 90th birthday and we were called to attend. A Friday afternoon flight to Manchester was on time and easy, collect a car and booking into an airport hotel was the easy option - better than the UK motorway network on a Friday night.
Saturday was a long day, driving, talking and celebrating before we arrived back at our flat in Sheffield 8+ months after we left. A bath, the big chair and boring TV were our reward.
Sunday was Stanage with a large jolly team and perfect weather. I did half a dozen routes including top-roping a couple of E3 climbs that I made the first ascent of about 30 years ago - phew, must have been pretty good once!!
Then Monday it was back to Manchester for the flight back to Carcassonne - it is amazing how easy travelling is nowadays.
A week in the Ariége then we head off on a slow drive back to the UK - first stop Orgon.

Ready, Steady, Go

FFS - raining again!!  It has been six weeks since we arrived back in the UK, it is amazing how the time rolls buy.  It has been a socia...