Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Long Trail

On the open fells near the Swedish border
 After nine weeks in the Arctic we had to think about heading back south - not that we were really all that keen. Three nights in Thorbjørn's cabin at Riksgransen were pleasant - we even had a bit of snow early one morning.
Then it was on the road for a seven hour drive though the never-ending forests of northern Sweden.
The next day it was Luleå > Stockholm > Manchester and back into the bedlam - a 25 minute queue to get back in to the country through passport control, then a hot sweaty train ride back to Sheffield - the crowds everywhere were a real culture shock.
Welcome back - we laid on a party for you
So Sunday it was Stanage - a bit green after the unsettled summer, and not TOO busy - except for Crow Chin where we decided to start our day. Apparently it was 'Trad-Fest" so a large group of noisy and excitable individuals arrived and took over the crag - we moved on!
Two weeks in the UK to get all the 'jobs' done then it is south - Chamonix for starters, whilst the cable-cars are still open, that should be nice - can't wait!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Lofoten - the End of Days

Lillemolla from Glåmtinden
Busy days on Bilberries - 20+ climbers
in a big convoy


 We have been back in Lofoten for a couple of weeks now, the weather has been a little mixed - apparently pretty much a 'normal' summer up here in the Arctic - but certainly nice enough to get plenty of stuff done.
The most striking thing has been how busy the whole place has become - admittedly it is 'High Season' but even so the number of camper-wagons on the roads, tourists in town and on the beaches and climbers on the crag has been a bit of a shocker. If you want to come here to climb the classics, a top-tip would be to avoid July at all costs!
Busy, busy, busy
Work on the new book has progressed well - most of the photos are in the bag - apart from the big remote cliffs out West - we are waiting for a settled spell before heading out there - though with only two weeks left it better come sooner rather than later.
Sherri has been busy booking ferries and planes - the next few months are sorted, UK > Chamonix > Briançon > Ariege > Kalymnos should see us through until Christmas time.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

New diversions - Noodling around Narvik

Reflecting on life
There's a moose in the garden!
We the forecast of a little unsettled weather in the pipeline and a need to get Colin a little nearer Evenes Airport for his homeward journey, we moved over to Thorbjørns 'seaside' cabin close to the small city of Narvik. As with hall his and Lutta's residences, it is well appointed and has been a superbly tranquil spot to stay.  So far we have had a great mix of taking it easy, hiking in the spectacular mountains that surround the area and working on the new version of Lofoten Rock which should be out by the end of this year - apparently they just sold the last copy of the old book in Henningsvær and the season is still in full swing so demand is going to be high.
High above Narvik and still miles to go.
Thorbjørn turned up for a couple days, to escape the current madness (Disneyland) in Henningsvaer. That gave us the chance to do some serious socialising and making good progress on tying down many of the loose ends that research for the book has thrown up. Details of many of the newer long routes out in the west have been difficult to track down, we have a trip out there pencilled in for the next spell of good weather.
On one on the clearer days we caught the cable-car  up from Narvik and hiked to the top of Naviksfjellet - the big hill right behind the town. The views were spectacular with unknown peaks arrrayed in all directions and bizarrely it was rather too hot for comfort - in the Arctic!



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Loitering on Lofoten

 After a cool week at Riksgransen on the Norway/Sweden border, with snow showers and night-time lows of 2C we made the four hour drive to Lofoten and booked into a cabin on the Ørsvåvær campsite for three weeks.
Colin flew into Svolvær after a trouble free journey, and we nipped out the same afternoon to do the classic Pianohandlers route on Pianokrakken. The weather was great and to our surprise we had the crag to ourselves - a rare thing in the high season.
10 days in and the weather has been quite unsettled, with a number of grey days, though there has been little 'real' rain as we have manage to get out and climb on a regular basis.
The whole place is busy with tourists and camper-wagons but there doesn't
appear to be a huge number of climbers about - the camping area at Gandalf has never had more than 3 or 4 tents there,
Colin leaves in just over a week, then we can go back to working on the book and taking it easy - the forecast is much better too!
Talking of 'the Book',  work on the Lofoten rewrite has progressed well and most of the popular areas around Henningsvær are pretty much finished. We will need to spend some time visiting the remote crags out West and for that we will need some proper summer weather - we have all on July and part of August to work with, so bring it on.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Round the Circle

Down some lazy river - summer in the Ariège
The month in the Ariège passed too quickly, but it always does so that shouldn't have come as a big surprise. The journey home was as easy as ever though the queues at Carcassonne airport were a bit of a shock to folks not used to travelling in the summer - good job we didn't leave it too late arriving there.
The call of the Grit - mint conditions on Stanage
The UK was a bit of a contrast, initially three days of a chilly northerly and temperatures around 10C - it didn't feel much like June.
Then the sun came out,and a jolly team assembled on Stanage for a day on the Grit. It was very convivial, loads of routes were done and there was plenty of time do discuss aliments, injuries and operations - the joys of growing old.
Anyway, the big bags are packed - time to head for the far north again. For the second summer we are flying into Sweden en route for Lofoten as the car hire prices there are about 1/3 of those in Norway. It currently looks a bit cold and unsettled up there, I don't think the short Arctic summer has started properly yet. We will need to pack plenty of warm clothes but hopefully we won't need snowshoes or skis!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Herault - somewhere Different

Our place in the country
Escaping the Gorge de Joncas
After 10 days back in the Ariège I fancied trying somewhere new - Sherri would probably have stopped at Chez Arran and looked after the cats but I was aware that long-time acquaintance Keith Sanders has a pad in a small village to the north-west of Montpelier - about three hours drive away in the Herault region.
I had never been to the area but there appeared to be quite a bit of climbing scattered around, so it had to be worth a look. Keith's pad was very well appointed as well as nice and central, it suited us just fine - apart from my involuntary descent of the stairs on our first night there - the bruising has nearly gone!
Orchids
We visited four different cliffs and did a couple of decent walks too, one up the highest peak in the local area, the Pic de St Baudille and another around the edge of the Lac de Salagou. The climbing was a good and varied and the weather was fine but we did get a bit scorched one day in the Gorge de Joncas where there wasn't a breath of wind and the cliffs were full in the sun. Looks like the area would be worth a visit at a cooler time of the year - we will have to pencil it in.
Just under two weeks more in the Ariège then it is time to think about heading north - the Artic beckons.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Back to the Pyrenees

Looking down towards Barry de'n Bas in the Ariège
Seven weeks in Kalymnos were great and I felt a rare rare sadness when we left - but it was getting busy, hot and bug-ridden so we really had to go. A couple of nights in the Radisson was our 'treat' - internet and TV in bed were real novelties.
Then it was an easy flight to a windy Carcassonne and onwards to Chez Arran. The cats met us on the drive and were starving - good job we had stocked up with cat food and treats 'en route'.
It is great to be back in the mountains, the high peaks still look pretty snowy, we need to head up there to have a look around as soon as possible.
We have both been stuck by the amazing greenness of the place - spring is here and the fresh growth and the bird song are fantastic. We have a month to play with before heading north to the midnight sun - a bit of climbing would be nice.