Friday, 25 December 2009

Turkey for Christmas?

We didn't actually go to Turkey, though it was clearly visible from Sector Julian where we called in for a quick festive three - no Christmas Crack for us! It was quite cool and blowy up there in the mountains, so we didn't stop too long - and apart from that Sherri was halfway though sorting a full Christmas dinner on two small electric rings - and that was the real challenge of the day.

Merry Christmas to One and All


Monday, 21 December 2009

Mid-Winter Blues

21st of December and it is midwinter, at least it sounds that way back in the UK. Here there was an early shower - with cracking rainbow - and then the sun came out, the sky was a deepest blue and the wind out of the north, cooler but more settled weather was the order of the day. And best of all forecast is good once again.
We popped out to a newish Sector to the left of Sea Breeze and I did five route, most of which were excellent. A newly developed problem is, that with the damp warm weather, all the deeper pockets now contain herb gardens of various make-ups. There is usually plenty of room for your fingers, but the footwork requires a bit of care in case you get low-friction slick mashed cabbage on your high-friction soles. The shot to the left illustrates this, it is like looking up a fresh green meadow. Better than battling verglas mind!

Friday, 18 December 2009

How's that Ark Coming On?

It was a noisy old night with thunder, lightening, hail, gales and heavy rain. Luckily we didn't know what was going on outside, turns out it was the worst storm to hit the island for 20+ years.


A quick walk round the neighbourhood revealed the extent of the damage, the ground floor of Babis's was filled with mud, the amount to debris on the road (or what was left of it) was astounding, and several poor souls were sweeping out their ground floors which had been completely overwhelmed. There was also scooter buried in the rubble and a car in the sea - I'm glad we are on the top floor!



Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Ton Eighty


The weather has turned a bit mixed - showery days with highs of 16C interspersed with warmer dry days, maybe the winter pattern has established itself. A finger injury continues to niggle, though I have still manage to nudge the route tally for the trip up to "Onehunnerdanneighty" so that's not too bad.
We went out for meal with Aris Theodoropoulos, the author of the Kalymnos climbing guide, and his American wife - (there is still the odd restaurant open in Masouri), and did what climbers do the world over; talked about climbing, grades, stars and of course guidebooks for most of the evening!
Next day a walk up into the hills south of the airport offered great views into the centre of the island and wider vistas southwards were Rhodes and Karpathos, the latter over 90 miles away.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

December Days

It has been little unsettled for a couple of days, just as forecast, and that has given me a bit of time to crack on nicely with the French guidebook. It looks like we will need to revisit the area sometime in the New Year, but in the mean time we are enjoying island life.
Yesterday was hot so we headed for Dolphin Bay where I did half-a-dozen routes I hadn't done before. We were shocked to see another team (three teams actually) there, but in the event they didn't get in the way - strange how quickly we have got used to having the place to ourselves. Then it was back to the terrace for another glorious sunset as towering clouds sailed by.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday School Outing


November draws to a close and the weather remains superb, though the forecast suggest there might be a bit of break-down towards the middle of next week; we can't complain, especially considering what the UK has been suffering.
On one of our forays over to the north side of the island we had spotted a superb looking secluded beach about a half-hours' walk downhill from the new road. For a Sunday rest-day We took a small picnic plus the snorkling gear and headed in there. There is a tiny chapel down there, some old ruined buildings (Italian, from the war maybe) and superb crystal sea. Oh - and the inevitable unclimbed cliffs.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Back to School

The great weather continues into the last week in November - the cheerful chap who told us last year that autumns in the Aegean were unsettled may just have been wrong. Saturday we visited a newish cliff on Telenos - clearly visible from our pad and at night Babis took us out for a meal in down-town Pothia. A quiet restaurant on the seafront was the venue, the evening started well when he offered ouzos all round and got better as a continuous array of seafood (exotic in many cases) came our way - excellent stuff indeed.
Sunday was time for another new cliff Jungle Book/School was the venue, a bit of a grind up past Iliad, and of course we had the place to ourselves. The routes were better than I expected, and the spacing of the bolts was best described as 'encouraging'. I did a steady eight - which tallies up to a nice round 150 so far.

Monday, 16 November 2009

My Big Fat Greek Holiday

After a couple of days on the rock a more gentle session was called for; we followed the new road over to Vathy (only spied a few new cliffs) and explored the tiny fishing village there, including its early Christian basilica. We bought oranges from a roadside seller, and had omelette and bread outside a harbour front cafe, whilst watching the fishermen mend their nets - Monday morning in the middle of November - we still can't get over it.
Back via Potha where we bought a whole tuna (only a small one really) for €3, and back home for tea. Just about to start the frying when Babis turned up with six fish he had caught and cooked for us - quite superb. The tuna will do for tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Woosh......

That's that then - Colin and Mark dropped off at the high speed ferry this evening and a strange calm descends - we are on our own for the first time in five weeks. Whilst they were here Colin cracked of 155 routes and Mark 135 - all in all impressive numbers.
It hammered it down last night and piled up some impressive debris round the appartments. By dawn the sun was out so we finished of with a gentle five at Noufaro this morning (trundling a huge loose flake in the process) then had tea on the terrace as the sun set into the Aegean - they both went a bit pensive!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Time for a Change

The apartments (and island) have really started to clear out and we have moved 'upstairs' into out winter residence - a bigger apartment previously occupied by four Frenchies. It is a year to the day since we left Kalymnos heading for home so it was quite fitting to get up on Ghost Kitchen, one of the few major cliffs I hadn't climbed on. Joy in the Garden (6b) was the highlight for me and Colin steamed up the superb Resistor (6c+) - I managed to follow to in one push so was well pleased. He also made short work of Totenhausen (7a) up an amazing set of tufas.

On top of that Lofoten Rock won the Outdoor Writer and Photographers Guide Book of the Year award - marvellous stuff!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

.. and the North Wind doth Blow.

Dave and Pat slipped away on a bright sunny day to catch the ferry only to face a 10 hour delay at Kos airport - what a grim way to end a great trip. They eventually got home early the next day having been up all night!
Colin and Mark are still rocking like there is no tomorrow - Mark has even had to buy some new boots as he has trashed the ones he brought with him. A damp morning gave us the chance to go and explore the cave in the crag called Cave. We still had time to do six routes after that though.
There has been a change in the weather with a cool northerly kicking up the waves - Steve at the Glaros Bar reckons 90% of the climbers will have gone by tomorrow - bring it on!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

New Arrivals

After a night in Manchester airport Colin and Mark zoomed in - they made the ferry with five minutes to spare, so rather than slob around we nipped out and cracked of a quick four at Sea Breeze to celebrate. Thursday was a bit breezy so we visited the sheltered cliffs at Dolphin Bay. Myself and Dave did a pleasant six - Colin and Mark excelled themselves with a round dozen!
A celebratory meal over on Telendos was very pleasant and the ferry ride back through the dark, with Pink Floyd pumping out on the stereo - pure magic.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Paradise Regained

A gentle week and 20 odd routes has reinforced my feelings from last year - this place is a kind of climbing Nirvana. Sure it is pretty busy at the moment and hot too - but despite that there is so much to go at, plus the whole place is set up to make life easy for the climbers and where else in the World can you say that.
Today we caught the ferry to Telendos and then a fishing boat round to Irox (€5 saves a 1hr 30min walk) where we did six great routes - another place I had never climbed before.
Another couple of weeks and the crowds and heat should have gone - then we might have paradise to ourselves!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Many Happy Returns

A year and a week ago for us and something like eight years for Spenny and Pat and we were all made it back again at the paradise island. Again the travel was a breeze, after an early start we landed ahead of schedule and only had a 10 min wait for the ferry. We booked into the Babis Bar in Myrties, and a had a beer whilst watching the sun sink towards a the blue Aegean. After a march into Masouri - and bumping intio Nigel Baker - we collected the car (another teeny Panda) the had very Greek tea and more beers on the terrace.
A couple of gentle days climbing was what the doctor ordered - so we did just that - four cliffs, nine routes up to 6b - it is great to be back!
We have only been here two days and already Sherri has persuaded the owner of the bar to install a wifi network - that is what you call a fast mover!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Winter Migrants

So was up to Stanage for one last Sunday on the grit. It was cool and blowy out beyond High Neb, with the odd spit of rain in the air but there was a jolly team assembled and a good time was had by all.
With autumn in the air its time to think about heading south again for a little bolt clipping in the sunshine, so Thursday (the day after Sherri's 50 birthday) we have a flight to Kalymnos booked. We were so impressed with the place last year that we haven't sorted a return this time round - we will see how the weather and the mood take us.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Hammer Time Again

A birthday surprise - I was about to organise a day out climbing for Thursday when Sherri handed me a envelope - a day's rallying instruction at Prestwold Hall - a driving school near Loughborough.
Over five exhausting hours I drove an array of cars; an Impreza or two, a Focus RS, a bone-jarring 1.4 Polo and a full on rally spec Evo (photo above). We tackled twisty courses, (36 corners) on both gravel and tarmac - and after plenty of instruction, the odd stall and 360 degree spin I felt I was finally getting there.
Then the instructor took me for three high speed circuits to show how its done - bloody Hell!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Away From It All

The best Sunday for quite some time, a glorious blue day, we thought about trying somewhere a little different - so it was off to the Western Peak just for a change. The team (me, Dave, Graham, Dave, Steve and Dave - a bit confusing on the crag) headed for Hen Cloud; not to the vaunted classics of the Bachelor's Area but away to the right where the routes see little traffic. We did a set of great little routes, as ever with out-of-the-way spots the routes were a bit dirty and some of the grades were on the dodgy side.
The find of the day was Short Man's Misery a superb little arete. It needed a bit of gardening to remove some stubborn heather sprigs, but when clean gave a great little route that saw half-a-dozen ascents in rapid style. The grade in the current guide of HVS is a bit a sandbag, we thought it a stiff E1 5b - and then only if you are 6 foot+!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Fair Enough

Two days, two routes - very shoddy. Mind you they were 10 pitches each! The first was Fliegender Teppich, a superb big slabby affair up on Gerstenegg (see photo left) and yesterday we did the ultra classic of Fair Hands Line. I first did the route with Dave Gregory 10 years ago - it has got a bit harder in the meantime, but we managed OK.
The was some concern when we got back to the foot of the railway descent to find no sign of Sherri and our shoes. Turns out she expected us to arrive at the top and had taken the bags up on the funicular to meet us!
Everywhere is superbly quite now, and the weather continues to sparkle.
Seven days in so Wednesday was slated as a rest day - only Colin's idea of rest is to be dropped of up at Grimsel so he can amble the five hours back down the pass to the campsite!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

One Way Ticket to Hell

The promised glorious weather has arrive and a gentle day was called for, it being Sunday and all. We drove up to the top of the Susten Pass, 6950' to revel in the crisp air and magnificent views, then retreated to the roadside crag of Hell to crack of some of the excellent routes on offer there. With it being the weekend, the road was a constant stream of hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles, throwing themselves lemming like at the Grimsel/Susten/Furka triangle of passes. The ambulance passed us three times whilst we climbed - they were being kept busy by someone!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Very Swish

The flight to Geneva was a bit delayed, but at £34 return from East Midlands, who is complaining. At the Swiss end things were as efficient as you might have expected. We rolled into Camping Grund at 9:30 and moved into a little cabin (very Norwegian) with views of the nearly full moon and scudding clouds.
Despite a bit of a grotty forecast Thursday dawned bright enough to tempt us up to Azalee Beach. Impressive clouds and the odd spot of rain didn’t deter as we cracked of a couple of excellent routes (7 pitches in all) and Sherri stocked up with breakfast berries. We retired for a brew and to sort out the shopping. According to the news, EasyJet are pulling out of East Midlands, I hope that isn’t within the next two weeks!

Friday was slated to be the deluge day, but again it stayed dry and warm with just a few spits and spots out of a heavy sky. We visited a roadside crag just a few km from Meiringen and did half-a-dozen steep and worthwhile climbs. Sadly logging them is tricky as it is another great cliff that doesn't appear in the UKC Databases.
By dusk it was tipping down, bowing a gale and the temperature had dropped to 8C - the front had finally arrived!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Cool for Older Cats

There and back again - the journey home was the usual nightmare, we abandoned the stationary traffic on the M1 and weaved back via Matlock.

Monday on Stennis Head was great, another perfect Pembroke day, blue skies, booming seas and the odd shower. We did five routes and the old chestnut of grades reared its head:

Current Guide/Graded List
Quickstep VS 4b
Limbo VS 4c
World War III Blues HVS 5b
Manzoku E1 5b
Cool for Cats E1 5b

Our Thoughts
Quickstep HS 4b
Limbo HVS 5a
Cool For Cats E1 5b (soft)
World War III Blues E1 5b (standard)
Manzoku E1 5b (stiff)

Either way, they are a great set of routes, I was especially impressed with Cool for Cats, long, sustained and on great holds - perfection!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Prime Pembroke

We decided to head back to Pembroke to test drive the new guide - the journey down was steady, despite reports on the radio of some horrendous traffic jams up and down the country. After five hours on the road and some impressive rain storms we stopped briefly at the Thorne Chapel Bunkhouse for a brew and drop the gear off, then scooted out to St Govan's. Conditions were glorious, a low tide, big waves, wheeling gulls and a fresh wind. We zipped down the abseil and did Front Line (HVS 5a) and The Arrow (E1 5b). Both routes are a bit more polished than the last time we did them, but are still as glorious as ever, The Arrow in particular is a magnificent climb - well deserved of all its plaudits.
Saturday was cooler and bit on the grey side, but still dry. Whilst wailing for the tide to drop (a really low spring tide) we popped into the Leap and did Shape Up (E1 5b) - the start was a touch greasy but the rest was great. Then it was onto Saddle Head. The extra-low tide got us to Eavesdripper, a great first pitch, though the upper one felt more like a bold E1 5b than the given HVS 4c. Next a hop and skip over to Bosherston Head, for a trip up Baker's Door (E1 5b), fine fingery climbing on great rock. As we topped out Gary Gibson stuck his head over the cliff top - prospecting for the new CC guide due out by next Whit - or so the story goes!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Grit Bimbling

Its summer, its hot and sweaty, its midgy - its NOT the grit season! So where do we go - Roaches, Stanage, Brimham - what the Hell! Brimham was especially interesting, I haven't been there in summer for donkeys' years - it was absolutely heaving. We ticked the old classics (left Mark Binney on Birch Tree Wall - which I first led c1967), working our way round to Allen's Crack - things were a touch green and greasy, but despite that many of the routes appear to be getting a bit battered which is sad really.

The new Pembroke guide has arrived - it looks gorgeous, so that is next week sorted out then!

Photo: Busy weekend at Brimham

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Back to Front

The month in Switzerland and Belgium was good, especially being back on the granite, but Sunday on Stanage was fine too - and very sociable. I hunted out one more route I hadn't done before (1021) - Colin, Bruce and Tony were down from North Yorkshire and the usual suspects were out from Sheffield.
I suggested to Colin that a couple of weeks at Handegg in September might be nice and to my surprise he agreed. I phoned Sherri on the mobo and 30 mins later she phoned back - East Midlands to Geneva, £43 return including a bag - that will do nicely!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Belgium Reprised


A hot wind (29C) blowing down from the Grimsel Pass battered the tent and our nerves as it blustered all night long - so early next morning we upped sticks and headed north - to Belgium. I can't remember how many years it was since we were last there (could be 15) and my memory of the camp-site and the cliffs was a bit hazy! We got established at Villatoille (near Dinant) - the site was really busy but soon quietened down after 10:00 - very civilised.
We visited the crags at Dave - which Sherri described very accurately as a Belgium Stoney Middleton - the climbing was good, though very polished and I was shocked at how far apart the bolts were - must be getting old! One easy route I look Sherri up had 3 bolts in each of its two 30m pitches - I was glad I had plenty in reserve!
Sunday we called in at Marche les Dames and it was busy with weekend climbers, mostly Dutch and Belgian, with the odd German(!) and us. Another place that I had fogotten about; the climbing was good (though poished again) but the routes proved to be long, steep, pumpy pitches with spaced bolts - and some rather suspect grades - take me back to Kalymnos!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Swiss Pleasure - Indeed

Ten days here now, the weather has been a bit mixed, though mostly good, (witheringly hot at times too; 29C at midnight one day last week) but it has been great to be back. The beauty of the area is that to escape the heat it is simply a matter of driving uphill for 20 minutes or so to reach an area with the required temperature. The pain from the tooth (and the bill) have gone, and we have already pencilled in a possible return in September when things have cooled down a bit and the crowds have gone home.
The climbing has been tremendous, even better than I remember, I wonder how a Swiss Select in the good old RockFax style might go down - now there's a thought!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Swiss Granite - Yummy

Back to Handegg, it has been a while (seven years) and despite the showery weather, it is great to be back. Visits to both the Susten Pass and the Grimsel Pass to sample the climbing have been great - there is still a lot of snow about and many wet streaks on the big slabs, but there is still plenty to go at. Hikes into Eldorado and through the Aarschluct Gorge were also grand, the visit to a dentist in Meiringen for a root-canal filling less so. Not that it was especially painful, I just haven't had the bill yet! (Finally got the bill 635 Swiss Francs - now that really did hurt!)

Friday, 3 July 2009

Jura's a Park

The ferry crossing was silk-smooth and a quick nip across France saw us back to Pontarlier, in the Jura, just a spit from the Swiss border. It is seven years since we were down this way (seven great summers in Norway) but it felt good to be back in the area.
Some impressive thunder storms have been grumbling away on and off, it is also pretty hot, though camping at 3000' has taken the edge of the heat.
We had a walk up Mont d'Or, (4750') which was superb, myriad wild flowers, great views and a lovely breeze. The following day we visited a small crag actually in Pontarlier - an old quarry (much better than it sounds) with just over 100 routes, I cracked of a quick 13, nothing above F5+ but it was just nice to be moving. The reason for doing 13 - simple, I added them up wrong!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wham, Bam, thank you Mam!

Colin came down for a few days to get a bit of rocking done - the weather has been hot and sweaty for a while now but we thought we would try a few new venues. As a starter Masson Lees was interesting (including the drive down, my car was in for a service, they offered me a choice of courtesy car - a diesel Legacy or an Impreza WRX!). The sunny side was roasting but the shady side was much more equable. We did six routes (OK Colin did seven, including cruising a F7a) - a great find by Gary and bon effort with the development.
Thursday we headed for Colwyn Bay and the routes at Penmaen Head - again we were more than a little surprised, pleasant setting, great routes, lovely rock. The sun eventually fried us but in the mean time I did seven and Colin did eleven (and a half!) - a place we must go back too asap.
Friday was forecast to be the hottest yet, so we headed for Higgar Tor in the hope of catching a bit of a breeze. The hope was a bit forlorn (due to the easterly wind) but we did half a dozen of the 'easier. routes up there. I vidoed Colin zipping up the File in 2 mins 35 secs too! What I need now is a bit of a rest - maybe a cruise to Zeebrugge and a touring holiday to Switzerland will fit the bill!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Flaming June

After a mixed but excellent few days in Pembroke the weather in the Peak has been a bit unsettled, despite the meteo forecasting a lovely (hot and sweaty?) summer. A day getting beaten by easy routes at Ramshaw and battered by the wind on Stanage was enough - we booked a passage to Handegg via Hull. With that sorted the weather perked up (of course) and it was a big team outing to Stanage. A glorious June day - the longest - with highlights of Mississippi Varient Direct (E1 5b), Paucity (HVS 5b) and Good Friday (HVS 5b) - all of which were easier than Mantrap (HVDiff) at Ramshaw!
Colin's down for a few days later in the week - now where shall we head?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Pembrokeering

Alan organised a RockFax/UKC (A-Team; me, Colin and Sherri B-Team Alan, Mick and Mikey) to spend a few days in Pembroke, after the school halfterm to ensure the place was nice and quiet. And so it proved to be - the cool weather, wind and rain certainly kept the masses away!
Despite mixed weather, over three hectic days we managed to visit/climb/check Mewsford, The Castle, Mother Carey's, Saddle Head, Buckspool Down and St Govans as well as fill most of the photographic gaps.
Amazingly it was eleven years ago that I last visited the area, and inevitably, as soon as we got back I wondered why it had taken so long!
The B-team camped at Bosherston - great for the pub but a bit damp at night - whereas Sherri found us some superb accommodation at Thorne Chapel, only three miles from Bosherston. We stayed in the 'pool-house' and Colin got his own Gypsy Caravan in the woods - I think he may be starting fortune telling!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Clywd Clipping

A flying visit to Llangollen seemed like a good idea, it is quite a few years since we climbed in the Clwyd area and I wanted to check out some of the new easy sport routes. A very pleasant night in a pub and 15 routes over two half-days were a great tonic. I was impressed with the titchy sport routes at Trevor, a lovely setting and loads to do there, mind you they are already getting polished despite only being a few years old.
The traffic on the way home was already getting grim despite it being mid-afternoon - the radio reported jams nationwide. Lets stay local this weekend!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

That's Better

A trip up north for my parents Diamond Wedding Anniversary (traffic - arrrggghhhh) was called for so Sunday we pencilled in a visit to Almscliff on the way back to Sheffield. At last the weather was glorious, and the crag was amazingly quiet. Colin and Mark were there along with Alan Hinkes. I had never climbed with Alan and we had a pleasant time cracking off half a dozen climbs from the crags excellent repertoire of VS and HVS routes.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Climbing - no really!

Back home for two and half weeks and the weather had been, to put it mildly, crap! One midgy day on Stanage and two visits to the climbing wall about cover it. But today I got out with Dave Gregory on good old Birchen Edge, we did eight routes and only got wet twice! Every renaissance has to start somewhere - so easy does it.
Another day out and another dousing - after a solitary route; the UK can be so demoralising! It doesn't help that the weather in Lofoten has been glorious.
At least there are plans afoot, Clwyd and Pembroke for starters - we just need the weather.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Home Sweet Home

We packed up the car the night before and left Chamonix at 6:30, Monday morning. Despite being daunting the journey back was a pleasure (7:45 hours for the 580 miles Chamonix-Zeeebrugge) - a French Bank Holiday meant that the roads were almost deserted.
The Pride of Hull left on time, the crossing was flat calm and before we knew it we were back home! Of course there were the inevitable bills, jobs galore to do, heaps of mail, deadlines to meet, three days of rain - and in Sherri's case, work!
On the plus side Western Grit doesn't half look good!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Chamonix

A steady drive from Moustiers in gradually deteriorating weather and we landed back in Chamonix just a week later than last year. Again there is masses of snow around and some pretty unsettled weather, though the forecast is for an improvement, fingers crossed I might get a bit of cragging done.
We used the poor weather to look up Jon (Monty) de Montjoy who has lived higher up the valley in Valorcine for the 20-odd years since we last met!
A walk up to the Bosson Glacier, in intermittent snow showers offered great views of the Aiguilles and good chance for a leg stretch. The 120 person Midi cable-car gave a touch of scale to the scene.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Some Rest Day!

We had to dodge the showers and thunderstorms for a few days then the weather perked up nicely and I got all the shots I needed. With that being the case Sherri had the idea of a nice rest-day activity - we would hire a pedalo on the lake where the Verdon Gorge debouches. Off we went - heading up-stream against the current, through magnificent rock scenery as far as some impressive cascades, then it was back - against the wind - it turned into two hours of thigh-busting exercise - now I need a rest day to get over the rest day - sheesh!

There is some superb looking DWS up there for the summer and also some 'proper' climbing in the most humongous caves. A couple of lads were at work on a superb looking route, in one of the cave that towered over their moored canoe - no pedalos for those guys, they obviously don't have the legs for it!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Head for the Hills

The four months spent on the Cote d’Azure were great but as Easter approached it started warming up and getting busy - sure signs that it is time for us to start drifting back north. Work on the guide went well - it is looking great and will give folks a chance to see the area in a new light - who knows the Cote d’Azur might even become popular again.

We though we would start the journey home with a couple of weeks stopping close to the Verdon, in the ancient town of Moustiers - quite a spot. It is 20+ years since I did some of the great classics in the Verdon with Graham. We would set of from the campsite with rack and ropes, rock shoes loosely tied and hitch down to the Couloir Sampson. Tramp through the tunnels and then head up one of the big lines - the 12+ pitch outings of Ula, La Demande or the Squirrel’s Pillar were the real classics. Zip up the route, then hitch back to camp, and take the shoes off! Tell that to the youth of today - and will they believe you!

After the Verdon it is back to Chamonix for a week then Blighty - the ferry is already booked - bugger!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Last Supper

Seventeen weeks - my that went fast! (92 sunny days - 18 cloudy days and 12 wet ones). We arrived in the depths of winter, just before the solstice, and now, the equinox has been and gone and it is warming up by the day. There are flowers everywhere and the little town of Agay is getting busier. All this can only mean one thing; it is time to move on - Moustiers and the Verdon call. It is less than a couple of hours from here, but it will doubtless be very different up in the hills - hopefully quieter and cooler.
I might even get a bit of climbing done!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Not Long Now!

A useful visit to Toulon for cragshots, some non-serious sea-cliff exploring (pictured) - a big rush to finish Western Grit before Alan went on holiday - the past ten days have been all go !
The warm weather has brought some geckos (six at the last count) out around the pad and the whole valley echoes to the call of frogs every evening - ribbit, ribbit. A few damp days meant we had to pep up the log-pile, as it was starting to look a bit sad - we don't want to be caught short - even though the forecast is good for the next 10 days.
A recent sport has been trying to catch sight of the International Space Station as it has been passing overhead - impressively bright and super fast against the backdrop of stars! One night we even saw the Space Shuttle too - a short distance ahead of the ISS, on its way back home.
Ten days before we head to the Verdon - that should be interesting - can't wait!

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 t...