Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ian's 50th Birthday Bash at Patterdale

Its a while since we have visited the Lake district and Ians 50th birthday provided an excellent opportunity to visit. Ian booked the George Starkey hut in Patterdale and a bunch of his mates enjoyed a weekend of Lakeland fun. Ambling around Keswick, Climbing, Walking and mountain biking. Ian had given us the onerous job of transporting the part food ad drinks. Needless to say we I'm writing this blog entry and this part of our mission was a success!

We had rather a late departure from South Yorkshire I sent a text to Ian as we left Ambleside at 1030 on Friday night, we requested beer at The White Lion, it looked as though we would not make last orders!

We planned to climb on saturday which started out bright, excellent for a mountain route! Our original plan was to climb troutdale Pinnacle in Borrowdale. A couple of factors caused us to change plans, troutdale would be busy this was a good opportunity for mountain route. We carried on up to the Honister pass and parked near the Youth hostel. This is an excellent point from which to gain climbing routes on Gillercombe butress on the fells known as Grey Knotts, grid reference OS NY 221124.

Gillercombe butress
The main route up the crag is well deserving of 3 stars and we thouroughly enjoyed all of the pitches. Going around and through the notch on the first pitch was quite tricky, the second pitch had an interesting, exposed delicate step across. The penultimate pitch was allegedly the crux it was OK though the rhyolite rock was a little polished. The photograph below shows Gordon overcoming the "crux" pitch of Gillercombe buttress.

The evening meal was excellent pork in cider prepared by Andrew (with help from Howard), excellent and we had all worked up an appetite we ate at the George Starkey hut.

As well as excellent starters and main courses Andrew prepared a huge trifle it didn't get finished, one of our activities was inventing 101 things to with trifles. Ideas included ice packs for wounded knees and of course breakfast and packed lunch.

Ian was presented with a birthday cake complete with climber

We had an excellent wak on Sunday from the George Starkey hut we headed of to walk along the ridge known as Hartsop above How, this rise gently up to the summit of Hart Crag with deep dale at its north lying valley. From Hart Crag we ascended to the summit of Fairfield on our way we admired the fine route which is the Fairfield horseshoe, definitely something on my wish list.

Snow near the top of Fairfield GR358117 pic
The walk was concluded by descending to Pattaerdale via Saint Sunday Crag
this has routes which are mostly visited in the winter. The UKC rock climbing site indicates that many of the rock routes have not received much attention. It is worth saying that Pinnacle ridge is well worth doing. We all went down to view where the ridge joins on to the main bulk of Saint Sunday crag.
All in all we had an excellent birthday weekend it was good to meet up with friends who had not met up for quite a long time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Soft Play at Birchen Edge

Today the Castle Mountaineering club (CMC) had it first climbing meet of the year, "It's a rockout". We parked near the Robin Hood unsurprisingly it was very busy and we parked at the overflow car park.
Louis enjoyed his perch in the baby carrier and Keisha and myself talked about a variety of things, the knights of the round table and the Castle Mountaineering Club. Keisha was very keen to find th castle.
We reached the bottom of the crag and clambered over the boulders. It was great to meet up with the CMC. Good news fro one of the members, Al, an expectant father with a baby due to arrive withinb the week. It was great that there were a number of children from the climbing club. Keisha and Louis had friends to play with. One of the youngsters was telling me about astronomy and cosmology I was given an explanation of dark matter and dark energy apparently I will receive a future tutorial on dark flow..... awesome.

We found some excellent boulders suitable for first time climbers e.g. such as Keisha. Such boulders are an excellent place for her to become confident with rope and harness. Keisha is definitely in need of these as her scrambling is transforming to climbing she appears to want to move around over much steeper ground. Paul told me that the boulder we had found was one that he has used with his grandchildren, in this case it is good to know that we are thinking along the right lines.

Andrew told Keisha that her dad is a poser on the rocks my response was that "it takes one to know one", later I watched Andrew as enjoyed posing whilst climbing a route called Ratline.

Meeting up with friends from the climbing club meant there was an opportunity to slip on rock boots and quickly climb a couple of favourite routes. Keisha came with me and said that she wanted to climb some routes. Louis seemed happy to go back into the carrier he seems to enjoy our travels over the rocks.
Further along the crag Keisha met her new friends and they played before we returned home. All in all a most enjoyable day Keisha has grit rash, for the first time, I am ashamed to say. Louis continues to enjoy clambering over rocks and an increasing steadiness on the rocks. In short we all enjoyed our soft play on the rocks!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring time and Evening Adventures are Here

It's all happening! The general election has been called and the spring is finally here. Two full days of excellent weather seems almost unbelievable. I can say most definitely that I shall continue the general theme of this blog and where possible this will not include subjects such as the general election, this could be difficult, given the impact that the outcome of this event will have.

Today we enjoyed the first of the evening walks it turned into more of an adventure! Today was tricky because of a somewhat awkward shift pattern disrupting our weekend. The great thing about youngsters is their ability to very simply turn outings into an adventure. We parked at the bottom of Higgar Tor ascended the steps and wandered across the top. We were all rather energised scrambling over the boulders and rocks with Louis in the carrier on my back I could sense the excitement and his eagerness. I noted his fascination with the rock as he tried touching the rocks when we went near them.

We scrambled to the bottom of Higgar tor with Keisha giving us all useful tips and encouragement for scrambling. Her footwork is excellent and she has a lot of fun weasling amongst the rocks. Apparently weasling is a Dartmoor activity but we also like weasling in the Peak District. The first I heard about weasling was from a friend who is a climbing instructor.

We rested below the impressive Higgar Tor leaning block. After a quick drink Keisha was off scrambling again it was hilarious because this time Louis had been released from the confines of his carrier and he attempted to follow Keisha and myself, he has certainly taken to clambering over the rocks and Keisha continues to develop her skills and awareness.

Our return route was quick and fun taking us up an easy ramp to left of the leaning block and from there back to the car, as usual the walk was punctuated by regular stops for rock scrambling and on this ocassion Jelly babies.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Sea Cliff Climbing in Pembrokeshire

The weather for easter for most of the UK and Pembrokeshire forecast rain and since our intention was to climb sea cliff's, it appeared that our plan was not such a good one. Our enthusiasm not dampened, we decided to go to Pembrokeshire. Leaving Derbyshire we travelled west across the Pennines to start our journey through Wales. The journey through central Wales conjoured up ideas for visits to the Rhinogs and the Moelwyns. The weather improved slightly as we drove around the Welsh coast towards Fishguard. We arrived late in the evening and camped near St David's at Caerfai bay.

With a high tide at midday we walked along the coast near Saint Davids, one of the first places we visited was St Nons chapel said to be the birth place of St. David. The day looked promising and we were eager to climb so we returned to the nearby Initiation slabs, located near to st Nons chapel (GR SM 754252). On our return to the cliff it looked as though we could abseil to the start of the routes without being washed by the waves.

We abseiled to the bottom of Initiation slabs and started a route called vanishing crack at this point the heavens opened. There was a deluge, lots of hail and the route was running with water. Despite the crag being soaked the friction and quality of the holds was wonderful the climbing felt quite positive. Initiation slabs are as the name suggests a good place to start. On this occasion the name is justified.

After our first route we headed off to Saint Davids for a cup of tea. The evening looked good and we continued past our campsite and walked to Caerfai bay. The conditions were wonderful with dry rock, sunshine and the tide just right we climbed Mildred Mindwarp at Craig Caerfai GR SM 762238 this was a steep but very satisfying climb with some good moves. What an excellent end to the day.

After cooking a meal back at the campsite we went to the Farmers Arms after a while we enjoyed the an Irish folk band and the hi jinx of the Saint Davids rugby team, what a toxic combination! The following morning we walked to St Davids head from Whitesands bay. Watching the surfers gave some good ideas for boogie boarding.

In the afternoon we went to Porth Clais GR SM743238 this picturesque bay offers a good range of climbs on a wonderful slab going by the name of dreamboat Annie. We enjoyed a few routes including Harbour crack, Diagonal crack and Vegetable rights. Vegetable rights was fairly graded VS 4c however one comment is that protection appears to be dificult to place.

Entrance to Porth Clais harbour

Diagonal crack can be seen to the right of the picture below(this has an interesting move at the right hand end quite airy a double rope is recommended).

We were both curious about the geology of Pembrokeshire. The trip has reminded us that we've been lucky with the weather we've come away enthused with ideas for the forthcoming climbing season and ideas for the future for both family holidays and climbing trips.