Friday, December 29, 2017

End of Year Kinder Exploits

After a day of snow and sledging we took advantage of the thaw to seek more snow on the Kinder plateau. Starting from Edale the route we planned is popular, although we try it quite a lot we never tire of it. It's better than a visit to your favourite gallery or sculpture park. It turned out to be a great way to finish off the year.

This nine mile route takes you along the wild southern edge of the Kinder plateau using the edge as a guide and quite well defined paths for much of the way it's not too difficult to navigate your way around. However a map and compass and knowing how to use them is still strongly advised.

Starting from Edale Railway station  we walked along the road and into the village as far as the Nags Head Inn. Rather then head along Grindsbrook and following the Pennine way we headed west on the Pennine Way alternative route which is signed for Jacobs Ladder. The path  proceeds below Broadlee-Bank To and goes directly to Upper Booth.

Its always good to arrive at the Pack horse bridge at the foot of Jacobs ladder. When wandering up here I always try and cast my mind back into the time of these ancient travel routes before the 18th century with their height in the 1650's. These routes carried goods between the main cities in particular wool and materials between the mills. One such mill was located at Nether booth. There is some good information at the following sites.

The route up Jacobs ladder has a good solid stone foundation making travel some easier what however it must have been quite an effort for the packhorse trains that passed this way. Today the path was icy making our passage somewhat more challenging, particularly in to the westerly wind marking the onset of  storm Dylan which was due to arrive in the latter part of the day.

The packhorse route continues onto Edale cross and downto Hayfield. Our route takes us below Swines back and on towards Edale rocks. Before heading that way we sat on the main path and enjoyed a hot dink and slice of Christmas cake.
This dog shape rock is the Noe Stool our route here was a running stream of snow melt. The path is usually a well defined track with the remains of a drystone wall on one side. This did not deter my two youngsters Louis was most excitable with the snow and enjoyed snowballing all of us at different points!

One of the favourite parts of the route is the Wool packs, there are some fabulous boulder formations here which are great for wandering around, they are wonderful natural sculptures. Naturally we cannot resist the temptation to climb, hop, leap and bound!

Arriving at the top of Crowden tower the way was again steep and slippy as we dropped down to Crowden Brook, one of our favourite routes for scrambling.

Today the rivers were full brown and excited with snow melt, why does all this white stuff make us all so excitable! We had to walk upstream to find a suitable river cossing.. oh what fun we all enjoyed this.
We carried on over the top of Grindslow Knoll and dropped back into Edale village. We were grateful for wonderful mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows in the Penny pot cafe, thanks Gordon.

See also:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

North Derbyshire Running Club Trip to the Lake District

The North Derbyshire running club has an annual club trip the last trip was near Keswick and not far from Basenthwaite water. For this years trip the club stayed at the excellent Bury Jubilee hut which is above Glenridding, in a fantastic location for quick access to the fells. The track down is also not too far for a trip to the local hostelries. This trip was not a full on training session but a social trip, however we are a club of enthusiastic runners additionally we are in the fells and we're here to run! This trip was no exception club members ran excellent races and training runs. There was a lot of mutual encouragement to get out and run.
Thornthwaite Crag Beacon

A lot of us had booked leave on the Friday to arrive in Glenridding early that day. My plans had gone somewhat awry! After going climbing at Awesome walls, Sheffield, I met Amanda at Woodall services on the M1 at 9pm. Amanda had returned from work, Keisha and Louis needed a lift back home after climbing. I was eventually ready to head off to the lakes! I arrived at the Jubilee hut Glenridding at silly oclock, I stepped out of the car, switched the lights off and was amazed by a splendid starlit sky. Racing club members had already gone to bed, those that were still up made me feel most welcome and showed me to an available bunk, there was still time to chat about the weekend plans.

The day started bright there was much enthusiasm to get out. There was a buzz around the hut as we heard about the days fell race, the, Three shires fell race (wikipedia). This fell race features four fantastic summits Wetherlam, Swirl How, Pike O’Blisco and Lingmoor along with Three Shires Stone these are also the race checkpoints. These fells make you appreciate what a tough undertaking this is. John Gorman, Martin Dawson Joel Siddall were our three excellent race competitors, club members went out to support them.

Different groups of club members went off into the fells to try different routes, one sounded like a long walk to the pub this included a planned long stay at the inn on The Kirkstone pass, very tempting.  I had a mad plan to run over as many mountains as I could, starting from the Dodd's. I set off up a steep path behind the hut and headed for Watsons Dodd. It was good to take advantage of the height and the beautiful weather. The initial hill was very steep I had to do a fast walk!
My route took me to Stybarrow dodd and Watsons Dodd. As I jogged... staggered up Glencoyne head I saw Sheffield pike, it looks like a good hill one I must try. There weren't many people around but as I got to Watson's Dodd to commence the traverse there were more and more people, including friends from NDRC.

Bright sunshine heading up Glen Coyne to the Dodds'. The view above is towards Watsons Dodd.
As I struggled up Stybarrow and progressed on to Watsons Dodd I thought about the team on the three shires fell race. My performance gradually improving. The run along the path from Watsons Dodd was excellent runnable and underfoot it was great. I made good progress along to Raise. Near here I met a team from NDRC who were happy with their ascent of Helvelyn via Swirral edge... thats one impressive morning run!

I had a great run this is such a splendid route enjoying the great Helvelyn plateau and looking back at the wonderful Swirral and Striding edge ridges life felt much too short, I can't wait to come back here and scramble those ridges once again you can never tire of them. From Nethermost pike I looked back towards Ullswater.
Continuing onto  Dollywagon pike, I stopped and looked back, although the cloud had gathered it still looked absolutely fantastic. From this point the route descended steeply to Grisedale tarn then back up onto Fairfield slow and steady. In hindsight I wish I'd gone up Seat Sandal before ascending Fairfield perhaps I'll try that next year! My journey was concluded with an ascent of St Sunday Crag, here I met the Andy and the Kirkstone Inn team. I'd forgotten the fun of scrambling the well defined backbone of Saint Sunday There are great views of Grisedale and across to Helvelyn. Looking in a southerly direction towards the Hartsop fells is also excellent. I returned to the hut via the path to Lanteys tarn, the path was a little confusing but I eventually made my way through. It was quite pleasant to return in a light shower of rain. After five and half hours I'd completed a load of excellent mountains with a journey of 16.5 miles and 5600 feet of climbing....   pace frustratingly slow, but these are the lakeland fells.
Back at the hut Dave and Ron had been busy starting preparations for tea. We'd had some problems with the gas supply and had to call the hut caretakers to resolve the problem. It wasn't long before Dave and Ron were cooking on gas and 20 club members we sat around enjoying an excellent feast. Our fell runners had returned but our Kirkstone pass team were still out somewhere in Patterdale on Kirkstone... it was a mystery.

In the evening we drank beer and wine, played cards, planned routes, races and generally chatted. It was good to hear the stories of the days racing. The results of the fell race were summarised excellently by our club reporter, Neil.

RESULTS UPDATE : THREE SHIRES FELL RACE,LITTLE LANGDALE,AMBLESIDE,SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2017. This is a fell race so famous that it has its own Wikipedia entry (Saturday saw the 30th running of the event) and so difficult that the experienced and usually unfazed John Gorman reports back that it was "the hardest race i have ever done", whilst David Edwards talks of "slippy conditions and very tough gradients.

The 12.4 mile race starts and finishes from the Three shires inn at Little Langdale Ambleside.Five of the NDRC crew taking the annual NDRC trip up to this ruggedly beautiful part of world took the 20 mile journey from their Glenridding's base to the race:Steve Bennett and Maggie Gorman supporting and Martin Dawson,Joel Siddall and John Gorman running.In what sounds and looks like a proper, technical difficult fell race top marks has to be awarded to all three.

WINNER - Jonny Malley (Ambleside) 2:01.55
FIRST LADY Claire Nancy (Lonesdale ) 2:33.29

44.Martin Dawson 2:33.20
116.Joel Siddall 3:08.14
167.John Gorman 3:56. 50
170 finishers

The Kirkstone crew arrived back later in the evening happy with their day in the hills and evening in the pub there was a little bit of tut tut tut lol!
The following morning a party of people hired a motor launch enjoying a tour of the lake. A group of us headed out to Brothers water with the objective of running over High Street. We found a path which ascended up onto Caudale Moor from the Brothers water inn. We had selected a route with some good paths and including a Roman road! We had to move quickly because we needed to return in time for brunch back at the Jubilee hut!
The route went up steeply I was moving at a walk, dare I say fast walk. Martin, one of our racers from the previous day breezed relatively easily up the hill. When we arrived at the adit the gradient eased a little, even I could manage a run!
The adit with Brothers water down below

As we ran onto Caudale moor the running improved, the views were just fabulous it was good to look southwards to Ambleside and Windemere. Our next point was Stony Cove Pike we had a good run, we had to go steeply down to Threshthwaite mouth, here, we all enjoyed gaining speed as we bounded over the rocks. There was another steep pull up to the beacon on Thornthwaite crag where we stopped for a round of kendal mint cake and water.
As we ascended high street we were spurred on by thoughts of brunch and Martin pulling us along! The pace increased as we headed back down to The Knott and the village of Hartsop. We'd had some fairly regular stops to check the map to make sure we were going the right way. However we stopped sharply when a shepherd was whistling, it was quite amusing because they joked that they wished their dogs stopped so obediently. We'd had a fab run which concluded with an excellent brunch back at the hut. In summary this was a trip of great running, great food, great friends and brilliant days in the hills. After tidying the hut and saying our goodbyes I left with a great sense of enthusiasm for more running and days in the hills, can't wait for the next trip.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Dolomites - Via Ferrata Fun!

A couple of years ago we planned to visit Italy, circumstances meant we had to wait. Our chance had finally come we were off for a week in the Dolomites and a week by Lake Garda... we could not wait.
The summit of Monte Paterno

We had a great flight with Lufthansa from Heathrow to Munich. Our adventure started with the collection of a hire car which we drove to our apartment in the village of Pozalle near Pieve Di Cadore.

It was wonderful to get closer to Misurina, Amanda and myself recollected happy memories of an earlier trip to Misurina. It was quite late in the day, the view of the Sorapiss above Misurina was beautiful.

The traffic was busy through the Cadore region we arrived late in the evening after a drive up the steep roads of Pozalle we struggled to find our apartment. I gave Nicoletta a call on the mobile and using her excellent English she guided us to our lodge... hooray we had arrived. The morning greeted us with splendid views of this wonderful place.

Nicoletta recommended a visit to Caralte adventure park it was a quick journey from our lodge. All we had to do was to bocome familiar with the 3D maze of valleys. The park is run by families from the local villages, there is a wonderful community spirit. It was time to practice our skills on the high wires!

This particular zip wire was entertaining it wasn't very steep, on my turn I got to the end and forgot to grab hold..... instead a slid back to the middle again. I had to pull my way back to the start and try again. There are lots of zip wires at this park. The Italians called it flying, it sounds much more fun than calling it a zip wire.

Not far from the Caralte adventure park was a small crag (the crag is actually on the same road) it's in an area where there are courts for tennis 5-aside football etc... We were excited to find the climbing area and couldn't resist a play.

Keisha cruised this piece of rock Amanda decided to have a laugh and pretend to push me up the crag ... pretend honest!

 On a further exploration we visited Lago di Cadore. Climbing areas are marked on the map (see the list of maps we used at the end) one of these was at the dam foot near Pieve di Cadore. After negotiating a series of windy single track tunnels we arrived at the dam foot, we had arrived at diaga di pieve di cadore vie d'arrampicata. As well as a climbing wall, there were holds on the dam wall and also a via ferrata.

Keisha as normal could nor resist the temptation of cart wheels, hand stands, back hand springs, back walkovers... happy days.

It was good to travel to Misurina we used the landrover service to take us up the track to the Rifugio Monte Piana. Our plan was a trek over Monte Piana, Monte Piano and to go vi Lago di Landro to the hotel Tre Cime. We wanted to try the Heeresbergf├╝hrersteig Via Ferrata on  Monte Piano. Our route is partially illustrated by the map below.

We had fine views of Monte Cristallo in the distance and across the valley, a fantastic mountain to attempt with excellent via Ferrata including awesome suspension bridges.

 The first via ferrata on Monte Piano was very easy we all wanted more challenges. As we crossed over to Monte Piana locating the start of the via ferrata down to Lago di Landro was not straightforward. I stopped to look at the map and explained to Keisha and Louis that we needed to workout which way to go to get to the start. Keisha and Louis came to the rescue they studied various notices pinned around the very popular mountain area. As it turned out there was ample sign posts. Well this mountain is a very popular museum. Hugely interesting and sobering to think of the people that fought up here in all conditions.

Looking over the edge we could see the path zig-zagging away in the distance, the dolomites are so precipitous that it was difficult to work out where to go. However we followed the path faithfully and enjoyed the route down.

We found a section of via ferrata it looked as though it went directly to the summit of Monte Piana, we made good progress up there and enjoyed the first via ferrata of our trip.

Looking back up the via Ferrata on Monte Piana.

One afternoon we returned to the adventure park at Caralte the evening meeting was at the crag Diego, Nicoletta and friends form the adventure park organise a climbing session for the youngsters. They were all so encouraging we had a great time climbing routes of varying difficulty. Even I had a go, fun, fun!

Keisha appeared to handle some of the routes quite well and attempted some of the harder routes. In the sequence below she made it neatly over rather a steep overhung part of the crag.

Keisha was relieved and happy to climb that route.

Diego kindly loaned a climbing rope and quick draws we now had the possibility of attempting some of the many bolted climbing areas. There is an excellent roadside crag and via ferrata near Vallesella we visited this area one morning before the weather was forecast to break. This crag was hot we climbed quite close to the middle of the day nevertheless it offered a great selection of via ferrata's and climbs with a good range of difficulty. Sensibly ?? We started with the trickiest ferrata. That was quite tricky for me but a lightweight like Keisha breezed up. Louis was still having problems clipping we tried one of the easier routes good practice for all of us. There was an excellent Tibetan  bridge, place quite high up and offering a good sense of exposure. We later found out that this was another project that Diego had been involved with.

As usual we couldn't resist the delights of the Caralte adventure park. This time Keisha and Louis wanted to try the zorb ball's. As normal Keisha and Louis were practicing their tricking moves on the trampoline.

The weather was looking promising and we took advantage. With an early start we headed for Cortina d'Ampezzo. Our objective to attempt monte Cristallo and the Cresta Bianca with fantastic suspension bridges. To make this a practicality we would start from the Capanna Rio Gere and use the ski lift to gain some height. We  arrived very early pleased to have beaten the crowds (this is a very busy popular area). Unfortunately both of the ski lifts had been close apparently there had been a number of incidents forcing the closure.

We quickly changed our plans and headed to Misurina (which wasn't far) to attempt the  Sentiero De Luca / Innerkofler and climb the Monte Paterno. We had lost all our time and now stuck in queues driving up on the toll road to the Refugio Auronzo it was quite frustrating we arrived at the refuge a huge car park at the foot of the beautiful tres Cime. We joined the masses and embarked on our adventure up Monte Paterno.

We walked on a main path from Refugio Auronzo to, Refugio Laverado and then the Locatelli hut from here we could start our via ferrata. Keisha, Louis and myself were encouraged to move quicker by a man in front wearing what appeared to be underpants. They were probably quite comfortable. We focussed more on the Tres Cime rather than the underpants.

I never tire of the Tres Cime and I must say that after our climbing with Nicoletta/Diego and the Caralte climbing gang we were all somewhat fired up!

The we elected to walk on the higher  path approaching the Locatelli hut, this would bring us out at the Frankenfurter a curiously shaped pinnacle near the start of our route.
We had a quick sandwich and geared near the start of the route and over looking the Locatelli hut. For this route head torches are essential. On one part we saw a dog in a rucksack!

The route proceeds up the ridge through some short tunnels, up stairways, there were "gallery windows" from which from which we could peer down at the mass of people on the path below.
As we started up one of the steeper sections there were quite a few queues there were still quite a few people up here. The photo above shows the entrance to one of the main tunnels. It was long dark, steep, refreshingly cold and good to exit back out onto the mountain proper.

At the Gammscharte we had completed the main ascent along the ridge from this point the final ascent on to the summit commenced. This is the point we would descend to to start our descent back to the Laverado and Auronzo hut.
The picture above shows people descending rather a steep path, this was the correct way to proceed. However that path near the tunnels shown in the pictured offered an interesting (and much longer alternative).

We enjoyed some good moments on the summit lumps of chocolate, enjoying the view. Even enjoying some singing. A party of 3 men brought there music out and proceeded to sing, it added to a very happy atmosphere.

The descent path looked quite steep and screey but proceeding with some care it wasn't to bad at all. There were cables on all the exposed parts and it was certainly an impressive traverse around the body of Monte Paterno.

There were some more smaller tunnels as we headed back to the start. We were still amazed by the Tres Cime expressing a desire to climb it! This was an excellent mountain day it's worth doing even with the crowds. It's best to turn up early. The via Ferrata is very fair and is thoroughly recommended.

For our final via ferrata day we returned to the Cortina area, this time the challenge was to attempt the Tofana Di Rozes. We drove through Cortina and found a road which lead to Ristorante Pietofana. From here a chair lift to refugio Aosta and then onto Refugio Pomedes. Guidebooks recommend that the best starting point for Tofana Di Rozes is the Dibona hut. After our day out I realised that this was indeed possibly the case, it appears that a short drive on a single track road off the SS48 leads to the Dibona refuge. Trip advisor reports positively about this refuge.

One of the ski lifts to the refugio Pomedes had broken so we walked the final part up to the refuge. At 1:25000 the scale of the tabacco maps make it not straightforward to judge the time taken to walk/scramble climb different sections. Although it was nice hot and sunny there was a lot of cloud on many of the summits looking like it was not clear any time soon. Looking around we made a quick change of plan. 

We would attempt the Punta Anna Via Ferrata which leads to the highest Tofana di Mezzo.

Refugio Pomedes
After very easy scrambling over the initial slops andmany comments from Keisha saying "Are we there yet?" We arrived at the steep start to the Punta Anna Via Ferrata. The guidebooks indicated that this was not particularly easy and required a good degree of competence. The guide book was spot on. A small party lead by guide cruised in front of us and I began to wonder if I was being responsible and if this really was a good idea. I explained to Keisha and Louis about the nature of the route and explained the various options. To be fair they are great climbers it was not such an irresponsible decision, let the adventure commence.
Looking back to refugio Pomedes

Monks Hood
We made fantastic progress up this steep ferrata which took us to some great positions on the rock. One of the dangerous points was an abundance of Monks hood, which is highly poisonous.

We arrived at the top of the Punta Anna in good style we even caught a party on a particularly steep and exposed section. We had so much fun on this route even  on one particularly steep part where Louis managed to wrap the via ferrata clips around the cable at this point I had to intervene and hang myself off this overhanging bit to sort Louis out. Funny how Louis managed to choose what appeared to be the trickiest bit.
Given the time and the cloud cover we decided to descend and return to the refugio Pomedes given that we had already had such a great time this was a good move.

The descent turned out to be great fun, as we left the final section of via Ferrata  Keisha and Louis quickly discovered the delights of a nice long scree run.

At the lower point of the scree slope near the old refuge Cantore we had a competition to see who had the most stones in their boots. They both had turned into a couple of wild savages needing taming... perhaps the most difficult challenge of the day.

The descent continued along the main path to the refugio Dibona but we used the sentiero Astaldi to return to the refugio Pomedes. There were many strange colours and textures along this older section of via Ferrata.

We took both ski tows to return to the ristorante Pietofana

A climber enjoying the superb exposure on Punta Anna
A climber enjoying the superb exposure on Punta Anna
Diego lent us an excellent climbing there are some wonderful climbing areas, a particular area recommended was the cinque torre  (five towers area) with excellent climbs at many grades. Other links to climbing areas are listed below. A recommended guide book is the Falesie a Cortina d'Ampezzo. Ediz. italiana, inglese, tedesca (Multilingual) Paperback – 2016 by Thaler M (Author), see the reference links below.

Nicolletta and Diego were both most hospitable on our final evening they provided a bottle of wine and home made Tiramisu... delicious. They suggested the idea of weekend climbing using cheaper flights and suggetsing that orrizonimontani may collect from Treviso this certainly sounds like a tantalising possibility. ( Re. venice-treviso with Ryan competitively costed flights for a weekend trip to dolimiti with orizzontimontani).

After climbing and via Ferratering here I'm fired up with my old passion for climbing. However as I'm writing this an unintended consequence is a rediscovered enthusiasm for my solar work too

General Links

Mountain guides in the Cadore region

Some useful blogs with very handy information for via Ferratering

Climbing Guide (Diego lent us this climbing guide looks exceedingly informative)

Climbing areas from this book


Via ferrata Guide

Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1 (Cicerone Guides)
Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 2 (Cicerone Guides)
Via Ferrata: Scrambles in the Dolomites - Horst Hoffler and Hoefler