Wet & Wild

A wee overnight camp in my new tent. Very excited to finally get out to use it even if only for the one night, in terms of testing a tent probably doesn’t get much better.

We arrived at our cosy campsite in Scotland’s central belt on Saturday morning then low and behold the heavens opened and they didn’t stop. With the ‘Wild Country Trisar 2’ you do need to put the inner up first then the outer, really the only draw back to this tent. There were trees nearby so put the inner up under shelter then, put the outer over it and was able to easily lift it to my spot due to the light weight of this tent. Pegged it down, sorted the guy lines and the job was done.

The rest of the afternoon involved some heavy rain, a spot of lunch courtesy of Mr Oswald and then you wouldn’t believe it but yet more rain. There was no let up except maybe an hour or so just before tea time. A couple of beers around the campfire always makes the day seem a whole lot better. When the smoke from damp wood got the better of us we retreated to our respective tents and I am pleased I was in my tent as the wind really did start to pick up later in the evening.

So the rain stopped and the wind blew… all night long until early morning when were greeted by glorious Sunday morn sunshine through the amber leaver of Autumn. The tent stood well and so it should, with it’s sturdy geodesic design there was no transfer of moisture between outer and inner. I would have to say remember when buying your tent that a two man is exactly that and no more. I found this the perfect size for me and my kit with room to change and have my bag and stuff in with me. Definitely my tent of choice for my nights away from home.

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10K… I must be mad.

Never again will I do something that is far beyond my realm of capabilities. Oh wait I’m planning to go climbing in East Greenland, so except for the expedition I will not, I repeat I will not enter another Rat Race.

I hadn’t been training for this event so wasn’t very keen to get going on this one even on the startline however, the team needed me and so off we went on our wee jaunt.

Second obstacle in I jumped over the hurdle and out popped my knee cap and back in again. I knew what had happened having felt it almost three years before, thankfully this time in went straight back in. My heart sank right to underground of Edinburgh with its dark shadows and somber atmosphere. George helped me over the rest of the hurdles stepping slowly and cautiously, we rounded the corner and the team; Bish, Alison and Iain were waiting and wondering what had happened. I told them what had happened and they offered to let me rest for 5 but I knew if I did that it would be the end of my knee. Knowing that without all 5 of us crossing the line we wouldn’t finish as the team that entered. Time to man up and carry on šŸ™‚

So another 8km of grueling steps, hills, obstacles and a buggered knee with a little help from my friends we did make it to the finish line… as a team.

It made me think a lot about being part of a team, how good it feels no matter how bad things get it is teamwork that gets you through. Pushing, hauling, shoving, heaving; it’s all good.

To achieve something as part of a team is amazingly satisfying, we weren’t going out there to win; it was about having fun and finishing together as a team. Despite the pain, all the steps and muddy, slippery hills I did have a lot of fun with my ‘shit mates’ and no I’m not doing it again!

Sandstone you are no longer new to me… Kyloe (Out)

Yay all up to date…

Saturday was a fun day out at Kyloe in Northumberland.

My first time on sandstone was an interesting one, the routes we did:
Slab and Groove VS 5a**
Christmas Tree Arete D**
Deception Crack HS 4b***
Christmas Tree Arete (Direct Finish) VS 4c*
Wilfred Prickles VS 5a**
A bad head day for me only leading the one D route which was a lovely route but definitely not pushing myself hard enough. You know what though we all get days like that and sometimes we just have to accept that it’s a day for seconding.

My favourite route for the day would have to be Deception Crack, such nice moves and fun to do. A close second would be Wilfred Prickles, a foot slip half way up but the love the side pull moves then changing as you get nearer the top.

The worst part of this day was losing my mojo on Christmas Tree Arete. So many false starts and Fraser shouting in a quiet way and telling me to man the …. up! That’s what friends are for.

The funniest part of the day, Fraser dropping his biscuit which camouflaged itself in the pine cones for a good few minutes before he could find it again. A laugh out loud moment for sure.

Hawcraig – 23rd September 2013

Yes more catch up. This time we had a day out at Hawcraig just near Aberdour.

Time was limited as I had to drop the kids at school for 9am then be back by 3.30 for when they arrived home.

We headed over the bridge at it was close to home and tides were on our side.

I led 2 routes Escalator and Flake and Wall. Flake and Wall was a nice little route just a shame and about all the prickly Gorse bushes at the top.

Fraser led a HVS which was pretty darn tricky. When we started there were 4 big rocks between the tide and our bags… all good, if it gets down to two then we need to start picking up the pace. I went to second the route but got ridiculously stuck with one leg either side of the nose overhanging bit. Yes I’m sure it would have made a very funny little home video I’m just pleased no one was there to film it, an ever so slightly embarrassing moment. Fraser thought all this was hilarious due to my sound effects that went with all the effort I was putting in to get over the nose. One day I will laugh right back at you Fraser…

Anyway so after falling off (not down ‘cos I’m on a toppy remember) and taking a rest I look around to see our bags just one rock away from the tide – damn how did that happen so quick? I came abbed down to retrieve the rest of the gear, there was no way I was going to get myself unstuck from the nose… We grabbed our gear and scrambled to the top to retrieve the rope and anchors.

Troutdale

view from troutdale

Troutdale Pinnacle, another popular climb in the Lakes which I was really looking forward to climbing. A grade up from my previous routes I did get a little scared in places, I’m not afraid to admit. I’m new to trad so for now that’s allowed and have no doubt that fear comes across us all once in while. Fear keeps us alive, it reminds us that we are not immune to failure. Keep it in check and remember to breathe, keep your head together and carry on or get your partner to lead for a bit.

Me standing at broken corner belay. Yes I am tired after our long outing on Gimmer the previous day.
Me standing at broken corner belay. Yes I am tired after our long outing on Gimmer the previous day.

I managed to lead the first 3 pitches but did get a little freaked when a solo cimber passed me enroute. It shouldn’t really bother me that much but I didn’t like the look of the next pitch and after getting across the traverse I came back and to the belay and let Patrick lead from there.

Can you believe we finished the route in daylight after some exhilirating climbing on the final pitch… definately a bit of a scary pitch but well worth it!

Oh and a flyby from the RAF jet through the valley whilst climbing was pretty cool too… so pleased I wasn’t on a crux move at the time.

View from the top of Troutdale...
View from the top of Troutdale…

Gimmer

shadows on gimmer

Gimmer has a reputation for being high and exposed. That sounds like the ideal preparation for climbing in Greenland. Note in diary to do more of this I say!

Gimmer Snack stop
Lunch stop after Ash Tree Slabs and before Oliverson’s Variation and Lyon’s Crawl.

Bivvy!

What an interesting night I had for my first solo bivvy….

I started out late to head up into the hills looking for a tarn which was past another tarn. Oh yes I hear you say should be easy, plenty of hills to use for navigation marks, a big tarn right next to a well used path. Keep following the path and it should take me straight there.

Marvellous, all sorted.

Well maybe not quite so sorted as it turns out. Make it to the first big tarn which appears to have a DofE group camping on its shore for the night, so I decide to skirt around them not really wanting to disturb them as they were settling in for the night. Uh oh, where did that path go…

In only the way know how I managed to lose the path under the cover of darkness and end up waist deep in bracken… damn it now my trousers are wet. Ok so there’s the tarn just head up to the gap inbetween the two peaks and I should find the path again. Oh why did my feet just sink… wet boggy grassy shit… damn it, now that’s wet trousers, socks and shoes!

Wrong two peaks and no path but the tarn is only just down there how far off can I be! When it’s dark and getting a wee bit chilly it feels like a long way when all you keep doing is walking in streams coming down from the peaks that surround you.

Not to worry, lovely big flat rock with mossy, grassy stuff on top makes for the perfect bed and mattress. With a clear sky and under a blanket of stars there was nothing else for it but to set up my bivvy for the night and watch the shooting stars. So many as it was only a couple of nights from the scheduled meteor shower.

As day broke I quickly saw the error of my ways and rejoined the path heading back to my car to find some dry clothes and a cup of coffee.

So I never made it to Codale Tarn but it was an amazing night sleeping under the stars šŸ™‚

Mileage… Langdale 31/7/13

Simon and I headed out to Langdale to link up some routes on various crags all connected by short walks. At this stage it’s important to get the mileage in so I can become slicker and more effecient with my gear placement and ropework.

First route of the day was Cub’s Groove, great big ledge to stand on and I couldn’t even find a place for my first bit of gear, what a fantastic start to the day this is. Ā A small group of beginners turn up at the bottom of the crag and I come down shortly after. Disappointed I send Simon up to get things sorted, not just one but three bits of gear were very quickly placed and shown to me. These are the days in which I must soak everything up and learn as much as possible, it’s not always about getting it right so long as you learn from it and more importantly… move on. Well in this case it was up as I went second and cleaned the route. A short walk up to the start of the next route had us quickly back on the rock.

The route chosen was Route 1 a nice easy climb with a big slab section at the top of the second pitch to finish off. Easy climbing, yes. Exposed, yes. Slow, doesn’t even begin to describe my climbing style just now. Once at the top I had a bit of bother trying to find good anchors for my belay. Ā 25 minutes later the belay was finally sorted after much frustration and Simon made his way up the route in about 5 mins. He knew I’d had trouble finding the belay and sent some vibes up the rope for me. Maybe this is when I made my decission to move to the next ledge where I quickly found the anchors and had everything set up ready to go shortly after that.

After a short break and chat with an amazing view right along the valley and across to Langdale Pikes we were on our way again up to Whitegill Crag. Rain… started at 2pm very light but wasn’t due till 5pm. This is not good, we waited another 5mins to see if anything was going to come of it and it did. Getting heavier we decided it was a good time to bail on terra firma rather than at pitch 2 of 4. We headed across towards Stickle Tarn and took in the view from this higher point as the rain gradually got heavier and set in for the rest of the afternoon.

So the climbing had been slow and the rain getting heavier it was time to think about a late lunch down at the pub. The best days I’ve had outside have always been in atmospheric conditions. Ā It’s not always about getting the best of the weather which in this country will be difficult over the coming months but more about the experiences and what you make of your day hanging out with mates.

C

Little Chamonix

belay
top belay
Belay Patrick up to the finish of Little Chamonix.
ImageĀ©SimonGee
pitch 1 of little chamonix
Getting started on the first of many multi-pitches.
ImageĀ©SimonGee

My first multi-pitch and monkey off my back sorted.

Route: Little Chamonix, VD***
Location: Shepherds Crag, Lake District
Date: Sunday 21st July, 2013.

No roller skates, boxing gloves or wedding dress in sight!

Patrick was the instructor for the day and Simon was there to capture my first multi-pitch on film.

I sit here two weeks later in the comfort of my home thinking back to how I felt on that day. In all honesty I probaby felt more comfortabe there on the rock than what I do now sitting on this hard wooden bench at the dining table. I’m sure my family won’t be pleased to hear it but when I’m up there climbing it’s the sense of freedom that I have to express myself that gives a kind of rush you just don’t get when doing the housework. Now I know that sometimes this will come out in a form of verbal language that my mum would cringe if she heard but for the most part it is simply the connection I feel to the rock which allows me to move in such a way that feels to me, normal.

Patrick was my guide for the day, he is a very calm and patient instructor. We began by walking through the belay set-ups at the bottom of the route while climbers headed up the route which can get very busy on good weather days like it was that day. After feeling more comfortable with setting up the belays Patrick headed up the first pitch with ease. Next it was my turn to head up as second and clean on my way. First hex… jammed right back in the crack and I drew blood trying to get the litte bugger out. Pitch 1 complete. A short scramble up to the second belay point where Patrick consolodated the belay setup once again and then it was my turn to climb. Heading up the crack to the polished block I was anxious to place my first bit of gear before the block. This was after we had been discussing fall factors and shock loading on belays and ropes, with the ledge below from where Patrick was beleying you can understand why I wanted that bit of gear placed asap.

The block was certainly interesting to say the least, as Simon pointed out you don’t get moves like that on the indoor wall. I loved it! It took me a few minutes to get myself sorted but got myself turned around and off the block stepping out onto the facing wall which takes you up to the saddle belay.

I felt relief like you wouldn’t believe when I got my leg over onto the saddle belay. I know the climbing wasn’t difficult but when it’s your first multi-pitch which is being filmed at the same time it is a relief not to fall off. My arse was sat on the saddle and wasn’t going to move, I set the belay up from where I was and possibly took Ā a while to do it but wanted to make sure I had everything right before sending Patrick up. Again he climbed it no problem and was up in a flash which meant it was my turn to head up the third and final pitch.

The pitch was apart from being higher than anything I had climbed before it was also the most exposed (yes my clothes were on just to clarify) on a rock face I had ever been before. When I had looked up before climbing I thought I was going to be climbing behind the big oversized flake but after going up, it soon became apparent that this was not the case. Massive jugs to hold onto but out and around it was for me. After composing myself for a minute off I went and up to a big ledge and stood there trying to place some gear, nuts would fit and cams weren’t right. Simon spotted me getting a wee bit flustered and popped his head over the top to see what was up and quickly pointed out the great big spike I was gripping onto would be perfect for a sling! Oh yes why didn’t I see that obvious solution. Thank you Simon for your words of wisdom delivered at just the right time.

A few short moves and I had made it… the relief was overwhelming to the point that I was almost devoid of all emotion. I think it was a combination of so many thought process going through my mind. Not just the climbing but everything that I had planned from the moment I had put my expediton ad on UKC to this point. Ā Talking with and meeting new friends is an experience that am finding increasingly invaluable and satisfying.

Thank you to all who made my first multi-pitch one not to forget.

C

Scorching Scotland… at last!

I should have got around to this yesterday but there was just too much to squeeze into one day so here it is a day late. With Sunday off work and the weather promising to stay warm all day my friend and climbing buddy George and I decided to head northward for a spot of sport climbing on slabs which neither of us enjoy. Our thinking was lets do something out of our comfort zone and deal with whatever the route throws at us.

Advice: always read the topo carefully before heading out. I thought I saw Perth in the text so away we went planning to make a quick coffee stop and grab another couple of quickdraws for my small collection. Coffee stop, check. Two new draws, check. Guide book, check. Oh it’s not near here really at all, what! So back down the road a wee bit and across into the car park, really weird no other climbers about surely not on such a superb day. Another quick check of the guide book, oh yes that would be the nesting Peregrines!

Off to plan b destination – Ardvorlich. A quick skirt around to the other side of Loch Lomond and we arrive at the parking layby being careful not to block others in. A stroll up to the barn where we head up the path for access to the crag and the farmer is out cutting his grass. A quick chat between George and the farmer and he is happy to let us through and gives us directions up to the crag. Advice: follow directions on the topo and don’t listen to the farmer to avoid walking through ankle deep peat bog for 15 mins. Luckily for us there was a nice refreshing Ā burn to cool the feet and give them a quick clean before trying to squeeze into our climbing shoes.

So we finally get to our little piece of rock with slabby easy 6’s on it. Ā Ideallic spot shame about the midges. I have decided that maybe outdoor sport climbing is not my niche. It happens everytime I head out, totally psyched to get on rock get the first clip after much swearing followed by mild panic – cannot do the next one. To be fair there was a decent run out which I didn’t feel comfortable with.

Why do I do this? I can’t answer that one just yet but my theory is that it’s defo a head thing I can climb, I get out and do a trad route and all I think about is the moves and really enjoy the climbing right from the words ‘get your ass up that wall’. No protection, no next bolt I just climb and place a bit of gear where it looks good and safe. How can this be I do a sport route look at the next bolt somewhere above me and I shit myself, well not literally but I do definitely get the wobbles. Does this mean deep down I’m really a trad girl? A style of climbing I’ve only recently got into but loving it and the potential it has to take me places I need to go.

It was up to George to man up and do the job because it was quite clear I was just too much of a big girly girl on this occasion, and man up he did. Some superb climbing and dogging was required but 2 routes done and 2 ctr’s for me and I still managed to make a mess of my skin on the oh so sharp quartz and shist. A really good fun day out but next time it will be trad and climbing harder for sure.