Friday 23 July 2010

Unexpected opportunity

I've grabbed an unexpected opportunity to blog from Tajikistan. Up to last night I'd had 4 hours in a bed in the last 72, most of the rest were spent in planes and jeeps or exploring Istanbul and Dushanbe.
Yesterday we took a 16hour drive along the Pamir Highway (think Karakorum Highway- narrow, variable quality, mountains 1000s of metres above the gorge, enormous river below) which was fine except for an exciting blowout at 50mph. Fortunately the driver held it together and we stayed on the road- not much of a wheel left though.
At 2am local time we turned up at the Serena Inn Khorog (google it). An absurdly luxurious hotel in the middle of a mountain fastness (booked for us through the BBC who are accompanying us on part of our trip- don't worry, its a cheap and a rare spot of luxury- they aren't wasting your license fee :-).
Today we cross into Afghanistan.
The BBC are doing a live brioadcast on Good Morning Scotland, probably about 0740 on Monday morning (subject to program changes!).

Monday 19 July 2010

'I'm going missing for a while....' quote Maximo Park. My last day in the UK has been wet and busy. I had 2 students out for an intro. to climbing ropework session at Neilston Quarry near Glasgow today and the rain was like a tropical downpour. By mid afternoon we had retreated to Glasgow Climbing Centre. This was convenient for me since this evening I was running a Climbing Wall Award Reassessment followed by a Climbing Wall Award Abseil Module Assessment there.
That's it until August 23rd! Tomorrow its a train to London, flights to Istanbul and Dushanbe, a jeep shared with a BBC correspondent for 2 days to the Afghani border, a day or 2 buying supplies in Ishkashem, another couple of days in a 4wd to the end of the road, 4 or 5 days trek to the middle of nowhere, a couple of weeks of climbing and then the reverse journey.... and that's all assuming everything goes to plan (which would be quite boring).
Have a good time while I'm gone!
If you have enquiries about courses my wife, Jane, will be checking my e-mail and running my calender in my absence.
I've gone climbing!

Saturday 17 July 2010

Tower Ridge

Today I was out with The Bank of Scotland Hillwalking Club. Along with Rich and Duncan I took a party of 5 up a very soggy Tower Ridge. Despite the good weather the team moved quickly and there was a quick visit to the summit on the way down. Well done Graham, Grant, Ian, Keith and Brian.


...was spent packing and preping for going to Afghanistan on tuesday. A whole bedroom floor covered in kit!

Thursday 15 July 2010

Home again

Back in Scotland and I've added a wee video of the last few days in Wales- enjoy.
It was a great few days rock climbing down south. Next i'm on Tower ridge on Saturday, teaching an Introductory Rock Climbing Course near Glasgow on Monday and fly off to Afghanistan on Expedition on Tuesday for 5 weeks!
Ain't life great?

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Gogarth Dreamin'

Sally on Wen
Dream of White Horses Pitch 1
Pitch 2 on Dream
And Pitch 3
The final Traverse on Dream

Sal, Adam and I went to Gogarth today. The forecast was for rain moving in but we were confident of getting something done and abseiled in to start on Wen (HVS 4c,5a). A pitch each for me and Adam and after a sandwich we were back down in the zawn with Sal starting us up the uber classic Dream of White horses (HVS 5a,5a,4c,4c). Then a pitch for me and one for Adam saw us watching the seals from the Ledge in Concrete Chimney whilst Sally danced us across the final traverse. This pitch looks jaw droppingly unlikely and despite the exposure and the fact that the rain had just arrived it felt relatively friendly. Back at the bags the heavens opened on queue to give me a rainy farewell to a my few days in Wales. Home to Scotland tomorrow!

Monday 12 July 2010

A Welsh day off

Coed Y Brenin
Sal on Pitch 1 Merlin Direct
And on Pitch 2
Anne and Adam on Rienetta
Last few moves of Merlin Direct
Grim Wall Pitch 1
Well earnt sustenance!
Out with 2 pals who work at Plas Y Brenin today. The 'day off' began with a 10km run and Adam and Sal getting competitive on the uphill bits (and me pushed to stay with them). Then it was off for a ride at Coed Y Brenin. We did 'The Beast' - 38km and 1000m of ascent of the best trail riding I've done. Excellent trails, really well designed and maintained and my legs were like jeely on the last 2 hills. Sandwich and cake to refuel and it was off to Tremadoc where Anne joined us after work for a couple of routes. Sal and I climbed Merlin Direct (HVS 4c,5a and Grim Wall (VS 4b,4c) whilst Adam and Anne were on Rienetta (guidebook HS but more like VS- better than the book says now its been cleaned) and Shadrach (VS 4c).
After this we retired to the chippy for very well earnt suppers.
(And if that's a day off what do they do at work?)

The Moelwyns and the slate

Paul on Y Gelynen (VDiff- Severe Direct Finish)
Kirkus's Climb Direct (Severe- contender for best Severe in North Wales?)
Pinky Pitch 1 (4b)
Pinky VS 4c top pitch
Adam on Equinox VS4c Bus Stop Quarry
Yesterday dawned dry- hooray! Paul and I went to the Moelwyns where we climbed 10 pitches from VDiff to VS (Y Gelynen, Kirkus Climb Direct and Pinky). Then this evening I went with pals to bus stop quarry for another 3 pitches – this time on the slate and with my new shoes!

Saturday 10 July 2010

Crib Goch

Crib Goch

'View' from the summit
Down in wales for a few days and it is sheeting it down with rain. So I went for a quick thrash up Snowdon from Pen Y Pass via Crib Goch (which I haven't done since I was 18...) and down back to Llanberis via the track alongside the mountain railway.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Last day in the North West

With gales at sea level and sudden drenching showers we left Skye and went to Ardheslaig. This slabby single pitch gneisss crag is climbable even in the wet.... which tuurned out to be a good job as the heavens opened and the wind did its best to blow me off of the first route. After topping out it was a quick descent for more clothes and a speel in the group shelter before we rigged a line so that I could be next to Morag on her first lead. She walked up 2 VDiffs in less than perfect conditions- making them look very easy and many thanks to Karen for her able belaying. Then once more the heavens opened and we beat our retreat!

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Wet on the Cioch

Cioch Gully...
Squeezing through...

Slab and Corner...

Atop the Cioch...

Abseiling off...
Walking out, the Cioch just visible above...
Today Karen, Morag and I decided to brave the weather but keep low down- with an early start- to avoid the forecast gales. So we headed up towards Coire Lagan and climbed Cioch Gully to the terrace at the base of the Cioch. Then it was up The Slab and Corner onto the Cioch itself. On long abseil had us back at the terrace and then we followed it back down to the base of the crags as the winds rose and the rain fell!

Monday 5 July 2010

Showery on Skye

I'm on Skye with Karen and Morag for some rock climbing and the weather forecast is far from great... :-( Thank god for Neist. As usual this great single pitch sea cliff venue saved the day and we had sunshine, showers and a strong wind (which dried the crag in minutes after the rain). The ladies followed me up a variety of climbs from VDiff to Hard Severe including the isolated pinnacle of The Green Lady. We are all feeling quite windswept but have had a grand day.