Thursday, 19 December 2013

Roll Round the Years

Another year rolls around and we find ourselves back in the the Ariège  - after a busy 12 months visiting a variety of destinations including, Western Scotland, Chamonix, Kalymnos, Sicily, Locarno and of course the French Pyrenees as well as finding time to rephotographing much of Peak Gritstone. My main aim for the winter is to get Eastern Grit into a suitable shape for publication towards the end of 2014 - I could have done it back in Sheffield but it much pleasant being based in the mountains.

Season Greetings and all the best for next year to anyone who has visited my blog or bought one of my books in the past 12 months.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Island Getaway

Six weeks gone in the blink of an eye.
We decided to get across to Kos a day early as the forecast is for gales tomorrow - judging by the way the shutters are banging and booming now, it was a good call.

Left: That's the fabled Kalymnos over there

The crossing was bumpy - the travel sickness pills did the trick - then we went for an exhilarating beach walk and had a meal in a deserted harbour front taverna - traveling out of season has some great perks.
The UK air traffic control system has been bust today - that, and a very short transfer at Athens might snafu our onward travel plans - lets see how far we get.
We hope to be in Ariège in a week's time - maybe, maybe not?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hanging Around

Two weeks since I blogged - where does the time go? Well; a bit of climbing, walking, chilling, working on Eastern Grit when it has been unsettled - which hasn't been very often - and generally taking it easy.
I had a day climbing with Claude Idoux who has put up over 350 routes on Kalymnos, an amazing tally really - especially when you consider the amount of work involved in cleaning the routes prior to bolting them.
Only about 10 days left now, then it will be a quick visit to the UK to load the car up, book a ferry and head off to the Ariège. Apparently they have already had a major snow fall there - they will certainly be different!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Top of the Island

Two and a bit weeks in,  and we are pretty settled. We have had a couple of half-damp days, done 40+ routes and eased back into Island Life. The majority of the climbers have left now - I guess there maybe around 50 left, and Babis Bar has gone very 'quiet' as we are the only residents now. Evenings usually revolve around a  beer in the bar and a bit of wifi with Babis, tonight there are a just a couple of locals and a very loud TV showing some ancient and very shouty Greek film - they appear to find it funny!
Two days ago was clear and cool so we did something we have been meaning to do for years, has  a walk up to the highest point on the island - Prophitis Elias - a pleasant walk and a fantastic 360 degree viewpoint.
Tomorrow Babis has invited us for an afternoon lunch of salad, fresh fish, calamares and retsina - that's one reason why we come in the winter. Might try and get a few route in 1st though!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

There and Back - Kalytastic

We are back again and it was as easy as ever. Train to Manchester (£7) and 3.45hr flight to Kos, we booked into a small guesthouse at Mastichari. A beer at a beachfront bar sorted us out as the lights from Kalymnos glittered across the water.
Sunday we got the 11:00 ferry, collected the hire-car, booked into Babi Bar and popped out for a quick five routes.

We usually arrive around the start of October, but it normally hot and busy so we decided to leave it until the end of the month this year, especially with the Climbing Festival organised for the busiest week of the year. It turned out to be a good call and already the place is cooling down and emptying on a daily basis. Some of the shops/bars in Masouri have already closed as the season draws to a close.

The climbing is as good as ever of course - a gentle start is needed, to grow some finger skin and get fit - a steady 30 routes so far up to 6b has started the ball rolling nicely!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Mountain High

 The flights down cost £14:95 each - it would have been rude not to! Ariège has been the same as ever; peaceful and with great weather. I know we are never here in the high season, but the tranquility of the place is always quite remarkable.
We had one cold wet evening which dumped snow on the higher hills so we had a plodge around the Plateau de Beille before it all melted away. There will be loads more where that came from once we are back here at Christmas time.

Left: Autumn Crocus at the Col de Agnes- 5200'

We had news that the Ariège guide won a "Highly Commended" at the Outdoor Writers and Photographers annual bash - recognition is always nice.
The climbing has been excellent, everything is very dry and in good condition. I had a hope of getting up on the Dent d'Orlu and doing one of the longer routes there but Colin is still hors de combat - maybe next time?


Right: Plateau de Beille- 6500'

One more day then a quick visit back to the UK to repack before heading for our Autumn Break in Kalymnos. We will be arriving about 4 weeks late than normal; Octobers have always proved hot and crowded and with the Festival this year sounds worse than normal. Hopefully by next week they will all have gone home!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Say Hello - Wave Goodbye

Chamonix was great, and the journey home was very steady, the Zeebrugge to Hull crossing was calm and another complimentary upgrade came our way - which made it all the sweeter.

Then it was four days in the UK and off again. There was the usual rush round to do jobs, pay bills, sort stuff, see friends, pack the bags, book hotels, car-hire etc - and away.

Left: White Cat saying "Can I be your friend, please?" ("of course" is the answer)

A couple of days on the grit were as pleasant as ever, good company, great routes and even feeling like I was climbing moderately well - the 70+ last month in France/Switzerland must have done the trick.

So it is off the Ariége for 10 days, then home for a week then back to Kalymnos for the rest of the autumn.

Cats are waiting and they won't wait for ever!

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Road Goes On

The 10 days in Ponte Brolla were great, good weather (apart from one wet day), superb climbing and a really lovely part of the world. It amazes me that the area isn't better known to a UK audience, it has that great blend of easy accessibility, loads of routes across the grades, good weather and a fantastic ambiance.
Camping again after several years of the Good Life proved 'interesting' - or should that read 'hard-work' - especially the time between sundown and bed, a few hours to kill in the dark and the cold, though we managed well enough!  Eventually though we gave in and made the five hour drive back to Thorbjørn's superb pad in Chamonix. So far the weather has been fantastic and the climbing excellent. The season has already ended (when we were here in June it hadn't started) so everywhere is quiet though on the downside, most of the cable cars are shut.
Already we are already thinking about heading back to the UK so we can initiate the Autumn Regime - that will be Ariège and Kalymnos for starters then!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mountain Weather

Swiss September


On the plus side - there are no crowds, it isn't too hot, the campsite and the towns are almost deserted.

On the minus side, and unlike other years when we have been here in the autumn - the weather is best described a bit mixed.

It has been one day on and one day off at the moment and the forecast doesn't look too sparking - come on or we will have to run away to the seaside!

Left: Sherri belayed halfway up Azalee Beach - on the only dry route on the crag

Update: An afternoon and evening of rain (just after we put the tent up) decided it for us, upsticks, over the Susten Pass, through the Gothard Tunnel and into sunny Ponte Brolla - brill!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Late Summer Dreaming

Right: Steve abseiling off Boulder Climb, Robin Hood's Stride, Derbyshire

Summer in the Peak - same as it ever was; half decent weather, days out with good mates, venues old and new and of course too many people around. The 1st signs of autumn are on the way, so it is time to think about heading off.

Work on Eastern Grit 3 has gone well, the photography has progressed (despite the heat and the neck-deep bracken), and although not finished it is pretty well on down the line. Certainly there is enough to keep me busy for several months where-ever we end up at.

Ferry booked for a week today, Hull > Zeebrugge - lets go!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Peak Puntering

Left: Colehill Quarry 

We have been back in the UK for about 10 weeks (well always excluding a quick flier back to the Ariege in June) and it has been OK - though we both have been getting ichy feet. The main aim was to photograph the Eastern Grit crags in preparation for a new guidebook due out sometime next year. The previous volume has been Rockfax's best selling guidebook of all time, but already it looks a little dated, a full refresh is in order.  Of course it was a rewrite of the book that really broke the mould - Peak Grit East. When it was 1st published way back in in 2001 the effect was electric and guidebook production was changed for ever, certainly in the UK and probably further afield too.
Most significantly it gave me the chance to pack in teaching and take up writing full-time - which also freed us up to travel as and when the urge took us and that has been fantastic - we have become a right pair of nomads.
Other than getting on with the photography there has been plenty of climbing with the usual team, and pleased to report Colin has been down a couple of times and he is climbing really well.

Right: one more day photographing at Rivelin

A ferry is booked for early September - Hull to Zeebrugge, so it is back to Swizerland for a bit of autumnal time in the mountains. Last time we locked the door and sailed away, we were gone for 8 months - I wonder how long we can last this time?



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ups and Downs in Scotland

The heat in Sheffield got so unpleasant we finally decided to head north in search of cooler conditions. Anthony Welsh, who I hadn't seen for about 30, years had invited us up to his place in Gairloch in Northwest Scotland. The drive up was much easier than anticipated, the A9 has changed out of all recognition in the 20 years we were last that way.

Left: The Best Diff in Scotland?

Below: Big Sandy Beach - typical North West

The week in Gairloch was great, lovely weather, fantastic beaches and no crowds. The social-life was cracking and we manage to unwind in style. Of course there is always the downside: the midges were the same as ever though - no problem by the sea but unpleasant in land, especially as the whole week was marked by a bizarre lack of wind. That made climbing pretty much a no-go - but there are plenty of chances of that coming down the line. Switzerland is 1st in line - can't wait!


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Heat is On

Left: BMC sponsored sheep spying on us on Derwent Edge

Almost three weeks back in the UK and most of that has been hot and blue - all very strange and the forecast is for more of the same. There has been plenty of good routes with the usual suspects plus the photography for the new Eastern Grit has gone very well though the amount vegetation on some of the crags has been a bit of shocker - we will have to come back in the spring to finish the job.
In the meantime we have been wondering about squeezing in a short break, but the schools are about to finish, flights have become very pricey and Europe is hot, busy and expensive. There are a few other options though, Pembroke and Scotland being top of the hit-list, so it looks like loading up the cruiser and heading north or south - lets see what the weather has to say about it.

And there is always Norway!

Right: The road goes on, we will follow it if we can

Friday, 5 July 2013

Summer's Here and So Are We

As has become the norm we return home and the sun comes out - the forecast for the next 10 days is great - in fact probably too hot for us, which is weird as we came 'home' to escape the heat.
Almost a week since we left Ariège and already doctors, dentist and garage visited, and we are good to go - we just need a destination.
I have cracked on with photographing Eastern Grit - another couple of weeks should see that in the bag, except for the few cliffs that are tree covered. They may require a special visit in the spring, from where-ever we may end up wintering this year.

Left: Steve on Sunset Slab (HVDiff 4b) 

A Friday of Froggatt was pleasant and quiet, we did half a dozen routes before it got too hot. The rest off the team pushed off home so I pressed on to photo a bit of Curbar and Baslow too.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cherry Picking

We brought the summer back to the UK with us (some things never change) and work has been progressing pretty well on the next edition of Eastern Grit which is due out sometime next year, with a good % of the photography already in the bag.
A poorer forecast for the UK, some availability at Chez Arran plus cheap flights courtesy of RyanAir (£28 each) and we rolled back into Tarascon sur Ariège for a 10 day 'break'. Nice weather greeted us (though there have been some huge floods on the Spanish side of the mountains) and as ever the whole area is very quiet, which suites us just fine.

Walks in the mountains and a very social BBQ with a bunch of the local ex-Pat climbers have been the highlights so far. Also helping John and Anne build their new swimming pool passed an interesting couple of days (and counting!). The plans suggest two people could do it in a day - it is taking six of us a lot longer!
The local cherry trees are bending under this years crop of fruit - we have been out cherry picking a couple of times - how apt some cynics might say!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Where did the Time go?

Back in the 1980s I studied with the Open University for eight years and when that all came to an end I looked for a way to fill my time. Regular articles for the climbing magazines proved to be a good of learning the basics of writing/photography/publishing trade. The guidebooks all started with Cicerone Press back in 1990 in the form of a small (128 pages) guidebook to the Costa Blanca, with a 3000 print-run; much to Walt Unsworth's surprise it sold out. Other small guidebooks followed to Andalucia and Mallorca as well as Belgium and Luxembourg plus my 100 Best Limestone Climbs which the late Paul Williams described as a 'real belter'.

Ten years later (and after writing Bamford, Stanage, Derwent Edge, Gardoms, Chatsworth, Birchen and Willersley for the BMC's definitive series) I fancied writing a guide to my beloved Gritstone. Cicerone were initially keen but after some skulduggery by 'the establishment' they pulled the plug on it. With little to lose I approached long-term rival Alan James of Rockfax and together we produced the revolutionary Peak Grit East - perhaps the Genesis of modern rock climbing guidebook production. The acrimony surrounding the guide has passed into history but the ripples continue spread out down the years. Western Grit followed (it and PGE both won Guidebook of the Year award) followed by Northern Limestone (along with Alan and Mark Glaister) covering the Peak and Yorkshire and also the solo project of Northern England.

Alan had already produced several Spanish guides so we cooperated on a new Costa Blanca guide in 2005 and the full colour treatment proved popular, revitalising this well known area. Thorbjørn Enevold of the Nord Norsk Klatreskole was so impressed that on a visit to the magical Lofoten Islands he sidled up to me in the shop with a copy in his hands and asked if I could do one like that for him! We went one better and the magnificent Lofoten Rock which won the prestigious Banff Guidebook Award in 2008. Ariège had become another of our favourite spots and seemed ready for a UK guide. Anne and John Arran, who had lived in the area for a number of years and were much better climbers than I had ever been, were keen. We moved into Chez Arran for the spring of 2012 to work on the book, having it in the shops by the end of the year was probably some kind of record.

So what's next? Swiss Granite, Southern Norway, Canaries Rock, Corsica Climbs, or maybe as my 63rd birthday approaches we could just go climbing. 20 books in 23 years seems like a fair monument to my obsession!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunny Days Are Here Again


Back to the UK was a pretty steady trip, a nine hour haul from Chamonix to Zeebrugge then a gentle overnighter on the ferry to Hull, leaving a 90 minute tootle home through the drizzle. The sun finally came out on Friday (after the coldest spring for 50 years) and big jolly team assembled at Stanage. There was climbing and merriment, and I started work on Eastern Grit III - the real reason for coming home. The forecast is set fair so there is a need to crack-on and photograph the cliffs that either face northish or will be cloaked in trees once the spring catches up - it is currently running about a month behind schedule which is quite helpful!

Update: the lovely weather is set for the week and crag photography is progressing well. The Weather Lady said last night and said it was the longest dry spell in the UK for OVER A YEAR!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Wandering Northwards

The time finally arrive when we had to pack the car and leave Ariège, sad faces all around, especially the cats - and us! We headed up to the Buis de Barronais area to stop for a week with Craig and Vicki  Entwhistle at their place Les Air du Temps which turned out to be great, nice and central and very well appointed. The unsettled weather that has plagued most of Europe continued - with snow on the top of Mont Ventoux but we managed to dodge the showers and get four days climbing in.
Monday caught us out, we had forgotten it was a Bank Holday and the cliffs were packed - plus all the shops were closed - hey-ho!

After a great week it was back on the road and up to Chamonix. Thorbjørn has a bought a small place (and very nice) in Les Bossons for when he is guiding in the area and kindly offered it to us - which turned out to be quite brilliant. Just on the edge of town, nice and quiet plus with spectacular views.

The bad news is that is is Half Term week in the UK and ferries are full (Zeebrugge to Hull) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so we either need to leave in a couple of days or stay for more than a week - decisions!

A couple of hours later and decisions made, ferry booked - homeward on Wednesday - gulp!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Boulder Bash

A year and a day since I was up at the Orlu Boulders with Colin, last year it was 35C and this year it was 16C - a bit more like it!
I did 20+ problems (all easy ones of course!) and thoroughly enjoyed it - a cool breeze off the snowy peaks, the river gushing by, and not a soul about - despite it being a Sunday.
I have never been into bouldering - "playing on small rocks - but it is undeniably a pleasant enough way of spending a couple of hours.
 
Less than a week left in Ariège now before we have to load up the car and head back north. Plans are fluid, we are booked in close to Buis de Baronais for a week, there are several crags in Adian's newish guide to the area that I have never climbed at, so that should be good. After that, may be Chamonix, we'll have to see.
Since we set off for Kalymnos in September we have spent a grand total of six days in the UK - that will be 9 months by the time we get back - wonder if they will let us in?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Summer Time

Above Ussat - heading for the hills

The high Pyrenees from Appy
Back in the Ariège, back in the groove. Island life was great but now it is the quiet rural version, climbing, walking in the hills, keeping the cats company and doing a bit of work. Temperatures have varied between 28C and 6C - weird!
It has been a while since I looked at 'the work' - last year three saw books published in 10 months which was a bit of a grind, but as ever I have started thinking about the next one coming down the line - Eastern Grit Ver III. That will require a return to the UK - but lets not rush into things.
Interestingly we have three offers to visit friends on the way home; Mike and Elaine on the Cote d'Azur, Monty and Hillary in Provençe and Thorbjørn  in Chamonix - choice, choices!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Trains 'n Boats 'n Planes

The month on Kalymnos was great, but the escape was confounded by a strong northerly that blew for 5 days - and is still blowing apparently - so no ferries were running. Then I remembered the high-speed catamaran that runs a daily service from Kaly to Rhodes and sails in wilder weather and so we got away. The flight back to Stansted cost €22 each which is amazing which ever way you look at it. Stansted was a real culture shock - we queued for 30+ minutes at passport control, 20 gates wide and hundreds (thousands?) of people waiting to get into the UK.
A brisk five minutes saw us in the Radisson - another culture shock  - and all a bit posh, I wasn't really sure they would let us in. An early flight to Carcassone (£20 each) then John and Anne whisked us back to Chez Arran - the circle was closed.
Thursday and a quick six routes on Auzat in mint spring conditions - it is great to be back!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Good Life


We usually arrival in Kalymnos in late September; the cliffs are rammed, it is hot (25C+) and everywhere has the feeling of a desert as is hasn't rained for five months. The place is fully open for business: restaurants,  shops, scooter hire and apartments giving the place has a real holiday resort feel about it. Many folks love it like this but were are more ambivalent - though the snorkelling in the warm Aegean is brilliant.
Being here in the spring has been a really pleasant surprise; it has been a bit showery on occasions, but pleasantly warm, very quiet and remarkably green and flowery. The cliffs are drier than I was expecting - bone dry in most cases. Easter week was a bit busy but nothing like the 'high season' - I think it may become our favourite time of year to be here.
As ever the climbing is superb, I ticked my 1000th route here last week, and the locals are like long lost friends - a great spot to escape the tail-end of the grotty northern winter.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

This Sceptered Isle


Ariège > Barcelona > Kos > Kalymnos; the travelling was as easy as ever. Great to be back, it is green and remarkably quiet, we were the only team on Sea Breeze/Pocket Wall yesterday, we thought it might be busy but it is obvious the rush hasn't started yet. The couple of week in Sicily means I still have a bit of rock fitness and thick skin, it was a nice change from the more usual September scenario of extreme heat/humidity, crowds and sore digits!
The weather in the UK looks appalling - even worse than normal - which makes the warm breeze, lapping waves and dry rock a double treat.
Thursday 28th March - not surprisingly quite a few folks have started to arrive - though it is still very quiet compared to 'peak season'. We popped out between the showers(!) and I logged my 1000th climb on Kalymnos (which includes 528 different routes) might be some kind of a record!
Thursday 4th April - a big thunderstorm yesterday allowed the hoards to sneak in under the radar - today was glorious, but were about 75 scooters below Arhi/Ghost Kitchen/Katarina - lots of pale skin and excited people - but they will all be going home soon!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sampling Sicily

 Two weeks in Sicily meeting a bunch of 'the Grumpies' from Sheffield seemed like a fair idea. We found we could fly cheaply from Girona, an easy three hours from Chez Arran, and there was a spare cabin available on the San Vito camp-site so it was all systems go. Car Rentals UK sorted us a complimentary vehicle with their usual efficiency and the 1st afternoon we ticked 5 easy routes.
In the event it was a great trip, there are around 450 routes within walking distance of the camp-site, the setting is lovely in a really wild corner of Sicily. The place was busier than we were expecting - having imagined it might have been completely deserted in late Feb/early March. The weather was a teeny bit unsettled, though we only actually lost one day through rain. Generally temperatures were fine, the crags dry quickly, access takes minutes from the accommodation, and as the cliffs face west, afternoons climbing were pure pleasure

From the road the cliffs look a bit scrappy, but the climbing was excellent almost without exception, the routes of all grades tend to be steep and the bolting is encouraging. Many of the pitches are very long and a bit on the sharp side - the norm for Med limestone I guess.


In summary - a great spot that deserves to become popular, the combination of sea-side setting, the great climbing, the easy accommodation and superb accessibility sure take some beating. There are 'only' around 600 routes in the area at the  moment - compared to Kalymnos's 1700 - but that is a great starter.
Top marks to Jim and Scott Titt plus all the other equippers have done us a great service.

NOTE: we discovered that a few of the glued-in bolt runners and a few of the 'pig's tail' lower-offs had a bit of rotational movement (1-2mm) in them - slightly worrying when this are single point anchors. I e-mail Jim about this, they are aware of the issue and have a fix, though interestingly they tried to remove one of the 'loose' lower-offs and failed despite exerting an outward force of 6000kg on it - so it sounds like they are actually fine!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

New Routes, New Venues

Whilst we have been at ChezArran John has been disappearing off, and coming back late, working on a new route somewhere not far from home. A couple of days ago he asked if I wanted to go along to get involved with the 1st Ascent so I though hey-ho. Little did I know that the route was going to be called Le Trog and started in the back of one of the huge caves that riddle the area, or that it hadn't been cleaned yet.
The ascent was 'interesting', the 1st pitch (F6a) was a huge slabby corner, with a smattering of loose rock, draped with million year old cobwebs and completely smothered in fine dust. The 2nd pitch (F6b+) climbed a long wet groove and technical slab but at least there was some light there. The final pitch to the exit hole was a long diagonal to the crux moves  right at the top (F7a apparently - I declined to follow). A brilliant effort by John and once clean it might even become quite popular - though either way, I won't be going up there again!

A little video by Ben Lear of our escapade: "Le Trog" is rather neat.
    
Next Monday we are away to Sicily for a couple of weeks to meet a big jolly(?) team of the Sheffield Grumpies - looks like a great venue, lots of routes, decent spread of grades and a lovely setting. I am just hoping there isn't too much in the way of dust, loose rock and climbing in the dark!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Winter

Tarascon sur Ariège hasn't been a bad place to spend the winter - surrounded by the glittering snowy peaks of the high Pyrenees. According to local sources it has been the 'worst' winter for quite a few years though seen through eyes that have seen too many UK ones it has been pretty pleasant really. There have been a couple of short wet periods but we have managed to get out almost everyday. In less than two weeks we should be meeting a team from Sheffield in Sicily to sample another rapidly rising sun-rock venue - Bring it On!

The new Costa Blanca guide has been published around a week early - 1st reports are very positive - job well done by all involved!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Rockin' in the Free World

We have had a bit of an unsettled spell (much better than the UK though) so more snow-shoeing was in order with some fantastic conditions on offer - apparently two metres of snow have fallen on the upper slopes at Ax - and there is more on the way!

Left: snow-shoeing in perfect conditions at Ax les Thermes

Then things perked up nicely for the end of the month - it was a balmy 17C on the 1st of February which was a treat.

We have arranged to meet a jolly team from Sheffield in Sicily later this month, the guidebook has arrive (looks great with loads to go at) the flights and accommodation are organised; they are opening the campsite just for us! Now it is just a matter of getting a bit fitter to make the most of the visit - three days out on the local crags and a session on the bouldering wall have hopefully laid a small foundation.

Right: Mint conditions at Auzat

The Blanca guidebook should be printed in a couple of weeks - our biggest book ever. It has been out of  print for a good few months and the Spanish winter sun/rock season is in full swing - so lets hope it starts flying off the shelves. The Ariège guide appears to have been well received - even by the locals - which is nice.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Three in Ten

Peak Limestone

 May 2012  

 

Ariège 

December 2012

 

Costa Blanca 

February 2013

 

Time for a rest? I doubt it!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Different Strokes

A couple of days of sleet/snow/drizzle down at the level of the village (1700') meant it had to be worth a look up at the Beille plateau when the skies finally cleared. As expected it was -6C up at 6000' with blues skies a chill wind, and the whole area plastered under 3 feet of fresh snow - a true winter wonderland.
We borrowed Anne and Johns' snow-shoes (racquettes) and went off for a plodge around in the white stuff. It was surprisingly hard work as the snow was completely unconsolidated, though without the shoes it would have have been a waist-deep wading session. The scenery was something special, a huge white panorama and there wasn't a soul to be seen anywhere. It was a 1st for us, though I think it won't be a last!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Cool as....

Three and a half weeks in the Ariége, in the depths of winter, and it has been pretty damn pleasant. Very little rain so far, warm day-time temperatures and no snow - not yet anyway - the forecast suggests things might be going to change.

Left: Sherri on top of the Clot de Colombiere

Nights have been cool, the current record stands at 0.6C which isn't too bad. Regular checking of the weather back in the UK proves we aren't missing anything, it has sounded unremittingly wet, grey and miserable.

Right: Winter woods and stream

We have explored more of this great area, done a bit of climbing and work pretty solidly on the Costa Blanca guide - it goes to the printers in 10 days - as ever the final haul is a bit of a battle - but it will soon be out of the way. That will be three books produced in around 10 months - of course I have been working on them for several years but has still been the most productive period ever. A bit of a break is in order, a few places need visiting (climbing) - and there are other projects simmering away - all of which are Top Secret!

Back to Blighty

Yarncliffe Quarry - hot After a great 10 days in Chamonix it really was time to get back on the road - a steady ride to Zeebrugge and th...