Friday, 16 December 2016
|Bye-bye Myrties - for now|
|Radisson Blue - Stansted Airport|
The hotel is a bit up-market for use but Sherri has some great deals from various websites and we usually get a room with a full English breakfast for about a 50% discount at around £70. The fact that you can walk to the hotel in five minutes, so no need for transfers or taxi rides makes it a no-brainer.
The novelty of (fast) internet in bed, being able to drink the tap-water and a soak in a bath are great, as is a full pint of cold larger from the bar.
Tomorrow it is back the peace and quiet of the French Pyrenees, time to get stuck into the Lofoten Rock book which is due out some time around Easter. We will need to meet up with Thorbjørn somewhere to work on the book - we have pencilled in a visit to Gran Canaria in January - that'll be nice.
Monday, 28 November 2016
|High above the Vathi Valley|
|Another perfect sunset|
We have visited most of the new cliffs that have been developed over the past couple of years, Arginonta Valley, Black Buddha and Milianos Cave have all been exceptional - always nice to find new routes to go at and new crags to visit.
We have eaten out on the terrace every evening since we arrived and only had to have breakfast in doors on two occasions because of damp mornings. The forecast is showing storms followed by a strong cold (4C!!!) northerly - but we really can't complain!
Sunday, 13 November 2016
|Bumpy today in the Taxi-Boat|
In the three + weeks I have had a frozen shoulder, a gout attack in my elbow and a short but rather unpleasant cold - not what we expect over here!
|Bruno ensuring Sherri gets no work done|
We have a few other new venues to check out too, so it shouldn't be to difficult fill the next five weeks - what a pleasant prospect.
Monday, 24 October 2016
|Babis Bar sunsets take some beating|
Unfortunate Babis Bar was full so we were allocated a small, hot, dark 'cubicle' in the cellar - suffice to say we didn't sleep too well.
Next day we were upstairs back in the 'proper' world of blue skies and shimmering seas. Six routes just to 'get going' was a proper welcome.
The place is busy but we knew that would be the case with the last two weeks in October being the peak of the Peak Season.
it is interesting that even with all the new routes/crags that have become available the place is still packed.
|Big fella bobbing in the briney|
I heard today that my Cot d'Azure guidebook has just about sold out so we are looking at a rapid turnaround to get a new volume out before the seasons starts next spring.
Interestingly it has sold quite well averaging over two books a day, every day for six years - and all that from a book that nearly didn't make it to publicationn
Monday, 17 October 2016
|The first sign of winter|
|Lovely conditions on Auzat|
Two and a half weeks at Chez Arran have passed as quickly as ever. I didn't get quite as much climbing done as I hoped as Graham brought and ugly bug out from the UK with him, I caught it after four days and Sherri picked it up a couple of days later. One week on and we are on the road to recovery - but it hasn't been nice!
When we travel we make a point of trying to avoid picking up bugs with regular use of a nasal spray and antibacterial soap but there is only so much you can do if they are delivered to your home!
Anyway - it is the usual last few days of sorting, packing, stashing stuff in the barns and feeding the cats to a standstill. We are headed to the Radisson at Stansted tomorrow, the hotel is a bit flash for us but it is walk-able from the terminal, has a bath (wow) and includes a full-English in the price.
Then it is onwards to Athens - for the princely sum of £20 each - and with a bit of luck and a following wind, to Kos in time for the 18:00 ferry to Kalymnos.
It sounds like the season is still in full swing down there, not sure how hot or busy it is going to be but we fancy getting there before things cool down this year so we can do a bit of swimming and snorkelling - and of course some climbing.
As ever there appear to be quite a few new crags to go at - which is just great - a couple of months down there should do us just fine.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
|Orpiérre - cruising classics on deserted cliffs|
This time round the whole area was much more how we like it - we were virtually the only people on the campsite and the cliffs were so much quieter that the climbing was a really pleasure.
I noticed towards the end of the week that I had done 100 routes since we left the UK on the 1st of the month - that isn't something that happens very often.
Then it was the long drive back the Ariège - Chez Arran was busy as everyone was getting ready to go off on trips away. We noticed that White Cat had a large swelling on her neck that was obviously causing her a lot of discomfort, so 08:30 Monday morning we were back at the vets almost a year since were there to get her ears sorted.
|White Cat after 'Operation Abscess'|
Graham and Helen Parkes have arrived for a quick weeks climbing and relaxation - the weather has started a bit mixed but the forecast is great - my plan is to use his superior climbing ability to get dragged up as many routes that I haven't done before as possible - all systems are GO!
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
|Posh (and fake) Swiss Cottage at Courcheval 1850|
We left Chamonix after a too-short eight days and took a drive round to the area around Bourg Saint Maurice and Moutiers, only an hour and a half away. Another new spot and well worth a visit despite it being a bit too hot some of the time. There is some good craging around the area and the road network up into the Trois Vallees ski resorts means it is possible to drive up out of the heat. Courcheval 1850 was especially worth a look, as the most exclusive ski resort on the planet some of the residences have to be seen to be believed. Apparently property prices for the top-end places start at around €37,000 per square metre!!
|Some large random waterfall in the Maurienne|
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
|The Aiguille Vert and the Dru from the Lac Blanc path|
|The Glacier de Bionnassey|
Today we did the walk from the Index chairlift to the Lac Blanc then back down to the Flégère gondola. A great walk with fantastic views of the Mont Blanc massif and the wasting glaciers. The difference compared to my first visits here over 40 years ago is shocking to behold.
A couple more days here then southwards to more new (to us) venues.
Work on Lofoten Rock Climbs - the new title - continues, albeit rather slowly at the moment, there are trails to follow and rocks to climb.
Monday, 29 August 2016
|A busy sunny Bank Holiday|
With having so much time at out disposal we got stuck into giving the flat and the garage a good clear out - mouldy old camping gear, 600+ guidebooks, music CDs, old photographs - all these and much more have been the subject of a big purge. Much of the stuff has been passed on to people who might make more use of it than we do nowadays.
The weather has been an odd on-off mix of hot sweaty sunny days interspersed with rain - which has worked well - a day's climbing followed by a day's 'rest'. There has usually been a happy band of retirees out on the rock making the most of mid-week freedom and avoiding the mobs that descend on the Peak's popular cliffs on any sunny weekend.
|Graham on Namenlos (HVS 5a) Stanage|
Anyway - duty done and it is time to bugger off south for the winter. It will be Chamonix for starters then wander our way towards the Ariége before heading for Kalymnos in the middle of October. This is a bit earlier than in recent years - the place will probably be quite busy but we fancy a bit of snorkelling, so we will have to put up with the crowds - from past experience the place should soon start emptying out. At this time of year we especially enjoy watching the convoys of taxis heading towards the port, packed with departing climbers always making a point of giving them a cheery wave.
Sunday, 14 August 2016
|On the open fells near the Swedish border|
Then it was on the road for a seven hour drive though the never-ending forests of northern Sweden.
The next day it was Luleå > Stockholm > Manchester and back into the bedlam - a 25 minute queue to get back in to the country through passport control, then a hot sweaty train ride back to Sheffield - the crowds everywhere were a real culture shock.
|Welcome back - we laid on a party for you|
Two weeks in the UK to get all the 'jobs' done then it is south - Chamonix for starters, whilst the cable-cars are still open, that should be nice - can't wait!
Friday, 29 July 2016
|Lillemolla from Glåmtinden|
|Busy days on Bilberries - 20+ climbers|
in a big convoy
The most striking thing has been how busy the whole place has become - admittedly it is 'High Season' but even so the number of camper-wagons on the roads, tourists in town and on the beaches and climbers on the crag has been a bit of a shocker. If you want to come here to climb the classics, a top-tip would be to avoid July at all costs!
|Busy, busy, busy|
Sherri has been busy booking ferries and planes - the next few months are sorted, UK > Chamonix > Briançon > Ariege > Kalymnos should see us through until Christmas time.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
|Reflecting on life|
|There's a moose in the garden!|
|High above Narvik and still miles to go.|
On one on the clearer days we caught the cable-car up from Narvik and hiked to the top of Naviksfjellet - the big hill right behind the town. The views were spectacular with unknown peaks arrrayed in all directions and bizarrely it was rather too hot for comfort - in the Arctic!
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Colin flew into Svolvær after a trouble free journey, and we nipped out the same afternoon to do the classic Pianohandlers route on Pianokrakken. The weather was great and to our surprise we had the crag to ourselves - a rare thing in the high season.
10 days in and the weather has been quite unsettled, with a number of grey days, though there has been little 'real' rain as we have manage to get out and climb on a regular basis.
The whole place is busy with tourists and camper-wagons but there doesn't
appear to be a huge number of climbers about - the camping area at Gandalf has never had more than 3 or 4 tents there,
Colin leaves in just over a week, then we can go back to working on the book and taking it easy - the forecast is much better too!
Talking of 'the Book', work on the Lofoten rewrite has progressed well and most of the popular areas around Henningsvær are pretty much finished. We will need to spend some time visiting the remote crags out West and for that we will need some proper summer weather - we have all on July and part of August to work with, so bring it on.
Monday, 6 June 2016
|Down some lazy river - summer in the Ariège|
|The call of the Grit - mint conditions on Stanage|
Then the sun came out,and a jolly team assembled on Stanage for a day on the Grit. It was very convivial, loads of routes were done and there was plenty of time do discuss aliments, injuries and operations - the joys of growing old.
Anyway, the big bags are packed - time to head for the far north again. For the second summer we are flying into Sweden en route for Lofoten as the car hire prices there are about 1/3 of those in Norway. It currently looks a bit cold and unsettled up there, I don't think the short Arctic summer has started properly yet. We will need to pack plenty of warm clothes but hopefully we won't need snowshoes or skis!
Thursday, 19 May 2016
|Our place in the country|
|Escaping the Gorge de Joncas|
I had never been to the area but there appeared to be quite a bit of climbing scattered around, so it had to be worth a look. Keith's pad was very well appointed as well as nice and central, it suited us just fine - apart from my involuntary descent of the stairs on our first night there - the bruising has nearly gone!
Just under two weeks more in the Ariège then it is time to think about heading north - the Artic beckons.
at May 19, 2016
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
|Looking down towards Barry de'n Bas in the Ariège|
Then it was an easy flight to a windy Carcassonne and onwards to Chez Arran. The cats met us on the drive and were starving - good job we had stocked up with cat food and treats 'en route'.
It is great to be back in the mountains, the high peaks still look pretty snowy, we need to head up there to have a look around as soon as possible.
We have both been stuck by the amazing greenness of the place - spring is here and the fresh growth and the bird song are fantastic. We have a month to play with before heading north to the midnight sun - a bit of climbing would be nice.
at May 04, 2016
Sunday, 17 April 2016
|Telendos with humid cloud cap|
I have continued to climb and as always have especially been on the look-out for routes I haven't done before - I have completed almost 750 different climbs on the island now and there are still new places to visit, such is the continued pace of development.
|Still looking for new routes to do|
Monday, 28 March 2016
|Easter Sunday on Skalia Balcony|
This is the fourth spring we have spent on the island but the 1st when Easter has been so early - Greek Easter isn't for another month yet - and the place is virtually deserted. The lack of flights from northern Europe into Kos appears to be the main reason. Colin and Andy flew in via a change in Athens and we are all enjoying the peace and quiet - having crags to ourselves that are normally rammed. I guess the hoards will be arriving some time soon!
Thursday, 17 March 2016
|Day 1 - Route 5|
Back to Kalymnos (or at least s far as Kos) was pretty easy - though as there’d been no boats for two days we thought we might be stuck in Mastichari. In the event the place looked pretty much shut up and the famous ‘Pirate Boat’ - the Anna Maria was in harbour. After some consideration, and with considerable trepidation we hopped aboard. The crossing wasn’t quite as horrendous as some of the tales we have heard, but it was pretty bumpy and quite a few of the locals (it was packed) started throwing up. Plastic carrier-bags, paper towels and wet-wipes were produced rapidly to stem the tide!
Day one was five easy routes on Sea Breeze just to start the skin growing game, finishing off with tea on the terrace and a classic Kalymnos sunset - it felt nice to be back and to be a little bit ahead of the crowds that are forecast to be arriving this weekend (plus Andy and Colin on Monday) - always assuming that any of them can get across the water!
|Same as it ever was!|
Sunday, 28 February 2016
|Almond blossom and deserted roads|
We decide on a quick 'slider' trip and so drove back over the Pyrenees to visit Colin and Jane at Santa Egracia above Tremp in Catalunya.
We climbed on a variety of cliffs, several of which were new to me, which is always nice. The contrast between the Spanish and French sides of the mountains is always interesting with it being so much quieter on the Spanish side. The almond blossoms were especially spectacular at this time of year.
|Sunset at Sant Egracia - above it all|
Friday, 19 February 2016
|Crowds - Yeuk|
And there's the problem, we like nice places but hate crowds, noise, queues - people in general really. Sadly you can't expect to have Paradise to yourself!
We drove back down the hill about a kilometre, bumped off the road and headed into the wilderness, pristine snow with a few animal tracks and total silence - perfection really!
Thursday, 4 February 2016
|Cirque de Gavanie|
It is an area we visited briefly over 10 years ago and never made it back - a return was long overdue. The weather was a bit 'mucky' on the first couple of days but we managed a days climbing and a visit to the magnificent Cirque de Gavarni - the place was atmospheric and deserted, just how we like it.
The third day was clear and cold: -3C in the car park at the Ponte d'Espagne but climbing was possible on the small granite cliffs that pepper the valley-side.
On the final day we visited another small granite/gneiss crag in glorious weather before making the steady drive back to the Ariège - almost 20 routes ticked, I think it will be a lot less than 10 years before we are in the area again.
Now there is the small matter of a guidebook to Lofoten that needs addressing!
Saturday, 23 January 2016
|Perfect snow-shoeing conditions in Andorra|
|Poets - sample screen shot from the Rockfax Kalymnos App|
The big new is that next week should see the release of the Rockfax App for smart-phones and tablets to sport climbing on Kalymnos. I have been working on this for four years and it includes a massive 2600 routes - which is a couple of hundred more than the recent 'definitive' guide to the area. It will be interesting to see the reception the App gets - as ever there will doubtless be a few folks that moan and a lot that enjoy the work we have put into it.
Monday, 11 January 2016
|Casa Mauri - really out in the wilderness|
The 1st attempt failed because of an epic snow-fall the morning we due to travel - we turned back just above Ax-les-Thermes, but the 2nd attempt went better and we drove though spectacular scenery and along quiet roads to arrive at Jane's place which has the most amazing setting.
|Climbing in the Collegats Gorge|
I have been photographing all of the cliffs as we have gone along - old habits die hard, and the shots may come in useful down the line.
Colin appears to have got himself semi-permanent a job here helping with the reconstruction of one of the buildings/garden areas so I am sure we will be back sooner rather than later.
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