Day 2, Rjukanfossen

We had a brilliant day today on the classic route of the area, Rjukanfossen. The route was in good condition but the first pitch was narrow compared to how I’ve seen it in the past meaning a long direct 1st pitch was needed which actually added a bit of drama to the route. The 2nd pitch involved tunnelling through the ice curtain and the last pitch had a couple of steep mixed moves over the final chock-stone. Light snow all day and below freezing.

Other routes in the Rjukanfossen bowl looked thin but possible, Lipton was thin but has been climbed with a mixed section recently and Verdens Ende looked fairly complete down low at least and doable, due to the snow cover its hard to say what the upper section was like.  Many of the routes below the road tunnel looked fairly loaded with snow up high so exit routes would need some thought (no tracks yet) or an abb descent could be safer..

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The final mixed moves

 

 

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Rjukanfossen, good but narrower than I’ve seen it

 

 

 

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Lipton above and Verdens Ende below

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Rjukan, Day 1 in Krokan

Great first day in Rjukan with both our teams climbing 7 routes in the Krokan Gorge up to WI5 and all 3 star routes. Most routes are well trafficed and conditions are fairly good, the routes have dried up with the temperature hovering around freezing all day. Heading for the Upper Gorge area tomorrow for some multi pitch routes…

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Lakes Winter – Keeping us Guessing!

There has been the odd route climbed in the Lakes so far this season, but now its mid January and despite a few wild days up high and snow cover coming and going, we haven’t had anything too convincing in terms of climbing! (bar maybe a day or two between Christmas and New Year, was back in Ireland myself though so not sure…) The winter storms we have been having make for great atmospheric and challenging days up high and certainly the edges feel involved with only a dusting of snow but at this stage in the winter it would be nice to see some good snow cover setting us up for the season and some colder days to get the mixed routes in…

Today – Great out on the fells early on this morning for a run, higher winds and cloud coming in by mid morning, blizzarding as we descended Swirral edge having gone up that way initially. All the edges are giving the full winter experience currently however gullies are not holding much snow and turf is only showing the early signs of freezing so no climbing conditions yet, buttresses fairly black (see Viking Buttress in the photo). Great for a run or winter walk though!

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Red Tarn Cove, Helvellyn

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Swirral Edge behind

Dust off the axes! Fingers Ridge – Coire an t-Sneachda

First winter route of the season today!

Great day out in Coire an t-Sneachda on Fingers Ridge today with Ivan. Better than forecast with lower winds and only a squall of snow during day, snow to valley level last night though. Well frozen for mixed routes with a little ice about. Gulleys etc generally empty. Looks like a thaw to summit level could change everything again tomorrow with more snow on the way Wednesday…

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Naranjo de Bulnes Trip, Picos de Europa

We have just returned from a brilliant trip to the Picos de Europa.  The focus was to climb the impressive Naranjo de Bulnes, a tower of rock and one of the most sought after peaks in Spain and one which is only accessible to climbers.  We had great weather for this and enjoyed a temperature inversion from the summit and some great climbing and mountaineering.

First glimpse of the Naranjo as the mist cleared

First glimpse of the Naranjo as the mist cleared

While not on the Naranjo we enjoyed other great mountaineering routes, such as the La Rosa Spur on the Cueto Pampin and the alpine rock face of the Fresnidiello, a big wall leading to a ridge and peak set in spectacular surroundings.

The Picos is a brilliant place to go climbing and mountaineering with routes suitable for all levels of experience, we look forward to going back!

For details of this trip see – Picos Trip

 

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The Refugio and Naranjo behind

On the classic Martinez route, Naranjo south face

On the classic Martinez route, Naranjo south face

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On the Martinez Route

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The summit ridge

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The summit

The abseil descent

The abseil descent

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The Fresnidiello

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Los Ojales on the Fresnidiello

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Ridge to Fresnidiello summit

 

 

Summer Courses and Trips Update

We have had a great summer this year with what seems like an unusual amount of good weather!  In the Lakes we have enjoyed many days out with the majority of our courses being fairly climbing focused, there as been some intro to climbing courses, guided days focusing on classics and coaching days with an emphasis on pushing grades and focusing on technique.  We have also had a number of ‘Learn to Lead’ courses this summer focusing on getting people on the lead and coaching them through the various techniques for keeping safe, choosing simple and safe belay options and looking at good body position and ways of being energy efficient on the lead.

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The Lakes, Langdale, Leading Course

Guided climbing and coaching in the Lakes

Guided climbing and coaching in the Lakes

Further away we have enjoyed some great adventurous days of guided sea cliff climbing on Skye across a number of courses.

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Climbing on the Elgol sea cliffs, Skye

Elgol, Skye

Elgol, Skye

And many good days on the Cuillin Ridge with 3 successful ridge traverses and a number of mountaineering day trips as well, with the bonus of some of the best weather I’ve had on the ridge (dry but not too hot!)  We had some great days on the ridge filming with MovieIt for Salewa, looking forward to seeing the footage of the ridge at its best..

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Shot from MovieIt whilst filming for Salewa, Cuillin Ridge

Kings Chimney on the Cuillin ridge traverse

Kings Chimney on the Cuillin ridge traverse

More recently we ran a successful trip to the Old Man of Hoy which included an number of days exploring sea cliffs as well as the ascent of the Old Man itself.  This was our first advertised trip to the Old Man and aimed to add a little more by staying on and exploring some of the other great and overlooked climbing available on Orkney and its surrounding islands with the added excitement of using a chartered boat to access some of the more remote venues.  We will run this trip next year again and its already looking like its going to be popular!

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After completing the ‘Old Man’

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Pitch 4 on the ‘Old Man’

The BIG abb off the Old Man of Hoy

The BIG abb off the Old Man of Hoy

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Tomb of the Eagles sea cliffs, South Ronaldsay, included on our Old Man of Hoy trip

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Also included, climbing at Yesnaby on the Orkney mainland

Looking ahead we have our Picos – Naranjo de Bulnes trip just around the corner now which hopefully will conclude a great summer.  See – http://www.mountaincircles.com/climb-the-naranjo-de-bulnes-2014-the-picos-de-europa/

Then its the winter! The smell of Autumn is already in the air…  All our usual guiding services will be available in the Lakes and Scotland, with both private guiding and set courses on offer, plus we will be running a week long trip of ice climbing in Norway, see – http://www.mountaincircles.com/norway-2015-ice-climbing/

Please get in touch with any enquiries or questions about any of our courses, thanks, Paddy Cave…

 

 

 

Summer Courses – Lakes, Scotland, Skye, Orkney and the Picos

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We’ve already had some great Summer courses running, we have all our Lakes courses running with set dates and also bespoke courses on offer…

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Our Lakes Group Activities are now all on offer as well, climbing, canyoning, tyroleans, abseiling…

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Our first Skye bookings are also just around the corner, something we always look very forward to, classic climbs, scrambling and the Cuillin Ridge Traverse of-course!

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This year we have a number of trips planned, to Orkney and to the Picos de Europa to attempt the awesome Naranjo de Bulnes.

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For information on any of our courses or trips please get in touch and we will be happy to help out!

Ben Nevis – Ledge Route

We had another amazing day of weather and conditions yesterday with Anne and Mark again for the 3rd day of a winter mountaineering course.  We headed for Ledge Route on Nevis which was a great place to be with wall to wall sunshine and views across the north face and Highlands, it doesn’t get better!  Lots of skills covered in preparation for an Alpine trip which Anne and Mark have planned….

Lots of people out on the ridges of the Ben yesterday.  With massive looming cornices and warm day time temperatures many faces and gullies are still a no go really, the Minus face gullies which are not threatened all have been climbed as well as Left-hand route though, also the Orions Face and other variations on there…  An early morning ascent of something on the buttress to the right of Point 5 was climbed also and there seemed to be a way off the top easily through the barrier of BIG cornices on that part of the face.  NE Buttress, Tower Ridge, Ledge Route and others all busy…

No.4 Gully has not been descended recently, a fall was taken from there when a cornice gave way 2 days ago resulting in a 300m slide, luckily the climber was OK but with a broken leg.  The cornices are especially big this year with all the persistent winter storms and often seem filled in under their lips at a glance, their sheer weight though seems to be causing collapses regardless with massive debris below every major gully on the Ben yesterday.

The Buachaille – Curved Ridge

Another brilliant day of weather today on the Buachaille, sun and blue skies, and no wind!  We headed for Curved Ridge to look over mountaineering rope-work and skills.  The route required crampons from the start but the steeper rock was dry, generally still plenty of snow cover on there though.

We descended the west ridge of Coire na Tulaich as there are some hefty cornices barring the usual descent spot.  Some very impressive debris down the Coire from the big avalanche a while back.  Thanks to Anne and Mark for another great day out in some of the best weather yet this season (not for ice though!) topped off by a close meeting with some stags on the path out and great views across Rannoch Moor all day…

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SCNL, Glencoe – Mountaineering

Great day yesterday in the sun up in Lochan looking over mountaineering snow skills and anchors.  Soft snow in the Coire but firm icy snow on the west ridge, we looked over various skils including ice axe arrest, using and axe to climb, snow seats, buried axe belays and snow bollards as well as digging a snow pit to talk over avalanche considerations.

Some routes climbed, Dorsal, Ordinary route in parts, Scabbard Chimney…  Loads of evidence of cornice collapse across the Coire and the cornice on NC Gully has come off.

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Mark Rock Climbing Course

‘Having spend three days in the mountains with Paddy I’ve got to say he’s the best guide I’ve ever worked with. Everything was pitched perfectly for my individual level - the choice of climbs, the balance between learning and mileage on the crag, all suited my level of experience. In three days I went from never having climbed trad to leading VD, seconding HVS+ and ticking off a classic mountain route, all thanks to Paddy’s professionalism and enthusiasm. Can’t wait to get out there again!’