Tuesday, 14 April 2015

9th-10th April.......Ben Nevis climbing

Two Superb Days on the Ben

Castle Ridge
Over the last 4 years I've been winter climbing in Scotland 5 times and each time the weather has been "Full Scottish" I've been out in whiteouts, blizzards, hail, rain, sleet and snow.......but this time the weather gods took pity on me and we were rewarded with perfect conditions, I think I deserved this one!

Day 1:  saw us on Castle Ridge, no need for crampons on this one, a superb route, not too technical but with the odd airy belay to add to the excitement, we saw that there was still plenty of ice high up and made plans climb higher the next day.

Day 2:  an early start from the North Face car park to try and avoid any of the falling ice that would inevitably be coming down from high on the mountain as the sun did its work paid off. Only as we passed under Tower Ridge did a few bits of ice come whizzing past our ears...we didn't hang around long!!  After a long plod up the steep frozen snow we reach the base of the first pitch of Good Friday Climb (III).   The pitch is straight forward and takes you up a wide gully to the belay at base of the main pitch.  Pitch 2 is superb, 50m of near vertical water ice which could be done in 2 pitches if need be, but Ken lead all the way in great style and made short work of it.  We finished the climb by traversing across onto the final pitch of Indicator Wall which means you top out right onto the summit trig point, which is a great anchor for the belay!! and a grandstand finish..

Thanks to Ken Applegate (mountain guide) for being great company on this trip

Ken on Castle Ridge
Early sun on the lower slopes of Observatory Gully
the final approach to Good Friday Climb 
Belay below the superb 2nd pitch

Belay below the superb 2nd pitch

Ken leading the the superb 2nd pitch
Tower Ridge from Indicator Wall
Ken on the final pitch of Indicator Wall 

Ken Applegate on the slopes of Observatory Gully

Ken Applegate 

Ken Applegate an PH on the summit

6th April.........Kentmere from Haweswater

Despite the fact that it was the May bank holiday, careful route choice meant that we avoided the crowds that would inevitably be ticking off the popular routes on such a gloriously sunny day.  After parking at Haweswater we made our way onto the fell tops and meandered around looking for some good view points from which to take some big mountain images. We arrived at the summit of Ill Bell and with sun starting to get lower in the sky the light was bound to improve as the evening progressed, with the TS24mm and a 0.6 soft grad on the 6d I knocked out a couple of shots.
A great day to out, and a couple of images that might make it into next years calendar, what could be better....

Haweswater in the morning light

North from Ill Bell over Foswick to Thornthwaite Beacon

Sunday, 22 March 2015

21st March ...Scafell Pike and Great End

A superb day to be on the fells today, patches of snow in the sheltered spots but no more winter conditions. None of the gullies on Great End are complete so it looks like winter climbing is now restricted to the Helvellyn range with just a few of the easy gullies having enough neve for some climbing.  If the daytime temperature doesn't get too high and it freezes every night we may be lucky and get another couple of weeks out of the season....fingers crossed

 Central Gully and South East Gully 
Great End 
Great Gable and Lingmel
Great Gable
Esk Pike and Bowfell
Top of Central Gully
Top of Central Gully

Top of Central Gully

15th March ........Nethermost Gully

a poor forecast which proved to be right, unfortunately meant that the there weren't any great views from the summit of Helvellyn, but the winter conditions are hanging in there and superb neve all the way to the top of Nethermost Gully made for a lovely ascent.

March 31st 2103
Nethermost Gully

Striding Edge

The descent from Swirrel Edge

Red Tarn

Monday, 16 February 2015

15 February...Window Gully, Great End

It was without any great expectations after the warmer temperatures of the past few days that we headed up towards Great End with the intention of climbing Central Gully and doing the Left Branch finish.  As we entered the gully the snow was soft and deep making progress difficult, so we decided to retreat and take a look further round the crag for some ice to play on for the day.

There was plenty of small pitches to climb and as we progressed up, we entered the bottom of Window Gully which looked very climbable and joined Will and Simon who had just started the first pitch.

The ice and neve  improved with height, still thick enough to take a 16mm screw in a lot of places.  The snow and turf was pretty solid and very avoidable when it wasn't.

I'm not sure how long it'll hold on in these temperatures but yesterday was a great day to be in Window Gully.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

27th January ...Olympus 9mm fisheye test

The new (to me) 9mm Olympus fisheye is a fun piece of kit, giving 140 degree field of view its the widest lens I have ever used.  Its definitely not made of top quality glass (plastic) and is only sold as a body cap, so expectations from Olympus are kept deliberately low.  As a novelty it's great,  and hopefully will produce some interesting images and the more I get used to the output the more versatile I'm sure to find it.
It won't be in the bag when I'm out doing any of my pro stuff, but when I'm out climbing and  I have my compact with me it'll definitely be coming along for the ride.

I'll put more images up here  as I explore its possibilities.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

24th January...Red Screes

A quick dash up the lovely Kilnshaw Chimney today, soft snow all the way and its not looking like it'll survive the coming thaw.  I will do this route again when its back in condition though.

The Kirkstone Pass from the chimney
Looking a bit thin at the start
Getting better with height

Near the top