Saturday, 30 March 2013

Saving Winter

So, our plan for a week of sunny rock in Cornwall quickly morphed into a winter climbing trip to the north face of Ben Nevis when we heard from Alan Kimber's blog that there was space in the CIC hut.

The hut is a two hour walk from the road, sitting at the foot of the mighty north face, and having never been there before we weren't quite sure what to take.  I reckon my bag must have weighed a good 45kg, and what you see below is a 25 litre bag and a 40 litre bag strapped to a 70 litre bag with two dry sacks hanging off it.  This two hour walk took us three.

Walking up was a long slog and into a pretty gnarly wind, which remained for the following day, but after that the weather was pretty perfect.  

Our tick list for the week:

Vanishing Gulley - V, 5, ***
Italian Right-hand - IV, 4, **

Gemini - Route not in 
Carn Dearg Cascades - V, 5, ***

Vade Mecum - V, 5, **

Minus Two Gulley - V, 5, ****

Two Step Corner - V, 5, ***

17 stars in five days of climbing!

The hut is pretty good too, apart from a gas problem we had for a while, which Doug and pals managed to sort.  Oh and him pointing out there was a burn behind the hut was handy after two days of us melting snow. Doh!

It has been a while since I have gone a week without washing and my head was getting a bit scabby by the end of the trip. Nice.  The hut filled up as Easter approached and we ended up bugging out a night early with an epic day of Two Step Corner (hard crux and spicy cornice), the heavy walk out and an all night drive home.  Despite the hut being mobbed, the hill was really quite quiet.

It's a nice feeling living in winter and then descending into spring back nearer sea level.  Whilst disappointing not to get a good start to the rock season, it was even better to salvage a winter we had already written off!

Here is a bit of a photo dump of our trip:


Hot aches in my face

Italian Right-hand

The wind slab on the way to Vade Mecum (Hadrians Wall is the fat ice line, with Vade Mecum just to the left)

Nick climbs a cloud

The thin start of Minus Two Gulley takes the very right of the gulley

The CIC or Carn Dearg Cascades - stiff for V!

Two Step is directly above me

The infamous Two Step cornice - shit a brick

James should have been in the left hand shot of Vanishing Gulley, by the time I had taken it he had fallen out the bottom of the picture!

Vanishing Gulley is the thin line above James

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Grand News

I have some big news, people, some big and good news.  Holly and I are expecting a baby.  There, the news is now out there in the blogosphere.

We have been holding off on announcing it until after the first scan, which we had yesterday (those machines are pretty cool).

Clearly a climber

We decided to start trying for a baby so that he would be old in her school year (I shall alternate between she and he for the time being).  The due date is 19 September, so that gives you an idea of how long ‘trying’ took.  Not very - I am powerful.

Holly has been pretty sick with anti-morning sickness, in that she seems to feel okay between 10am and 11am and is ill the rest of the time.  Now we are out the first trimester, she should start to feel better, but her mum was ill for many months.  This sickness is not pleasant at all – it means I am having to do more cooking.  Holly can’t abide the ‘smell’ in the kitchen – I use inverted commas because to a normal person there is no smell.  She had me disinfect the fridge at the weekend.  And I had to unblock the sink after her roast dinner reappeared into it (she must chew her food more if she is going to vom it up again).  Its for love I do these things.

At the antenatal clinic yesterday, there was a shouty chav waiting alongside us.  One of those people who talk to the room rather than the person they are with (her equally repulsive mother), you know the type.  She wanted a cappuccino, so they were going to head off to the pub, as you do.  I feel a drain on the welfare state coming on.  Anyway, her due date is 24th.  So Holly is now adamant our baby must arrive on time so there is no risk of her sharing a room with this social detritus.

So I am now sentenced to a lifetime of worry and poverty.  Its pretty exciting though. I think I can be responsible, or at least pretend I am for the next eighteen years.

I think girl, Holly thinks boy.  We should find out in early May (the pragmatist in us demands to know).  Exciting times indeed. 

All change please, all change.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


I am now a graduate of the Insanity Workout.  The sixty days of some seriously grueling workouts are finally complete and I have to say it has made me re-evaluate the worth of exercise DVDs!

You will probably be glad to know that, thanks to bricking my phone, I lost the 'before' semi naked picture of my beer gut.  So there really isn't much point in posting one of the new trim me.  I have every confidence that, had I had any self control over my diet, I could be pretty ripped now.  I will just have to settle for a massive increase in fitness.  The other day I did twelve inverted sit ups (ie dangling with knees over a bar), sixty days ago I could just about do one.

On the Fit Test front, I increased my scores by an average of 36%.  Impressive. (Note, I took my initial scores as an average from the first two tests as on the first one the movements were unfamiliar and that may have affected my scores.)

I only missed one recovery day and one fit test, and on some other days I swapped a few jumps for other exercises.  My one criticism, and its not a criticism really, just an observation, is that it's quite brutal on the knees.

My plan now is to tick over with a few workouts this week then have a bit of a break while I go away climbing for a week.  Then for April I will be concocting some kind of hybrid from Insanity and The Asylum (the sequel to Insanity) and a bit more climbing.

James and I reset my wall yesterday so it's more usable (he pointed out that I had some tiny holds up high and some decent hand holds too low), but of course I have now strained a finger pulley on my left hand.