The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Monday, 27 June 2011

A great week starting with the Salbitschijen

I had a fantastic 1st week out in the Alps climbing with Adrian W. We headed up the Rhone Valley & over the Furka Pass towards Andermatt, where we turned off at Goschenen Tal and into the beautiful quiet valley beyond. From here we headed up the steep hillside to the Salbit Hut at 2105m, which gave us access & great views to the Salbitschijen, an awesome granite peak with some of the best granite climbing in the Alps

A view of the Salbitschijen from the Salbit Hut

The classic South Ridge of the Salbitschijen in profile

Enjoying fantastic climbing on the South Ridge of the Salbitschijen

A view of the South Ridge above the first tower

Adrian Walter enjoying the immaculate granite

A fantastic view of the awesome 1000m West Ridge

Great climbing on the Zwillingstrum

Adrian rounding one of the great towers

One of the final towers before the climb up to the summit

Nearing the top of the South Ridge

Adrian enjoying the summit after a great climb

The Salbit Hut with the Salbitschijen behind

On the way back to Leysin we headed back over the Furka Pass & climbed some lovely granite slabs high above the massive Rhone Glacier.

Adrian climbing beautiful granite slabs with the huge Rhone Glacier behind

We stayed the night in the old medieval town of Saillon down in the Rhone Valley.
I’ve always wanted to spend the night here & I’ve driven past it many times. Saillon’s a walled town built high up on a hill above the Rhone Valley floor surrounded by vineyards. The walls & turrets are over a thousand years old and the buildings remain largely unchanged. There’s a great vibe here & we enjoyed plenty of the local wine & food before heading on to a climb close to Lavey on the way back to Leysin.

Adrian climbing the first steep pitch on the Pillar de Pisschevre

Adrian topping out on the first pillar

Adrian enjoying some steep face climbing on the 2nd pillar
An awesome week climbing

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pulling hard yesterday

Duncan pulling hard through the roof

We met up down in the Rhone valley & drove over towards Martigney to climb at Shakti, a small crag next to the river, close to Lavey les Bains.

It's a steep crag, but the climbing is generally on positive holds even if a bit small at times when you take in the overhanging nature of a lot of the routes. Just stepping off the ground you're working hard & working through the middle moves it's easy to get pretty pumped.

You get a feel for the steepness when you're being lowered down & you end up on the ground 6m out from the base of where you started!

Duncan moving up through and past the crux

Oz enjoying some sun on the steep wall at Shakti 


Great fun climbing at Shakti 


Friday, 10 June 2011

A Canadian summer trip

Very inspired to get back out to Canada, but this time in the summer.
September can be a great time & a trip climbing Mt Assiniboine, as well as to explore part of the Bugaboo Range & then some rock climbing in the Bow Valley would be awesome.
Mt Assiniboine 3,618m is in the Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park which is sandwiched between the Banff & Kootenay National Parks in the Canadian Rockies.
Mt Assiniboine is THE Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies with its pyramidal shape & steep technical ridges, but having the added beauty of being totally away from all the crowds and in a wild & remote setting.

This photo from Barry Blanchard shows the North ridge, NE & NW faces of Mt Assiniboine seen when looking south from Mt Assiniboine Lodge.
It’s here from Mt Assiniboine Lodge close to the shores of Lake Magog that you get some of the most spectacular views of this beautiful mountain.
Access into Mt Assiniboine Lodge is long, as it is when tacking any route on this mountain, so climbers usually fly in making the most of the good weather spells.
Mt Assiniboine Lodge (2,225m) is an historic Norwegian Style Lodge which sleeps 30 people in rustic rooms & 6 cabins with great hosts serving up its famous delicious gourmet food.
From Mt Assiniboine Lodge, it’s still a good half day walk & scramble into the high mountain RC Hind Hut situated conveniently on the flanks of the NW face providing great access to many of the routes.
The RC Hind Hut at about 2,690m sleeps 15 people
From the RC Hind Hut you can climb the long 900m North Ridge which just looks fantastic. 

Pigeon Peak

The Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park, is a very isolated & spectacular range of rugged granite spires & glaciers in the Purcell Mountains of BC Canada

The Palliser Expedition in 1857 – 1860 first traversed the area and named it after their expedition sponsor Goodwin Purcell. In 1969, Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park and the Bugaboo Alpine Recreation Area were set aside to preserve and protect this outstanding area of the Purcells. Now climbers from all over the world come to climb these amazing granite spires.

Pigeon Peak (3,150m) is one of these rugged granite towers & the super classic West ridge is a one of the best routes of its grade in North America, climbing immaculate granite, on a knife edge at times to a beautiful summit & inspiring views

The West Ridge of Pigeon Peak

This very isolated range of rugged granite towers & glaciers is actually only a 3hr drive from Banff & then a 3hr walk into the Conrad Kain Hut (2,230m) which gives great access to Pigeon Peak as well as many of the other routes & peaks here.
Castle Mountain in the Bow Valley was named back in 1858 by James Hector for its castle like or fortress appearance and is the obvious mountain seen as you drive between Banff & Lake Louise.
Castle Mountain is situated in more of a pre-alpine setting with easy access from the valley floor devoid of glaciers where it will make the perfect change from spending time in the mountains & will be a great culmination to the 2 week trip - the rock climbing looks fantastic.

It just looks fantastic in summer.


Galloway Forest Park

We had a great time last week camping in Glentrool in the Galloway Forest Park.
The forest's massive & at about 300sq miles, it's the biggest in Britain.

In amongst the densely populated forest of Sitka Spruce, Scots Pine,  Birch & other broad leaved trees off road biking trails weave around the undulating forest floor. The 7 Staines was one of the first of it's kind offering marked trails of varying grades to the off road enthusiast.

Once out of the forest & into the open moorland it feels wild & rugged with beautiful Lochs filling in much of the open spaces.

Paul changing spinners, to try & temp a 2nd trout of the day

We went canoeing & fished for Brown Trout & we went biking exploring the many trails.

It's a beautiful area with also much climbed & unclimbed rock waiting to be explored which will be my next trip up there.

On the way home Sal turfed me out at Shap just North of the Howgills & I cycled home.

The Howgills are a range of rugged hills that I look out to, from my home in Sedbergh. Looking North you look up to the trig point on top of Winder & beyond. I’ve yet still so explore the whole area but the walking, biking & fell running in a remote quiet setting is amazing. The rolling nature of the hills lends itself to these disciplines & it’s amazing how remote it can feel once on the tops away from everything & everyone.
Little by little I’m slowly exploring more of the Howgills & enjoying the challenges that these present.
I cycled down through Orton looking straight into the heart to the Howgills & was hooked into an obvious spur which ran gently up onto the tops. I could just make out a worn track which I thought must be a way on. So without a map of any sorts & the sun still high enough in the sky I headed up into the hills.

I had a great adventure which felt serious & committing with the sun much lower, dipping below the hoizon when I eventually got home.

A one point I was shouldering the bike & climbing down a very steep grassy broad spur for about 600m where a slip would have been very serious & that was without fording the stream at the bottom to then climb back up the other side!
It’s pretty wild when you get right into the heart of the hills & committed to continuing on.
All good training I kept telling myself!
After a few days of DIY I’m back out in Leysin & looking forward to the greater challenges the Alps has to offer.
Below is the view from the Grand Chalet at the top of Leysin Village. When staying up at the hotel the views are amazing looking out over the Valais & Mt Blanc Massif.