The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Lakes yesterday

Great weather here in the Lakes this past couple of days...........dry & very mild.

I had a friend passing through from Australia who stayed for a couple of days on his way out to the States, so it was great to show him around a little.

We headed up into Langdale & climbed Pluto on Raven Crag.

 Tim starting up the 3rd pitch of Pluto HVS
Great varied climbing, with the route weaving it's way up through the steepest parts of the crag.

Yesterday we headed back through Ambleside & on over Dunmail Raise towards Keswick. We stopped off on the way at Castle Rock & climbed Gazebo Direct HVS. This has got to be one of the best routes of it's grade in the Lakes! We stopped in Ambleside for a brew with Woody on the way through & it was Woody who reminded me of the route & yes the climbing's fantastic - if you've not done it................!

We then headed around into Borrowdale & headed up to Reecastle - I climbed Guillotine E3 & Tim lead The Rack Direct HVS - again awesome routes on fantastic steep, compact, volcanic rock.

The awesome barreling wall of Reecastle in Borrowadle - Left is the line of the Rack Direct & right is the steeper line of Guillotine E3

Woody here leading Guillotine E3 at Reecastle last year

Got home & my camera was still where I'd left it, in the office charging!! - ggrrhh.

Looking forward to getting out & enjoying some more of this weather, although it's going to be on my Cyclocross bike, as it's the 3 Peaks Cyclocross race on Sunday. I went out on the Cyclocross bike for a ride earlier in the week & Sal said jokingly 'was that ride part of your tapering down preparations for the 3 Peaks!' - I haven't been out since the start of the summer! - fingers crossed I just get around & finish at the weekend.

Safe climbing

Monday, 23 September 2013

Friction GTX test/review

In 2011 Hanwag celebrated its 90th Anniversary with the slogan ’90 years of Alpine experience’. Hans Wagner, who founded and gave Hanwag its name was born in upper Bavaria, learning his craft of shoe making from his father and grandfather before him. Since then Hanwag has been synonymous across the globe for making quality outdoor footwear.

So Hanwag have a long distinguished pedigree for making good quality high end boots, although I'd never owned a pair! none have really caught my eye until now - the new
Friction GTX - It's a great looking boot, which I gave a run out for the first time this summer.

Well they've had as hard a season as they'll ever get, harder than some boots get in a lifetime! -  10 weeks Alpine climbing in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps guiding clients on long technical rock and mixed ridges as well as some classic North Faces, long hut walks & via Ferrata's..........culminating in a 3 week Expedition to the Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan with shuttles up to ABC over glacier moraine & climbing virgin summits both on rock & snow/ice up to 4600m.

First Ascent - Peak Kechki Nurga Boelgon (Sunset Rock) 4600m, PD+, S/Ridge.
At-Bashi Range, Kyrgyzstan

The GTX offered superb protection in the upper by way of a hard wearing Leather/Cordura mix, which throughout the summer and away in the high mountains of Kyrgyzstan has shed the worst of the weather. 
The rubber rand that raps around the lower part of the boots gives the upper added protection and durability whilst also giving the boot a really comfortable and snug 'climbing shoe' fit and feel, helping to reduce any potential heel lift, whilst offering a more precise feel when climbing and cramponing.

The softer fabric around the cuff of the boot gives support but with added comfort and the quick and easy ‘double zone’ lacing system tailors the boot to create a great fit. 
The bellowed tongue and Gore-Tex lining keeps out the worst of the weather while keeping the feet cool in the middle of summer.

The sole is made from durable ‘Vibram Dolomit’, designed with a good tread, an ‘in-cut direction heel’ giving increased security on steep descents and a healthy ‘rocker’ under the forefoot making the long hikes into the remotest of huts a pleasure. The heel has a good deep ‘welt’ allowing for a ‘clip-on’ crampon to fix on securely. 

 First Ascent - Steep climbing near the top of Peak Cerberus ( 3 Headed Peak) 4365m, AD+, East Face/South Ridge. At-Bashi Range, Kygyzstan.

Climbing steeper rock, the boots felt neat & precise giving a nice stiff edge with plenty of security & feel through the well-designed Vibram sole unit.

It’s a great combination for summer Alpine Mountaineering with the gift of having a Duratherm insulated, Gore-Tex lining, meaning that even when on the highest Alpine summits your feet stay warm! I have to say I had some very cold days in the mountains this summer - minus 20 degrees on top of MT Blanc & similar temperatures with an added fierce cold north wind on the North Ridge of the Zinal Rothorn - probably the coldest I'd been all year! Hands freezing cold, feet warm!! 

The boots have had a hammering this last few months, but they still look great and ready to take on some mixed action this winter and another summer in the Alps next year.

The Friction GTX's are right up there with the best Summer Alpine boots available, it just needs to fit your feet! It fits mine with a little room for comfort – try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Stay safe

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Still Alive!

Yes! & just back from another great trip to Kyrgyzstan again. This year we again visited the At-Bashi Range climbing 9 virgin summits & 4 new rock routes in the now famous Son-Kool Canyon.

It's been super busy here this tail end of the summer finishing off with a couple of great weeks in the Alps & then less than a week back home before heading back out to the land of virgin summits, yerts & kumis  (fermented mares milk!)

Rewind back to my last weeks.............& upto the Cabane du Mountet

 Me working the North Ridge of the Zinal Rothorn 4,221m AD

 The fantastic panorama from the Cabane du Mountet
In the centre is one of my favourite Swiss peaks, the Dent Blanche & looking left the Obergabelhorn with is huge triangular North Face. Left again you can just see the summit of the Matterhorn which looks like it's on fire.

The Classic North Face of the Obergabelhorn 4,063m TD-

 The Classic North Face & East North East Ridge of the Dent Blanche 4,356m

The North Face of the Dent Blanche is regarded as one of the great mixed faces in the Alps

North Face Original Route - TD+ 950m FA K Schneider K Singer
An historic ascent & one that was well ahead of its time

East North East Ridge (Viereselsgrat) – D 1,100m FA U Almer G Baker A Pollinger & J Stafford Anderson
One of the great ascents in the history of alpine mountaineering, prompting Almer to exclaim from the summit ‘We are 4 asses (vieresels) to have climbed up this route!’ The party successfully reached Schonbiel late that day to be greeted by Gabbett & his 2 guides; Lochmatter father & son. Tragically the very next day this trio was killed while attempting the SW face of the mountain, an event which prompted Queen Victoria to write her famous letter to Gladstone expressing her disapproval of mountaineering & a suggestion that it might be banned as an activity!

Teaching alpine skills on the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn 4,023m AD

Tim getting stuck into the mixed section on the Hohlaubgrat, Allalinhorn, Saas Fee

 Team shot on the summit of the Allalinhorn - Teaching Alpine skills week.

Tetcha enjoying the North Ridge of the Weissmeis - AD+/D-

Great climbing & perfect granite on the North Ridge of the Weissmies - Technical Alpine Ascents week

Roccio enjoying the warm granite, on one of the many pinnacles on the North Ridge of the Weissmeis 4,023m

 Summit of the Weissmeis - with only 50mins till the last lift down & the Tele station shuts!!
We made it with a couple of minutes to spare!

La Piliar de la Pissechevre - 6a+, 6 pitches. A great rock pinnacle above Lavey down in the Rhone Valley.

We headed over to Italy & climbed the Petit North Face/North Ridge of the Gran Paradiso 4,061m

The true north face wasn't in the best condition, with the snow face now looking very grey, so we opted for the Petit North Face which gave us some great mixed climbing & a good number of pitches on steeper ice which led us up onto the North Ridge & then along it's rocky crest interspersed with a steep snow arete to the summit of the Gran Paradiso - a great climb.

We then headed down to the Refugio Vittorio Emanuelle & on down the valley to Pont & Aosta, finishing up in Arnad for some rock climbing the following day.

Tony enjoying the climbing on the Paratone, a huge rock dome above Arnad in the Aosta Valley -  6a, 11 pitches

Kari enjoying the slab climbing low down on the Paratone, Arnad, Aosta Valley.

We then headed back to Leysin in bad weather traversing L'arete des Gais Alpins the next day. It's a great ridge traverse above Montreux close to Lake Geneva graded AD+ 300m, which more often than not can make for a great bad weather option if the mountrains are blown out.

The next day we headed up into Arolla & walked into the Cabane de Dix, but woke up early on the Friday morning only to be greeted by thick cloud & snow. On the way back to Leysin we had some fum on the Evolene Via Ferrata - 500m TD

Tim having some fun on the Via Ferrata above Evolene, Arolla Valley.

So yeh, a busy couple of weeks in the Alps before I made the long journey back to the Lakes by car. It felt like a quick wash, re-pack & then I caught the train back down to Manchester to meet the guys all heading out to Kyrgyzstan.
Back home now though & working through some of the photo's I took while away, as well as writting up the virgin summits we climbed & accuratly mapping the area we visited.

 Finally Sally & myself have been steadily working towards setting up the new ISM office here at home in the Lakes. Pat Littlejohn & Steve Jones retire in a couple of weeks along with Pat's partner Eira who at the moment runs the ISM office. The office will move to the Lakes, Sally will take on running the ISM office, answering enquires, taking bookings etc & I'll take over a large part of what Pat does at the moment directing the buisness. It's been a long transition & a lot of hard work but we're both very excited about the changes. Pat's been at the helm now for over 20yrs, so no pressure!!
Fortunatly key directors Steve Monks & Terry Ralphs are also very commited, with them each having continuing roles within the buisiness, with us all working towards a great future at ISM.

More importantly, I've been down the climbing wall a couple of times since I've been back! starting to get myself strong again after a summer in the Alps - heading down for some Fly Cave action tonight!

Kyrgyzstan photo's/report to follow, HanWag Alpine boots review & some Tierra news.

Stay Safe