Wednesday, 30 May 2007

What do climbers do when it's wet?

..Well, apart from get frustrated that is...Armed with a guidebook of fantastic routes, we sogged through three days of visits to Annecy, Chamonix and a variety of wet and orange crags. Then we discovered the utility of the umbrella. It's funny, but somehow the umbrellas had slipped our brains until the final (very) wet day when we cracked and went for a walk in the snow. The brollies seemed to do the trick. Stair rods aside, we managed to stay out for a goodly while longer with them. So no climbing, but some fantastic funghi. It's amazing how they grow in rings, just like their parent trees.
I managed to stay sane by running every day through misty forests and low cloud. This was fine, but just meant being completely wet through each time, and slightly sad at the knowledge that beyond the clouds was a stunning mountain vista.

Even in the wet, this region was fantastic to be in. The weather forced us into the idyllic chalet, and particularly onto the raclette maker in a big way. We inadvertently discovered that we could turn the dishwasher into what Stu described as a "showcave" by adding things covered in raclette cheese. That kept us busy for a while...ahem...

Thursday, 24 May 2007


This little plateau of very crinkly land squashed between Annecy and Chamonix turned out to be our idea of paradise. Wonderful mountains, great climbing, fantastic villages, the list goes on. It was chocolate box Alpine scenery without the geranium overdose. More rugged, real. Fantastic.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Dockray-Hartside Fell race

Another brute in the fell racing calendar is the low-key race at Dockray-Hartside. Rarely attracting more than 50 runners, a lack of paths, difficult navigation and mind-sapping conditions underfoot mean this is not for the frivolous fell runner. My regular partner in fell running crimes, Penny, had to drop out, so me and a lot of wiry, fit and serious people shuffled to the start. It wasn't the most enjoyable of races- far too serious for that. I was on my own for most of the critical navigational parts of the course, which made it quite hard mentally.


We took the road bikes on a long and hilly ride on Monday. The Pennines certainly forms a bleak and wild landscape, and it must be interesting to live up there. Along with the distinct change in football team affinity up here, there's a peculiar quirk involving tea rooms. As soon as you get to Alston, the speed of the service drops to almost geological time scales. By the time we got as far east as Middleton in Teesdale, the service was so slow that we felt like we should have applied in writing for our cuppa and piece of cake. Interesting. More research needed to see if the trend keeps up...

The Limestone edge, Brough

When you look at a crag such as this one, you might just see..well...grey rock. To me, the underlying impression is one of time. Great stretches of unimaginably vast time. Would it be tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of years? Not sure. What's even more amazing is that these sutures represent even more time for which there is no rock to even testify to its passing.

Anyhow, Windmore End is the perfect place to be on a Bank Holiday. Very quiet, with some excellent climbing. Interesting grading though...