Two axe and kiwi in the Alps

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cogne ice fest (ish)

After getting the 'red eye' from Luton at 6am, 2 axe and lord Charles set out for cogne and annual ice pilgrimage.

Conditions report was mixed which were confirmed with ' Beau temps' of + 4 in the valley! The first things to get sorted was a decent espresso and pannini, which was duly provided by the local hostelry in the town square.

Quick change and ever eager lord Charles wanted a bit of euro ice fix. So off they set to Cascade du Lillaz, which the pair had climbed before but seemed a reasonable bet.

First pitch dispatched a rope issue ensued and the failing light plus beer calling confirmed decision to bale.

Patri is looking on tomorrow although weather looking to crap out with 20cm of snow. But that's just like Scotland says 2 axe? He was right - bring it on!

Lord Charles, out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Jinx of the Devils Chair

Tapia Llwydion – Diff ?? on Cadair Idris

Nice night on Lebanese wine the night before made for a sluggish start on the Sunday morning. A cheeky little Sunday trip to Cadair Idris was in order. Last trip for Lord Charles had been less than spectacular, with a massive navigation error in the November murk with Lardy Charles and Sister in tow that led to a near benightment and only saved with a long haul down the main road back to the car. The brooding mountain awaited.

Lord Charles and Two axe started in the car park at 9am and set a brisk pace up the forest track into the beautiful Cwm Cae. High cloud skirted the mountain top with the faint dusting of snow on the higher reaches of the route. Tapia Llwydion is on the north side of the Cwm Cae and offers an interesting route to the top of the mountain. The guidebook noted that it was classed as Diff with most of the difficulties o the first 100 meters of the route. Summit post topo and photos downloaded to the iphone and it looked entertaining.

Pitch 1 was a slabby affair, that offered little in terms of difficulty, with most sections walkable. No runners put in . Mmmm …… it must get better. Pitch 2 was more of the slabby same with a bit of heather thrown in for good measure. Pitch 3 – long one . Mmmmm … not much more than grade one scrambling really. Pitch 4 – the crux - Oh must have missed that one then. Final bit was a bit more scrambling through heather till we reached the slight dusting of snow, and realised that we were near the top. Two axe, thought it a bit disappointing ‘I think we need to do the Cwyfry Arete next time!’

A little plod to the summit in the cloud and snow, and obligatory shot at the trig point. Great lunch of pork pie in the summit shelter before taking a bearing and heading down. ‘Its only about half a click till we turn to take the left hand fork down.’

Off we trouped passing a number of walkers before out of the mist came a oversized wooden chair ! Not sure we would have seen this on the OS map, ‘I think we have come too far’ - back bearing taken and aimed for the Cwm crag edge. Slight drop I height and came out of the cloud to see wee had headed off down one of the many arms from the Cadair summit (again). We dropped off the path directly into the Cwm, eyeing up some potential winter routes before heading back to the car park. Done and dusted in 5 hours, so a little pint was in order – short drive down the road to a the newly appointed Cross Foxes pub ( and a great little pint of Snowdonia Ale ( the_beer_range_all_year.htm#Cwrw%20Eryri) before heading back to B’ham.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Great belay .... a day out in North Wales

Ordinary Route, Idwal Slabs (Diff) & Cneifon Arete (Mod)

A cheeky mid week and rather indulgent day out in the hills was planned by Lord Charles and Two Axe to sort out the lack of Cneifon Arete in the old log book. The forecast was chilly with a few showers and bit of sunshine, so all in all not too bad.

We were greeted by eerily empty ogwen cottage care park, and had the pleasant walk in increasing drizzle to the slabs with a group of military trainees on their outward bound course. ‘What are your guys up to ?’ says Lord Charles , rather hoping that it was not the same route. ‘Idwal Staircase ... and you?’ . Ordinary Route then Cneifon Arete – ‘ says Lord Charles. The experienced eye of the military man was cast skyward ‘In this ? good luck!’.

‘It’ll be fine I’m sure it will go.’ As we watch the river running down the slab, with most of the long crack of the route under water. ‘Where does the route go, and what’s the description like ? - well I’m not sure all I have is this internet print out of a picture of the route!’ The famous phrase was then employed, ‘Lets try the first pitch we can always bail.’ The first pitch was a dream, loads of protection and big holds, leading to small ledge, you could have had a dinner party on. Up comes Two Axe, ‘come on lets get on with it, we can’t come to Ogwen and not do something again.’ . Decent second pitch, bit greasier than the first, leading up 40 meters to another decent bivvy. The Third pitch, drifted right across the crack and an interesting bulge, that required some long legs than weren’t available to do in decent style. The 4th pitch seemed to peter out below a rock barrier and steeper head wall, with easy walking ground to the left leading up to Cwm Idwal. ‘That’s it, think that we’ve done the route ‘. The sky had bought in increasing showers, that started to turn to sleet. Quick scramble up to the Cwm, and wee break in the shelter of the stones below the Arete. Dinner was shared with a seagull, who rather liked Nut bars.

The sleet had turned to snow, and the rope and gear came out again. ‘I think that we should pitch the first bit, the guide says it’s easier after that’ – (Famous last words). The soft snow , started to fill the ledges and cracks, making the route a little more interesting. ‘Where does it go?’, ‘think its up that chimney, I’ll take a look’ says Lord Charles ...... SLOW MOTION......... ‘bugger, i’m off.....................’ past two axe....................BAM, the rope jerked, the belay held. ’SHIT, SHIT .................... ok (Heart rate down to 140).’ . Quick check, knee hurts. Prat rating 9/10.

‘I think that it would be wise to pitch the next few, the snow is making things a little tricky.’ .............. ‘ I thought the guide said that it got easier !’

Slow and steady progress, trying to keep to the arĂȘte proper, and not drift left onto the slightly easier ground. An odd scramble, a challenging pitch of 5 meters and then easy scrambling in between. ‘Are we nearly there yet ? ...... it seems to have gone on for ever this route !’’. Starting to get cold, light fading , slowing down and having to concentrate hard

Pitch 6 – little nook at the top of the route, drop into the cwm to the right and a tricky block upwards for 3 or 4 meters. ‘This is not going to be pretty ....’ as Lord Charles hauled himself up the block, on to his knees and deftly caught it in the bandolier. ‘Bugger! Trapped the bloody thing round my neck , can’t get up !!’ a lot of squirming, rolling around and generally poor technique later , like a vision, the ground eased away into flatter ground to the top. Two axe , charged up, the final meters. ‘I think that we can claim winter ascent on that. ‘ !!

The sky grew darker, as we slowly wandered back to Ogwen via Gribin proud of our first mini epic.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Boring, boring Chonzie

Classed as the most boring munro known to man, it seemed a bit harsh for any mountain in Scotland to be classed as such. However, it was a fitting bit of exercise for Lady Charles and I to take an early winter perambulation in the highlands during our weekend visit.
The temperature w
as suitably low and a light dusting of snow in the hills, prompted us to stay in the car a little longer near the car park at Invergeldie. A wee little route wound round a delightful farm into a ravine with a burbling stream up towards a little dam. The route /car track/motorway continued upwards till almost the saddle between the main peak and the top of Invergeldie.

Then it hit us ...... from the north. A rather biting wind, that put the wind chill around -20oC, but opened up a most expansive view north and south. Boring? The scenery wasn’t for sure.
‘It’s a dog, I’m sure of it’ said Lady Charles. ‘Nonsense!’ I replied, ‘what sort of mad idiot would ..........’ - ‘Ah, hello - good day to you to , nice day for it ...’ I said as I spotted the fellow walkers. But their dog had spotted something else ... Arctic hare, and plenty of them. Near the summit ridge, there were dozens of them charging about. (Can you spot it !)

Route finding remained relatively easy following the line of old fence posts that kicked right along a broad plateau towards a stone shelter.

The wind increased and the summit shelter was a welcome relief. Cracking views north into the highlands proper, with the high peaks plastered in snow. Lady Charles and I dined at the summit, ‘where’s the water?’.... ‘Ah, I seem to have dropped it/forgot it ‘ . She was not amused, but we were suitably refreshed by the rest and fresh breeze to head back via the same route. With the northerly breeze bought a little snow on the wind but back to the car park as the light started to fade.

Another one ticked off, only 200 to go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A cold wind doth blow (II) , a bit harder this time ....

A cold wind doth blow (II) , a bit harder this time ....

After a hearty night in the CIC hut , watching Dave make his way through four courses , including cheese board and some decent claret , the chaps were ready for another day out in the hills. 'Mmmmmm .... looks a little tricky out there today.' says Lord Charles as they saddled up to head up into the Coire. . 'Lets head up into the Coire and see what's it like and make a decision when we get there ............ the others left early and have not been back - bet they have found plenty to do!' enthused President Jackson. 'If not we have loads of Haribo and 6 litres of wine , we can make do in the hut.'

A bit of slog up into the corrie , opened up the blisters again. 'What shall we do ?' Says Lord Charles . Two axe and Kiwi declined the offer of another day in the delightful Scottish weather and went back into the hut. Lets head up to Number 4 area and see what else is going on.' Lord Charles trogged on to the small buttress by the entrance to No. 4 gully. Marvelling at the tons of spindrift pouring of the crag !

'This is not looking too clever' says Dave, as he stopped by the buttress. 'Look, there are the others from last night near number three buttress, that looks a bit desperate - they must be heading back. ' They all cheerfully waved to the others on the opposite side of the coire. 'Lets sack it off and head back. this is bit dangerous'. Bit of a food stop, and then back down towards the hut. We finally met up with Jeremy and others, 'Did you not see us waving ?' - yes - we could just about see you behind the clag and drift - very pleasant of you dear chap!'. ' No, we were trying to warn you , that a bloody great big avalanche, swept the other side of the buttress you were stood next too.!'

'Jesus, think its cards, haribo and wine for the rest of the stay!' - Its not getting better - getting worse tomorow and then may clear up. 'I'm gagging for a curry , lets bail and head into the flesh pots of Fort William. And so ends the sorry tale of the winter CMC trip to the Ben, no cloudless blue skies as before - ' I think Chamonix next year ' - but nobody heard Lord Charles through the howling wind, beating a retreat from the Ben.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A cold wind doth blow ..................................

Ben Nevis , North Gully (II) and Number 3 gully (II)

We poured over guide books, with their tantalising ice clad offerings under heavenly blue skies that looked like the alpine dream sold in the climbing brochures. There is a case I think that the guidebook writer could technically be done under the trades description act. However, we had always been blessed over the preceding four seasons when it came to Scotland's winter weather and we knew that time was running out for the full on sottish winter experience was due.
Undeterred , plans were in place. The CIC hut was booked, the chaps in the finest condition. Lord Charles had enormous amounts of equipment, mostly titanium and Dave had prepared expedition sundries in the style of the 1922 Everest expedition. Lord Charles shouldered his 22.453kg rucksack in the north face car park at 6.32 precisely with Two axe and Kiwi - after pulling an all nighter from Birmingham, high on a couple of reb bull. The advance party set off to hopefully get a couple of routes done before Jackson and Dave hangovers had cleared in Tyndrum. The signs were ominous as they plodded slowly to the hut and the rain came pelting down and a rather annoying wind started to get up. Arriving at the hut the team found a number heading down, 'what's it like up there?' said Lord Charles, half expecting in the overly optimistic way to hear that 'absolutely everything, everywhere is absolutely in fantastic nick'. 'Its Pish, soft, no fun and bloody dangerous' said the climber 'We're heading down'. Sat surveying the Coire from the Hut - 'Hmm ' said two axe, 'I think that Tower ridge is out then'. 'Lets go high and do something like north gully then'.

And so the decision was made ......................... once more into the breach.

The snow was rather soft and a few inches had been put down in the last few hours, but sheltered in the coire. 'There it is ' Lord charles pointed out north gully. 'That other group should have done the first pitch by the time we get there..' - oh how wrong they were ! 'They won't be long , i'm sure' as they waited a little longer. 'Look at my belay jacket- its rather snug' said two axe.

The weather continued to deteriorate some more, and a fair amount of spin drift started to hammer down the route .........
'They are faffing about, think the best thing is to bail and go do number 3, and pop back when they've done.

Ploughing through deep snow the short trip round the buttress to the start of number three gully.

The open slope at the bottom is hard neve , with small amount of spin drift coming down from the plateau.

It was cracking climbing on an easy slope that got steeper and steeper. 'This is a bit much for grade II don't you think' as Two axe forged ahead up the top of the head wall. 'I'll head up and get some summit shots' said LC.

'Jesus.......... its howling up here . Two axe and Kiwi came over the top of the route into the full force of a Scottish winter .

'Best get this sorted and head down number 4 its starting to turn a bit nasty.' The three intreped climbers made an undignified dash and abseil down the gully and headed back to the hut.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Are we nearly there yet .................

A hearty walk in the fine welsh hills was just the tonic for a post x-mas wander to blow a few cobwebs from the Claret induced muggy head.
Twas a grand view indeed from the summit of Hay bluff. Lady Champagne, Base Camp Q and Baby Cham 1 (see photo) summited via the 'nordwand' in clean alpine style.