Shoot the Breeze (IX, 8) on Beinn Eighe was one of highlights of three weeks Scottish Winter climbing. Uisdean Hawthorn and I also made the second ascent of The Vaporiser and took part in the BMC International Winter Meet.
The highlight was a holiday to Tenerife with Victoria. We hired a car and cruised around the island, enjoying tropical temperatures and warm seas - a stark contrast from the UK! We did some hiking, long boarding and sangria-drinking.
I spent March and April in the Alps. In March I climbed the Pierre Allain/Classic Route with Kim Ladiges and the Walker Spur with Pete Graham. These were both 'life-enriching' experiences on some of the best walls in the Alps.
Living with Uisdean and Pete in our 'Chamonix Box' apartment (in Argentiere) was a laugh. Conditions were poor for most of April so we went skiing, drank beers and went sport climbing. I managed my first 8a+ ; a route called La Ligne Noire.
I came back to the UK after some time in Italy, trying to get fit for the trad season. I think it went alright as I had a good day at Swanage with Dan Gibson on The Mind Cathedral (E6 6b) amongst other routes, and joined the DMM climbing team on a trip to Arran, Scotland. I was psyched to climb the main pitch of The Great Escape (E8 6c) after Caff, Ryan and Dan McManus.
More trad, but this time in Pembroke with James Taylor and Lukasz Warzecha - who managed to get a Climb Magazine front cover photo from our trip! I then went to Scotland. Tony Stone and I had planned to return to the Alps but poor weather made us go north. We climbed The Long Hope Route on Hoy, over 2 days. It was an incredible, bizarre, fulmar-filled adventure!
I had a bit of momentum for a few weeks and managed to complete a few long-term goals: namely onsigting Skinhead Moonstomp (E6 6b) at Gogarth, onsighting Surgical Lust (E7 6b) at Scimitar Ridge, and headpointing Rare Lichen (E9 6c) at Clogwyn yr Tarw.
The highlight, however, has to be going on a random and spontaneous trip to Flatanger in Norway for a week’s sport climbing with Adam Ondra. I won a writing competition and was called up a few weeks before the departure date. ‘Sure!’
Uisdean and I returned to the Alps and got lucky with the weather. We climbed Divine Providence with John McCune, and then the American Direct (in a day) on Le Dru. We were very tired afterwards! More dream routes and some good fitness earned.
Uisdean and I (this is becoming a theme!) went to the Canadian Rockies for a rematch. We'd bailed off Mt. Alberta last year so were keen to finish what we'd started. A good weather window came up and we got stuck in, making the third ascent of the House/Anderson Route on the north face. It got me psyched to go back for something new and was a great experience. That cave bivi is... wow!
Tony Stone and I repeated George Smith’s wild route, Rock of Ages (E7 6b) at Penlas Rock, Gogarth. Last year, Ray Wood said: 'go and climb Adam's route, The Fourth Dimension - that's THE route!' When I did that and spoke to Adam, he said: ‘that’s great! Go and climb Rock of Ages - that’s THE route!’ When I spoke to George about RoA he said, ‘that’s great! But go and climb….’ and so it goes on! I think me and Tony made the 2nd and 3rd ascent?
At the start of November, Victoria and I went trekking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in southern Spain. We had a great time drinking vino tinto and chilling out, just camping wild. We also stayed in a mountain hut one night and enjoyed lovely warm weather. We found this website very helpful: www.treksierranevada.com
I'm heading to Patagonia with Calum Muskett and Tony Stone. We’re heading to Torres del Paine for December, then Tony and I are going to El Chalten for January. I can’t wait! Fingers crossed for light winds and a 'cumbre' for Christmas! (cumbre = summit).