Highlights of 2017
I spent January in Patagonia with Tony Stone (and Calum Muskett for the start). We essentially only got one weather window in seven weeks; we climbed the Supercanaleta on Fitzroy. The rest of the time we had empanada parties, went bouldering, and walked into the mountains on 'maybe' windows.
I climbed in Scotland, trying to make the most of the very marginal winter. Will Harris and I climbed Unicorn (VIII, 8) and were hosts for the Slovenian Exchange. This was a fantastic week of shared psyche, and the Slovenian members of their Alpine Mentor Program were on top form.
Kim Ladiges and I made a free ascent of the Leseuer Route on Le Dru. We'd climbed on Le Dru last winter, so it was funny going back - that's just what conditions were like. The route put up a fight, but we climbed it all onsight and this made for a great reason to do some serious 'inactive recovery' and rebuild the storm lard supplies.
I had a great week on the Lleyn Peninsula with Vic and her family. The fish and chips, coastal walks, sunshine and Easter egg hunts were superb.
Uisdean Hawthorn and I spent seven weeks in Alaska. We attempted the Moonflower (aka Bibler/Klewin) on Begguya (aka Mt. Hunter). After 17 hours we reached the Final Rock Band, but bad weather forced a retreat. The climbing was fantastic and continuously interesting.
Uisdean and I moved to Denali and focussed on acclimatising. We turned our attention the Slovak Direct on the south face. After summiting Denali via the West Butt. and enduring some really bad/cold weather, we launched for the Slovak. We met Americans Gilbert and Chantel as they bailed, and this kind of confirmed our general feelings as well. It was a long walk out down the East Fork.
James Taylor and I climbed together a bunch, most notably The 39 Slaps (E7+ 6c) on Scimitar Ridge. This is a fantastic (albeit, mostly peg-protected) route which has lost holds and pegs, so we climbed it and tried not to break anything! I also went island-hopping along the coast of Croatia with Vic, and I still miss the warm waters of the Med...
Tony and I returned to the Alps (third time lucky). We acclimatised on some great alpine cragging routes, before climbing the American Route on L'Aiguille du Fou. The 7c crux pitch was flipping tough but I was psyched to flash it. Tony was robbed of the onsight by holds breaking - very unlucky. The remaining 12 pitches were good value.
Matija (from the Slovenian exchange) came to sample some North Wales Rock with Zala. We all had a blast (and the wind/rain blasted us...). A special highlight has to be the Red Wall days with John Orr and Tim Neill. Heart of Gold Direct/Ramalina combination was a journey. Cyprus with my family was also great fun.
I worked a lot for the autumn, but a surprise day at Nesscliffe saw me ride the psyche-wave from everyone there. Rob and Penny, Ramon and Viki, Adam, Caff, Angus, Nick, Emma, Ray, Calum and I all turned up one Saturday. With the routes all chalked and beta abound, I headpointed My Piano (E7 6c), 10 o'clock... (E7 6c) and onsighted Yukan II (E6 6b). What a day!
I worked for more of November, and trained in earnest for my trip to Canada in January. Monsoon season started in North Wales, so the climbing wall or Mannod were the places to be.
I'm in the Alps, trying to get fit: skiing, touring, and most importantly, climbing! I missed one weather window, but that's another story. There's now metres of snow on the mountains, but it's been great to be here.