Saturday, 21 November 2015

Autumn Sunshine in Mallorca

After a miserable autumn of weather in the Yorkshire Dales, Claire and I booked a last minute trip to Mallorca for some sunshine. We headed to the South-West of the island and based ourself in Santa Ponca. We were blessed with the weather and had five days of sunshine, although quite a few blustery days. I was surprised by the variation in the limestone, I don't think I was expecting it, with some crags being very sharp, crozzly water worn compared to pocket and tufa covered orange sheets of rock. There was even this contrast within a crag, Puig de Garrafa for instance. 
Cala Bruix, Puig de Garrafa
That was the first place we climbed. Due to it's popularity quite a few of the easier graded are incredibly polished, just like climbing at Malham then. Don't let that put you off though the routes have some good climbing, nice movement and are all pretty varied. We started in the popular Sector Duck and climbed a number of the two and three star routes. We both found it harder trusting our feet on rather glassy footholds. We later moved down to Sector Corral which provided some brilliant climbing on lots of positive orange rock. 
Barbol at Can Ortigues
Can Ortigues sits high above the twisting road overlooking the sea on the Western side of the island, on a very steep slope. The tall grey walls of crozzly rock provide some tricky sharp moves which can be felt on the fingertips and through the soles of my rock boots. The routes had tricky starts and it was hard to read the rock. 

Climbing Neo at Sa Cantera
Finally we climbed at Sa Cantera up a quiet valley looking out above Palma but manages to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The crag seemed less popular and was a little dusty in places but the climbing was great, with some thin technical moves providing plenty of interest. Some of the routes were a bit dusty and dirty in places. I only had three days of climbing on the island and barely scratched the surface of the climbing here, I'm pretty sure that I'll be back to explore further. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Beautiful Forest - Fontainebleau

     Claire and I had spent the last ten days exploring the Chamonix, but unfortunately the weather was looking too good for the last few days of our trip. Like everyone in the Alps, eyes are kept firmly on the forecasts and plans hatched for excursions into the mountains or crags in the valley. Our plan was to escape the valley, but where to go? Countless locations typed into the forecast; Saas Fee, Grindelwald, the Provence region, Aliefroide, but the South of France and the rest of the Alps wasn't looking hopeful. Fontainebleau; overcast with breaks of sun and hitting around 19 degrees. Happy days, it would just be like climbing on the grit in the summer. We packed up camp and headed to the forest.
What a place! Looking in to the forest at Roche aux Sabots
The brilliant patterns in the Sandstone boulders
     It had been four years since I last been to Font, I always seem to have great trips there, it is such a chilled out place. I never really go with any expectations and only use a guidebook for maps to get to the crags. I just climb lines and problems I like the look of, and thats a lot of them. 
Eyeing up the final throw on a Red problem at Roche aux Sabots
     We had a great few days, it was like being a kid in a sweet shop as we were only there for three days before catching our ferry back to the UK, so I climbed as much as I could in those three days. Often heading out for morning and afternoon sessions to avoid the midday sunshine. We camped at La Musardiere and visited crags within the Trois Pignons area; Gorges aux Chats, 95.2, Cul de Chien, 91.1 and Roche aux Sabots. As I hadn't climbed much recently and this was a pretty spontaneous visit I just planned to climb a lot of problems, building up some mileage rather than trying really hard boulders. 
Topping out at 91.1
     It took a little bit of readjusting to get used to the polished footholds which was pretty frustrating to begin with, feet just slipping away with no warning from holds that seemed solid. I love the movement that is found on the boulders in Font, how subtle changes in body position can mean the difference between failure and success. Our brief visit reignited a spark for the area and I can't wait to plan another trip back and put some prior training and effort in beforehand.
Over crimping at 91.1
Topping out a thin slab

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A Busy Year in the Outdoors

     I've been pretty quiet on the blog front this year unfortunately. Personally it has been a bit of a mixed year in terms of my own climbing. I moved to a new area at the end of last year and have found it hard to meet new climbing partners to get out to the crags. I know that sounds like an excuse, I have still been climbing and have gone through another phase where I have massively got into mountain biking and started racing through the season. This is the first year that I have been working freelance, mostly within the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. I have worked for lots of different people and organisations, providing a huge variety of work, in terms of places and the people I have provided outdoor experiences for. Here's a selection of the things I have got up to through the spring and summer months. 

Meeting my new crag and biking partner for the first time... Skye
Mountain Biking with the Wensleydale School BTEC Students
Walking above Malham with Rough Edges' Prince's Trust Group
Bringing Skye home!
Climbing at Robin Proctors Scar
Working on my first SPA Training - Personal Climbing at Oxenber
My first PMBA Enduro at Lee Quarry, Rossendale
Climbing Scafell Pike with a group from Marston's Brewery for Kendal Mountaineering Services
Little Skye isn't so little anymore
Paddling on Coniston Water with Dallam Outdoors
We even managed to get a quick trip to the Alps - Claire's first trip to the Alps