As 2011 draws to a close I’ve taken a train journey to the north as an opportunity to select photos that represent my climbing throughout the year. The past twelve months have been really great; I’ve had the opportunity to climb with new people, on new routes in some great new locations.
This year has been the year of full weekend climbing - away with the daytrips to Swanage and Portland and in with the weekend camping trips to (well, yes) Swanage and Portland but also the Peaks, Southern sandstone, North Wales and even Cornwall! Unfortunately no trips abroad but that’s just something to work on for next year.
I’ve had the opportunity to push my grade a little - achieving my first E1 (OS 5a, 5b) at Chudleigh, first F6b+ onsights and many solid attempts on harder climbs up to F7a! I was finally able to achieve my long-term goal of climbing the spectacular blunt arete that is The Cutting Edge, F6c+ on my third attempt.
Many thanks for those who have had the patience to climb with me this year - in particular: Vlad, Owen, Mishtu and Kirsten. Hopefully we can get out and do some more epic routes next year!
The year was off to an early start with a few nice trad lines out at Subluminal, Swanage, with Vlad and Owen. Climbers were also out in force at The Cuttings in Portland.
Owen and I headed up to Scotland early February and headed off on an introduction to winter mountaineering course with Adventure Peaks. We have arranged to meet our guide, John Pickles, at the same time 2012 to pick up where we left off. On February 14th the three of us did Ledge Route (II), our first real winter climb.
Headed out to Cheddar Gorge with Owen to climb the classic Utopia (HVS 4c). Also managed to get in a few hard sport lines while we were there.
April is the month the climbing really picked up. We were out at a new venue early in the year on a two-day trip. First destination was Chudleigh on a Saturday and Haytor on the Sunday. Bagged The Spider (E1 5b) which I propose is overgraded - there are HVS 5a lines in the Peaks that go way harder. The majority of the climbing at Chudleigh is polished and crap; it seems unlikely I’ll be rushing back in 2012.
It’s always great to take new people out for the first time on rock. Here’s my boss Grzegorz and colleague Bhaskar at Hedbury.
Of course the Peaks is about the grit. But bolted limestone does exist. A great day out at Horseshoe Quarry with Anna, Vlad, Zoe and Emma.
Next up is one of the defining moments of 2011, certainly for Vlad. We’d been climbing at Harpur Hill Quarry and had managed the spectacular 3* Coral Seas (F6a), I’d had a good punt at Apollo Creed (F6b) but then Vlad took a big fall leading People Will Talk (F5). A huge block of loose rock came away with a run-out Vlad clinging on. He just hit the ground but was fortunately okay. Many lessons learned that day.
With Vlad out of action I headed down to The Cuttings on the early May bank holiday Monday with Grzegorz, Bhaskar and a friend. We managed a single line before the rain hit.
Went out climbing with Mishtu for the first time after meeting her at the Westway thanks to climbfind.com .
For the late May bank holiday Mishtu invited Vlad and I up to North Wales for the weekend. In return we took her up a) her first multipitch; b) her first trad route (even if she was seconding).
June/July has now become established as one of the key times in the climbing calendar - the annual Harrison’s Rocks climbing/social trip. It’s rather under-represented here but as always, was a spectacular weekend with good weather, good climbing and great friends.
Another great trad multi-pitch, this time climbing Giant’s Cave Buttress (VS 4c) at Avon Gorge.
By July I was successfully climbing F6b/F6b+ onsight most of the time. F6a had become my warm-up and I was really enjoying starting to push those grades.
By September it felt as though the good climbing just wasn’t going to end. But that wasn’t true… the days were starting to get shorter, but I had some great climbing partners and there were still plenty of opportunities to get out on the rock.
Come October we’d given up hope for balmy summer days but to our surprise the first weekend in October was truly sweltering. Down at Dancing Ledge in Swanage we’d not experienced heat like this all year. Truly the most fondly remembered climbing day of the year.
In October we returned to Harpur Hill Quarry for the first time since People Will Talk. We tried some hard sport lines but the cold wind was definitely against us. Days were getting even shorter.
Climbing necessarily tailed off in November/December. Conditions meant it was still possible to climb but the weather was cold, the days were short and the drives were long. All round the risk of a wasted trip increased.
Owen, Adie and I headed up north to Fort William for a couple of days of wild camping and a bit of trudging about in the snow.
What’s impressive about this list is the sheer number of days that have not been included. The more routine trips to Portland and Swanage were just not photographed. But these were the days when the majority of the hard routes went down and we all got a chance to really improve with our climbing.