Friday, 1 September 2006

How It All Started

My brother was the one that first discovered climbing. He visited the 'Local' Climbing wall and discovered the art. He dragged me along to indoor sessions and soon i could climb. Indoors however, was not real climbing. This i found, was done on lumps of rock found in remote and cold areas of the local moors. The Rock; Sandstone was quite different from the Pastic holds of the wall. I was taught to climb by means of Top Roping at Scugdale, routes such as Alpha - HD, Beta - D and Gamma - HD were my first routes. This however, was done very rarely, perhaps once, or twice a summer that we got out and climbed outside, indeed indoor climbing was also becoming something of a rarity.

2006 was the beginning of things. A trip to Wales with the family was to rekindle the love for climbing that my brother had, and i was again to be dragged along. This however, was quite different to the North York Moors. Lumps of Sandstone were replaced with soaring cliffs of "Volcanic" rock, something i would later know as Rhyolite. We climbed on some of the smaller crags, Clogwyn Cyrau was the crag were i got some practice placing and removing gear. This was all in preparation for what was going to be one of the best expierences of my life.

The route was in the famous, Llanberis Pass; a VD route called 'Parchment Passage.'

The Rain was pouring, it was misty and cold. Typical Wales. We thought twice about it, but then went for it. Nick Lead the route in 3 pitches, and i enjoyed the Exposure and the sence of being safe 100's of metres up.
I was hooked, and the route we did the next day at Milestones Buttress; the Classic Direct Route. I lead one of the pitches and throughly enjoyed it. I knew now, this is what i wanted to do.
The winter came and climbing stopped, however, come the spring of 2007 me and Franco were constantly at the local crags try and testing our technique. We started off leading, but we soon tired of the complicated nature of tieing on and belaying and so on. We started to Solo.
It wasn't until the summer that we re-discovered our leading racks and rope, with trips to Raven's Scar and Highcliff.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

The Bavarian Alps - Zugspitze

I had barely done any climbing, when i was invited to Bavaria with my mate and his dad. I had mostly Scrambled and hiked at this point, so the trip to Germany was a great opportunity.

We did mostly Klettersteiging, however, we decided that we would try to climb the Zugspitze (2894m) via the Jubislaumsgrat Ridge, which is a 8-12 hour ridge from the Alpspitze to the Zugspitze, with the aim of returning on the last Cable Car.
We caught the first Cable Car to the Alpspitze, then climbed up to the summit. We then started the Ridge, and this is what awaited us.

I had never experienced anything like this, the ever-continuing ridge of rock seemed an impenetrable barrier between the Alpspitze and Zugspitze. We weren't even sure of the grade, however, the Guide said that Klettersteig poles and wire were insitu. This however, was grossly out of date.

The sign at the beginning told us, that the the route was being returned to an "Alpine Ridge" but non of us read good German, so we weren't entirely sure what it said at the time! We made good progress, and were treated to fantastic views of Austrias highest Mountains and also got to see Broken Spectres, as we each got one, at least once! We, eventually passed the Jubislaum Hut. We decided to keep going. Soon, it became much colder; snow was building up and eventually cornices and ice. The Zugspitze was shrouded in a veil of cloud. It was getting dark.

We arrived after 9 hours on the ridge and we had missed the last Cable Car. We were unsure what to do, walk down? Luckily, as you may know if you've been to the Zugspitze the place is manned by a awful number of buildings and towers. We managed to get a room in a rickety shack of a Hut, that overhung the cliff-side and was supported with Scaffold. We thought the ridge was Extreme!

The descent was much more fun. It was warm, easy and it involved a glacier crossing and then an amazing walk through the Hollental Gorge. The Glacier can be seen in the picture, and the whole thing was my greatest Mountaineering experience to date.