North Faces…

On August 8, 2014 by Tim Neill

After a well earned rest David and I headed through to the charming Chabod hut below the N Face of the Gran Paradiso hoping to get a good freeze that looked a lot less likely in the Mt Blanc range. With bleary eyes we left at 3 30am and broke trail to the bergshrund..stepping over onto great climbing snow allowing us to move together until a couple of pitches below the top.

At the top....thanks to Matt Stygal for the pic and the same bright idea....

At the top….thanks to Matt Stygal for the pic and the bright idea….

N Face of GP...from high point of bergshrund to little col L of Summit...

N Face of GP…from high point of bergshrund to little col L of Summit…

We popped back down the incredibly busy normal route through some massive crevasses for the now traditional coffee at the hut and back through to France. Next morning we climbed on the Contamine Mazeud on the Tacul Triangle face. Perfect neve being a reward from all the terrible weather of recent.

Squeaky snow...

Squeaky snow…

With a great forecast for the next day and a half we packed for the famous and elegant Frendo Spur on the Aig du Midi. With the usual queue shenanigans we got an 8 oclock lift, did a little repack, had a coffee and set off from the Plan de l’Aiguille gaining the start by 10.

Midi N face...Frendo just R of central couloir...

Midi N face…Frendo just R of central couloir…

Dry rock and great climbing led to the classic snow ridge by early afternoon.

Balancing up an awkward catwalk low down..

Balancing up an awkward catwalk low down..

Up below the summit rognon...

Up below the summit rognon…

We’d brought pits, mats and stove for a planned bivi but as there was a great ladder of steps, still bomber snow and David showing no sign of slowing down we pressed the fast pedal and headed up moving together then pitching out the left side of the rognon.

David at the last belay before the sun of the Midi/Plan ridge..

David at the last belay before the sun of the Midi/Plan ridge..

This was my first ever alpine climb in June ’91 and it was a real pleasure to share it again with David, who wont mind me saying that at 60 yrs old deserves a medal for his efficiency on the Frendo.. We had time for another coffee back at the Plan de l’Aiguille while waiting for the queue again…the evening seemed cloudy and breezy, so we were glad not to be out in it!

We finished our little trip together with a nice shady 12 pitch climb called “L’Ile aux razmokets” in the beautiful Berard valley, finishing with a coffee again…Thanks David for the great company in the mountains…

Like a sort of California High Country feel on the Tete des Mesures above the Eau du Berard

Like a sort of California High Country feel on the Tete des Mesures above the Eau du Berard

 

 

Monte Viso’s Horizon…

On August 8, 2014 by Tim Neill
Truly incredible vista from Viso...

Truly incredible vista from Viso…

Straight after sunny Wales it was back to mixed weather in the Alps. I was joining David for for week and an half of climbing…we’ve climbed together before and the agenda was to have a good time…

We imediately bailed from a wet and snowy Chamonix to the famous Monte Viso area. We left some friends at the roadhead in still challenging weather and walked to the busy Quintino Sella hut. Next morning we climbed the Punta Barraca’s NE spur…pretty trad to say the least….the hut guardian said “Nice choice”…then..”you’re the first and last to climb that this season”. We enjoyed ourselves.

Climbing behind a big tower on the E ridge...

Climbing behind a big tower on the E ridge…

Next morning had us on the classic E ridge of the mighty Viso….I can’t recommend this enough…1200m of super interesting mountaineering…forget the Hornli, this is great rock, 1 peg and varied terrain for AD. The view from the Maritime Alps via Ceuse, Ecrins, Mt Blanc, Gran Paradiso to Monta Rosa was crystal clear and mesmerising…must read “In Monte Viso’s Horizon” now! We raced back down the fun normal route aided by good steps in the numerous snow sections, back over to the hut for coffee, then down the trail and back to Chamonix.

Next morning saw us appropriately climbing “La Ballade des Gens Heureux” on the Grand Perrons. As ever the wall delivered perfect rock, great scenery and wildlife on the way. A great route and recently highlighted in a few “best of” guides.

Like cloggy on a misty day....

Like cloggy on a misty day….

Emosson from the Perrons chain..

Emosson from the Perrons chain..

We had a rest next day….

North Wales Hols

On July 28, 2014 by Tim Neill

Nipped home after Andermatt for a few days and hit some great weather and dry rock. We had a wee family play up in Ogwen.

Esme and Lou on Tryfan Bach

Esme and Lou on Tryfan Bach

The next few days saw a mixture of the esoteric, lichenous, wet, sandbag, and very loose in the company of Nick, Rich and Lee. We made it to Castell y Gwynt for a few belters, Gylder Fach for some shorties, Cyrn Las for a couple of days (2 return matches needed) and the mighty Wen Zawn….Nick did an amazing job on the ultra classic Mr Softy up the back wall…I didn’t….even the heavens opening didn’t deter the Bullock!

Here’s some pics of some highlights….

The Undercut, CyrnLas

The Undercut, CyrnLas

Rich on Glyder Fach

Rich on Glyder Fach

Tom on Edge of Time, Cyrn Las

Tom on Edge of Time, Cyrn Las

Nick in his element Nick's photo

Nick in his element
Nick’s photo

Then back to the Alps…..

 

Swissness

On July 20, 2014 by Tim Neill

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been based over in Andermatt working for the Joint Services Alpine Meet. This is my 5th time working with the crew from all the Joint Services Adventurous Training Centres and this year included a week of staff training in preparation for the final 2 weeks of course delivery.

The weather was a little challenging for some of the time, but always allowed enough options to have a great time. Andermatt is surprisingly central to a lot of Alpine terrain with plenty of options at different altitudes on snow, ice and rock. The real attraction is a huge variety of super granite ridges and spires (although many are spoiled by being bolted ).

Grosse Beilinhorn summit with Ratty and Ho G

Grosse Beilinhorn summit with Ratty and Ho G

Summit ridge

Summit ridge

Over the time there I climbed with lots of great motivated people…all with plenty of energy. When the weather allowed we climbed on the granite locally (this all clears very quick after poor weather) and during a particularly epic spell of weather we went to the Saas valley and made a Scottish ascent of the Lagginhorn and Jegihorn….never seen them so wintry!

Home run after 4000m success on a snowy Lagginhorn

Home run after 4000m success on a snowy Lagginhorn

Gloves on for the Jegihorn...normally t shirts in July!

Gloves on for the Jegihorn…normally t shirts in July!

On a couple of occassions we drove over the Gotthard pass to find the eternal sunshine in Ticino and enjoyed some fun climbing on the long slabs at Ponte Brolla.

Gneiss padding in Ticino

Gneiss padding in Ticino

Sunny granite action somewhere near Furka pass

Sunny granite action somewhere near Furka pass

Some of the best peaks and sunshine coincided on the Grosse Diamanstock from the Bachlital hut above the Grimsel Pass and the summit of Dossen via the Dossengrat from the Dossen hut from Rosenlaui. This trip has a particularly spicy hut approach ( a route in itself) and we managed to sneak back via the spring ski tour to make our descent more fun.

Approaching Diamanstock

Approaching Diamanstock

Gr Diamanstock and mountains out east

Gr Diamanstock and mountains out east

Dossenhut sculpting

Dossenhut sculpting

Rab on the Dossengrat

Rab on the Dossengrat

So thanks to everyone for being great company in the mountains and well done to all those who gained awards over their time at JSAM. Looking forward to seeing you all next year!

Oberland

Oberland

Mixed

On June 26, 2014 by Tim Neill

Since the Conville courses I’ve been guiding for Alpine Guides  ( http://www.alpine-guides.com/ ) locally in the Mt Blanc Range. I was climbing with Kenneth from Bergen, Norway introducing him to a few alpine skills, whilst getting acclimatised and getting in some mileage too.

Chere couloir

Chere couloir

We managed the Chere Couloir to its top on Mt blanc du Tacul, a traverse of the Aig Entreves and the mini North Face of Aig Toule (in some ropey weather) and the classic North Face of the Tour Ronde (currently in excellent condition), a traverse of the Perrons near Emosson in between some storms and a final romp up a very Scottish Contamine Grisole on the Tacul and taking a snowy Cosmiques ridge back up to the Midi Telephrique.

Tour Ronde first light

Tour Ronde first light

Middle Gully

Middle Gully

TRNF with Dent du Geant and Jorrasses behind

TRNF with Dent du Geant and Jorrasses behind

The Tour Ronde was a nice climb to make on my birthday, so got a little hug with the summit Madonna….

Happy birthday me....43...how did that happen?

Happy birthday me….43…how did that happen?

Thanks to Kenneth for a busy 5 days and good luck for the next few alpine climbs over the next wee while. Thanks to Rich and Al at Alpine Guides again for lining up a great week!

 

 

 

Chamonix

On June 26, 2014 by Tim Neill
The resplendantMont Blanc Range

The resplendantMont Blanc Range

Arrived back in the Alps at the end of first week of June to start a summer’s guiding work. Like last year I’ve been privileged to work a couple of weeks for the Jonathan Conville Trust courses based in the Chamonix valley   (http://www.jcmt.org.uk/)   Great 3 day intro courses to simple alpine skills …. basics of glacial travel, ridge craft and alpine top tips… we were blessed with mostly nice weather and made trips to the Mer du Glace, Col du Midi, Aid Rouges ad a few laps up a long rock scramble/climb called Via Corda.

Mt Blanc du Tacul

Mt Blanc du Tacul

It’s been great to see lots of the course participants over the following days making use of their course input and making some good climbs in the mountains….beaming faces, smiles and sunburn!

 

Ireland

On June 12, 2014 by Tim Neill
Aran and Mirror Walls, Burren

Aran and Mirror Walls, Burren

Maybe one of the best trad rock climbing trips ever….lucky to enjoy winning the gamble on the weather and share it with some great friends too.

Hadn’t been to the Burren since 1990, so have been itching to get back for ages to try some of the classics on the Aran and Mirror walls.

Dolphins

Dolphins

We climbed pretty much everything we could and a few still got away…..great climbing and even better scenery and wildlife. Over the 5 days we were there there weren’t any other climbers….would be great to take a wee trip back then head over to the Aran Islands…next time.

Lee on the Ice Queen

Lee on the Ice Queen

Nick on Refraction...

Nick on Refraction…

 

So after that we trucked up to the north Antrim coast and my all time favourite crag of Fairhead. There was a great climbing festival on there too so shared the crag with about 200 other keenies….plenty of routes to go around.

We started the trip with an amazing route called the X Men…gotta have the best hand crack pitch in the British Isles? Then warmed up we signed in for the Uber classic Northern Exposure…possibly one of the best E5s in the British Isles too….fact!

Lee getting some sun exposure in the evening on Northern Exposure...

Lee getting some sun exposure in the evening on Northern Exposure…

Setting off up NE

Setting off up NE

 

We had an amazing trip to the Head, trying to get every last ounce of juice out of our rapidly depleting arms and toes…fantastic.

Fairhead on our last evening

Fairhead on our last evening

So, if you get a chance to visit don’t hesitate and I think the Fairhead meet will keep on going from strength to strength.

I’m writing this from the French Alps…..just done my first week of summer alpine guiding and spent most evenings sport climbing trying to hold on to the fitness gained over the last few months of rock climbing too.

Looking forward to some big alpine climbing over the summer here.

 

 

Spring Rock

On May 22, 2014 by Tim Neill

After a long winter mostly away from home I’ve been making the most of not wearing crampons and dry rock. Straight after the Scottish winter, with a number of friends, I was keen for loads of mileage in North Wales doing a few “new to me” routes and also getting pumped on old favourites. With Calum Muskett we even managed to link up some of the biggest jugs in Wales on Gogarth Main Cliff to piece together an ace E1 which might become popular as it travels through the middle of the best E5s and 6s!

P1090831 (1024x683)

Main Wall….E1 5a/b

In that first week I managed to fluke a few E5s too….more through keenness than any fitness. This was balanced out with a holiday to the Gorges du Tarn with friends and family. A couple of weeks of steep airy climbing certainly helps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Esme climbing the same grade as her age!!

We visited the Gorges du Jonte for some stern longer routes amongst the towers and vultures. A very beautiful and testing place….

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Jonte.

More close to home while delivering the Alpine Lectures for the BMC ( https://www.thebmc.co.uk/alpine-skills-lectures-2014 ), Rob and I managed stacks of great climbing between venues. The highlight was a visit to Ogmore near Cardiff.

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On the amazing Spellbinder at Ogmore.

Tim on Fire

On Fire….another character enhancing Pat Littlejon experience!

Tim on Bionics Wall Edit

Climbing Bionics Wall at the rainproof New Mills Tor…

At home we’ve enjoyed a good dry run in the mountains and good conditions out on the coast….with a little fitness gained and psyche I’ve managed a few routes that’ve escaped over the years and a few niggles have been put to rest too.

nexus direct

Nexus Direct, Llanberis Pass

hanging (2)

Glastonbury (2) topo for si

A couple of photos of an ace route at South Stack called Hanging Out At Glastonbury…highly recommended…

At PYB I’ve been doing a variety of fun weekend work…lots of Alpine skills prep and some Big Wall training too, so plenty of variety…..

big wall

Aid climbing at the Grochan, Llanberis Pass

Next plan is a rock climbing trip to Ireland….we’re planning to visit the Burren out west and Fairhead up north….should be great!

Entente Cordiale….

On March 23, 2014 by Tim Neill
Rewarded with incredible neve on Thompson's Route

Rewarded with incredible neve on Thompson’s Route

 

My very last work in Scotland this winter was based up at the famous CIC hut on the Ben. The conditions of the previous week had been given a major readdressing by the weather over the weekend….high winds and rain! Every day was a forecast that would’ve challenged you to leave the valley at all…but when up at the hut everything seemed worth a look at least! I was working alongside Matt Stygall of West Coast Guides …. http://www.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/about.asp. Bruce and Matt are easily 2 of the most solid and productive Guides that work in the area for sure!

Hut life was ace and very sociable with a  team from Toulouse, France and a Glenmore Lodge team. Climbing, sorting kit, cooking, wine and whisky….simple pleasures.

Holding tired heads up with tired arms...

Holding tired heads up with tired arms…

It didn’t seem so bad on Monday morning so Stephen, David and I quested up NE Buttress via Slingsby’s Chimney for our first trip of many to the summit and set our compass for the abseil posts at the head of Corrie Leis.

The following morning was a re enactment of an article in the Perroux guidebook to the mountain where a French team joined us for a snowy Observatory Ridge….gone were the generous neve conditions low down. Soft fresh snow on slopey rocks for a few pitches saw us onto the classic snow crest and then brilliant snow up the final straight of Zero Gully.

Wednesday looked hopeless as summit temps were forecast high and winds of 100+ mph were set for early afternoon. A poke out the door in the morning saw us conclude a quick dash up Tower Ridge was a reasonable option before things got rough. The boys kept their foot firmly on the right hand pedal and we were back for lunch reasonably dry and happy.

Thursday saw the winter switch firmly back on and a late morning start with the promise of a late afternoon improvement. We were beaten back 4 pitches up Observatory Buttress by some wild spindrift and graupel, but saved the day with a quick romp up Tower Scoop and the Upper Tower Cascade and the familiar ground at the top of Tower Ridge. The late afternoon light gave us the lovely views we’d been so far denied.

Setting off into Thompson's Route Photo; David Bingham

Setting off into Thompson’s Route
Photo; David Bingham

Finally, Friday started at dawn with a race to beat the quickly deteriorating storm. We plumbed for No 3 Gully buttress and the classic ice of Thompson’s Route. The rising storm blew us up the hill to the summit and back down to the hut to grab our gear and get back to the real world.

Not a bad wee week given the epic weather. Thanks to Matt for asking me along and Stephen and David for the great company on the rope.