31 March 2009

Wear and Tear

8 fingers, 3 split.
1 camera, image stabilisation unstable.

This is not a good combination of damage to deal with. As I'm trying to do something to distract me from the desperate condition of my fingers I start taking a few photos only to find my lens has taken on a life of its own.

I'm happy enough with some of the resulting photos but really want to get the camera fixed, that will have to wait till i'm home though!

La Memel

Mike almost ticking Belle Gueule Assis having done the stand.

Jeff keeping Zen



27 March 2009

Free time

It has been a while since i have done a bouldering trip and i'm surprised it's feeling a bit like getting in to a new sport but I'm totally enjoying the lifestyle and feeling good from all the time outdoors and exercise (even finished some projects). It's slightly Paul's fault i'm still here as his van is a good for sitting in and reading guide books and his info on and psyche for quality problems is outstanding. With a bit of rest day enthusiasm today I investigated two areas that were new to me down near Nemours, at one area it felt like i was the first person to visit and the overgrown boulders made it feel a bit more like Magic Wood than Font. At the other venue I might give one inspiring highball a go, maybe even on a top rope first! will see how it goes without first.....

Less fun has been finding why i can't boulder so much (and one of the motivations for climbing with axes) with finger trouble as my skin can't handle long periods of bouldering.

There has been some rain about over the last few days (useful in some ways as i can rest my fingers) but a bit of a shocker as we have been spoiled by about 2 weeks of cool, dry, blue skies.

Looking for boulders to clean

20 March 2009

latest font photos

Photo by Andre Hedger

Bizarre Bizarre assis quickly ticked by Andre after a flash of the stand

No such luck for Paul

Paul quickly slapping an ascent of Rataplat at Isatis

Richard on Rataplat

font acclimatisation

Now that i have been in Font for a few days I have started to get in to bouldering mode and check my finger tips every couple of minutes. Yesterdays best problem included a bit of shuffling fingers about on slopers before cutting feet free to swap heel hooks, similar style problem today but if i can do the traverse start i'll be shouting (and have an icy tick). I think the best thing is lunches last a long time and today most of it was spent laying in the sun, it's also good to have people to talk to between attempts on problems. Slightly different to mixed climbing!

Over the last couple of days i have been working on some quality 7's that have been pointed out to me (thanks Paul) but right now I don't feel as strong as when i was here this time last year. This is probably the result of last seasons mixed routes being more physical than this years aesthetic atmospheric routes. It's great getting back in to bouldering and i expect Andre will be also psyched when he gets out here soon. I hope my shoulder will hold up to the strain long enough for me to get home to a physio.

6 March 2009

Spring Cleaning

so this is the end of my Alpine winter holiday.

After a flying visit to Cham that established it was snowing and getting anywhere near any climbing or skiing was going to cost an arm and a leg I felt that heading west is my best option. Hopefully it will not be snowing in font and I will be able to find my rock shoes in the boot of my car?????

While in Chamonix I made a trip to Le Fayet (The Dry Spa – dry tooling crag) with Nick and Charlie, although I had visited this place before I had not climbed there (I don't think i even looked up as i was avoiding the muddy puddles). It was still unpleasantly wet and muddy this visit but I was pleased to find that 3 of the 4 routes i did were pretty good (of course the best line was the one that climbed a natural feature). And the other route?? A hard, loose and insect infested failure.

The Zoo (nr. Sallanches) also made an appearance on the end of my axe and I confirmed my opinion that it's a great place to get strong. Sadly strong was not on my agenda and after the two warm ups wind and snow increased and motivation decreased to a stop 1/3 of the way up the blatantly good Hippo route.

Now at the end of a good trip with some interesting routes to remember I am burdened with a tick list that includes: nearly all of the mixed around Kandersteg & Freissinieres. The Zoo. Drylands. Law and order. Matador (another Hippo style half arsed non tick!!) and thats not even considering Stanley. OR the other end of the Rockies. OR the other end of North America.

oh yea, and the competitions.

So that was my best winter ever (actually last winter was pretty good) and now i just hope the summer is half as good.

Bring it on............

2 March 2009

via Busteni & Bern

A diplomatic sack

Apparently the invitations required to obtain a visa are only available if you have a slightly more permanent Swiss residency than me! Or you get organised and get an invitation in advance or visit the consulate in your home country??? know the system.......

1 March 2009


Driving out of Kandersteg for the last time this trip it felt like I was putting an end to my [natural] ice climbing season (I had decided to make a trip to Russia and enter an ice climbing competition) my thoughts were with the Russian visa applicartion form as I reached the top of the hairpin bends in the dry road . I was distracted from the visa by the rattle of ice falling from the wheel arches but then found that the steering was rediculously difficult to turn, jammed ice? .......... suddenly I remembered the frayed alternator belt. Some of this belt had split off on the way to Dione and now it had totally gone taking the power steering with it. So the Russian Consulate would have to wait while I got this replaced. Steering the car was ok, if a bit of a workout, but after a couple of corners the brake pedal turned squat thrust heavy and needed a bit of handbrake assistance. What else is powered by the alternator belt??
oh yes, the water pump. As it was downhill from Kandersteg I could turn the engine off and coast almost to the garage. 120 Francs and an hour later the car was running again.

For the last couple of days in Kandersteg I had been doing a bit of skiing and also made a visit to Adelboden (a nightmarishly busy resort) but during these days I had totally sussed the skiing. Easy, approach corner, lean down hill, whip skiis round pivoting on balls of feet, catch tip of ski on something and scrape up snow using sunglasses.

By the time I arrived at Bern in my repaired car it was 1400 and found the Consulate closed at 1200. So hopefully a visa and flights can be arranged on Monday and I can get to Paris to fly on Tuesday???

Best of all though was a day on Elementarteilchen. An atmospheric route right from the start with stacks of steep climbing. Thanks to my host Markus Stofer for giving me the crux pitch. I was also lucky also that the top pitch was 1 hit ice as my body was complaining after the days efforts!!

Seconding P3: the first mixed pitch
(P1 led to screw belay. P2 second; steep ice simul to belay)

The crux pitch (bolt on lip pre-clipped)

More P4

A special topout from P6 with burning limbs in the sun.
(the left hand finish was taken for P6)