Thursday, February 19, 2009

John on Jubilee Climb

Hamish Dunn, John and I headed up to Cloggy in welsh freeze. We had a bash at Jubilee Climb a summer Severe, graded V in winter. Pitch 1: was a fairly straight forward traverse on vertical grass. Pitches 2, 3 and 4 climbed a mixed corner. I led pitch one and set off up 2. At the top of pitch 2 I got spat off by a hard move. Exhausted I offered my lead to Hamish. He took it and I lowered off. Hamish then climbed up and linked pitches 2, 3 and 4 together in one 55 metre pitch. A fantastic lead. This video shows John seconding the top of the long pitch and nearly having a sense of humour failure with the spindrift.

An experienced welsh winter climbing, a couple of days later, advised us that the climb would be VI 7 in Scotland!

At this point it was late in the day, so we decided to abseil off, rather than have an epic in the dark. Little did we know that we’d finish the day getting a ride down in a helicopter after being first on the scene to an injured walker who’d fallen to the bottom of Clogwyn Goch from Snowdon’s summit ridge.

Jubilee Climb - Cloggy from Tom Ripley on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who's who?

So theres all this talk of these cool sounding people doing all these amazing things, but who are they? We'll put some names to the faces and explain how their ugly mugs came to be on the British Milne Land Climbing Expedition's books.

In the summer of 2008 Sam Doyle was guiding a commercial expedition in Greenland, it was while wandering around the fjords he thought there was definitely some scope for a spot of climbing. The seed was planted, now all he needed was a plan and some people. Sam is now designated head honcho, expedition leader, Le Grande Fromage as it were.

Sams first port of call was his regular climbing partner, someone who had previously and quite willingly agreed to participate in any daft idea Sam had ever had. (there have been a few) The idea of a Greenland climbing trip came to land on Miles Hill's toes in the form of a text detailing the the pros and cons of the music selection of a gay club in down town Reykjavik. Oh, and something about some climbing. Always keen for some banging Icelandic tunes, oh and some climbing, Miles was in.

For the remote areas of Greenlands east coast two is a very small number, four would be ideal. Since getting to Bangor Uni Miles sought out the local climbers and from the BUMS at the uni John Swain stood out as being reliable, fit and motivated. Half an hour with a lap top, lots of tea and some pictures of Greenland was all it took to convince him this was what he really wanted to do with his summer.

We still needed a fourth though, John suggested a friend of his who he thought would be interested. 'Interest' doesnt do Tom Ripley's mind set justice. From the moment Greenland was mentioned Tom was not only on board but working in a frenzy to secure the sponsorship needed to undertake this expedition. A valuable find!

And then there was four, the British Milne Land Climbing Expedition.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recent exploits and events, could even call it training!

Well, now the dust has settled after a heavy couple of days i thought i'd reflect back on the recent events and exploits of the 2 young guns of the expedition, John and Tom.

Tom and Hamish beneath Cloggy, Jubilee follows the left to right groove on the wall behind them
With snow on the ground in Bangor it was simply a sign from the winter gods that lectures should be missed and climbing should be the order of the day. Tom made his way down, in typical student fashion, and successfully hitched to North Wales from the Lakes on the Friday, and met with myself and a third, Hamish Dunn, for some weekend winter antics.

Tom starting up the crux pitch, we reckoned about VI, 6.

6.30am and the alarm was off and the day had begun. The days objective was Jubilee climb on the imposing cliffs of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, a 'grade 5' mixed masterpiece which gave us plenty of scope for lots of swearing and a large doss of faff. With Tom's early departure from the very first move (he moved both his axes at once, silly sod) the tone for the day was set. The first pitch went smoothly 2nd go, but then was the 'ard bit, a innocuous looking corner some 50m long, it was Tom's lead again. After a superb wack Tom returned to the belay from the crux and the honours went to Hamish, who, after some impressive power grunts and expletives, powered up the crack and onto the sanctuary of the belay. 2 pitches in 4 hours isn't bad going....?! With light fading it was time to abseil away and save the route for next time, we returned to the ground in high spirits and started to plod out (after 4/5hours of belay duty John's feet weren't much use so it was back to power walking). This lasted a good 5 Min's or so as we came across a rescue incident. After another 3 hours sat in the snow, we had 2 rescued casualties, 1 dead body, 3 knackered climbers, and 2 fucking cold feet! But we did at least get to ride in a chopper for free! Eventually got to bed at 1am or so.

Just after the casuality was lift to hospital.....knakcered!

Sunday was a day of rest and reflection, all three of us were pretty wiped out after Saturday's antics, minds were racing and everything ached. Not to mention on small uni room full of 3 guys wet kit!

The climbing snowman? Spindrift was pretty bad by the time i topped out!

By Monday is was definitely time for more full bodied abuse, so we plodded in to the Black Ladders, this time accompanied by rock-jock George Ulrich, even he couldn't resist the lures of welsh winter . Hamish and I made a B-line for the uber classic Western Gully (V,6), whilst Tom and George didn't want to wait, so raced up Icefall Gully Left-hand (IV,4) instead. Western Gully was superb, we include all the direct options (did this by accident, as we were following Steve Long and Chris Parkin!) and definately got good value for money. The honours went to Hamish who beasted up the harder pitches with minimal fuss, including the infamous crux slab, which was said to be in tech 7 condition!!! Not bad for a grade IV cold climb?! The car was reached just as it got dark, so not a wasted second, even managed to get Tom to his train on time....just.

Hamish on the direct finish to Western Gully (V,5)

By Tuesday the team had wittled down to just Hamish and I, after an alpine start (9.30am wake up) we headed to Idwal and ran up the Screen (IV, 4). A nice little route to end an awesome couple of days. Bring on the rest of the winter, just without the rescues please!
Cheers for now,

Recent exploits...

Welcome to our new blog. Just a brief post to let you know what we’ve been up to in the last few weeks:

• In between the tedium of being a lifeguard Tom has been spending a fair amount of time trying to raise funds/acquire gear for the expedition. He last went climbing a week ago and had a cracking day out on the Black Ladders with George Ullrich.

• Sam is currently is Sheffield with a broken van. Its engine blew up just south of Glasgow quickly putting a halt to any winter climbing they had planned.

• John’s gone bouldering today as all the snow in Bangor has now melted. He had a cracking day out on Western Gully last week though.

• Miles’ life is pretty hectic, in between filling out BMC grant application forms, weekends away with the TA and going climbing, he goes to Uni!