Monday 28 February 2011

Lofoten Islands

A couple of months ago Andy (and some other folk) got this email:

Subject: Lofoten winter 2011
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 13:17:37 +0100
From: Marius.Morstad

Got you guys recomended from Ian Parnell, because you all where new route maniacs, the deal is one week in Lofoten free food and accomondation and boat transport to some off the more difficult spots to reach by traditional means, 20 foreign climbers and 20 Norwegian climbers, this is an elitist event so there is no sponsor tents or slideshows. Just climbing. Hope to see you there . mariusm
Map of Norway
Lofoten invitational 2011
Norwegian alpine club invitees you to a climbing meet in the Lofoten islands with the purpose to go back to the roots, new routes, peaks that hasn't hardly been climbed on during the winter before, if lucky; good Scottish conditions, if unlucky; just conditions. Committing climbs where you have to find your way up and down on your own, little information available, approached by boat, Point of departure; at the shore in the morning, picked up in the evening, you would need to bring an adventures spirit, to be independent and self-sufficient, to be able to find your own objectives.
Dates 28/2-6/3-2011
Place: KabelvÄg, Lofoten Islands , Norway

Now as you can imagine he was PSYCHED! 
With the Norwegian Alpine Club sorting out food (quite an expense I can tell you!), transport and accommodation, it was looking like a goer so I spent ages finding flights and booking them and then Mountain Equipment, bless their souls, said they'd help with flights aswell. What a result!
So off they went yesterday, Andy and Lukasz (can't wait for the pics) travelling together and meeting up with Nick Bullock and Pete Benson. They haven't had much information other than the email and a one line response to their messages saying they wanted to go along telling them they were in! So the collective was a bit nervous before they set off wondering whether they were going to arrive at some deserted airport in northern Norway. Luckily all went well and the last I heard late last night was that they'd been picked up and were being driven north..........into a zone of no communication it seems! Oh and it was lashing with rain - hope they haven't taken Fort William weather with them.
Andy has some of Mountain Equipment's 2011/12 winter kit with him - looks brilliant - mostly I'm waiting for the Jolly Green Giant suit photos - that's right a full, bright green, hard shell suit!
I'll keep you up to date if I hear anything.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

What has he been up to then?

The last couple of days Andy has been out working with Jonathan and Rupert and not taking his camera out to play - which doesn't make for an exciting post!
Monday they headed for Stob Coire nan Lochan and quickly realised on the walk-in that so was everybody else and their dog. So Andy decided to go and check out the crags on the east face of Aonach Dubh instead, a useful venue when Lochan is busy. No-one else there - perfect! So they climbed Eastern Slant (III/IV,4) but as the guys were looking strong they did an alternative steeper top pitch which Andy reckoned was a bout V,VI. Made a bit more exciting by some poor snow just pulling over the top of the crag which resulted in Andy teetering about on his front points whilst removing his gloves and shoving them in his jacket and then crimping over the top!

Tuesday was a day for the Ben, and again with it being half term lots of teams out and about. Jonathan and Rupert had requested a Grade 6 experience so never wanting to disappoint they headed for Route 1 Direct, and climbed the first couple of pitches. The temperatures rose as the day progressed so, after abseiling off Route 1 it was a good opportunity to learn some skills taking adventage of some ice in Waterfall Gully to look at screw placement and abolokov building. However, when a lump of ice landed between Andy's shoulderblades he decided it was time to retreat!

The big news this week up north seems to be all about the annual "is it winter condition debate?". Andy had heard a report that people had been seen attempting Sassenach and whilst pleased to hear someone was trying to repeat the route was doubtful that it was actually in condition, so when this photo appeared on UKC and the ensuing thread, he was pretty gobsmacked by the blatant summer conditions! Yes it's really steep and doesn't get as plastered as some routes, but he'd waited and retreated from the bottom of the route on several occasions before making his ascent. The reports seem to say that the team pictured haven't completed the route and even if they had not sure they'd be brave enough to claim it?!!

Monday 21 February 2011


Ruth spent a rainy afternoon in front of the TV yesterday watching the Track Cycling World Cup which was taking place in Manchester at the National Cycling Centre and told me to check this out - don't watch it if you are a bit squeamish!

 UCI World Cup 2011 - Awang's Splinter Update from British Cycling on Vimeo.

Disappointing week....

It seems the boys didn't choose the best week to be in Scotland, conditions have been far from ideal. Either too much snow, too much sun or lashing rain and warmth have thwarted any attempts on the routes they had in mind. So there has been quite a lot of walking and not a whole lot of climbing. Some great pictures on Lukasz's blog  from the last week - none of which involve climbing! Also have your say on the two Cathedral shots - which do you like best?

I, on the other hand have just come back from a mini break to the Costa Blanca where conditions were perfect! You can imagine how that has gone down in comparison to the wonder of Fort William on a rainy day!

View from my Calpe apartment - better than Fort William high street??

Just in case you haven't seen - check out the Mountain Equipment blog too - some fine Lukasz shots of Andy in lycra - a highly entertaining afternoon of driving along with Lukasz hanging out the boot of his car whilst trying to avoid Andy crashing into the back produced these shots.
 "Andy, we need to do it again, in all these shots you are smiling, it needs to look like it's hard work." Lukasz Warzecha.
"That's not smiling. it's grimacing!" Andy Turner
Needless to say the artist got his way and it definitely looks more like a grimace.

Andy is now working for 3 days with Jonathan and Rupert - think they were heading into Lochan, I'll keep you posted on what they get up too.

Monday 14 February 2011

Back up north...

Andy has headed back off up the M6 and is once again on the hunt for some routes. He is climbing with Nick Bullock for a couple of days and Lukasz is also around in case there are some top photo opportunities. Today was a wasted walk into the Buchaille, with warm soggy snow they decided that it wasn't worth getting to the bottom of the crag. It seems they have basically been on a hut tour, a brew stop at the SMC hut under the Buchaille and then a walk up to the CIC Hut on the Ben for another one and a look at what's going on up there.

Lukasz has some photos on his blog - I particularly like the one of Andy sharpening his tool!
Check them out here.