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Siniolchu Rock Needles Exploratory Expedition 2014.

Having been collected by Jeep from Bagdogra Airport, we spent one night in Gangtok ( the capital of Sikkim), before driving to Mangan, to a homestay for two nights, while Raja bought supplies and hired porters. A rough and exposed track took us to Beh, and the end of the road. Three shortish day’s trek along the 1921 Everest expedition approach track, the same one that Younghusband’s invading army used to access Tibet, and also the route that Buddism came into India, brought us to Tolung, through magnificent primeval jungle, where we spent an uncomfortable night camped among a herd of wild yak.
The main path goes over the Kishong La, but we were bound for the Zumthul Phuk, and 2 exhausting days bushwhacking through a rhodedendron filled gorge, brought us to base camp. Our 15 porters were paid off at this point. They were a cheerful bunch, and how they got the loads through such difficult terrain was a miracle. The next morning was scheduled as a rest day, but we walked up above the camp to discover a beautiful lake, unmarked on any maps, with a glacier flowing from the base of Siniolchu calving icebergs into it.
To the left the Rock Needles towered up into the encroaching cloud. Back at camp, we killed a snowy afternoon by climbing a gully above base. Toothache at night.
The next morning was clear, so we carried loads up to ABC , around the lake, and up the glacier to a spot just below a big buttress at the base of the needles. A vast amphitheatre had opened up around us, festooned with Trango Tower type peaks, none of which looked possible for ordinary mortals. Probably the most amazing place I had ever seen, and such a privilege to be the first climbers ever to see it. Euphoric, we headed back to base camp. It clouded in and snowed again. Spent afternoon and night in bag with severe toothache. Will have to descend with Mindrup and Jack, and try and find a dentist. Shook piles of snow off the tent and packed up. Surprised that Keith also coming down.
Got out to Mangan in two very tough days. Abscess improved as we descended. Got course of 2 antibiotics as an alternative to extraction, and took a taxi to Darjeeling with Jack and Keith, as going back up not an option. Keith went home, while Jack and I kicked around Darjeeling for a week, before being joined by Jimmy, Kevin and Ursula. All except Kevin went off to trek the Singalila Ridge for 3 days, arriving back at the same time as Raja, Thendrup, and Martin. The weather had improved, and they had a few days very successful exploration of the area, reaching 2 new cols, discovering 3 hitherto unknown glaciers, and ascending one minor peak.
After a further day in Darjeeling, we took the overnight Darjeeling Mail Train to Kolkata, where I did the Sujat Mukherjee memorial lecture, had dinner, and flew home.

St Columb’s Wall Update

Building of the new facility at St Columb’s Park, which will house the climbing wall, is well under way (photo below).


The opening date is currently scheduled for March 2015, with the climbing wall installation planned for November/December this year. Depiction of what wall might possibly look like is below (note CCC classic practices of soloing, and abseiling on ropes that are too short).

View_6_Climbing_Hall share

Here are a couple of other photos of what the wall will look like, thanks to Paul Dunlop for passing them on.

wall1 wall2

Three PM

Three PM
On Friday 26th. In Fermanagh, assisting Bill to dredge the remnants of the Arney River ( after a month of drought) on his sponsored swim in aid of cancer research. He was aided by Anneke in a kayak, as Valli and I searched the river banks to see what had happened to them. Please give generously via My Donate………

On Saturday 27th. Probably still in a pub outside Croke Park with Finbarr, before the All Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipp. Very fast, skilful, game, but the winner, I think, was as usual Diageo.

On Sunday 28th. Coming off Crohane above L.Guitane in Kerry, to scramble over the spectacular wee peak of Binnaunmore and back to the car. The route we got lost on with Keith and Sandra- but fortunately I had no MLs navigating this time, just Finbarr ( who thought he was in Mayo).

On Monday 29th. Having done the Eastern Reeks in mist and drizzle ( the Cruach Mor/ Big Gun/Cnoc na Peasta section is great, even when viewless, wet and slippery) we met local guide Pearse Kelly with a client from Derry descending the zig zags.

On Tuesday 30th. On top of Torc mountain, with views clearing on all sides, after a wet morning.

On Wednesday 30th. On the Beenkeeragh Ridge in glorious sunshine, having soloed Howling Ridge with Finbarr and Jack Bergin in wet, but improving, conditions.

On Thursday 1st Oct. Having coffee with Valli in Collooney on the way home ( thats more sensible).

Late summer trip to the Alps

John Holterman and I headed to the Chamonix area for a weeks climbing at the end of August. Given the poor weather which had plagued the Alps this summer I was not holding out much hope for getting a lot done; but as it turned out our luck was in and we had a week of good weather and climbing.
Over the first two days we climbed the Cosmiques arête on the Aig du Midi and Petite Aig Verte, both short routes by alpine standards but good climbs and perfect for acclimatization.
Our confidence was building so next we opted for a longer more committing climb; the Forbes arête on the Aig du Chardonnet. We left the Albert Premier Hut at about 2.30am and with a bit of night navigation we managed to cross the glacier and find the start of the route. We were the only climbers heading to the Forbes; most of the other parties were going to the Migot spur which seemed to be a very popular climb.
All went well on the Forbes, it is a magnificent route and was in great condition. The steep snow slopes and the knife edged snow arêtes offered lots of excitement and exposure. We were back at the hut by 12pm were we checked in with the guardian before a walk on tired legs to the ski lifts and back down to the Valley.
The following day was to be a rest day but the weather was good so we took the cable car to L’Index and climbed the SE ridge, taking our time and enjoying the views across the mountains.
We were both tired from our exploits of the previous days but wanted to make the most of the two remaining days.
After considering our options we settled for the Frendo Spur on the Aig du Midi. We started from the Midi Plan station at about 12.30pm. The plan was to get as high on the route as possible before dark and bivy; then get an early start the next day which would give us plenty of time to finish the route before the last cable car left the Midi station for Chamonix at about 5.30pm.
All started well, the forecast had shown rain for the morning but this did not appear. Route finding was reasonably straight forward and we were moving at a steady pace. Unfortunately the rain came later in the afternoon in the form of a thunder storm, which pelted us with rain and hail for a few hours, slowing our progress in the difficult conditions. After debating our options we decided it was better to go on as retreat was going to be difficult. As the afternoon progressed the conditions improved and we found as comfortable a spot as possible to spend the night.
We started at first light, glad to be leaving out cold bivy and be moving again. Due to the conditions the day before we were not as high on the route as we had hoped, but we had plenty of time so we were not concerned at this stage. As the route progressed, the technical difficulty of the climbing increased and some fast moving parties, mostly guides with clients began to catch us. As we entered the early afternoon we still had a long way to go but were keeping pace with the other climbers on the route. We eventually put the last of the rock behind us and moved up the steep snow arête and slopes as quickly as we could. It was now 4.30 or later and we had a steep ice pitch in front of us before we would reach the snow crest below the Midi station. There was a palpable sense of urgency in all the groups pushing as hard as they could to get back to the Midi.
As I pulled over the crest and pushed on up the final arête I could see the cable car pulling into the station, my legs and lungs were burning but we had to keep moving. It was 5.15pm when we entered the tunnel of the station; we crammed all the gear into our bags and ran for the cable car to join the queue along with other harried climbers and a few remaining tourists. We had made it, just.
On the cable car ride back to Chamonix we could finally relax and enjoy the sense of reward from completing such an epic route with some of the other climbers we had met along the way.
Once down we headed back to our accommodation, washed, ate and packed our bags in readiness for heading home early the following morning.

Classical Revival

Classical Revival
Geoff and I climbed this *** route yesterday as a photoshoot for a new book on the mountains of Ireland by Gareth McCormick. We dropped a 100m rope from the top for Gareth, and climbed the route in two pitches. It was more vegetated than I remember, but still a classic HVS. Geoff was more ecstatic than I have seen him for a while. The 2 hour each way trudge into Belshade did little to dampen our spirits in Biddies afterwards.

Guidebook link to Classical Revival here.

Well Done Rodders!

Congrats to Rodney for winning Coach of the Year award for coaching the North West Youth Climbing team.

Derry Journal article here

From the MI website:

Rodney Moore has been awarded Coach of the Year at the 2014 Derry People of the Year Awards. Rodney coaching efforts have helped many young Derry climbers to get involved in climbing and to push their personal standards.

Rodney who himself is a very active climber runs the North West Youth Climbing Team with the help of a great group of equally able and enthusiastic climbing coaches. Michael Cooke of the North West Talent Project has been instrumental in supporting Rodney and his team over the past number of years.

Malin Headcase and Brasil nuts.

Still somewhat euphoric after Owey, Geoff and I planned to take advantage of the good weather and lack of employment to get out climbing somewhere/ anywhere. We were joined by apprentice layabout Anis, still struggling to reconcile his training with Glenmore Lodge, with a day or two out with Alfie. I dont think we helped the situation any!
A glorious day at Malin Head soon turned sour when we found all the rock oily, and in the shade, with no immediate prospect of improving. Carbolic Crack was apt, and Malin Headcase’s lower section best avoided , though the upper half was alright, well no worse than usual. We gave up and went to Dominic’s Bamba cafe for coffee and solice.
Should have gone to Dunmore as it doesn’t face north, so we did. Anis had been there, so we diverted to Brasil Rock at the last minute, and were rewarded with sunshine and dry rock. Alhambra ( Geoff says 3***) Hustler( Geoff says technical for a HS), and Broadbinns Emporium ( better than it looks apparently) finished off the day nicely, and suddenly it was all worth while.

Owey September 5th – 7th

The weather continued to do as it was told so Marty, Valli and Alan paddled over on Friday evening while I caught the boat with young Dhonail at the helm. Also on board was Mauritz, a young German hitchhiking surfer that Valli found.
Saturday dawned windy and cloudy but dry so once Ivan arrived we all headed off. A bit reluctantly at first, thinking there may be a bit of shivering to be endured. By the time we reached the fluted wall area though the sun was shining. Marty and Alan picked Promethius, a great looking line. A real classic and a photographers’ dream, a three star route probably. If it was in Cornwall this would have climbers all over it. Ivan and I headed down to the seaward end of the opposite side of the zawn and put up a couple of new lines – steeper than they looked! Lovely and warm in the sun though and out of the wind. The day ended with a mass ascent of Darcy, which is again a real classic up a fine slab, worth at least 2 stars.
Sunday was another sunny day and we headed back to the same area. No new lines were climbed but Alan did explore a few lines. so still plenty to do on the Island. Ivan and I climbed Promethius, posed for photos and confirmed its classic status. A bit freaky going down to the hanging belay but ok once the solid cams in place!
Marty again paddled home with Ivan and Karen, while I guarded the luggage. We left Alan and Valli to enjoy another evening A great weekend and I can’t wait to get back, even if it may be next year now.