Wednesday, 17 June 2015

2 Wheels 6 peaks, Amazing downs with lots of up! Helvelyn MTB

I was pushing up hill. Again... lungs working over time, lactic acid burning my legs, humid, but at least there was breeze. 
5.10 shoes struggling to grip on the scree and loose rock.
Theres a noise, it sounds like pebbles in a washing machine, like a bag of spanners rolling in a bag. 
With my arms fully stretched out on the handle bars, forcing the bike up the steep tongue of Helvellyn Low man, i put an ear to the back wheel of my bike as it rolls. 


the bearings have gone.

Metal on metal. Rubbing, knocking, grinding.  

Not ideal really, Almost at the summit of Helvellyn, the highest point of the day, after that steep mountain sides, off-piste riding and technical single track tracks. Or so i had been told, really i didn't know what to face, i didn't even know if i could ride what was hiding on the other side... would it be too much, too hard, too fast, too steep and now the bearing is shot... Not much i can do really and i sure as hell ain't stopping after all the effort already invested. Lets just do it !!!

(Apologies for the lack of pictures, too much fun was had to think about getting a camera out).


I have seen posters and heard of doing this on a mountain bike. True mountain biking, the time where it does what it says on the tin. Biking an actual mountain. sounds good doesn't it.

Olly got in touch asking if i was interested. Of course the answer was yes, any adventure is a worthy one.
This one though i was excited about, it had been sat in the back of my head since moving up to the lake district. Looking out towards the mountain during trips at Whinlatter on the bike, thinking i should really be up there instead.

The day started at Glenridding, getting changed in the street and building the bike, I'm really not shy, if needs doing then just do it, its only a quick flash after all. Olly soon joined and we headed out to Dokray, a small road hike that allowed us to chat and catch up before the hills took our breath away.

Soon enough the climbing started up towards the Dodds. Things started okay, but soon the Great Dodd Bog, earned its name and swallowed up the wheels, slow going and hard work... but the treacle style riding was soon over.

Theres not a lot to say about the Dodds, rolling hills, riding up and quick downs, it sort of feels like your always going up as your down the next point so quick then faced with a long slog.

Eventually after summiting all the Dodd peaks we headed to White side then Raise. By this time we where both use to riding the loose rocky paths and we where well warmed up, even over taking walkers up hill with our bikes on our backs. A smug feeling when you see their surprised face.

We reached the top of Helvellyn, not stoping too long, as we where excited about what was to come and when it began, it happened. Steep grass sides, almost skiing rather than biking, amazing feeling throwing your body around the bike just to keep on. Every now and again a drainage ditch would appear, needing you to fling a wheel in the air before a trip over the handle bars. We soon met up again at Grisedale tarn. Arms throbbing, forearms sore and out of breath... i never realised how hard it is when your so involved with dancing around the bike.

A quick drink stop and we went for it. The technical fast steep track down the valley to the bottom. Something new to me a new style of riding, thousands of possible lines all with potential for a bad ending, it was more of a fight than riding, purely trying to stay on the bike and not of the edge, i bounced along, drop after drop, rock after rock and slalom after slalom...

It did happen though, i got flung of in full site of Olly... not very cool. Especially when theres a spike of rock to bounce over head first. But i stopped quickly and luckily was well padded. Used to going over the bars, i jumped back on and kept going.

Its hard to describe the ride and the day...

It was hard, really tough,

Not just physically but mentally. Always thinking, ALWAYS switched on, 10 moves ahead.

All i can tell you, was that is was good... really good.

To sum it up we passed an american group. One woman exclaimed "WOW, that is EXTREME".

Really made me laugh, i almost fell of my bike. Really to me and Olly it was just fun. An idea we made happen. I wouldn't call it extreme, to some it is, i guess things are all relative to what your used to, but to us, it was a good day well spent.

Thank you Mate, top idea !!!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Walking Wetherlam, along with the ML syllabus

Brisk Winds and Biting cold, Hail stinging the face and neck. Looking up to see the cloud rise and swirl, the valleys below disappear. Sudden realisation of the need for navigation.

Wednesday Night and i am on the MWIS website checking out the apocalyptic forecast for the following days walking. Lightning, Thunder, winds and rain. But who cares really, if your planned to go up in the hills, thats just that isn't it?
Thankfully the same view shared by Frances and Miranda, who where joining me for the walk.

9:30am and we all meet with perfect timing at the walna scar carpark, nice start to the day.
The previous night me and Miranda had discussed a route plan, over a beer in a Tapa bar in Keswick and now was the time to put it into action.

From the car park we would head towards levers water then cut through under the mine workings to the the far valley that would take us up to Wetherlam summit via red dell. Soon after that we would head to Swirl How then the Old man. Ready. Set. Go.

The days aims where navigation and the ML syllabus; Frances looking at starting the scheme, and Miranda who is soon due for assessment (more than ready to pass it!).
We worked up gently from easy nav to harder points on contours, each time miranda taking time to explain her thinking to Frances, i could leave the girls to it and go for a cup of tea i reckon, but i enjoy being out too much and geeking about over flora!

We make our way up to Wetherlam summit, the weather still not arrived, warm(ish) dry and overall pleasant. Very confused by now but hey lets go with it, we can still see!
After topping out on Wetherlam to amazing views we heaved on to Swirl How, stopping briefly for lunch, by now the winds pick up... oh.
We continue on up the steep side form the saddle, to the top of Swirl How, Now the wind really picks up... hmmm.

As we leave the cairn the weather turns, cloud engulfs us, soaking up every view. PERFECT ! no really perfect situation. After talking about navigation in good weather, we can now see a reason for it. Suddenly now it seems worth while learning, great change for Frances even though the wind is a tad annoying. For Miranda its a good reminder about weather, i turn to her and shout across the wind to quickly scan and take in every sight and build the mental picture of the path ahead to help with navigation before it all goes.

You might find me mad, but now the winds up, the clouds in, hail bouncing of our coats, I'm now really enjoying it, the feeling and awareness of the power of the mountains and how they change, yet again more evident. I really do enjoy it.
We carried on to the old man summit, now we see people for the first time all day, checking the time we decide to head down the tourist trail to make sure everyone can get back home with enough time.

All in all a successful day i believe, feeling better about my leader skills as an ML and being with Frances and Miranda was great company in the Mountains, I'm happy to of hopefully helped them both.

Good luck with your assessment Miranda! Definitely in your reach.                                                        

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cloudy day on the Old Man.

Yesterday saw me another day closer to my MIA training. So close but will i manage it this year?
Thursday will see me with another day out on the hills, this time teaching navigation rather than just guiding a walk. So I'm feeling positive about making a training by the end of summer.

Monday 25th May, sat in the carpark at the top of walna scar road waiting for Bryn, Stuart, Hebe and Xander for a days walking.
After a long night in manchester city and an early wake up, left me with 5 (maybe less) hours of sleep and a trip from the sunny south to a rather damp and drizzly south lakes. Many would see this as a terrible start to the day, but really I'm happy and excited just to be out in the hills. Bag packed, waterproofs on and a posh fork from the hotel sat in my rucksack after being given a pasta pot without anything to eat it with. The fork was also given to me, I'm not one for taking things as i am too guilty about even walking away with soaps and pens.

 It wasn't long till the walk was on the way, and the day followed with a rather steady pace but with lots of talking among us. The route we took was to walk to 'Levers water' and head up the less popular tracks to the Old Man, although this includes a steep hike out from the water, you see more terrain including waterfalls and sink holes, plus you avoid slogging on tourist paths.

It was a strong walk from all involved, sadly after reaching the top of the steep side, the low cloud took over and the view was rather limited, non the less everyone was in good spirit and we carried on the gentle rise to the top of Old man. For a bad weather day it was very busy with families, lots of teenagers sulking and the odd fell runner flying by.

Seeing as Bryn and Stuart are Boulderers, we came down via Dow crag, telling them that this is an amazing bit of rock that rises up from the tarn and the routes on it even more amazing than you could imagine. After descending rapidly on another steep slope, sods law made sure the crag was fully covered in cloud that started perfectly at the base of the rock. Weather 1 unimpressed James 0.
I did my best to paint a picture of the crag and the climbs while we all looked at the lovely grey cloud. Needless to say we briskly walked back to the cars, to be greeted with sunny views of everywhere but Coniston.

I would like to finish this post of by wishing my best to Stuart and Bryn, who between them have a lot of events coming up this summer that will take, stamina, patience and a good mind set. All the best and i hope you succeed !

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The End and The Start

Its one of them moments.

Inspiration that has come from talking, thinking and now doing.

Finally writing a blog, a personal insight into the strange and odd workings of my head.
What better way to do this but on Christmas day, miracles happen, and here i am writing... its fair to say I'm not academically charged, but lets give this a go, hopefully pictures and brief recollections of the adventures ahead will do the talking for me.

Its the end of 2014 and the start of 2015 and the start of my blogging.
The year in brief has been brilliant and has hopefully secured my place in the outdoors.
Countless trips to the Lake District and North Wales, has seen my climbing skill and level of safety multiply ten fold. A lot of this is down to a good friend Olly Roberts, a newly qualified and young MIA with a true passion for climbing, i couldn't of got to this point without the input and hours spent hanging of rock faces and scouring the weather forecasts with him.
2014 has given me many professional outdoor qualifications, a hope for one day to become an MIA and who knows maybe i might even make it to become a guide, or maybe thats just a dream i will hold on to for as long as possible.

Outside of the climbing world, my level 2 paddle sport coach assessment was passed along with becoming a Technical terrain MTB instructor, its been a mad 2 months including the change of weather at work... double waterproofing is always a pleasure.

The week ahead including new year will hopefully bring the first mixed ice and rock route of this winter in the lakes, and a trip skiing/touring over new year. Thats it for rambling on with this post.

Happy Christmas, get writing your tick lists, its winter !!!