Last weekend saw the annual outing to Kendal Mountain Festival.
So, KMF…a delightful smorgasbord of speakers, films, trade stands and superstars all oggled by the usual ramshackle band of beanie wearing, down jacket donning enthusiasts and armchair critics! (We include ourselves in that description so please don’t be offended!!)
Dave and I attended on Saturday (big thanks to Clive Allen at Ascent Marketing for arranging tickets for us) excited by the possibility of seeing some top notch psyche material, meeting new companies in the marquee and generally enjoying ourselves. One thing I love about KMF is that it always seems to bring out seldom seen friends and this one was no exception. Obligatory chin-wags about latest adventures, happenings and in some cases mis-happenings (!) all add up to a super weekend.
After obligatory morning coffee we headed to the marquee meeting representatives from Patagonia, Custard Climbing Creations, Viewranger Mapping and Clif Bar. We were bowled over by the reception we received, all of the companies being very positive about the site and getting involved with the reviews. Dave managed to set a new record on the Patagonia stand, hammering the nail into the log in a blistering 2.7 seconds using a Chouinard hammer! Legend!
Following some refreshments we headed to the movies. First up was Al Lee’s award winning The Prophet which captures “Penrith pin-up” Leo Houlding’s realisation of a 10 year El Cap free climbing dream. Alongside Jason Pickles (Britain’s manliest man?!) Leo takes us on a journey up Yosemite’s most sought after granite bastion. Success comes in the end but being pipped at the post by the 5.13d crux crack, Leo and Jason have to return to endure October storms before the full free line is theirs! The hardest route they’ve ever tried is now the hardest route they’ve ever climbed?
The Pinnacle was next and to be honest was not one I expected to enjoy as much as I did. Robin Smith and Jimmy Marshall are legendary in their Ben Nevis new routing prowess! In 1960 they climbed six new winter routes on consecutive days including the sublime but serious ice face of Orion Direct. As if that was not enough, they made the first one day ascent of Point Five Gully as well as setting out on an enormous “rest day walk” to the pub which resulted in them being arrested, all in the name of a set of dominoes!
The Pinnacle follows mixed-master Andy Turner and all-round mutant, Dave MacLeod as they recreate this magical week. Using modern tools and equipment Turner and MacLeod are obviously impressed by what went on half a century ago. It just goes to show the level that Smith and Marshall were operating at that time. Eye opening stuff!
After a couple of false starts, “Swiss Machine” Ueli Steck, finally graced the screen. Now Ueli is someone I hold in high regard. The man is a monster, his speed soloing feats blowing anything previous right out of the water! Fitness and mental control that I can barely comprehend. But super motivating at the same time! The Eiger North Face, Matterhorn North Face and Colton-Macintyre on the Grandes Jorasses, all pretty much sprinted! You don’t run in crampons…well actually this guy does! And he’s sponsored by a bathroom!
So suitably psyched, Saturday ended and Dave and I parted. Off to Glencoe for me and a rendezvous with the Manbeast…
4.30 am and the alarm howls. It feels like the middle of the night but this is Scottish winter climbing and day breaks early. Time to get up! Coffee and muffins for me and a “Bombay Badboy” Pot Noodle for Manbeast and we stomp into Stob Coire Nan Lochan. Arrival at first light and objective A is black, probably climbable in rock shoes with bare hands! Not exactly winter! Manbeast looks relieved so it’s off to objective B…
Scabbard Chimney is a classic V 6 and looked like a suitably wintery target. Three pitches of chimney choked with crud (sugary snow, poorly bonded neve and rimeless rock!) gave superb and interesting climbing, including some technical torquing and bomber turf until a couple of rope lengths of snowy swimming (moving together) plonked us on the top. A stumble down some seemingly unstable slopes (thankfully not too unstable) in Broad Gully followed by a saunter back to the car, meant coffee and cake in the van by 2 pm.
Another superb day but possibly could have had that lie in after all!
Gear for the route
- Petzl Nomic Axes
- Petzl Dart crampons
- Grivel Spring Leash
- La Sportiva Trango Evo Extreme boots
- Black Diamond Xenos Harness
- Metolius Inferno Wiregate quickdraws x15
- Wild Country Rocks 1-10
- Black Diamond wired hexes
- Black Diamond Camalots 0.5 to 3
- Black Diamond ATC Guide
- Assortment of slings and screwgates
- Petzl Meteor III helmet
Clothing for the route
- Thorlo Mountaineering socks
- Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Tights
- Icebreaker Merino crew
- Patagonia R1 top
- Arc’teryx Gamma AR pant
- Arc’teryx Venta SV jacket
- Arc’teryx Fission SL belay jacket
- Black Diamond Impulse gloves (leading) and Specialist gloves (seconding and belaying)
- Patagonia Beanie
Winter Conditions and Weather Links
- Needlesports: A great round up of winter conditions links, blogs, weather and the crucial SAIS forecasts.
- UKClimbing.com: Winter logbooks and forum