Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Revision stops play (sort of)

Its currently exam time at uni, so I'm in full on revision more (or as near to it as I get). I finish exams this Friday (3rd May), so after then I will hopefully get out on rock as much as I can.
To say I haven't been climbing would be a bit of a lie. Since my last trip related post I have been to Spain on a field trip and down to Yorkshire.
As I was on a field trip in Spain I didn't do very much climbing, although I did manage to boulder around on the occasional exposure we were looking at and climbed on some nice conglomerate on a beach near Almeria on out last day.
After getting back from Spain I decided I should try and live in the library for the next 2 weeks. I got a bit of climbing in whilst out on runs round Blackford Hill. Id run to Agassiz rock, climb for an hour or so, then run home again. Last Wednesday I decided I would see how working from home went, so I drove back to Yorkshire for a few days. It didn't go well. I ended up going climbing at Red Goat climbing wall in York a few times and managed an evening out at Almscliff. I drove back up to Edinburgh on Saturday and stopped off at Back Bowden Doors in Northumberland on the way past for a quick boulder. I managed to tick Darth (f6c) and Under the Spell (f7a) among some other things.
On my return to Edinburgh I found a new pair of climbing shoes sent to me by outdoorkit.co.uk to review. They are a pair of Scarpa Vapour Velcros. I have managed a quick session down at Agassiz rock in them, but other than that I haven't really used them. A review should hopefully appear here in the not too distant future.
Anyway I should get back to working again!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Edelrid Creed Review

I think winter is pretty much at an end now so I have decided to review some of the gear I have been using this season. I will start with my harness. I have been using an Edelrid Creed harness for the past 2 seasons and despite a few minor flaws I really like it.
Edelrid Creed
I replaced my old Petzl Crux harness as it had started to wear through and after trying a few on I decided on the Creed, partly because it was on sale, partly because its orange but also because it did everything I wanted a harness to do.
It's pretty light weight (380g apparently) and has adjustable leg loops, with elastic bits too, and a single waist buckle. There are 4 gear loops. For more of the technical specifications just check out the Edelrid website.
Creed showing flexibility at North Berwick Law (Photo credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
Comfort: This harness is really quite comfortable despite the lack of padding around the waist and leg loops. It never develops pressure points after hanging off a belay for an extended period of time. The harness is very easy to adjust allowing it to fit over multiple layers in winter or even when its tops off weather in summer (it does happen occasionally in Scotland). One problem with the Creed is that when it is tightened there isn't really anywhere for the end of the strap to be tucked away. This isn't really the end of the world but it does look a bit rubbish. Another bad point to add in is that the little rubber tab at the end of this strap came off. Again not the end of the world but I'd rather it didn't happen.
Creed racked up in winter mode in Glen Coe
Climbability: This made up word means how easy it is to climb in. The answer is very. As I've already said it is very comfortable to wear but this comfort doesn't limit movement. I am still able to get into a figure 4 or get a really high foot without feeling my harness is stopping me. The gear loops are also plenty large enough to carry a full rack.
Weather proof: Harnesses don't really need to keep you dry but they do need to not absorb water and then let it freeze giving you an icy slab to carry around. Luckily for the Creed it appears to be made of a non-absorbent material.
Other features: Some other things on the Creed which stand out are the very thin belay loop. You would think that this would wear out pretty quick but no. I have had a daisy chain larks-footed to this for the past 2 winters, and occasionally through summer, and it still show no excessive signs of wear. There is a haul loop on the back of the harness but it is very small. I have never had the need for a haul loop before but I figure a very small one isn't of much use. For everyday climbing I doubt this will effect you and in the event that you do need one it is there. There are two caritool slots, one on either side between the gear loops. I found these to be a bit too loose and allow the caritool to turn around. I however suspect this is a problem with the caritools I have. I use Black Diamond ones, but I suspect the larger Petzl ones may work better.
Creed in drytooling/competition mode at the STS Finals (Photo credit: andrewrutherfordphotography.co.uk)
This harness is really good and despite its lightness stands up to everything you can throw at it. Like with everything there are some faults but one big thing in its favour is its price (about £75 depending on where you look). I give this 1 thumb up.
If you want a well priced, light weight, do anything harness this is the one for you.
Outdoorkit.co.uk have the Creed with a 10% discount.

Friday, 5 April 2013

First Days of Summer

The clocks have now changed to British summer time which means that winter is rapidly reaching its end. Fortunately however the Ben is still holding onto plenty of good ice!
I saw a blog post of someone who climbed Orion Face Direct on Wednesday and it looked really good. I checked the weather and luckily for me it was looking good for Friday. Off I set on Thursday night bound for Ben Nevis. I had chosen to go alone on this one. I didn't want a long day, and you sort of have to if you pitch things, and I just wanted to move nice and freely through the mountains at my own pace.
Tower Ridge from Coire na Ciest
Green Gully
I arrived at the CIC hut at 1.30 am, set up my bivi gear and tried to get some sleep. This didn't work very well so after a very restless night I finally got up at 4 am and set off to climb something. I opted for Tower Ridge (IV 3) as there should be a decent track to follow (it was still very dark) and there really shouldn't be anyone else on it to get in my way.
The snow on the ridge was amazing and there was good ice were it was needed. I climbed quite slowly as it was dark and I was still feeling a bit tired. I found tower gap quite challenging and I can understand why it catches a lot of people out. The last part was quite easy and I topped out at 5.55 am. My plan was to now down climb Tower Gully and then climb back up Smiths Route (V 5) however there was a large cornice on Tower Gully and I didn't feel like tunneling it. I also found out later on that Smiths Route had a big cornice at the top, so I'm glad I didn't try it.
I ended up going down Number 4 Gully. My main reason of coming to the Ben today was to try Orion Face Direct (V 5) so I made my way to this to hopefully avoid the crowds before it got too late. I was first on the route, despite being quite closely followed by another party. Orion was in stonking nic' with, for the most part, first time placements. The cruxy traverse was a bit thin but nothing that lanking through couldn't solve. For the more adventurous climber the tracks going up the face may have deterred from the experience but I was quite glad of them, being on-sight and soloing.
Orion Face. You can just make me out on the first pitch. (Photo Credit: Roxcool)
I climbed quite slowly on this again and ended up topping out at just after 9 am. I made my way back down to the CIC hut to pick up my gear and head back to the car. I made it back to the car just before 12, which isn't bad seeing as I climbed 1200m of new ground and notched up 8 stars on my way.
During the day I tried to spot things that looked "in", so here is a list.
Point Five Gully, Zero Gully, Hadrian's Wall Direct and Green Gully all look fat and in very good condition.
The Minus Face routes may well go if you are delicate and ballsy enough.
Number 2 Gully Buttress looked ok too.
There was unfortunately a large patch of snow missing on the traverse above The Curtain on Ledge Route.
There are more than this, just go and look for yourself. Of course the two routes I did are "in" too.
Ice conditions are amazing. Go out and enjoy them! It may be your last chance this season.
Coire na Ciste