Take a look at what's inside the new look September issue of Climb Magazine. This issue features a fantastic FREE doublesided centrefold poster. Great articles on Durance Valley, Tremadog & Helsby plus lots more. Climb is available to purchase from all WHS stores and other major newsagents, specialist outdoor retailers, as well as now being available in Tescos. You can subscribe online at www.climbmagazine.com or pick up a copy at your newsagents or at your local climbing shop. We've also got a digital teaser of the magazine this month at www.climbmagazine.com
The Durance Valley: Top Sport Crags - 10 of the Best
The Durance valley makes power climbing here a soft summer recreation, with beer intervals! 300 days of sunshine a year equals a wobbly paradise.
This valley stays a lot drier than the majority of the Ecrins Massif.
In the words of the European crag climber's bible, The Jingo Wobbly Europe guide book: It was precisely these words that inspired me to relocate our family from the Cotswold hills to the Southern French Alps in 2003. And I am happy to say this area has just got better and better each year as new crags, sectors, routes and multi-pitch playgrounds continue to be developed year on year. Currently in the Rolland family's excellent guidebook Escalade en Brianconnais - Haut Val Durance-Queyras there are 75 crags. Most of these sites have at least two or three different sectors and each sector normally has between 10 and 20 routes. Factor in six different rock types:limestone, granite, conglomerate, gabbro, quartzite, and gneiss - plus the aforementioned 300 days of gold each year offering year round cragging, and you can begin to understand what this place is all about. The grade range is exceptional from three metre high 'family-friendly' crags just for children, to F8c+s that will put most of your Spanish F9as to shame. And for the safety-conscious the quality and state of the routes are exceptional because these crags are systematically 'maintained' by the FFME.
So you will find solid rock and an abundance of well positioned and well drilled bolts. Forget Bus Stop Quarry, this is a proper sport climber's paradise
Tremadog - Touching...Void by George Smith
The best time to climb on Tremadog's Vector Buttress?
Well if you haven't done any of these routes, the answer is undoubtedly now.
If, however, you've done all the ones you can, then it's arguably time to do them all again.
Some, I think you will find, deserve an annual visit.
Some parts of North Wales's original roadside crag, seem to work effectively as a mysterious bramble maze, where even those of us accustomed to the 'tree-mudrock' experience, can become inexplicably lost.
But Vector Buttress avails itself more readily, being bigger and composed of a myriad of interesting looking facets and features, above which, are the smooth walls and unlikely looking finger cracks we have all seen in prehistoric black and white photos - as though it had always been meant for climbing.
Geologists tell us that the cliff is gradually becoming steeper. This tends to be played down by first ascensionists for obvious reasons.
In fact the more one stares up at those grooves and bulges the more utterly compelling the place becomes. Do not resist...
I was bundled into the backseat and safely packed in between duvets and sleeping bags. My job was to keep the vibe alive by supporting the ghetto blaster from my middle back seat position and ensuring that as the batteries died, I rapidly replaced them with fresh, seemingly submarinepowering cells.
The ancient, white Pequod rolled into motion and we set off west from York in search of adventure and adrenaline. Several hours into the journey and with the M62 safely behind us we were about to cross the border into Wales. With the sun soon to set, yet still high in the sky, the muddy estuary out to the right sucked in flocks of birds and the dying daylight while high up on the left a crag emerged unified in colour and form from its forested feet as though it grew from the very leaves, branches and roots below.
'What's that?' I bellowed over Bring it Back.
Mike turned his head and fixed my view for too long for someone who was supposed to be controlling our vessel and replied 'That'll be Helsby; it's supposed to be a lot better than it looks, its green tint has apparently
increased over the years, whether that's a result of the cleaner air act, climate change or emissions from the
fertilizer plant over there we can't be sure.' He slowly rotated his head back to the front and I wondered for a
moment if he was actually a robot. Impressed with his encyclopaedic knowledge and his ability to overtake using eyes in the back of his head, I decided not to ask any more questions, at least until we slowed down a bit.
Gear - Bombproof Packs
My old friend John North told me about a time when his thenemployer, Karrimor, the one time Lancashire based manufacturer of technical climbing and trekking rucksacks and cycle bags, was commissioned to make what could have
been called a bombproof rucksack for the legendary Don Whillans. It may have been for his bold attempt on Masherbrum which was followed by an even bolder motor bike ride all the way back from Rawalpindi to Rossendale, or as with so many such stories about the man, it may not have been. It was for some trip or another somewhere anyway.
So, on the appointed day they showed him a sack made from heavy duty stout cotton canvas with military type webbing straps, metal buckles, and leather fittings all sewn and riveted together. It was designed from an original pack made to cope with the demands of the Outward Bound Schools.
Don apparently cast a jaundiced eye over it, paused and squinted across at his assembled pensive audience. I imagine a shrivelled roll-up was gripped between his lips.
'Aye,' he said, 'I'll have one just like that... but twice as big!'
So was probably born one of the first UK purposemade bombproof mountaineering sacks. Eventually it developed into a regular product from Karrimor called the Himalaya. I had one, it was huge, you could bivvy in it, it was completely waterproof and breathable (still made from thick canvas) and more or less indestructible. On the other hand, it was pretty desperate to carry (no frame and no hip-belt in those days) and when it was wet it froze and became so stiff
that it was almost impossible to open or close.
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