Monthly Archives: December 2012

God help us.

Thought I saw this deer today, running across the fields below Beacon Fell…………

………..maybe not. I did see deer but not the red nosed variety. Nobody else about, in view of the dreadful conditions underfoot. Walked out of Longridge through the fields but soon realised how wet they were when I came across foot deep water. We have however been much luckier, in this region, than many, in avoiding serious flooding of properties. Must be dreadful to have your house inundated with water. The Met Office say that it has been the wettest year since records started., but not necessarily a harbinger of doom for next year.


Carried on up the fellside with wet feet, knowing that there would be refreshments available in the wonderful cafe at Beacon Fell visitor centre. The car park was packed, people obviously were wanting to stretch their legs after the Xmas binge. Sat with a warming cup of coffee.Image

I was fascinated to read about the tagged flights of Betty, the Hen Harrier from Bowland. She had flown hundreds of miles up to Scotland and back in search of a partner but then sadly disappeared in North Yorks.
It has now been  confirmed that she has been shot and perished in Yorkshire. Having previously watched these beautiful birds in Bowland I find it deeply depressing that this is the fate that may await them. Why??

This comes in the same week that MPs are wondering about trying to revoke the hunting with dogs legislation. Hopefully this will never happen. There should be no encouragement shown to the shooting /hunting element of our society.

Meanwhile in the States there has been another tragic mass shooting, this time involving many young children. My thoughts go out to their families. Come on now Mr. Obama surely there must be a way to tighten up on your gun regulations. Are the National Rifle Association real?

So it all seems a little, if not a lot depressing.  Following on from the joys of Xmas I’m not happy about the state of our world. Maybe the ‘Turneresque’ view of the clouds could improve things as I walked back down the drier lanes to home.locaklviews


But no —

–hanging in the wind was a little reminder of the selfishness of the dog owners of our  world. God help us!!!

Tenerife – Climbing under Mt. Teide.

It’s the weekend and we want to avoid the crowds. The forecast is still a bit mixed with cloud and possible showers so we are putting off our trip to climb high. Our last visit to the gorge of EL MARTELA was cut short so we decide to give it another go. On the way in we have a look at a smaller crag on the rim – but decide it wasn’t worth climbing. So down into the gorge with the sun still on the left hand routes. This warmed the rock and made the place feel a lot more friendly.

Rod started up a 20m buttress which gave continuously absorbing climbing at 5+  Likewise a similar rounded route on the other side. Two other climbers appeared and guess what – they were from Manchester! Finished the day with a couple of awkward 6a s led by Dave. The climbing here reminded us of Borrowdale with the volcanic rock and vegetation.

Mencey de chasna  V+

Well satisfied with the days climbing.

Sunday was a fantastic day, hot and sunny from the start. We therefore motored up the mountain to the climbing area  below Mt. Teide at 2000 metres. The scenery was spectacular with every form of volcanic feature and Mt. Teide [3,718m] brooding above us. On arrival we popped into The Parador hotel to enjoy a coffee on the sunny balcony. The white stuff on Teide is a pale ash  – not snow. Various map boards  showed long distance paths across and over the island – gave me some ideas for next year!!

 Mt  Teide

Mt Teide

The climbing  of CANADA DEL CAPRICHO was the first area developed for sport climbing on the island. The rocks are a labyrinth of weird shaped towers behind the Parador. The pyroclastic rock is much rougher than the other areas we had climbed on. Well made paths lead one up to the rocks and boulders.

Canada del Capricho

Canada del Capricho

Little paths wind in between the formations and we took some time to orientate ourselves. We were attracted to an obvious layback corner which we identified as  El Diedro del Clavo Rojo,  5+. This gave steep climbing up large flakes – classic easy laybacking.Tenerife Climbing The wall to the right gave a much harder 6a+ up  very steep hold-less rock – thank heavens for bolts. You can see it on the above photo if you click to zoom. This area was quite shady and cool in the morning and attracted other climbers including our Canadian friend. Moving out onto the south facing rocks we had difficulty locating  our next route in the maze. By now it was surprisingly hot considering the altitude and I was able to top up my Vitamin D levels whilst having lunch. Not a cloud in the sky.

We eventually decided on the last climb, a 30m 5+ Placa Kantosa. This went up rather broken rock to start with spaced bolts but finished on a white slab/block in a terrific position. All the while Mt. Teide acting as a backdrop.

Classic View

Classic View

Placa Kantosa 5+

Placa Kantosa 5+

Tenerife Climbing

The Top Block

Ropes down and a pleasant walk back to the car in still warm conditions. On the drive down across the floor of the volcano and on twisty roads through the forests we had glimpses across the sea of La Gomera and Gran Canaria with their wreathes of white cloud.

The next day we fly home, but not till the evening so another short day’s climbing is possible. Because of it’s ease of access we chose Arico again, as do lots of others! It’s a very warm sunny day when we arrive. We had spotted a good line on the right on our last visit and walk straight to it. Unfortunately it is occupied by a group of 5 Spaniards who are top roping everyone up and down accompanied by much loud banter – they stay on it for hours – we retreat.

Climb a steep, pocked, sweaty wall typical of this gorge and find it hard work in the hot sun. Bypassing the happy Spaniards we discover a good looking line further up the gorge. This turns out to be one of the better routes we have done in the holidays. A steep groove leading to an awkward move round an overhang to land on the top slab – all great fun.

Monkey 5+

Monkey 5+

Crossing over into the shade we climb a rather poor route and decide to pack up for the day and enjoy the sunshine in the gorge with hawks flying overhead. Meet up with the Mancunians again, they seem to be enjoying themselves and have another week on the island.

We drive back to the hotel for a last swim before packing to leave. Have thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Tenerife – the climbing has been varied and relaxing. We have only really scratched the surface of what’s on offer, there are lots more crags to discover. Certainly would return for the settled weather of mid winter.Tenerife Climbing

Guess what – it was raining in Manchester when we arrived home!


Tenerife climbs part 2.

The next day looked a little dull as we walked into the restaurant for breakfast. So we were happy to prolong the morning’s repast. After muesli, fruit, nuts and yoghurt there is a lady who cooks the loveliest of omelettes.  Dallied over croissant and coffee. Pocketed a roll and banana for lunch!



After yesterdays dampness decided on going back to Arico for some more open gorge climbing. Now we know the area we were able to make straight for a decent sector on the right in the morning sun – Sus Villa. Climbed a couple of straight forward V’s to begin the day. Both were fairly steep but on good positive pockets in lovely volcanic rock.  Click on photos  for a closer look.

No hay colega sin taco  V

No hay colega sin taco     V

  • By now Dave was wanting something harder so we crossed to the other side of the gorge to Sector Vivac. To start we climbed a lovely slabby piece of rock  at about 5+  –  this was a combination using the easiest parts of two 6b routes up a steep buttress and gave a  very satisfying route.

    Tenerife Climbing

  • We followed this with a couple of excellent 6a’s – one was curiously called ‘Sick English’
Sick English  6a

Sick English 6a

The day had changed and there was rain in the air – so back down to the sunny coast for a swim before dinner.

Friday promised better weather and we headed up to a new area, EL RIO, another gorge but more open. The walk in was short and soon we were looking down at the rocks. The reservoir below was empty.

El Rio Gorge

El Rio Gorge

As we walked in the cliffs to our right looked very impressive and frightening, giving mainly high 6’s and 7 climbs. But the volcanic rock looked superbly sculptured.

Tenerife Climbing Bypassing this desperate area we made our way on the path up the gorge to sector El Acebuche  and climbed three pleasant Vs on a quarried like wall. Another pair of climbers arrived – a Dutch lady and her Swiss partner. Then a Canadian girl whom we had met yesterday turned up alone. This was typical of the  multinational ambience of the climbing in Tenerife.

Rod on Las Cazoletas V

Held the rope for Terrie, the Canadian girl, as she cruised a couple of 6a+s.  She was escaping the Canadian winter  by travelling in southern Europe and climbing where ever she found herself. Good for her!

Found the guide book a bit difficult to follow as it kept changing the orientation of the route numbers as shown on the topo. This was a criticism of all the areas in the book, probably needed better editing. But the guide always got us to the crag and the numbered photos were good, so no big problem.

Finished the day on a good 6a, La encrucjada. A new route downloaded from the web before we arrived.

La encrucijada  6a

La encrucijada 6a

Walked out quite satisfied with the day’s climbing just as showers blew in.

No problem at the coast, the sun was shining for the usual refreshing swim back at the hotel pool. Realised how close the planes are when coming into land above the hotel.Tenerife Climbing Enjoyed a local Tenerife wine with our evening meal. Perfect end to the day.

First days’ climbing in Tenerife.

  • Wake up, wander down for breakfast and walk out to a beautiful clear sunny morning with the temperature already 20degrees. Must be dreaming!  Then I remember the the four and a half hour flight to get us here. Getting immediately lost in our hire car, in the dark, on the the strange road layouts from the airport.There was a quick rush for a bite to eat and then sleep.
  • The apart-hotel we have booked into proves every bit as good as the brochure said. The three of us have a two room apartment with kitchen and bathroom. There is a large restaurant providing us with buffet breakfasts and dinners, why cook when on holiday? Our terrace leads straight onto the pool area and catches the sun. We are situated in the middle of some golf complexes on the SE corner of Tenerife –  never expected to be here.Instead of a pre Xmas climbing trip to southern Spain, the weather can be dodgy in Dec, and encouraged by a newish guidebook we have opted for a look at the climbing on the Island of Tenerife.
  • Image

The first morning we headed out to an area that promised easy access, good climbing at all grades with sun or shade all day. Parking up we realised from the number of cars that everyone thought the same. ARICO was a rocky gorge composed of volcanic rock. A short descent into the gorge and climbing was possible on both sides.

Arico upper gorge.

Arico upper gorge.

Reading the guide book there were some low grade climbs on sector Los Quintos, a buttress on the right a short distance up the gorge.  Quickly identified and with the sun shining my enthusiasm was high for the start of our climbing.  OK they did look a bit steep and polished.

Chose a IV+ [La Guarra] and immediately found the climbing hard. The wall was vertical and one relied on small pockets to make or not make progress.

La Guarra

La Guarra

The adjacent V- was no better and we ended up top roping the next V!  Not a good start.  Made the usual excuses of jet lag, undergrading  and polished popularity. Then moved quickly up the gorge to some easier angled V grade climbs which restored our confidence in the grading system. When it was too hot on the right side we moved over to the shady Pena del Lunes sector where a  longer V+ pocked wall completed the day.

A quick drive down the motorway brought us back to the hotel just as the sun loungers were being vacated. The outdoor pool turned out to be heated so the evening swim was refreshing and became part of the holiday routine.

Evening swim.

Evening swim.

Having a kitchen was ideal for brewing cups of tea whilst we relaxed before dinner – must keep up the British tradition. The restaurant was quiet, most people seemed to be speaking with an eastern European accent. We have become experts over the years at an evening grazing hotel buffet suppers. Start with a bowl of gazpacho soup, a plate of salad before a little fish or shellfish course, a selection from the main meals and to finish some fruit or flan. This hotel produced a better than average selection and had a chef cooking meat and fish every night. Not sure all this is good for the climbing.  Tenerife Climbing

Tenerife Climbing Tenerife Climbing

So expectations were high the next morning when the day dawned sunny and warm. After a good breakfast we headed up into the hills to the village of Granadilla where there is a climbing shop, Tenerife Outdoor, which promised topos of new areas. We eventually found the shop which turned out to have an amazing stock of climbing and walking gear. Who buys all this stuff? The pleasant lady provided us with a printed download to the new crag and information on others. We felt obliged to make some purchases.

Armed with the ‘guide’ to LA MARTELA  gorge we drove further up the mountain to a parking spot. Small cairned tracks, through wild scenery, led us to the lip of the gorge and we dropped into its depths. This area is much more enclosed and composed of a more compact, smooth, basalt type rock. We left the sun behind and it was quite cool down here.

Tenerife Climbing Somewhat chastened from yesterday’s warm up climbs we started on an easy IV+ [Carnaval Amargo] and all went well. Next up was the adjacent V+ which proved a bit trickier but excellent climbing on the smooth, hold-less rock.

  • Tenerife Climbing

    V+ climbing.

The day had moved on and we had not noticed the dark clouds above [Its always sunny here!] so when we felt the first few drops of rain we settled under an overhang and ate lunch. No one else appeared. Expecting things to improve, weather wise,  we sat on and gradually everything around us became wet with no hope of drying out. Admitting defeat we packed up and climbed out of the gorge contemplating on the seriousness of being down here in a real deluge.

When we arrived back at the road we could see we were under a nasty little black cloud producing the rain. Making the most of the afternoon we motored to another crag not in the guide book, Jama, near the village of El Roque. When we found the rocks they turned out to offer short routes in the the lower grades. For another day maybe.

Up the wall.

Looks chilly.

                               [Please click on pics to enlarge.]

So the days are shorter and recently much colder, there has been snow on the Bowland Fells, and the thought of climbing outside is well down on the list.

Wet Rock

Wet Rock

I need to try and keep a bit of climbing fitness before a trip abroad before Xmas. Nowadays we are fortunate to have a large number of dedicated Climbing Walls in the area. Looking back a few decades ago ‘climbing walls’ started to appear in sport centres and converted squash courts. They were fairly basic but provided a place to go on winter’s evenings, after work, to do some traversing and short problems. Keeping climbing fit was almost secondary to the chat with your mates and a visit to the pub afterwards.

Two good venues at that time were Guiseley  and Altrincham, ropes weren’t needed as the height was only 10 or 12 ft and good landing pads were in situ. Both were a fair drive on an evening so we were pleased when a wall was built in one of the large rooms at West View Leisure Centre, Preston and opened in the eighties by the legendary Pete Livesey, if my memory is correct. This was secondary to other uses at the centre and there was often physical conflict with the volley ball teams and fencers!

There has been great progress in the last 20yrs or so in climbing wall design and the Preston wall has undergone a gradual evolution and  now taken over the whole of the original room. There are now high leading walls, areas for top roping and an extensive overhanging bouldering wall. As climbing standards have rocketed the walls have had to provide more and more difficulties as well as the  basic learning areas. Climbing walls now cater for all and have introduced a whole new generation to the ‘sport’. The popularity even has led to the renaming of West View Leisure Centre……..

climbing walls

Routes from F3 to 8a are available to cater for all abilities. There is a well featured 6m wall with ropes in place for top roping.

Top roping

Top roping

The 10m high wall gives good leading practice, having to clip in the pre placed quick draws as you climb. One is never going to fall far! Just lower off and start another route.

Lead climbing

Lead climbing

West view was a purpose built sports centre but may other climbing walls make use of adapted older facilities. There are a great number in our area.  To ring the changes we do a circuit of climbing walls in the NW and these include a Church in Warrington, an old milk drying factory in Kendal  and a well preserved 1ooyr old cotton mill at Stockport. By the nature of their original designs each gives a different climbing ambience.

The vaulted ceiling and windows of the church at Warrington …..



The walls at the extensive Kendal factory facility now reach a dizzying 25m high! But equally there are small dedicated bouldering rooms, including one for the kids.

25m at Kendal.

25m at Kendal.

Awesome Walls at Stockport are housed in the engine room of the vast Pear Mill used for cotton spinning until 1978.

Pear Mill

Pear Mill

Again because of the size of the building the leading walls are about 24m high.

climbing walls

So after all that stamina training I should be ready for a good week climbing in Tenerife – you can only stand this cold weather so long!