Christmas Chaos – In the thick of it?

Well everytime there is some kind of travel chaos I am usually a million miles away on the hill or cliffs somewhere trying not to get to involved, and think just how hard can it be. Now on the flip side I am wondering the same. Although I still don’t know if my flight is going to be leaving or not!

I have been glued to the BBC website, and Heathrow has cancelled all short haul flights, although it makes no mention of long haul flights. I also don’t know whether I will be able to get from the airport to Bournemouth if I actually make it back!

More annoying than disruption os the sheer volume of people at LAX. I am currently at my hotel, but last night at midnight there were still thousands of people at the airport both coming and going. I suspect that today it is going to be even worse. I am meant to fly at 5pm (LA time) but will have to wait and see. On the plus side there was a free shuttle bus to my hotel.

So far on my epic journey home I have been on four flights, stopped off in three time zones, crossed the equator and stayed in two hotels. On the plus side because I wasn’t getting in a hire car I turned the first two days of the journey into a an elaborate pub crawl.

Snow Choas

Waiting for a miracle

Should we discuss/analyze/speculate or otherwise pick apart Accidents?

Rescue in Frey!

I recent read a thread on UKC. I was very bored and drunk in a bar in Santiago, and sadly there were no stewardess to look at. Anyway the threads starter stated a firm belief that WE shouldn’t speculate over the causes of accidents, and the well quoted argument that it helps use avoid future accidents just isn’t a valid excuse.

I have to disagree with this stance on several levels. First on a professional level, it is now common practice that through a forum like the Heads of Outdoor Centres, AMI, BAMG or other networks that near misses and accidents are reported and share, precisely for the common good and to help avoid further similar accidents.

“It is the risks you don’t know your taking that are likely to kill you” old instructor proverb!

Even near misses are discussed at length at virtually any outdoor centre where I have worked. Where an open and frank discussion explores possible ways to avoid the incident in future. I really think that many people would be surprised at what some people see as near misses in a teaching rock climbing setting, the important thing is, is that the instructors are staying current and learning about mistakes that have happened to other and taking those lessons and applying them to there own work.

The classic analogy is an iceberg. 9/10th of it are hidden under water, these are all the near misses and close calls. For every one fatality, there is a presumption that there will be 10 very close calls and up to 100 or more near misses. If we only look at the 1 fatality then we totally miss the opportunity to learn from those 100 or more other incidents, one of which may have prevented that one fatality.

To me it is a no brainer, if I apply that to my work life, why shouldn’t I apply to my personal climbing. Over the past 15 or more years I have climbed I have heard of and speculated over many incidents and accidents, some minor, some major and some with fatal consequences. I have done this in the pub or at the wall with friends, I tried to work out what could have happened rather than what did happen, as there are often more than one possible cause.

My point is that I have done this way before I ever joined a rescue team, so why should I change now. What has changed since the first time I saw or heard of an accident is the way in which that information is conveyed. Now we have blogs and internet forums. Quick media with a rapid turn around. I can see why it leaves a bad taste in many peoples mouths as sometimes the next day or even that night news can propagate across the world wide web.

What do you think? Should we dissect an incident and find the anatomy of an accident?

Anyone selling a car?

Well, I have only a few more hours before I start my epic three day journey back home. When I arrive I am very much in the market for a new car. So if you might be selling on then you can contact me via here. I’d prefer to pick one up in Wales, although I will be in Bournemouth for a few days.

They Ferryglided?

The Ferryglide!

Well I was reminded of Eddie Izzard when I saw this on the last crag in Bariloche we visited. We ferryglide, they ferryglided? It was awesome the ferry could get across the river in 5 seconds just by altering the pitch of the vessel. Of course kayakers know all about this but done on this scale it was very immpressive. Anyway the crag was good too! The last pictures in the following sequence was very surreal. I can’t remember if I have posted them all ready, but the playmates got my approval!

Walking to the crag
Thomas follows me up a F6a+ groove.
A lovely F6a tower
Ian takes a rest on a F6b!
Not what you expect on the side of the road!
Hmmmm! Lovely!

Reflection on Frey and beyond!!!!

Reflections of Frey

Well I have been back from Frey for a while now. The climbing is totally world class, the rock solid and great for free climbing, despite the sandbagging grades, it is a spot that I cannot recommend highly enough. Just book a flight and take a sleeping bag and a rack, and stay in the amazing refugio, oh and climb till your fingers bleed.

I have been back at Base Camp completing endless evaluation sheets, giving feedback and winding up the course. I have one more debrief with the Bosses later today. After that I have a few days before I start my flights back. I can’t lie, at times the course has been hard, but I did come straight from a climbing holiday into a 6 week climbing course. My time has been enjoyable though, although I can’t wait to get back home and see my good friend, and share a well deserved pint in the Prince.

I feel l the girl in the Wizard of Oz, all I need is my ruby slippers. “There’s No Place Like Home, Theres No Place Like Home”, although writing it down like that I am reminded of the shining. “All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy,…………….”. So just be prepare Llanberis because here come Johnnie!

I have one more selection of picture to put up here. It was from the day after we left Frey. So I will try and get them online ASAP. Till then don’t have nightmares!

Rock Climbing in Frey – Deirdro Jim

The final splitter crack on Deirdro Jim

The deirdro Jin is a line that Jumps out at you. A perfect corner, leading to an amazing splitter crack. We had spied the line on our first day. I was on the thrid that I took 4 of the group up there. Yes Four! I lead two on the group up, whilst Ian lead another. The route was as good as it looks and actually reasonable for the grade. We left a bit early as the bottom of the route was in the shade. However the top despite being a bit windy was as good as it looked from the ground.

Ian on the top pitch of Dierdro Jim

Rock Climbing In Frey – M2

M2 is one of the smaller towers in the foreground.

M2 was a great little tower, although I virtually circumnavigated it looking for the easy corner. Eventually I had to admitted that the only corner on the tower was the ‘easy’ one and tuck my skirt in and climb it. We also saw some guys climb on an adjacent tower.

A local climbs on another tower
Tyler Seconding on M2
Ian leads up on my gear.
Tyler and Ian Finishing M2

Tea and Cake – Frey Style


Well if you know me, then you’ll understand that I do a lot of work for Plas Y Brenin, and if you know Plas Y Brenin then you’ll understand how important Tea and Cakes are to my climbing day. In Frey the refugio bakes up once a day resulting in great cakes, unfortunately there is no decent Tea, but very, very nice Ale. I will try and mention it to my boss when I get back. Tea and Pint, not the same ring as pizza and a pint, and we did that on the wednesday up at Frey.

More Cake!!!!

Rock Climbing in Frey No.2

Agua Frey is the large tower on the left. The line goes up the middle

It clamed down on our second day, and me and two of the group headed up Agua Frey, via the Weber route, a classic 5+, that was more like E2 to be honest. Basically in Frey you add a full grade to get the French equivalent.

Tyler on the Crux pitch

Tyler finishes the airey traverse - Easy climbing, but exposed as hell!

Our First SPire Summit!!! Me, Tyler and Ian Celebrate.

Rock Climbing in Frey

The walk in to Frey with Big Packs

We had to make the decision to walk into Frey, a 3 to 4 hour walk in. It can be done quicker, but its simply unneccessary. The walk in starts flat, and winds its way across a hillside until you reach a valley/gorge. The walk up here is like entering a rain forest, with bamboo growing everywhere. Just as you enter the valley you are given a sneaky glimpse of what awaits you at the top…..Granite Paradise.

Hindsight is a great thing. If or more like when I go there again, yes the climbing is that good. I won’t take any food, or a tent. Instead I will take just a rope, rack and sleeping bag and a fat wad of argentine peso’s. For the refugio is a great hang out and reasonably priced. It also has beer on tap.

My fellow guide Thomas is used to huts from guiding in the alps. I however was, I took his advice, of you arrive, and drink, eat and drink, drink then sleep. In fact the group took to this like a duck to water, and in three days we drank them out of locally brewed stout and ale, on the fourth day we finished all the red wine on the last two days we were sober!

Anyway staying in the hut is great, although camping is free, they are trying to advise climber and trekkers that camping by the lake has lead to its pollution, and is now virtually undrinkable, they do provide free water and toilets for campers, they will also ask you where you are going and what you are doing so they can call out the voluntary rescue team if you fail to return. The team make all british teams look well equipped, and I am certainly planning on trying to raise some money for them. Perhaps with a slide show of my trip, to try and raise enough money to buy them a radio or two, as one of the team had a battered radio with a toy arial gaffa taped to it!!!! So any rescue teams with old radios (most have recently changed to new GPS sets) who can spare or lose a few sets I know of a good home for them, I even have the frequencies of the repeaters they use.

Sorry but this is a bit of a spolier, you’ll have to check in later or get the RSS feed to see the first climbing shots of frey

A sneaky peak at the peaks of Frey!

Ringing the bell on the way in is a tradition for climbers and trekkers
A wind but beautiful Frey the day we arrives. Notice the wind on the lake!
Spray-bow off the lake

Beer O'clock!!!!