Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A successful summer...

So...the summer has drawn to a close, and the bad weather seems to be starting. Luckily in two months I will be off to Spain for the winter for some sending!

Overall I have had a pretty good summer. I've been working and saving a lot, so haven't got out as much as I would have liked to, but the days I have had have been pretty darn awesome!

My favourite area to climb in Chamonix has to be the Envers des Aguilles, it is amazing granite, amazing views, and being a good 3hrs walk in tends to put a few people off so is less busy than other places. On this trip, me and Jonny climbed a 25pitch 6a called 'Le soleil rendezvous avec la lune'. Originally we had intended to climb the Republique Bananiere, but changed our minds as we didn't really fancy loads of rapping in the dark. the route we did do was amazing, there was only one other party on the route, and we raced up the snowslope approach to be first on the route! The climbing was fantastic, here are some pictures to attest to that:

After arriving at the summit, we spent another 3hrs rapping down and finally re found our bivvy just as the night descended.

Another fantastic trip was to the Petit Portalet de Clocher. This seems to have been a trendy crag in Champnix over this summer, and lots of people seem to have headed over. We climbed 'esprit de choc', in our guide a 6c, in the modern topo 7a.  Thank god for that! I haven't pure crack climbed in a while and the extra grade was a commiseration for how hard I found it. Still, as it tends to be around here, the granite was top notch and we had an amazing day, despite Jonny having nightmares the night before about 'the cow that picks stuff up'. Crazy boy.

That one!

Ive also been doing a fair bit of sport climbing at a variety of venues, although my niggly shoulder injury is holding me back. Two recent trips to Finale ( amazing ice cream and coffee), the Aosta valley and local dragging have all provided plenty of exploring. Switzerland also provided two cool crags in the Spain esque Rawyl, and the bolted crack climbing venue of Medji. Crazy stuff!




Anyway I'm back to the UK next week, hoping to get a bit of good old British trad in amongst the rain showers and see lots of friends!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Osprey Kestrel 38l Review

Rucksack review: Osprey Kestrel 38

The first thing that you should know before reading this is that I am an avid rucksack collector. Not in a geeky way, but more of a 'I need one for every occasion' kind of way. I have a small pile of them in the corner of our apartment that my boyfriend despairs of and considers totally unnecessary.

I've used this bag for multi-pitch rock climbing, cragging, walking, alpine climbing, skiing and just wandering around town. It has proved itself to be very versatile and a good all rounder.

Osprey have a very good reputation when it comes to rucksacks and are many people's 'go to' brand. Their bags are always very well made and designed, and the Kestrel is no exception.

Heading down the Mer de Glace ladders, with rucksac in tow

The most important thing about a rucksack is that it is comfortable to wear. I really like the back systems on the osprey packs, as they are well ventilated, but haven't resorted to the 'trampoline' style ventilation which I consider to be a complete waste of space. The material that they have used to make the straps is really comfortable, and dosen't wear badly on bare, sweaty skin which is definitely a plus.

Holding out on a rainy day on Cnicht

The pack works well when completely full, and also when it has less contents as the compression straps reduce the volume really well. The waist strap also clips back into itself very tidily, something that I find essential when climbing. The bag itself is also quite narrow, so allows for a full range of movement with your arms. For trad climbing, I found that I could happily fit in my personal gear (harness, shoes, helmet etc), two half ropes, a couple of extra layers, lunch and water for the day with no problem for the approach and during the day shrunk down enough to climb VS multi-pitch happily. On the other hand, when not full, it is small enough that you can just use it as a day bag for wandering around town.

Everything above fitted in with space to spare

Some people hate a rucksack with accessories, but I don't see what the harm is! The side pockets on this rucksack fit a map or water bottle perfectly and don't eject them without warning when you aren't paying attention. The big front stretch pocket is great for stashing layers when you can't be bothered going down into the main body, as you know that you will want your jumper/coat/t-shirt again when it stops being warm/starts raining, or the sun disappears.

Outside pocket stuffed with a jumper, axe and walking pole stored down the side 

The bag itself seems fairly waterproof even before you bring in the rain cover, and is also made out of good durable material. Be careful about putting pointy things (Ice axe, walking poles) inside the side pockets, as they don't seem to be quite so harwearing.

Thats an ice axe and a whole baguette in the side straps this time!
I found that ice axes store best down the side straps with the head tucked under the hood of the bag, but they connect into the actual ice axe bits fairly well, without too much wobbling and potential for impaling peoples eyes.

On other small notes, for those people like me who think that a 38l pack doesn't need a sleeping bag compartment, it folds away nicely and you can forget it exists. For those who like it, the zips work fine and are accessible, but not too intrusive!

The 'stow-on-the-go' walking pole holder works well, however you definitely need to remember to collapse your poles first!

Overall, I think this is a great all round versatile bag. You can climb, ski, walk and put your swimming stuff in it for a quick trip out. For someone looking for something that does a bit of everything, this is probably what you are looking for!

 More serious mountaineers might want to check out the Osprey Mutant rucksack:

It is a little more streamlined for climbing with, and operates on a 'function only' basis, also thoroughly reccomended!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

So once again I have had a short(ish) trip back to the UK, and been told by my Mum that she requires more blog updating due to a lack of Facebook activity!

I haven't written anything recently as I spend last summer being rather busy with work, and then spent this winter just passed skiing. As I'm not a particularly good or adventurous skier so this doesn't seem worth of much note.

I have however definitely improved as a skier over the winter, done some cool ski tours, ticked winter IML training and spent far too much time not climbing with a shoulder injury. Anyway, the snow is starting to melt, the crags are getting drier, and my shoulder (touch wood) is feeling pretty good.

We had a short trip to Spain in February to visit some friends and to escape the Chamonix winter for a bit. I shocked myself by flashing a couple of 7a's basically off the couch which felt rather good and gives me relatively high hopes for the year coming. I spent alot of time at the end of last season working on climbing past bolts and falling off, which hopefully means that my climbing will come on leaps and bounds!

An update of my insignificant skiing achievements seems unnecessary so I'm going to add some picture/captions below to cover that section:
Jonny near the bottom of the Berad valley

An amazing day on the Aiguillette des Houches

Team shot at the train station

Ballsford coming down the Glacier Mort

The day the white out got a bit 'too scary'

Olivia and Jess at the bottom of the Magic forest

These past two weeks in the UK have been spent buying a new van to do up for a winter in Spain this winter coming. This is a generally stressful process and meant spending far too much time in Ikea and B&Q for my liking and I have spent this week recovering from the onslaught by climbing in a beautiful SUNNY North Wales! It was lovely to have a catch up and see lots of people who I miss when I am in Chamonix.
It snowed in Wales at some point!

Mum seconding up Tennis Shoe on Idwal Slabs

Anyway, it's back to Chamonix now for some summer crushing!