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WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2010

Mera Peak (6476m)

In September of 2009 I went on a KE Adventure trip to Mera Peak lead by Outside's very own Tom Richardson.  I had been trekking in Nepal a couple of years earlier to Kala Patar and three high passes in the surrounding area. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this trip it caused me a great deal of frustration that I couldn’t get closer to the many peaks of 6000m and above that surrounded me. So when Tom told me he was leading a trip to Mera I jumped at the chance!

View from John's high point on Mera Peak. Makalu (8463m) is the mountain in the centre. © John Bradley

View from John's high point on Mera Peak. Makalu (8463m) is the mountain in the centre. © John Bradley

The trip started with a couple of days in Kathmandu exploring the many attractions but things only really got going when we flew to Lukla. This is one of the most memorable flights you can take; having to land on the sloping runway, hoping that the pilot has seen the mountain at the end. It’s even scarier when you think it didn’t even use to be tarmac!  To get to Mera rather than going left out of Lukla as if heading up the Khumbu, we had to head straight up a pass behind it. It’s tough going as we reached a height similar to that of Mont Blanc within the first three days. It’s even tougher when you get a banging head ache on your way up.

Luckily no sooner were we up than we dropped down to the valley behind, bagging some good acclimatisation. The thing that amazed me the most was the difference between the valleys. The Khumbu when I had been before, was barren and dusty, where as I was now descending through a rain forest. I was quite excited by this as I hadn’t been to a rainforest before. For the next few days we headed up the valley through the forests towards the Mera La and usually this would provide amazing views of the surrounding peaks and high valley sides. Unfortunately we couldn’t really see any of this as we had caught the tail end of the monsoon season. It was more like walking in the Lake District on a really misty day! We only got some clear views on the final day before heading into the mountains and fortunately these clear skies stayed with us for the rest of the trip.

From here we headed up onto the Mera La, at this point we were at around 5800m. We spent the next two days moving between the higher camps. The time spent walking at this point was much reduced but twice as hard, the altitude was really obvious, but the view made it seem worthwhile. On summit morning we were up at three, it would have been earlier but Tom and the Sherpas had gone further ahead the previous day and found that there was no way to cross a crevasse field just above the 6000m line. Gutted!

When we reached our highest point, it was extremely windy but the view we got more than made up for any discomfort. As the sun rose over a ridge on our left side it gradually highlighted the panorama starting with 8000m peaks, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Choy Oyu. We stayed for around 20minutes then started on our way down.

An amazing trip, to an amazing area that has inspired me to consider bigger and better things in the future!

John Bradley is the Assistant Manager of the Outside store in Hathersage.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2010
By John Bradley
Shop Manager

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John Bradley
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WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2010

Video Drew Withey Send Brad Pit Font

Outside staff are often to be found out in the Peak district climbing after work. This winter in an after work session Drew Withey sent the famous boulder problem Brad Pit Font 7c+. Drew works in the Hathersage boot room. See the video below for rain, strange dancing, grown men hugging and Drew climbing Brad Pit.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2010
By Henry Tyce
Web Editor

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Henry Tyce
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WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2010

Sheffield Climbers in the 1950s

sheffield climbers 1950Several clips from the film 'Sheffield Climbers (1946 - 1949)' appear in 'The Best Forgotten Art', a film made by Johnny Dawes in the 1990's. However the full length film runs to nearly 30 minutes and makes for a fascinating insight into climbing in the immediate post war period.

Made by William Gordon Greggory, the film shows a group of young climbers at Stanage in The Peak District climbing routes such as Flying Buttress (VDiff) in plimsolls but also in hobnailed boots. It also shows some climbers in North Wales heading into the hills and at one point using an ice axe to negotiate a snow patch.

Many of the scenes in the film show climbers using hemp rope, 'clinker' boots, body belays and a host of other techniques to strike fear into the safety conscious everywhere. This is a classic piece of film that records in colour the very beginnings of what climbing has now evolved into and is well worth a look.


To see the full length film visit The Yorkshire Film Archive Online

WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2010
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FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2010

A Summer Traverse of the Cuillin Ridge

In May 2009 Mike and I headed North to the Isle of Skye with the plan to attempt a traverse of the infamous Cuillin Ridge. We chose May due to the lack of midges at that time of year. We got lucky, there weren't too many midges and the weather was near perfect, if not a bit too hot in fact!

We arrived at Elgol with the plan to get a boat across Loch Scavaig to Loch Coruisk. However first we had to deliberate over whether to take walking boots or sticky soled shoes, we decided on Guide Tennies from Five Ten (it turned out to be absolutely the right choice). After this major decision about footwear had been made we crossed the Loch on the 5pm ferry. We were in fact the only people on it and it dropped us safely at Loch Coruisk where we bivied that night.

A 5am start the next morning meant we were on the summit of Gars Bieinn by 8am after scrambling up great slabs Sgurr a Chorie Bhig, we then started the traverse. The first section is straight forward but due to the 25 degree temperatures we were carrying a lot of water, 5 litres each, plus bivi and climbing gear. It was hard work! The first technical difficulty is the TD gap, we abseiled in and then Mike lead the HS pitch and we hauled up the packs after. We had good dry conditions but we thought it would be a struggle in the wet. After the TD gap the Kings Chimney follows quickly. This is a Diff corner with an awkward start that soon eases to a great position. Working along the most photographed section of the ridge it leads you to the base of the Inaccessible Pinnacle. This is a 2 pitch Mod but fantastically exposed, before this place we had seen only 2 people but at the In Pin there were a few more people. After a short queue we climbed up and abseiled off the back. We then carried on into the evening; route finding after the In Pin gets a little more complex at times. We decided to bivi at a spot called An Dorus (The Door) at 7pm, exhausted and parched.  

The next day we were up at 5am again. In the perfect sunshine we carried on through some of the more tricky navigational areas. The most tricky of these being the slabs on Bidein, where abseiling may be more advisable if wet. We elected for some down climbing. Carrying on leads you to the final climbing pitch, Nazmiths route (Sev) on Am Bastier. Unfortunately we didn't climb this pitch as we were unsure of the route's path and small amount of climbing gear so we took the Mod alternative that leads to the summit. From the summit of Am Bastier the end was not too far, a more obvious route and a great final scramble followed by “threading the needle” brings you to the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean. A two hour walk back down to the Sligachan Hotel for well deserved pint is the final leg. We arrived there at 3pm feeling tired, thirsty but very pleased to have completed a successful traverse of the ridge first time, with a big help from perfect weather!

Rob is the Store Manager of Outside in Hathersage.

FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2010
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