Selling Ice to the Eskimos?

April 27th, 2016

Question: what have Harewood House, Whitby Abbey, Steve McClure and Scarborough all got in common?

Answer: they are all appearing on VisitBritain website pitching Yorkshire to the French as part of promotional drive for the Tour du Yorkshire which – as you all know – starts tomorrow, April 28th.

So, Q&A over; what that got to do with me or my photography. That’s simple – I’ll explain.

VisitBritain_Malham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amongst the millions of images out there I’m chuffed to say that Visit Britain have used an image of mine featuring Steve McClure on Overshadow at Malham as part of the promotional drive to ‘sell’ both Yorkshire and the Tour du Yorkshire to the French. Turns out, that Visit Britain are using four disparate images, one each featuring Harewood House, Whitby Abbey, Steve McClure climbing at Malham Cove and a group of Sky cyclists at Scarborough, as a hook to get our nearest neighbours over here to take in the scenes. Said images, complete with accompanying graphics et al, are being sprayed to your friends across the English Channel right now…

Top French climbers have – as we all know – ventured across the Channel from time to time in the past; that’s hardly a revelation, if you get my drift. Many top French cyclists came over a couple of years back for the Grand Depart to the 2014 Tour du France. So maybe selling Yorkshire to the French won’t be quite as hard – as the saying goes – as selling ice to the Eskimos?

Be that as it may, I’m pleased to been able to help out with a pix of Steve on Overshadow. Maybe if they hang on a day or two I can get some shots of Steve when he tops out on his super project just to the right of Overshadow?

Anyways, here’s the images/pages being sprayed into France right now…

Tour Du Yorkshire banner.jpgVisitBritain_Harewood House.pngVisitBritain_Malham.pngVisitBritain_Scarborough.pngVisitBritain_Whitby Abbey.png

 

Posted in Climbing, Photography, Travel

­­­­­­­2015 – Captured

Light years past the roll-over into 2016 I’ve finally pulled a selection of images together that I shot during 2015. It’s always an ‘interesting’ exercise to rummage through the hard drives and pull a selection of shots together that collectively sum-up a years of photographic effort. Even the best made photographic plans change – sometimes, it seems, no sooner than they’ve been hatched. And so it was for me in 2015 when a couple of major projects rolled effortlessly over the threshold into 2016. No matter really, that offered opportunities for others to come forward.

02_2015_F-BO15_017_DSC_8594

Apart from capturing some winter scenery, my first photo shoot proper in 2015 was F-BO15; otherwise known as the Foundry’s 2015 Bouldering Open competition. Shooting climbing comps is more often than not nails; the action is fast moving, the ambient lighting at best challenging and the use of artificial lighting difficult in crowded locations. Finally, getting a good angle/shooting position is usually nigh on impossible. It’s usual therefore to ‘shoot on the fly’ which is pretty difficult but when it works it’s pretty satisfying. The year before, at F-BO14, I’d caught Stuart Littlefair attempting one of the 2014 problems feet-first. There was none of that in F-BO15 but there was some ‘swinging ball action’ that was pretty interesting to shoot. Shooting super-low, I managed to capture Ethan Walker just coming off the swinging ball. A suitably positioned chalk bag provided some nice foreground interest and hence depth in the shot; result! In F-BO14 Stuart had taken Ben Moon’s place in the final but Ben Moon v.2015 was there in force – in fact he crushed all before him turning in a (well-deserved) winning performance. Ben’s company sponsors one of the walls at The Foundry and I managed to get a shot Ben powering up the hardest bloc with his logo on the wall behind clearly in shot; I thought it was a nice bit of ‘later wow’ though I doubt many other folks even spotted it. C’est la vie…05_2015_Beddgelert_DSC_0074_capture

Following F-BO15, a wet and soggy walk down an in-spate Padley Gorge seemed to signal the end of winter. Spring always seems so fresh and the light so clear after the misty, muggy days of winter; the woods turn blue with blue bells and it was all rather pleasant. Even a cloudy day didn’t spoil a rare solar eclipse – in fact it gave it a haunting look. Spring 2015 went past in a flash to be honest; I find that’s what happens when I get engrossed in a climbing project. Success nearly came in April but I managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of success so the process of turning up and trying hard soaked up time; time that should really have been spent elsewhere. Finally, following a trip to a scenic Wales, the Eastwood Double was done and I could move on.

06_2015_Scotland_06_DSC03468Moving on took the form of starting my limestone campaign for the year plus a couple of trips away; firstly to Scotland and then back to Wales. Scotland first. This was a four-day trip with Paul, a grand master of the ‘quick hit’. The weather was fantastic so for Day#1 it had to be a monster 12-hour outing onto Cairn Dearg Buttress on the North East face of Ben Nevis. Torro, a totally fantastic E2 – maybe even one of the best on a big mountain cliff anywhere in the UK – was our reward. An amazing route up the middle of the crag just left of Centurion; I’ll happily recommend Torro to anyone climbing at that grade and looking for a full-on mountain experience. It’s perhaps worth knowing that sorting a belay at the06_2015_Scotland_44_DSC03726_alt end of Pitch 3 is ‘rather interesting’, that the fourth crux pitch suffers a bit from seepage ad the final pitch is definitely a sting in the tail. Overall it’s a great route; defo a four-star experience. The descent afterwards wasn’t totally straight forward; dropping into the gully which was still full of snow was quite interesting in trainers! The Isle of Skye called next and over the bridge we went; sadly, arriving with the doggie weather. Rain stopped us from getting involved at Kilt Rock but dry rock near Niest Point was duly located along with Bad Dreams (E3 5b, 5c) and that felt more than adequate as a consolation prize. And the views over Niest Point were stunning. Equally excellent was Whispering Crack (E3/4 5a, 5c) at Rubha Hunish – the most northerly point on Skye – which provided the entertainment the following day; a day so cold and windy that a t-shirt, a thermal, a fleece and then an outer wind stopper together with two pairs of trousers seemed scant protection against with the fresh connies yet way too many clothes to be wearing for leading a

Neist Point, Isle of Skye

hard and physical crack pitch. And what a pitch as well; amazing in fact, the best 45m crack pitch I’ve lead for ages. And still the wind blew on Day#4 – so much so in fact that we sacked-off our intended target and instead slunk off to Glen Nevis were we collected a couple of fine E2’s – including Plague of Blazes (E2 5c) – for our troubles before heading south.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in all my years of climbing – 40+ now and counting – Cloggy is one of the cliffs that had passed me by. The forecast suggested a settled period and a plan was duly hatched. We left Sheffield just after 4am. By 7am we were walking into Cloggy up the railway track; a lifelong ambition was unfolding. Occasionally, a photograph of a climber on an iconic route is etched into your mind’s eye. Ken Wilsons’ shot of Ed Drummond on the first pitch of Great Wall was such a photo for me; the cliff all dark and moody and Drummond dressed in seemingly virgin-like white. It didn’t need any discussion; Great Wall was the #1 target. I got the first pitch and Paul lead the second. Both were quite different and thoroughly enjoyable. We could discuss, as hundreds already have, whether Great Wall is a stiff E3 or an easy E4; in a way it doesn’t matter as long as it’s suitably described – either way it’s an absolute crac07_2015_Cloggy_DSC03791_lo resking route, sustained and interesting. Hacking up the vegetation above to top out was a bit of a downer mind you, but it’s not too long a scramble and it’s alright really. The Axe (E4 6a) seemed like a sensible follow-up pitch. Paul’s lead was suitable steady although I think I may have heard a few squeals of anxiety now and then. Seconding, I was grateful that had any of the thin and seemingly hollow flakes actually parted company then I’d be swinging out in space rather than taking a ride downwards onto a doggy cam sat behind some doggy flake. Another great route – especially to second!

July came round pr07_2015_BBC 2015_015_DSC_1129etty fast and with it the BBCs – British Bouldering Championships – at Cliffhanger, Sheffield. It was a pretty fancy set-up at Cliffhanger again and, not surprisingly, the respective titles were keenly contested. Photographically, the white tarp which covered the temporary wall acted like a giant diffusor so – for once – there was plenty of light which at least solved that problem. Access was, sadly, the usual nightmare however; swinging around on scaffolding and scrambling up the back of the wall avoiding the business end of literally hundreds of screws! It’s always pot-luck whether to shoot from the floor or hanging off the top of the wall and I usually mix it up a bit to get some variety. As it was I got lucky on one of the blocs as I was shooting straight down as Shauna was eye-balling a finishing hold. Part way through the finals I dropped down to the mats and shot a bunch of problems at floor level which gave a totally different perspective, not least as I switched to a long lens and used a wide aperture. It was a great afternoon and Shauna Coxsey and Tyler Landman were the worthy winners.

07_2015_Everglades_DSC_1550_lo resIn late July we set-off to go to the USA. The plan was pretty simple; fly into Orlando, pick up a car and then nip down to the Everglades to check-out some of the local wildlife, back up to Florida for a day at Universal Studios, pull an evening visit to Cape Canaveral to watch a launch, cruse up to Charleston, then hop on an internal flight to Boston and then finally back down to The Big Apple. A simple plan I’m sure you’ll agree; what could go wrong?! Actually, it did roll out pretty much as per the blue-print; save the launch at Cape Canaveral which was binned-off at the last minute due to doggy weather at launch site. It’s tricky pulling out favs or best memories – we seem to get so many in the trip. The ‘gators in the Everglades were well-worth seeing and pretty much as billed; what was a bonus though was the sunrises/sunsets over the waterfronts. The Ringling Museum and Ca’D’Zan in Sarasota Bay was something of an oasis and defo worth a look. Being Stateside, a trip to a baseball match was clearly in order; in the end we caught two although watching the Red Soxs play in Fenway Park was very much the real deal as well as a 08_2015_New York_42_DSC_3287_alt2great opportunity to capture some totally different action. Ditto, some of the sights in Boston; I’m thinking mainly of the Holocaust Memorial and the War Memorial to the US fallen soldiers were especially haunting and reminders of a past. An afternoon walking round the Harvard University complex restored a little balance. New York was crammed with things to visit. Staying longer and doing more would perhaps have been overdoing it and we lift happy with what we’d seen; Grand Central, Times Square, Central park, Rockafella Centre, Empire State Building, Ground Zero, State of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and last but definitely not least, Manhattan skyline at night.

09_2015_Nettle_DSC_3850_lo resPeak limestone is bread and butter for me photographically and climbing wise. The climbing connies during September and October were pretty flipping good – right up there in fact with the best it’s been for quite a few years – and when it’s that good Chee Dale is the place to be; especially The Cornice. My long-term climbing project there grabbed my attention so photography suffered a kick-back to be honest – it’s super hard to focus (no pun intented) to do both. I did manage to get some shots thought – not only at The Cornice, but also at the altogether more demure Nettle Buttress. It’s great to shoot at these places mid-week when it’s quiet – but you have to take your opportunities when they present themselves. Oh, nearly forgot, some nice fungi down there too in the autumn.

Looking back now the back end of 2015  wasn’t especially productive on the photographic front. However, a weekend visit to Buttermere in the Lake District proved rewarding on several fronts –10_2015_Buttermere_07_DSC_4696 defo photographically. For starters, let’s say that the weather was changeable; both days started with rain and both days finished with glorious sunsets – the autumnal colours were, as expected, pretty intense. Buttermere is one of the more photographed locations in the Lakes and its pretty obvious when you go you’ll see why – a great photo op around every corner; loved it! Rather more ‘off-subject’ for me was a trip to MIMA – Middlesborough Institute of Modern Arts to be exact. It was a flying visit but an interesting one nevertheless. Recommended if you’re in the area.

With 2015 coming rapidly to an end some disparate climbing subjects wrapped up the year for me. I’d got a couple of the Crusher Hold new Slaves to test and review and needed a couple of product shots to accompany said review. A straight product shot plus a product in use provided a rare opportunity to get a little bit creative with some close-ups. Finally, shooting some promo shots for The Foundry for marketing and then the Mammut University Lead Challenge finished the year almost where it had begun! I’ll blame the lousy weather in the autumn for my totally lack of outdoor shots but, in truth, I think it was a poor show on my part for not making the best of what was available.

For the full gallery of shots from 2015 Captured click through here

Posted in Adventure, Climbing, Events, General, Photography, Travel

Feb 23rd, 2016: Three in Three

It’s probably not too far off the mark to say that many of us Brits usually throw our hard-earned cash towards Europe when it comes to skiing; the honey pots certainly aren’t cheap but the resorts are extensive and the sliding is typically good and reliable. The same, sadly, can’t quite (slight understatement?) be said of our home-land skiing.

Scotland_07_DSC04868

Great connies on The White Lady, Cairn Gorm Mountain

Scotland, undoubtedly the premier ski location in the UK, is exposed to the vagaries of the Atlantic weather systems which all too frequently inflict anything from soggy wet snow, low-lying clag and broken runs to savage winds, white-outs and icy runs. That said, the long-suffering Scottish ski industry appears to have had a proverbial leg-up in recent years thanks to some ‘harder winters’ of late. Die-hards continue to head to the Scottish hills whenever the conditions come good.

Sheffield’s recent February half-term, conveniently a week ahead of many others, amazingly coincided with a good forecast in Scotland; settled conditions with low winds, decent (cold but not Baltic) temps with overnight snow showers topping up the already established snow pack. It seemed almost too good to be true and rude not to take advantage.

Scotland_18_DSC04975

On top of Flypaper & Spring Run at Glencoe

Having skied before at Cairn Gorm we were keen to get to some of the other places – especially Nevis Range and Glencoe. Finally, we decided on a blueprint for the trip; kick-off at Cairn Gorm, then switch to Nevis and then finish off at Glencoe for our third and final day. Sadly, the Lecht and Glenshee weren’t showing sufficient snow/runs when the master plan was pulled together although that changed as the week progressed and they too were reporting decent sliding opportunities.

We arrived in Aviemore midweek and awoke to a considerable dusting of fresh snow – that in the valley too; things looked promising! For three consecutive days the conditions stayed pretty good and the skiing was good. Cairn Gorm and Nevis didn’t quite have sufficient build-up to allow so-called top-to-bottom skiing but both had a good chunk of their respective runs open. Back Corrie action was happening at Nevis, albeit for the suitably experienced and equipped. Glencoe however, was virtually fully open with every run good to go above the access gondola.To be honest, getting three good days skiing in Scotland in three consecutive days felt like a rare treat; defo not to be sniffed at. Sure, it’s different to the European experience, but as they say, “if you can ski in Scotland you can ski anywhere”!

Here’s a selection of shots snapped when I wasn’t sliding…

Welcome to Cairn Gorm Mountain!Looking down GunbarrelBottom of GunbarrelLovely connies on The White LadyThe Back Corries on Range Nevis - from the valleyRange Nevis access gondolaHome time - goodbye Nevis RangeAccess gondola at GlencoeView from Glencoe over to The BenLooking down Rannock Moor from the top of Meall a'Bhuiridh (Glencoe)Checking out the back off the top of Meall a'Bhuiridh The top of Flypaper & Spring Run at GlencoeHome time againRannock MoorBrew stop on the shores of Loch Lomand on the way homeLoch Lomand Pano

 

Posted in Photography, Skiing

Dec 2nd, 2015: Mammut University Onsight Lead Comp at The Foundry

The winter climbing comps are very much in full swing now – today saw The Foundry playing host to the Mammut University Onsight Lead Final.

Will Smith milking a kneebar before committing to the crucial tufa above

The Foundry’s chief setter, Rob Napier, had conjured up a couple of tasty looking routes up the main wall for the competitors to get to grips with. I couldn’t help drop in for an hour or so and grab some snaps. The men’s final route was on the right-hand side of the prow and off the top of the Bleaustone Wall I had a grandstand view. Connor Bynre and Luke Dawson had both topped out in the opening round so it was totally down to the final to split these two. Will Smith however had his own game plan and very nearly sneaked in and upset the proverbial apple cart. As it was, Connor Byrne flew-off the crucial mid-height tufa allowing Will Smith to take second place and Luke Dawson the top slot although with only 2moves separating all three climbers it was a pretty close final.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay to watch the majority of women’s half of the comp although I was there to see Team GB Member Jennifer Wood hike the women’s final.

Here’s a selection of the action…

Mammut Uni Comp_01_DSC_4910.jpgMammut Uni Comp_02_DSC_4918.jpgMammut Uni Comp_03_DSC_4928.jpgMammut Uni Comp_04_DSC_4933.jpgMammut Uni Comp_05_DSC_4945.jpgMammut Uni Comp_06_DSC_4956.jpgMammut Uni Comp_07_DSC_4963.jpgMammut Uni Comp_08_DSC_4982.jpgMammut Uni Comp_09_DSC_4992.jpgMammut Uni Comp_10_DSC_5007.jpgMammut Uni Comp_11_DSC_5014.jpgMammut Uni Comp_12_DSC_5028.jpgMammut Uni Comp_13_DSC_5032.jpgMammut Uni Comp_14_DSC_5049.jpgMammut Uni Comp_15_DSC_5052.jpg

Posted in Climbing, Events, Photography

July 13th 2015 British Bouldering Championships at Cliffhanger

The best bouldering comp climbers in the country went head-to-head over the weekend in Millhouse’s Park Sheffield in the British Bouldering Championship and the action was pretty captivating. After three intense rounds, Shauna Coxsey and Tyler Landman collected the male and female titles respectively.

BBC 2015_016_DSC_1136

Shauna Coxsey – cruising to another victory

Amazingly, it was the ninth season for the Cliffhanger Outdoor Festival and as usual Matt Heason and his team had done an amazing job of arranging the event as well as the weather which– Sunday morning excepted – was on its best behaviour for once! I’ve always been lucky enough to get along to Cliffhanger and photo the climbing competition. It’s a frantic, full-on, run-and-gun affair and this year was no exception – although for the first time the climbing wall was housed under a bespoke scaffold-based construction clad with white tarps. Previously the wall had been within a dark and dingy ‘big-top tent’ and photographing the action was always a massive technical challenge in which the photographer wielding the biggest and most mobile lighting units usually came away with the best results. This year was fantastic by comparison – the massive white tarps acting a giant diffuser casting nice soft light on the bouldering wall. As usual the setting team dished-up a veritable mix of the delicate and powerful. Competition climbers are so strong these days that it’s not enough to go small and steep – hence there was some dirty vert and blob-city action amongst the blocs as well as some dynos and down-and-out techie stuff in the corners. Most noticeable about the competitors was the number of young guns within their midst – many emerging from the junior classes and looking – if not baying – for success. It’ll only be a matter of time before they come away with the metalwork!

The final results were as follows:

Men 1 Tyler Landman 2 Dave Barrans 3 James Garden 4 Orrin Coley 5 Nathan Phillips 6 Billy Ridal

Women 1 Shauna Coxsey 2 Fanny Gilbert 3 Leah Crane 4 Diane Merrick 5 Jennifer Wood 6 Molly Thompson-Smith

Finally, here’s a gallery of images from the finals. Hope you enjoy…

BBC 2015_000_DSC_0787.jpgBBC 2015_001_DSC_0820.jpgBBC 2015_002_DSC_0848.jpgBBC 2015_003_DSC_0884.jpgBBC 2015_004_DSC_0905.jpgBBC 2015_005_DSC_0917.jpgBBC 2015_006_DSC_0939.jpgBBC 2015_007_DSC_0958.jpgBBC 2015_008_DSC_0981.jpgBBC 2015_009_DSC_1032.jpgBBC 2015_010_DSC_1051.jpgBBC 2015_011_DSC_1068.jpgBBC 2015_012_DSC_1073.jpgBBC 2015_013_DSC_1098.jpgBBC 2015_014_DSC_1104.jpgBBC 2015_015_DSC_1129.jpgBBC 2015_016_DSC_1136.jpgBBC 2015_017_DSC_1167.jpgBBC 2015_018_DSC_1175.jpgBBC 2015_019_DSC_1193.jpgBBC 2015_020_DSC_1212.jpgBBC 2015_021_DSC_1226.jpgBBC 2015_022_DSC_1231.jpgBBC 2015_023_DSC_1244.jpgBBC 2015_024_DSC_1273.jpgBBC 2015_025_DSC_1306.jpgBBC 2015_026_DSC_1317.jpgBBC 2015_027_DSC_1322.jpgBBC 2015_028_DSC_1326.jpgBBC 2015_029_DSC_1348.jpgBBC 2015_030_DSC_1370.jpgBBC 2015_031_DSC_1405.jpgBBC 2015_032_DSC_1414.jpgBBC 2015_033_DSC_1435.jpgBBC 2015_034_DSC_1443.jpg

 

Posted in Bouldering, Events, Photography

May 27th; Three Queens hit Merseyside…

Thousands lined the banks of the Mersey on Bank Holiday Monday to see the three Cunard Queens steam down the river – a rather grand celebration to mark the company’s 175 year presence in the area.

DSC_0412_lo res

Queen Mary 2 had sailed in May 24th and docked on the famous waterfront. Fortuitously, the sun made a brief appearance in the afternoon as well. From the Seacombe Ferry terminal the QM2 looked pretty darned impressive in front of Liverpool’s Albert Docks.

Monday’s grand parade, when the QM2 met her sibling ships – Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, was sadly lacking a blue sky but the monster crowd didn’t seem too stressed by that. The three Queens met off Perch Rock and then streamed down the Mersey together before spinning round in front of the Cunard building and then heading back up the river. The Red Arrows even dipped down out of the murk at one point on a flypast on their way to another engagement.

DSC_0557_lo res

I always try and nip along to events like this if I’m in the area and I’m glad I did. It was rather frustrating photographically – dull and overcast for the main event on Monday but eventually a smidgen of sun did appear – just as I was leaving – doh!

Here’s a few shots of the Queens visit…

Queen Mary 2 moored at the Albert Docks on Sunday 24th, 2015Queen Mary 2 moored at the Albert Docks on Sunday 24th, 2015Three Queens meet up off Perch Rock on the MerseyThe Three Queens streaming up the MerseyLiverpool's Albert Dock sea front and the QM2Liverpool's Albert Dock sea front Liverpool's Albert Dock sea front and the QM2

 

Posted in Events, Photography

April 30th, 2015: Panning for Gold in the Glyders…

Although it’s often said that “there’s gold in them there hills” – and that might be the case – it seems highly unlikely to be honest. The photographical gold in the hills is much easier to find though I think– any sunny day and you see it everywhere – assuming

Tryfan, Llyn Bochlwyd, Y Garn and the Ogwen Valley with Carnedd Dafydd beyond

Tryfan, Llyn Bochlwyd, Y Garn and the Ogwen Valley with Carnedd Dafydd beyond

you’re on the look-out. I’m talking about shooting panoramic images and the hills are usually full of opportunities to get some great panos.

There is no formal definition of a panoramic images but it’s generally considered that the image needs to be at least twice the wide as it is high – ie to have a 2:1 width to height ratio – to be considered a panoramic. Some of the widest that are produced see that ratio increase to as much as 10:1. Many cameras can take images of various framing sizes – although most shoot at 3:2 – for example, the same proportion as a ‘stills’ image shot on 35mm film on which an image of 36x24mm was/is recorded. To be considered a panoramic image therefore more than one frame is needed – assuming that the height of 24mm is maintained. Two full frames would be 72x24mm which is a ratio of 3:1. It is possible to crop a standard single shot image into a panoramic format, for example adopting a 36x18mm framing, although most photographers shoot multiple images and then stitch them together in the digital darkroom using software.

There are numerous pitfalls to shooting panos although perhaps exposure, focus, perspective and parallax are the common issues. Fortunately, by using to some simple methodologies and careful framing it’s possible to avoid many of these issues when shooting panos in the mountains where even shooting hand-held good panos can be created pretty easily. At its simplest, two or more landscape images are captured and then stitched together. For a higher resolution image shoot several shots in portrait mode and then stich the lot together. There’s a need to exercise caution though as file size and other issues start to creep in.

During my recent tromp around the Glyders – see my previous post – we had cracking weather and the view down from the Glyders towards Tryfan and into the Ogwen Valley was stunning. It just begged for some panos to be shot. Here’s a few I’ve just stitched together. Hope you enjoy…

Trwfan and the Ogwen Valley from the Miner's TrackTrwfan and the Ogwen Valley from the shoulder of Glyder FachTryfan, Y Garn, Carnedd Dafydd and the Ogwen ValleyTryfan, the top of Bristly Ridge and Y Foet Goch

 

Posted in Photography, Walking

April 19th, 2015: A stroll around the Glyders…

It dawned, as forecast, a windless blue-bird day – perfect for a Gylder’s Round. We arrived just after 9am at the Pen-y-Pass to a full car-park so the decision was made for us; park at Pen-y-Gwryd and take the Miner’s Track up Glyder Fach, scamper over to Glyder Fawr and then drop down the so-called red dot route down the South Ridge and be back at Pen-y-Pass for a pint before getting off home. All it needed was a volunteer to nip down to the Pen-y-Grwyd to pick up the wheels. It wasn’t discussed, but I had a feeling I knew who would be getting that job!

Snowdon from the Miner's Track on Glyder Fach

Snowdon from the Miner’s Track on Glyder Fach

For those with Classic Walks from what was Diadem Books, the Glyders from Pen-y-Gwryd is route #63 as described by Showell Styles. Viewed from the south, the Glyders aren’t especially inspiring – surprisingly uninspiring in fact. Gylder Fawr at 3278ft or 999m is the taller of the two, just pipping Glyder Fach at 3261ft or 994m. The southern slopes of both are rounded and convex and arguable rather dull because of it. The northern slopes are the opposite however; massively concave giving steep headwalls above their respective approach cwms. Tryfan lies to the north of the Glyders as well and the classic walk from the Ogwen Valley starts up Tryfan, then drops down in a col and then up Bristly Ridge to Glyder Fach. The usual descent back to Ogwen is down Y Gribin. Whilst the Glyder Round from Pen-y-Gwryd sounds less inspiring it does afford absolutely fantastic views of Snowdon to the southwest.

Yours truly testing the Glyder Cantilever stone

Yours truly testing the Glyder Cantilever stone

We weren’t especially quick – in fact we were a good couple of hours longer than the ‘book’ time of five hours for the round. The view of Snowdon was as good as it was said to be as were the views to the north towards Tryfan – so much so that the Trwfan-Bristly Ridge-Glyder Fach-Y Gribin round has been added to the list of must-do’s. And whilst the approaches to the top of the Glyder’s wasn’t anything to write home about, the summits themselves were quite impressive. Dropping off Glyder Fawr to locate the start of the red-dot route down the South Ridge isn’t especially easy even in good visibility – it would be pretty difficult in bad weather I’d have thought. Like many others I don’t really agree with the use of red paint to way-mark the descent but I have to say it’s very useful! Without the reassurance of the red dots it would be a baffling descent – and a much boggy one too.

The pint in the Pen-y-Pass was especially pleasant too and yes I did get the job of fetching the wheels up from Pen-y-Gwryd although I have to say that it was very welcome getting a lift from a runner heading round to check-out a route in the Moelwyns…

Here’s a few shots from the day – hope you enjoy…

Starting out up the Miner's Track up Glyder FachThe view towards SnowdonSnowdon and Llyn CwmffynnonSnowdon and Llyn CwmffynnonTryfan and Ogwen ValleyTryfan topTryfan and Bristly Ridge with walkers beginning the scramble up the ridge in the botton leftYours truly on Glyder CantileverGlyders Fawr from Glyder FachCastell y Gwnt (Castle of the Winds) and Glyder FawrPen-y-Pass from the red-dot descent off Glyder Fawr

Posted in Photography, Walking

April 9th, 2015: Twenty Four Hours in Beddgelert…

Having driven through Beddgelert more times that I can remember, a stop-over was long overdue. Bank Holiday Monday wasn’t, at least on paper, the ideal time to explore but we pulled over just Beddgelert_DSC_0074_captureto the north of Beddgelert to explore the National Trust property and gardens. What we saw there was really quite a shock…

The weather was absolutely stunning; blue skies and very little cloud – definitely not the usual Welsh fare so very gratefully received. We figured that starting a 6+ hour walk at 14:00 won’t be especially smart so a wee walk in the hills around Beddgelert got the vote. In fact there’s three walks signed by the NT behind the car park at Craflwyn; we opted for the ‘Green’ walk and rather nice it was too – short, but well-worthwhile. It never gets especially high but the views above Beddgelert are decent enough and there’s the odd disused mine building and a few much-loved seats to keep you interested as you poodle round. The final section as you drop back in to the woods currently has an extremely splendid wooden bench carved by Captain Chainsaw – well worth checking out.

Beddgelert_DSC_0032

An easy going afternoon slipped into an easy going evening and the temps soon dropped in the clear skies as dusk came. The new day that followed brought an overnight frost and a crystal clear morning; time to investigate Llyn Dinas a few miles north of Beddgelert. I don’t often make the effort to catch the early morning surmise’s but it was a beauty. The lake surface was as still as a mill pond – although some early morning flights had left jet trails across the skies. A convenient placed footbridge give access to the south eastern side of the lake from which the view was cracking.

Here’s a few shots from the stop-over – hope you enjoy…

Looking south west towards BeddgelertRuined Mining buildingLocking north east towards Llyn DinasCaptain Chainsaw's handy workSunrise over the southern outlet of Llyn DinasSunrise over Llyn Dinas

Posted in Photography, Scenic

2014 Captured

Ridiculously belatedly, I know – glaciers have moved faster – I’ve finally pulled together a gallery of images from 2014! Post processing your images take forever – or so it seems – but notwithstanding it’s always worth reviewing your work. Not least, it’s worth asking what works and why and what doesn’t work and why and pulling together a gallery of images is one way of doing just that.

1402_DSC_5417In my round-up for 2013 I said that I’d shot some 7,500 images totalling 263 GB of space and that had trumped my efforts in previous years. Well, 2014 blew those figs clean out of the water; c.13,500 images shot consuming c.454 GB of disk – nearly twice my previous max! Quantity isn’t, nor has it, nor will it ever be a measure of artistic value or quality but – to coin a phase – the more I practice the better my images get – arguably! As an aside it also shows that myself and most other photogs have data handling issues equivalent to companies many times the size of our businesses. Quite literally, digi photogs are awash in data.

Photographically, 2014 was an extremely interesting and different year to those that went before it. I continued to shoot climbing images – as I figure I always well. The bulk of these however were in the Peak District – only a single overseas trip to Riglos being the sole exception. Cycling shots were up for sure – hardly surprising given that La Grand Depart happened on the doorstep. A week-long summer trip facilitated some UK surfing shots but the big newbie in my portfolio was trail running. Vertebrate Publishing were in the final stages of a trail running guidebook for the Peak District and our paths collided. By the time the guide went to print in the autumn I’d shot images on trails all over the White and Dark Peak. As you’ll see, trail running is well represented in the gallery accompanying this post – though more of that anon.

2014 kicked off with some spectacular dawn light on Merseyside. The New Brighton Lighthouse, formally known as Perch Rock Lighthouse, is a favourite1412_DSC01725 of mine and a few thousand other photogs as well! Originally constructed in 1827, the current lighthouse ceased operation in 1973.Since then it has been maintained by the Kingham family. Reports of Northern Light activity flooded the media in the second week of January – so much so that I donned suitable attire and jointed the throngs of night revellers at Stanage for whatever meagre glimpse we might get of said NL spectacular. In the end, most folks bailed an hour or so past mid-night with so much as seeing anything other than car headlights and a light-polluted (admittedly) clear night!

The main event in February was F-BO14 – an open bouldering comp at The Foundry. It produced some surprises along the way. Against some stiff opposition a certain Mr Ben Moon qualified for the final which was absolutely great to see that he could still hold his own in the rarefied air of top-flight bouldering comps. By March the weather was heading rapidly into spring and limestone action at Stoney was underway as well as some grit. It was great getting out again especially as I was in the midst of a climbing shoe review for CLMBER magazine.

1436_DSC_9294A four-day trip to Riglos in late March/early April felt like the real start to the season. And what an amazing route Fiesta de los Biceps is – absolutely knock-out; c.300 m of stunning climbing up unbelievable steep rock. What not to like? Back home after that, the flora was springing (sorry…) into life everywhere. April and May went rushing past in a blur with trips to Wallasey included the unexpected bonus of ‘finding’ The Breck as well as the more usual haunts in Chee Dale and Stanage providing photo opportunities. Farther north, a trip to Northumberland – with excellent weather as usual – was a real bonus. We based ourselves near to Dunstanburgh Castle which is just spectacular as are the nearby rock/boulder strewn coast line.

July, of course, was all about La Tour, what a great event that was – again bags of photo ops. It’s a cliché of course, but I couldn’t resist a snap of the yellow jersey as ‘it’ came past. And following that was the Sheffield Criterium – a city centre race where the pro teams and the best amateurs hack round a loop flat-out for an hour in a first-past-the-post race wins. A brilliant race and another great night out with the camera.

 

 

August and the school summer hols provided the opportunity for me to dip my toes photographically at least into a totally new genre – concerts; specifically Camp Bestival at Lulworth. It did occur to me that I might sneak off for a cheeky DWS or two but the festival was full-on that half-baked idea withered on the vine. What a great opportunity to add some new material to my portfo1467_DSC_4788lio as well as catching some great performances too. The week after we washed-up on the Devon coast at Bude intent on sampling the surf and some Devonian bloc action – both were rather good as it turned out. A trip down to Colchester later in the summer hols offered another opportunity to catch the Red Arrows and an iconic Spitfire. August bank holiday saw us back up north in the Whitby area. As well as a trip round Go Ape in the Dalby Forest we nabbed a few waterfalls and night scenes on the coast. I also managed to fulfil a long-term objective – photographing a field full of fresh cut/baled hay which doesn’t sound much but it seems to have taken me a while to get the tick.

 

1471_DSC_0778Starting in September I dropped into running mode; shooting trail running to be exact for a guide on trailing running in the Peak District. I’d shot runners before – but always as part of events and never as stand-alone image to illustrate a book. The brief was to shoot the runners at various stages around the routes and to shoot couples running wherever possible. With twenty odd routes to shoot in about as many days, it was an interesting challenge. Shooting a single runner as its own challenges but adding in another runner into the equation takes it to another level. Imagine shooting fast moving action and trying to get a good body shape as well as a good composition showing the routes is OK, but getting two runners to run together and look half decent is… well try it and you see what I mean! Fortunately the weather was stunning last autumn and I got the job done to deadline – just! Plus I got to go to some places I’d never been to before in the Peak which was brilliant. I also got to see and photo some great wildlife too.

And when I wasn’t shooting running, I was out climbing and snapping climbing action too – that seemed a doddle in comparison to shooting two runners. Autumn seemed to pass very quickly – the colours were beautiful but seemingly gone in no time and then it was winter, Xmas and then the New Year and then time to start over!

1494_Surprise_Panorama3

 

To see the full gallery of 2014 Captured click thru here

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aviation, Bouldering, Climbing, Cycling, Events, Photography, Running