A Little Bit of Psyche to Get You Through Revision
Good evening all,
EXAM SEASON HAS BEGUN.
But fear not; you will feel much better after I have reminded you how awesome you all are by sharing a few words on what everyone has been up to the past few months.
Easter for USMC seems to have been very productive. Whether it be journeying into Middle Earth, embarking on your first ever Sport Climbing trip or guiding your punter friends around the Scottish Munros, the club seems to have made the most of the calm before the exam season-storm!
First off, here’s a quick update from Louise (USMC’s new Secretary, if you have not yet been acquainted) and what she’s been up to in New Zealand for the past 10 months. The Mountaineering experience she gained as a fresher in the club definitely put her in a great position to take advantage of the awesome landscape of Aotearoa, so go get strong and do a year abroad too!
Aotearoa New Zealand; Land of the Long White Cloud. And sheep, lakes and most importantly MOUNTAINS.
Kia ora from the land down under the land down under. Since I moved here in July, my life has been a whirlwind of tramping, climbing, gooning (bagged wine which you slap very hard and then drink from the tap) and having an amazing time.
Christchurch (where I live) was devastated by a huge earthquake in 2011 so the city centre a dead zone. Social life consists of every expensive hipster bars and infrequent but outrageous house parties. However, it’s only a 20 minute drive to some decent crags. Mostly its flaky sport but there is some awesome chunky basalt. Further out of the city, the Southern Alps provide some pretty rad limestone in various locations. My favourite place to climb so far in NZ has been Wanaka. It’s about a 6 hour drive from Christchurch, and the town itself is pretty cool even if it is a bit of a rich kid’s playground. The rock is shist which can be flakey but I found some lovely pebbly slabs and cracks to play on, and a beautiful river providing some (sort of) deep water soloing.
I’ve not climbed here as much as I’d have liked. Climbing is not a big sport in New Zealand; most people use it as a backup when the surf is crappy and skiing is out of season. The psyche is SO LOW and I’ve been mega uninspired, but I really want to get out on some multipitch in the mountains to take in their EPICNESS.
Avalanche Peak, Arthur's Pass
Tramping (hiking) is a much more common past time, the word itself being a national icon. There is a huge network of fancy huts and well-marked tracks which tend to be heavily trafficked, but the real adventure lies off the beaten path. I recently did an awesome, more remote tramp which resulted in me plus five Americans in a four bed hut in the thickest clag I’ve ever known being harassed by a weka (psychotic flightless bird).
Basically, New Zealand is amazing and everyone should come and visit me.
It has been far too long since we have heard from the club’s greatest asset. It would not be a complete newsletter article without an entry from our most talented, seasoned and devilishly handsome Mountaineer; ‘Wad’sworth himself.
As always I apologise that there has not been a post sooner, the fan mail is becoming difficult to keep on top of and leaving me little time to do anything else other than crush. Given the large amount of time since my last blog I thought I would do a “best of” the last few months.
In December I decided to try my hand at caving, and where better than the mines of moria. The rest of the fellowship had opted to pass over the slate quarries, yet having already climbed harder than anything the quarries had on offer I wasn’t so sure. Thankfully they worship my every word so followed me religiously into the depths. Soon after entering the chasm we felt the touch of another being nearby, making us hasten to the exit. We had almost reached the bridge when the foul beast came upon us; automatically I attempted to fend the beast whilst the others crossed the bridge to safety. Having explained to the beast that I was from Yorkshire, he agreed to a challenge of manhood to settle our dual. After showing him my weapon he smashed the bridge in rage hence falling to his death, whilst I athletically sprang to safety.
The remains of the bridge after the duel
Me victorious still wielding my weapon
February brought cold connies and rumours of Phat ice on the Ben. Luckily my brother was also available and due to sharing some of my genes he is almost able to keep up with me. Our efficiency was second to none, leaving the rope to save weight we decided to solo a popular test piece ledge route alternative, this takes the route of the normal grade II for the first 16” before turning onto steeper ground. Being mainly a rock climber I decided to sack off the axes and crampons, climbing it barefoot, the first ascent of such a style. I was very impressed with Ruairidh having climbed it on solo as even I found it vaguely tricky in places.
Ruairidh in one of the steeper sections
With the end of the winter season I decided to turn my hand to this running lark. I have a couple of friends who are novice runners and wanted a guided trip up in Scotland. Matt wanted to get involved with some Munros so I suggested the south glenshiel ridge. Whilst on the ridge we met a wild yorkshireman who thought he was on the GR20 and German fan of mine, who insisted on getting a photo. On reaching the end of the ridge James burst into tears muttering something about it being the biggest achievement of his life. Given that both Matt and James were on the verge of death by exhaustion I sent them back to recover at James’ Scottish châteaux. With a couple of hours of daylight left I was keen to knock off the rest of the Munros which provided a worthwhile leg stretch. Due to a wildcat attacking me on the final descent of the day I had to settle for just guiding Matt and James for the rest of the trip.
Me ascending Munro number 183 and still feeling pretty fresh
Big thank you to my sponsors
One of the high points of the year in USMC has to be the annual sport climbing trip over Easter. This year, 20 of us headed over to the climbing Mecca of Kalymnos to briefly get escape the UK weather and explore climbing outside the realm of the Dark Peak's Gritstone.
Kalymnos is a wonderful place. It’s warm, the people are friendly, and everywhere you look you get a view coming straight out of a National Geographic. But the best part, I’m sure you’d agree, is the crags. With that in mind, around 20 of us set out to spend two weeks sport climbing in the Greek sun (and drinking Mythos under the Greek stars).
Telendos - a small neighbouring island to Kalymnos with a magnificent S.face of soaring limestone; an ideal candidate for your first multipitch climb
The accommodation was pretty good, considering it was the cheapest place we could find on the island, not many places would give you free food each morning and repair the bed two days in a row no questions asked! Each morning we got up early, hungover or no, collected our food package from the door and sat and worked out where we were going that day. Some crags were walking distance, but many needed a moped hire to reach (would not recommend to a friend) After a sweaty walk in, you reach the crags, and that’s where the fun begins.
Aqua-Botch on rest(?) day
Kaly climbing’s a strange beast, being a mixture of steep climbs with massive tufas, enabling a lot of no hands (or feet) rests, and slabs with holds so sharp that often it was the rock embedded in your fingers holding you onto the wall. Everyone smashed it out, most climbing every day, and there was a lot of grades being pushed, especially by the freshers (myself not included). There were ups, including rides around the island and any multipitch on the beautiful Telendos (some would say it wasn’t worth going without doing Telendos (as long as you don’t drop your belay plate)). But there were also downs, like some punters inverting and not tying in properly, and a couple of moped crashes. All in all however, an amazing and (almost) accident free holiday.
Botch (typed with my left hand)
Sunset over Telendos
Lastly, Tamsin gives you several good reasons why you should study Physical Geography; trekking through some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery in your field trip downtime doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
WALKING THE KEPLER TRACK
A consequence of choosing to study a geography degree meant that this Easter myself, the 2 Bens and 18 other 3rd years descended on New Zealand for 2 weeks of interpreting different landscapes and poking rocks. Following on from this we were released to explore whichever part of the country we so desired.
Whilst Ben and Ben were bouldering, myself and another one of my course mates headed to the fjords of the Southland for a few days walking on the Kepler Track – one of NZ’s 11 Great Walks which are set up by the Department of Conservation. We were fortunate to be able to stay with an old university friend of my parents in the quiet town of Te Anau for the nights either side.
The first day involved walking up through the bush onto the main ridge of the Kepler mountains. At the top we stayed in the Luxmore Hut, with stunning views over the fjordland and Lake Te Anau. The Department of Conservation huts were quite different to huts I have stayed at in the European Alps. Everyone made their own food on gas cookers provided rather than having the hut warden cook for us. The hut wardens also gave talks in the evening about the geography/ecology of the area or their particular topic of interest.
Sunrise from the first hut
Day 2 followed the ridgeline of the mountains with some pretty spectacular views across the fjordland. We then descended into a valley to the second hut. In the evening we were able to hear the kiwi birds calling each other outside.
The third day was less interesting than the previous days because we just walked down a valley back towards Te Anau. The bush which we walked through however was quite different to anything we have in the UK so we saw some interesting wildlife.
New Zealand is a fantastic country – very relaxed friendly people, amazing scenery and there is a lot to do for anyone who loves the outdoors. If you are stuck for something to do after finishing your degree I couldn’t recommend it more!
HPM BAR CRAWL 2016
The most intense and anticipated social of the year was welcomed with open arms last week where teams of four take on 20 of Sheffield's pubs, tackling a pint at each. FOUR teams managed to smash last year’s record and ‘Oh god not again' broke into the sub-hour realm (sub-50 next year?).
Congratulations to all that took part, with a special mention going to Miss Kondrashova for waiting until she was in the safe hands of the Cobden before proceeding to pass out.
VIDEO COMPETITION WINNERS
Congratulations to Cal Wadsworth and Ben Stoker for their top footage; you have both won a ticket to Andy Kirkpatrick's talk on May 18th. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. These clips will be used in conjunction with other entries to create a USMC advertisement video, coming to you very soon!