Friday, July 24, 2015

Rock climbing in Arco, Italy with a 6 year old

After a couple of years of training in our indoor climbing club, Blocks & Walls, it was finally time to take my 6 year old daughter Sofie sports climbing on real rock!
We went to Arco, Italy and stayed in a nice apartment in Camping Maroadi due to its fantastic location right on the shore of Lake Garda, which provided a great escape in the afternoon heat.
Playing on the beach of Camping Maroadi, Lake Garda.
It was very hot (32-35°C) the week we visited Arco and we thus scouted for West facing walls to climb in the shade in the mornings. The first three days we climbed at the sector Muro dell'asino which is located 15 min drive from the camping site followed by a 20 min walk on nice path with a great view of Arco, Lake Garda and the mountains.
View of Arco, Lake Garda and mountains from the ascent to sector Muro dell'asino.
The sector sports one of the best walls "Baby wood" for children I have ever seen with multiple grade 2 and 3 climbs on solid rock as well as some very nice grade 4, 5 and 6 routes for the parents on other walls. After top-roping a couple of 2c routes Sofie thus got the confidence to lead her first routes ever.
Sofie redpointing her first rock route (2c) ever!
Great jugs all the way up. A great place to learn to lead.
A proud Sofie at the anchor.
The last day at the sector Sofie even got the courage to onsight her first 3a route on Baby wall.
Sofie onsighting the route Cipresso (3a).
Sofie showing that she just led her first 3a route.
Next day we tried to escape the heat by going to the mountains and drove for +1 hour to sector Croz de le Niere. However, despite being 600 meters above Lake Garda it was almost too hot for climbing and the rock quality wasn't superior.
Our final two climbing days were spend at sector Corno di Bo', which sports big multi-pitch slab routes of grade 3a to 5a right on the shore of Lake Garda. This was really great as we could then go for a cooling swim between every route!
Sofie quickly learned how to climb slabs - something which is not really possible to learn on an indoor climbing wall. Here she climbs a 4b slab which was really great climbing if you like slabs (as I do)!
Some routes follow cracks, which makes them easier to climb. Here Sofie is following me to the anchor - the first time she tried this type of climbing.
Sofie at the anchor with daddy with a great view of Lake Garda. It was very tempting to continue the next three pitches to the top of the wall, but I thought that would be a bit too much for a 6 year old! We will be back!
The location of the sector right on the shore of Lake Garda is fantastic as we could go for cooling swims between climbing routes! Note the couple on the wall, which is the location where the previous photo was shot.
Lake Garda is also the location of several beautiful towns sporting great Italian food with lake views, such as the mini-harbour city Torbole next to Arco, which is worth a visit.
Sofie and Elvira enjoying the lake view in Torbole.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Les Dalles Grises, Verdon, France

For Easter I had planned to go to Chamonix, France with my friend Anders Strange Nielsen to climb ice or rock routes. However, we were met by lots of fresh snow. We had driven all night and were discussing our options over breakfast and made the logical decision to go off-piste skiing on the Grand Mulets. We had a great day as the morning snow was awesome powder, but later in the day the snow warmed up and got less interesting.
Off-piste skiing on the Grand Mulets, Chamonix, France.
Quite a few Danish climbers had also chosen Chamonix for their Easter destination, and we had a great dinner with them in the evening. The weather forecast was looking like more snow and not exactly good climbing weather, so back at the hotel we decided to head South to Gorge du Verdon to go rock climbing in (hopefully) better weather.

The next morning we thus headed South and made a pit stop in beautiful Sisteron to sportsclimb for a few hours before heading further South. The rock is classic limestone and nothing special, but the views are stunning with the River Durance and the ancient Sisteron Cathetral in the background.
The beautiful Sisteron crag with the River Durance and the ancient Sisteron Cathetral in the background.
Late in the evening we arrived in Palud-du-Verdon where it turned out that we were lucky to get a room without a reservation. The climbing in the Gorge du Verdon is very special as you rappel up to 300 meters in the gorge and then (hope to) climb up again. It is thus recommended not to test your climbing limit on your first day, and we thus started out by climbing in a single pitch crag Valaute which gave a good introduction to the rock. In addition it can be a challenge to find the correct rappel for your route on the big walls. For some routes the name has been written on the rock above whereas it is not so obvious for other routes. We thus also spent some time on the first climbing day to scout the correct rappel for our "big" route while taking in the beautiful views:
Beautiful early morning views of the canyon.
Looking for the correct rappel for our route Les Dalles Gris. Note the climber in red for perspective.
Initially we wanted to climb the ultra-classic route La Demande (6a, 320 m), which is one of the few routes going all the way from the valley to the rim (most routes start from ledges on the wall). However, the next morning I felt somewhat sick and not really up for such a long route and we thus changed our objective to the shorter and slightly easier route Les Dalles Gris (5c, 150), which however is also an ultra-classic route. This turned out to be a wise choice as I got quite sick the following days from a viral lung infection!
Anders Strange standing on the ledge and pulling the ropes.
We rappelled the route to a ledge halfway down the wall, pulled the ropes and hoped we could climb up again! It turned out to be easy and pleasant climbing and the exposure was not as bad as I had feared. It was thus a very nice route to start out with and I have certainly been inspired to come back and climb on the big walls again now that I know it is manageable!
Anders Strange following on the last pitch to the rim. Great exposure!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Eternity (18) and Auntie Jack (19), Mt. Victoria, Blue Mountains, Australia

Mid April 2009: After a stop in the Australian sports climbing capital Nowra (which I didn't like particularly much), we had reached our final climbing destination: the famous Blue Mountains West of Sydney. We went to several single pitch cracks with Sofie which was great fun and it was great to be back on sandstone. The most memorable climbs for me were the awesome crack line The Eternity (18) and the sustained face climb Auntie Jack (19) at Mt. Victoria.

Hans leading the famous and awesome crack line The Eternity (18). One of the most fun cracks I have ever climbed as it was very varied and kept you thinking from the bottom to the top!

Elvira toproping Auntie Jack (19) in the sunset. A great line which however was a bit unnerving. It was protected by a mixture of carrot bolts and nuts/friends. According to my taste they could have thrown in a few extra blots! Also, a few bolts up I found out that my carabiners were too thin and the bolt plates could thus pop out of the carrot bolt!!!

The infamous Australian carrot bolt system. Left you see the carrot bolt onto which you place a bolt hanger (right). It is important to use carabiners which are big enough so the plate cannot exit the bolt during a fall. The carabiner was actually too small which I discovered while leading Auntie Jack - quite unnerving!

Another beautiful sunset at Mt. Victoria! Unknown Aussie climbing Giggles (16), which was a nice route.

And finally, the most famous view in the Blue Mountains: The Three Sisters.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Integral Crack (19+), Booroomba Rocks, ACT, Australia

After climbing Mt. Kosciuszko we drove to Canberra, the capitol of Australia, to visit Uncle Guy. He was so kind to offer to take care of Sofie while we went climbing in Booroomba Rocks - a great granite slab just outside Canberra. In order not to waste precious time on the approach we actually go there with Sofie and Guy the day before the climb - it is also a nice hiking area.

My goal was to climb the famous Integral Crack (48 m, 19+) which turned out to be an absolutely fantastic pitch! As it is stated in the guidebook "A classic by any standards. The best line at Booroomba..... with sustained face climbing and excellent natural protection". An excellent line which follows a thin crack in the solid granite. It is sustained throughout the 48 meters of climbing, which is a rare quality.

Next, we climbed the line Roy's Crack (50 m, 14), 10 meters to the left, which is infamous for bad protection and has been the scene of one death and several serious accidents. I didn't find it that hard to protect but in particular the lower part was an awkward off-width crack, which I think could scare beginners and thus cause them to quickly put pro into less than perfect places. Anyway, I found the route to be a bit loose and vegetated and not near the quality of Integral Crack.

A great way to welcome climbers!

Sofie and Hans on top of Booroomba Rocks scouting the approach to the base of the climbs.

The South Buttress with Integral Crack in the middle and Roy's Crack to the left.

Hans leading Integral Crack - one of the best crack routes I have ever climbed!

Hans just above the off-width start and approaching the vegetation on Roy's Crack!


Ascent of Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia (2229 m)

Mt. Kosciuszko (2229 m) is the highest mountain in Australia and has gained fame a one of the peaks of the original Bass list of the Seven Summits. Many mountaineers aspiring for the seven summits thus come to The Snowy Mountains to "climb" Mt. Kosciuszko. This is quite a joke given that it is a hiking summit which anyone with even a minimal degree of fitness can "climb". Nevertheless, it is actually a beautiful area as the alpine vegetation is quite unique (in particular the snow gum trees are beautiful), and it is thus a worthwhile hike - in particular if you come off season to avoid the massive summer crowds!

On March 26, 2009 Sofie Frederikke, Elvira and I hiked to the summit. It was not the best weather as it was quite windy, but we had a great day - and now Elvira and I have both climbed two of the seven (Mt. Kilimajaro and Mt. Elbrus, respectively), and Sofie has her first!

Snowy Mountains seen from the parking lot. Mt. Kosciuszko is hidden in the clouds on the left. Mt. Clarke is the peak in the middle and Mt. Lee is the peak to the right.

Closeup of the beautiful bark of a snow gum tree.

Elvira pushing the pram with Sofie towards the summit.

Sofie and Elvira on the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko :-)

The Seaman Hut is located halfway between the parking lot and the summit. We took a break in the hut on the way down to get a rest out of the wind!


Creon/Tales of Brave Ulysses, Left Watchtower Face, Arapiles, Australia

On March 23, 2009 I got a chance to climb a multi-pitch route in Arapiles as David Morse and Jack Scott had found a partner (John) for me. John turned out to be a great partner as he had climbed in the area since the sixties and thus knew more or less everything about Arapiles and The Grampians!

We decided to climb a route on the famous Watchtower Face and choose the route Creon/Tales of Brave Ulysses (110 m, 18) which turned out to be a great route!

The Watchtower Face. The Watchtower is the pillar in the middle of the picture. The "real" fire watchtower is seen on the top of mountain, which was actually were some of the terrible "Black Sunday" Victorian wildfires were spotted from on February 7, 2009.

Closeup of the route on the left. We also climbed a route on the Kitten Wall on the upper right side of the Watchtower Face.

John leading the first pitch, which was a slab with an interesting traverse on flakes.

I led the second crux pitch which goes up The Siren Buttress seen here. The crux was the initial overhang - after that the pitch got a lot easier.

The last pitch is quite short (< 10 meters) going up an interesting crack corner.

To get more out of the day I led an excellent grade 15 crack on The Kitten Wall which is located above the Watchtower Face. Here John is abseiling the route which goes up the crack to the right of the rope.

Finally, we abseiled the Watchtower Face with an excellent view of Mitre Rock and Mitre Lake.


Grey and Green Wall, Mt. Stapylton Amphitheatre, The Grampians, Australia

Both The Grampians and Arapiles are renowned for their trad protected multi-pitch routes, which is one of my favorite kinds of climbing. Unfortunately, it is not really possible to climb such routes with a baby onboard and I was thus lucky to bump into David Morse (Wales) and Jack Scott (Australia) in The Pines Campground, Arapiles. They were happy to bring me along on a multi-pitch climb in The Grampians as I had the car to bring us there - and they were psycked to try this area.

On March 19, 2009 we thus drove to the Mt. Stapylton area to climb on the Grey and Green Wall. It turned out to be a fantastic day with three great pitches in the most beautiful surroundings.

David Morse on the approach to the Mt. Stapylton Amphitheatre. The famous (and very hard) Taipan wall is the orange rock in the right. The Grey and Green wall is just left of the Taipan wall.

The forrest below the walls sports many boulders which are used for bouldering. Here Jack Scott is praticing his off-width chimney skills on a funny looking boulder.

The three pitches we climbed on the Grey and Green Wall:
1) Spillway (18)
2) Navarre (17)
3) Sweet Dreams (19)

Our first pitch was Spillway (18), led by Jack Scott, which was a slab route protected by the Aussie carrot bolts.

Next I led the awesome pitch Navarre which followed a left-trending diagonal corner. I thus had my feet on small ledges on the wall while using the crack of the corner for my hands (and Friends!). Super position!
Here Jack Scott is cleaning the pitch.

We had to abseil halfway down the wall to get to the start of Sweet Dreams. David Morse led the pitch which started out with delicate slab climbing without a lot of protection. The route then changed character and became an overhang which looked quite hard. However, once you got the feet up on the overhang (as Jack Scott shows here) it was surpricing easy and a lot of fun due to a lot of hidden holds in the crack.

Jack Scott abseiling the wall. Great view with the approach route on Flat Rock seen in the backround.