The Ice Climbing Continues

A fourth day of clear skies (although cloud did build later higher on Grand Paradiso) and no wind. Today we hiked 80 minutes from La Barme hotel, where we have been staying, up the beautiful Valnontey valley leading to Grand Paradiso. Our objective was the classic Patri route, a four pitch climb with a snow slope separating the final pitch that was also the hardest pitch. 

The route, ever popular,  had drawn six other climbers by 9:30 – our arrival time. Everyone was polite and patient.  However having completed the climb and on abseiling down to the belay of the final pitch, there was an unprecedented number of climbers. With six people on that delay, it was certainly crowded but there was good humour and attention to detail. 

The following are a few photos of our climb. I will be posting a series of photos of all our ice climbs we’ve done this week on the website within a few weeks.​


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From 38 degrees to -5 degrees.

It seems peculiar to think that this time last week Anne and I were hiking in the Australian Grampian mountains and today sees the third splendid days ice climbing in the valle di Cogne in Italy. 

Neil, Andy and I have climbed some spectacular ice. On Monday we did three of the four pitches of L’Anfiteatro, missing out the second. We  started at the third pitch,  which leads from a frozen pond and did three of the numerous variations.Then moved on up to the upper pitch, returning to finish with the first. An unusual approach, but one that gave us several variations.  We noticed today, two days later that the underlying water has punched through the upper part of the first and second pitch, so we were lucky to get to climb it.   

Yesterday saw us on the five pitch Cascata di Valmiana a 200m grade 3+.we abseiled back down and repeated the first pitch from further to the right, a harder climb and very rewarding.

And so to today. Probably the best days ice climbing I have had over the past five years. We trudge up the steep hillside to the start of the Lillaz Gully a grade four, six pitch climb with variety rarely matched. The first pitch was not so far off vertical and very wet. The second, a snow slope followed by an engaging and interesting third. The fourth started steeply taking the righthand  line and thinning down to less than a metre recessed into rock either side. This required some different moves on mixed ground. And finally the last pitch was a moderate excercise in Dry tooling through mixed rock, ice, snow and trees. 

To put the finish to this great day, was a hike down to the valley floor though alpine woods with views to Mont Blanc. My thanks to both Neil and Andy.​

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That was one incredibly windy day.

Grey overcast skies with heavy drizzle again met the morning.  Previously similar morning had brightened, so there was optimism .  The noticable difference was the intensity of the wind and it was driving in a northerly direction with considerable determination. I was to cycle about 90 miles directly onto it.

Within four miles of my very comfortable bed and breakfast, I was changing an inner tube in a down pour, (first puncture of the trip). The rain continued for some time, then a warming sun appeared. The forecast had been correct. But no! The first of numerous unforecasted heavy deluges ensued and at no time did the intensity of the wind abate.  

The route varied from fast N roads to lanes that had grass growing between the wheel tracks , an opportunity to eat too many blackberries.   Unexpectedly, the last 15 miles had some sustained hills which resulted in around 1, 500 m of ascent. 

Obviously they were times of elation.  The bright sunlight on the Irish sea with contrasting deep grey clouds.  A cow’s head, seemingly without a body poking through a high hedge.  An unusual egg dispenser.


On route were two excellent cafés.  Lunch at the first was a chicken salad.Brings back memories Andy. ​

And at the second a massive piece of apple crumble and a bucket of cappuccino to see me into Swords. This is the Seamus Ennis Culture Centre.

So, I have now cycled around Ireland. Before I knew precious little about this island so near to England. Shameful really. Now,  I still know nothing about it’s centre, but so much more about it’s coast and the towns that look out to the ocean, it’s history,  how the lands were shaped and the people.  I will certainly be back and most certainly    encourage others to visit.

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Some photos of the past few days- I hope they load.

The bridge at Randalstow – today.


The Giant’s Causeway – yesterday. 


The Dark Hedges – yesterday. 


One of perhaps a dozen trees that had teddies hanging from them. Very strange!


Maybe the dream vehicle for a teenage girl?


After keeping my camera hidden whilst riding past the prison  at Magilligan,​ I had to take this one of Binevenagin.

On the ferry across the Lough Foyle

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A Rest Day

Ok, so lets hope today’s blog publishes,  unlike yesterday’s.  

A circular route taking in a number of interesting places. The Dark Hedges, made famous the world over by Game of Thrones was my first stop, but didnt beat two coach loads of Spanish and Japanese. Now whether you are a fan of this adult Narnia, Robinhood, Brave Heart rolled into one, with sizable portions of sex and no certainty that any character will escape a grizzly death, this avenue of 18th century Beech trees is impressive in its own right.What is little less know is why in a near by lane are so many teddy bears hanging high in the trees.

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The drizzle stopped as I cycled to the Carrick -a- Rede ( rope bridge). Then onto the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce castle via White Park Bay.

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A Day of Variety


Heavy drizzle accompanied me out of Letterkenny. I rode NE on N13 and onto Buncrana and had a coffee in the town the first ferry would have brought me had it been running. The weather improved as elevation was gained and the Slieve Snaght appeared. The country from here to  Carndonagh, with it’s massive church, is wild and beautiful. 
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In some areas farming methods haven’t changed much.

The Lough Foyle ferry took me across to Northern Ireland. Riding past the HMI prison at Magilligen wasn’t that welcoming. However the impressive backdrop of Binevenagh was.

Do search out the feed back provided by the prisoners, it’s laughable. Have we gone seriously soft on our criminals?


Having problems loading photos tonight.  Several more to come, including every teenage girls first dream car.​
So no photos are loading tonight And text is ghosting.  

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And of the Irish themselves. 

William Yeats,  as is well known was an astute fellow.  He was so right when saying ” there are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met”. Riding solo day on day whilst prompting self examination of thoughts, does make you more inclined to talk to strangers and that practice is turning out to be a pleasurable one on this trip . I’m probably seen as a bit of an oddity,  people come and chat. Whilst they are happy to share their glory moments, they also want to talk about their moments of darkness, alcohism,  stretches in prison and The Troubles. You part ways, never to meet again, but you have been given a window onto the very personal  aspects of a strangers life. They are nolonger strangers,  as Yeats says, they have become friends for the time your paths crossed.

Today was a long one, my hip was unpleasant from the fall yesterday, but whilst it rained  this morning,  the afternoon was a joy.  Rained threatened early evening but never arrived . I’m going to break off now to eat the hind leg of an Irish cow that’s sitting on my plate.And followed by cheesecake!  Oh the joys of burning big calories!  

The ride this afternoon was a joy,  no serious hills, just long steady inclines. Great roads and excellent driving.  It was just good to be peddling and at reasonable speed. The occupants of several vehicles shouted encouragement.  I saw genuine Irish trotting ponies in harness on the road. Not too sure about the over zealous use of the whips.

Here is a selection of photos from today.

The Dartry mountains.

Falls on the ascent to the Banesmore Gap, a great scenic ride.

Just been advised that the first ferry I was to take tomorrow has stopped for the season. Used to be run by the council, now out sourced for efficency,  new operator’s need to maximise their profits,  so have cut the service. I’ll need to retrace my route and use the N15 before heading north to Buncrene where the ferry would have came across Lough Swilly. I’m looking forward to the Inishowen.

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