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Cuillin Ridge

04/09/2017

Autumn 2016 | Snowdonia

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Photo James at the Pinnacle on Pinnacle Ridge Route Tryfan, one of the three classic lines to be found on the face

We rounded off the season, and the working year, with three weeks spent in Snowdonia. First week was with Shane and Chris, training for the Cuillin Ridge in 2017. We spent time in Cwm Eigiau, on Amphitheatre Buttress, and when the weather closed in for a day, used it wisely to practice rope skills and belay techniques at the climbing wall. We finished the week with a full mountain day, climbing Arete on Slab (Bochlwyd Buttress) then heading to the Glyderau to climb Dolmen Arete, before descending down Bristly Ridge and heading back via Bochlwyd Buttress. After a rest day we then headed out on a 4 day traverse of Snowdonia, starting at Cwm Eigiau on the Wednesday and finishing at Mynydd Mawr the following Sunday. During the four day walk we picked our way across the Glyderau and Carneddau as well as taking in Snowdon Summit itself. The day after, just to see how fast we could do the same route, we walked, ran, climbed and scrambled the same route, covering the same ground in just over 13 hours. The chips in Llanrwst never tasted as good after that one. For the last two days we returned to Tryfan and climbed Pinnacle Rib and Grooved Arete in one day - not bad when you consider we started a little later than we d planned for and had a grade 1 scramble descent in the middle. Last day we spent practising rescue techniques at a nearby crag. Overall a great few weeks to end the season, made all the better by the location and the company

Summer 2016 | Skye, South Wales & Snowdonia

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Photo Steve and Party make their way to the top of Bristly Ridge, Glyderau, Snowdonia

We ve had a busy spring/summer here at Contour. Back at the end of May we kicked off the season with our annual visit to Skye. A terrific two weeks, with only one day of rain, unprecedented in our experience. We managed a successful Cuillin Ridge Traverse in our first week and then spent the second walking and scrambling the main ridge. In June we returned to Wales for more climbing and scrambling in Snowdonia and mid-Wales, with a wide variety of clients both young and old. June also saw us helping out local company Metris on one of their leadership programmes helping plan a complicated traverse of the Black Mountains and the Forest of Dean utilising canoes, mountain bikes, vehicles and various climbing and abseil scenarios. We even used a porta ledge to spend a night in the trees for the overnight camp; varied to say the least. July we marked walking routes and helped with tree climbing at the Starry Skies event as well as completing Trekitt s Snowdonia Traverse Challenge in 17 hours. The start of August saw us back to Snowdonia running more climbing and scrambling including a surprise birthday Traverse of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge with Steve and his party (see photo). We re taking some time off until September, then it s back to the hills. Black Mountains at the start of the month and then up to Snowdonia for a more sedate 3 day Snowdonia Traverse. Who says life isn t varied?

Spring 2016: Morocco, Scotland & North Wales Trips

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Photo: Climbing in the Tafroute Area of the Anti-Atlas, Morocco, with Andi Turner

We ve been up to quite a lot this winter: we headed out to Morocco for some sunshine and some winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms (chalk & cheese) The former was a fantastic trip as fellow instructor and friend, Andi Turner, made (to our knowledge) the first free ascent of Almighty in the Samazar Valley.

As well as our own recreational escapes, we ve started the spring summer/ season in earnest. Early April saw us running workshops on behalf of Trekitt Mountain Sports in addition to scrambling and walking courses in South and North Wales. With the advent of the longer evenings the pace is picking up with more climbing courses programmed in North Wales during early May. This will be followed shortly after by our annual trip up to the Isle of Skye, and we can t wait. Mixed bag there this year: a party to guide on the Cuillin Ridge as well as running some walking and navigation on the Island s other famous feature, the Trotternish Ridge. Both have their unique challenges and we re looking forward to both. So that takes us up to June, and we re just starting. We ll keep you posted how we get on and what we ve been up to as it unfolds.

For more details on how we can help you and what s available during the Summer 2016 visit the website, email or ring….we re only too happy to help

Winter 2016: Preparation & Training for the Summer

Photo: Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons, South Wales, Walking & Navigation Training December 2015

Despite the poor weather that s been buffeting the UK we ve still been able to get out and about in preparation for the spring and summer 2016. Along with walking and climbing in the South Wales area we ve been planning our summer courses and holidays. Cuillin Ridge & Skye is proving as popular as ever and our North Wales scrambling courses are filling up

If you can t wait until spring arrives then we re putting on a series of lectures and training sessions in association with Trekitt Mountain Sports in Hereford. There s a number of free navigation sessions that are up for grabs, sponsored by Trekitt, as well as a series of training days aimed at the climber and scrambler

Lectures will cover the Snowdonia Traverse and the Cuillin Ridge Crossing, the latter focusing on the difficulties encountered on the ridge and the former for teams that have signed up to the Trekitt/Contour Snowdonia Traverse Challenge 2016

In the meantime we ll be heading off to Morocco in mid-February to get some winter climbing under the belt in the Anti-Atlas area, and then it s keeping winter walking and climbing techniques up to speed with a trip to Scotland in March….and after all that it s time to start the spring/summer season again

For details of lectures, free training and short one day skills courses ring or email Contour for further details

Snowdonia: Scrambling Training, Autumn 2015

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Photo: Scrambling on the Cneifion Arete, Cwm Cneifion, Snowdonia

We rounded of the UK Summer/Autumn season running an advanced scrambling course in Snowdonia over a long weekend. Friday afternoon saw us practising and revising knots and rope techniques on Little Tryfan, so that we could get the basics covered and hit the ground running the following day.

On Saturday we decided to head for a grade two scramble called Idwal Buttress, located just to the right of the Idwal Slabs in Cwm Idwal. It’s a great scramble, with everything you need to practice the familiar direct and indirect belays used in climbing, as well as the use of the body and natural features that pertain to scrambling. The weather held, and although we had a fresh easterly wind blowing for most of the day, not a spot of rain was to be seen. Lots of lessons learned and put into practice

Next day, Sunday, we swapped the slab and gentler slopes of Idwal Buttress for the steeper terrain of the Cneifion Arete. Once again it proved to be a dry day, but the wind had an even colder edge to it. Nevertheless, once we were on the arete proper we were reasonably sheltered by Cribin and Tryfan to the east. We picked up were we left off. After a steep start, where we took the opportunity to practise lowers and abseils, we scrambled up the ridge, making the most of the rock spikes and wide stances to practice direct belays and the use of the rope. We stopped for lunch two thirds up the scramble, to enjoy the view, and savour the silence before making for the top of Cribin and the ‘football pitch’. A quick sort out of the kit at the top and then it was back down to the car park, via Cribin and Cwm Bochlwyd.

Contour will be running scrambling and climbing courses and holiday in Wales and Scotland in 2016. See the website or get in touch for additional details on how we can help you develop your skills

Summer 2015: Snowdonia, Skye, Brecon Beacons, Elan & Wye Valley

Photo: Ogwen Valley, looking west from Tryfan

I think this photo sums our last three months. We ve been spending most of our time in Snowdonia, whether it s preparing for the Cuillin Ridge, running map & compass navigation courses or GPS focused training we seem to have spent the bulk of our time walking, scrambling and navigating in the shadow of Snowdon. For the most part the weather has treated us well, and apart from the deluge at the end of August we were able to get out on the hills, and, to be fair, achieve far more than we set out in the various course programmes. The highlight of the Snowdonia navigation courses was the GPS training and in particular seeing how the students learnt to complement traditional map and compass work with the use of GPS.

June saw us making a break from Wales and travelling north for our annual Skye Trip to take on the Cuillin Ridge. Some pretty bad weather but all in all a successful trip with some Cuillin Rounds thrown in for good measure.

After Skye we returned to Wales, where we spent the majority of July. Highlights were teaching Navigation in the Elan Valley, a fantastic area to develop skills. Really open and wild, justifying the title Green Desert . July also saw us running the helping with the Starry Skies Festival. Our Family Friendly nature themed orienteering course went down well along with the various walks and climbing activities that we planned and ran.

August was back to N. Wales for some more navigation and scrambling. Highlight of this month was taking out a Trekitt Hereford competition winner for a weekend of climbing and scrambling in N. Wales. The Saturday of the weekend was particularly memorable, and saw us making consecutive ascents of Idwal Buttress; Cneifion Arete and Dolmen Ridge in one day.

August isn t over and we finish as we started by returning to the Ogwen Valley. Bank Holiday Weekend will be spent running an advanced navigation session along with a walking themed family activity weekend

Thanks to all of you that have chosen to venture outdoors with us this season, but it s not over yet so keep an eye on the Contour Website for details of our winter workshops and courses. Also, we ll be delivering a series of presentations at Trekitt Hereford during the autumn, once again there will be full details on the website

May 2015: Walking, Climbing in North and South Wales

Photo: Navigation check in the Vale of Ewyas, with stunning views from Darren Lwyd towards Llanthony Abbey in the Black Mountains

We ve been rushed off our feet this month. The onset of the good weather has seen us running climbing courses in North Wales as well as navigation sessions in the Black Mountains. The former saw us based out of Dolgam Campsite at the foot of Moel Siabod, which gave us easy access to all the major Ogwen Valley crags as well as those slightly further afield. For five days we climbed from dawn to dusk to ensure that everyone got the most out of the experience.

As for the walking and navigation, well we based ourselves On the Black Hill spending three nights under canvas, glamping . The daytime saw us putting in two classic circuits: one based around the Cat s Back and another taking in the Vale of Ewyas and Twmpa from the Gospel pass.

June sees us heading up to Snowdonia for our scrambling week, and we re looking forward to it. The icing on the cake comes later in the month when we make for Skye and the Cuillin Ridge.

Also, we ll be running more navigation sessions in the Elan Valley, as well as delivering a talk on the Cuillins in Trekitt Mountain Sports Store, Hereford, on 18th of June. There s only 25 places for the talk so book ahead to reserve your place.

April 2015: Cycling the Talgarth Black, Black Mountains S. Wales

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Photo: Quick bike check, post climb, at the top of Y Das, Black Mountains, South Wales

During the recent good weather we took the opportunity to ride one of the South Wales Mountain Classics: The Talgarth Black. Starting in the village of Talgarth, nestled at the foot of the Black Mountains, we began the steady uphill climb on winding country roads before arriving at the hills proper. A push and carry up Y Das, saw us at the crest of the ridgeline, with an outstanding 8km or so of single track downhill in front of us. One brilliant section was followed by another, with an awesome descent to the Hermitage and then a series of roads and tracks, north, to Pengenfordd. All too soon, after a day of thrilling ups–and-downs we were back in Talgarth in time for a portion of well deserved chips from the Castle Chippy. A day well spent.

See our website for more on Contour s 2015 mountain biking courses and holidays, including the North to South Wales Sarn Helen Expedition Ride

January 2015: Lyon Equipment Inspection Course

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Photo: One of the many items of climbing equipment inspected during the course of the 4 days - Would you climb on this harness or would you buy a new one?


We spent late January up at the Lyon Training Centre in Cumbria, attending a 4 day Personal Protective Equipment Inspection Course. A tremendously informative 4 days, building on existing knowledge as well as providing an even greater insight into inspection and care of climbing equipment. The four days of classroom work culminated in a full day of practical and written tests, to ensure that all who attended left the centre equipped with the skills & knowledge to inspect equipment and how to maintain records of its use.

As a prelude to the summer season Contour will be running a series of Climbing Equipment Inspection & Maintenance Lectures at Aber Rocks Bouldering Wall, Abergavenny (Evening, 2nd April 2015), and at Trekitt Mountain Sports Store, Hereford (Evening, 18th April 2015). The lectures will cover inspection and care of helmets, harness, ropes, climbing gear. After each talk there will be the opportunity to ask questions, as well as, the opportunity to bring an item of gear for inspection by Bob Thomas.


Evening Lectures at Aber Rocks 2nd April 2015 & Trekitt Mountain Sports Store, Hereford 18th April 2015. Contact Contour, Aber Rocks or Trekitt Mountain Sports for additional details and to book you place

October/November 2014: Training in Snowdonia

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Photo: Putting Theory into Practice on Barstow Buttress, Tryfan, N. Wales


As members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors we are required to keep our skills and knowledge up to date. All members have to attend mandatory Continual Personal Development Sessions (CPD) in order to keep abreast of latest skills and techniques. So during early November we headed up to North Wales for a two day scrambling workshop. Despite the poor weather we were able to refine and polish existing skills as well as develop and build on some new techniques. First day was spent revising rope handling, coiling and bracing techniques on easy terrain. Second day saw us heading up Little Tryfan (Grade 3 Scramble) followed by an ascent and descent of Barstow Buttress. A really useful two days which will not only reap rewards for Contour Instructors but benefit clients as well.


Details of Contour’s 2015 Scrambling Programme is now on the website. We’ve included Snowdonia expeditions for April and May as well as the Cuillin Ridge for late June early July. Book now to avoid missing out on some fantastic courses and UK based expeditions.

September 2014: Cuillin Ridge Traverse, Skye

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Photo: Abseiling from the Inaccessible Pinnacle, Cuillin Ridge, Skye


The first two weeks of September saw Contour making its annual Skye trip. Weather was great and we were able to achieve our main aim of guiding our party safely over the 14 km traverse of the Black Cuillins. Not only did we tackle the ridge, but we were able to climb Odell’s Route on Marsco (Red Cuillins) in addition to climbs on Window Buttress, as well as completing the classic Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr Nan Gillean. All in all a really successful trip, built on sound preparations during our training weekends in N. Wales during the summer. One of the party even found time to squeeze in 50 mile road bike tours of the island, as if the climbing and scrambling hadn’t been enough.


Details of Contour’s Skye programme for 2015 will be published on the website in the autumn. Also visit the website for details our of Snowdonia Summer. Traverse We look forward to hearing from you.

August 2014: Snowdonia Traverse Training

Photo: Training for the Snowdonia Traverse, Moelwynion, Snowdonia

We’ve been spending the last month or so readying ourselves for a Cuillin Ridge crossing, as well as a walk/climb traverse of Northern Snowdonia. The latter will see us start at Cwm Eigiau, above the Conwy Valley, and then see us tackle Amphitheatre Buttress. Subsequent days spent climbing East Gull Arete on the Glyderau, Ridge Route on the Lliwedd below Snowdon itself, culminating with a final scramble on Sentries Ridge, Craig y Bera. Some great walking combined with some classic mountaineering routes should make for a truly memorable UK Expedition.

Starting 18th August we’ll keep you posted how we get on.

See the website for more ideas on we can help you achieve your mountaineering goals

July 2014: Snowdonia Mountain Training with Trekitt

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Photo: Steve,Nick & Instructor Martin on Bochlywd Buttress, Ogwen

At the end of June and start of July Contour ran a Snowdonia, walking, scrambling and climbing package for staff of Trekitt, Hereford and the Marches’ premiere outdoor clothing and equipment store. We had a great time putting Team Trekitt & their kit through their paces on Snowdonia’s Carneddau and Glyderau Ranges. During one truly memorable day out we managed to walk in and complete a warm up climb on Bochlwyd Buttress, followed by further walking and navigation to the foot of the towering Glyderau, where we climbed & scrambled East Gully Arete - a Grade 3 classic. The day culminated with a descent down Cribin, and all done in brilliant sunshine.

For a blow by blow account of the week follow the link to Will’s blog were he paints a picture of the routes that they did and the gear they tested.

http://www.trekitt.co.uk/content/north-wales-training-and-kit-test-ogwen-valley-with-bob-thomas-contour-outdoors.aspx

We’ll also be writing an article on scrambling for the Trekitt blog, featuring a route and recommended kit.

In the meantime, if you can’t wait for the article email or ring Contour to find out how we can help you with developing your walking, scrambling and climbing

June 2014: Andi Turner's Season to Date

Photo: Andi Turner Pushing the Grades at Nescliffe, Shropshire

I ended last year with completing my project finally at Ramshaw. It was maybe five years in the making all revolving around one move essentially. I gave the route E7(7a) or highball (7c). It took me a three week abstinence from alcohol to spur me on. It features in this new video called “Gritual” - http://tv.thebmc.co.uk/video/the-gritual-part-1
With this freedom, I was then able to crack on and do whatever I pleased no longer tied to this one project. I didn’t venture too far mind and finished the year with an early repeat of the Driven Bow E7 (6c) at Hen Cloud and finally got around to doing Master of Reality E6 (6c) at the same crag. The latter route being described by some as the finest route of its grade on grit, which is high praise indeed when compared to Wristcutter’s Lullaby and Beau Geste which are perhaps the others in this same bracket. It’s the only tufa I’ve ever climbed on gritstone and is some of the best climbing I’ve done as regards moves.
Since then, I’ve been climbing plenty. We’ve had a few trips away including a superb few days in Northumberland, from which the highlight was the superb and a real genuine hidden gem: Northern Soul at Hepburn.
After this, I was still keen for more sandstone action, so, once again the weather dictated that we couldn’t head into the mountains, so we heading into Shropshire instead for the superb quarried walls of Nesscliffe where I managed to climb the amazing Gathering Sun, E7 (6c). An insecure and generally unprotected (I found tricam placements ;) ) E5 arrives at some ancient ironwork from where a triptych of cruxes follows, each harder than the last. The last move being a real heart breaker!
So, that pretty much brings us up to date on the harder stuff. I’m currently on day 33 of climbing on rock, with the intention of climbing 100 consecutive days on the trot. Skin’s still good. Andi coaches and instructs on Contour’s climbing scrambling and walking courses in the Peak District & North Wales. For more on how Contour can help you improve your mountain skills visit the Contour website

May 2014: Training For Skye's Cuillin Ridge

Photo: Top of Corner Buttress Route, Wintour’s Leap, after a day of scrambling training

Planning and preparation is key to a successful crossing of one the UK’s most sought after mountaineering routes: The Cuillin Ridge. Contour always runs a series of training weekends in the Wye Valley and North Wales, before we head up to Skye. This ensures that everyone in the team is familiar with the equipment and scrambling techniques required to tackle the ridge, as well as having an understanding of the level of fitness required to negotiate the challenge. For more on Contour’s Cuillin Packages, and how we can help you prepare for the demands of Skye, please see the Contour website or ring to find out what we have to offer

April/May 2014: First Ascents and Exploration in the Nafusa Mountains

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Photo: Ujelin Crag, Libya, North Africa Climbing Expedition

Every now and again an opportunity presents itself to visit a new place where nobody has climbed before. So when the chance to visit Libya was proposed to us we leapt at the chance. Climbing equipment packed we headed for the Nafusa Mountains, just south of Tripoli. Local people pointed us in the direction of the crags, and after speaking with tribal leaders to ensure we weren’t trespassing we pressed ahead with a week of climbing. No rain just sunshine and dry rock with allowing us maximum time exploring and developing some brilliant new routes. We’ll be returning again in the autumn - interested? For more on Contour’s climbing, scrambling and walking holidays both in the UK and abroad, visit the website, ring or email, we’ll only be too happy to help.

Spring 2014: Climbing, Spring Evening South Wales Valleys

Photo: Upper Tier, The Gap, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

Once again the summer is upon us and with the evenings drawing out we can make the most of the time and the weather to snatch a climb outside and dust off the cobwebs. The indoor wall is great, but there’s no substitute for the rock, which beats plastic every time. There great thing here in South Wales and the Wye Valley is that combination of single and multi-pitch Sandstone and Limestone crags in close proximity to one another, meaning that there’s always a chance to climb, even if it’s drizzling. To find out more on how Contour can help you improve your climbing, rope and gear skills please visit the climbing section of the website

September 2013: Climbing in the Wye Valley and South Wales

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Photo: At the top of Snoozin Suzie, Symonds Yat, The Wye Valley

We’ve had a busy month, be it developing and practising our own skills up in Scotland, or taking clients out to introduce and practice their own in the Wye Valley and South Wales. The fine weather towards the end of this month, along with end of the main summer holiday season, have proved a bonus: ideal weather for being outside, without the crowds that you’d expect on a summer’s day. There’s still the chance to snatch some time on the rock, but if you’d prefer to head indoors keep an eye on the website for details of Contour’s indoor climbing and coaching courses, and for our winter MTB programme.

September 2013: Scottish Cycling and Sea Stack Expedition

Photo: On the third pitch on the Old Man of Hoy

Earlier this month we spent nine days cycling and climbing in the north west coast of Scotland and in the Orkney Islands. Our aim was to climb the three classic Scottish Sea Stacks: The Old Man of Stoer, Am Buachaille and the Old Man of Hoy, and to use touring bikes to cycle between the different venues. The whole trip proved to be a great adventure, with us having to swim to the base of two of the stacks, as well as putting in just over two hundred miles of cycling, through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, to get to the various climbs. Check the gallery for pictures of the trip and ring or email Contour to find out how we could organise a trip or expedition similar to this for you.

August 2013: Checking MTB Routes in the Black Mountains

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Photo: MTB at the foot of the Cat’s Back, Black Mountains, South Wales

As well as running climbing courses at Wintour’s Leap and Symonds Yat Contour has been guiding on the Three Peaks Challenge, and, as the photograph and title shows we’ve even managed to fit in a ride or two, in preparation for the April 2014 Hay on Wye Cycle Fest. Contour is currently helping to scope and check routes, as well as assisting in planning and administration for the Fest’s various MTB events. Many thanks to Robin from Wild Rides for a great day’s riding in the Black Mountains. See the website for details of Contour’s courses and holidays, including the Sarn Helen Helen Expedition ride, a fantastic MTB traverse across the spine of Wales.