A final bit of gear faff and we are on our way!

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Finally the team is together for the first time! Planning an expedition across the Internet is quite time consuming when everyone works totally different hours and in different time zones..aboutut here we are in Bishkek at last!

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Somehow we got all our stuff here in our allowed weight allowance,  Hannah and I didn’t even have to pay for our extra sporting equipment bag! Win! But the realisation that we have to carry about 170kg of kit in with us…. Lightweight! Luckily we have a new 60l bags to carry our stuff in!libbyIMG_0069

Team Chamonixs (right) packing was much more erm creative!

So we are off to Naryn now and then into the mountains! Our facebook page should be kept up to date with our progress, so like it to find out what we are up to!

Training fortuities

I’ve never written a climbing blog before. (Its Hannah)

With no natural tendency to report purely to topic, here it is: The greater decision making clarity required in climbing; the immediacy of one hold, another, a well or poorly placed nut – swamped by the bubbling undercurrent of life and its myriad of existential anxieties. You can tut. Its ok.

In April I had my Anna Karenina moment. Never before had agony been so sweet, joyous and unresolvedly messy. Actions that reached after a tidy linear drama backfired. At the end of the month against my lost wishes I was saying goodbye to the limestone karsts of Tonsai, Thailand; to the wild, monkey-like style of climbing; the wee bamboo hut I’d been living in in the jungle; and by that time of year, the almost bath like temperatures of the tropical sea.

Glasgow welcomed my return with a May of hail, and I cowered in a friend’s basement flat, always in down jacket, only emerging to see where my trad grading was at on the central belt dolerite quarries.

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Quarrying it up on one of Cambusbarron’s warmer moments -Miss Po [photo Arthur Huille]

No longer ‘teacher Hannah’ on home ground, I went on the dole. Classic Rock was then the order of the day and a few days were spent shivering on ledges, ticking off all the pleasantries of the granite, schist and the Glencoe volcanics. I shouldn’t have been surprised to have found winter gloves necessary, or for the need to kick steps in our trainers, but it had been two years since my last Scottish summer and the beauty and the midges had proven the only indelible prints on my mind.

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Squareface looking fine in the evening light [photo Henry O’Brian]

However 6 weeks haem and jobless internet telly life was getting me down. Old friends from Glasgow were now working in England. Students I could have climbed with were away for the summer. But at my most bitter-miserable when the future stretched on in that empty pointless, post-teenage-angst-clueless-graduate sort of way, a space appeared on a bus for the uni clubs annual alpine trip. The next day I was off the Dole-o-mites.

Thank fuck a reason to get up at 7 every morning, instead of just on sporadic cragging days. And getting fit for Kyrgyzstan would be easier with company, transport and bigger mountains with longer routes. 2 and a half weeks of Italian sun (and storms), a beautiful day up Yellow Edge, and a uncharacteristic 15 pitch grade V solo of Punta Fiames later and my mind was easing.

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Fiames arete [photo Will Hasite]

That is the easiest thing, to keep climbing. ‘Don’t think too much’ the Thais say often to the worried. You can abuse a statement like that, that clearly means something other than thoughtlessness. Or you can just keep looking at the mountains, the sky. On this trip we will have the freedom to make more decisions than before. Our own forecasts of weather, freezing levels, the weaving of a route. Conditions our full consideration and responsibility – I will not think too much. Most thoughts in these circumstances are not impotent but live in on going action amongst friends. An unclimbed peak, is an unclimbed peak, is a ridge, a face, a path that may go, or may not, or then another.

I could edit this bollocks, but now I must go to bed. We fly in the morning.

Emily’s Height Advantage.

Chamonix is a steep sided valley, perfect for getting some hill fitness!

Chamonix is a steep sided valley, perfect for getting some hill fitness!

Yes for once in my life I have a height advantage! Living in Chamonix this summer means that I am well acclimatised to higher altitudes. Even though I haven’t spent as much time ‘up high’ as I would have liked, spending all my time above 1000m is better than sitting at sea level.

The main problem with living in the Alps permanently is that you have to juggle work and play (and expedition planning!). I was wondering why I was so tired one week; it took me a while to realise that I had done five days of physical work and two long alpine routes on my separate days off. This was a lesson in why rest is so important.

As I have been working a fair amount recently, I have three ways in which I have been training for Kyrgyzstan. This week I unintentionally did all of them in the space of 72 hours, notching up nearly 5000m of ascent and over 6000m of descent! My knees have not been impressed. Here are some Chamonix style after work activities!

In spite of the signs, I still often go astray on this route.

In spite of the signs, I still often go astray on this route.

1. Via Corda

A classic easy scramble up to the buvette at the start of the ‘James Bond Track’ off the Vallee Blanche. As I have learnt the route better I have improved my times vastly. I’ve finally stopped getting slightly lost on it, which saves time for sure! It’s also amazing how much difference having the right footwear can make. The first time I climbed it in my Innov8 trail shoes, which I felt quite smug about. That is until I used my sticky approach shoes the next time around and easily knocked 20 minutes off my time! Although it took me a while to break the hour barrier, it now takes me about 45 minutes from the trail at the bottom to the buvette.

Mudclaws and slabs... Spicy!

Mudclaws and slabs… Spicy!

2. Plan d’Aiguille Laps, not of the skiing variety!

These are all about the ascent, the beauty of doing Plan reps during the daytime is that you can get the lift back down to town afterwards. I do still wildly mis-time my attempts and often have to make the painful descent back to town. Three laps in one go is the aim, just now two is hard enough work though!

Getting hot on a Plan lap.

Getting hot on a Plan lap.

3. Getting High

As I have a fair number many 4000m peaks on my doorstep, many of them a short cable car ride away, getting altitude in is pretty easy! As I hadn’t been up Mont Blanc yet, I impulsively decided to do it from first lift this Monday. It’s definitely the highest I’ve ever been and I was happy that I didn’t feel the thinness of the air too much. 4000m of descent all the way down to Les Houches was pretty horrific for the legs though. You can read more about this particular adventure on my blog here.

Monte Bianco!

Monte Bianco!

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Training time! Remembering how to climb Alpine Snow routes

Some shameless reblogging here! From all that we have heard about Kyrgyzstan, the snow can be erm interesting and very varied. So I’ve been on a little bit of a mission to climb run out, slightly suspect snow routes. At least here in Chamonix I can call a helicopter if it all goes wrong! My head is definitely a lot calmer now that I’m better at controlling snow slope fear. Snow traverses are still quite horrible though….DSCN4044s