Friday, April 30, 2010

The grassy traverse

Well I’ve just got back from mapping out the route up Vandalino following the southern crest. Pretty gruelling and I won’t be using the route but worth the effort. Definitely not something that I feel I could recommend to any but the most adventurous of our walker guests at the B&B as there were a couple of passages which even Baldrick almost balked at and he’s a climber. As he said, rock is pee easy, it’s the grass you have to worry about. Crossing a combed-grass slope between outcrops with a couple of hundred meters drop below you really is no joke I have now decided as a result that the  climbing grades need some qualification. I think they should be supplemented  by three extra classes relative to pitches along the route; CG (Combed-grass), PWR ( permanently wet rock) and UGC (unsteady grass clumps) because Grade one scramble on its own means damn all really. What grade do you confer to an almost vertical grassy slope? On some of these slopes you’d need an ice axe and crampons to get up safely. So the southern ridge of Vandalino is a grade one CG,PWR,UGC with DLD (don’t look down) factor of 9. Or something. OK, it needs some work but the idea is there.

The same trip had me wondering, as usual, just how much what we are fed by the gear manufacturers is actually necessary. I really wished I had been wearing tennis shoes, in fact I think I will go back to using  them more. I’ve spent 20 years of my walking life wearing variations on the tennis shoes idea without a problem and I don’t give a toss what the so-called experts say, rigid boots are not always necessary. Sherpas wear sandals, porters in several mountainous regions go barefoot, most of the hill farmers here until 50 years ago either wore clogs or went barefoot, so what’s with this obsession with boots all of a sudden? Essential of course in the winter, more comfortable on scree perhaps but round here tennis shoes would be quite adequate. Ankle support?. I mean where did that come from? Has anyone on the planet really ever felt they needed ankle support? What’s wrong with looking where you’re putting your feet? I’m obviously not a real mountain hiker though so sometimes I wonder just how gullible I am. I mean I am actually tempted by this stuff though people have been trapsing these mountains since the bloody bronze age and only in the last few years have all these comforts for mountain excursions become essentials. I could buy gear all day, I love the stuff,  but sometimes I’m sure we go just a bit too far and become just that little bit more wimpish with every ultralight, ultra necessary ultra technical item we buy. Maybe I’m just having a bad day though.

(Photo of grassy traverse)

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