Friday, 22 November 2013

Iceland August 2013


As a UNESCO City of Literature, Reykjavik “Smokey Bay” emphasises the central position of literature in the city’s and nation’s cultural life, its historical significance and contemporary value. The capital is full of charming wooden houses and narrow streets, quirky shops, city bars, cottage businesses and very tasteful street art.  Whilst we were there every shop window display throughout the whole city celebrated LGBT demonstrating the modern values of Iceland. We didn’t have much time to explore this funky city so we agreed to come back one day!

Beyond Reykjavik we visited the memorable ‘Big Three’ tourist attractions – Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir. Usually I don’t like to be “a tourist like” traveller but it was the best way to visit 3 of the many natural wonders for which Iceland is justly renowned.

Thingvellir National Park – a UNESCO Wold Heritage Site was surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, with its stunning lake, lava landscape (a must see), and rugged chasm walls on the rift where Europe meets America at the Continental Divide. Iceland actually sits on two different tectonic plates, the European one and the north American one. Technically we could argue we walked from Europe to north America while we strolled round the national park.

After the trail walking at the national park we visited the Gullfoss Waterfall. This waterfall is magnificent and many claim it to be the most magnificent of the country’s many.... However its proximity to the other attractions makes it a very busy place. As spectacular as Gullfoss was with its view of the River Hvita and drops of 96ft in two falls, we preferred other more secluded glacier wonders that we would see later in the week.

The third wonder literally took my breath away!!! Geyser, an area where hot springs are in abundance and the most active one is Stokkur (this is the original geyser that all other geysers are named after). Every 10 minutes it is spitting out a high column of boiling water up to 60ft. It was a truly epic scene.

After leaving Reykjavik we had Isafjordur and Akureyri.
Isafjordur with its excellent natural harbour become an important site for the merchants that traded with the farmers and fishermen in the area during and after the 16th century.  Production and export of saltfish was the key to the growth of the town and its status as one of Iceland’s main trading posts.  We strolled through the narrow streets of the old town (Nedstikaupstadur) surrounded by it’s modest wooden houses dating from the late 18th century. As we discovered, the town has got lots of walking trails to offer. I wanted to see the view from above the fjord, so we pecked the highest hill and walked up to reach the stunning views over the valley.

Akureyri is most likely one of my favourite stops in Iceland.

 On arrival we made a decision to travel in to the centre of the high lands. We had about 8 hours, that was plenty to fit in some kind of crazy adventure. We hired a local company Iceak to take us inland on the tour. Off road. It was very wet and wild. We travelled miles and miles across Iceland, we visited places you can only visit by foot or by 4 * 4.

On the lava fields, across the desert, baron volcanic lands that stretched for miles and miles.  As you can see from the photo bellow, Icelandic people can be comedians.

Despite the rainy and foggy weather we had an amazing day exploring the High Lands. We saw several apposing landscapes, from baron volcanic deserts, gorgeous waterfalls, and glacier streamed idyllic valleys.

It’s a fact that it wasn’t the best country I have ever visited. But spooky stories about trolls and the unique Icelandic landscape made my trip memorable and unforgettable.  

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Mountains “I will be back” ;-D!

Life is goodJ!!

Every month I am trying to get involved with some kind of adventure.  For the past 8 years I was living in Norfolk. East Anglia was too far from my favorite landscapes. My husband Luke and I were always planning to move up North. Finally at the beginning of this year we made it! Right now our base is York. North Yorkshire is so close to Lakes, Peaks and Scotland. Every other week I can enjoy rock climbing while I am waiting for the Scottish winter.

This summer I had the opportunity to go away climbing with my climbing partner Paul to North Wales.  Full body harness –check, helmet – check, climbing gear – check, over sized trousers and tops for my baby bump – check. We left York on Wednesday  at about 16.00. The journey was good, it took us only 3 hours to get there. Usually I am camping or just bivviing, but now I am a bit different, so we agreed to stay in Ogwen Valley Bunkhouse.

In the morning we knew that the weather wasn’t going to be good till about 14.00. We travelled to the Tremadog. On arrival we stopped off at Eric’s Cafe for a cup of tea and bite to eat. And guess what?!? We met the famous Welsh climber and base jumper Eric Jones.  Mr Jones is the owner of the Cafe and Campsite/Bunkhouse below Tremadog crags.  Eric is one of my row models for his solo ascent of the Eiger’s North Face.  After the brunch break the weather still wasn’t looking great. But we could not wait much longer. We picked one of the easiest climbs on the crag, so if the rock is still wet we will be able to climb it.

Hail Bebe Climb.
 I should say that at the beginning I didn’t really liked that climb. Very slippery start, a bit okward first pitch for a baby bump. On the way up there were too many trees and it turned a bit easy with not much climbing necessary, hardly even a scramble.  After we passed the tops of the tree line, suddenly amazing views appeared in front of us. Sunshine finally started to worm up the Welsh land. It was so amazing to be near the top of this climb in bright sun shine.

Christmas Curry.
I think it’s going to make my top 100 climbs! Strong start, hard work, muddy but well worth it! This had similar features to a chimney climb and you had to grab in and use strong arms to pull yourself up – tough work out.

The next few days we had bright sunshine and were able to climb at Llanbaris Pass and Tryfan.  Scary multi-pitch climbs I had never done ascents like these before the challenge kept reminding me about why I love climbing so much. Some of the moves were so scary I could hardly look down. Pitch after pitch my heart was pumping with happiness I was in my niche...Life is good!!!

That is it for this year. Literally within the last few weeks my belly has got so much bigger. I went to the local wall for a climb and realised that the only grades I could manage where 3 to 5a, ha ha I can’t recall ever climbing grade 3 in my life :-D. 

As of now I have got ‘just’ 5 walking trips planed to make up for not being able to climb. Pretty soon I am expecting to be too tied for even that. After Christmas I will join all the new year’s resolution hopefuls as I try to get back into shape. Hopefully I will manage to escape to Scotland to do some mountaineering before hitting the Alps in the summer of 2014!

Mountains “I will be back” ;-D!


Blog bellow was published on Berghaus website in the summer of 2013 (

For many years now, I have wanted to visit Iceland. I had a few reasons for this. Some time ago a friend and I thought about and started to plan an unsupported trip across Iceland in the winter. My friend had tried before (15-18 years ago) but not succeeded.  Since then Iceland was forefront in my mind as a possible adventure destination.

This year in October my husband and I will be celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and sometime at the beginning of December we are going to have a baby, choices for our holidays are limited. Well not so much limited as we could've gone on lazy beach holidays (no offence to the people who love lots of sunshine) or we could've had a European city break, or just walk for a week on Yorkshire moors or or or...lot’s of or’s. Well my bump is not going to stop me attempting some kind of crazy epic adventure.

At first we were planning to visit Denmark and Norway. Denmark and Norway are two lovely places worth visiting but having already been there I wanted something new. With some delays based around my passport we managed to lose some good deals on the trip to Norway. Oh my goodness we were very disappointed and angry with the situation. The last pre-baby epic adventure was just about to end up in our usual Scotland or Lake District jaunt.

At the beginning of August just before going to work I googled a few holiday ideas, maybe just maybe I will find something similar to the Norwegian trip. And guess what, I did. I shouted Luke please have a look at this cruise liner. This ship is sailing to Iceland via Kirkwall, Heimaey and Lerwick. Dream holidays!!!! As I can’t carry a heavy backpack right now a cruise would be ideal. On the cruise we will be sleeping at night while the ship is sailing then during the day we can explore different parts of the amazing landscape.

We only had one day to pack and on the 4th of August our ship sailed off to Iceland. By looking at the weather forecast predicting +11 temperature and the possibility of wind chills. It was difficult to pack. There was a heat wave in England and we knew that shorts and T-shirts would probably not be good enough. But it would still be too warm for winter clothes. So we packed our lightweight soft shells and mid weight fleeces (but t-shirts and shirts just in case, optimistic :-) ).

Now a little bit about our boat. Originally built in Russia it served as an icebreaker. Marco Polo (former name Pushkin) feels very unique. It’s like back in US back in US back in USSR(thank you Beatles)! The ship has been bought and used by different companies around the world but it has kept a Russian feeling all the same. Even most of the cruise workers were Ukrainian. This was a solid ship and it filled me with confidence.

Our first port of call was Kirkwall capital of the Orkney Islands. What a great place on earth! I am visiting Highlands of Scotland most likely 10-12 times a year but I have never been that far north. The Orkney Islands lie off the northern tip of Scotland, where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The Orkney’s are rich in history and natural beauty, most of the locals originally came from Scotland and Scandinavia. The Islands presented with smooth contours around the hills, shaped by the ancient movements of the Scandinavian ice sheets more than 10,000 years ago. We visited the Stone Circle of Brodgar, a prehistoric site (with lots of speculations on their original use) and the Italian Chapel (unique Chapel built by the Italian POW’s), walked across some rugged and forbidding terrain and been amazed by the views of the spectacular Old Red Sandstone coastal cliffs and surrounding area.

That’s it for today, next time Reyjavik and The Golden Circle, Iceland. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Wet Lake District

I will start with a big news. In the world of climbers not often you will see pregnant women on the rocks. Well you will be seeing me! Big baby bump is not going to stop me from climbing :-).

 It was a surprising news for me, as this summer I was suppose to climb Matterhorn and Eiger. And the next year a big expedition to Pakistan to climb unclimbed peak. At first I was thinking this is I am going to climb, how I am going to go away for a long period of time, how I am going to fund my trips if in about 6 months I am going to have a baby :-(.

After a few weeks of getting used to idea of 3rd person in my family I am more positive. After all it's not the end of the world. Other women done it and I will do it! Expedition to Pakistan has been moved to a summer of 2015. Matterhorn and Eiger summer 2014! Winter 2014 lots of weekends away in Scotland. Will just have to freeze lots of milk for a baby ;-)

My climbing partner, Paul, said that from now on I have to wear full body harness ( I said ok), I can't lead ( hmmm ok), I can't carry rope or climbing gear ( nope, gear I will carry my self!). After trying out my new full body harness last week at the wall, this week on the 23rd June 2013 we went to the Lake District. Plan was to do some easy graded climbing just to see if I am still up 2 speed. On arrival to a very wet Lake District it was no point to climb in the rain, so we went walking up to Bowfell. Actually it was a good practice walk for our next trip to Isle of Skye on the 3rd of July to do Culling Ridge.

After a walk we had a quick cup of tea at the local pub and agreed to try out at least one climb. Despite the rain we managed to do one climb. Middlefell Buttress, Raven Crag, well it was more of a scramble then a climb really. But we tried and tasted my bump, LOL

In a week I will be enjoying my favorite views! Will be climbing like a crazy (with care) and sleep in my bivvi on the top of Culling ridge! Can't wait!!!!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

SPA training

Scottish winter walking is behind, need to wait till next season :-(. But with summer approaching "slowly" time to do lots of climbing :-)!! At the end of April I have completed my Single Pitch Award training. Looking forward to teach people how to trad climb :-D!!!

Friday, 1 March 2013


Recovery is going well, thinking I am going to start climbing with in 2 weeks :-D

Saturday, 23 February 2013

my train was running late :-(

If you are reading my blog regularly, sorry for keeping you waiting for new tails for so long. I have been very busy, but not busy climbing mountains! I’ve been busy visiting the emergency department of the hospital. Looks like it’s much easier for me to climb high peaks then walk down the stairs.....  I know, I can’t believe it either.
On Monday 18th of February I woke up at about 6.30. showered, ate breakfast, kissed goodbye to my husband.  Walked to the train station and at 7.57 i found out that my train was running 35 minutes late. Not good, as it’s only my 3rd day at my new job. i hate giving the wrong impression, even if it’s not my fault. The train journey was about 40 minutes, all this time i was thinking ‘how can i get to work as fast as i can’ (crazy I know)... The train eventually arrived at Harrogate train station, i jumped out the carriage, ran as best I could, I was running so fast i missed one step near the top of a on a flight of stairs and flew over 8 steps down.
Next second I was lying on the floor, with a few people around me. They were asking if i was ok. Yeah, umm I mean NO i was in pain, massive pain, for the second time in my life I was thinking how many bones i have broken? I was sitting on the floor, when i reached with my left hand and touched my right shoulder. Then i said “sh**” i found a big lump between my shoulder and my neck, “omg please call the ambulance”.
I was escorted by 2 nice people in to the train station building, then the station staff looked after me till the ambulance arrived. I phoned my work, said that i am not coming in and explained why. Within 5 minutes Lou ‘’my boss’’ ran to the station and was trying to support me and keep me calm.
The ambulance arrived, 3 very cheery paramedics tried to find out what kind of damage the fall had done to me. I enjoyed their company, their support was was the oxygen (it made me feel drunk J ).
At the hospital i had an x-ray done, I was in pain. I had to wait for about 2 hours to find out what was actually wrong with me.  The doctor entered my cubicle, he said well ive Got good news for you because it could have been much worse. By falling onto my shoulder i had ripped all my ligaments between my collar bone and my shoulder. As a result my collar bone spring up from the normal position and was now sticking out by 2 cm, in-between my shoulder and my neck. Oh dear, not cool.

 I have been told that there was nothing they can do for me, that i had to go home, rest and come back to see a different doctor tomorrow. I could hardly even walk, i was in so much pain. I got home, and was very upset. I was thinking about all my near future plans: single pitch award, ice climbing trips to Scotland, climbing wall, climbing trips to the peaks.... by about 17.00 i was in so much pain i could not take it anymore. I was thinking maybe they have made the wrong judgment sending me home, maybe they didn’t wanted to help me, maybe because i wasn’t showing my pain to others, they thought i am well was a very painful and restless night.
The next day i went back to the hospital and after a couple of hours wait I was told my injury was common with many rugby players and that he would see me again in 3 weeks, by when the pain would hopefully have dissipated. I came home and did some research. I have been panicking about home much movement I will keep and how the injury will affect my climbing. Sometimes I am scarred my hobby has been compromised and sometimes I am happy nothing more serious occurred. In three weeks the doctor will hopefully give me good news, fingers crossed.
Yep yep yep, crazy kat’s life as always. Mountains i miss you, I hope to be with you soon.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

You can do it!

I like writing (let’s hope sometime soon my English will get better, ha ha). I love sharing my knowledge or just ideas with people around me. Recently I have moved from Norwich to York. In Norwich I had a good job. My job was involving me talking (giving advice and help) to adventurous people 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, from first time walkers to world famous climbers, i enjoyed chatting to them all.
It is sad, that in York at this moment, I can’t do the same job. Well if can’t do that kind of job face to face, maybe I can write! Hopefully by writing I can inspire some folks to get up and do things they have only been dreaming of. YOU CAN DO IT! Pick the challenge, follow your dream, every day you will be closer to it.

For the past 29 years I was scared and worried to make a wrong choice or to make a wrong move. I was scared to die in the crevasse, or to get buried in the avalanche, or brake parts of my body while climbing/running/mountaineering...and now I understand I can die any second of my life... I could become ill or get hit by car,’s lots of or’s!!! So now I am just going to do it. Off course do it with care and make judgements based on what is happening around me. But the FACT is I am going for it. No more hiding away from the world.    And you can do it too!!! 

The best food for your trips away

The best food for your trips away.

Ok, so when you are going away climbing, backpacking, mountaineering need to eat and you need to eat well. Making sure that you got plenty of calories and plenty of energy to complete your aiming task.
Everyone is keep saying that the best thing in the morning for breakfast is porridge. Correct, but last time I was in the Alps, nearly every morning I was eating porridge. So guess what I don’t think I can eat porridge any more. You would say, hang on, you can’t stop eating porridge after just one trip to Alps.

 Just to clarify, when I was a kid, I was attending pre-school learning group. And every single morning they were feeding us with PORRIDGE! I remember force feeding and harsh moment of feeling sick : –(. No more porridge for me.

Me @ pre-school learning group

Right now I am trying different combinations of good/ healthy/light weight foods. So far - no luck. I have tried sausages. Sausages first of all a heavy product, healthy (not so sure about that one) plus you feel very thirsty after eating them –(.

Sandwich?  May be, but I intend to carry sandwiches with me on the hill.
Some other things I have tried but nothing right so far. Will keep on looking.
The best food in your backpack...I don’t think I got a problem with pack lunch. As when I am stopping for a snack break or lunch, I am starving to death, so I would eat anything! Usually, I got banana and apple, few sandwiches, packed of crisps and some kind of snack bar.  But wait there is more (LOL)!!! In the recent past my friend Paul suggested to try Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Flapjack, now my favourite eatable thing in my backpack -), absolutely love it!

Lots of expensive bars on the market, but if you are going away 2-3 times a month’s it could be a bit pricey.
I have tried nuts and raisins on one of my trips, but after 5 days I could not eat them, as my jaws were so steve and I could not chew.
In the evening, if it’s not a budget trip –Pub/take away! If it’s a budget trip I would cook some kind of pasta, or rice dish or well anything.
Looks like I got a problem only with my breakfast –(, maybe I always will, maybe I just don’t like to eat breakfast! Time will show.

What have you got to eat in your backpack? What is your favorite breakfast?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

My drug is the Scottish Winter

I think I am a drug addict and my drug is the Scottish Winter! I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t live without snowy rolling hills and magical mountains in the Cairngorms and Highlands. Only a week ago I was at the YHA waiting for the weather to change so I could start climbing. I had an amazing time and now it looks like I am going back to finish off some routes near Ben Nevis.  Happy Days :-D 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Crevasse Rescue

Long story, but will cut it short....

In the summer of 2012 me and Paul went mountaineering in the Vallee Blanche, Chamonix, France. It was an amazing day.

Just a few days ago we had been talking about crevasses and crevasse rescue. we had kind of got all the details and agreed we had plenty of info to deal with one if necessary.

Two very happy mountaineers! At one point lots of massive dark holes were around us. Oh dear, god knows I didn't like to be around crevasses at this moment and time. We crossed one, second, third and fourth one but the fifth one didn't look as dangerous as others. I didn't liked the idea of crossing that one so i went a bit to the side,. I kind of walked around it. oooohhh all good. I was about 20 meters away from Paul when I shouted to him not to cross over, as it didn't feel right -(.

 My heart started to beat like crazy, for some reason I knew what was going to happen next..... I have braced myself down on to the snow, dug my feet and ice axe in to the ice. Within seconds Paul started to fall down the crevasse. I started to be pulled in as well. Despite all my effort I have ended up following him into  it. I woke up, I must have been unconscious for a few seconds. I had a massive pain in my right arm. I was to scared to look at it in case it was broken. So I have pulled my sleeves down and I started to freak out.

I  was screaming, shouting... luckily the rope had got stuck on the top of the slab of snow that hung over the edge of the crevasse. I was dangling in the air and Paul was deeper down, resting on a bit of ice ledge. A few times the rope cut into the snow and I was lowered down. This was scary.  It was very important to get an ice screw into the ice wall near me as soon as possible to secure ourselves from falling down even further.

Ice screw in!!!! I have attached myself and Paul to it. I started slowly to climb up. I mean very slowly. As we had only walking/mountaineering equipment (not ice climbing equipment) it was difficult to climb up. Each time I tried to climb the wall my axe just wouldn't cut in and take a grip. Some time later I had made a small amount of progress two more hours and we would have been out....maybe!

Photo: Paul inside the crevasse

But then, I could hear peoples voices. It was french mountaineers walking back to the cable car, after their climb. They lowered their rope down, then shouted "don't be afraid the helicopter rescue is coming". What??? Noooo!!!Whyyyy??? I was thinking inside my head, we were nearly out, no need for the helicopter. But few moment later we had been rescued from the crevasse by the French Mountain Rescue Team. I was very cold and looked blue and may be even close to hypothermia I got first ride on the helicopter directly in to the hospital, after an examination, lot's of pills and liquid, I was out and about getting ready for another adventure. Tomorrow Mt Blanc :-)  

Photo: Paul and Me, top of Mt Blanc

Thank you!!!

P.S. I would like to thank French Mountain Rescue Team and two french mountaineers for saving our life's.

Mixed Climbing @ Scotland, Glencoe

With winter quickly moving towards spring some mixed climbing in Scotland must be done.

 Scotland - with amazing views has been surprising me for the past 8 years. Relatively high peaks, with easy to  hard climbing grades will make a beginner or a professional climber very happy indeed.

Now a quick story about my recent climbing in Scotland.

 Weather wasn't great, ha as always! Me and my friend Paul McKenzie at the YHA been waiting for Adele Pennington.

A bit about Adele (my opinion, sorry Adele if you disagree), :
 I have met Adele in Wales January 2013 at the BMC Expedition planning seminar. Strong personality, great climber and just wonderful full of ambitions and life women!  To me she is my Hero.
 At the seminar Adele talked about her adventures in the Pakistan, Nepal, Norway and many other countries. Her speech was very inspiring I was closer to my High Peaks Dreams then ever before.
After seminar I have contacted Paul and we agreed to get in touch with Adele and do some climbing in Scotland together. Adele had free 3 days to spare and agreed to go climbing with us. OMG I was the happiest mountaineer in the world -).

...waiting for Adele at the YHA... tiny, climber build lady entered the room. It was Adele. We talked about weather conditions, routes and time frame of our climbing adventure. Agreed that in the morning we are going to stob coire nan lochan and going to climb Dorsal Arete, kind of warm up climb.
About 8 a.m. Milie(van) drove us to stob coire nan lochan and we began to walk.

 Last time I was their it nearly ended in disaster, as weather very quickly changed, me and Sarah could not see much of the way back. But common sense helped us to get back safely.

As we approaching our climb winds started to get faster. After quick lunch we started to climb. Oh dear that's when I have discovered how much I need to learn. List of need to learn was hmmm long... a bit embarrassing to write it all down so may be one day, but not today!

  Dorsal Arete was easy climb, with wonderful views of surrounding area.

  Adele was leading the last pitch, I was second, Paul third. I have started to climb final pitch, once at the top strong winds made me drop down to  my knees, oh my goodness that was a lot of fun!!!

We returned to the car park safely, Milie patiently was waiting for us. I would say that was a very successful climbing day.

I would like to thank Paul McKenzie and Adele Pennington for teaching me new useful climbing techniques and for their good company.


Find me on Twitter - Kat@HighPeakMania

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Scottish winter climbing

Week and a bit to wait till my trip to Scottish mountains! This one will be very special as for the second time I will be climbing with Paul Mckenzie and for the first with Adele Pennington.