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Mike Dunne at the bottom of a crag

Climber Mike Dunne

Regular followers of our blog will be familiar with Lake District climber Mike Dunne. If not, you can read about his climbing adventures and his perspective on climbing in our previous blog posts. For this post we caught up with Mike to find out what he’s been up during 2013.

Over to you to Mike…

This summer I spent a good chunk of time living in my van on the Cumbrian coast surfing.

After finishing University I needed some time to try and figure out what to do next. It didn’t work in terms of figuring my life out, but I learnt some stuff about life in general. Now I’m just trying to find a job and get some money in the bank so I can visit my girlfriend at University.

Went to Cornwall at the end of August and the surf was surprisingly good for summer; charging down 8 footers at Gwynver was amazing after settling for 3ft mess most of the summer up in Cumbria. I still love the Cumbrian coast, but it’s hard not to fall in love with the blue waters and glassy waves of the south.

A surf board sticking out of a sandy beach

After a dawn surf session. PhotoCredit: Mike Dunne

This photo was taken was after a dawn surf session. I was alone and for the first hour after dawn broke I had the waves to myself. A couple of locals showed up eventually but it stayed quiet and amazing. The waves were big buggers and ended up being the biggest I’d ever surfed, and the biggest wipeouts I’d ever had. Fantastic morning that really made me respect the sea.

Walls and Water

On the climbing front, after Karma Kings last year, I lost interest in grades and climbing in general and spent the winter kayaking. This was good in the end as it allowed me to come back to climbing this season with a fresh outlook and plenty of energy.

We got some good weather and I went out with the guys hunting new crags and repeating our lines from last year. Probably only repeated a couple of other people’s lines this season, it’s been all about adventure and first ascents. John and I have also been showing Anthony some of our lines from last year and letting him test his mettle on them. He’s come a long way since last season and is climbing like a beast. We’ve started thinking about leading for him now and so split our time between new lines and visiting gentler crags where we can start teaching him to lead, so far so good.

John has come back stronger than ever and all the drumming he’s done with his band, MoonRunners (based in Sunderland, check them out), has paid off and he’ll be surpassing me before long, if he hasn’t already!

We’ve been working on a new crag anyway and putting up some new lines, nothing ground-breaking but just nice enjoyable climbing away from the crowds. Nothing better! Sadly we ran out of time to finish all of the lines before the guys went back to University so that’ll have to wait until next year. I had to take things easy(ish) this summer anyway as the tendonitis started to return in my right hand; the cost of not climbing all winter then getting back on my old lines.

Rock climber on Goat Crag Watendlath

John cruising on Goat Crag up Watendlath. PhotoCredit: Mike Dunne

This was early on in the season when we’d all come back from University and were excited to get out. We went to Goat Crag and mucked about; top roping a few routes as well as a new line that no one really fancied leading which we informally named ‘Lumpy Space Princess’. John and Anthony did a route on the front face that probably combined a bunch of routes and they both cruised it despite a gnarly swing potential at the top. We ended by top roping what claimed to be an E3 5C but what was one of the hardest things we’d ever been on. We cracked it eventually after plenty of swearing and sweating, absolutely git of a route! Didn’t lead a single route that day but still had a great time, leading really isn’t the be-all-and-end-all.

River Surfing Adventures

Tom and I have been trying some river surfing recently which was hilarious and now we’ve got a dinghy which we plan to run some rapids with this winter, it’s awesome to not be thinking about grades or the rules of a sport and just be focused on having fun and having an adventure.

Rock climber on a crag called Ephialtes

Anthony having a pop at Ephialtes, a line from last season that hasn’t lost its bite. PhotoCredit: John Timney

We headed back to Moss Crag this summer to show Anthony how good some the routes are, and to show him a line John and I made last year, Ephialtes. I was worried that it would turn out to be easy and that I’d just remembered it wrong. Remembering how the lead was a bit scary when I was at my peak, I decided to top rope it. Thankfully it was just as hard and beautifully fiddly as I remember. I got it after a few attempts and then we swapped round. John hadn’t got to try it last year due to back problems and had been waiting. He got to the first crux before calling it a day; Anthony got slightly closer but still no cigar. They’re plenty good enough to climb at the same grade (E4 6a ish) but this line is just a bugger. It’s not just the moves or strain, there’s something else to this line. It remains unrepeated as far as I know, and an onsight by someone would earn them a pint from me, its just so hard to read.

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