Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Filling in the Blanks

Its raining, so this calls for yet another post of how lacking my blog has been of updates recently. Today dawns with a big effort to catch up but filling in the last 18 months with 3 climbing trips each over 10 days in length is going to test my memory. But, tempted to use the ' a picture paints a thousand words' as a lazy option this may turn into a scrap book rather than a blog. I'll do my best. Below is a round up of what to expect, however they will be backdated so if interested search back to October 2012 for the first update.

Peak District September 2012 - Rivelin, Burbage and Stanage
October 2012 - West Coast Scotland inc Torridon Boulders, Diabeg, Creag Nan Luch and Gruinard
November 2012 - Coire an Lochain and Fallout Corner
Febuary 2013 - Creag Meagaidh and The Wand
April 2013 - Costa Blanca
May 2013 - Peak Polished Limestone Hell
August 2013 - Wales
August 2013 - Alps

What a chore!! Ha! Serves me right for being lazy with it.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Huntly's cave Projects. 1 failure..ish 1 success

The second day that Vic was up we decided to visit the small crag of huntlys cave. For such a small peice of rock it provides loads of stuff to go at. Most of which provides steep and strenuous crux's. We started off on Double Overhang, a lovely HVS 5a that tackles an impressive looking roof. Chose this route first to give Vic a flavour of what Huntly's Cave is all about. It provides relatively long routes too which is a bonus.

Huntlys cave, Me and Spot

A quick ab down led onto one of a few routes left that i have yet to climb, Huntly's Jam. A steep, hard crux E2 5c. I had previously climbed up to the crux and bottled it after not feeling confident going through the roof. This time i had more confidence and flew up past the crux and found myself stopped panting for breath on a pedestal. Still steep but not steep enough to warrant a push to the top before i fell. I rested here sussing out the final moves up the vertical headwall. Got to the top very happy with how i felt on the route and how i climbed it. Bring on one of my main projects :)

Just before the Jam

Lime street has all ways seemed to hard for me to even bother with. It looks a bit full on and desperate from the ground with no real beta from wherever you look at it. I got on the route with the mentality that i would probably climb up, not fancy it and ab off/downclimb scared. However, I got sucked into the route and soon found myself battling with the crux 6a move.

I had got to the crux feeling anxious, apprehensive and a bit scared. In reality i was safe as i had good gear and could of easily done the crux if hadn't hung around on steep ground for around 5 mins. Justifying a try at the crux i went for it, moving up to the crux crack and placing a solid nut i went for a high right hand finger lock which is the last pull before the finishing jug. Unfortunately i missed the finger lock and didn't have the strength/bottle to try Fell back to the steep rest, placed another bomber wire to sort my head and got the crux second go kicking myself at how amenable it felt with fresh arms. Ah well, will have another go next time. Hold on though! Whats this...the guide book mentions finishing through a roof. No problem i thought, it wont be as hard as that crux so i will be ok. Climbed up to the beck of the roof and looked back at the 1.7m span that the roof provides! No way does it go up there, twice i tried the second crux and twice i didn't want to commit as i couldn't find any decent holds to feel confident on after my previous knock in confidence. Damn it! Finished up the HVS to the left and that was that. El-bottle collapsio. 100% i can climb this route though, just need some trad mileage to get the technique, stamina and mind boost that it will take to climb and enjoy it.

A good, promising day out :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Souter Head

In Aberdeen for a two day Work related course gave me a chance to explore the Aberdeen coast. Never seem to get too excited about this part of Scotland. Think its due to my lack of knowledge about the great but scattered routes that are on the NE coast. Each venue seems to struggle to provide more than 4 worthwhile routes, one place that is an exception to this rule is Souter Head. Kev and Tony had managed to get some time to get some routes done in the evening, we aimed to get an easy day of trad in the sunshine. As usual the forecasters had failed to deliver a forecast with anything above a 10% accuracy rate. We had good fun on slab top chimney, a route Kev and Tony had wanted to do in a while, until the drizzle started.

Grassy Pinnacle
 We quickly climbed Brookers arete, a lovely little route that climbs a striking arete. Although the conditions weren't great all three of us enjoyed the route.
The Pobble VS 4b
 I then wondered over to the grassy pinnacle to have a look at the classic E1, Mythical Wall. Unfortunately it was too wet to climb and we decided to climb The Pobble. Having climbed the Pobble last year with Ali i knew what to expect so was happy to climb it in less then dry conditions! Its a good route with a steep start leading to a nice pull onto a safe and steady traverse across the slabby upper face.
The Pobble

The next day Vic came up from Derby to join me on an awesome sunny afternoon. The plan was to tick all the routes on the same Pinnacle as Pobble. These being Mythical Wall E1 5b, Over the Top E2 5b and Pickpocket E2 5c. Super sunny weather stayed with us the whole afternoon and all three lines were climbed O/S. First route, Mythical, was still a little damp but soon gave way to dry crack climbing above which was great fun and safe. Next route, Over the Top, shares the same start but goes straight up instead of following the fault left. after a couple of 'looks' to work out the thin and strenuous pull through the roof i went for the crux move successfuly. Ended up getting pretty pumped though so slowed down my climbing trying to get rid of the pump. Awesome laybacking moves to the top finish the route.

Last route climbs the seaward face. Pickpocket climbs the thin wall, it took quite a while to suss out the sequence as the holds are quite hard to read from below. Once the niche is reached one more 5b move see's you on the run up to the top.

Great two days, Vics up now for two days so see what other places we will end up.


Friday, 20 July 2012

Coire Lagan

Morning Coire Lagan
Final day dawned another great day, a bit of cloud hangin around sgurr sgumain and Alasdair but nothing that looked as if it wouldnt clear during the day. Most importantly it was dry.

Boots touched down on Bastinado at 9 and we were discussing our next adventure at the Glacis by 3. 6 hours of great climbing in a place that gets better every time you go, as you learn more about the history, geology, climbs and geography of the place.

Bastinado a 2 star route is a 4 pitch E2 5c with a reported 'brutal' crux. Martin lead off on the first pitch, taking a nice 40m layback crack to the 1 st belay.

Martin P1

2nd and third pitch was combined to give a warm up crux of 5b and the actual route crux of 5c in a nice 30m pitch. Crux was pretty desperate, not hard physically but just a really long, awkward, frustraintingly close to getting it hold. But once caught it leads onto a nice exposed flake line leading to a belay. The final pitch leads easily up below the great hanging slab of the Cioch.

Bastinado E2 - 1st crux

My lead again and it was great to climb up the slab and Arrow Route, passing the great fun looking line of overhanging crack on the Cioch itself (note to self: get on this next time). No gear, just really weird bobbly rock. Great fun.

Arrow Route - VD

Last butress was breached by climbing Atropos. Atropos gets a bit of bad press on UKC being apparently a rubbish line, loose, poor belays but I liked the climbing. The first slab is really nice and the second pitch feels like your free climbing 2 overlaps in one pitch and ending up on the glacis is a great feeling no matter how you got there. The second roof is a bit loose but this is the mountains, just got to be careful. A great day ended by finding martins bag of biscuits and my lunch box half way down the crag in bits after the local crow had decided he was a bit peckish. Got to commend them really, swines!!!!!

Atropos P1 - E1

Decided to drive home late that night to convert the van the next day.

Campervaning it up living the life

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Skye - Kilt Rock

Kilt Rock - Amazing Place to climb
Second day dawned sunny but with some ominous looking clouds above. On the road to Kilt Rock we drove through several showers that started to dampen our spirits somewhat. However at the turning north from Portree all was well with the Old man of stoer looking awesome in the summer light.

After the walk across the field that leads to Kilt Rock i got my first sight of the columnar jointed mega seacliff. This place has loads of character and an air of scaryness that i started to feel at the top. It was Martins lead and he chose to get on the nice line of Tartan Terror to the left of Skyman, my eyes were on this for the day until i got there!!

Martin post fall on Tartan Terror

Martin did a good job leading the 25m to the crux, he geared up, psyched up and went for it. And then he went for some flying lessons, after a much fought battle he had to concede and take a winger onto the bomber gear. Good effort though, and from the ground it looks good and doable. But when your starting up the crux you soon feel the sustained nature that consumes so many of this jamming crack paradise (or any other way you feel about jamming). So after more minutes of grunting and sweat Martin got to the top after winning an impressive battle against the crux crack. My turn on second and got up but had to learn how to relax whilst using jams pretty quick, very nice but pumpy E1.

Abbing down Grey Panther
Next up was the 45m crag classic Grey Panther, E1 5b ****. It doesnt take the normal crack line as most others do, instead a cunning use of Bridging has to be used to wiggle your way up the impressive and never ending Dolarite corner. Half way up you start to think you havnt even made a dent in the route as there is still so much climbing to come. Then the thin for the feet crux comes and i started to sweat underneath my jacket in the warmth of the sun.

At the top looking down the route is great, so many quality moves all the way up. A climb i wont forget in a while :)

Last route to wind down for the day was the classic HVS Electric Bagpipe, by the way, a freezing belay seems to ensue during the leader dispatching the route. Nice climb aswell, very worth while abbing down the gull once more at the end of a day for a wind down. 115m of climbing in three routes. Day is over but im definitely going to come back after a longer running spell of climbing hard (and using my new learnt and trusted jamming techniques ;) I have a few more of the harder classics to get on!! Cuillin tomorrow

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Back to it - Skye - Neist

Neist Point Lighthouse and Harris

Neist - Arrived late Tuesday night at Neist Lighthouse car park. Nice weather and a decent breeze saw the worst of the midgies away. I got the familiar feeling of being somewhere new and being excited about the climbing to come in a new place. Also being at Neist Point with the weather as it was confirmed how much i love being in, and exploring Scotland.

Lazy morning breakfast finished and the boots donned, it was time to head off to the Financial Sector for the action to begin. This will be the first time i have been outcrop & Sea cliff cragging in Skye with my previous trip being up the cuillin. It was a great day, i started the day with Bridging Interest, a lovely climb that, as the title suggests, has some good bridging moves.

Bridging Interest HVS 5a
Martin led Insider dealing, being another good route going through a roof with the 1st of many jamming moves to come on this trip. Two more good routes soon followed with an interesting wall climb, Security Risk and a rediculous climb, A fistful of Dolarite finishing the morning session. A handfull of good wee routes to warm up on in a great setting and even better rock. Eyed up the better climbs on this cliff, in particular Wall Street and Hurricane Hideaway, the former being a route when im climbing a bit more.
Security Risk E1 5b

To finish off the day i fancied heading to the Bays, Bay 3 had a nice looking crack line going at E2 5c I was a bit apprehensive but got on it anyway and had to rest on the crux after misreading a thin move to get into the main corner crack. Above this it was an awesome crack line and really enjoyable climb. Loved it, supercharger looks doable!!!!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Floods, breakdowns and Distractions.... And Climbing, finally

Long time since my last post from the West Coast trip. A few events have stopped me from getting out and concerntrating on my climbing. I think the main one being the construction of my new log cabin that will be used as a summer house / second house long term but my folks will be moving into there as i move into their house. So lots of building and sitting on a roof hammering nails through cedar shingles.

Dad at work
A new van for myself has also taken up some of my time as i work to convert it into a camper with beds, power and cooking etc.Riding bikes, both motorised and pedal power are another distraction from climbing. And i suppose not forgetting the wettest summer ever!!!!!!

But anyway I had planned, for the 2nd year in a row, to head down to N Wales and sample the classic climbing delights of Angelsy and Snowdonia. 2 days to go the MOT ran out on the van and after a manic phoning session to find a garage who could do it asap, the van had been looked at and had failed. What!?!

A simple fix, sticking rear brake, very harsh to fail it but failed it was. And with the transport failure the wales trip soon followed, down the pan. Plan B soon came together and a trip to Skye was soon organised, apparently the driest place in the uk and had been for 2 months.

The next three posts will sum up the excellent trip to Skye with Martin.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Climbing in the Med - Day 4

Last day dawned the hottest yet, and the warmth had definitely ruined the hard climbing at reiff for me so we decided to move back south again on a bouldering road trip. We started off climbing at Reiff in the Woods, did a good few problems until the midge mayhem returned and we bailed.

Not a cloud in sight over the Stac

A new place for me was Ardmair beach (still yet to climb at the crag aswell). A nice stroll along the beach presents a picture perfect bouldering area. Absolutely stunning place to go bouldering. Really steep juggy bouldering at a respectable grade. Did three highly recommended problems here up to 6b+ so was going well but finger's were starting to say no more.

Homeward bound for ready to get straight back to building my dads log cabin. Happy days.

Ardmair lovelyness

Friday, 25 May 2012

Climbing in the med - Day 3

Day three dawned really really.... Dry. Wow. OUr plan for today was to climb at Gruinard crag.

After a shortdrive we reached the car park next Gruinard Bay itself. A really lovely beach, bit close to the road which will mean a busy place but still a cool place to hang out. A short walk up the road heads towards the crags, our chosen crag being road crag. A steep gneiss crag which is a perfect place for me at the moment grade wise. Loads of E2 and E3 climbs, and on my favourite rock of 2012 so far. What more could we want.... well no midges actually. The heather seemed to be the perfect breeding ground for them and, such a shame, we had to leave as it was pretty bad!
Gruinard Bay

So plan B was to go to Reiff early and get a couple of climbs in before the day was up.

Sean had his eyes on the Black Rocks classic, Black Gold. So Black rocks is where we went. Love the abseil to the bottom of this crag, really atmospheric and gives a great sense of what black rocks is all about.


Black gold is a slabby VS, lots of gear and loads of nice steady climbing, proper three stars!!

My chosen climb was an E1 arete to the left of Black Gold, but wait a minute, soaking. How can a crag after a week of the hottest weather in ages still be wet. The only explanation can be thqat the rock which absorbs water in cold weather, releases it in hot. So my plan b was an E2 5C which takes the headwall above tystie slab head-on. As i reached the headwall, and to my dismay the climb was also a bit wet and greasy. Not wanting to come away empty handed i persevered with a hard to place cam and committed to climbing the steep climbing above. 4 really strenuous moves and i reached a good break where i could get some more gear and chill-out a bit.

Pump subsided, onwards i went. Up a final 3 m wall to the top out pulling on grass. Love it.

A quick blast around the pinnacle area saw me only get one climb done - immaculate deception. A predictable deceptively steep E1.

Some learning from climbing here after being pretty confident on gniess. The rock when warm is really greasy and doesnt aid hard climbing, accentuating the pump. Not really much you can do about it, only aim to get good conditions or leave the sandstone for cold & dry days.

Still yet to climb confidently at Reiff, keep coming back as its an awesome place!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Climbing in the med - Day 2

It certainly felt like the med today, really hot and humid and not a breath of wind! Unbelievable for Scotland.

Stone Valley

Stone valley was the chosen venue for our second day. A longish walk in (due to our shortcut to Atlantic wall turning out to be just not that) through heather found us at Atlantic wall. There were a couple of climbs to do here but after 5 mins of eyeing up the routes the star of the Scottish west coast show appeared, in clouds. After then itching away our tan's for another minute we ran away in search for higher ground.

We stumbled on the next buttress on the way to Stone Valley crag, Playtime Walls. A short, almost very highball bouldering venue, crag with a couple of tempting routes. I started the day on Playtime wall, a bouldery E2 6a. After a desperate start to get off of the ground and slap up finds a good ledge in which to place some good gear. Another really awkward rock over move leads you to steady climbing to the top of the crag.

Sean then led a nice crack climb to the right called primary care. A nice warm up area and good for a quick couple of routes either before or after the main climbing.

The main crag is a dome shaped buttress with the front face including a mixture of slabs on the left and steep crack climbs on the right. Further round to the left on the west face of the crag is a steep section including a steep E3 and a slab VS.

I kicked off with the classic Bald Eagle HVS 5a ***. An excellent slab climb, steady and interesting all the way with loads of gear bar the top 4m run out section. The other crag classic is Open Secret another route of equal quality to the left of Bald Eagle. Together they make 50m of great 3 star climbing.

Sean Leading Open Secret *** - Line of No beef through roof on left

A bit of lunch and the final route of the day was the bold E3 No Beef to the left of the previous climbs. I had in my mind that I haven't done a proper E3 yet and after reading the guide book description ' bold for E3' was putting me off slightly.

Geoff on No Beef E3 5c

I eyed it up for a good while and eventually decided to have a look. I climbed the bold corner groove up to the main ledge. From here you are 12m up still with no bomber gear and an exposed balancy move is yet to come before some semi good gear. Standing at the ledge a decision had to be made. Can i get to the roof without falling off... Maybe. If i do get to the roof will i get pumped and not get any gear anyway.... No. So i went for it and got to the roof and some gear. Although not as good as i was hoping. I was in a semi comfortable position and managed to place a blind cam and nut, not 100% convinced by this gear i placed another reassuring cam in a slot. Good gear but now i have lost a vital hand hold that is needed to proceed over the roof.

Another look over the roof revealed a small spike, a potential placement for a sling. So getting a sling ready for this i chalked up and using one of the good hand holds with the other hand free i went for the spike and found a good hold and place for the spike. Happy days? well my hand was using the spike and i couldn't move my hand to get the sling on, after much faffing and getting pumped i managed to place the sling and compose myself for the crux move.

I stayed in this position for too long and as a result was getting tired and scared. Eventually i moved from the good spike handhold and tried the crux move several times, trying to find the crucial hold, but failed and after all that faff decided to give in and rest on the sling. Gutted. After a quick rest and a cleared head i did the crux move first time and found it to be pretty simple. Funny how things build up and make you unsure of an outcome even though the process is straight-forward.

So a bit disappointed not to get the route but satisfied that i made this bold route relatively safe and also safe in the knowledge that technically i  could do the move we left for the campsite ready to move on tomorrow.