Sunday, 18 December 2011

Lessons learned...

Last day of climbing and the plan was a great one. Into Beinn Eighe for a mega last route of 2011. So full of psyche i left for inverness and the black isle late friday night where Gregor's dad has a country retreat. Alarms sounding at 5:00am we got up and headed to meet pat at contin garage to sort out gear and head off to Beinn Eighe.

20mins later and we had turned around due to rubbish road conditions and a blizzard. With an easy walk in to B Eighe out of the question with that much snow falling we decided to go back and come up with a plan b. Pat decided to leave us to it as it looked inevitable that we should head back down the A9 to climb at hells lum or similar. Myself and Gregor fancied something on the west as i havent done any winter climbing in torridon and the NW in general so was keen to see some new places!

Sgorr Ruadh

First Lesson. If its bad once, returning 10mins later wont help: On the drive west we decided to go into Sgorr Ruadh the crag 200m north of fuar tholl. The roads were terrible and we were reduced to 20/30mph all the way.

Second Lesson. Learn when to get up: The north west is an amazing place to climb in winter (i expect, as this post suggests i have failed to get a route done every time!) and is remote. This means that long walk-in's are inevitable and i need to start the climbing way earlier than i have been. Today after all the faff of making decisions in the morning, poor road conditions and a 2hr 30min walk in to the crag meant that we were ready to climb at 12.00. 4hrs of daylight to climb a 260m route and navigate off in a possible white out on a hill i have never been before. I got on the route fox's face and to add to all that had gone before the route wasnt in nick, turf that should of been frozen wasnt because of the snow insulating it, and as a final nail in the coffin there was a ton of spindrift flowing heavily down the route.

Reburns Butress on Sgorr Ruadh
Third Lesson. Save the day: After the long walk in we decided that we could still get something done. We trudged up thigh high windslab gully hell past a route that i am going to come back here to do, a four star chimney/gully line called Tango in the night, a stunning 100m VI 6. Once at the top of the gullly we walked over to the munro Sgorr Ruadh with stunning views when the clouds occasionally broke.

Fourth and final lesson. Fulfilment: I reading an article the other day that Dave Macleod had written about reasons for climbing. He'd said that he was down in the lakes climbing lots of easy (for him) routes and didnt go on anything hard (again, for him) during this time. He came to the conclusion that to get an amazing day out he had to have all the ingredients of friends, weather, scenery, situation and most importantly for him (and for me this time) there had to be a great physical and mental challenge involved such as climbing a hard route to get the maximum fulfilment out of the day. Although we had a great day out, number 1 we failed to set out what we set out to do, climb which although the right decision was still annoying. And number 2 it didnt have that massive physical and mental challenge that comes with climbing a hard new route.

Offshore during the next week of thaw and back on the 3rd jan, hopefully to amazing conditions!

Happy christmas and new year!!!!!!!! 

Friday, 16 December 2011

CIC week

Diary. 10th - 14th December : Stay in CIC hut, 4 days of climbing on the Ben.

Reality: Storm force winds have ripped some of the roof off of the hut above the sleeping area.

New climbing wagon!

Bit unfortunate to say the least! So after the plan of climbing some awesome mixed lines on Ben Nevis myself and Pat stayed around the cairngomrs, the usual Sneachda and Lochain. First day in Sneachda saw us after and easy day and heading into the mess of pottage. Teams were on all of the popular lines except from the message, a IV 6 corner line up the middle of the buttress. This was my second ever winter route back in 09 so i was up for leading it this time. Conditions were ok, but lots of useless powder on top of a thin layer of neve. Three enjoyable pitches later we were packing up and heading back to the car planning our next day.

The Message

We stayed in the SMC raeburns hut near Laggan and after cheking the weather decided that a long day into CarnEtchachan was out, high winds and deep windslab. Sneachda again provided the days climbing antics, more specifically Fiacaill Butress and Belhaven. A hard V 6 (ukc VI 6?) taking a striking corner line to the left of Invernookie. I ended up leading all of the route which i thoroughly enjoyed. The first move from the belay is pretty technical but safe and a one move wonder, from the top of that wall a rising right traverse takes you to the main groove. I got to it expecting to find some tat for a belay, whether it was buried or whatever i couldnt find anything, so after 5mins trying to get some gear sorted (2 suspect cams in a semi iced up crack) i had to push on up the corner to find a decent belay.

Running it out to the belay on Belhaven

Trouble was this groove was pretty technical, not that sustained as being a groove you can back and foot and take your weight off of you amrs and vice versa with your feet. But there was nothing at all for you feet or axes. After a couple of sketchy moves above the gear i got one good hook and pulled up and swung the other axe into some powder/neve, not having the choice of anything else i gently pulled up and got my feet and other axe on a ledge system on the left of the groove. Well above the gear by now i was glad to see that up another 2m would get me to a belay on a small ledge, directly below the groove proper. Pat seconded that pitch and agreed that it was the least helpful groove ever.

The climbing above this followed a similiar trend to what had gone before, i climbed up to the crux roof and clipped an old peg and chockstone tat (i didnt know it was on a chockstone at this point, but..). From this point i was happy with the gear but took a while to get a decent axe placement. Thin rime for the right axe and thin ice for the left, not ideal. I tried to pull on these to get my feet up when my right axe ripped and left promptly followed along with one foot. Somehow the left axe found a chockstone that the tat was on and held my slip/fall. Now having a bomber hook i got through the crux and the usual snow/ice/rime clearing pursued to get some gear and make progress up to the top of the climb. Success!
Me leading Belhaven

Thursday was fine weather aswell, after 'hurricane bawbag mkII' missed scotland by 500 miles, so myself and Pat decided Lochain would be good to go. I have only climbed in Lochain once before and seconded the crux pitch of deep throat, so the coire is still new to me. We headed up to number three buttress to where my route was, Hoarmaster. The classic chimney line gets alot of ascents in a season and i wanted to give it a go. Given VI 6 in icy conditions (which it certainly was!) this is my first climb at this grade. I was full of anticipation before the climb and until i tied on and started climbing, would of gladly accepted another offer of an easier route. Anyway, after manning up i got up the first wall and climbed into the chimney. To my surprise the climb is quite helpful with mostly bomber hooks and only a couple of small foot placement to worry about. My only problem was all the cracks filled with ice, good for axes not for gear. Guide book said maybe drops a grade if cams can be placed quickly, i didnt place one the entire route, it would of just been pointless. But the in-situ gear helped on a couple of occasions and i got to the belay pretty tired but really happy with how the route went.

Top of P1 on Hoarmaster
We abbed off after that and Pat lead off on the number 2 buttress route, central crack. A IV 5 that takes a rising right traverse. After seconding the route it was now 4 O'clock and getting dark, so my lead saw me running up the last 40m of snow banks and small steps until i got to the cornice and started to sh*t myself. After running out the last 20m in my eagerness to get to the top in the dark i found the last moves pretty tricky and i wasnt happy basically soloing it. So i took stock and started digging for some gear, after much faff i got two wires in and progressed to the summit cairn. Belaying on the cairn there wa no wind, awesome bright star lit sky and weird whispy clouds surrounding us, at that moment i could of stayed up there all night........... But i didnt i was hungry! So trekking down fiacaill ridge saw us back at the van's and an end of another awesome day.

View from Lochain
Little things.....
Maybe one more before the christmas trip offshore?? Word of Beinn Eighe? Maybe we'll see.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Snow is falling.......

After all my impatient posts previous to this winter has arrived, and im so psyched to get into the hills and have an awesome winter season. (Mental note - keep bouldering and trad climbing when possible to keep finger strength up!!)

So Saturday 3rd saw me taking the first winter walk into Sneachda to get some climbing done. MWIS forecasted gusts of up to 90mph westerlies in the morning and gradually dying down to 50-60. Not ideal but i figured it should be sheltered enough in the corrie to provide some decent and enjoyable climbing!!

Myself, Chris and Dave (who incidentally will be going to Canada with myself and Dan and ned) walked in to sneachda, along with the usual crowd of people associated with a Saturday in the N Corries, to find it in 'all right' nick. Not good but climbable, some turf frozen which meant we had to be careful not to swing at the unfrozen turf. Ice was beginning to form after a couple of freeze thaw cycles, but the majority was thick verglassed rock with a thin layer of rim over that.

Sneachda Conditions - 03/12/2011

We chose to go to Fiacaill buttress to avoid the worst of the wind but unfortunately another 4 teams had the same idea. I ran the ropes out up to the beginning of the first pitch of the Seam and belayed beside the first team. Pitch 1 starts up a 6ft vertical wall that i was just tall enough to reach over and carefully mount with just enough helpfull verglass and frozen turf around to save my dignity! After getting around the corner and traversing over to the bottom of the main pitch of The Seam we were greeted with two teams in front of us. 1 on the seam and the other on the Seam-stress. After talking to both teams we decided to go for the Seam-stress, a route that has on hard section over an overhanging roof right at the end of the pitch, graded IV 6. So on i led up the groove to the beginning of the hard section. The first move is to move left onto a ledge that gains the overhang, this turned out to pretty tricky. After getting some bomber gear in at the crux i went onto the overhanging block.

What seems to be the familiar wait for a route......
Although intimidating the moves up through the roof arent too bad with bomber hooks all the way, and good gear. However, i found it awkward to get out of a back and foot position as the good hooks ended and and awkward mantleshelf found me panting and at the top. Chuffed! Great route to start the season on, one more week and it off to the ben and the CIC for 5 days of mixed nevis action.
Mid merky crux of The Seam-stress

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Challenge 2013/14

Ama Dablam
Been thinking too much again at work and have decided to arrange another climbing related adventure. To climb ama dablam alpine style in 2014. For one reason, just looking at it makes me want to climb it, the experiance, challenge and beuty all make me want to do it. So prep will be to get two more summer seasons in the alps and hopefully a couple of quick trips in winter to the alps. Then find a partner (have a couple in mind ;) and book the flights and see how it goes. (All depening on fitness, skill level and experiance of myself and partner)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Still waiting....

... for winter. But as it hasnt happened yet, so a few days out and about enjoying my climbing.

First day myself and Ali popped down to Logie head. I havnt led a route (outdoors) in ages so the plan was to just get back into it by climbing some routes that i have enjoyed before. This turned out to be a solo of poacher, led Sunnyside up and it's direct brother which, after Ali's leads, turned out to fill the after noon nicely.
Loch opposite Creag Dubh

Then came the hunting for partners to climb Sunday and Monday. Sunday wasn't a problem, i planned to go creag dubh with simon taking full advantage of this high pressure weather. An early drive down the A9 to newtonmore in sub zero conditions wasn't that inspiring, but as the morning went on it turned out to be too hot! November!?!?! We both hadn't led here, Simon hadn't been here before, but were both aware of the boldness stories. So sensibly we warmed up on what turned out to be a great little route, King Bee Direct Start. Climbing the small arete / rib led up to the direct variation through a roof. I would definitely recommend doing the direct version as it has a great move and feeling of exposure going through the roof.

Next was the crag classic, Inbred. Just looking at the Great wall makes me feel intimidated, but you'll be pleased to hear once your on it, its big flat holds makes things a lot more civilised. Moving up to sit on the belay ledge is pretty cool, although why did they put the bolt on the ledge?? Makes more sense placing it up in the wall. Anyway after P2 we abbed off the precarious? tree to start our next and final climb, strapadicktaemi. Oddly named but a good route, it takes the right slanting handrail until a vertical crack leads up to the same belay as Inbred. Bold but juggy climbing. Then P2 has a bit more gear but less in the way of bomber holds, basically slab climbing with a finish up to a hanging belay off of another precarious block.

Abbing Off Strapadicktaemi

Conclusion to Creag Dubh is. Amazing! Definitely coming back here to lead some of the more harder, classic lines.

Monday is where partner issues came in. Finally got in touch of a mate who phoned up 2hrs before we start cancelling! WHAT! Its all good though as it was an awesome day and a day which an easy scramble and a munro before winter starts wouldn't go a miss for some hill fitness.

Ended up going up Fiacaill ridge and over to cairngorm and back down for some lunch and an early departure. The views from the top of cairngorm were one of the best with regards to air clarity. Could easily see Ben Nevis, Wyvis and even see Conival and Ben More Assynt. Along with the wierd heather burning smoke formations was quite a view.

Fiacaill Ridge


One day off now (hopefully sort a mortgage out) and back to it on wednesday for a spot of sport climbing near Braemar.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Back to it

For one reason or another i have had a fairly long break from consistent climbing trips, mainly being weather, work and new toys :) This last month has seen me thinking baout winter climbing alot, including a list of 40 routes to do in one season! Errrr no, but it shows the psyche level for winter.

It just so happens that a persistent Southerly wind is pushing up warm air (14DegC today - Average is 5DegC??) and the resultant mild moist air is putting a stopper on the freeze thaw and cold air we need to get the axes out. Boooooo but that means summer isnt over! Yeahhhhh.

So today i had a yearning to go somewhere new, I ended up at Brin Rock bouldering. Bouldering is good as it will give me a rough estimation on where my fitness is without finding out mid crux over shite gear. Brin rock has a maze of boulders all styles and sizes, from 12ft slabs to desperate roofs theres something for everyone. I liked the look of a thin slab problem that would test balance and footwork and provide a light warm up for the fingers having not crimped on anything in ages! It turned out to be a really nice problem and the boulder itself providing a couple of other easier but cool moves.

So after a sufficient warm up myslef and Ali headed to 'the Den', an area that has the popular problem 'spank the ramp'. Basically a steep slopey ramp that has a steep but fun finish, 6b. As reference to my fitness levels i managed the problem pretty well, strength - not bad, technique - lacking but will improve with a more regular climbing pattern. Excellent. Time for the harder variant next to it, Graeme's Pinch. It used the same start up to a massive bucket but then required you to lay back off of a slopey pinch that i couldnt hold to rock up a grab the next small crimp. I managed to hold it once but couldnt move on from this. A step to far after a day of bouldering,project though!

** Also need to climb here - Gangplank, The Prow, the wild man, skytrain and gold digger all need attempting **

Spank the Ramp
To end of the day we quickly jumped on a couple of problems on the Farr Boulder, a pointy random erratic in a foresty demolition zone. One slabby problem, one arete and one finger crack. Nice one. Psyche is back and hopefully i wont have any more interruptions to my climbing ambitions!! Role on discovery and new crags!!

Farr Boulder

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

cluster F*ck

Skipping the rest of the Alps trip for now as i havnt got around to it and have run out of time. (work soon) but will finish it when im back.

Anyway, since the Alps i had one more chance to get out when the weather gods seemed to play ball, ish.

I met up with Fiend, this time on the Aberdeen coast for a quick two day trip while the weather had briefly relented.

So we met up at south cove where, as soon as we got out of our cars, we took cover out of the rain!!! WTF! 5 minutes later and the rain shower had seemed to of passed and we were on our way down the steep bank to the crag. I have been here once with Ali L and seemed to remember it being very birdy (this was summer though), where we climbed Insect groove, a nice HVS 5a.

This time we headed to the small buttress area called Hospital wall, hmm inspiring name and probably best not knowing the story behind it. I started the climbing on a corner groove called Vasectomy, and after much faffing with the gear (one of them climbs that the gear isnt immediately obvious) succeeded and was abbing back down to find Matt eyeing up and E2 5b called Lob-Off. The granite providing a nice roof problem to over come and a second groove which we both lead, and very nice it was too!

But, the piece De Resistance of the day was the lead from Matt and the hardest second from myself. Ever. An E4 6a called Cirrhosis. It takes a difficult undercut start to gain a bold wall section which you have no gear for the first 4 meters. The climbing on this part is fairly straight forward with small crimps and quartz pockets for feet and hands, but still very bold. The crux groove is next and comprises of a very thin and smooth corner followed by some balancy moves up the arete. The gear wasn't great but lots of small wires collectively made the route quite safe. I felt that technically i could of climbed it O/S lead but if i have the balls and experience to keep calm and do it safely is another matter!

We then moved onto another area, (which seems to be the norm when climbing at Aberdeen due to the small nature of the venues) the Long Slough red rocks where i found that i have absolutely no love for felcite. The route in question was called jester and felt really greasy with no surface friction on the rock at all, just felt really insecure. After putting a quick end to that nonsense we walked further round to climb at the other side of the bay. Here i found a three move wonder horizontal roof E2 5b which I was quite pleased with as it required a first go approach, i.e if you fluffed it you basically had little chance of recovery. 1st day done! Overall opinion - great area! :)

2nd day and after a surprisingly good sleep in the Fiesta we ended up deciding to go to one of the best venues i have been to at and around Aberdeen, Earnsheugh. First opinions count for alot when climbing and can decide how you perform on a climb with regards to how tense you feel, how you read the rock, how efficiently you place gear and the general experience.

Well, my first impressions of this 40m scary cliff was...... No Way! It just looks big and bold and strenuous and dirty. My logic told me that i may aswell get the first one out of the way and the easiest route of the day, an E1 5a *** called death cap. After getting on the route i was quickly surprised by how big and friendly the route was and i soon felt comfortable to place spaced gear in order to reduce rope drag (all climbs here were done as a single pitch but we found it more exciting and easier to do them in one, with not much rope drag at the top). This cool, calm and collected train of thought soon evaporated when i reached the crux roof. All in its 60 ish m to the sea from below the roof. One cam is all you have to make you commit to the strenuous moves around the roof/prow/arete thing and then you on an  exposed section of wall where you are all too aware of the massive drop behind you. Topped out to be delighted with the route and how i managed to relax and get on with it.

We then climbed 1 E2 each, my E2 had me creating one of the biggest cluster F*cks of cams ever. And after much faffing on the crux and eventually doing it all wrong matt seconds the route and said 'what the hell were them cams supposed to be and why did you do the crux that way! It was much easier using this hold!DOH!). Matt then led the final route of the day an E3 5c called weird sister. The route itself had two good hand traverses, a big cam sucking crack, a little niche, another wee hand traverse around and over a small roof, thin wall climbing on small crimps and a final flakey headwall. How much more varied can you get! Really rated this place, never judge a book by its cover!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

6th day in Paradise

5:30 Wednesday morning and our chosen objective, Dent De Geant, was looking like it might not happen. Pitch black and really thick cloud and no paths to follow isn't a recipe to get in and down of the mountain in a quick and safe manner. So after naving in the direction of Geant for about an hr the cloud finally started to lift and the famous silhouette of the summit spire came into view. Full steam ahead...

The approach to the base of the climbing is mainly on a really loose scrambly ridge, and takes a while to navigate up to the start. All the time the clouds were threatening to cover the mountains again in which case we would have probably turned back. But luckily for us it stayed clear, but unluckily for us it was the coldest and windiest day yet. Putting rock shoes on at the base of the route seemed to be stupid, and in hindsight boots would of been fine for the route anyway.


Our chosen climb up to the summit was fire the classic NE face, and therefore no sun was on us to warm our hot ache ridden feet and hands!! The route which has fixed ropes to ascend is about vs 4c free maybe a bit more and i was on track to free it until i could feel my hands and just wanted up to the top and into the sun, so i gave in and hauled myself up the ropes (still far from easy and quite physical!)

 We topped out to find a new statue of Madonna, after the lighting had put a hole in the last one. After the tourists happy snapper stage, we got ready to ab down the amazing south face. After abbing down this face i have put the South Face of the Dent De Geant into my wishlist, 7a ish free. Better get training, and atleast its in the sun!

Another amazing route and my first 4000m peak done. Excellent.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Rest day

Monday morning, Rich's 21st Bday and our rest day. Weather forecasts were starting to show signs of heat thunderstorms accumulating late afternoon, which means quick/early start days are needed in order to go into the mountains. But first we had a night out to organise.

We went to a authentic french cuisine restaurant where i ended up having Duck Gizzard, liver and breast for a starter (not bad but the liver was really strong!!) and a selection of beef cuts that comes raw and we had a hot plate to cook them on. Really nice food, but by the end 2 bottles of champagne had gone and a few pints which was the perfect start for the after dinner activities.

I'll let the following picture do the rest of the talking!

Not well!
Any way after managing to get enough energy to pack my bags on the Tuesday we dragged ourselves across to the Torino hut via the Helbronner cable car. Called the Mont-Blanc Panoramic Experience, it is definitely a very worth while trip across over the Valley Blanche and into Italy.

Helbronner Cable Cars
We then arrived at the station at around 4 o'clock, the same time that the heavens decided to open, the Torino hut is around a 10min walk from the station, but in the rain we did it in 4! Exhausted, wet and still hungover we settled in got some food (which is actually really nice) and went to sleep for our 4:30 breakfast call.

Dan taking an early night

Sunday, 21 August 2011

4th Day in Paradise

The great value Chamonix Telephrique multipass lets us go up any lift we want for a set number of days, and today we chose to go up to the Aiguille du Midi again. The Telephrique experience soon gets tedious as the lifts are allways really busy and crammed full of tourists. However it beats the 6 hour walk in to the station.

Pyramide Du Tacul

Our chosen route for the day was one of the rocky peaks on the East of the Mont Blanc massif. The Pyramide Du Tacul is a 3450m peak of amazing granite, out route, the East Ridge Croux-Ottoz, is the most popular way up and is a 280m D sup.

Crux Overlaps

The route is about a 1.5Hr walk from the midi station and crosses some dodgy seracs nears the base of the route, from here moving together for the first 2 pitches gets you on the climbing proper. The climbing is amazing, really varied, from steep cracks & delicate slabs to overlaps it has it all. 6 Pitches later we are at the summit, an actual Triangle of rock, tempted to try and stand on it but decided to get down before we miss the last Telephrique.

Summit Pyramide

Abbing down on one rope to avoid any drama's with the knot jamming and having the second 60m rope to continue descended if it did took around 1.5 hrs. The walk out was pretty long old slog, and after coming across a party of three who's front man had just fallen into a crevasse made us extra cautious of the wet and weak snow bridges.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

3rd Day in Paradise

Lots of warm weather around at the moment, freezing level at around 4400m during the day! Too hot for any ice routes or snow ridges or really anything involving snow. So we decided to give the Eperon Des Cosmiques on the South West of the aiguille Du Midi.

Big Wall!!
The route proposed was a relatively easy and enjoyable route involving V climbing and a nice roof to get through. Dan led the first pitch putting us in a position where we could see 3 different ways forwards, 2 of which were bolted. I automatically assumed our route went up a bolted crack line straight above us (we later learned that it traversed a huge flake line). I've established that i cant climb cracks before but today had no choice as all the climbing here is centered around stunning clean granite crack lines. Anyway, after a pretty good struggle to get up the crack we were 50m up and left of where we should of been, away from the original route.

VI Crack Line
Dan then led on to climb an awesome corner/crack which halfway up traverse the right hand wall forming the corner out into an insane position with amazing exposure leading up to the belay. Next was where we were pretty close to turning round. As we were off route we were basically in virgin (to us) territory so were unsure of how hard things could get, I loved this aspect of the climb but also played on my mind as we prepared to climb the next pitch.

Hanging on the belay we looked up the wall to find that the huge offwidth crack to our right was useless, too big for anygear and mega hard to climb. So we opted for the thin line of flakes with a few spaced pegs for pro. Dan aided the first few meter's and got to the second peg before turning back as he wasnt sure if he could get to the next one safely. The decision was on me to decide if we ab off or carry on. With Dans good effort placing gear to protecting the start i decided to go for it.

I found that it took alot to pluck up the courage to lead this pitch as the altitude and exposure and all the other elements in climbing big walls in the alps were playing on my mind a bit, just wasnt familiar with the situation to be comfortable. Anyway i managed to lead the pitch up to a roof and further easier crack line. By this point i had only 2 quickdraws for another 20m of VS climbing, so decided to set up a belay and let TopCat Dan lead on for the penultimate pitch.

4th Pitch
2 pitches later we topped out and started the exciting ab down past the 15,000V power cables that power the stations and telephriques. A really cool route that we think has been linked like that before but cant find the route name!? After returning to our bags i learnt a valuable lesson, take water on a route like this, and allways wear glasses! My head was bouncing!!!!

Early finish and time to prepare for the next days adventure.

Friday, 19 August 2011

2nd day in Paradise

Friday's plan was to go up the Aiguille du Midi Telefrique and do the classic ridge traverse of the Plan Du Midi. After the 1st hour into it the recent warm weather had reduced the normally beautiful snow ridges to bare ice and the parties in from were protecting the route which was taking ages. So we decided to turn around for plan B.

Aiguille Du Midi Descent Ridge

The Cosmique Arete is probably the most famous route in the area and provided us with our back up option for the day. Really enjoyed this fun little route, and gave me another chance to acclimatise to the 3800m height. Nice little crack/headwall move halfway through aswell, and climbing up the ladder to the station was fun aswell, funny looking at all the tourist faces!


Thursday, 18 August 2011

1st Day in Paradise

After arriving at camp quite late wed night we decided to have an easy day climbing a small 3500m peak called Petit Verte. We used this as my acclimatisation peak and an introduction to moving together over easy ground. After a short ride in the telefrique we arrived at the top station in perfect conditions. The first half of the route is just a snow plod up to the rocky NE Arete, from here its easy scrambling, very exposed, to the summit crest.

Summito! From Left. Dan, Me & Rich
First impressions of the area is that the granite here is amazing, but pretty loose. The exposure is mental and that the weather is 100x better than the uk climate!!!!

3500m gave me a slight headache on the way down, but i put this to not nearly drinking enough for what we were doing, dry air etc. After some posing on a nearby pinnacle we headed down for scram and an early night.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011


So, trad climbing has seemed to take a bit of a back burner at the moment (Covesea in mid July was the last outdoor day). Since last time home the weather has been really rubbish, wettest summer i can remember :( BUT one of the reasons i like climbing so much is the places it takes you and the variety of climbing styles that means its possible to get some climbing done all year round.

Post coming soon will be a rough schedule on when, what, quantity, expeds etc to plan the climbing year to ensure i get all sorts done and organised early in the year. Also a training programme to ensure maintenance of finger and arm strength, this is coming after a quick blast on my wall has seen alot of forearm stamina and finger strength gone!!! Wont take long to get back but would prefer to advoid this in the future.

Anyway this year i had arranged my first trip to Chamonix to sample the many delights of the Mont-Blanc area. YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!

So home on the 15th Aug and on the plane from Edinburgh to Geneva late on 17th Aug. After flying through an amazing thunder storm i got picked up by Dan Carroll, the Burghead ice climbing/exped wizard come all round nice guy AKA Top Cat. Arrived in darkness so psyched its unbelievable!!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ticking Over

Been a really busy 3 weeks off but not much good climbing to show for it.

So as a summary of my climbing this time off it goes something like this;

Covesea - Cool place got a couple of cool routes in and have eyed up a good few others so a return here is a must.

Tried to get to creag dubh, latheronwheel and Meickie point but for one reason or another it all fell through, and the weather was pish.

Aberdeen - Last day beofre i went to Budapest myself and martin c had a look at a crag near Peterhead called Meikie Point, after driving an hor in the rain and arriving at the base of the crag it was pretty quickly decided that there was no climbing to be had here! However the climbing does look amazing, if not bold, pumpy and thin! Tidal but no birds.

Then came my trip to Budapest, 6 of us left in high spirits, Literally! And by 12 afternoon before our room was ready we had already set the trend for the holiday and got through 6 pints. Highlights was the Boat Crusie, Shooting handguns and AK47's and the general vibe of the place, which is probably one of the wildest cities ive been to! Awesome!!!!!!!!

Since ive been back from holiday and recovering i have only been bouldering at Ruthven boulder and got a couple of 6B's first go, and started to work the traverse and a direct line through the front bulge but both of these are desperate and need some more time to work on them. Then the final climbing day was a dry tooling session over on the West coast to get some training in for the Alps next time home.

Really looking forward to the alps and will probably be trying to run away from them in the first couple of days but will hopefully get used to it and acclimatise pretty quick. Goals are to get a couple of small north Faces in, a route up Mont Blanc and a route up the Matterhorn. Some quality mixed, ice and rock routes thrown in should provide a good base from which to return the following year with some familiarity!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

So much more...

Finally i was on my way to Skye after hearing so much amazing things about the Isle. Amazing climbing, amazing rock, amazing setting, amazing scrambling and not forgetting the Ale!

I had a full A4 page with all the routes and places i would love to get done most of which were recommendations from friends who had inspired the trip. We were staying in the Glen Brittle Memorial hut which is run for climbers and hillwalkers wanting to spend time in the Cullins, the hut is a really cool place to stay and probably the closet you can stay to Sron na Ciche without a bivvy in Coire Laggan!

Grand Deidre and the TD Gap

The first day dawned dry but with a cloud base at around 900m, so Sgurr Alasdair was hidden from view, So we decided to get on a classic VS called Grand Deidre, a 70m corner line which tops out on top of the TD Gap. Really good route, safe and exposed with some awesome bridging moves. It was an eye opener as well due to the loose rock that teams have to be aware of during any activity on the Cullin, after the crux pitch i felt alot more in tune with the rock which gave me the confidence to relax in the mountains.

View from Hut!
Tuesday brought a cloudless morning and the seemingly perfect opportunity to give the Sron na Ciche Link up a go. My time in the mountains was aimed at doing easy classic climbs so after considering a couple of HVS/E1 alternatives up the buttress we decided to give Cioch West, Arrowroute and Integrity a go. I ended up leading all 7 pitches of Cioch west in a pretty quick time which boded well time wise to get the rest dome and back in time for Supper. However, the previous cloudless day had turned into a heavy and very wet rain day which instantly soaked all the routes! We climbed the last pitch in the rain and hid under the Western roof of the Cioch hoping for the rain to stop and our routes to dry, as expected this didn't happen so we retreated down the Terrace below the slab and abbed down Eastern Gully.

Wednesday dawned windy and dry so i was up for some cragging at Neist, allways wanted to go here along with Kilt rock and Staffin but Sean wasnt feeling the love for cragging so we ended up going bouldering at the heather hat at Culmanean, which was actually pretty good (gabbro is a bit too rough for bouldering!!!) with the setting of the Cullins in front of you.

Heather hat

Sean ended up bailing and Ali took his place to carry on my time in Skye. So on Thursday we were going to get on some harder routes up the Coich starting with Crembo cracks, i looked out the window and decided i should pack my waterproof jacket, just in case! However, it was gone!? After searching everywhere we came to the conclusion that the couple who had stayed at the hut last night must have taken it by mistake before the headed over to the Outer Hebrides! Noooooo.

Cooking some Beer-can (Jamacan accent required)

So we jumped into the speed machine that is Ali's Citroen and co-piloted by me we got to Uig just as the ferry was pulling in to the harbour, found there car and knocked on there window to see some very confused faces. I asked them if they thought they need an extra jacket for Harris which bought more confusion to the situation so i asked them if they could search there things for my jacket, right enough they had it!! Phew! So 9O'clock in Uig climbing Plans ruined for the day we ended up buying Bacon and fresh rolls and cooking it whilst relaxing on the top of Alis car waiting for the Skye Brewery to open. Living the life.

Winter Traverse anyone ;)

Several weird looks later and booze acquired we headed back to the hut for more food and a secondary plan to head up and summit Sgurr Alasdair via the entertaining Sgurr Sgurmain ridge. Absolutely awesome place and on the top i got psyched to attempt the full traverse in in winter which is said to be the best expedition in Britain.

Even had the weather for the Aviators to come out

Last day and Ali had to be home for the afternoon so Tim (the huts warden) showed us some sea cliffs that he used to climb at. So we got he gear out and managed a couple of new routes one of which I ended up cleaning on top rope after it turned out to be technically hard and bold, gave it E4 6a Tim's Roof.

Loch Brittle

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Day dawned with clear blue sky's, and about time too! I had arranged to climb at cummingston with Dan as i am planning to climb with him in the alps for my first season in August. Psyched! So with that in mind it was a chilled out day, Lead a couple of wishlist climbs including Oranage Ape a really good E2 5c with a bouldery start and interesting climbing above in the groove, I then got on a bold E2 5b called Double Deidre of Doubt. One cam thats of any use if you fall on the crux in 7m of climbing, moves were easy enough to be able to keep a cool head!

Starting to plan my trip to Skye which kicks off this Sunday for a week of classic climbs ticking, cant wait!

In between times ive got a Triumph 900 to fix, some more work and packing, and maybe one more sneaky day of climbing!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Simply the Best....

Finally got to Diabaig, looking through the guide book there doesnt seem a bad climb at the place, and the grippy Gneiss helping the cause.

After the long drive we pulled up in the tiny hamlet of diabaig pretty excited to get on the classics. We went to the main cliff first as this has the highest concentration of climbs, and found one other pair on Route two, the four star HVS 5b. Simon suggested an E1 to the right of this called Black Streak, this takes a clean thin crack line through a small overlap and contains two picthes of superb and enjoyable crack climbing. After abbing down off of the worse (lethal imo) bit of rock imaginable and drying our stuff after it rained during out ascent route 2 was free. Same again, another really enjoyble route that has heaps of gear and interesting moves throughout.

Northumberland Wall

Then, and what turned out to be our last route of the day, we went for Northumberland Wall, the crag classic E2 5c. I manned up and got on the crux first pitch which despite my dubious thoughts at the bottom wasn't as bad as it looks from the bottom, and once past the first crux traversing move is steady and enjoyable all the way (but still sustained!)
Diabaig Harbour and Skye
On Sunday we headed up to seana mheallan but only got three routes in due an earky departure late start (slept in ;) and lots of rain showers! And the main crag was wet again!! It was a day of confirmation though;

I dont like Midges,
I need a van to sleep in,
I dont like the approach to Seana Mheallan,
The western Sector stays dry but the main crag seeps and is a late season venue,
And i cant take failure (a hold broke on me and i came off, not strictly my fault but still annoying!)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

New Horizons!

First day back climbing after getting back from work. Fancied some stamina training to get back into the flow so chose the now popular venue of Moy rock. It was drizzling when we arrived so it was not evident if the rock was going to be dry or not. Thankfully we could enjoy many meters of pebble pulling on dry rock. Result.

The first route we did was Little teaser and is a route i have failed to climb clean the previous twp times, so after being 'weak' after two weeks away from climbing i wasnt expecting to do it this time. After half way up i was beginning to feel some pump but after getting to the crux felt strong and got the sequence first time. Awesome. Maybe better technique?

Next was the 6c to the left, The Dark Side, another route i had previously failed on, unfortunately this time was no different. I failed on the crux at the top and didnt commit to reaching the crucial sloping hold. I asked to get lowered down after a rest to just before the crux sequence and nailed it first go. Its an awesome climb though!

Little Teaser

Eyeing up Monkey Mafia E5

After this we went to cummingston for some hard trad toproping action! We set up a toprope on Monkey Mafia, an E5 6b ish route that takes a steady start direct up to a insane roof traverse. I managed to get to the crux move but ended up going to low and missed out a crucial knee-bar and came off! still promising that i got up it eventually!

Found some more cummingston potential aswell!