Sunday, 17 April 2011

Quick day at Seana Mheallan.

Offshore again tonight so we headed over to the west coast for a short day. Forecast for Scotland bright and dry, Seana Mheallan, Drizzle! However with faith that the forecasters havent got a clue on what they're doing we headed over to find alot of cloud but the occasional bit of warm sun, result. The walk in to the crag is torturous to say the least. Its steep, slippery, heathery and generally just a bog, however all you have to do is look where you are and you instantly forget all about the walk.

The views around this crag are just incredible. Chris decided that there were a couple of climbs that he wanted to do on Seana Mheallan West before we headed over to the crag proper. For future notes the main crag was seeping alot with only the 10m around The Torridonian looking dry, so maybe bear in mind that its a mid to late season venue to get the long nights and dry weather/ground.

The climbing here is amazing, perfect torridonian sandstone, that provides balancy moves often on rounded holds. The rock is quite gritty in places but it hasn't got all the stared routes there for nothing.

Seepage on main crag

Annat and Upper Loch Torridon from Seana Mheallan


I managed two E1 5b's and an E2 5c. A good day. Definitely going to come back on a stunning day and ive made a promise to come back and tick the crag!!!

Climbing Notes - Generally feeling confident with my technique and strategy for the harder climbs. Goal for 2011 - O/S 1 E3 has just changed to occasionally climb E3 as i reckon i can physically do it just need sounder technique and experience to be confident to do them. Coming soon - Trad ticklist aimed at improving to E3 and exploring Scotlands awesome climbing on the way to achieving this. watch this space.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Huntly's cave

Back for some trad action after my sport climbing bonanza at La pedriza, spain.

Had an early start to meet Sean and Ali at Huntly's Cave, a steep blocky Schist crag near granton on Spey. I had my goal for the day being a steep wall called Pete's wall, a nice E2 5c that gets eyed up every time i come here.

During E1 5C Crux

Post Crux :)

First though i got on a short steep and thuggy E1 5c called hanging groove. The route takes an easy wall up to a small roof which is intersected with a thin crack. After placing bomber gear in the crack you make your moves through the roof on big square holds, lock off and move into the upper crack. Then its all over!

Right then, man up and get on Pete's wall. Looks daunting from the bottom and the wrong side of off vertical from the top. But good gear!? Made it to the first roof, of which the pull over is meant to provide the 5c crux. Gear was good but seemed to be getting pumped already, eeek. After faffing from ages trying to relax and get fresh and work out the moves i commited to the sequence. Right hand side pull, thin left hand crack side pull thingy and long reach to good thankgodder break. Cams placed and de pump again. Next come 5 long steep moves to reach the top, safe all the way but bloody steep. Slapped the top hold in relief, done it! phew! All in all it was a cracking day with two good hard leads. Sean finished the day nicely with a good lead of Cave Route Direct.

Here we go....


Pumped but stable :)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Steall Falls

Just a quick trip down to Fort Bill, not for climbing but a wee family excursion down to have a look at Steall Falls. After the shortish walk to the wire bridge crossing we leapt over with dogs trying to swim over the river and had a wonder over to the spectacular, in its own way, Steall falls. Posy picture time and the nice walk back. Simples.

Myself and dear papa ;)

Steall falls

Sunday, 10 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 10

Last day or morning should i say. Short day due to having to start the long and boring drive south back to alicante airport at 2. Booooooooo!!

Bye Bye Fing Slabs!

Early start to beat the crowds lead us to a big jumble of rocks called Risco de la Foca. Possible the shortest walk in of the trip along scenic river and through a nice forest. Not the most productive day climbing only 1 6a+ O/S for the day which felt way harder that the grade. Again.

Bye Bye Pedriza
Quick was and brush up in the river and home again. Awesome trip!

Adios Torro
Overall i did 50 climbs most of which were granite slabs, with maybe 10 steep granite climbs and another 15 ish of limestone. A really cool trip and definitely worth going back again, but maybe in winter when the rock may actually be possible to climb on? (Locals say 7b is max in the warn sun, i say 6b+ ;). Accommodation was expensive but wort it for the one night of rain and leaving valuables in. Fiat Panda - got a thrashing but a good wee car none the less with only a couple of 'that guy is on the wrong side of the road, oh wait that's me shit' moments. Feet got knackered from the slabs, fingers got knackered from climbing every day for 10 days. Psyche got dented for 1 day on the lime but overall left keener than ever! Cool Cool trip.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

La Perdiza - Day 9

After a DNS for the Pedriza slabs due to the usual madness that descends here at the weekends, we made a quick decision and give the slabs a miss. Looking through the Patones guide book we settled on a ravine called Canon De Uceda. A short walk in on a dried up river bed and under a couple of old disused aqua ducts we arrived at the 'happening' wall at the crag. A short steep wall which provided many closely (sometimes too close) packed routes of around 6b. The routes all had the crux pulling trough some steep move in which to reach the steady pocket pulling above.

View from Canyon

So after deciding early on that i was in a I'm too tired to climb today' mood i walked in with just the aim of chilling out and getting on a couple of mid-grade routes to end the trips limestone account. Not to be! I got on the first 6a+ for a warm up and felt really strong and confident on the rock. So with this new inspiration i ended up climbing a good few cool routes with my particular favourite coming from a awkward move through a roof that i managed to read the sequence from the ground and did first time. Result!

The Lime pockyness

Climbing Notes - Footwork, check. Vision, check. Relaxed, check. All good things, i felt i could read the sequences right first time and felt confident pulling through steep section where i want sure if i could de-pump higher up (a big worry earlier on when climbing the Lime). Trusted feet including heelhooks and weird footwork moves, but also using them to take weight off of arms. Kept arms straight most of the time to reduce pumpage. + still psyched at this point to climb indefinitely!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 8

Back to slab world today, Colina Hueca, not very different to any other slabs here but today was 'the day'!

The day that my climbing clicked on the slabs, two 6b+'s and two 6b's unheard of! Not much to say about them apart from desperate and my foot didn't slip. Hooray!

...... and, relax.
After this success we check out the short steep granite crag of Quebranthrraduras Inferior. Turned out to be a really cool relaxing place to climb. Shaded from pine trees and a good selection of cool easy micro routes. Did another 3 routes here and then headed back from some chilaxing.

Climbing Notes - So the first 6b+ (probably 6c/+) was an interesting climb that took a steep slab up to a couple of undercling step up moves. These required alot of balance and body tension that i found really tricky. Feet felt good all the way but really really technical climbing.The second 6b+ was even harder and thinner, although a the crux was getting onto this thin ramp the ramp itself was still un-nerving as it was still ridiculously small. Determination and trusting feet. Balance and sequence reading felt good. Sussed! ish

Thursday, 7 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 7

Finger tips dead and feeling completely drained- the entry in my climbing trip diary for said day.

Today we had our alternate day on the steep limestone of Ponton De La Oliva. The west facing side gets the shade in the morning so this was a perfect choice. I stared and failed on a fine looking 6a+, involving a nice easy wall up to two small roofs with powerfull moves. I failed due to being too tired to hang in there and make the moves, however the problem causing me to hang there in the first place was being intimidated by the limestone and above bolts and not climbing well on the rock.

Climbing Bliss

Climbing notes - I took it down a grade with the aim of chilling out and learning how to climb efficiently on the rock. Cue a couple of 6a's and V+'s and im done for the day. Exhausted but i think acquainted. I really like climbing at Ponton though, chilled out great vibe with the scenic appeal and popularity with the locals.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 6

Muro Del Euro. The venue for some slab action in the beautiful Pedriza Park.

I'll start today with a quick photo of a great, massive positive thank godder in Pedriza slab form. Please observe;

See the problem :)
I even get shivers looking at it now! I think by now i am starting to feel more comfortable on the slabs now. The thing is when climbing this style, i think it is all to do with balance and how tense you are while climbing it. Therefore this presents the apparent randomness of it all due to the subconscious mind starting to tense up your shoe angle changes slightly and you will try to cling to the rock, combined, its enough to make you slip off. Simple but very annoying. Anyway we ended up getting on 4 nice slab climbs and i failed on the dizzy grade heights of 6b+.

Fingers are also starting to feel it now! Roll on the biggest tapas selection ever and a nice cold beer.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 5

Enough is Enough! Please no more scary hard slabs.

Roll on some steeper stuff, this came in the form of a crag called Cancho De Los Muertos. Elevated at around 350m above the car park it was a bit of a slog up to the small crag. We arrived to the sight of many loud and excited Spaniards enjoying the great shaded climbing.

View from Muertos

We started off on a 6a crack line which contained some powerful moves centred around cracks with good rests. The rock and the place in general was pretty nice, nice and shady, slight breeze (from which on a windy day would be hell?) to keep the hands and holds cool and actual decent use able holds.

Happy days!

We ended up doing 5 routes including a 5+ warm down slab which i came off of proving that any slab here requires 100% concentration. God Dam it. The five steep routes were particularly good and contained varied climbing with in a space of 15m. Worth the walk in!!! And lots of massive Griffin Vultures!

Griffon Vulture

Climbing Notes - Climbing the vertical stuff pretty well, with a couple of moves that whilst topping out contained a bit of beach whaling! More confident pushing through the hard moves using most of the holds first time without stopping to try and hold it better or find and alternative; all resulting in getting pumped. Feet were good although quite obvious sequences.

Monday, 4 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 4

After negotiating the many wild cats that crowd around you wanting food in the morning we found the weather had bucked up and was back to being dry and sunny. However we were unsure how dry the climbing at pedriza would be due to the 10hours previous rain we decided to go back to Ponton De La Oliva for a proper session on the Limestone.

Cat of the Trip!

We started off climbing at Pararela y Muro Erotico, a section above the walkway constructed on the side of the steep canyon walls. Pretty cool place to climb! The climbing was relatively short, around 16m, but pretty steep on vertical lime lacking in pockets, more breaks that pockets. We did 5 exciting pumpy routes, one with a nice dyno to reach the crux flake. All in all a nice place to climb with further and harder possibilities further up the canyon wall.

Walkway climbing.

After a late start we figured it would be relatively late in the day and time for supper. However in the time warp that is climbing in Central Spain it was only mid afternoon, still time for more climbing! We took the car to the upper carpark on the East Side of the Ponton Canyon and recced the bigger more popular side.

East Wall of Ponton De La Oliva

The answer. Steep, long, iintimidating and inspiring stretch of rock. Matt and I decided that the main wall was in too much sun and too late in the day to start but we successfully added a steep climb called Muertos Estariais Mejor. The steepest route i have ever tried! Going at 6b (probably nearer solid 6b+) i was psyched but tense about climbing such a steep route. I eventually got up after a lot of thuginess and not alot of grace. Thoroughly pumped and tired I decided to give the line next to us a go, another 6b. Taking a rising leftward traverse through a small roof involving near horizontal climbing, i pumped out and fell. Nooooooooooo. Got back on and did the crux move easy but felt instantly drained again, was within arms reach of the next clip but again fell off. Arghhh.

Climbing Notes - Wasnt used to the Limestone on the first half of the day but got away with it due to the Lime being slightly unorthodox, but when it came to the other side i found myslef being intimidated and not relaxing on the holds. I put this down to not trusting my feet on the un familiar rock. simple but important. Took until the last Lime day to start to cruise the Lime routes. 4 6b's L O/S.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 3

Day three dawned with a rainy forecast but the rain was absent when we woke up. Only one thing to do in a situation like this...climb slabs!

We drove back up to Pedriza in search of a relatively quick and easy approach and feasible climbing. This took us to an amazing complex of slabs called Placas Principales. My first slab was a very long, never ending infact, featureless (you begin to see a theme soon ;) and scarily bolted proposition. The climbing usually involves a skety stepup onto the rock. This first step is scary because you just don't trust your feet to stick to the granite crystals.

Once attached to the rock you have to start to look for microscopic scoops, edges and sharp crystals in order to make the next move. However if you put the wrong foot on the wrong hold don't think you can reverse it or power through. No. You have a 1% chance of staying on and reversing the move at which point you try to concentrate again and reconsider. Once you have found the magic sequence to enable the next step up, repeat this sequence 30  times and nausea aside you have made it up to the top of a pedriza slab. Now for a pat on the back and surgery on your feet! Well done indeed.

Placas Principales
 The inevitable rain came at around 2 o'clock whilst Matt  was on a steep and short groove, and after a fine display of pure will power we decided to bin it and look for a local, to La Cabrerra (our campsite), crag called Ponton De La Oliva. In the Patones guide book it occupies a massive section and after looking through it the area was defiantlyey worth a look.

Ponton de la Oliva
 The areas scenic appeal is obvious from the outset, an 1862 dam played host to an awesome area of limstone climbing. After a quick scope of the area we decided to head off and scoff ourselves with chorizo and omlette!

Climbing Notes - The only climbs of the day, 2 6a slabs were really good and enjoyable if not a tad scary.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 2

After a comfortable night in our rented bungalow thingy we drove to Manzanares, the local town to Pedriza NP. The first impression of the area was that there was a truly overwhelming amount of rock to climb, located in an awesome setting. So..

Bring on the wall!! Well Granite friction slabs more to the point. And even further refined to holdlesss scary undergraded slabs.

So due to it being Saturday we spent around 1Hr trying to find some parking as the majority of Madrid had descended to La Pedriza National Park. After eventually parking the sporty Fiat Panda we walked up to a small crag called Placa De Las Nueve. The crag had around 11 slab climbs and all were reasonably bolted but desperate climbing gave the introduction to the climbing we were expecting.

Manzanares el Real

It begins...
 Really enjoyed the area and the climbing is enjoyable but hard!!! Back to the chalet to recoupe and think up a strategy on how to climb the slabs???

Climbing notes - Managed a Pedriza 6a+ slab the on first day a feat which would prove difficult to top throughout the whole trip. Technically i found i was climbing the rock ok and only dogged one route due to mis-reading a sequence.

Friday, 1 April 2011

La Pedriza - Day 1

Cue 4 Hrs 20 mins on Train, 2Hr 30 mins flight, 5 and a bit hour Drive and a 15 min walk in and im climbing North of Madrid at the start of a 9 day sport climbing bonanza!

After the travelling we decided to go for a wee look at a local (to La Cabrerra our base camp for the trip) crag .This first evening of climbing was an introduction to Limestone, specifically a crag called La Buhardilla. The crag show piece was a 200ish meter stretch of steep continuous limestone with a reported aray of excellent climbs. However due to the recent spate (good as guess as any) the main crag was underwater with a massive pike and turtles swimming over the crux of many a fine route :(

So plan B was to save the evening and use the small short and steep upper section which provided a trio of climbs to burn some energy up after the two days of travel.

High Water at La Buhardilla
Climbing notes - Whats this strange pockety stuff, didnt climb too bad on it though.