Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rosey weather

Rosehearty with Martin today for my last day climbing before going back to work. Forecast looked good for the morning with passing SHOWERS at around 2. Not bad then. So we got to it, heading down to the slabby South Facing Wall where we warmed up on two nice VS's. I then took advantage of perfect clean and dry rock to lead Living in the Lambada, a slabby E2 5C. Lambada turned out to be a very good climb, really enjoyable climbing with technical thinish moves in between good breaks for your feet to rest. Next time Tango on the Black WILL be climbed, as this looks like a really nice climb aswell.

We then headed down to the North facing wall where the crag classic Afterglow is. An overhanging crack ascends the steep wall directly. Bit of a disproportionally hard start but it got me pretty pumped (again I'm not jamming well, but seem to be starting to pick cracks to climb, so hopefully some crack climbing mileage should sort this out!) once i reached the good ledge. After a long rest i eventually got rid of the pump enough to finish of the route.


Lunch time loomed and so did a flash of lighting and an immediate downpour!! Absolutely soaked, the wall instantly turned into a waterfall. Day over im afraid. But still a good day!  :)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

New wall - first routes!

After finishing my wall i havent had much of a chance to get on it and set some routes due to being out trading, which is always good!

Anyway, first two problems have been set. The wall due to the 40deg overhang, lends itself to very powerful moves and should be good for working on finger stregth, but i also aim to have an easier problem on big holds and stay on the wall for aslong as possible to work stamina. Also due to the holds being quite big (might have to make some small wooden ones) it isnt doing much for technique at the moment. However i heard that using momentum to reach small holds from smaller holds is usefull in trad to conserve energy etc so will try and work on that. In other words the opions are limitless. The moon holds are very impressive, really grippy and perfect for the angle of my wall , i recommend them!

Video of the first two problems i have set! Enjoy

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Floors Crag

A short day planned last minute meant a trip to another new East coast venue, floors crag. Again i was really impressed with the rock and lines on this section of the coast. 5 Starred E2's right next to each other gave a good impression of the quality. The other impression i got was the steepness of the crag, very overhanging indeed!

Line of rope Indicates steepness!

I started off leading Blockbuster, a really cool route with one of the best crux 5b moves i've ever done!. It gets E1 5c but wasnt quite 5c, the move required an exposed move out onto the edge of an arete that is just hanging in space, you are then pulling up on massive jugs and thin feet. The fact that the jugs were there meant you could relax and take in the move and exposure! Recommended!


The next route was Sprunts route, a steep corner crack up to a spacious ledge and a steep final headwall lead to the top. Climbing was steep but i felt good pulling on the small lips and relaxed and confident which was good considering the situation. The arete next to this wall is a definate must!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Coastal Bliss

Wednesday and a tip off about a crag that has good rock, good climbing and no bird nesting led us to Clashrodney. Just South of Cove there are alot of small crags that have really short walk-in's and nice climbing. Mind games affect the climber all the time and today was no different.

View of the Waterfall from Clashrodney

A quick look at the guide book found a possible first E3 Lead for myself. The guidebook description; Short and Powerful. Sounded perfect for me (not a description about me though!!!) Anyway after arriving at the crag and at the bottom of Onassis E3 5C i immediately felt intimidated, but i started to try and work out the big holds for rests and any gear placements. However even though i could see 75% of what possibly would work this wasn't enough to get over the intimidation of the severly overhanging climb. Ah well always next time!!

The steep line of Onassis

I started off on a nice climb called Cairngorms Clubs other Crack HVS 5b, really nice crux through quite a big roof on massive holds and bomber gear, i then soloed Johnny's Dangler a short E1 5b, quite pumpy and steep but safe enough. Sean then got on a nice HS called Glaswegian Snotter to kick off his day, nice slab climb up to a small headwall before the top out.

Yellow Peril

The last route of the day was a climb called Yellow Peril and was a really good climb. It took an easy corner up to a roof protecting the upper hanging corner. The gear placements were quite far out left and the crux moves were committing and moved away from the gear which made the climb a bit spicy! Nice crack corner to finish.

I then had a look at the crag classic, birthday treat a three star E1 but decided to leave it until next time, a must along with Onassis, Blind Faith and the corner roof E2 thing on central buttress.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Beast in the East

The Pass of Ballater is an amazing crag, perfect blocky granite with the occasional quartz seam provide clean breaks and bomber gear. The climbing is best suited for folk leading VS + and there are few routes that aren't worth doing. I have been here about four times now in the past year and have always been inspired by the many lines here.

Starting across Dods Dead Cat E2 5C **

My ticklist for here consists mainly of E2's to E4's and have yet to reach this grade whilst leading and each time i come here i pick off another route on my list. Today I led Alcoholic's Anonymous a bold E1 that might be E2, my Nemesis Blutered a steep crack going at E1 5a, definitely 5b and a fun route called dods dead cat, E2 5c. All of which were really good routes and provided an awesome day in the rare sun.

Climbs that inspire me here are Anger and Lust, Peels Wall, Rattlesnake and cold rage to name a few. Really highlights how much good climbing is here!!

Climbing Notes Felt solid on the two E2's, but really struggled on Blutered. Basically i managed to get a good hand jam but didnt trust it and instead of locking off and trusting another hand/finger jam i wanted to find a normal hold to pull up on. I ended up getting really pumped trying to figure it out and ended up laybacking the crack to the top. Worst pump of my life so far! This highlights that i really need to work on my crack climbing (fell on the cull at logie, same problem: cracks!).

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Small Progress

Quick update on my project at Cullen Caves: Cullen Skank 7a.

Had an hour session today in the rain. For the first time i managed to stay on and get the small crimp sidepull after sticking the high heel hook. Progress indeed, but the RH crimp was greasy and couldnt get enough on it to pull through the crux final move.

Cullen Beach
Previous to this i sent a 6a and two 6b's. Couple of projects left in St Stephens cave to work.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Singing in the rain....

The familiar drive West along the A95 stopped at a small crag at Kingussie. The crag has 4 main areas and each very individualistic. The first area you come across is a very steep but short lower tier, not very inspiring but has two starred routes. Next is the lower tier front face and consists of 6 slabby climbs, perfect for toproping beginners but not teaching leading as theres not much gear. Then the upper tiers provide much better climbing in particular the Upper Tire Side face, on which the crag classic Left-Hand crack is found.

The rock is generally quite sound with good gear (Leftover being an exception which has just two pegs) and enjoyable steep climbing.

My goal was to climb a previously failed on route, left hand crack, pullover and repeat Right hand crack (all very imaginative names!?). First to get my attention was the E1 5b Left-Hand Crack, it involves easy crack climbing right up to a good but steep rest right before a hard pull over a small roof which provides the crux. I got to the same position as last time but couldn't remember the sequence (sort of claiming the OS ;) after much thought i got up the final steep moves to the sanctuary of the top! Then it rained!

kingussie upper tier

Next up was an E2 5c to the left of this and takes a line through two small roofs with a dodgy wire and two rusty pegs for pro. This climb is definitely worth the effort as it got my blood pumping during the steep moves, but it was all over a bit too soon. A quick and enjoyable repeat of Right-Hand Crack (HVS 5a) ended the climbing at Kingussie but not the day. Then it rained

After some supper in Granton on Spey we headed up to Huntlys Cave to meet the MMC for a quick session. Sean got on a nice route called Central crack and gives some good moves on big holds through some impressive terrain. Next for my one and only lead for the evening (enthusiasm draining and getting K nacked), a route called Diagonal Direct and at E1 5C the crux packs a punch! It takes easy 4c/5a climbing up to a big roof where bomber gear can be placed and then a very hard move through the roof required alot of effort reaching up to the crux finishing hold. Once latched its a case of a quick easy wall through a tree! up to the belay. Then it rained so we bailed back for some recuperation time!

Diagonal Direct

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Booo blogspot! (kingussie + Huntlys cave Mk II)

Second time ive had to right this and cant be bothered going all through the days events in details again!

So a day at Kingussie, nice small crag with only really 6 worthwhile climbs 4 of these are on the upper tier. I led an E1 that i failed on last year and led it clean but its a pumpy number, next was Left over and E2 5c with only 2 rusty pegs to protect the crux section, nice climbing though, i then finished on a nice HVS called right hand crack.

Kingussie upper tier
We then went to Huntlys cave and only led one route; Diagonal direct a spicy E1 5c that packs a punch for the grade! Couple of bits of loose rock a nice slab and a desperate roof leads to the top and very wet rain.
Diagonal Direct

Monday, 9 May 2011

Back to Basics

Back to Cullen today to introduce a mate to Trad climbing outside. Schedule for the day was to let him top rope a couple of easy climbs and then second the same routes.

The weather was as good as I've ever seen it at Logie Head, cloudless day with just enough of a breeze to keep the rock and me cool. I set a top rope on a HS on embankment 1 for Kev to climb on, he made light work of it and loved it! The day was supposed to be an day of easy and relaxed climbing, but i caved in way too easy and tried a supposedly 2 star E1 5b called 'The Cull' on the west face. The route takes an overhanging crack that looked good from the ground. The moves required alot of energy trying to hold onto the layaways (i cant hand jam yet!!) and i got within one long move from the sending the crux and had to rest on a nut. Damn!

The Cull

To reassure myself that i was climbing alright i soloed a couple of HS and repeated both sunnyside up and its direct alternative. A new route that i lead was Spread the Donkey and apart from one loose rock was a nice VS.

Few climbers made it down at lunchtime which gave the place a cool vibe, nice to see the place seeing some attention!

Climbing Notes - Cant shake the annoyance of getting pumped on the Cull. A couple of the holds had been decorated by the friendly Fulmars and made the holds unusable but apart from that i think i didnt use my feet that well and didn't jam efficiently. Practice needed climbing cracks.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Early start brought me to Glenmarksie for a second time. Last time i was here i went away ranting about how good Sea of Tranquillity was. Now im back hoping its as good as i remember.

The setting of the crag looks down over glenmarksie dam and strathconon, with a new addition, a new access road which has aided the walk in considerably! Boost.

Now for the climbing. The climbing here on the smooth blocky Schist is on the whole quite mossy which is due to the lack of attention the crag gets which is a shame as it is home to some very good routes in the upper grade regions; from HVS + with alot of potential for some very hard routes on the strategic arms limitations wall (one E7 already recorded but there are at least 3/4 more left, thats where my home wall comes in ;).

I started on an average crack climb which would of been alot better if the moss was absent.

Next Sean started on another average climb which winds its way up the centre of the front face. When Sean was setting up a belay i looked through the guide book to see what could be done next and noticed an E2 5c ** The Joker starting next to Seans belay. After a quick traverse to set up a new belay under the new route i set off. The climbing ascended a wide scoop with small holds leading up to a break and then layaways to top out. The crux of the climb was getting the bottle to move above the worst micro wires ever and commit to reaching the safe zone of the break.

Setting up the abseil off of the trig point in force 10 winds found me at the bottom of the crag classic Phobos.

Phobos ***

Phobos takes the natural weakness up the steep main face of the crag and goes at E2 5c *** . The climbing was awesome and after the initial move up to the first niche is steady E1 5b. Defiantly matched my last experience here. A good crag that deserves more attention.

Climbing Notes - Climbing ok but backed off an E3 without even trying it, maybe due to the fact that it was unusual climbing and looked bold. Felt solid on all the climbs and on the last climb finally trusted my feet on the slightly mossy rock.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Full Steam ahead

Friday rest day, and seeing as my holds had arrived it was time to get my bouldering wall finished.

The wall is 40Degrees steep and has a foot of vertical sections at either end of the main overhang. So after alot of drilling and sweating trying to get the plywood finished and fitted the holds were finally fitted but for the moon set of holds 10cm long bolts are needed to they are stopping me putting all the holds up.

Hopefully the design enables the wall o be taken down and moved to wherever it will fit as it is self standing.

Quick practice on it today confirmed that some awsome problems can be made with the moon holds and they are grippy and positive enough to use dyno's and long reaches as well as small technical moves.

Moon YELLOW Holds
Chuffed :)
Time for some training now for the Trad climbing season!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Minature Toys

Today I headed South to a small boulder field area called Luath Stone Boulders. First thoughts; very small boulders, second thought; cool looking stripes in the rock and third; theres no friction for your feet!

So after that quick introduction to the Luath experience i got on my planned problem, Architect 6c**. It turned out to be a pretty tricky start with my feet slipping off the initial minuscule foot hold, turned out after the 5th attempt i actually shouldn't be putting any weight on my right foot and that small change in weight helped and managed it! Wohoo!

The Boar-Hound's Leash
Next up was a tricky smeary slopey slope fest. That's all I'm going to say about this one :)

Overall it is a place worth knowing about and has a couple of harder problems that will be a good test of finger strength. Tese are a couple of 7a's that looked good but the Sharp Schist only allows you to have so many goes before your fingers are wrecked!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Creature Comforts

Last night myself and Ali headed over to the Moray Mountaineering Club meet at logie head. All in there were 10ish people down and the place was a hive of climbing activity!

We got there at 6:30 so with not much light left i only managed 2 routes. Sandy crack, a short thin crack line going at E1 5b and a classic HVS 5b *** route on the tidal end of the crag. When i first started climbing i always seemed to end up at sea cliffs but found that the noise and drama that the sea brings, adds to the tension of my climbing and so i ended getting psyched out by alot of routes found on the coast. But last night i felt it added to the experience and i enjoyed the climb more due to the situation.

After the climbing it was a quick pint and bed for the early get up for some bouldering at Luath.

Climbing notes- Climbing really well, felt my gear placements were spot on, confident in my feet and trusting smaller hand holds. One route that i need to get on at Logie is Holy Ground, and it does look like it shouldn't be climbed. Very thin gear and hand holds with a very balancy looking crux, but it gets 3 stars so it must be good. and going at E2 5c shouldn't be too bold.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Warm up at Cullen

Seeing as ive missed most of the recent stunning weather that has occupied most of the uk during the last week or so i thought i best do something in it before the inevitable happens. Back from offshore this morning so not wanting an epic day or drive, so it was the cullen caves that got my attention today.

I warmed up and got on my finger strength testpiece which i use to judge how strong i am, this comes in the form of cullen skank, the initial crimp move on the right hand provides the test, i aim to be able to slowly pull through the normally dynamic move. Managed to do this ok with no pain from my elbow!

I also had a wee look at my future project and after sussing out the moves and gear from the bottom came to the conclusion that it will be a sustained E4 5c. A project for this year hopefully!