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.