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.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Climbing in the Med

Back from Norfolk after some family catching up etc and checking the forecast for the week, it looks good. In fact it looks too good.

The theme for the trip :)

Heading to loch Tollaidh Today underneath an azure blue sky.  We arrived at the crag early afternoon ready to hit the climbing. Gairloch area is home to some of the best climbing on Gniess in Scotland, really rough and grippy which gives loads of confidence when pushing it.

We started off at Ravens Crag and gradually made our way rightwards ending up at Dinosaur Buttress. By mid afternoon the temperatures must have reached around 24 / 26 DegC, making the climbing a bit more interesting.

Sean led three good routes with Rough slab being the pick of the bunch, a great VS slab which takes a nice line up the slab right of Gairloch wall.

Seans starting up Rough-Slab

My three routes for the day started with Ewereka, a short route with 1 5c move through a roof to gain nice easier climbing above.

The ramp was the next mission. An interesting route in as such that it has a lot of different elements packed into one climb. A hard boulder start leads to a confined weired roof crack, a horizontal traverse then leads to a fine open groove and a slab to finish.

My final route for the day was between Buena Vista on the hidden wall or Rouged-Up on Dinosaur buttress. At the top of Seans last lead we wondered over to the hidden wall area to find a pristene section of 30m high gneiss glowing in the evening light. And for some reason for this very reason i didnt want to climb it. I wanted to leave it for another time, something to come back to and look forward to.

So I got on Rouged up. Graded E3 5b with no runner in the adjacent line, red faced. I climbed the initial groove and got over the roof to be pleasantly surprised by three bits of good gear below the crux. After contemplating the '5b' move for a while i finally swung onto the hanging slab, buzzing at how good the move was. It seems that if you have the time to stop and think about a move in that situation where it feels hard and committing, and you overcome these feelings to concour the move it increases the satisfaction after the move has been completed.

Rouged-Up E3 5b

This proved to be the end of the day and gasping for some fluids we walked back to the van, downed a litre of water and made our way to Gairloch campsite and got ready for day 2, Stone Valley.

Abbing down Rouged-Up, Loch Tollaidh