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.


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