Tuesday, 31 July 2007

I'm back

Well, long time no write. I've connected to the wireless network in the new house at last!
I’m now safely stationed in the Fort, with genuine Lochaber rain dribbling down my window and genuine Lochaber midge bites on my arms.
I started my job last Monday, and all is going well. Nothing too taxing yet, but I’m learning a fair bit and think I’m being of use to Gary. His wife has just had a bairn so I
can imagine he’s grateful for all the help he can get, what with shifting circadian rhythms and all that.
On the climbing side I’ve been up to a wee bit recently. On the Saturday before moving up here Chris and I had a day on Buachaille Etive Mor. We went for Bludgers Revelation on Slime Wall. I was good and ready for it, having not been on a decent sized route for a while and wasn’t too bothered about the very cold hands and general wetness of the first 5a pitch. Chris however had real issues getting off the belay at the start and after a long time I ended up abbing back down and cleaning all the gear. Bummer! It’s weired really, cos Chris is strong, and in isolation could do 5a moves forever. But on this day it just illustrated that there’s much more to mountain routes than just the moves – it’s the early start, the walk in, the cold, the wet rock, the imposing and exposed situations. It rapidly adds up and can easily sap the psyche. It did that for Chris and he clearly wasn’t up for it.
I was keen to do something so as not to waste the day so we walked round to the East Face of North Buttress and climbed Crows Nest Crack, a VS brilliant with two full 40m pitches and a scramble in between them. The first pitch is sustained 4c and number 2 is sustained 4a, what ever that means. Either way, both pitches are easy, with great gear and great holds, fairly steep rock (for the grade) and their length means you get really absorbed. Another bonus was that the psyche fairy wasn’t with Chris so I got to lead both pitches. Definitely three stars, and I’m surprised it doesn’t have more of a reputation as a class route.

Moving to Fort William is definitely a good thing for my climbing. Glen Nevis is just a 10 minute drive away, with its hundreds of amazing routes and boulder problems. I’ve been down after work four times in the last 7 days up here and am getting close to doing Maisie Gunn on the Heather Hat (V4). I’v never really done much roofy stuff so its cool to get on this. I think I’m gonna have to get stronger though before it slips in the bag.

I had one of those awesome “this is why I climb” moments last Tuesday. It was a glorious evening, wall to wall sunshine with no midges, and just a few clouds over the Ben and Stob Ban. I walked up to Pine Tree Wall and soloed The Gutter, a classic easy Diff. It’s a wide crack that splits an easy angled slab for 45m, then a flake in the slab for 20m, the two pitches being separated by a big ledge with a huge Scots Pine on it – a perfect place to sit down and chill out. It felt like a nice welcome to the Fort.

Now all I have to do is make some belay buddies (and normal buddies!) and it’ll start feeling like home. A couple of my house-mates are outdoor instructors/climbers/polar explorers so I’m thinking there’s a good start there – just got to wait til they’re back from work in Svalbard and the East Coast! The other flatmate is a Nevis Radio DJ, a local celeb! Oh yes.
Sweet, I’ll catch up soon. Apologies for the lack of photos, but the camera is in the car. I'll sort it soon.....

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