Thursday, 20 September 2007

Rain rain go away

You love Native Woodlands don't you? Go to Loch Katrine and enjoy the Alder woodland pastures. I did last week. Mind you, I was being payed.

Its a sad sight from the office window today. The rain is as persistant as it can only be on the West Coast and the Ben, for sorrow, will not show his face.

The weekend found me in Edinburgh once more, as the forecast in the hills was gash. Infact the BBC forecats was gash for there too but it was wrong. Jones and I went to the Limekilns on Saturday morning and got rained off a route before I had commited to it. We hung around long enough for the rain to stop and rock to dry and I shot up Kiln dance with me, an HVS 5a (given E1 5a but its a path) and Jones Seconded it cleanly (probably her hardest second). Then the rain came back, so I shot up Humbug, the VS 4c next door, as the holds started to get slippery. After this we decided to call it a day, assuming that the predicted meterological onslaught was upon us. However, on arrival back in the city the sun came out, and stayed that way for the rest of the day. Balls.

Sunday, however, was truly vile so we went to watch Atonement at das Kino. I'd thoroughly recommend it to one and all. Then it was back to the Fort for I.

So far its been a pleasant week. Monday saw Miriam (my housemate) and I go for an inpromptu post-work climb in the Glen. Little did we know that a heavy hail and rain storm had just passed through before our arrival and everything was pissing. And I mean pissing. A wet ascent of The Gutter seemed like the only sensible option so we did that. Miriam hadn't done it before, and I hadn't done it as a waterslide so all in all a good time. We had to cut the session short though cos I had to attend a local council meeting. I really am growing up fast.

On Tuesday I had my chainsaw assessment, which I passed, despite my best efforts to fell a tree with the wrong cuts. I salvaged the wreckage well though so cannie grumble. On the drive back from Morvern to the Fort I stopped off by Coire an lubhair on Garb Bheinn and went for a run. The map would have you beleive that there is a path in that way, but don't be fooled. Its just enough of a path to connect some huge, Walsh-hungry bogs and I found myself thigh deep a few times. The weather was properly epic too, gale force winds (or so they felt) and horizontal rain, and came together nicely with the big rocky scenery to give a a good bit of OMM training. It was only about 7 km max but I was out long enough to get thoroughly piss-wet and covered in bog. Mmmm. I managed to flatten the Bravo's battery on the Corran Ferry with the heating and the radio and had to get bump-started down the ramp. Ho ho, what fun.

Last night I went to the Ice Factor, which was coolio. I met some guys down there that were really helpful and offered me a belay. I'll definately be back to make more friends and continue on my quest for power, endurance, and that old classic, power endurance.

Sweet dreams my children.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

A Weekend of Classic Ridges

Although the weather hasn't been great in the Highlands since coming back from Nova Scotia I decided to have a crack at finding dry mountain rock this weekend. Jones came up on the train from the burg on Friday arvo and not long after work that evening we were heading East in the trusty (?) Fiat Bravo. That scans nicely.

I had thought the of some easy big things in the North West, namely East or Central Buttress on Beinn Eighe and A'Cioch Nose. Jones is still a rookie really so its pointless aiming for harder stuff so big routes in big places make for the excitement. In the end the foreccast was giving the North West the shittest weather we headed towards the Cairngorms where fairer things were promised on the Monk-cast.

That night was amazingly clear, with no moon and millions upon millions of stars shining down on Glen Muick. Bootiful.

Look, its Eagle Ridge!

Eagle Ridge, the uber classic 4-star Severe, was on the cards so we scampered in to the corrie, only to find two teams starting the route already. Bum. They were going very, very slowly and it was only after we realised we were'nt at the true start that we understood why these guys were having such problems on a Severe. Only two hours lost! In fact we ended up overtaking the second team.
Jones, the Ridge and the Loch.

Its a great route, with maintained interest and some good exposure. The 'sentry box' pitch is particularly splendid, to use guide book parlance, with lots of air beneath you and huuuuuuge holds. Jones had a few 'moments' when the exposure was felt but pressed on like a trooper and was really glad that she had.

Joes was happy to get the route done.
The only problem is that now I've blown my winter on-sight. Damn. I've only climbed a couple of grade VIs in winter but I must say this one looks like a pretty full-on day. Respec.

The 'Sunday' route of choice took us to the Norries, and a very windy and cloudy Coire an't Schneachda. I had though of Fingers Ridge Direct, the VS version of the classic Diff, but the aerial moisture content, plus the 'oh shit I'm going to get hot-aches as soon as I stop climbing' conditions put payed to that. So we went for the Diff, and had a jolly good time. I've done it in winter, and its a stonker, so it was cool to see what you're actually torqueing and hooking.

Looking down pitch 3 of Fingers Ridge, its a beaut.

To add interest, the last two pitches were fully in the clouds and what might be known as 'pissing'. I'll admit I decided to don rock shoes for the short wall after the fingers so as not to slip off.

Then it was time for a brew in the ski-centres wonderfully named Cas Bar and a hitting of the road. By the time we were back in the West it was shitting it down and we both felt tres smug that we got a route done in the hills.

A brilliant weekend I must admit.

Jones topping out. Check out that view.....
So far this week I've done a bit of running and been down the Glen a couple of times. In fact I was down there today and was getting a kicking by everything I tried. The mantle on the top of A Dram for Donald on the Cameron Stone is still spitting me off. I have, however, decided to make the lip traverse of the Heather Hat, Midnight in a Perfect World my project, in order to get strong. Its V5, and I will have climbed it before my contract with Upland Ecology runs out on the 24th December 2007. you read it here first.

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Mountain

George, the living legend. Taken on the back of a speeding truck, sometime, somewhere.

The serious bit: It was a haven of tranquility amidst a sea of carnage. Bring it.

So, Tom and Lacey's wedding took place at Nancy and Georges place on Jake Reid Road, on the South Mountain, altenatively known as Gaspereau Mountain, deep woods Gaspereau or simply, The Mountain. Its a wee bit south of Wolfville, home of Acadia University, where Lacey and all her brides maids and maids of honour played rugger together (World Cup starts today, yayer!). Here are some photos that might start to paint a picture of our far too brief time up there.
The Young pretenders:

Brim, in his best man finery.

Tom early/late on his stag night

Ed, the court jester.

Tom, Lacey's dad Robert and Shotgun Steve on the way to The Library.

Phil looking longingly at his Keith's

Star of the show, Nancy. She put it all on and looked after everyone so well. Enjoyed a drop too.

Numerous people from back home couldn't make it so we put their faces on inflatable 'love' dolls. Em looks like normal...

Hazen doing what he does best. Microphone, vodka and a crowd. What a guy.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Back to the grind

Eventually I got back to Fort William.
The last few days in the Scotia were coolio. Got in a days bouldering at Herring Cove which was tres bonne. Gotta love the granite, even if it doesn't love your skin. A beautiful spot too and pretty nice to have some quiet time to myself after the preceeding carnage. On thursday night I met up with some of the girls from the wedding in Halifax. Corinne, Danielle and Kate took me out on the pop again which was real good and a nice end to the trip. I had a chance to sample the delights of Donair (not Doner) and Poutine, both delectable late night comestibles. Mmm mmm.
After lots of waiting around all over the place I got back to Fort William yesterday morn having spent a night in Edinburgh with Jones and another in Glasgow at my big bro's.
So, back to work and all the usual. SNH contracts, training courses, coffee, research proposals, cheese and pickle sandwhiches. Basically it's the dream.
Yesterday was a peach, weather-wise, so I took myself on a run up Cow Hill behind the house. Its a nice wee run and looks out on the Ben the whole way out. Felt like a man that had spent the last two weeks on his arse drinking Alexander Keiths Indian Pale Ale but pulled through. I'm pretty stoked for a couple of months of hard graft so that Duncan and I can have a blast in the OMM (are you reading Dunc?).
The weather was gash today so I couldn't get down the Glen as hoped. I'm getting seriously itchy fingers for some rock routes, it's been soooo long since I lead anything that actually tested me. Oh well, hopefully it'll be an indian summer.....
Jones is coming up this weekend and we hope to get up to the North West for summat. Fingers crossed for dry rock, otherwise it'll be walking and running and partying with the UCI Mountain Bike World Champs in Fort William.
Sorry about the recent lack of photos but my computer won't connect to the wireless connection (even though it says it is) so I'm writing this from my house-mates comp.
I've put a load of wedding/drunk pics on my facebook page if you can see them and fancy that.
Lots of love.......