Monday, 7 July 2008

Logic vs. Adventure

All smiles: Fran and Jones chilling on Cioch Nose

Remember those annoying questions in maths classes? If Jimmy has three bananas and five pears and Jenny has two plums and an apple, how many men does it take to change a lightbulb on the 16:22 train to Okehampton? Or something like that. Well, on Saturday morning, cruel logic, something I hadn’t really thought about, took it’s toll.

If you have a 1.3 litre R-reg Skoda Felicia and fill it with people and kit, will you be able to drive it to the top of Britain’s longest/highest/steepest mountain pass? Obviously, no. Or at least, not without it overheating at least three times and needing to wait in a layby with the bonnet open, radiator fan wheezing, like a fat Labrador on Scawfell on midsummer’s day. Fortunately, and about an hour later than planned, Jones, Steev, Fran and I finally made it to the car park at the top of Bealach na Ba in Applecross. Our objective: Patey and Bonnington’s Classic Rock masterpiece, Cioch Nose (Severe****) on Sgurr a’ Chaorachain.

Fortunately, the weather forecast had North West Scotland as the sunniest spot in Britain for Saturday, so we were in the right place. With at least three teams in front of us on the route we took our time about it and relished the climbing. Steev and Fran climbed in front of Jones and I, meaning it was a very sociable and friendly day out, despite the ‘out-there’ nature of the line for the grade. Obviously, it’s a great climb, four pitches covered in huge holds and good gear, made all the better by finishing up the A’Cioch ridge above the climb proper. This adds another 100-odd meters of VDiff/scrambling followed by some towers and gaps to skirt round/down/over/up.

Fran employing traditional skills seconding pitch two.
Jones finishing pitch two

We camped just below the Bealach na Ba car park on Saturday night, barbecueing sea bass and overlooking Skye, Eigg and Rum. Who says that low-budget climbers have to survive on super-noodles?

The happy team stroll back to the car, with Skye beyond.
Sunday dawned and we all slept in. Oops. Still worried about my car, we decided to head back to Chez Jones in Munlochy for brunch before heading to Cummingston in her wheels. I felt that I had an inevitable date with Diedre of Double Doubt (E2 5b**) so warmed up on Diedre of Doubt (HVS 5a**) and then Right (HVS 5b*) (neither of which is particularly easy for the grade, I felt)

Me on Right (HVS 5b*). Photo: Steve Crawford

Before I could psyche myself out I stepped up to Diedre of Double Doubt and became embroiled. It’s a great wee route, (I would say that, having done it), pretty steep, but on big holds for the most part. Gear is spaced, and fairly wee and far below the crux, providing pretty ‘heady’ climbing. I felt pretty strong on it though, down-climbing to place more gear before getting fully committed. Smuggly belayed at the top, I felt justified in sitting on my arse for the rest of the evening, which I did, watching Nadal take Federer’s Wimbledon title.

'Getting some back' on Diedre of Double Doubt (E2 5b**)

Nearlly there.... Photo: Steve Crawford

So, despite still not climbing any properly challenging mountain routes this year, I feel like I’m beginning to break into the E2 grade, something that I had really wanted to happen this summer. Also, as Jones gets more confident we’re starting to climb some of the easier classics that I’ve never done, like Cioch Nose. All in all, mustn’t grumble, really.


sam loveday said...

The NW was belting on Saturday, I feel a bit Judas like going to Carnmore without you though...
I might even be arsed to stick some pics up on wednesday when I get the film back.
Tennis was amazing as well eh.

Gaz Marshall said...

I spotted your trip up there on UKC logbook. Nice one. You've been having a productive summer! Don't worry about Carnmore, the routes will be there for a while yet. Get blogging boy, I'm sick of the Haute Route de Ben Nevis!