More dodgy weather forecasts, more cups of tea. I felt bad about bailing on Chris on Sunday, he’d hoped to come up and climb on the Shelterstone - I had too - but common sense prevailed after some serious webcam checking and thorough forecast reading. What to do now?
One of the best things about Jones’ base on the Black Isle is it’s proximity to the North West. We made a last minute plan and decided that Reiff would be the best option - quick drying, low-altitude, accessible, and in this case, away from the inland showers (apparently). The other benefit is that it’s Reiff. No trip up to Coigach or Assynt is wasted, like heading into the Loch Avon Basin, they instinctively feel like the right places to be. It was Jones’s first trip up that way too, and the excitement written on her face when Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag rumbled into view was like seeing a toddler at Christmas.
The promised land: Coigach slumbers under the clouds
Our only problem was that Reiff is quite extensive, and I had left the guidebook back at Abernerthy. Balls. With the ukclimbing.com route list and memory from a previous visit this obstacle was overcome. Naturally, we were confined to the Pinnacle Area, because that’s the only section close to the car park that I’ve been to before, and we only had route names rather than descriptions, but we had a good day none the less.
Jones high on Moonjelly (VDiff), The Pinnacle
Just one of the many benefits of Highland living.
On Monday night I met with Jones again, this time at Cummingston, and we had a pleasant evening’s cragging. After climbing Left (VS 5a**), we headed round to Gutbuster Bay. I was in the mood for a fight, and promptly got stuck into Gutbuster (E2 5c**), literally. I’ll tell you now, I failed on this monster, and at the time I felt a little disappointed with myself. However, on reflection I’m not disappointed, I‘m pleased that I had a go. The route starts up a well protected overhanging wave-smoothed off-width groove-come-crack, before finishing up a wall to a good looking arete. No points for guessing where I failed. “Was it the overhanging wave-smoothed off-width groove-come-crack?” I hear you ask. Yes. Yes, it was. Having udged, jammed, cammed, reached, bled and grunted, I just don’t understand how one climbs this kind of thing. Not having had a ’gritstone apprenticeship’, as all those smug troglodytes would no-doubt call it, means that I’m stuck when it comes to grievous bodily harm in a leaning chimney. Bollocks to them. However, I down-climbed, rather than lowered off gear, so my ground-up ascent is still in tact, and it is an inviting line. Maybe one day.
Afterwards I blew away the black cloud created by Gutbuster by soloing Flakey Wall (E1 5a*) and soon felt a bit better about the world. Jones then climbed Rice Crispie Wall (Diff) as the light began to fade over the Moray Firth, and that was that.
Another summer week ticks by, another weekend’s cragging. However, with a great forecast for this week, maybe the coming weekend will enable some classic mountain rock activity. Check back in a week’s time to find out…….