Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Here Comes the Cold

The last week in October in the Flow Country

That wonderfully oxymoronic expression “change is the only constant” has reared it’s head again. Seasons, activities, thoughts, jobs, houses. Flash. They’ve all shifted in the last few weeks.

No sooner had the very brief running season come to an abrupt halt with the premature end of the OMM, when snow started to fall and thoughts of scratching about in the mountains began to appear. Early birds did some serious worm catching with new routes and impressive repeats being reported before November was even a day old. What with having to earn a living, I was delayed until the weekend until I could get my share of the cold stuff but the 08/09 winter season kicked off nicely on Patey’s Route in Coire an’ Schneachda. I was climbing with Andy Lole, who I know from a trip to Pabbay a few summer’s back but hadn’t seen for ages. It was good to catch up on gossip and libel as we waded through the unconsolidated powder. Despite traditionally being an ice line, Patey’s Route is good value in early season mixed nick, and we had a thought provoking crux on each of our pitches.

Andy Lole Chimneying up the start of Patey's Route (IV,5 ish), Coire an't Schneachda

So, now that the first route is in the bag, the mind is starting to turn into winter mode, checking forecasts, conditions and webcams, and being entertained by the spurious, sublime and ridiculous bullshit smeared liberally across the UKClimbing.com forums.

The other major change which is yet to be mentioned on the hallowed pages of Soft Rock is a professional one. I’ve managed to land the position of Senior Research Assistant at the RSPB’s Abernethy Forest Reserve, just north of Aviemore. It’s a twelve month contract of field and research support work in the shadow of the Cairngorms, so I’ve moved into the Aviemore version of the Crucible of Psyche. My landlord co-founded Extreme Dream, the climbing wall in Aviemore, with Scott Muir, and previous tenants have included Andy ‘the turner-mator’ Turner. I think I’ve got some training to do.

Andy on the easy slopes above Patey's Route

So, come snow, ice or pristine dry granite, there’s a psyched climber in Aviemore with dossing space. Drop me a line.