Tuesday, 23 June 2009

High and Dry?

My office: Looking towards Strath Nethy from the southern edge of Abernethy Forest
The summer ticks along apace and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon looms in a little over a week. In preparation, I hopped on the train and joined team mate Chris Jones (a.k.a. Jones' bro) in the Lake District for a weekend of slogging up hill and sliding down dale. Day 1 was a circuit from Coniston: up Wetherlam, down to Wrynose Bottom, up Grey Friar, down, then up the Old Man of Coniston and back to the tent. Day 2 was a circuit above Langdale: New Dungeon Ghyll, Stickle Tarn, High Raise, Angle Tarn, Bowfell, Three Tarns, New Dungeon Ghyll. I'm feeling pretty fit at the moment so can't complain too much - stomping over to the slab project is paying dividends. Fingers crossed for decent weather for the race.

Chris showing off his hill-chic

Fickle weather has meant I've not done much climbing lately, besides circuits at Burnside bouldering crag and a wee session at Ruthven yesterday. Good weather just hasn;t co-incided with day's off. I would say that it's frustrating, but I've lived in Scotland for long enough to just roll with the punches. A settled forecast of hot high pressure is on us so something might happen....


Firestone Sessions

A combination of bad weather and work commitments (get me) mean there's not much activity to report here. The sun shone for some of Monday so I dragged myself up the hill after work for a peak. The effects of a week of poor weather were visible dribbling straight down Firestone. It's quite amusing really; the route takes a smooth pink streak up the otherwise dark slab - pink because it's worn smooth from millenia of water dribbling down it. The end of the crux section is a steepening that you pull out of using a beautiful crescent shaped blind flake, and this seems to channel the water straight down the rest of the route. Lesson learnt: even with the snow all gone you need a fair period of dry weather for the route to be in condition. It's really nice getting to know a bit of rock really well - the shapes and colours, the minute intricacies, the conditions required, the views.

Monday's view of Firestone: the left-hand wet streak.

Reluctant to waste the journey, I stuck the rope down the slab and worked the dry line next to Firestone, just to get familiar with the type of climbing that's required. It's funny, but I can honestly say I think there's only one 'hold' in the whole 25 metres. The rest relies entirely on smearing, palming and subtle variations of weight distribution and movement. Because of this, learning a sequence that I'm confident to lead is going to be hard - one non-hold looks like any other non-hold!

There's a dry, warm forecast for this week, so the route should be drying as I write. Another post-work session is on the cards so watch this space.....

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