This would be a three-star classic in the Peak, but here it's just another lump of rock. I like that.
On the sub-optimal wintry weekends of yesteryear I'm pretty sure I would have been out and about, trying to find something to do in the hills: freezing, getting lost, getting wet, climbing part of a mediocre route, only to get home and rave about having a good traditional day. Deep down though, I knew that for such a vast expenditure of effort, not much had been achieved and after several weekends like this in a row I would generally lose my motivation for winter climbing and start waiting for spring. As I touched on in the previous thrilling installment of Soft Rock, I've decided to take a different approach this year. Winter climbing is no longer at the top of my agenda; having good, productive days out is now number one. So, if winter conditions are primo and the weather is looking good, I'm all for getting out, but if I think I'll get a bigger pay-off by concentrating my efforts elsewhere, that's what I'll do. It means I'll climb fewer winter routes than normal, but hopefully it'll mean that I'll be motivated to try harder when I do.
With this is mind, a quick blast at Cummingston on Saturday followed by a boulderers alpine start on Sunday (8.00am) got me up to Inverness to meet Richie Betts. From there we hit the road to Ullapool and the Torridonian sandstone of Rhue. Richie has got to be one of the most active Inverness climbers, famed for traipsing around Scottish bogs with mats, tarpauline and wellies, in the hungry search for likely boulders. By his own admission he's not into winter climbing, so instead of joining the queues in the corries, he's always out exploring the quiet rocky corners of the North West. Besides being super keen also he's quite handy, so a useful guy to know. By happy coincidence we met the local team of Ian Taylor and Tess Fryer at the crag and a productive day of failing, sending, gossiping and coffee-drinking ensued. Better than sitting in a blizzard any day....
Richie's pics are here. Ian's are here.