Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The North West Tapestry

Steve decends Cadh' an Amadain, The Fools Pass, starting the long way back to the car.

Beinn Dearg near Ullapool was the stage for Steve and I to act out our little adventure on Saturday. Walking in to a crag you've never been to before is always exciting, which is probably why the fairly long approach felt quick and easy (I'll take a bike next time). The relatively rarely formed Ice Hose contrasted a couple of icy pitches to start with a couple of mixed pitches for seconds. Easy snow then led to the top of West Buttress, where we both sat, partially blinded by the bright midday sun, drinking it all in. The view from the summit cairn was unlike any I've seen before. All the north spread out below, from the undulations of Assynt and the snowy Summer Isles in the west, to Ben Loyal and Ben Hope on the north coast and all the way east to the North Sea: from the Fannaichs to Fisherfield to the Flow Country, all clad in brilliant white.

Steve on the brilliant 30m icefall starting Ice Hose

Steve starts pitch 3, the start of the mixed ridge.

The view north west: down Gleann na Sguaib to Loch Broom and the Summer Isles.

Enjoying sunshine on the top with the Fainnaichs beyond

Another team start Ice Hose below the moon.

Sunday began with a false start; almost asleep at the wheel on the way to Applecross, snoozing in a layby, then after peering into Coire na Poite through binoculars deciding to cut our losses and go sport climbing. Exchanging steel tools for steely fingers we met Ian, Tess, Andy and Rich for sociable sunshine at Am Fasgadh and Goat Crag. We narrowly missed running out of petrol due to the lax West Coast filling station hours but Rich saved the day with an emergency jerry can. Lesson learned for future Sunday trips to the north west. Despite the ambient air temperature being only a few degrees above freezing, the sun trap of Am Fasgadh provided real unseasonal heat, even allowing tops-off-for-power redpoint attempts. I got to within a few moves of the chain on my first go on The Warm Up, which turned out to be my best shot. Positive progress and a genuine surprise, so something must be going right in my not-so-rigorous training regime. Watch this space....

Richie and Ian have pics on their Flickr websites, useful sources for north west rock motivation, as if I need it.

Hot Rock at Am Fasgadh:
Andy cruises The Warm Up for the umpteenth time, although he did tell me he projected it for two years before success.

Steve on the classic long corner of Teepee, up the hill at Goat Crag.

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