Monday, 27 September 2010

Finding Stones and Losing Bothies

Sunshine points the way to the Coire na Arr boulders, Applecross

At last! Sunshine!

Our meteorological masters have granted a reprieve from the incessant rain: time to pounce.

Richie was keen to head out to the mythical Applecross peninsula to explore some sandstone beauties he’d spied last winter. I’d seen this picture of them on his flickr page and was PSYCHED. So, at 9 o’clock on Saturday the team assembled in Inshes Tesco car park: Richie, Blair, Jenny, myself, a stack of pads, tarp, brushes, flasks and plenty of skin. Oh, yeah, forget the last bit – my tips were already shredded after a prolonged wrangle with micro-holds at Burnside in the week, and I’d shut the car door on them on Friday night. Fool. But anyway, off we trotted.

Ignoring the well-documented Kishorn Boulders, our destination was a fair poke up Coire nan Arr, lurking in the the shadow of the towering Sgurr na Choarachain. It’s at such magical places as these that real treasures lie for those willing to put in the effort of reaching them, and we were not disappointed: cresting the final boggy hummock half a dozen big free standing blocks of the cleanest Torridonian sandstone hove into view. As Richie gave us the tour-du-bloc the roar of the stags rumbled down from the hills above, setting the scene for a perfect day.
The official advert for Scottish bouldering: Richie on his own creation with Cioch Nose beyond.
Concentrating on Blair's central slab problem; the real line of the slab still awaits an ascent...

Richie's Flickr site has more, better pics.

Afterwards my weekend took a rather less successful turn. I'd planned a big run round Loch Arkaig on Sunday, so on Saturday night ran into Invermallie bothy in Glen Mallie, only to find that it wasn't there. I spent a moonlit hour searching high and low, near and far. I re-traced my steps, checked and re-checked the map and never found it. Being half ten at night I decided to run back to the car, sleep in it and do a slightly different run the next day. But alas, as reliable as my Kia Rio has been since I bought it last year, it's no good for sleeping in. As I tried to rub some life back into my cramped and folded legs I realised that I wasn't going to be in a good state to run anywhere in the morning, so bleary-eyed and somewhat peeved I decided enough was enough and started home at 4am.

A bit of googling the next day informed me that a new track has gone into Glen Mallie and isn't on the OS maps, so, the bothy was the best part of a kilometre from where I was, which, it seems, is a long way in the dark. Arse.

After a quick snow-evading run into Coire an t-Schneachda in the morning I went for a sunny afternoon's bouldering up at Burnside, where, two strange things happened. Firstly, I managed a project I'd tried but failed on before, but secondly, and even more excitingly, for the first time ever, I met some other climbers there! Madness!

The first ever queues at Burnside.

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