Thursday, 21 October 2010


Falling leaves, burnished golden hillsides, the first snows - the clock inevitably ticks towards the OMM next weekend. The training runs start to wind down to the all important tapering period before the race (more time free for climbing). Team admin begins (the classic cous cous vs. Smash debate). Old race maps lie strewn around the house, studying route choices, brushing up on navigation. The October traditions of the last seven years.

Living and training up in the Highlands, I'm hoping Dartmoor will feel relatively warm and dry, but I won't hold my breath - these events have a good record of attracting the worst of the elements.

It's now at the stage when there's not much more I can do to prepare. Now it's time to sit it out, think, relax. Be ready for the first glimpse of the map and the sound of the starter's airhorn -then it's time to act.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Still There

I've managed to stay on the tightrope a bit longer. Another climb/run weekend passes with a trip down to auld reekie and The County. Back Bowden in the harr on Saturday allowed enough dry rock for a nice wee boulder and route or two. I'd not encountered trad climbing for a while so got a good work-out on the 3-dimensional The Arches.

Sunday was the real reason I headed south: the Pentland Skyline race. The cloud was down the whole way, making some of the intricate route finding tricky, but I was pleased to come in 15th. 2 places higher than last year, although 3 minutes slower; I'm blaming the weather for those 3 minutes. Konrad was 6 seconds behind in 16th and OMM partner Duncan came 21st, so OMM prep is in good shape. Dunc's sister Katie was the final Team Towers member to cross the line, in a very respectable sub-4 hour time. High fives all round.

The big news, however, is that Mr Betts got his Torridon project on Saturday: The Essence. Not many lines like that hanging around. The Bettsmaker is beggining to pay off. Nice one bruvva!

Richie on a previous session working what would soon become The Essence, Font7b+ish: a perfect highball line low on Seanna Mheallan, Torridon.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Despite last weekend's little mishap with the disappearing bothy I've tried to keep up with the OMM training. Having spent the summer doing survey work in the hills I think I've got an OK base of fitness, which I'm adding to with a few intense short runs in the week and longer hill runs on the weekend. This Saturday's run was a nice circuit in the Coulin Forest, south of Torridon.

Running is a lot like hillwalking I guess, as it's a great way to get out and explore places you don't know. Fortunately it doesn't take as long and doesn't require knee-length red socks. Over the years of inhaling the contents of climbing guidebooks some hill names become engrained in the memory, but I still don't really know where some of them are, and more importantly, how you get to them in the pre-dawn dark of a frosty winter. So, after this latest run I now know a wee bit about Fuar Tholl and Sgorr Ruadh and their beautiful cliffs. Will this be the year I get to see their wintry side?

The only problem I'm having with OMM training this year is that I'm equally psyched for climbing as I am for running, and trying to do as much as possible of both is a delicate balance. As much as I'm really looking forward to the imminent OMM suffer-fest, I'm also looking forward to that time when it's over and I can knuckle down into the autumn sport and bouldering season. Projects ahoy!
Sport project: Mactalla at Goat Crag. I had my first proper play this weekend and was muchos impressed. (Photo: Murdo Jamieson)

Boulder project 1: Malcolm Smith's Arete, Torridon. Beautiful line, beautiful place, hard. Perfect.

Boulder project 2: The Scientist, Brin Rock. Fairly local, very hard (for me), a long term goal. (Photo: Richie Betts)