Monday, 30 April 2012

Rain Sandwich

Two days of brilliant blue, sandwiched between two of the wettest, grimmest days for a while.  Strange.  Strange to be getting weather from the East at this time of year.  Strange to see the Cairngorms so blindingly white in the bright sun at eight in the evening - shadows and definitions different to those cast in winter.

I'd agreed to a day with Sarah on Saturday, which would normally involve some sort of running or being dragged up a Munro, or both, but she was battling with the end of a cold, which meant that snoozing in the sunshine while I bouldered was a perfectly legitimate couples activity (the promise of tea and cakes at the newly discovered Kilnroom Coffee Shop, just a stone's throw from Laggan 2, had nothing to do with it).  I even cleaned a new problem for her to do - Sarah's Slab, Font 3.  It's not all about me, you know.

Sarah had work to do on Sunday so I headed out to Goat Crag with Rich, Nick and Mike, meeting Andrew, Sue and Tess there.  I'd been keen for some trad action but Rich reckons he's ticked all the early season crags, so Goat it was.  (I told you it wasn't all about me.)  Given that Goat is the jewel in the crown of the North West sport crags, it was pretty ridiculous that I hadn't been for about a year, not since last Spring's Mactalla sessions.  During this time I (might) have improved, and even more routes have been put up, so was more than happy to leave the wires behind.  There'll be plenty more opportunities....ahem.

Nick, the sky and Snowflake (Photo: Richie Betts)
After Mactalla, the next amazing 7a+ is Snowflake - a techy wall capped by a ludicrously, and I mean ludicrously, steep flake, utilising a rather foreign-feeling selection of kneebars, heelhooks and joke-sized jugs.  I'm not ashamed to say I've not done it yet, but am looking forward to a rematch soon.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Beware, this post might contain some moaning, in which case, I apologise.

After the quick trip down to the grit in March I had a great weekend in the Highlands, making the most of the warm dry spell and opening the Highland trad account in Gruinard Bay.  It felt great to be back out on the gneiss after a winter bouldering season that had centred on schist and sandstone, and after 4 days of tradding in the Peak I didn't feel too rusty when juggling wires and cams and wondering how on earth to make a clove hitch and equalise a belay.  I started to feel excited and ready for the (hopefully) approaching spring and summer of Highland trad exploration.

Since then, in typically Scottish fashion, the weather has taken a nosedive back to showers and snow on the hills so my dreams of sunshine and sea cliffs and getting scared and being puked at by birds have been scaled back to the standard fare of boulders and bolts.  I shouldn't grumble really, as I've had fun and am feeling relatively fit and strong (for me!) but after a taste of the sweet trad nectar I just want more.
I just need to make sure I make the most of all my opportunities.

The bulletpoints:
  • Laggan - I'd written off a project at Laggan 2 as a bit sharp and a bit hard to bother with for now, but after a quick play on the way home from work I changed my mind, re-jigged a sequence or two and reached a new high point.  Perhaps it's back on?
  • Applecross - stayed in Monty Hall's bothy at Sand and started a cold drizzly day of trying to climb under the MOD roof.  Did the traverse. Which was nice.
  • Torridon - Later we migrated to Torridon where it was drier but still chilly and got on Malc's for the first time in over a month.  Feeling pretty solid all the way to the shelf now and experimenting with the last big move.  Tagged the lip 3 times in a short session.  Big progress.  Will the cold return for another go?
Steve trying Scott's Wall on the Celtic Boulder
  • Scatwell - Same day, when everyone else seemed happy to pack up and go home when the weather eventually turned good I dragged Sarah to Scatwell and had a go on Road to Demestos but ran out of beans (and time) before I could do it.  Sad times.
  • Edinburgh - Staying with Sarah down in Auld Reekie and managed to sneak out for a few sessions at the old haunt of Agassiz Rock.  Surprised to see it still standing and most of the hold still there.  It really is a tottering pile of crap, but I've had a jolly nice time and got pumped so it's not all bad.
  • North Berwick - A quick morning session dodging showers with Chris.  Finally ticked Fogtown, after first trying it a few years ago and not going back since.  It's rather short, but good fun.

The way to Monty's Bothy...