Friday, 8 June 2012

Battle Stations

I'd booked a week off work a few months back, gambling that it would coincide with some Highland sunshine and finding midweekers to climb with, and by a stroke of luck seem to have hit the jackpot.  Blue skies, dry crags, midge-busting breezes.  10 days off work: 7 days out tradding, 1 day trying to boulder (too warm!), 2 days of domestic bliss (the lawn won't mow itself, or so Sarah tells me).

The Beginning:  a sunny afternoon at Glenmarksie on the way out for a Torridon weekend.  It's a nice wee crag in a lovely spot on the edge of Strathconon but, like so many Highland crags, has a dirty, neglected air.  In the Lakes or Wales it would be spotless and perma-chalked.  A winter of getting good at trusting the scrittly schist/lichen interface at Laggan paid off.  Then Groovin' High on Beinn Eighe on Saturday and getting baked on Routes 3 and at Diabeg on Sunday.  Sunburnt calves....

Steve had the camera while I was climbing and was convinced that if he zoomed in enough he'd see topless women..

Russell having a hard time after I sent him the wrong way on the last pitch of Route 3, Diabeg.  Must pay more attention to the topo in future.

The Middle:  Richie's on leave and prepping for a long weekend at Fairhead so keen to dust off his wires.  Gruinard Crag makes a good dog-friendly option on Tuesday and a chance to do Red John of the Battles, one of the classic North West cragging E2s.  A good route, but surpassed by the more technical Pistolero.  Rich mops up the E4s at the right of the crag.  Next day Reiff beckons and Rich starts with a decent lob off the top of The Mystic onto my little Zero 4 cam...  It holds,  phew.  I somehow battle up Elastic Collision but then have to rest seconding Seal Song next door.  I've got work to do with my crack climbing...  The day ends with a fluttering heart above The Channering Worm.  Starting to feel the trad momentum, this weather can't last...
Rich getting ready for the ride on The Mystic.

The easy finish to The Channering Worm, Reiff.  I remember back in 2005, imagining what it would be like to do this when members of my uni mountaineering club were failing to headpoint it.   It only took me 7 years. Oops.
 (Photo: Rich Betts)

The End:  A late start means it's only a half day at Rhue with Steve, but having never been before it's just nice to soak up the chilled seacliff atmosphere and drink in the view of Ben Mhor Coigach across Ardmair Bay.  The 15 metre Boom Boom Boom packs in an adventure totally out of proportion with it's size - one of the best routes so far this year?  Steve gets the Rhue Corner tick.  Finally, Sunday afternoon Phallatio at Creag Dubh - I'd bargained a single belay from Sarah with the promise of tea and cake at the The Potting Shed afterwards. I really should climb here more...

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