Friday, 14 September 2012

The Turn

Yesterday I read a post on Farcebook by one of the Glenmore Reindeer Centre herders saying she'd seen snow on Braeriach.  If nothing else, not even the howling gale that kept waking me up last night, it's a sign that the seasons are turning.  There are still a few optimistic swallows hanging about in Aviemore but their days here are numbered, and the big skeins of migrating geese I saw this week mean it's their turn now.

The changing seasons generally mean a change of focus for me - Autumn brings more running in preparation for this year's OMM, and cooler weather means more bouldering.  On the bouldering front, priority number 1 for this winter season is the same as the last few: Malc's Arete in Torridon.  By the time the Spring warmth was arriving at the end of last season I was starting to feel pretty close, so hopefully some sessions in good conditions this time round will seal the deal.  Even if Malc's remains a dream, there's still so much to do in Torridon, including a load that I scouted while working up there this summer and all the stuff Richie and Co. have been doing on the South side.

It's usual in the Highlands for late Summer to be a bit of a wash out, with warm, humid and midgy conditions the bain of many a climbing plan.  This year followed a similar pattern, although not to quite the extent as the last few.  At least this year I had a few days out and managed to tick off some quality routes, here's a rather dull summary, as much for my memory as for your interest:
  • Sandwiched between the two sessions I had at Brin (previous post) Sarah and I went for a Cairngorm walk, aiming for a swim in Loch Avon on a scorching day.  On the way past Hell's Lum I persuaded her to give me a belay on one of Jules' wee slab routes, Two Little Devils.  As a big fan of the granite slab it was most pleasant to climb one with amazing gear all the way.  The E4 next door looked like a very different proposition and will have to wait....
Blue sky and bad hair
  • On the bolts front I managed to do the morpho boulder-in-the-sky Cloudburst at Goat Crag.  A good one to have done as I slowly work my way through the easier routes here.  What's next?  Steve and I later departed for Loch Tollaidh where he closed the account he'd opened on In The Pink a couple of years previously, and he cruised it.  It was his last Scottish route before moving to NZ for a year. 
  • Moy lost it's perma-dry title after Tess and I got caught in the mother of all rain storms.  Waterfalls down routes, not cool.  Before the misery I'd been having a good day, doing Cloak and Dagger and The Herring for the first time and getting up Ticks... in a oner, the first time I'd been back on it since redpointing it last summer.
  • I finally met up with Andy Hyslop, one of the very few Aviemore residents that actually climb, and had a day at Reiff.  Mis-reading a guidebook (plus an innacurate topo) meant I climbed a Severe (Plaything) thinking it was an E1 (Gussetbuster).  I thought I must have been going well as it felt really easy, then I re-read the book and ate my humble pie. Oops.  
  • Getting up to date, last Saturday I headed up to the hot crag of the summer, Ian and Tess' Creag Rodha Mor, aka Super Crag.  Tess was my guide, which was great as finding it is fairly involved, plus it eliminated all the usual faff of working out where to abb from and where all the routes go.  Trying to warm up by seconding a notoriously tricky E3 didn't do much for my confidence, but I managed to keep it together on the epic voyage of Mega-flake and the pumpy and then airy Gaunnisimo.  It was great to finally get embroiled in some committing climbing, after so much sport and cragging.  Psyched to get back next Summer when I've got some trad momentum.
South from Super Crag
And finally...  We all know that climbing doesn't really make good spectating, least of all trad climbing, and least of all slab climbing.  However, when I went into Beinn a Bhuird the other month I filmed my wee slab route.  It was mainly to get footage of me falling off, but I didn't.  I edited it together anyway, mainly just to remind myself  how gripped I was at the top.  It's refusing to embed in full size, so here it is: