Saturday, 20 December 2014

2014: Top 3

Another year comes and goes and we keep stumbling on.  Queue the annual reflective blog post.

2014 was definitely the year I grew up: getting engaged, turning 30, buying a house and finally getting a job that doesn't mean I'm always away from home.  I'm sure the 20 year old me would be deeply disappointed to see me now: a slave to the wage with a mortgage.  But it seems to me that unless you're very lucky, very talented or willing to live hand-to-mouth from other people's charity there's not much choice. Anyway, we've just bought a cool house in the sticks and I'm doing a job that 20 year old me would be proud of, so there.

In previous years I've listed my climbing, reading and musical highlights, so I'll follow the tradition, but this time I'm doing top three's (in no particular order):

Trad routes:
1. We the Drowned, E5 6b, Diabaig. The realisation of a long-held ambition: a tricky new slab route in the North West Highlands.  I was well chuffed when I heard that Jules Lines had on-sight soloed the 2nd ascent. Nutter!  He agreed with the grade and reckoned it would be 3 stars on grit.  I guess he would know.
Pretty Crag at Diabaig
2. Sumo, E3, Beinn Eighe. A great day out with Ian T who's almost ticked the crag so was happy to be my belay bitch.  Steep, positive, safe climbing and on a crag with one of the best views in Britain.
Sumo Pitch 2 (Photo: Ian Taylor)

3. Kachoong, 21, Arapiles. The only route I'd heard of before we went out to Oz.  I'd blown it up in my head as a must-do, so was pretty relieved not to take the ride.
Quality bumshot (Photo: Rob Greenwood)
Sport routes:
1. Primo (Curving Crack), 7b+, Am Fasgadh. Four years passed between first attempt and eventually clipping the chains, which is quite a long time for a 15m route.
Game face (Photo: Ian Taylor)

2. Giza Break, 7b/+, The Camel.  I totally fluked this on my first redpoint of my second session, three days after turning 30.  Happy birthday.
Starting up the 30m long potato field of The Camel (Photo: Nick Carter)
3. Wicked and Weird, 7a+, Kujho Crag. Spring in the North West Highlands: birds singing, sunny redpointing and no midges.  A punchy little route too.

1. Vapour Trail, 6C, Torridon. On the to-do list for a long time but I'd never plucked up the courage before this year.  Superb.
Getting high by myself.
2. Scatwell Massacre, 7A?, Scatwell.  A classic Richie Betts sandbag ('Betts 6C+') at  my new local boulder, tucked away in the woods of Strathconon.
Lamps out at Scatwell (Photo: Rich Betts)

3. The Link, 7c, Tom Riach.  OK, so it's a long boulder traverse, but I'm counting it.  My hardest link on anything to date, pieced together over a couple of months of summer after-work evenings.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel.  Part one of Mantel's fictional biographies of Thomas Cromwell.  Uniquely written and about an era that it would seem GCSE and A-Level History skipped over. Poor old Catherine/Anne/Jane/Anne/Kathryn.

This is always impossible, so rather than thinking too hard I'll just pull up three from my current 'most-played' list:
1. Remurdered by Mogwai.
2. Marcos by Kan
3. Open Eye Signal by John Hopkins

All in all, not a bad year on the rocks. Merry Chistmas one and all!

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