Sunday, 9 August 2015


I've heard it said that the temperature in Inverness on midsummer's day this year was the same as on midwinter's day last year. I've struggled to find the data that backs this up, but given the general cold and wet summer we've been 'enjoying' I can well believe it.

Trying to turn a negative into a positive, I've pretty much given up on thinking of going trad climbing this year - a measly 13 routes climbed so far - and I've mainly been spending my minimal climbing time picking the low hanging fruit by filling in the gaps at local sport crags.  At Brin this meant the 7a+ brace of Despicable Me and Vagicil Overdose.  The memory of the lonely runout slab at the top of the latter in a howling gale will last long in the memory.  At Moy Ian T's new Kite Mark (6c) is a worthy Flat Wall addition, and a week or so later I voyaged into the dusty realm of the less-travelled Forbidden Forest at 7a/+. All good fun, but over rather fast.

So what now? Time is getting tight before our wedding in September, and after that I expect my mind will start wondering to Torridon and boulders, so I'm fairly limited in my options. So, I've decided to use this pressure as an opportunity to focus on a project. I feel like I've been coasting along over the summer, going through the motions but not really having an aim, so now it's time to change gears. After scouring the local crags I've settled on a gnarly little 7b+ called Whinging Consultants at Brin - brilliantly named after the oft-voiced opinions of Dr Pete Clarkson and Mr Dave Douglas, two NHS employees and active local climbers. I've had two sessions on it so far and it's slowly moving along the spectrum that starts at impossible and hopefully ends in clipping the chains. Time will tell. It's got a really sustained and powerful crux round the 3rd and 4th bolts, followed by a half-decent rest and then easier but pumpy climbing to the top.  If I can make it to the 4th bolt I'm hopeful I'd be able to keep it together for the top, but getting through that crux is bloody desperate.

Watch this space.

Ps. If anyone in the Inverness area is keen for Brin evening sessions let me know, I'll repay belays with witty banter, lectures on capercaillie conservation and rehearsals of wedding speeches.  What's not to like?

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