Thursday, 26 April 2012

Pondering on purchases...

Maybe time to upgrade a bit...

  • 8 x Alpha Light 12cm Quickdraws 
  • 2 x Alpha Light 25cm Quickdraws 
  • 4 x Alpha Light Krabs for long extenders 
  • 2 x 60cm 12mm slings 
  • 3 x Camalot C3 Cams 
  • 12 x Alpha Light Krabs for cams 
  • 2 x Shadow Screwgates 
  • 1 x Boa Screwgate 
  • 1 x Sentinel Screwgate

Almost all of that is to replace my current older, heavier gear, to make my gear lighter = less weight in rucksack = easier to do walk-ins = more energy at crag = bigger numbers = more fun.

Except for the C3 cams, these are to replace my 9 year old size 0 and 00 Camalots which are getting fairly trashed (average 2-3 lobes on each has had a snapped and repaired trigger wire!), and to give me more options at smaller sizes.

I was considering getting a few Oval krabs for racking wires, but they tend to be bulky and heavy, so for the moment I will stick with the notchless Black Diamond Positrons from my current quickdraws, as the notchless wiregates seem to be a bit angular shaped to be worth buying as racking krabs - unless anyone has any suggestions.

At some point I might get 2 x Omega Link cams, to give me more options for longer and variable protection routes. Obviously these are pretty heavy and would negate some of the weight loss above but they are the only additions I think would be truly useful. I'd also consider Wild Country Superlight Rocks to replace my second set of smaller Wallnuts but I'm not sure they'd be that much better.

These are very carefully considered purchases to enhance my climbing and help compensate for the issues that inhibit it. Maybe time to stop pondering and actually purchase...


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lines Of Lust

Inspiration + desire + challenge + exploration + variety...

Tweetie Pie Slalom  E5 6a ***
Limpet Crack  E3 5c ***
Neptune  E2 5c ***
Blessed Are The Weak  E5 6a ***
Various routes

The Prozac Link  E4 5c ***
Various routes

Supercharger  E3 5c **
Wish You Were Here  E2 5b ***
Have A Nice Day  E3 6a **
Golden Shower  E4 5c ***
American Vampire  E4 6a ***
Fight Club  E3 6a ***

Rubha Hunish:
Whispering Crack E3 5c ***
Northern Exposure E2 5b ***

Digitalis E3 5c ***
Mother's Pride E4 5c ***

Staffin Slip:
Various routes.

Occam's Razor E4 6a ***
A Paddler's Tale E3/4 5c ***

Headstrong E4 5c **
Wyatt Earp E3 6a ***
Crack Of Desire E3 6a ***
Various routes

Wester Ross:
Tollie Crags:
Each Uisge Direct  E4 6a ***
Murray's Arete  E3/4 5c *
The Shimmer  E4 6a **

Loch Tollaidh Crags:
Flag Iris  E4 5c **
Various routes.

Stone Valley Crags:
Demon Razor  E3 5c *
Flashing Blade  E3 6a **

Gruinard Crags:
How The West Was Won  E3 5c **
Stand And Deliver  E4 6a **

Edgewood Whimper  E4 5c **
Porpoise Pun  E3 5c **
Wall Of Flame  E4 6a ***
Instant Muscle  E4 6a **
Rough Justice  E2 5c *

Glen Nevis:
On Some Beach  E5 6a ***
Freddie Across The Mersey  E5 6a **
Crackattack  E3 5c ***
Mutant  E4 5c **
Triode  E5 6a **
Risque Grapefruit  E4 5c **
Fingertip Finale  E4 5c *
Precious Cargo  E5 6a *

Creag Dubh:
Colder Than A Hooker's Heart  E5 5c **
Harder Than Your Husband  E5 6a **
The Final Solution  E5 6a **
Acapulco  E4 5c ***
Bratach Uaine  E4 6a ***
Case Dismissed  E3 6a ***
Ayatollah  E4 6a ***

North East:
Moray Coast:
The Prow  E5 6a **
The Essential  E3 5c ***
Senakot Rose  E4 6a **
Old Fashioned Waltz  E3 5c *

Aberdeen Coast:
Red Army Blues  E4 6a **
Downies' Syndrome E4 6a **
Sair Fecht  E3 6a **
The Pugilist  E4 6a ***
Johnsheugh routes
Various other routes

Pass Of Ballater:
Peel's Wall  E4 6a ***
Smith's Arete  E5 6a ***

Central Highlands:
Glen Lednock:
No Place For A Wendy  E2 5b ***
Pole-Axed  E4 6a **
Gabrielle  E4 6a *
Diamond Cutter  E3 6a ***

Glen Croe:
Edge Of Insanity  E4 5c **
Short Sharp Shock  E4 6a ** much of it, and so little dry weather.

This is is partly to remind myself and partly to keep aware what I need to train for.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Random thoughts.

It is raining and my mind is wandering. I can't train in the rain hardcore because my elbow is definitely fucked. Exactly the same as 2008 except this time it's my right elbow. I guess that means my left elbow has healed up pretty well since 2008, as this time I'm sure the injury is just general over-training (TCA + beastmaker campussing + cold days out on nasty reachy shite like Ley quarry), rather than a specific move on a specific arm. Which shows some promise if I can stick to the long term theraputic regime of regular gentle climbing, avoiding aggravation, massage, ice/heat, and eccentric wrist curls. Ideally the regular gentle climbing would be lots of trad days out....did I mention it was raining??

So wandering on to some thoughts...

1. Went to Ratho last weekend. Hadn't been for a month. Stamina sucked but not too bad. Falling practise felt surprisingly easy despite not having done any in the meantime. This is good. Hopefully I can train my mind hardcore (.....ish!!).

2. I really wish I'd been aware of the retrospectively bloody obvious idea that I can do single day trips to Glen Nevis and Creag Dubh in the last two years. I went up a few weeks ago, the plan was to solo some easy-but-bold routes, I got scared and did fuck all apart from the ace V4/5 wall on the boulders. That was scarey enough. The point being I felt like I had loads of time at the crags despite being sandwiched in between long journeys....and could have easily done plenty of trad. So....why the fuck not?? I've always had this idea that I've got to get a couple of days in to justify the drive, but fuck it, this is Scotland, you just have to drive as the weather and crags demand it. So that's the plan this summer. Assuming there will never be 3 consecutive dry days in Fort William (as per last summer), I'll do it in 3 single day trips!! The price to pay....fuck loads of petrol money :S. But what other luxuries should I spend money on?? Drum and bass CDs....err....hmm.

3. I need to remember the importance of sea-cliff conditions and in particular sea-grease. Not sure why this has occured to me. Oh yeah, I've been thinking about future challenges on both the invariably pokey Aberdeen sea-cliffs, and other greater sea-cliff venues in general. Lots of harder routes inspire me and the rock and vibes are often as good as the approaches are gentle. But the prescence of ace rock can't guarantee the abscence of a filmy coating of sea-skank... And I need to remember that and adapt my challenges to suit. And take loads of chalk.

4. This report from Southern Man is quite inspiring, on the subject of having an epicly screwed up driving-climbing ratio but it still being worth it to follow inspirations. Not that I'd do some rambly mountaineering choss like Direct Nose Route, but as per the Nevis/Dubh daytrip idea, I think I need to start putting more effort in to going further afield for shorter might not be as neat nor as economical as getting everything done in a harmonious long weekend, but eventually it will add up and get more inspiring routes and venues ticked off. Which = awesomeness.

Meh. Still raining. Laterz.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Desired Days...

North West trips

Lewis - 6 days
Dalbeg - 1 day
Mangestra - 1 day
Painted Wall - 1 day
Other areas - 3 days

Skye - 5 days
Neist - 2 days
Rubha Hunish - 1 day
Elgol - 1 day
Staffin Slip - 1 day

Wester Ross - 5 days
Gruinard - 1 day
Tollie Crag - 1 day
Diabeg - 1 day
Tollaidh/Stone Valley - 1 day
Reiff - 1 day

Caithness - 1 day
Sarclett/Mid-Clyth - 1 day

Glen Nevis - 3 days
Wave Buttress/Meadow - 1 day
High Crag - 1 day
Road/Scimitar - 1 day

Creag Dubh - 2 days
Great Wall - 1 day
Barrier Wall / Waterfall - 1 day

TOTAL: 22 days (in an entire spring/summer/autumn)

Other trips:

Other venues - 3 days
Cummingston - 1 day
Rosehearty - 1 day
Pass Of Ballater - 1 day

Aberdeen area - 6 days
Whisky Cliff - 1 day
Berrymuir - 1 day
Johnsheugh - 1 day
Floor's Craig - 1 day
Red Tower - 1 day
Other venues - 1 day

Local - 4 days
Glen Lednock - 2 days
Glen Croe - 1 day
Roslin Glen - 1 day

TOTAL: 13 days (when it's raining in the North West)


35 days...


Monday, 16 April 2012

Ardnamurchan Adventure.

I was due to go to Ardnamurchan in 2009. Friends had a cottage booked but the last minute forecast showed consistent showers. I paid for my place and backed out gracefully. Seeing their photos later, it showered pretty much every day. I was also due to go at some other point with the Pylon King, but he begat the Pylon Prince and became fixated with Wye Valley esoterica (worrying even by my low standards). It's taken a long time to actually get there but I finally managed this weekend with a small Glasgow team. It also takes a long time to get there full stop: Easy to Glen Coe, fun across the Corran ferry micro-crossing, endlessly tedious on single track roads until the edge of the Scottish mainland. I'm grateful that Tom was driving. But once you get there, well...'s a fucking volcano!

It's pretty rad really. Climbing along the rim of a volcanic caldera, walking through the centre and seeing the crater arcing around you. All ancient and extinct of course??

Don't worry, it's only a heather fire, and it blew out fairly quickly on the second day. Funnily enough, I was in Wester Ross last April when the Torridon fires kicked off and drove through the glen as Liathach was on fire above a highly out-gunned lone fire engine, and now I was in Ardnamurchan this April for a smaller but no-doubt worrying hill fire. Coincidence?? Honestly, guv!

Day 1 was the drive-in day via an alpine start and "tolerable" coffee at the Green Welly stop, so the team decided to go for the accessible Achnaha buttress (10 o'clock on the rim). Shorter routes and a shorter walk-in, I'd wanted to go there anyway. To be honest it was pretty disappointing. The walk-in wasn't too short but the routes often were, as well as some obscure overgrading. Bondi Beach and Wheesht! were more substantial, and despite having a cold and pump-induced wobbler on the latter, I was chuffed to get it done as I'd seen a photo of the first ascent in On The Edge ages ago. Old inspiration being sated once again, which pleases me greatly.

Day 2 was the longer walk-in and longer routes of the Meall-An-thingy crags (1 o'clock on the rim), which require a stomp across most of the crater but are pleasingly adjacent once you're based there. Both the length of the walk and the routes were less than appeared, as a good track and only gentle undulations made the former fairly tolerable for me (I was trying walking poles for the first time and despite feeling like a complete dome using them, I think they do help, taking the edge of the exhaustion), and the curvacious crests of the crags made the routes taper off into easy ground fairly quickly. Not a venue for sustained mega-pitches, but vastly better than the "roadside" crag and a great gabbro experience in a lovely location.

The only downside was the peril of a less travelled venue, at least on the harder routes. I rattled off Up Pompei (above), and Mirka (which is interestingly photo-featured in SMC's Scottish Rock with the wrong route caption "Minky", not even mentioned in the text, and unspeakably bad beta in the photo, bravo), and fancied a sterner challenge so tried The Great Euchrite... This turned out to be only one full grade undergraded, but that grade makes the difference between certain groundfall from slopey 5c crux moves a fair way above an RP0 in a shallow seam even if the RP held which it wouldn't, and, well, not groundfall. I chose "not groundfall" and somewhat embarassingly had to be rescued from a small rest ( feet and calves still hurt today) ledge. Somewhat letting the side down, but a useful lesson about maintaining wariness of such offpiste routes.

And that was that. Another cool venue explored. :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Aberdeen Assault.

Many of the Aberdeen sea-cliffs, despite being sunny, open, and enjoying a much less malevolent climate than the rest of Scotland, have a ridiculously short climbing season. Thanks to the pesky and permanently incontinent seaburds, you can only climb on some of the best cliffs in late winter - nesting birds making them completely inaccessible in spring and summer, and bird's nests making them mostly unfeasible in autumn. Scottish climbing is never simple, eh!

Last winter I had a few good trips up exploring otherwise birded crags, but did miss out on a few classic venues. This winter I've focused mostly on collecting elbow injuries i.e. bouldering and training, and have suddenly realised that I have at most a week or two to get to those venues before the birds do. Thus a last minute dash to Aberdeen last weekend, to meet with my SC2 partner in silver league, "Vulture", and KathrynC.

The Round Tower. It's mostly square.

Saturday was Round Tower. Non-birdy, reasonably sheltered, but cold air. When the sun briefly appeared it was great conditions, otherwise a little chilly for steep trad. But determination and peppermint tea kept us going. I did the superbly exposed Ramadan (the arete above!), the classic guidebook covertick of Tyrant Crack, and the funky wee wall climb of Silver Surfer. Brad also led the former two, and since Tyrant Crack was a longstanding wish of his, there was much satisfaction all round, culminating in a take-out curry and chocolate naan bread which I was too full to eat but made a great snack on...

These are Silkies. There were no Silkies at Silkie's Cliff.

...Sunday. Which was Silkie's Cliff. The original plan was to go to Arthur Fowlie and Silkie's, but incoming rain reduced our options to a quick hit. We still managed 5 routes total at sheltered Silkies, albeit the last one was finished in the rain. There was a silver lining to that particular sodden cloud, as despite the lack of Silkies, we did see porpoises. I was pleased with a good wee E3 route, Kathryn was pleased with her first VS of the season, and overall it was a good weekend. I'm hoping to get back up later in the week if the weather allows, as I'm still syked for Arthur Fowlie and Berrymuir / Red Band cliff. Fingers crossed!