Thursday, 8 July 2010

Perthshire power.

Due to unfortunate weather my hugely desired plans to get to Lewis, Skye and Caithness are postphoned for a bit. The usual sunshine and showers bollox, wet in the west and okay for local trips but not trips away. Disappointing as my inspiration lies firmly in the Western Isles, but in the meantime it's a good excuse to train, so that's what I did....

Day 1 I went to Rob's Reed, a newish sport climbing crag near Forfar. Like many such venues it is Scottish climbing at it's unfinest, yet it is also quite cool and interesting - a long, sheer wall of conglomerate sitting on a sandstone base, all shaded by trees but thankfully not too sheltered so conditions were reassuringly fresh. The sandstone provides thin bouldery starts, the conglomerate provides blind and pumpy finishes, and detachable pebbles provide a delicate yet pungent seasoning. Amazingly, given my recent track record, I didn't pull anything off. I even managed to stay mostly attached myself, and did a few good routes. Unfortunately my partner needed to leave so it was a somewhat truncated session.

Flashing The Peel Sessions in a bright yellow t-shirt and Bolt Thrower beanie. Naturally I first heard Bolt Thrower on the John Peel shown when he played this.

Evening 1 I tried to get some Aberdeen locals out to the sea-cliffs but to no avail, thus I headed off into the wilds of Glen Clova for a spot of bouldering. This was one of the many areas on my winter bouldering ticklist last year, but as it turned out I didn't really need to go in winter - a fresh breeze was blustering down the Glen and made for excellent conditions for July. I booked in at the Glen Clova Hotel hostel (which is the weirdest fucking place I've ever stayed, I stayed 6 years ago, it was bizarre then and it's just as bizarre now. A completely enclosed airless kitchen behind the drying room, surrounded by box rooms that have a door into a shower/toilet on the outside - complete with single curtain rail to ensure the toilet gets soaked during a shower - leading into a similarly airless and lightless bunkroom cell. The faint hissing of some malignant air conditioning rounds off the prison-like claustrophobia nicely and ensures the all important unwelcome feeling and sleepless night.) Anyway, checked in, headed up the Glen, no-one there, had a great evening bouldering on my own. Unlike most Scottish areas the bouldering is actually half decent, the main problem is the guide is bollox as usual. Once I found the actual lines, I pulled hard(-ish) and felt I was training okay.

Black Dyke resident disapproving of us as much as we disapproved of him:

Day 2 was back to Rob's Reed, via a lengthy detour Aberdeenwards to check out The Black Dyke. Unfortunately two of the better-looking warm-up routes were nesty and my partner was not inspired, so after much ummming and ahhing we went back for more training. Armed with a handwritten guide I explored more of the crag and had a better session. Pulled hard, got pumped, nearly came off one route on a wild gaston through to pocket, gritted teeth and held it. All good training for the greater Isles...

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