Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Waiting Game.

Some free time, some keen partners, some atrocious weather.

This is the way it goes but once all the moaning and ranting and fist-shaking is out of the way, what is the best way to make the best use out of it?? In Arno's Problem - Question - Opportunity terms:

Problem: The weather fucking blows.

Question: What can I do in climbing / planning terms to maximise current and future enjoyment despite the weather??

Opportunity: Work out what areas are best to explore in weather that fucking blows, work out what climbing desires can be incorporated into weather that fucking blows, take the opportunity to train in preparation for when the weather doesn't fucking blow.

So, here are some ideas for reference, for when it's the typical south-westerly sunshine/fuckingshowers wet in the west weather:


Northumberland: Callerhues, Rothley, Simonside, Bowden, Goat Crag...
South West: Laggantalluch, Crammag Head, Kiln O' Fuffock...
Central Outcrops: Tig-thingy Viewpoint, Glen Croe, Ardvorlich, Glen Lednock, Glen Ogle...
Eastern Outcrops: Glen Clova, Limekilns, Roslin Glen, Cambusbarron, Angus Quarries, Weem...
North East: Ballater, Rosehearty, Tarlair, Red Tower, Harper's Wall, Earnsheugh, Craig Stirling and more...

...all of which have either useful training routes (physically and mentally challenging), or specific inspirations, or would be interesting to explore, or would tackle useful climbing styles.

Other plans:

Bouldering: Glen Nevis, Arrochar (projects ;)), Carrock Fell, Gouther Crag, Gillercombe etc etc, Queen's Crag, Simonside Plateau, Shaftoe etc etc...

...the weather might be occasionally warm but it's often bloody windy during sunshine/fuckingshowers periods, so conditions can be surprisingly good. More mixing and matching, more exploration, more physical training, more fun.

Suitable inspirations: As well as exploring super-awesome areas, I do want to push myself a bit more and explore new areas of challenge and personal climbing development. Some of those challenges are more local, more compatible with general training and a focused hit... that could be a good aspiration.

Training: I've found I need to progress physically to progress with my climbing overall, particularly fitness, stamina, and power to weight ratio. The gym, the campus board, the mighty R, the local-ish sport venues are all suitable and I do have some syke to keep using... ...this needs to be balanced with "keeping my hand in" on trad, but should leave me better prepared when it's dry enough to get to proper venues.

Overall: when the weather fucking blows, explore locally, mix and match with other climbing styles, train hard, and be ready to crush the Highlands and Islands :).

(And paint more toy soldiers and listen to more drum and bass...)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Usual Bollox.

Sunshine and showers, the most despicable and infuriating of anti-climber weather conditions, guaranteed in it's unpredictability to turn out gorgeous if you stay in and and start pissing down as soon as you go out to touch rock, the heaviness of Scottish showers ensuring that even wet-weather options get adequately annoying seepage and the general on/off nonsense of such a reprehensibe climate cock-up preventing even the most slightly interesting trip away, maximising the boredom of snatched hours at local venues and allowing the myopic and unimaginative to claim they're having an awesome early summer climbing because they go to Stanage / Avon / Dumby every sodding time.

The silver lining to these mocking clouds being that I am 1. Kinda busy and 2. Kinda syked to train, after the last two glorious trips away which were great exploration but left me with a slightly sensation that I was STILL lagging behind the potential I wished to progress into, and needed to up my stamina and general physical and mental ability to cope with the steepness that obviously or insidiously infests most Scottish mid-grade cragging. Hence sessions at the campus board, gym, and the mighty R, which I went down to last saturday after a campussing and gym session and still did okay, which shows potential THERE but I need to, and will do, a fair bit more in the meantime. Bring on the pump.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Glorious Gairloch.

One of my current aims in exploring around Scotland is to sample the local whisky from each major climbing area I visit. I like climbing and I like whisky and I like supping on a wee dram of the latter with a campsite dinner after doing plenty of the former. The harmony of climbing on the bones of the land during the day, and feasting on the fruits of it's flesh in the evening. So far I've had good, great, or sometimes just adequate combinations of: Caithness climbing + Old Pultney, Inverness/Moray/Aberdeen climbing + Singleton, and Skye climbing + Talisker.

One place where this combination has always eluded me is the Ullapool-Gairloch area, rich in excellent cragging but barren in comparable whiskies, Inverness and Wick distilleries not quite having the local feel....until now that is!

A tip off from a local shop led me to this secret micro-distillery at Aultbea, and a small but expensive purchase of their cask strength spiced rum cask (to go with the summery weather) single malt. So far, so promising. After a fresh breezy day at Tollie Crag, there was something warming to look forward to. But what about the taste?? I am pleased to report it is a tipple that worthily matches the quality of Gairloch cragging. Brought down to bottle strength with a drop of water, it blends a good sharp spice with tropical fruit tones and a woody casky finish that was most pleasing. A rousing success.

Oh yeah and we climbed at Tollie Crag and Loch Maree Crag with not a midge in sight, and Loch Tollaidh (above) in fierce evening sun, then wombled past Whale Rock in Glen Nevis on the way back. Mostly fairly punterly but the weather was awesome and it was great to explore the elusive Tollie midge-havens in fresh conditions, and Arial at Loch Maree was the most outrageously big pitch I can recall climbing. Time for a wee break, some training, and hopefully some progression.

P.S. and someone set fire to Liathach DOH.