Thursday, 2 February 2012

Misanthrope Mission #6

There's a brief period of amazing winter conditions in Scotland at the moment. It's due to end this weekend, but luckily I managed to get up to Glen Nevis this week. Cold and crisp and sunny the whole way up - even some routes in Glen Coe looked climbable, if cold! Perfect for the rough rock and sinuous slopers of Glen Nevis South Side, perfect for getting back on my new project, and rattling some other things off.

The videos above sum it up I think. Black Orc was the main mission objective, it was a relief to get it done as it's been nagging at me since I first saw it - obvious, natural, good climbing to a barbaric top-out. It felt hard enough to me! The funny thing about this area is that even easy-looking lines mysteriously turn out to be a lot harder when you actually attempt them. One of my easy warm-ups required a few goes working it, another easy warm-up turned into another long-term project. Perhaps it is because the rock is nicely slopey and frictional, so feels good in good conditions, but also quite bulging and rounded, so a surprising amount of power can be needed... Either way it is very good winter bouldering! And as a bonus the weir was curiously low for this time of year - although crossing it at dusk was exciting as the riverside rocks were coated in sheet ice from the spray. Needless to say I survived, but my fingertips and elbows are still recovering from the session.

As for the newness of these problems - it is quite simple, they have not been listed anywhere I can find and show no evidence of being climbed. The Glen Nevis definitive bouldering guide lists hundreds of problems including several around these boulders, but the developers seemed to have no concept of sit-starts nor aretes/prows ;). And Dave Mac....checking his blog and Youtube videos, he is rightly concerned with bigger and harder things. Most of these new lines required cleaning: Squirrel Groove & Black Orc had clumped moss at the start and I snapped off a flake where the RH crimp now is. Bear Rib and Finch Arete had thick moss on crucial holds, compared to Finch Attack and Bear Island (the latter only listed in GNB, but a very nice problem) which had old brushed holds. Flying Fiend had no chalk under the roof (it now has my wee dabs from November despite the storms) compared to Flying Roof to the right. Etc etc. I'll post full details of these soon as there really is a great circuit there now.

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