Thursday, 24 May 2012

Getting Nuked in Glen Nevis.

Fuck me it was hot out there. The temperatures must have doubled in a few days, from huddling in vest+t-shirt+hoodie+beanie+downie on Skye, to melting in just shorts (+ compression stockings) in Glen Nevis. Ridiculous....obviously this is glorious height of summer weather which is all rather nice, but it does take some adjusting when spring lasts 2 days! All of which might explain why we ended up sitting in the Clachaig at 6pm drinking lime and soda and Grozet gooseberry wheat beer instead of crushing les crags. This was after a day of slogging up to Wave for the second time in a row, realising that On The Beach would be particularly unwise in my current state and the weather's current climate, doing Crackattack the easy way instead, and having a generally good time climbing, so we could justify some relaxation.

Although I'm shying away from the harder climbs on the wonderous Wave, exploring around the Gorge itself has cemented other inspirations: Aquarian Rebels and Quality Street in particular, with the Gorge Crag for warming up en-route. The best rock in the Glen and the best scenery...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Nice Neist.

Finally got back to Skye this weekend, after only a year and half of trying to get back since September 2010. Finally got back to Neist, which is still awesome. I love many things about's the furthest Westerly point you can drive to in Scotland, it has a proper end-of-the-earth feel, the backdrop of imposing choss cliffs is dramatic.....but the highlight is the view out to sea, a simply stunning panorama of the Outer Hebrides as far as the eye can behold...30 miles away and stretching for over 100 miles. And then beneath all of this you've got a ring of dolerite crags and sea-cliffs, tapering around the headland to the Neist lighthouse, only interrupted by the prominent pinnacle of An T'Aigeach...

(copy and paste to address bar)

...on which I finally got to climb Supercharger - this happens to be the route up the front of the pinnacle, but in a rarity for me, the actual route is secondary to the summit tick. Many tourists gain the tick by a casual stroll, we did that, abseiled straight down, and regained it via a variety of good climbing, bad climbing, imposing sections, easy rambling, grassy grappling, and occasional perched blocks. A satisfying adventure that went pleasingly smoothly.

On the second day we stuck to the strictly "good climbing" style and went down to the classic-cluttered Financial Sector, full of sheer single pitches that always give....good value ;). Having done some of the harder climbs there, I mostly bimbled through the day, aided and abetted by now being a team of 3, and a shoddy night's sleep in the cold tent. The one remaining challenge had bad rock at the top, so I left that alone and stuck with some steadier but good climbs - all enjoyable though.

So another weekend of pottering and treading water, but a more satisfying one than some due to the excellent and long-desired location. Glasgow to Neist makes a mightily long weekend of driving, but being familiar with the areas did allow us to get climbing pretty swiftly. It's tiring overall but if that's what it takes to make use of these distant areas, sobeit.

I still need to work on pushing and progressing my climbing. The current mileage will no doubt help....and hopefully the inspiration of exciting venues can summon the determination to be truer to my climbing desires.

Friday, 11 May 2012

B0rked Bouldering.

Apparently my bouldering hitlist for this winter was:

Pump Up The Jam, various - Skye - never got there

Razorback, Romancing The Stone, various - Reiff - nope, had a look, was cold and windy and Razorback looked horribly reachy dyno bollox.

Various - Reiff In The Woods - nope, had a look, failed on everything but got close to the cool roadside wall, never got back though.

The Ship Boulder - Torridon  - never got there

Blankety Blank - Torridon - never got there

Various - Cammachmore - never got there

Big Lebowski, The Dude - Ruthven Boulder - never got there

Brin Done Before - Brin Rock - never got there

Deep Breath Arete, Hamish, various - Glen Nevis - nope, DBA was uninspiring lip traverse with bad landing, Hamish looked stupidly sandbaggy, did lots on the other side of river.

Pyramid Lip - Glen Ogle - never got there

??? - Loch Sloy - never got there

Swap Meet, Ace Of Spades, various - Glen Croe - nope, had a brief look but only did easy stuff.

The Bottler - Loch Lomond - never got there

Nameless Pimp Toy - Stronlachlar - never got there

The Chop - Weem - never got there

Various Corrie Boulders - Arran - never got there

Suck My Woolie, Snow White - Garheugh - never got there

Wow! 0% success... Epic mega-fail. Or mega epic-fail. I have even impressed myself this time, with my ability to not only avoid getting up any of these problems, but to avoid getting on them and even getting anywhere near the location. I did have good days at Shaftoe, Queens, Carrock Fell, and Glen Nevis Southside though. Just strange how I managed to avoid all the things I intended to do!

Given the weather - hardly the tropical trad weather window May mostly brings - it is still quite possible that there will be good conditions for some of these. But of course I'm too injured for most if not all of them, although a select few might be attemptable with care....I shall see...

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Going Nowhere in Glen Nevis

A flying visit to Glen Nevis, testing out my single day trip theory. It worked fine time-wise: I had a reasonable and non-Alpine start (although the weather had some Alpine potential....snow storms at Crianlarich, but glorious from Glen Coe onwards....and then exactly the reverse on the way back), climbed on 3 different buttresses across the Spectrum of Polldubh (Road > Scimitar > Nameless), recced a few other buttresses, was back in the car at 7 and back to Glasgow in daylight. Thus one can easily fit in plenty of climbing....or plenty of dicking around being a punter, if one is so inclined.

I am NOT that way inclined but it is the situation I find myself in. I have strong and genuine desires to push myself on some challenging and exciting routes, and once again I feel a world away from the physical and mental state to do so. This time, despite a winter building up finger strength, a reasonable transition into stamina training, plenty of trad mileage recently, a good top-up session purely for finger stamina this week, and a relaxing active rest Friday, I failed utterly on having enough finger stamina to do an easy but bold route. I lowered off (skyhooks!) and was disappointed not with failing to do the route, but just being so physically weak and pumped.

On the plus side, I did one pleasant warm-up route, and one very good steady route on Nameless (Diode, a brilliant hidden classic), usefully recced some other routes, and now have the opportunity to ponder on why I am climbing so mediocrely and what I can do about it. What springs to mind is:

1. Relative lack of climbing specific training: Although I have been gymming and walling okay, I have been taking it a bit easy due to my elbow, and think I have lost some pure climbing strength/endurance/stamina.
...Last week's TCA finger circuit session felt okay on my elbow and seemed to be a good training balance, so I will do more of that, more regularly, to keep my fingers strong whilst hopefully avoiding overtaxing my elbow.

2. Reduction of Citalopram dose and possible increase in anxiety: Not sure if this is a factor but it could well be affecting my confidence overall.
...I will keep up with the falling practise down the wall, and also maybe outside IF I fail on a safe route I can practise jumping off onto gear (not skyhooks!). Regular climbing mileage might help too.

3. Other distractions: Maybe!
...Am working on sorting those out, and in the meantime, easing the pressure on myself to progress and keeping my hand it should set up a good basis for pushing myself later on.

I think in general getting some mileage in should be pretty useful and pleasurable at the moment, and luckily there are still plenty of places for me to explore and enjoy - Reiff, Skye, Sheigra area, even back to Glen Nevis and Ardnamurchan - without restricting myself to major challenge inspirations. So that might be the best plan for now, while keeping aware of when I feel ready to push a bit harder.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Weak in Wester Ross

First things first: The new blogspot site / post composition is utterly fucking rubbish. Very user-unfriendly, obscure menus, normal post options made inconvenient, switching between compose mode and HTML mode is broken (randomly adds loads of line breaks in some cases), compose mode with photos produces a load of bloated HTML that takes ages to edit. Just like Metoffice's truly appalling disaster of a new "site" and Facebook's ridiculously bad Turdline farce, this is another site with a redesign specifically to make things harder and annoying for users. Take note Blogspot - you normally provide a good service, but you fucked up this time. Please stop it.

Anyway this is a blog mostly about climbing (and occasionally trying to educate people with properly good dance / metal music), and I did some climbing recently. 2 days in glorious sunshine at Loch Tollaidh and Diabeg. Always a pleasure to visit those areas, even if Diabeg is a bit of a polished trade crag - which I nimbly avoided by doing some lesser-known classics. Unfortunately I also nimbly avoided any semblence of progression or challenge or getting on and putting some effort into things. I just didn't have any OOOMPH. There might be a few reasons: tired from early start and long drive, tired from rubbish nights sleep and general worries, lack of power training due to elbow, general weakness due to elbow, lack of warming up on suitably ooomphy routes. But really there was also a tedious lack of determination and ooomphing the fuck up. At the end of the day I had plenty of fun and it was a NICE weekend (the highlight being Phil's choice of an exceptionally good local game terrine for a picnic lunch), but I felt I missed out on giving more effort to the climbing and reaping the rewards.

As a slight aside, I popped out locally recently with new local Jade and fleetingly visiting old skool gnarler Duncan (who has been climbing for nearly as long as I've been alive, maybe there is hope for me yet!). Limited to local, we cruised to Craigmore and took advantage of the fresh breeze brushing through the shrouding trees. Just a couple of routes each, but it was an interesting experience on Spinal Wall - I had scrubbed the breaks on this a few years ago and never got back to lead it. However now someone has thoroughly cleaned it, in a "wirebrushing the entire sheet of rock" sort of way. Fair enough as it should get a lot more attention and is possibly the most substantial lead up to and including it's grade at the crag. I had vague recollections of lots of little cam and finger breaks....obviously too vague as they all seemed to be thin, flared, and rounded!! Thus requiring some care with the cams and some tenacity with the fingers.

In other news my elbow is still properly fucking tweaked. I am trying to maintain a good balance of climbing and resting and theraputic exercises, although annoyingly taping across the injury site seems to be mashing up the other side of my arm with the tape cutting in :S. The weekend away was okay, the cold cranking at Craigmore was much less okay. Ugggg.

Spinal Wall gurn

Spinal Wall grunt

Flake Crack