Thursday, 7 June 2012
Shivering at Sheigra.
...well at least it gave time for the sunburn to settle down! This time the temperature halved in a few days, but once again the weather stayed dry enough to have a great trip away. I'm not going to be complaining about Scottish spring and early summer this year - I've had 18 days away in the North West so far!! This trip was more North than West, taking advantage of the 4 day weekend (enough to turn anyone into a royalist) to tackle a Sheigra mission.
And it was some mission to start: We left from Perth in Simon's van, the A9 was closed so we had a grindingly slow detour via Fort William, getting to Inverness so late that we had to crash out in the dogging spot (plenty of COCK FUN on offer apparently - but I didn't see any....who knows what happened in the back of the van though...) just past Garve. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the van's clutch started going at Inchbae. Simon managed to limp it to Ullapool, where of course it turns out the clutch/gearbox work would be hideously expensive and maybe could be started the next Wednesday. Gulp. Tried to find a hire car in Ullapool - none available. Get a bus back to Inverness - the only buses are timed to coinicide with the Stornoway ferry and arrive just after all the hire companies close. Taxi (!) - £80. Double gulp. But....as we were enquiring in the tourist information office, the lady's partner casually said "Oh yes I'm going to Inverness soon, I'll give you a lift just after I've had me breakfast". What a GENT. We got a nippy little Astra from the airport, cained the fuck out of it back to Ullapool, packed it to the brim with all our kit, and resumed the journey, 5 hours later and one van down. Got to Rhiconich, got to Rhiconich Crag, a nice wee sheet of undulating gneiss, and...
...CALM. Calm and syke and the simplicity of good climbing after all that debacle. Did a few routes, went to the Rhiconich Bloodstone, did a few boulder problems, went to the Scourie campsite (very nice, good value, good vibe), ate a few meatballs (okay a lot of meatballs), had a few hours sleep (okay several, but not enough!). The days then followed a similar pattern: wake in the morning to 4am sunrise and rain showers, grumpily go back to sleep, wake again a few hours later and realise everything was dry, brave the bracing breeze and go climbing on great gneiss, inland or sea-side. Second Geo was as good as usual, The Balcony was a great hidden gem slab, the Akita Boulder was surprisingly where the guide said it was and a great bit of rock somewhat marred by atrocious climber-crushing landings and amusing "Dave Macleod tries to grade V4s" grades, our fingertips couldn't cope anyway, and the First Geo was as fucking STEEP as usual but I managed to scrape up Monkey Man by the skin of my teeth - or more like the skin of my hands....I lost a lot of it in the undercling jam "rest". Having backed off the start of MM on my previous Sheigra trip in 2008 (then with a fucked left elbow rather than a fucked right one), this had been a main goal for the trip (despite not being a very big number, it is clearly adjectivally harder than steady slabs like Unleash The Beast at Ardmair and Big Country Dreams at Cambusbarron!), and I'd been worrying about having enough fitness, determination, and the right rock conditions to get it done. A fitting end to the trip.
Not sure what the weather is doing next....but at least I'm narrowing down my aims for the next 4 months: Week in Lewis (tricky), long weekend on Orkney/Yesnaby (tricky), 3 days on Skye (doable by weekends), 3 days around Reiff (doable by weekends), and the usual Gairloch / Glen Nevis / Creag Dubh / Aberdeen bollox (all weekend or even day trip friendly). So only two logistically difficult trips. Just need to keep organised and keep fit (my climbing is still fairly balls but getting a bit better with the mileage I think).
P.S. No photos as the blogspot photo inclusion thing is so bloody awful, I can't be arsed fighting with it, go here instead: http://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/author.html?id=4478