Friday, 7 September 2012

Aberdeen Assault

As I suspected the weather has turned to balls in The West - regular checking of Fort William and Ullapool forecasts shows only sporadic days of thick grey cloud and humid south-westerly winds to provide intermittent respite from light or heavy rain as the weather gods deem fit. I still keep my hopes up for the odd two day trip to Wester Ross, or the famed but elusive one day hit for Glen Nevis, but in the meantime I've initiated my Plan B: The East, including the Aberdeen Coast, Moray Coast, Central Highlands and Lowlands. Whilst this doesn't have the seemingly endless choice of excellent rock that the North West does, it does provide a curious variety of interesting rock types (or more like an interesting variety of curious rock types!) and plenty of surprisingly enticing challenges.

Following tangential warm-ups at Covesea and Ballater, and some emergency "steepness over-compensation" training on the Ratho comp wall, I had a few days in the area this weekend, and briefly they went thusly:

Red Tower & Grey Mare Slabs: Nice day by the sea, visited two crags to give Simon a good taster of the gnarly granite, and did a few classic routes - Neanderthal Man and Vulture Squadron both being worth an extra star for their sustained quality. I tried something harder but was a bit too warm. Will be back!

Berrymuir Head: Nice day by the sea but curiously too greasy. Warmed up, failed on some slopey thing, Simon didn't fare much better on his route, so we called it a day after a couple of easier things. Curious that sun and a seemingly fresh breeze didn't give good conditions, but chatting to a local local afterwards confirmed my suspicion that the SW breeze was just too warm and humid.

Johnsheugh: Nice day by the sea and this time much fresher so had an ace day out. This revamped crag is where all the cool kids hang out, and even uncool unlocals are allowed here so I was keen to sample 25m of diverse bulging wall climbing, and certainly did that with a steady warm-up and 3 fine and satisfying routes.

Coble Boards: Nice day by the sea and still pretty fresh, the NWer getting even this crag in decent nick (not quite decent enough for the burly Jihad whose slick angled slopers are tucked under a sheltering roof). Is it a bunch of coblers? No it's quite a cool wee crag in a nice setting with a good viewing platform. The routes are short steep and sometimes pretty weird so classic Aberdeen schist then. We had fun and saw a pod of at least 6 dolphins cruising south along the coast.

Next on the agenda: Berrymuir in fresh conditions, Floors Craig, Sickle Row, Whisky Cliff, Rosehearty...

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