Monday, 10 September 2012

Creag Dubh Diversity, Brin Rock Rambling.

Another weekend not in the North West, but not that far away either. The sinuous A9 pass bisects the Central Highlands and the Dalwhinnie to Inverness arc curves determinedly enough from the Fort William direction to the Ullapool direction to align itself with the North West, the quality of the climbing available confirming that. Weatherwise it seems somewhere in between and guessing the forecast for Creag Dubh is a matter of triangulating the Aviemore, Fort Augustus and Fort William forecasts (old Metoffice site, of course), and having a little faith.

That faith was rewarded this weekend, with dry and breezy weather and reasonable conditions, even a bit warm in the sun on Saturday! So how did I end up completely drenched mid-afternoon? Belaying under the Waterfall buttress waterfall, that's how. Whilst the climbing was dry the breeze was strong enough to provide intermittent showers and spray at the base....the novelty wore off by the time my downie was soaked, and put me off doing any of the harder routes there, although I am more inspired than ever. I did manage a couple of fine and highly contrasting routes in other areas: Case Dismissed on the Barrier Wall is steep, safe, and super-pumpy, only a crucial hand-jam got me up this, whilst Ticket To Ride on the Lower Main Wall is sheer, juggy, and steady but super-bold higher up. Having had a good explore and reacquaintance with the crag, I am declaring Creag Dubh season open and am determined to go back soon!

The next day we went to Brin Rock, which now has a full complement of trad, bouldering, and sport - although in the grand tradition of Scotland's clannish and insular local scenes, the seemingly popular sport climbing, whilst listed on UKC, is not usefully described anywhere, so for an outsider to actually climb there the usual veil of secrecy has to be penetrated....or maybe just ignored. The trad climbing itself seems to be ignored, as we soon found that highly starred routes looked undeservedly neglected. Maybe the approach slog puts people off, 10-15 minutes of boulders and heather is pretty grim although to be fair it's mostly the leg-murdering angle that made it so hard for me, I'm sure the able-bodied could cope with a bit of moral fibre. Anyway the crags turned out to be worth the effort - a pleasant belay perch at The Needle gave access to Gold Digger, an soft-touch but fine and varied route in an excellent position, and a return to Zed Crag pointed us at The Wild Man, an action packed wee route that was good from start to finish. That, and an easier warmup, was all we did, but it was cool to check out the crag. I still have to go back for Brin Done Before of course!

Following this weekend, although my right elbow is feeling okay, I tweaked my right shoulder when my foot slipped seconding Muph Dive, and got stung on my right forearm by a bloody wasp at Barrier Wall, which is still sore and itchy. I'll need to keep up with shoulder AND elbow theraputic weights now, ugh.

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