Monday, 5 November 2012

Scottish Winter Season begins!

Well in a moment of madness and perverse determination, I am sticking around Scotland for a while longer, partly in the hope of ekeing out more trad radness in the spring, which means I have to weather another winter. Brrrr my old bones are wondering whether this is a good idea, but then again the weather this weekend shows some promise - it is glorious in the North West. With a minimal response for possible climbing partners, it is time for another Misanthrope Mission to kick off the season's bouldering. So I'm digging out last year's universal failure of a bouldering ticklist and trying to get some of these final mental blocs done. I've done a few, removed a few, added a few:

Pump Up The Jam, various - Skye - yes, romped along it in a heatwave :)

Razorback, Romancing The Stone, various - Reiff -

Various - Reiff In The Woods - yes, done Haven which is enough.

The Ship Boulder - Torridon - yes, done Squelch & Swamp Monster which is enough

Long Winning Streak (+SS?) - Inchbae - yes, done the normal problem, SS looks good but might not go back.

Blankety Blank - Torridon - too hard and skin-trashing

Various - Cammachmore

Big Lebowski, The Dude - Ruthven Boulder

Brin Done Before - Brin Rock

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

White Matter - St Bride's Wall - yes, surprise ascent on a showery summer's day.

??? - Loch Sloy

Swap Meet, Ace Of Spades, various - Glen Croe - nope, probably too hard with a fucked elbow.

The Bottler - Loch Lomond

Nameless Pimp Toy - Stronlachlar

The Chop (7a eliminate version) - Weem

Various Corrie Boulders - Arran

Suck My Woolie, Snow White - Garheugh

Gale Force, various - Laggan 2

Abracadabra, Craigmaddie

Probably enough to get on with ;)


On to the weekend, and maybe winter isn't all that bad... A car with a view.

Firstly I got to the ever-reliable Torridon, where the rock was mostly crisp and dry, and the ground was mostly sodden and sub-aqueous. I'd forgotten just how fundamental BOG is to Scottish climbing! The Torridon sandstone is brilliant and makes me wish I lived locally in winter as well as summer - this overall area no doubt has many harder lines that would inspire me over many sessions, but on a flying visit it is harder to push my limits. I did try with Blankety Blank but couldn't even remember how to do the start let alone shred my fingers on the crux above. So I stuck to the classic Ship boulder and it's plethora of shallow bog highballing classics. Never has such a soft flat landing felt so intimidating, partly because some lines stray over the few harsh boulders, and partly because some classic lines go so far OUT through the steepness, mat positioning is an obtuse guessing game - especially with my flaccid old Pods. Swamp Monster and Squelch were aptly-named reward enough.

Snowy mountains might be utter bollox for climbing, but they provide a nice backdrop... A boulder with a view.

Secondly I got on with some unfinished business. Since the forecast was glorious the whole weekend, it obviously rained a lot overnight. No need for an Alpine start despite the Alpine backdrop around Assynt. Reiff In The Woods was touch and go, especially in the haven that shelters Haven. Not wanting to waste the epic round trip, I resorted to abseiling to clean holds (there's no issue with "damp sandstone" as there are no flakes crozzles or nubbins, just solid rounded edges and a solid arete). This worked and I blasted past last time's high point. Brilliant problem.

Finally it was onto the underrated Inchbae and it's plethoric scattering of proper blocks, unfortunately only a few of these are big enough for proper blocs, but those few are really very good, fine rock in a fine situation. I'd nearly done A Long Winning Streak last time, but ran out of daylight on the unlisted sitter. This time I made sure I got on with the original problem, which was well worth it, one of the best technical wall problems in Scotland. Crucial multi-use inverted thumb-sprag? Yes please. And that was enough for now.


Since I started writing this in the Forest Way bunkhouse, I'd like to give a shout out to the following fine establishments:

Old Gairloch Inn - good food, good beer, and have been very helpful with late diners.

Mountain Coffee Company - good coffee, hippy vibes, and cakes so large they have their own gravitational field.

Sail Mhor Hostel - good value and nice simple relaxed vibe.

Forest Way Bunkhouse - small but perfectly formed.

The Ceilidh Place - good food, good beer, good breakfasts, and a useful if pricey bunkhouse.

Kinlochewe Hotel - friendly bar that compensates for a cattle-herd bunkhouse.

Torridon Campsite - toilets showers and the best value in Scotland: FREE. Much respect.

Making Wester Ross climbing all the more enjoyable and logistically feasible :).

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