Carrock... A sketchy wee problem above a sketchy wee terrace and long slope....If I missed the final move I would end up back down at the car!!
Monkey Trunk standing start.
The best winter friction bouldering in Scotland is....Carrock Fell?? Sure there are contenders around Wester Ross and Inverness and maybe Glen Nevis, but most of these still involve cranking hard or reaching hard. Carrock seems to have a fair amount of proper friction bouldering i.e. rough burly sloper problems I can just cheat my way up in sub-zero temperatures, which would otherwise be impossible for a fat weak puntersaurus outside of winter. Ignoring some arbitrary eliminates and sticking to the strong lines, it's rather good really.
So this was supposed to be another (link) day of awesomely crisp sending conditions, yet somehow I managed to noob it up... Warmed up, rock looked dank and dark but felt good, fingers went nicely numb and firm-skinned. Trotted uphill to recce other problems with gloves on waiting for the hot aches for the next round. Took gloves off and my left hand had gone totally soft and soggy WTFingF?? Pulled on to Terrace Wall, felt shit, had many goes on Kit's Grooved Arete interspersed with lying down waving my bare hands in the breeze, felt shit and failed on what is pretty much a descent route. Squeezing micro-drops of sweat out of my fingers, despite it being cold enough to freeze them... Eventually they dried up enough, I tantrumed my way through working Monkey Trunk, tore the same bloody micro-flapper on the same scar-line ridge on my finger I did last session, went down to Old Spice, worked out a possible sequence just in time for me to have to leave ASAP, and twinged my shoulder putting the mats on my back. PUNTER. Also fuck those stupid gloves, I've ripped the thinsulate inners out and not making that mistake again.
Prior to this, last week's semi-aborted mission was to the Glen Etive boulders, again trying to maximise the icy temps by dabbling in some off-piste granite. Suffice to say that the Etive boulders combine possibly the most beautiful bouldering situation in Scotland - on the sun-dappled shores of a stream-fed sea-loch in tranquil and expansive glen, with the "extreme walking" of the Etive Slabs sitting entirely unappealingly above - with some of the most mediocre bouldering. For context: When TCA first opened in Glasgow, one of my few but valid complaints, aside from the hideous Holdz holds, was the few problems that spoiled the otherwise good setting by having ugly and unenjoyable sit-start crux graunches on pointlessly poor holds leading to easier proper climbing above. Thankfully these tedious aberrations have mostly been weeded out - indoor climbing is always training for outdoor climbing, and if you were faced with such a shit start outside, you wouldn't waste time on a shit problem, so why was time training for it?? The main Etive boulder proved exactly this, with most "problems" being horrendous butt-clenching cranks off miserable holds to gain proper holds and one more move to top out. A non-move wonder with a crap sit-start doesn't make a boulder problem it just makes a worse non-move wonder. Suffice to say it was actually a relief when I'd tried enough that it was time to go.
In between these two mighty expeditions, I had a mild stomach bug that wiped me out for a day and another day recovering and actually eating, a fairly dire TCA session where it seems all of my technique has been shat out of my arse along with any remaining vestiges of strength, another decent GCC session where it felt quite nice just pulling on holds, and a shockingly bad lack of motivation for the gym, hence feeling heavy and sluggish. Hmph. Still there is enough winter left and hopefully enough syke!