Sunday, 24 March 2013


March 2012....Jetty Buttress....First routes trip of the year to the North West. After a dire and soaking 2011, I was so happy to be back in my favourite area of Scottish climbing, I just sat at the base of the crag, soaking in the classic gneiss, the beautiful view across the bay, the quiet road scarcely 50m below, and felt like I'd come home...

March 2013....Jetty Buttress....First routes trip of the year to the North West. After a dry and satisfying 2012, I was still so happy to be back in my favourite area of Scottish climbing, I just sat at the base of the crag, soaking in the classic gneiss, the beautiful view across the bay, the quiet road scarcely 50m below, and felt like I'd come home...

I just love Wester Ross. It's felt special to me ever since 2008 when The Pylon King and I drove out of Torridon to escape the one morning of drizzle we had in a week of sunshine there, and happened upon the oasis of civilisation that is Gairloch, climbed at Gruinard Crag and Loch Tollaidh, and revelled in the spectacle of the mountains, hills and hummocks,  and the coastline of bays, sea-lochs and islands. With supremely accessible trad and sport cragging, the nearby delights of Ardmair and Reiff, and a plethora of classic blocs, it is hard to beat.

This time the weather was fairly brisk. Day 1 at Jetty Buttress was sheltered enough to enjoy sunshine and steady trad. Day 2 at Reiff presented the choice of sun and strong winds or shelter and shade, resulting in a lot of numb fingers on short routes, some great bouldering, and 10 whole minutes where we felt warm (2nd problem in the video below ;)). As well as useful trad mileage (I felt pretty fine on the routes, the climbing felt easy after plentiful bouldering, although I need to work on smoother gear placement), I managed to do yet another of my winter bouldering inspirations, and this one was yet again bloody brilliant:

Classic wall problems @ Reiff.

The swing around onto the unnervingly shallow "vagina" slot on Romancing The Stone was the highlight of the whole brief-but-fun trip :)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Traversing the Trossachs, and training

...and no bloody routes, yet. Winter returned with a minor vengence - a possibly routes day with B last Sunday turned into scrounging "easy" problems at Glen Croe in between horizontal blizzards (with the usually beastly B confirming that The Nose is hardly the V2 warm-up the grade implies. Solid V4 and a solid classic). Good fun but hardly getting me ready for a season of trad awesomeness. So it's back to the blocs for a bit:

Crimpy Crystal Classics

I trotted into Loch Lomond East and did The Bottler, a bit disappointing not to flash this as I prepared pretty well and only muffed one hand sequence at the top. Cool climbing despite the obligatory step-off finish. I also went back to St Bride's wall and got a clip of White Matter, this is a powerful and accessible classic that's well worth showing (and doing!). Still pretty fierce too. Pimp With A Limp was done last autumn but it fits the theme of showing what's out in those hills.

LDV only legitimate sequence.

I also returned to Cambusbarron on a whim to try to arete project I found in 2010. Another couple of hours playing on it confirmed it was absolutely fucking nails and someone really needs to do it but that won't be me. The same applies to the Monkey Bloc slab, so I consoled myself by doing LDV the proper way, it's a brilliant easy problem too, better than anything on the grit ;).

Other than that I have started training for routes - indoor routes and falling practise and stamina circuits at TCA when my fingers can handle the pain of the crimps. I feel on pretty good form at the moment with all my tweaks fading and condensing solely into a left shoulder impingment which is far more aggravated by sleeping on it badly than by any climbing, and having a reasonable strength on the boulders that could be built on for route climbing.

The main issue is my appalling fitness and weight as I am stupidly fucking fat and heavy - now up to 12 fucking stone 2 fucking pounds, so over a stone overweight. Fucking infuriating as it is so hard to burn off.....yeah I survived another 10 minute run last night without passing out but really that does fuck all. Train heavy and then get light only makes sense when it's physically possibly to get light, and motivation is so hard when almost any form of CV is so hard....but I did get more inspired by the gym recently so maybe there is hope.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Routes routes routes.

What do I need to do to be able to do the following routes and visit the following places??

(Apart from the usual challenge of finding syked partners and getting suitable weather...)

Answers in the blogspot comments please :) Offers of joining me at these invariably excellent crags in comments / email / text / facebook / phone / etc etc...

Priority routes:

Neart Nan Gaidheal
Burning Desire

Glen Nevis:
On The Beach
Other Wave routes
Risque Grapefruit
Aquarian Rebels

Creag Dubh:
Colder Than A Hooker's Heart
The Final Solution
Bratach Uaine

Other routes:

North West:
Tollie Crags:
Each Uisge Direct

North East:
Moray Coast:
Lime Street
The Prow
Bat's Wall
The Essential
Senakot Rose
Old Fashioned Waltz

Aberdeen area:
Bob's Overhang
Downies' Syndrome
Smith's Arete

Central Highlands:
Glen Lednock:
No Place For A Wendy
Diamond Cutter

Glen Croe:
Edge Of Insanity
Short Sharp Shock

Priority venues:

Lewis - 1 week trip:
Dalbeg, Mangestra, etc.

Orkney - 3 days trip:
Yesnaby, etc.

Other venues:

Super crag (Lochinver)
Loch Tollaidh Crags
Stone Valley Crags
Seal's Cave (pre-birds)
Black Dyke (pre-birds)
Finnart's Point (Galloway)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Ogling at Ogle.

Yet another classic ticked off the list! This might be my best bouldering season ever for sheer diversity and quality...

Ogling at Ogle.

I spotted Pyramid Lip the first time I went to Ogle (2009? Or 2010?) for an easy circuit session. It looked too hard then and it got dark or I got scared or something, but I could see it looked waaaay cooler than it's meagre 1 star indicated, so well worth going back for. Suffice to say it is... I'm quite chuffed because it plays to my weaknesses as a short fat person - gut busting pulls around a lip - but it went quickly. A couple of goes where it felt impossible, a couple where I realised it was mostly about trusting the right foot, and then put the nerves about pinging off the reach up out of my mind, and sent the next go. Thanks to Tris once again for the now-long-term loan of an extra mat. And the soundtrack was what I was listening to in the car on the way back - Acid Drop by Freethinker, proper headbanging stuff, I love it.

So this leaves my spring/summer bouldering list looking mostly like:

The Bottler - Loch Lomond

Nameless Pimp Toy - Stronlachlar

??? - Loch Sloy

Abracadabra, Craigmaddie

Various - Glen Massan

Various - Narnairn Boulders

Various - Chasm Boulder

Various - Cammachmore

Various - Moray Boulders

With possible options for Reiff, Torridon, and maybe a bit more around Aberdeen. Sacking off the Arran boulders because I can't be fucked with the ferry, and adding Glen Coe's Chasm boulder as it's a reasonable journey and could be good for a power top-up, and Glen Massan cos it's a decent schist venue I got rained off last summer (on a glorious forecast day of course).

Having said all that the weather is now shit for a bit which is possibly a good thing as it will allow me to focus on much-needed stamina training for routes and much-needed gym work for my shoulder. I also need to start seriously rallying the troops for the spring routes season!!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Amazing Autumn Arete At Achray, And Aberdeen Adventures.

Only the beginning of March and I might have reached the apex of alliteration??

Also I've quite possibly reached the apex of quality Scottish Bouldering....unlike last winter season during which I managed to studiously avoid doing any of the good problems off my list, this season I've put the effort in and got lucky with the weather and managed to do most of the best problems I was inspired by, and even sneak in a few others. Autumn Arete is a prime example - I'd read the entry on UKC and knew where Achray Wall was, but didn't know where in the maze of hillocks, inlets and woodland the blocs might be. The crag moderator declined to reply or post any details (now submitted) and I forgot about it until discovering it was listed in the Scottish 2010 Update thingy - it turns out the bloc is hidden in plain view just around the corner!!

Awesome Autumn Arete.

Once again this is a real classic problem - a great independent line with a good landing and climbing that is at once powerful, technical, frictional, and continuous. Once again I don't know any of my bouldering friends that have done it despite being roadside and less than an hour from Glasgow. And the Glengoyne distillery is en-route (literally - it sprawls across the A83) and their 12 y/o is not bad at all - spicey on the nose but mellow on the finish.


From Achray to Aberdeen for the first trad of the spring and whilst Achray was so warm in the sun I had to work the problem with my shirt off and wait for the sun to disappear before it was climbable, in Aberdeen we ended up getting chased away by the seeping gnawing cold. At this time of year it's all about getting to specific cliffs (often the best ones, especially on the Northern coast) before the birds come back. Of course while March is guaranteed nest-free, it's not guaranteed to have good conditions, as the main rule of the coast is: Never the same thing twice! Two days of seemingly identical weather can bring two days of polar opposing conditions.

The first day at Red Band Cliffs was okay - merely greasy, but warm enough. The second day at Arthur Fowlie was harsh - early evening showers should have been negated by a breeze and morning sun, but it was fairly damp and the wind snuck around the cliff edge and seized my body up until everything was done in slow motion. Still, a few good routes at the former and a couple of easier (or harder, it felt!) classics at the latter, and two new cliffs checked out, and an early start to the trad's all just mileage, warming up, seeing what needs to be worked on...