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...

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