Finally, back on the wagon. Maybe properly, maybe temporarily, who knows. It's kinda gone thusly:
Harper's Wall: Laid a few ghosts to rest here. Previous scores included a rubbish day failing on Silent Partner, and another rubbish day failing on Che. This day definitely had good potential to be rubbish - it was in the shade, in the shelter of a warm south-westerly, just after high tide with a big swell and sea-spray, and it had rained in the morning. And yet utterly contrary to established wisdom, it turned out to be some of the best conditions I've found on Aberdeen granite. How? Why? I have no idea. Suffice to say I rattled off One Two Three Go, Silent Partner (a successful retro-flash being ensured by me only being able to remember "I got pumped" (it's strenuous rather than pumpy) and "I think there was a wallnut 9" (no there wasn't)), and Free Spirit fairly comfortably and surprisingly enjoyably given the well-described "primitive delights" of the undercut starts. More fun was had with Brad's attempt to continue his ritual sacrifices to the sea, with a dismount off Rock Mushroom leaving both of us dangling from a single small cam above the deepest dankest and hungriest-looking of the filthy green pools at the base "No Brad don't pull back on the rock, as you go up I will go right down...." :).
Black Dyke: Another crag with two unsuccessful visits, but this time due to birds and breeze rather than climbing failures. This time went even smoother than Harper's Wall. We warmed up at Earnsheugh with me following Death Cap and having a rather atmospheric belay on the eyrie between two equidistant gulls that simple sat there, cock-headed, giving me the beadiest of beady-eyed stares. Then we hit Black Dyke with the tide going out, the sun leaving the baked rock, and enough breeze curling around. I got to grips with 3 good routes, including the hardest I'd done for a while - On The Rocks, which despite the guidebook claims of "well protected" required a lot of patience fiddling in tiny wires and cams, and then a cool sideways dyno into thuggy terrain. Very satisfying.
Creag Dubh: Back to Creag Dubh and feeling more like I have a fighting chance of climbing what I really want there. This time was only one route, and more unfinished business. Last time I'd climbed up to the crux of Bratach Uaine 5 times before giving up in disgust at my weakness. This time, after a lot of training, surely I would feel stronger enough to crush it?? Well.....no. Not any stronger physically, it felt just as bloody hard and powerful and reachy. But....I felt stronger mentally after a bit of falling practise, and committed to a full on crossover lunge, got the sloper, blasted up 5m of overhanging jugs to a ledge and gear, and wombled up the rest. Very committing, very cool.
After a day not redpointing anything...
Creag Nan Cadhag: An intermediate day en-route to Diabeg, just to explore somewhere new. This is one of the many hidden sport crags in the Wester Ross area - this time hidden in plain view above the road past Stone Valley, it is essentially the sport sector of Stone Valley! A good position to catch the breeze and rattle a few routes off. I thought I'd done enough rattling for the day but local activist Paul Tattersall had turned up and after some healthy debate on North West Scotland bolting ethics, peer-pressured me into trying the classic Axe Grinder, which I had little expectations of success on. Somehow I crimped furiously enough the initial ramp and compressed frantically enough up the slopey crux bulge to make it to the top. An unexpected delight and a great little route.
Diabeg: The forecast was cloudy, cool, and breezy, so just to be contrary, it didn't rain, it sizzled instead. Wall Of Flame would have been far too well-named and was off the cards right from sweating up the walk-in, but the fact I could look at it with anticipation rather than terrified incomprehension felt like progress. The morning was merely muggy, but with enough shade to do the totally underrated Bogie opposite the Main Cliff. The afternoon was fierce, with Coel frying like an egg on The Pillar whilst I cowered under a fringe of heather. Retreat to a dip in the bay and the pub was the only option, and pan fried sea-bream with black olive tapenade on a garden pea risotto with a tangy salsa was particularly delicious.
Seriously, fuck off.
After this it has got stupidly hot and a 3 hour drive down an unduly busy A9 into the blazing 28'c sun with no air con was pretty tedious. So now it's no longer to wet to climb, not too cold to climb, nor too midgey to climb, nor too partner-barren to climb, but too hot *rolls eyes*. But I feel on this wee jaunt that I have built a little buffer of confidence on a bigger buffer of mileage and training, so am happy to take things how they come. Having got into the mileage mode I feel happy to do what the conditions dictate - aiming for the most awesome challenges but dropping down to ticking over if that is what is needed.