Sunday, 18 May 2014

Taking stock.

Sporadic blogging, sporadic things of interest to write about. I've been climbing in a variety of places, done some nice climbs, and have to think a bit harder to actually remember them all. It's been that sort of May - it started well by pissing it down but even the weather has perked up enough I don't even have that to moan about. So here's the current crag review:

Balgone Heughs - a demoralising pile of rubble that perfectly blends the aesthetics of the worst Peak limestone crag with the rock quality of the worst Central Belt quarry. HOWEVER the climbing is actually quite good fun, and it's a far better use of bolts than any retro-bolting nonsense in the Central Belt. I only had a fleeting visit but felt pretty confident climbing despite the weird rock.

Bramcrag Quarry - a demoralising pile of rubble that perfectly blends the aesthetics of the worst Central Belt quarry with the rock quality of....something considerably better. The aim was a mixed trad/sport hit and we did well to get any trad in as it was in the process of being retro-bolted as we climbed. I think they have done a couple of routes too many, but overall it is more suitable than any retro-bolting nonsense in the Central Belt (RBing is being done by the FA, most previous trad routes were not so classic, many of them relied on pegs and spaced bolts, trad is not as precious a commodity as it's surrounded by 2 guidebooks worth of classic Lakes trad, and clear delineation between quarry and nearby crags precludes bolts spreading). Did a few pleasant routes and left the harder sport for a breezier day.

Armathwaite - an appealing crag of aesthetic rock that is somewhat more traumatic to climb on. I'd visited a few times over the years, worked my way through some classic leads, and got inspired by harder lines. Unfortunately those lines tend to be bold and rounded and smeary with worrying "half-in" gear and it's all pretty spooky terrain for getting on the lead. Thus I'm less enamoured with the place and will file it under the "late Autumn pseudo-grit death route" wishlist.

Bleater's Wall - an appealing crag of aesthetic rock that is somewhat more traumatic to climb on. It's a fine sheet of Arrochar schist at it's most obtuse, with blind fingery holds and hidden and spaced gear and a strong sense that none of the harder routes get onsighted, at least neither at the grade given nor by people who climb the grade given. I certainly didn't manage that much apart from a lot of furiously crimping up and down the start of routes trying to place tricams and C3 cams quicker than they fell out under their own weight. Thus is the price of straying 30 mins drive from the Central Belt / honeypots of Cambusbarron / Dunkeld / Weem to a sunny idyllic crag with a 10 minute walk-in and a nice grassy base.

I think I want to go somewhere vaguely normal now...

Maybe Gruinard Crag, Stone Valley, Creag Nan Luch, Goat In The Woods, Mungasdale or Reiff?

Maybe Iron Crag, Castle Rock, Reecastle, Goat Crag, Falcon Crag, Bowderstone Crag, or Gouther Crag?

Maybe Creag Dubh, Stac An Eich, Glen Nevis or Creag A Mhuilinn, Tunnel Wall or Aonach Dubh if it gets warm?

Maybe my wrist is better enough to get on some harder stuff too. I've had reassuring sessions down Ratho, pretty much at my previous standard with pretty much not much pain. It seems a while since I got on something solidly and reliably challenging (Easter) so I am getting those urges again....May has been a bit headless chicken so far and I want to feel more focused.

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