Monday, 16 March 2015

Horridly Torrid Torridon

I've done quite well bouldering this Winter Season - including doing more personally challenging problems in a few months than in any previous season (including pre-DVT grit seasons when world class bouldering was 10 mins drive away and I weighed 1.5 stones lighter), and all in a variety of styles as long as it's Northumberland sandstone ;).

How have I done so well? Thus: 5% skill, 15% tactics, 80% conditions. It's been amazingly dry over there and often amazingly cool. Notice all the videos where I am wearing a long sleeve t-shirt, bodywarmer, beanie and snood, and that's just for the 45 seconds I've escaped from the hoodie and downie to try the problem. So yeah, that's it. 

This was proven this last weekend with a well-tested reverse hypothesis (is that the right term?). PJ and I went up to Torridon in seemingly amazing weather - light breeze, bone dry, below zero at night and very cold and crisp in the shade. Unfortunately 95% of the main Torridon bouldering is NOT in the shade and was thus boiling to the point of being scarcely climbable. Climbing with a shirt off and still greasing off coarse slopers after the months of good conditions was a shock to the system and initally to the comprehension not to mention one's sense of honour and fair play. I did find a very neat problem in the shade and in a mini wind tunnel, after several goes working out the funky techy so-called crux sequence, I got shut down by the entirely morpho lank lunge finish and then tore a tip trying to work this. Sitting on a rock watching warfarin-infused blood dripping out of my finger and making pretty patterns on the stone below was not the most encouraging start to a trip.

In the end though, it was okay. I mummified my finger in tape and actually managed to climb on it, it turned out to be a more reliable finger than the non-shredded ones which felt thoroughly tenderised by the start of day 2. Despite all the potential it was one of the least productive bouldering outings this season and I've learnt my lesson about conditions once more. On the other hand it was considerably more productive for hanging out, recceing (the area is now fairly epic in the new definitive guide), vitamin D absorption, and eventually (after a fair bit of demoralising) doing some nice easy mileage. Muir's Masterpiece below being the highlight, one of the best fingery slabs around:

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