It's been a long time since proper blogging. Sucktember slipped into Cocktober and then into Knobvember and no-one noticed except the days of rain and sunshine and showers grew shorter, as they invariably do, but not drier. The lack of proper blogging might correspond to the lack of proper climbing, my grand dreams of an autumn cranking to match my spectacular spring in the South West were diluted into homeopathic proportions and washed down the drain. I got South of the border a couple of times, one of them was to Armathwaite with a bone dry forecast and the whole thing was damp and I did some shitty greasy boulder problems in the first bay while Katy's lunatic Jadedog dug a WW1 style trench and turned the highballs left of Time And Motion Man back into proper solos and it was a fucking waste of 3.5 hours driving. As was Berryhill where I failed on an HVS (!) and then out of "sunshine and showers" only one of those came true.
Cheviot from Berryhill. Atmospheric and bollox.
Amongst all this fucking DROSS, there were moments of enlightenment, and by enlightenment I mean doing cool routes that might be a world away from my mega-inspirations but are also a world away from greasy eliminate bouldering (best left to Peak Limestone fans and other perverts who rank only slightly above winter climbers and vegans in the fucking weirdo stakes). Such as:
Counting Out Time, Newtyle Quarry:
Aka proper climbing at Newtyle which has become infamous as the dank hole in the ground where the aforementioned winter perverts gather to slot their tools into grubby slots. It's also got an impressive sheet of slab which no-one climbs because of it's 2 minute access, loads of mid-grade climbs, quick drying, evening sun, scarcely an hour from the Central Belt etc etc so why would anyone actually climb there instead of queuing for chalk-crusted smeg on Marlena wall or polishing Dumby some more?? Anyway it must be said that the slab itself is a bit bold, the E2 warm-up I did had one good cluster of gear in 25m. But on the other hand this gem has a great line and loads of gear (even at the "bold" overlap), it also has a proper slate smearing crux and overall is quite a treat. I loved it.
Whipper Snapper, Ashie Fort:
Another crag in the "hordes of the unwashed polishing the pebbles at Moy while this more accessible, closer to Inverness, equally sunny and infinitely more scenic crag languishes relatively under-used" ilk. I like Ashie. It's tricky, techy, necky, can look a bit mossy (nothing that more traffic wouldn't help), but it is essentially a grit-scaled conglomerate crag in strictly the mellowest of situations. This day, sandwiched in the middle of the dreichness, started badly struggling up a seeping HVS and finished well styling up this elegant and bold route. A vast amount of gear can be faffed in before the crux scoop, at least one or two bits might hold. Thankfully with a bit of composure and commitment it all went smoothly, another little gem.
Duel Variation, Dunkeld:
No photo for this one so here's a picture of an enormous and rather cool caterpillar instead. Due to the weather I had too many visits to Polney (and Upper Cave but I'm not talking about that), none of which involved doing what I really wanted to do. Something about this really steep impending wall with flakey crimps and a tied down sling for gear before eventually getting a distant peg put me off. As usual enough psyche and I eventually crack, one of the visits I had the usual indepth look, then a sit down and a good talk with myself about committing to the process, and then did it. Did it bloody well too, flicked a skyhook on during the steepness, cranked to the peg, tried a cam to back it up, didn't fit but I didn't faff, just ignored it and rocked over the lip to not glory but the satisfaction of snap decisions erring on the side of actually doing the climbing. And yeah another great wee route.
The moral being, good routes are good routes even if they're not quite the good routes I wanted to be doing....