Monday, May 26, 2008

Acheninver Pinnacle, Coigach

Becky and I had a great day yesterday out west on the hills a couple of miles north of Ullapool. We did the strangely named route of Acheninver Pinnacle, odd as it doesn’t look like a pinnacle nor contain one. It is the left buttress on this picture.

Having no idea about the route, I did stop in Tiso’s for a look as I don’t have this guide, but none of it made sense, although at one point I do think we climbed the “wide crack” mentioned and the right hand crack of 3.

It doesn’t matter we had a lovely relaxing day and followed our nose up the sandstone. It was a little lose in places and could do with a bit more traffic but that was all part of the fun. The views over to the Summer Isles were fantastic.

Sometimes you can get caught in the trap of having to climb harder and harder routes and simply forget the fun you can have on a nice solid mountaineering line. I had a great time today, and more importantly I think Becky enjoyed a Multipitch for the first time! After 5 pitches, I used every big shelf we came across, we topped out into quite a strong wind and realised that we had been sheltered all day.

By the evening there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and fish and chips were enjoyed in Ullapool, not quite as good as the ones in Gairloch, chips were a bit too greasy. We arrived in Inverness to a lovely sunset and spotted dolphins out in the firth as we came over Kessok bridge.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Busy day.

Had a busy evening with Gordon, on the shires newest boulder, after getting out with Andy this morning my arms were feeling it by the end of the night. Jamie has spent some time cleaning up a large eratic, that has been returned to daylight after some forestry clearing in Farr. Some good lines at all grades, bit disturbed by some large spike stumps near the landings, though a good use for an empty rucksack was found. Jamie has obviously put in a lot of work to clear this thing up and it is well worth a visit, a good find. After a couple of hours we headed over to the Ruthven boulder to check it out and get a few routes in before the light faded on us…Had a busy
day to day, E2(well almost!) and V2 on the same day.
Gordon on the thin slab of Lust

Catch up.

Catch up time, Saturday saw Becks and I cycle upto the conglomerate crag of Ashie Fort, apart from the awful tree belays at the top we had a good couple of hours. Doing the archetypal “world hardest Vdiff” Website, overhanging all the way, and a nice E3 crackline called Flutterbye to China. This morning Andy and I headed over the top, to find a little east facing crag at the back of Duntelchaig, not that inspiring really but worth a look, we finished the morning with Monolith Recess. The second pitch of overhanging jamming I found very hard until I discovered the hands free rest right in the middle of the Crux! ;o) (photo to follow). I have to say I was impressed with the ease that Andy sailed up this route, high levels of style and grace, to watch good climbers is a worthwhile use of my morning.
Teeth clenching work on the crux of Monnolith Recess.
Before finding the tricky hands free rest.... :o)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blue sky day in the West.

Glorious weather in the west yesterday, a full 10 degrees warmer than here in Inverness. Davy and I headed off towards the Gairloch and climbed at the Thorsdale Crags. Nice routes made better by glorious blue sky day. I was almost sandbagged, but still all water under the bridge as they say. More warm weather to come, great……

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Route for Coire an T-sneachda?

A busy couple of days. Thursday was a fantastic evening, still warm in the shade and no midges! With views like these from Pinnacle crag it is easy to see why Gordon and I had a good time.

The views from Pinnacle Crag
Friday Andy and I headed into the Cairngorms. After one false start and a retreat to Ellis Brigham due to early morning gales, our original plans for Stag Rocks were shelved and we headed into the good old Coire an T-Sceachda, and towards the Mess of Pottage. The crux of the day soon followed, ascending increasingly icy snow before arriving at the base of the lovely granite buttress.

Andy on the wet groove of Mariella.
Route one was Mariella a nice VS that takes a big groove with an overhanging roof. The guide book describe this as “often wet” have a look at Andy in the photo and you will see what they mean. The move to swing out left under the roof is wild and really good value, but spot on for VS4b. The rest of the route ascends Cracks and Slabs, and on pitch 2 another deceptively awkward corner at 4b. Well worth the 1* it gets and maybe more.
Route two was a complete contrast. This time we headed off into the unknown, thinking we were about to do a route called Pot Doodles, VS 4c. The route itself was a typical granite slab. With lots of padding, and pushing off and little steps, Andy remarked there was one jug on the route! The gear was at best “marginal”, and to be absolutely honest, not great. Having looked at the topo in the new SMC Cairngorms guide it is obvious we had climbed a different line, the obvious thin crack between Yukon Jack and Pot Doodles. A new line for the Mess? Well we think so based on the evidence we have, so its Tasker VS4C 45mts(just, but right at the top end). The name comes from the fact we ran into the Vet of Andy’s dog Tasker when we topped out.

As this route finished half way up the crag we decided to finish up hidden chimney which makes quite a nice diff, if you ignore the pitch of choss lower down. I wonder if this has had a summer ascent. By the looks of the crampon scratches I am the only person not to have climbed it in Winter, it is perhaps the most scarred piece of rock I have seen.
Hidden Chimney in summer! Not quite where I expected to be.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kingussie Crag: An afterwork Bimble.

Stewart and I went down to Kingussie Crag after work today and did 4 routes in lovely evening sunshine, with daylight enough for the drive home too. Quartz wall is a lovely VS slab, on the right of the Groove.

Stewart on "Quartz Wall", a bit of an eliminate but worthwhile.

The highlight of the evening has to be finding the gear that protects the crux move of grooved arete. A lovely little VS 4c on the left of the Groove. After starting up the steep wall, you pull right onto the arete just before going up into a short corner. Here I found a home for 00microwire placed sideways in a pea-hole of quartz, not convinced it would of held, but if it didn’t, I was decking from 8mts up, so was careful to make sure I didn’t test the gear. Still I think its really quite a nice route and worth it just to check out the gear placement!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bank Holliday Sunshine.

The bank holiday sunshine was enjoyed in Deeside. Andy and I headed off into the Cambus O' May quarry in the morning to have a look at a disappointing venue. Despite the hot weather the quarry was wet through with much of the back wall seeping heavily. The dash for the Pass of Ballater was postponed slightly, as we had a go at Sharp Practice. A 6a sports route that makes it way up a lovely flake to a very reachy crux. Anyone over 6,3 would find this route easy for the grade. I being of (slightly) less stature had to make a few extra moves a bit harder than 6a to reach the finishing “jug”.
The afternoon was spent in the “Pass” here we did a few routes, the highlight for me being Convoy a lovely VS that finishes in a wild position crossing the roof of a niche some 20mts after leaving the floor. Nice of Andy to hold the ropes on this one as I think this may almost have put his repeats of this route into double figures. Still it was a top route and worth much more than the 1 * it gets in the NE Outcrops guide. As we were so busy enjoying the routes and the sunshine, the camera never came out, however on return to Andy’s I enjoyed the hardest problem of the day on the “green” traverse on Andy’s home wall. A nice crimpy 6b traverse across the length of his wall. You can see from the photo he has built himself quite an impressive bouldering venue in his shed.
Andy's training venue!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mallorca- hot rock trip!

Andy on his attempt of Buf (Alaro)

Martin putting the clips in again.
Just returned from a hot-rock trip to Mallorca. The sun and limestone made a nice combination, and routes were done on all seven days away. Despite feeling strong before we jetted off, I have well and truly been taught a lesson this week. I don’t think I found a pushover once. With hard grades, long run outs on some routes, and old rusty bolts, I was cruising backwards, my hardest flash was on day one! Still it was a fun trip with lots of stuff learnt, very much an on-sight ethic was adopted and perhaps on reflection next time I would have got something from a few redpoints! Still should set me up nicely for the lovely weather to come this summer. Just need to let the fingertips recover first.
The boys before the hardwork starts at El-Fumat.