Sunday, 21 December 2014


It’s December, 8 degrees Celsius with strong winds and passing showers.  I’m not going winter climbing.  That would be just too much suffering for me.  Instead I find myself drying hand and foot holds whilst hopping between islands of dryness, walking on my heals occasionally to keep my precious toes dry.  Another day at Am Fasgadh with Ian.  Morale is low, the ground is wet, seepage down the usual parts, numb fingers, drips from the top of the crag…TIFS!  Spain seems a distant memory in our minds.  But most of the crag is actually dry.  The sun cast some rays for 2 whole minutes that day.  I was lucky enough to be pulling onto Black Sox, the classic of the crag. Clipping the chains for the ‘I don’t know how many times now’ and glancing around, I glowed with satisfaction.  We leave the crag. It’s getting dark, its 3pm, it’s raining, its windy, our arms are hanging.  But safe in the knowledge we were the only people rock climbing that day in Scotland, well maybe just Wester Ross. 
                                                    Ian loving Scotland.        

I get in from work, I phone Dunc to confirm that we are binning our plans for the next day.  Death is written all over the forecast.  But he has read forecast that says An Teallach is frozen solid, there is no more wind or snow forecast and it’s going to be a magic day.  I have my reservations but fine, I’ll go.  The writing was on the wall when it was raining for most of the walk in.  We could barely stand, Dunc fell into a bog, it turned into snow, we couldn’t see anything and we were wallowing in the drifts.  We were back in Inverness at 11.45 am.  TIFS!

                                          Dunc enjoying the ming

Talking shit, gossiping, laughing out loud, Guy and I walk in to Corie An t’ Snechda.  He had been working on a boat for 2 weeks and I was frustrated that I hadn’t done a winter route yet so we both has similar objectives.  To get out, have a short day and do a cool non -stressful route.  Personally I need that at the start of each season as I’m not a natural winter climber.  In fact winter is a complete faff but that’s another rant.  I need to have a day of faffing, rage at my lanyards, moan about the cold and fall down wholes etc.  I have been keen to do No Blue Skies for years now.  I don’t know why so we did that.  Great route and a great day.  I look forward to getting on something steep now.

Guy on Pitch 1 on No Blue Skies

Me grovelling up Pitch 1. 

Since returning from Spain, I have barely managed to get out in the hills or crags.  Days off seem to have coincided with warms days…TIFS!  Never mind.  Training for F8b is going well.

I suspect most of you are wondering what is this TIS I refer to.  Well it originates from Tony Stone.  It means ‘This Is Scotland’.  More commonly the letter F is added to make TIFS.  I’m sure most of you with an imagination can guess what the F represents.  Most of the time there is always something wrong in Scotland.  Midges, humidity, warm and wet, rain, the list goes on, or mine does anyway.   What’s my point?  I actually love it.  Faced with all these challenges for some reason makes things even more satisfying.  Then, you get the perfect day and it blows those frustrating days away.  I’m going to Ben Nevis tomorrow.  It’s been raining all day.  It’s currently +3 on top of Aonach Mor… I can see myself booking a flight to Spain tomorrow night!

Note:  I have added a new sponsor to the list on the right hand side, Craigdon Mountain Sports.  I work in the Inverness shop part time and I am fortunate enough to have a good boss, Colin Lyon.  He has sourced me kit but more importantly, given me time off last minute when the conditions are mint etc which is priceless.  Thanks!

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