Saturday, 8 August 2015


Some of you may remember this photo which I posted on Flickr back in April.  Stupidly I thought, here we go.  The start of another dry summer in the Scottish mountains.

Glen Nevis in April.  Too hot me me!

However, this photo from Ian Taylor sum’s up well my summer dress for this year.

Not complaining about the crisp red pointing conditions.  (Ian Taylor)

Since returning from the Lakes, I have had only a couple of days out trad climbing which is pretty poor for a tall, lanky, weak Scottish trad climber.  A combination of work, lack of partners but mostly the poor weather has accounted for such a poor tally of days out.  However, the days I have had were superb.  That’s not to say I haven’t been climbing.  I have spent a lot of the time making best use of the fresh conditions by bouldering or clipping bolts.

Passing showers, and a cold biting wind on an attempt at Wolfman.  The Ivy all over the bottom wasn't helping.  Another time... (Gaz Marshall)  

Colin Morrison cruising up 'Jack the Ripper'

Simon Nadin introduced me to a new crag of his up North somewhere.  Don’t ask me where it is as I genuinely have no idea where it is apart from the fact it’s on the Caithness coast line.  I don’t even think Simon knows properly where it is as he missed the little turn off resulting in a rapid handbreak turn in his Berlingo to head south again.  Or maybe that was to distract me from knowing its exact location… 

Despite Simon not being world champion fitness at the moment, it was still pretty impressive watching him onsight a new route which he basically gave a brief eyeball from an ab rope which was in the wrong place.  After watching his steady casual pace, I thought it would be piss easy.  So a lame attempt at tying my rock shoes, I followed.  Elbows touching the skye, shoe laces getting in the way, the whole rack on my harness towards the top and the rock requiring a delicate touch.  All I can say is, never underestimate a ‘Master’! 

Simon following one of his new E3's

Simon on his new route.  E5 6a?

Anyway, my turn for a new route.  I rapped the line and gave it a better look.  It looked easy with good gear.  Just as we went to rap in, we thought we would let the approaching shower pass.  Well, we waited, waited, and waited.  After about 40min we thought it was going to miss so rapped in.  Just as I joined Simon on the platform below, the heavens opened and it pissed down for 30minutes.  So we stood, backs against the wall trying to stay dry.  We looked out to sea, then occasionally turned to each other commenting how shit this was.  Why do we bother?  It passed, I got on with the job.  All went well till the final head wall which I never even bothered to look at earlier.  A steep compact wall covered in that green shitty lichen you get at Gogarth.  Gear way below, ropes waving in the wind and all that, I managed to uncover some sneaky crimps and undercuts.  The top out was nice and wet.  Flopping onto the flat, I was filled with that deep feeling of relief which one only gets from trad climbing.

Me at the top of my new route.  About E5 6a (Simon Nadin)

For one whole day, a ridge of high pressure was forecast.  After a quick swap around of my days at work, Simon and I arranged to meet up at Super Crag.  It was a bit like going winter climbing, you leave the house and its 8 degrees Celsius or something.  You wonder are you just wasting your time.  I drove for almost two hours with the window wipers on full questioning what the hell I was doing.  It wasn’t until we reached the car park that the blue sky appeared.  Gearing up at the top of the crag we still got hit by a heavy passing shower (We learnt our lesson from the previous week, wait).

Anyway, we did some cool routes; Personal Minglay, Moonman, Roda Mhor and TIFS.  TIFS was quite exciting.  An Ian Taylor E6 6b.  The crux is fairly bold, blind and pretty committing above a reasonable cluster of kit.  I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement to test it really.  At the end of the run out, you can get some small bits of kit in then tackle the bold wall above.  The climbing isn’t as hard.  So I pushed on and reached a crack.  Hanging on with my left arm, I had been camped out on the hold for quite a while trying to fiddle in a wire with my right.  Just as the wire seated, my left hand hold ripped off the wall.  Thankfully I had a nice wiry metallic handhold with my right as I would have taken a pisser down the crag as well as testing some unconvincing kit.  It’s probably fine ;-).  Anyway, I topped out, Simon and I left as the next weather front arrived….  A nice 8.5 hour weather window. 

Simon following 'Moonman' (Ian Taylor)

However, I have had numerous day clipping bolts and opening and closing accounts with harder (for me) local sport routes.  Most of my sport days have been at Creag Nan Cadhag and Zed buttress at Brin

Creag Nan Cadhag (Ian Taylor)

I guess my highlight would be ticking Andrew Wilby’s ‘Game Over Extension’ F8a+ at Creag Nan Cadhag.  Since then,  I have been back there making an attempt at Nuclear Nightmare.  Each time I try the horrific knee wrenching crux, my knee pleas no.  Its not wanting another arthroscopy.  Well that's my excuse ;-).  So some local pumpy link ups have been added to the crag, all bailing up Nuclear Cop Out.    

Some of my time has been spent playing on ‘The Force’ F8b? at Zed buttress.  For me, this is pretty hard.  It requires you to be strong and powerful, not weak with lots of stamina.  But, the other day I made some significant progress.  I need to rest now for a few days as my joints are screaming, my skin is trashed and my shoes are falling apart.