Sunday, 18 December 2016


Arching my back, straining my neck, I could see Pete in the upper part of the continuation chimney of ‘The Hoarmaster (VI,6)’. As he waves back to say he is all right, I’m shouting ‘Hurry the fuck up’ deep from inside my belay jacket.  But unfortunately he never heard me.  Standing on the belay ledge, I stared at the pinnacle which is home to ‘The Gathering’ and ‘Pick in Mix’.  They were absolutely buried in rime.  Despite having climbed them both, I was struggling to work out exactly where they went.  They were certainly ‘in condition’ but I suspect significantly more challenging in their current state.  A few weeks later I saw the winter UKC forums kicked off with the usual ‘whats acceptable’.  It made for entertaining/dull travel reading to Chulilla.

Pete following pitch 1 of The Hoarmaster

Prior to our Chuililla holiday, I thought I better get some last minute endurance training in for these 40m routes.  So I ventured over to the Torridon Boulders and focused on 5 move boulder problems.  I can confirm that I still have mental block on Malcs Arete.  Slapping the top of the boulder 99% of the time now, I can’t commit.  I’m too busy preparing myself for the landing before I pull on.  Yet, I managed to make short work of the Potential 7 (Font 7B) the next day.
Me on Potential 7

Mhairi Stretched

Crag guardian giving Malcs arête beta. 

Winter made an appearance early on in November.  Peter Herd and Myself arranged a mellow day.  The howling wind certainly blew the winter cobwebs off my tools.  Plan A was abandoned so a stroll into Lochain was next.  Having never climbed the  ‘The Hoarmaster’ but seeing it so many times, it seemed an appealing choice given the weather.  Pete lead the second pitch but the cheeky bugger belayed just below the top of the crag leaving me to top out into the ming.  I love unconsolidated snow sat on slopey granite slabs.  I actually thought I was going to get blown off backwards.  No joke.  So I waited patiently (well as best I could) for a slight lull.  The walk out was easy.  We were literally been blown back to the car.  Winter, you got to love it!
Windy (Photo: Peter Herd)

Whilst Scotland was blessed in with high pressure, Mhairi and I left on an Easyjet flight to a pissing wet Spain.  I won’t lie, sat in the airport comparing the Scottish forecast with the 10 day forecast for Chulilla did make us both feel a bit sick.  But you never know…  Arriving in Chulilla, there were mini rivers flowing down the roads.  Unloading the hire car, we both got soaked.  I suspect you are all sat there waiting for a grumbling blog about how shit it was and how I suffered major FOMO.  Well, there is none to report.  Chuililla is an amazing place.  With the walls being so tall, the crag bases remained dry.  Fair enough some Tufas seaped and there were times that conditions were not amazing with humidity.  But in actual fact we did the same amount of climbing whether the sun was shining or not. 

Sometimes it looks like this...

..but mainly this.

I must not forget to pass my thanks to Peter Herd and Amy for restalking me with tea.  I find Spanish tea bag collections shit.  I thought I took enough normal ones, but part of the way through, I recounted and feared the worst.  So Peter who was flying out during the middle part of our trip kindly took some.  Legend.  Thanks!


Highlights include, Mhairi onsighting 'Las caquitas de Nazarten 7b'.  It was a pleasure to hold her rope.  For me, nothing new, just the treading water of regular 7c+ onsights with the occasional 8a first redpoint. The golden rule was, if Rob Greenwood had onsighted it, I had to onsight it.  If Rob had red pointed it, I still had to onsight it.  Moon Safari 7c+ when I was knackered before I started was memorable.  I turned 30 years old as well.  My knees are sore, my hips are sore my back is sore, and as for my elbows, they are fucked.  Old age eh!  And of course, socialising with The Evans, Martin, Katy, Alex, Emma, Rory, Pete and Liam was good fun.

Mhairi warming up on 'Top of the Rock'

A nice day

Thank you to this lady for her patience.  Chulilla routes are not short.


Back home now, winter has gone.  Good.  We have all heard it before, Murdoch’s winter strategy, I’m going to boulder more and become stronger’.  But we all know, when the snow arrives, I’ll be wetting my pants.
It was good fun.

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