Monday, 13 March 2017

Wrapping the (what?) winter up.

There was no wading about knee deep in a bog this time.  Just rain in the face and sweat. 

I’m sure we are all aware that this winter has been rather challenging in terms of winter conditions.  To be fair, motivated folk have who have bothered their backside have got stuff done.  Dave Kerr springs to mind. Good effort! 

Looking back at the last few weeks, all I can see is the odd winter day grabbed amongst great days on rock, or many days bouldering inside.  However in reflection, this winter has been pretty good if you relax a bit about the 'winter conditions' and turn your attention to other aspects of climbing.

Am Fasgadh, Pete messing about on 'Pillar Up' and Mhairi on 'Curving Crack'

Am Fasgadh

Mhairi on 'Worry Bomb'

Gaz on 'High Five'

Maol Chean Dreag

For several years now I have been keen to climb ‘The Knuckleduster VIII,9’ on Ben Nevis.  I also know Iain Small has been keen as well.  However, between us and other partners, there has been problems with actually getting on it.  Mainly due to other international teams starting up it!  However the 1st March, the stars aligned and no other bugger was there.  We opted to climb the direct version, originally climbed by Greg and Guy.  This provided some great physical pumpy climbing.  I must admit, surmounting the roof, I felt slightly intimidated as I reminded myself of Gregs blog. However, when you are actually there, you get on and deal with the situation which I’m sure many of us have experienced.  However, the conditions we had were friendly snowed up rock.  The Knuckleduster was a very satisfying climb due to both the climbing quality and the strong line it takes. I highly recommend to others operating at that level. 

Iain on pitch 1 of 'Knuckleduster'

Me following pitch 1 (Photo: Iain Small)

Me on pitch 2 (Photo: Iain Small)

Iain following pitch 2.

As always Am Fasgadh has provided some good winter rock action.  With a looming sport climbing trip to Chulilla, I felt the need to tie on, do some laps or follow some new link ups.  Ian Taylor as always has kept his eye in on gaps and created The Omega Link F7b+.  A good edition.  The next logical thing (very very dull reading for everyone bar locals here, I’m sorry) was to establish the Mega Pup F7c+.  This provided a good elbow touch the sky workout and a stressful clip.  I thought sport climbing was safe?

Me on 'The Omega Link' (Photo: Ian Taylor)

Knowing I was just about to fly away to Spain, one last winter day out on Beinn Eighe wasn’t a bad idea.  However, the weather was far from ideal (for me at least).  A walk up in rain was a bit crap.  At least we reached a point it turned to snow which made the painful experience a bit better.  Gearing up in the ming on top, the idea of a committing rap into West Central Gully was abandoned.  We settled for a shorter day on Samurai VII,7.  This was recommended to me by Dave Kerr and French Erik.  A great route providing quality sustained climbing the whole way.  I must admit, there was the odd moment I ‘wasn’t feeling the love’.  Walking out, we reversed the walk in where the snow turned to rain on decent.  But it was a great day out in the end.  I haven’t been soaked to the skin in a while.  

Me on Pitch 1 of 'Samurai' (Photo: Iain Small)

Iain on pitch 3.

Me on pitch 4. (Photo:Iain Small)

I am in Chulilla at the moment with Russell Birkett.  It’s bloody raining outside.    Packing my bag on Friday was depressing with this weeks forecast to be wall to wall rain.  However, upon arrival, it is only to be wet today.  Thank god!  Yesterday was great, a shock to the arms.  Clearly bouldering all winter or 12 move sport routes was not ideal for 40 metre sport routes.

Walls of Chulilla basking in the evening sun light.