Tuesday, 22 April 2014

First Ascent...

It's been a sleepless week. I'd been building up to getting on Pallor E7/8 6b again so on Saturday morning Conor, Cameron, Luis and myself headed up the steep hill to the crag. Too warm to think about a lead I simply practised moves and got a good dose of sunburn.

Typical scene on Saturday, Conor, Cameron and Luis chilling out

With no belayers I'd trust on such a route free on Sunday I had to spend a nervous day waiting to head up the next morning with Dave ,Sean and Steve. A 4.30am start saw us up there in cool conditions. I did the route no bother first go on top rope then second go I just went to bits and my focus wouldn't play ball at all. I guess I've been out of practice from the mind control necessary for this kind of thing for a while now and need to play the game more to retrain my brain.

Attempting Pallor, stunning but dangerous climbing

Realising it wouldn't happen without some serious mental prep and some easier but still bold routes in the bag I decided to check out the upper part of Caldera. I abbed a line that didn't really need any cleaning, found some very marginal gear about a third of the way up the slab and decided to go for it. Steve belayed as Sean took pics and I set off over the initial thin traverse, I duffed the sequence a bit but sorted it no problem and climbed to the gear break where I dropped a runner, not ideal but dealt with calmly which was good for my head. The rest of the route went smoothly and was really enjoyable. 

 On first ascent of Arrakis Taught, E3/4 5c

I called the route 'Arrakis Taught' after a bit in Mark Twights book described a part in a novel, Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Sean and Steve before making the descent

Monday, 31 March 2014



The past few weeks have been a time of re-focusing my disappointment of no more mountaineering for the foreseeable future and trying to use that negative energy to produce a positive. I've found that outlet in seeking out new routes. I've always found new routes far more rewarding than repeats, not just in the climbing of the routes but in finding, cleaning and trying them. Spring has begun to sneak its way into Lochaber and we've made the best of it, on Wednesday myself and Dave headed up the Glen for some routes before he goes on MIA training. It was warm enough to climb in t-shirts which made us think it was time for a BBQ.

Dave sorting gear at the base of Pine Wall

Scottish BBQ, down jackets a necessity 

On Thursday Matt, Dot and myself headed up the Glen again to check out some new routes after me telling them how good the weather had been the previous day I think we were all surprised to end up rigging in howling wind, rain and snow, you got to love Scotland. I managed to figure out the very sparse protection for the route but it was too wet to start cleaning. 

 Myself scoping possibilities

Today I walked up to Steall falls with my Mum and Dad who were visiting and then I left them to begin the process of cleaning one of the projects. Lots of work and fear to come.....

Maw & Paw at Steall

Spring cleaning

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Carn Mor Dearg Arete

On Thursday myself, Dave, James and Joe headed for a round of the CMD and the Ben. It was pretty full on mountaineering conditions and certainly the most interesting day I've had on it. So much snow up there at the moment.

Ahh hot aches-Pic-James Seaman

Joe and James on the CMD

Joe,me, James and Dave. Thats the summit shelter behind us totally encrusted!

Beginning the descent out the cloud. My ankle not looking healthy there!

Stunning views on the descent

Dave made a wee video of the day here .

Friday, 17 January 2014

Face for radio

Today I headed up to the Ben to actually try climb a route for the first time since last February. I was with Dave and Chris from BBC Radio Scotlands Out of Doors programme who was interviewing me for the show about my climbing and sponsorship from the Ice Factor. We had intended to climb Green Gully but there was a crown wall just below it and a fair basin of snow just hanging there so we chickened out and headed to Ledge Route instead, most people seemed to have the same idea. We made good time up but the descent was excruciating on my ankles, worth it though. Time to get on the painkillers now.

Chris and myself

Me being a poser

Chris and Dave

Dave and Chris enjoying a brief view toward Loch Eil

Monday, 13 January 2014

Newtyle & Nevis

On Wednesday myself and Joe headed over to Newtyle to meet up with Greg and Simon for some training. Simon worked his project on the Happy Hooker wall while Greg made us all feel like total punters. I was there trying to do Fast & Furious without using many figure of fours which places much more demand on my left hand/arm. On my last attempt I felt strong but pushed the velcro on my prosthetic and couldn't get it to restick, cue anger and swearing. It was Joes first day at the cave trying F&F and he got to within two moves of the lower off which was a bloody good effort, both feeling psyched for another visit ASAP.

Joe on F&F

Yesterday Andy and myself went for a walk up to the CIC hut to have a look at conditions, snowy would best describe it. The ankle hurt like hell for a bit but need to persevere, was great to be among mountains again.
Andy approaching the hut

Monday, 19 March 2012

Busy at Dunkeld

Ewan leading The Groove VS5a***

Yesterday Conor, Davie and Isi went with local climbers Ewan and Alex to Dunkeld to try and remember how rock climbing works after a few months of snow and ice. The forecast for sun was proved correct and Polney crag was busy with climbers enjoying the warm, dry rock. The aim for the day for most of us was to get some mileage back on rock and have a chilled out day in the sun, and this was certainly achieved! Fortunately for us Ewan was pretty tired after a day of hard routes at Huntly's Cave on Saturday, and kept his trainers on for most of the day, otherwise I think we'd have more sore muscles today! We climbed Bollard Buttress Direct (Sev 4a - doesn't get any stars and we could see why not!), Cuticle Crack (Sev), Twisting Rib (VDiff), Holly Tree Groove (VDiff), Kestrel Crack (Sev), Ivy Crack (VS4b), The Groove (VS5a), The End (VS4c,5a) and a combination of bold pitches linking Crash Test Dummies (E35c) to the top pitch of Barefoot Beginnings (E25b). A great day back on rock - bring on the summer now! A few more pictures to follow later...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012