Friday, 19 September 2014

What a season :)

It's been another busy stint here in the Highlands between one thing or another. The main thing for myself was getting another new route climbed. While belaying Steve on his project at Wave I noticed the arete to the right, it didn't look amazingly inspiring or clean but I reckoned it was worth a punt. A quick look on top rope with a brush and it revealed itself as an amazing route with some great moves. As usual with the lines I seem drawn to the gear was bad, half placed wire and a couple of cams behind a loose flake all in the same area and almost guaranteed deckout from most of the crux moves. 

Dave, myself, Steve and Dot-Pic- Sean Bell

For some reason this route gave me the proper fear, maybe just a different style from my usual or something. I went to go on lead the other day first thing but knew I was rushing so backed off and waited another wee while. 

The dulcet tones of Slipknot getting me psyched-Pic-Sean Bell

As usual getting the mind where it needs to be for this stuff provided a battle but the a dark cloud blotted out the bright sunshine and I knew the time was now, get on and commit. The sun hit me just as I got the only gear in, too late to turn back, nothing but succeed or fall, simple. Make the first really hard move, in a bad position now, to fall would mean breaking bones, bile in my stomach rises rapidly, struggle to maintain composure.

 Committed mid crux-Pic-Sean Bell

Now I know it's serious I relax more as I know what failure or quitting means and the moves that really scared me flow by in a state of total focus. The feeling of nothingness I crave takes over, pity I have to take such risks to feel that peace but then again it's bloody great fun :) Cheers to Steve for the belay, Sean for pics and Dave and Dot for filming.

Very relieved at the top, miles away from gear-Pic-Sean Bell

Yesterday was Steves turn on the sharp end, we headed to Lochailort with the intention for Steve to get on the E3s but after only a few top ropes on my E6 6b The Rebellion he decided all the ingredients were there for a go at his first route of this grade and he cruised it, one of the most impressive bits of climbing I've seen in recent years and the second ascent in the same proper bold style as the first, well done Steve.

Steve high above the gear on The Rebellion-Pic Dorota Bankowska

Chatting and chilling out, relief and smiles all round after another success- Pic Dorota Bankowska

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Laughs and Leaps

Since climbing Cu Sith I've spent all my time searching for new routes and new crags but unfortunately nothing has yet motivated me like Cu Sith did. I found a few things but one was way beyond justifiable risk and it would definitely have been beneficial to have two hands. All the running around is thirsty work so a few nights out were called for to rehydrate.

In the pub with parents and good mates

Juvenile but hilarious antics at the crag with Joe-Pic-Inside The Lens

Last Friday I headed out with Joe, Mark and Steve to get some routes in and hopefully a bit of footage for an upcoming project. We headed to Scimitar as Joe was keen to bag his first E4. First up Mark went on lead then had a nerve racking whipper, all of us relieved he was pretty unscathed. 

Mark leading with Steve belaying and Joe looking on.

 Joe was up next, he had worked the line and looked strong when he set off soloing up the unprotected route. He got through the crux then it went wrong very quickly. 

Joe starting up Fingertip Finale as Mark spots him

As i shouted up to Joe to encourage him and try calm him I saw him look at the ground and before I could say anything he was airborne. I waited to hear the snapping of bone but instead  Mark stood his ground and took a massive amount of the force out of Joes 10m fall by being a very effective bouldering mat. The noise they made though still left me expecting injury but both were fine. very very lucky, Joe wisely deciding soloing is not for him.
Joe 2 seconds before 10m freefall.

Its never easy witnessing these things and the noises of any of the accidents I've been present at are what sticks clearest in my mind. Though after speaking to the lads both are keen to be back out. None of us questioned the risks but instead we went for a beer and assessed what had went wrong then took the piss. I guess its the nature of climbing with people who are pushing themselves (regardless of what grade thats on) that sometimes accidents happen but I wouldn't change what I do for anything in the world. This kind of thing simply makes me appreciate my friends and the lifestyle we have even more as we know it can be taken from us so easily.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Belay, Climb, Belay.....

It's been a busy couple of days here making the most of the weather. On Friday I went out to Lochailort with Steve as he was keen to get back on Frustration E5 6a, he sent it smoothly and was chuffed to climb his second E5 in a fortnight. I was hoping to repeat Skyfall but a few niggling injuries, heat, midges and ticks didn't make for great conditions.

On Saturday I teamed up with Steve Kennedy, Colin Moody and Cynthia. The lads have a somewhat secret crag on Skye and there was a bold unclimbed line they wanted done so I was genuinely lucky enough to be recruited by these ex Dalry inhabitants to go lead it. The line required no cleaning and it was brilliant climbing, not brilliantly protected but I was happy enough on it, grade decided at around E3 5b, not sure on name yet.

Run out on new route- Pic-Colin Moody

Above a skyhook-Pic-Steve Kennedy

Today myself, Steve, Andy and Amanda headed back up the Glen for a bit of new route checking and for Amanda to second her first outdoor route in around a year. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Still Winter.......

Today was another chance for Dave to practice his MIA training and for Andy to get on Tower Ridge for the first time. Pretty chilly on the walk in so we didn't waste any time, while gearing up before the Douglas Gap we were hit by the first snow shower. Climbing up onto the ridge proper the snow kept coming as did the memories of a bone chilling, patience testing 14 hour epic here last winter so when the cloud cleared and we saw rime building up higher on the route we had to make a decision. None of us brought crampons so decision made we bailed off into Observatory Gully via the easy path. 

Dave & Andy in the Douglas Chimney

Dave looking for the escape

Axes out, Dave & Andy in Observatory

Dave & I trying to 'fish' for crag swag with a line made of 2 240cm slings and an ice axe, this became strangely obsessive, if we hadn't hooked it we'd still be up there!!!

Being in this place never gets old, very lucky to stay here- Pic Dave Anderson

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

First ascent...

Today was one of those rare days where everything needed to be successful comes together, mindset, conditions and the right partners. It's been nearly 5 years since I last fought my way into E7 territory and since I had my accident only a few months after I've been fighting since then to get back to my high point. At 5.30am I picked up Steve and Dot and we headed up once more to Wave Buttress, me with a lead attempt at my project in mind, Steve looking to lead 'On the Beach' and Dot there to take pics/film before she shot off to star in a diving film. 

I ran through the route twice on top rope and while lowering off my foot slipped and I jarred my ankle badly but switched off from it and tried to remain positive, 10 minutes with my iPod and I was readyto go. I moved up to the 6c tech crux and bottled it on first attempt, I sorted my head and fully committed to the tenuous moves, getting through I moved higher and smeared to the skyhook placement and chapped it on. Sticking with the "speed is saftey" philosophy I tried to keep up the momentum, more sketchy and now bold moves followed to the good cams, keeping moving I disappeared into that special place you find when you're pushing yourself in a dangerous place, everything is dreamlike. As I approached the last few moves I became aware of Dot standing above me and the total difference in our two worlds at that moment, she was only a few feet away but totally safe where I was on sketchy ground with a slip meaning a likely broken foot at least. Still I reached the thank god hold and it was done, 5 years on and I may get a nights sleep.

First ascent of Cu Sith-E7 6c-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Next up it was Steves turn on the sharp end. His plan for this season was to climb an E5 and he managed to realise that dream today. He had a slip on top rope but came down and got straight on lead so good on him.

Steve leading 'On The Beach' E5-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Steve relieved to have bagged his route before we hit the beer!Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Massive thanks to Steve and Dot for today but credit goes to the others who have helped make this route a reality for me, James,Rich,Joe and Dave!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Project linking

Yesterday marked a very positive change in mood and pace at the crag, SteveDave, Joe, Dot and myself headed up to Wave once again. Dave was keen to check out my project and he managed to find a very thin way through the part I have been struggling on to make it a truly direct plumb line up the centre of the wall. This means using a single finger sloper with smeary feet and a tiny thumb press above a skyhook, interesting :) For the first time I linked the whole project and am now working on the head game I need to play to climb something which is harder than anything I've ever done before. 

Nearing the top on first ever link-Pic-Dave MacLeod

Everyone else was getting stuck in too. Steve cleanly top roped his E5 project 'On the Beach' so an impending lead for him too, Dave onsighted another E5.

Sociable cragging, Dot, Dave, Joe and Steve, I love days like these.

All this action obviously got Joe psyched as he decided to climb Edgehog, the classic arete at the crag. It was to be his first E3 and its tough at the grade. He climbed well and in control only "having a word with himself" at one point but still sending the route, pretty impressive. 

Joe leading Edgehog

Myself, Joe, Dot and Steve at the end of the day, a tired but very happy team, beer o'clock!!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Grey Corries

When the weather won't play ball for climbing, we turn into hillwalkers. The Grey Corries have been on my hitlist for a while; only the long walk in from Coirechoille putting me off (for the record - I'm from the Lakes, 4 km IS a long way to the foot of a hill!).
The Grey Corries are a very unique landscape, and we had a fantastic day in at least 3 season's worth of weather. During the day we ticked off two Munros - Stob Choire Claurigh and Stob Coire an Laoigh (neither of which I stand any chance of being able to pronounce). Joe did a fantastic job of keeping us in the right direction.
                                            The Wee Minister has some great jokes

                                               Joe - I think this man knows what he's doing..

                                                            Stob Choire Claurigh

                                                  The Grey Corries - a geologists' paradise
                                           The way home, and we've ran out of jelly babies!