Saturday, 25 October 2008

Over Due Update

I thought that I should probably update this as I havent done so in a long time.

To summarise the summer I had: Awesome!!

With that covered I will move onto the last couple of weeks or so. Just moved to aberdeen to start my new job in Aberdeen, so far so good. It took me 4 weeks to get to transition extreme after finding some guys at work who climb. I can summarise leading and top roping there as nails. I went from beginning to get somewhere redpointing 7a at the inverness wall to struggling my ass up 6B on top rope at TE. I know I would have lost some strength in the break but not enough to make me drop so far down the grades. After chatting to a couple of locals they all seemed to agree with my opinion. The bouldering on the other hand is pretty decent, a nice selection of different angled walls and problems. I have no idea how often these are changed but so far its keeping me out of trouble.

I am moving to Stavanger in Norway for 3 months in January for work and I have recently found out that I get access to the 2 walls there for free cause of work. All going well I will be able to continue training with the aim of climbing 7a by next summer so that I can increase the trad grade next summer on the sea cliffs of grampian. Whilst in Norway I am also planning on learning to ice climb which should be awesome.

Anyway enough drivel from me especially as I dont have any exciting climbing stories.


p.s See Dave MacLeods new film echo wall for my climbing film debut. I am one of the specs in the gully leading up to the route lol.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

First E1 Onsight

Just a short one this morning. Was up at Loch Duntelchaig yesterday and managed to onsight Anne Boleyn's Crack E1 5c. After basically headpointing anything above HVS for the last wee while I had forgotten about the added "excitment" of onsighting. After a tonne of the usual encouragement from Jamie I just got on with it, slapped a cam in the crack and went for the ledge.
I always find it amazing what you can hold onto when you think you are about to fall off. Whats even more amazing is the fact that I didnt get any elvis leg, I suspect this is because I didnt worry myself about putting gear in due to the "tactics" being involved.
Anyway, heading back out today so lets see how the day unfolds.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


I was in the process of writing up an entry for yesterdays climbing at Loch Tollaidh on the west coast were I climbed 2 E1's (Deliver me (sp??, could be deliver us) E1 5a and Path E1 5b) but after yesterdays success and a tip off of a good E2 at Tynrich I was psyched to get out today. After managing to convince jamie (wasnt really that hard once he realised I really wanted to give E2 a go) we headed for Tynrich and the plod up the hill. Incidently we firmly believe that the path is not over grown because of us.
We arrived at the slabs, set up the anchors and looked at our respective targets. Jamie was looking at his project but for more info I will direct you in his blogs direction. My project was to be Trumpet of the Dead E2 5b. I did my usual of looking at it and worrying about the lack of gear but as with the new stewart I cracked on and cleaned some holds. Once we got on the top ropes I basically linked it first time and knew from that point that no matter how bad the midges got (they were really bad) that I was getting up that route. After some work on the crux sequence I hopped on it and dispatched it first time pretty smoothly and without much fuss. I love this head pointing game.
Now our climbing rules clearly state that once you have climbed 3 of a grade you have to step it up. I have pin pointed my next E2 which is another 5b so another one is required before I can work on my first E3 which is my new summer aim. Which aint bad considering I was aiming for HVS.
So just to recap on my year so far. I started on a hard severe i think at easter time basically and in early August I have climbed my first E2, I personally dont think thats to shabby bearing in mind my first E1 was less than 2 weeks ago and my only HVS to date was an onsight.
4 E points in 2 days will do me nicely. I am off for a shower and a beer.
Bye for now

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


The 27th of July 2008 was a turning point in my climbing. I finally ticked my first E1. Due to the lack of wind we (jamie and me) decided to hit cummy as it is always good weather there. We arrived and headed straight to Orange Wall. Apparently in recent years Jamie is probably one of only a few people to actually lead here due to the nature of the rock so I am quite happy to add my name to that list. I decided to play the head pointing game on this one so I could make sure my 2 bits of gear were good before committing. After 4 or so goes on it I decided to man up and get on with it. About 2 minutes or so later it was done with minimum fuss which for me is pretty impressive. I dare say I even enjoyed it. Anyway so there we have it, Flakey Wall E1 5a* has been ticked. We are heading back today so I can top rope a good looking E2.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

When Stewart met Dave

For my birthday my parents gave me a session with mr Dave MacLeod down in the fort. After waiting for the summer months to arrive and for uni to finish, myself and my sister headed down for the session. Dave had conveniently found a new boulder and we decided to visit it for the start of the session.

We did a short warm up on a slab and then got to it with some new problems which I think Dave will add to his website when he returns from America. The first of the problems was a nice wee roof, no idea what the grade is maybe V2 to V3 nothing to difficult but good fun. We followed this with another two problems, one of which I will return to finish off at some point.

From this boulder we moved to skelton boulder to try a route there and after failing at the sit start I gave the standing start a bash. I managed to get a couple of holds from the top but started to get tired and got a bit psyched with the exposure and the drop off down the slope so whimped out. At this point I was nailed and after a couple more attempts we headed indoors to kimbers wall to cover the basic movement techniques dave had covered early in the day.

At this point I thought I should probably cover some of the actual coaching dave did.

The main points to come out of the session where movement, foot work and reading the rock. All things I needed serious help with lol. He showed me some really good techniques with such excellent names as the head butt and discus. I have been putting them into practice and they are really good. I think some people are lucky and can do them naturally, unfortunately I cant so it was nice to be taught them. All in all it was a cracking day that I have taken a lot from and I am actually trying to put into practice. This includes me even doing proper training sessions down the wall (shock horror I know).

Anyway thats enough of my ramblings, I will add photos once I get them from my sisters camera.


Thursday, 3 July 2008

Jungle Bashing Part 1

The 2nd of July 2008 was probably one of the most exciting days climbing I have had which is saying something. I was able to tick off "Get your name in a climbing guide". Myself and Mr Jamie Murray went jungle bashing and were rewarded for our efforts by the climbing and mountain gods (who incidently are probably one of the same). We uncovered 2 new walls with some real potential. On a purely selfish stance I aint going to tell you were it is until I have climbed all the routes I can at it but we thought it was important to document the ones so far. So here we go.

All the routes were onsighted ground up with no inspection.

[Yet to be named] - HVS 4c

Lead: Jamie Murray 
Seconded: Stewart Munro 
Date: 2nd July 2008

At the right end of the crag climb the wall to the right of the well defined crack (bouldery) to gain the big chimney above, finish direct.

Spitting Games - Hard Severe
Lead: Stewart Munro
Seconded: Jamie Murray
Date: 2nd July 2008

Climb the right hand side of the obvious spike to small ledge. Follow diagonal rising crack that trends right to the top and then over short bulge to top out.

[Yet to be named] - HVS 5b (could well be E1)

Lead: Jamie Murray
Seconded: Stewart Munro
Date: 2nd July 2008

Boulder problem start up overhang onto ledge, take the obvious exit crack above to thin topout.

[Yet to be named] - Severe
Lead: Stewart Munro
Seconded: Jamie Murray
Date: 2nd July 2008

From the recess, climb the flakes diagonally right then follow the obvious and enjoyable diagonally left rising layback flake to the top.

Further reports will follow with pictures.

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Location: kirkcaldy
Crag: Ravenscraig
Climbing Type: Bouldering
Climbers: Me, Tom and Barnes
Date: 08/06/08

We went to Ravenscraig for a short session and BBQ at the weekend to clear the heads and to test drive Tom's new bouldering mat. Anyway nothing to exciting happened except we found a sweet dyno to play on (Dynosaur V4 6B(Morpho)). All round good day and tom got some pretty good pics.

Tom, Barnes and Fraser

Barnes going for the dyno

Me going for the dyno

Me again

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

MEng Road Trip 2008

Location: Machrihanish, South West of Scotland
Distance: 470 ish miles

Well 5 years of blood, sweat, tears, stress, beers and hovercraft came to an end last week and 7 of us escaped to the country to clear the head and to escape computers. Nobody actually believed that we could or would organise a holiday away as we find it hard enough organising a night out.

It started out as a trip up the west coast from the Mull of Kintyre to Sandwood Bay at the very north west tip of Scotland. With two car loads with enough outdoor toys to keep a relatively large campsite happy for months, we departed HW on monday heading for Balloch to rendezvous with Mr Higgins. With Tom's "insert nickname" Ford Maverick, Alans Rave 4 and Ross's "dont scratch it" Toyota Avensis space was plentiful and we all (I think) enjoyed a relatively comfortable and easy drive to Machrihanish which was to be the first stop on the trip. The only excitment was when we past Ross with his tool kit out and the bonnet up. It later turned out Greig wanted the air filter out of the engine to make it "sound better".

The weather gods were with us and we arrived at the 4 star campsite with the sun out. The only downside was the wind but considering were we where it was no big deal. As you do first port of call was the beach. Andy had packed his kites so we headed for a play. After a slight detour across the majority of the Machrihanish golf course we arrived at the beach. Paddling was order of the day while andy got the kite together and Greig the man he is went for a very very brief dunk in the sea while we watched on. To cut a mid length story short we all are now hooked on kiting even though i did continually get dragged down the beach.

After a gourmet BBQ cooked by Barnes we watched the mighty Holland destroy the Italians in the football which finished off a cracking first day of the trip.

Day 2 was initially going to be surfing day but after rubbish looking surf we decided to go for a wander. Campbeltown was first on the list for some food and a look at some boats (wild i know). After staring at the cool lifeboat in the harbour a guy came out and took us on board for a tour. We saw the full shooting match including the biggest turbos i have seen (geeky yup). After the big boat we were shown the small inflatable which can hit the same speed as the big one and was pretty cool. Anyway big thanks to the guy for showing us about. After campbeltown we headed round the penisula for the light house. On route we saw some grey seals who were chilling out about 20ft from us and didnt seem to bothered. We eventually made it to the light house after a trek and a half across the back roads and on the way back stopped at the Keil caves, st columba's footprints, a well and a co-op for more food. For the evenings entertainment we hoped to find a nice sheltered spot for some fishing and the BBQ. This turned into the complete opposite of storm chasers. The weather began to close in and the wind picked up so we high tailed it across the peninsula in the hope of catching a break.

After a long drive up the east coast we found a 600bc fort and pitched up there for the evening ( not sure if I should give the exact location). In possibly the coolest BBQ spot ever we had a great laugh included getting soaked by the rain which caught us up. Tom taught us the dark art of crab fishing and we found out that most of us are big girls when it comes to holding sea creatures. We turned out hand to fishing and I am going to claim the award for getting closest to catching an actually real life fish.

We returned to the campsite to a beautiful sunset over the beach so we grabbed the Tennents (it was cheap) and the kite and fired down to end the night on the beach. Even though it was ballock freezin it was a class night. It also turns out I am better with the kites on a practice fairway in skate shoes. You can slide all over the place. I will also point out that we encountered possibly some of the craziest people in a long time. Its 10/11 at night with a howling winding and 2 surfers turn up and start surfing. Now if the surf was huge and worth it I could understand but it wasnt, it was crap. Just plan crazy.
It was decided due to bad weather forecasts to return to edinburgh the next day so that we could end the trip on a high. On the way home we paid a visit to the monstrosity that is the loch lomond visitors centre/shopping centre thing. After a couple of photos and like my 10th burger in 4 days we split and headed home.

I think the stand out quote from the trip came from Alan during the drinking, I mean kiting, session on the beach. Tom was on the kite and Alan said "if you ignore the kite it looks like a Jamiroquai video". Genius.

Thanks for the memories guys. I think it was a very fitting end to 5 years of "dossing".


Saturday, 7 June 2008

Man Powered Hovercraft

28 weeks ago I walked into my first class of my 5th and final year at Heriot-Watt uni were I have been studying for my masters degree in mechanical engineering. This class happened to be for our group project were we get put into groups of 5, get given £1000 and a project brief. The lecturers began reading out the project titles. The first group got given a powered hovercraft project, the second group got give a water jet powered hydrofoil and with bated breath we waited for ours . . . "group 3, we would like you to build a man powered hovercraft. We dont actually know if this is possible but give it a go anyway" or words to that effect. We left the room a bit dumfounded but after a bit of google action it turned out that a number of relatively successful attempts had been made although they had taken more than the 28 weeks that we had.
To cut a 28 week story short we were successful. We actually managed to build one that works nearly exactly as designed to which some people might think is strange for me to say but considering we have never really been given something like this to do before were we had complete control we are pretty proud of ourself. Its probably easier just to stick some photos up for people to look at.

I could sit here and type the spec of it out but that would probably just bore people so on the off chance anyone is interested drop me an email and I will try and answer any questions.


Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Bouldering Update

Just thought I would quickly add a wee update to keep the blog ticking over. Now that we have just got rid of a big piece of coursework we are starting to get climbing again and this week a short trip to A2 was on the cards. Turned out to be a good session and I now have a couple of grade 6 projects which is cool. I think A2 follows the V grades so I am pretty happy with this as V6 was my aim for outside this summer. The projects are pretty different one is on a really overhanging wall with large moves to really good holds whereas the other project is powerfull and fingery.

Anyway not a lot of info and probably pretty boring but nevermind. Until next time

Monday, 28 April 2008

Exploding Sandstone crouching sheep

Last saturday saw another mech eng climbing trip but this time Tom joined us and led us to some random boulders just into the kingdom of fife. The boulders were sandstone and from a distance looked very promising.

The boulders were a reasonable height and due to the lack of boulder mats (and the impending pile of coursework) we thought it would be a good idea to through up a top rope for safety. Well this turned out to be a stroke of genius as the rock was some of the most fragile sandstone I have ever encountered. It was very snappy and to make matters worse the more you climbed it the more it turned into sand, literally.

We found a very promising looking line up the furthest right boulder and set to it. The most annoying thing was that the moves were actually very good. A mix of monos, crimps, jugs and lay backy type moves. The only problem was that you didnt know if the hold was going to break or not and even if it didnt everytime we climbed the holds got worse. After working the first half of the route which we thought to be the hard part we reached a wide crack line that topped out. We had all been spat of the boulder at this point with small holds breaking off and barnes to this point had had the most spectacular bit snap on him showering his face with sand. I then stepped up and not to be out done pulled got my toe on to a very promising lip, started to commit on a big jug that felt bomber for it to explode. After a bit more working around this problem we found the top crack to be not as promising as we thought and we moved on.

The next target was the biggest of the rock outcrops with a big prow type thing on it. This was screaming out as possibly the greatest belay ever which I felt obliged to use. We started on the arete at the left and Tom decided to get in on the rock destroying action by turning a holding onto a large pile of sand at the bottom. We still think the large number of woodlice behind the flake had something to do with it.

Overall it was another cracking day out in the sun and an excellent opportunity to clear the head. Next stop limekilns.

Me doing my usual and making it look hard

The prow rock thing, 0.5 seconds later it would have been so good

Definately in the running for greatest belay ever!
Had to be done and anyway barnes was below me and was talking about stealing my crisps
Barnes just before the rock tried to blind him with sand . . . i think.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Windows Live Writer Test

Testing 1, 2. testing testing . . .

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Summer Adventures

As summer is drawing closer I thought It was time to start looking at where I want to go and climb (its also a good reason for not starting work just yet). So here goes:

- Culling Ridge
- Ben Nevis
- Peak District
- Reiff

Thats all for now off the top of my head, its will be update closer to the time.

The actually climbing adventures are currently on hold due to exams but they will start again shortly.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Study Break

Yesterday saw my first trad trip to a low land outcrops crag, more specifically Fourth Quarry at Cambusbarron. On this trip I was accompanied by Jamie and two course mates from uni, Barnes and Graeme. The aim of this trip was to relieve stress and boredum and I think in the process we converted two climbers to the world of real rock.

My aim was to consolidate my VS leading and if the conditions were right try my first HVS. I was 50% successful with my lead of Wind Up VS 5a. This a was short but pleasant route with a cracking crack to kind of lay back off running from half height. Dispatched it without any change of trouser moments which was nice.

Mr Murray then tackled Ninety-Five E1 5b. This was a pretty stiff route for the grade or atleast we thought so. Very roundy with big moves that kind of felt like what I expect grit climbing to be like expect on grit you have good friction or atleast so I am told. Will have to wait for the summer to confirm that one.

While we were playing the leading game we had set up some top ropes for the boys to play on and they found an absolutely awesome crack to climbing. It was by far the best lay back climbing I have found to date and was well worth having a play on.

All in all it was a excellent day out and definately cleared the head before the final push before the exams. Didnt climbing to much but that seems to be the norm these days and doesnt bother me one bit to be honest. Photos will follow.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Day of the Squalls

View from the terrace
Us, me with my eyes closed

Day number 2 of outdoor trad action for 2008 saw jamie and myself head to Tynrich Slabs for some more VS action for me and hopefully jamie's first E3 of the year and well we completed 50% of the plan.

After a short sunny drive, first outing for the sun glasses, up "Epic Glen" in Strathnairn we arrived at Ruthven boulder for the walk in. First job of the day was to scare off the twichers, which we did very successfully, then we geared up for the slog up hill.
As a wee warm up I climbed Scorpion, HS **, to equal my grade of last year. One of my best leads with nice long gaps between my gear and a nice long run out at the top. Things are progressing for me in the leading stakes. I am never going to be a top climber but I am aiming for solid and I am getting there.

Me leading but with far to much gear

After taking an age to set up a belay young jamie followed me up and all was good. Then the rain started. We darted down the path so that jamie to could attempt his E3 before the squal that we could see approaching from the east hit us which we failed to do. The E3 jamie was planning is called Chanterelle and is apparently 5a. Ascending into the rain it was soon realised why this was an E3. There appeared to be no gear for the first half of the route and even when there was gear it was pretty questionable. Just before the first bit of gear jamie did his city gardener bit and cleaned probably 3 years worth of moss off the route, at this point there was still no gear and we were both going for a winger if he plunged. Anyway to cut a long story short he finished the route off with only a minor dose of elvis leg which is very impressive because i would have curled up crying, all in all a very stirling effort. I think the gear could be described as minimal chic or functional.

Him topping out meant it was my turn up next and as i started up the first section the heavens opened and I got very wet very fast. Without blowing my own trumpet too much it was by far my best high grade second. At no point did i hang on the rope for a rest or get it taken tight. At this point we were considering a VS for myself but as it continued to rain we decided that we had pushed our luck for the day and decided to head for home.

Back at the car

I would like to point out that on the way up Jamie laughed at me for having packed my full waterproof outfit. Well it was me who had the last laugh and the dry trousers when we got back to the car.


All in all it was another good day cragging with my best mate and we are slowly epicing our way along Strathnairn.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Four seasons in one day - first trad day of 2008

Well today was the first trad day of the year with Mr Murray. Todays adventures involved a massive 3 climbs, 2 crags, sun, wind, snow and to top it off hail. We visited cummingston first were I knocked out my first lead of the year which was also my hardest lead, a very awesome VS, all the bouldering I have been doing recently appears to have helped alot and I think I could have a HVS if not E1 by the end of the summer but I will try and not get a head of myself on that one.

Due to a baltic wind which meant you couldnt feel your hands by the time you topped out we changed venue to huntly's cave partly because I have never been before. It is a reasonably intimidating crag with a lot of overhangs. We decided to fire up Cave route HS 4b*** with jamie on lead. During the jam masters ascent the sun shone, it the lightly snowed and then hailed heavily until we finished climbing and then the sun came back out again, thanks for that big guy. Once on the belay ledge we tackled the tunnel escape. Thanks to us being thin types we were able to make use of the tunnel type escape route. All I can say if any part of me had been any bigger I think we could have had trouble. I think the guide book should maybe try and be a bit more accurate with its description because for those of you that know me and Jamie we arent exactly fat boys and we were almost stuck in the 6 to 8ft tunnel. Anyway i popped out the other side to find a drop and i nice slippy slab. I decided to set up a belay to help jamie through which after him not telling me to bother I was glad I did. A quick drop off a ledge onto the slippy slab and jamie was off down it but due to my cat like reactions, honed during my 4 weeks of ninja training, I grabbed the wrong rope but still stopped him. I will explain why i wasnt holding the rope. The climb down onto the slab from the tunnel aint to nice so i had switched roles from belayer to spotter and in the process the ropes had got crossed. Anyway we both came out of it alive and lived to climb another day.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Injury. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

After a friday evening session we thought it would be a clever idea to go to A2 on saturday afternoon. A couple of warm up routes and some stiff and tired fore arms a slightly trickier route was tried. After a daft pull the right shoulder went tingly and the whole arm followed soon after. I think this one might take 2 weeks to clear up properly.


Was really getting into it

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Alien Rock 2

Last night saw our first visit to A2 in edinburgh. First impression was that it was smaller than i expected but there were some of the longest upside down routes I have ever seen and they also had a clock that works backwards, very confusing indeed, so it was looking promising.

We found a couple of problems that look like they will go but they are very long which is why i think they are getting a V6 rating. One of my favourites includes a bat hanging rest thing or whatever you want to call it, I was mildly concerned that I was going to get my feet stuck in the roof.

After some play upside down we headed for some fingery routes and also the campus boards which I have never played on before. I managed to get up the middle sized one and I am going to aim for the smallest one next time. I did sustain an injury though being mr macho and trying to dyno up them, its only a minor rip in the finger though.

All in all it was a good session and it definately improved as the night went on and the wall got quieter. Made a nice change from Ratho but i am not a full convert just yet, the desire for long routes is still strong.

Until next time ....

Friday, 25 January 2008

Blog day 1: Standard day in the life of a 5th yr heriot-watt mechanical engineer

Well as per usual the day started normally with a snow storm and a dash for the bus. This was followed by a desire for black coffee and a climb. Unfortunately only the coffee was managed due to the bain of an engineering students life, coursework. This coursework on the outset seemed easy but have completely finished the problem 3 times now (14 pages of working each) and still not got the right answer it seems not so easy, there goes the relaxed weekend.

No climbing up date but with a climbing treat planned for monday evening we will see how strong we feel.