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.