Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Aggressive Seagulls at Logie Head

Went climbing on Wednesday at Logie Head with Andrew Smith who I went to Ceuse with last year. We didn't leave Inverness till 1.30pm so it was a late afternoon evening session, which worked out fine as the weather was so stunning that we got the sunset over the sea, and the sun made the cold wind bearable.

 Cullenary Delight - don't know what happened to the hair!

We did all the routes on Embankment 1 in the Scottish Climbs guide; Sea Urchin, Cullenary Delight, Poacher, Sunnyside Up and a solo of Sealink to finish. It's funny how the stars work at Logie Head - Cullenary Delight and Poacher get 3 and 2 stars respectively but Sea Urchin gets no stars and I always thought it was a better route... I found Sunnyside Up quite hard as well, just got really pumped I guess.

Soloing Sealink

We then went to try the routes further out towards the sea, I went to set up an abseil and almost stepped on a seagull nest, then got dive-bombed by the mother, and so I beat a hasty retreat back inland. In fact the whole of the embankment seemed to be covered in seagull nests so I guess the routes in that zone (ie. fallen star) might not be very enjoyable right now! So we did black hole and then some soloing just for the fun of it. All in all a very good day.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Five Sisters of Kintail

Although not strictly climbing related, I went munro-bagging on Sunday, with my family before I jet off to Ceuse. We followed the route described in the book, only to find that a rather crucial footbridge had been destroyed in a flood, though this only meant about a further 1.5km walk.

We did the five sisters of Kintail, involving three munros and as you can see from the pictures it was pretty nice.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Since Tuesday 19 February

It has come to my attention that my blog has been more than a little inactive recently, and due to complaints from climbing partners, I feel under such pressure that I have decided to write an update....

I haven't been out that much since February, though I planned to since I'm going to Ceuse in June and I wanted to be ridiculously strong for it. However exams, lack of motivation, and a trip to Rome kind-of put paid to it, although I have managed some climbing.

I've had two very unproductive trips to Dumbarton; on the first I did some easy problems, then tried Gorilla, which I didn't get. In fact I never got the first move, but I think that this was because I was scared of the top out, so that in a way I didn't really want to get there. I don't have a whole load of experience of climbing at my limit, but increasingly I find that if I'm not very motivated to do the thing then it won't go. I confirmed this with my second trip to Dumbarton, trying Persistence of Vision. I was a complete wimp and didn't even get to the top, since the motivation wasn't there.

In short I'm looking for the psyche, which occasionally deserts me. I went to Ceuse at a similar time last year; I went leading 6a and left having done a couple of 7a's. I put this down to psyche. I think it's easy to be psyched in Ceuse since you are surrounded by so many other good climbers, all you do there is climb, and in particular last year I was there with Ben Litster and Nick Duboust, probably some of the most psyched people you could meet.

Anyway back in Scotland I went to Cummingston with my girlfriend and had a really nice day doing easier routes, though I think she was a bit cold.

Moving into May I visited Kyloe In and Out for the first time, with Sam Clarke, and was pretty impressed by both of them. It's interesting going climbing with Sam since he has basically done everything under E5/F7C within a 3 hour drive of Edinburgh. This works well for me as I only moved to Edinburgh last September to study physics at Edinburgh University. I did all the classic easy problems but didn't make any headway on anything harder.

A couple of days later I had a better time at Upper Cave Crag, Dunkeld with Sam, Dan and Ross from Kingussie. It was a good day as I lead my first E1, which in writing doesn't seem like such a big deal. I know that the climbing is technically well within my ability, it's just the execution and the fear, which I guess is what trad climbing is really. Sam lead the first pitch of Squirm Direct, then I decided to lead the second pitch of Squirm (E1 5c). I was reliably informed that the crux was short lived and then the climbing was very easy. The crux was over very quickly and easily, far more so that the rest of the route. I began to have misgivings when I placed a nut behind a flake, tugged on it and watched the flake moved. The misgivings became rather more pronounced as I moved up the loose, slightly wet, overhanging flakes, occasionally noting the rope stretching a long way down to the peg just above the belay. A bit of a panic ensued, which I fought through and eventually found myself on the top, a very relieved person.

I find with trad climbing, where the moves themselves are not very hard for me, motivation is less of a factor. I don't need to be terribly motivated to do the route, just fairly calm. I have since climbed another E1 - Dead Ringer at Limekilns, and found it far more enjoyable. However, I couldn't honestly say that it was particularly enjoyable while I was climbing. In retrospect of course it seems amazing, and I do feel good having done something which I feel is an achievement. That said, I'm not sure if I enjoy climbing better at the time if I'm climbing something easier, say VS or F6a. But E1 is still not my limit, so I think with more experience climbing at this level will become more enjoyable, at which point I will probably be trying to climb E3's and wouldn't be satisfied by climbing an E1!

So in Ceuse I plan to do a mixture of pushing myself hard and climbing lots of easier routes. Last year I loved the routes at Demi Lune since I felt comfortable on them and was able to enjoy the climbing at the time. I would also like to do some onsighting in order to get a lot of routes done and improve my trad climbing. Then again, I need to do some routes at about F7b/+, otherwise I wouldn't feel I had done much worthwhile! I go on the 3rd June.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

A Great Contrast

Went to the hardcore venue of Dumbuck on Saturday with Sam Clarke and two of his flatmates Dan and Sarah. Suffice to say the place is seriously hardcore and slightly loose - there was more than the one incident of holds flying off. (Although somewhat unusually it wasn't Sam who did the damage.)
The warm-ups basically did us for the day - they must obviously be far harder than 6b+ and 6c+ respectively, Dan did something harder and then they worked a 7c which didn't fall, either due to a lack of psyche or bottle, I'm not sure.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the day, not that Dumbuck is photogenic anyway.

Sunday was spent at Polney, climbing with Clare, since I scammed a lift from some people she knew. I think it is probably the most chicken day of climbing I have ever done - the hardest route I led was a severe! Weather was awesome however, and a fair amount of faffage ensured we only did 3 routes in a day anyway...
So two very contrasting days at two very contrasting crags.

An extra special mention goes out to Kath (Cath?) who was climbing with Mike, she basically showed us all up without any rock shoes, I'll give it 6 months before she is better than Mike!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Brin Winter Sessions 2

Nick on 'Brin Done Before'

Inspired by the climbing experience of the previous day, we headed back out to Brin the very next day. This time the sky stayed clear for the day, so plenty of climbing was done. The usual suspects turned up, with two climbers Mike and Ben know from Glasgow - Danny and Stewart. Jamie also came along. Ben was unfortunately ill and I can barely imagine how ill he must have been to miss a Brin Winter Session!

We started out on Preppy, V2, on the campus boulder and having lost sufficient ankle skin we moved to the Happy Boulder, behind which Nick was trying the infamous 'Brin Done Before', a very scary looking V6 highball. He never topped out, but spent enough time on it for me to get some good photos. Having repeated most of the problems on the Happy Boulder, Jamie spotted an obvious dyno which submitted fairly easily to Mike (once he had taken off his wellies and given it a bit of the Sharma power scream.) Stewart was working a sit start to this, however, Mike nipped in for the first ascent and Stewart didn't manage to stick the dyno from the ground.

Mike sticks the dyno

Stewart on the sit start to the dyno

Then it was on to the classic boulder of the crag - The Den - to climb 'Spank the Ramp' and the nails V5 'Graeme's Pinch'. Of course 'Graeme's Pinch' easily fought off our valiant attempts, however a few ascents were made of the neighbouring 'Spank the Ramp.' Mike, meanwhile, added a desperate sit start to the 'Guillotine.'

All in all a pretty successful day, with a fair amount of sending...though not very much by me. I'm still not sure what I think of Brin, I'm not sure what the Glaswegians thought of Brin. I have had some really good days there, with some excellent problems...but equally sometimes the bracken, the dampness, the moss, the cold/midges are just too much. As for it being the mecca...well, given the choice between Magic Wood and Brin, I know which I would take! Of course, Ben and Mike would probably agree, if a little grudgingly...

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Brin Winter Sessions 1

Ben, Mike, Nick and I headed out to Brin Rock on the 29th, inspired by Ben's description of Brin as 'The Mecca of Scottish Bouldering.' More on that later... A combination of my small car, 4 people, 3 boulder mats, and most of the contents of Mike's shed (for cleaning problems) ensured that the journey was a little cramped, but this was easily solved by piling all of the stuff on Nick, whilst Ben and Mike could not see anything with a mat on their knees.




In the dry part of the morning, Ben and Mike cleaned a stunning arete, Nick and I went to try 'Pitt Bull' and concluded that it was desperate. Then the rain came and we sat and ate lunch under a boulder then went home. So no-one actually did any climbing. As Nick put it: "They said it was the Mecca... but I'm not so sure."

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Gorges du Loup

Me and Ben and Nick arrived in Gorges du Loup to find some of the steepest climbing anywhere. We camped on the old road, just short of some worryingly loose overhangs, and slept on boulder mats, and ate pasta and tuna for the 8 days we were there. Standard day was climb at Pupuce Surplomb in the morning, then head down to the river at midday for some swimming, then in the evening head out to Jurassic Park or Canyonne.

The swimming was amazing, despite the tons of canyoning groups. We found an excellent jumping/swimming pool with a nice 7m jump and various others. Getting to Jurassic Park and Canyonne was also pretty cool - you followed an old water pipe through tunnels and along exposed walkways for a good length, some of the tunnels were a few hundred metres long and completely pitch black, exciting with head torches with feeble batteries.

There were also some totally amazing climbers there - a dutch guy who onsighted an 8b, some Russian who onsighted 8b+, and also Tomas Mrazek, who has onsighted 8c! My achievements there were slightly less about 8s, more about actually doing a route. Managed the warm-up, and also a cool route called Diplodocus. This route had a huge tufa high up to hug with your legs, and had perfectly circular threads through it at regular intervals. After 8 days in Gorges du Loup, the heat and difficulty of the climbing was getting tiring! We headed off to Gorges du Tarn...