Redpath and myself were hoping for some new route action on the Ben, but dark clouds meant plan B (Steall Hut Crag and the unrepeated Arcadia E7 6b) was swung into action. The anti midge hoods were out before we even left the car park. Steall is the ultimate crag for hardcore climbers. Lets face it you have to be pretty inspired to suffer the midge blitz. Thankfully, the routes are good. I'd already done the 2nd ascent of the right hand of the criss-cross E7 cracks (Leopold 8a+) and never seemed to be at the crag when the left hand one (Arcadia 8a) was dry. Arcadia was Gary Latter's creation from '93 and I've not heard of anyone repeating it.
I headed up it first and spent ages re-cleaning the holds and taking out the manky dangerous in-situ wires. Second time around I set of with my trademark "this isn't a redpoint but..." and enjoyed a good fight. After the two cruxes it inevitably became a redpoint, but with some badly fumbled clips and poor warmup the elbows and eyeballs were out and 'I feel like chicken tonight' was ringing in my ears on the finishing moves. Redpath never shouts "go on Dave!" unless I'm really messing it up and I'm sure I heard it at least twice. So Arcadia was bullied into submission. But who cares, it was fun.
Notes: Steall anti midge tactics - Most feel the only option is to climb with jumper midge defence on, but this only leads to severe overheating at 30 feet and falling off in a midge/heat screaming abdab rage. Ric's tactic was to wear a wooly red balaclava all the way up Leopold (first ever balaclava ascent of an 8a+?) but then Ric wears driving gloves! My tactic is definitely best. Climb with T-shirt on to first shake out, rip off T-shirt and slap one's body with it furiously to fight the little blighters off your pale flesh, before jettisoning and forging on midge free at correct working temp.
Bring on winter.