Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Glen Nevis project videocast III

Hot Aches sent through a nice pic and clip of my project (the hardest one anyway) on the Skeleton Boulder. Check it:

Music by Chris Hall AKA DJ b-Burg


Glen Nevis video podcast II

More progress was made at The Skeleton boulder on the last day of our lovely winter sun. The moves done on a stupendous prow which will go a around Font 8a/+, a new 7b and more thrashing on the really hard projects...

Below is a repeat of the Watson's original problem (which is excellent too!)

Monday, 18 February 2008

Skeleton Boulder attack in Glen Nevis

I've just spent three hardcore sessions up at the Skeleton boulder in the Glen cleaning the somewhat gobsmacking projects there and trying the roof project. Now there is only one move I can't do. The Hot Aches crew have been up filming which is cool, although it's early days on this problem with much work to go. Diff got some cool slow motion footage of me ripping off an undercut and going flying.

I spent a whole day making a new landing above a mega prow with rocks and dead branches. Now it looks like a bear trap! All in all this boulder will yield three inspiring lines at a very high difficulty level. My spring is sorted.

It was such a shame I pulled off the undercut though. I'd just found a beautiful way to do the move that still eludes me using an exquisite drop knee. Now I'm not sure how the move will go. But it will go... Back up there tomorrow with the Tweedley. I'll try and get some photos.

I also managed to climb the lovely Saturn Crack in the Steall Gorge boulders. I started out thinking this was going to be a classic but trivial Font 7a. It turned out that the exit from the crack was much harder than I thought. We gon some cool video which I'll post up as soon as I get a 1394 cable so I can capture from the tape!

Saturn Crack Font 7cish(?) photo: John Watson

Things coming up

Claire just got back from Glasgow airport, picking up a large posse of American slackliners, arriving for the UK Slacklining masters in Fort William this Saturday. Claire is organising the event. It's looking pretty cool right now. Apart from the masterclasses and watching the pros (coming from as far off as the US and Poland!) in action doing flips etc on the line, there should be a good amateur comp too. If you are coming you should enter the amateur comp. There is a quite a good chance of winning a few hundred quid!! Tim Emmett will be on MC and a general party atmoshpere. See you there maybe...
After the slacklining comp I'm doing a spot of MCing myself at the modern face of Everest night in the Nevis Centre. It should be a very thought provoking evening - up for discussion is the ethics of life and death of mountaineers on Everest. Before that I'm in Dunfermline giving a talk on Thursday evening about trad and risk.
Quite a week...
Next on the events agenda for climbers after the Fort William festival is SHAFF in Sheffield. This is a pretty huge event now with a quite a list of impressive film premieres I wish I could be there to see. I have some climbing plans though...

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Ben Nevis from the air

Claire was quite fantastically jammy today. In the blag of the century, she managed to scam a ride in helicopter around Ben Nevis all afternoon with Triple Echo Productions as they got some aerial footage of the Ben for a new film. Afterwards she was quoted as saying 'living in Fort William rocks!'. Not wrong. She's posted some lovely and pretty unusual views of the Nevis range over on her blog. They look well cool. I'm not jealous.......

The full gallery over on Velvet Antlers blog

Perfect day in Glen Nevis, again

Another perfect day in the glen today after work. I'd been waiting for my chance to go back up to the improbable roof that John showed me and see if any of those slopey edges were actually hangable.

The project is sooooo perfect! I could do the first 4 moves, and the final moves. But two in the middle seem very hard but definitely possible. It seems like just the right difficulty level for me to work on, and the most perfect line in an unbelievable location. The boulder sits in a high alp beside a cool little water slide, among huge ancient Scots pines, with a brilliant vista of the surrounding mountains. I'm not normally one for getting all hung up on locations (although I do love the mountain evironment intensely), but this is somewhere I would go, just to visit and do nothing. The fact there is an uber boulder project there (several actually) is just too good to be true.

I have three or four months to work it out and climb it before heat and midges arrive. I'll dub this one 'The Skeletal project', owing to the skeleton resting in the depths of the cave and the fact I'll need to get somewhat skeletal myself to climb out of it. I'll keep you posted how I get on...

Monday, 11 February 2008

New problem videocast - Glen Nevis in the sunshine

Today was a simply beautiful day to be outside. Getting climbing done in Scotland means making the most of whatever the crazy weather throws at you. Today it served up summer, even though less than a week ago it was wild blizzards. I lay on my back on my bouldering mat and got a suntan between attempts today!

I managed a cool new problem – check it:

Basically it’s Pagan Uillean without the chipped pin scars and a rather more beefy finish. Font 7b+ pr 7c, I can’t decide.

A beautiful project, felt stronger on it today, but still can't quite manage one move.

Ben Nevis from Steall this afternoon (Feb 11th). It has lost a lot of snow over the past few days!!!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

New VII on Ben Nevis - Under Fire

Staring at the roof on Under fire

With a top class forecast we were in a rush to get onto the walk-in to the Ben before 6am and get amongst it. After two frustrating failures so far this winter, I was pretty damn determined to top out on one of these new routes. Repeating other peoples routes is so much easier than climbing new routes.

Very happy to finally be out winter climbing

We headed for Trident Buttress and a chimney line I’d spotted with a large roof in it. The roof had some nice continental style icicles on the lip. I gingerly leaned out and began hitting them to figure out if they would take my weight. Err, no. I did a great job of repeatedly trying to take Michael out with huge ice missiles. A swooping throw of the ice axe saw off the roof, But the following pitch didn’t go so well.

Michael suffers with the Hot Aches

I tried to climb a sketchy overhanging wall and spent two hours getting pumped and scared, only to come down in despair. Must get better at mixed climbing…

Thankfully, an exposed traverse round to the left brought us to an elegant corner line, which I dragged a tired body up, dropping heaps of snow, ice and the odd loose block onto Michael who was once again right in the firing line. At least my worst fear of falling off and landing on him from 30 feet up the corner wasn’t realised!

A nice start to the season

Under Fire VII,7* Dave MacLeod, Michael Tweedley Feb 6th 2008

Start left of The Minge, below a roofed chimney. Climb the chimney with hard moves through the roof and the continuation corner above, to excite left onto a ledge underneath an overhanging wall. Traverse left for 5m and round to the base of a large slanting corner (common to 1944 route). Climb the corner and crawl right along a thin ledge to another corner which leads to the top.

New Glen Coe Font 7b+ video

Yesterday we checked out a tip off about a nice new boulder in Glen Coe that Donald told me about. He reckoned there was a roof "with my name on it". I got excited. With Michael's feet in poor shape after the day on the Ben in ill fitting boots, we drove down for a look. It was better that I thought! Lovely clean rough rhyolite and crimpers through a nice overhang. I did the right hand problem in the roof, Bittersweet (Font 7b+). The moves have been done on the left hand problem, which will be seeing further efforts in the very near future.

The vid of Bittersweet FA is below

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Stormy on the Ben

Tried a new route on the Ben yesterday with Michael. It was a bit too hard so I came down. Quite interesting conditions for climbing though:

Friday, 1 February 2008

Velvet Antlers day (again)

Today was a day of watching blizzards outside while bashing the keyboard doing shed loads of work on Claire's Velvet Antlers site. Fourteen hours later and I got all the Valentines and Easter hampers uploaded and hopefully sorted the site out for ranking in google better. It's weird to think just how much Google matters in so many aspects of life these days. Scary, I suppose, too.
Still, It's been exciting to see my tweaks on Velvet Antlers give a steady climb up the rankings. Early days yet. Come on googlebot, hurry up!!!
The next two days I'm at the Ice Factor coaching, and then hopefully out for a play in the snow??