Monday 22 May 2017

Busy spring

FA of The Mighty Chondria E7 6c, 5c on Creag Mo, Isle of Harris. Pic by Chris Prescott/Dark Sky Media

It’s a good sign when you are too busy being outside climbing all the time to write a blog. Finally it is raining today after quite a few weeks or largely dry and fine weather in the highlands. I’ve been keen as mustard to get out after the general absence of climbing last season. After climbing my project at Arisaig in April, I spent a couple of weeks trying another 8B+ boulder and was ridiculously close for 5 sessions in a row. But for one reason or another, it didn’t work out and I’ve missed my window. It was a long shot anyway. I was losing fitness from being out on rock with lots of rest days and zero training, so you can only maintain a peak for so long in this pattern.

I've got to say, I will really miss the bouldering season. I really really enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. Maybe that's because I focused on it a bit more instead of trying to go mixed climbing in the rubbish winter for snow and ice? Either way, I'm already thinking of next season.

I’ve also been on the trad. First up I went to Harris with Masa, Chris and Nat. We were a bit early and it was baltic. I tried to climb anyway and on one day where it was slightly less windy and cold, I did a brilliant two pitch E7 on Creag Mo called The Mighty Chondria. The first pitch takes the same 35 foot horizontal roof I climbed further right on The Realm (E8) some years ago, this time via a big crack with lots of kneebarring and undercutting madness. That pitch is a fine 7c+ wrestle. Pitch two felt like a grade VIII winter route, and not just because it was almost cold enough to me mixed climbing. It was a highly traditional pitch, with some drips, some chimneying, some great rock, some turf and some darkness at the end. Masa followed me in the dark and we abbed off into the blackness below. 

That was pretty much it for the week, I cleaned another awesome four star E7, but on the last morning it was a waterfall pouring over the crag as the next front arrived and we just retrieved the gear and headed for the Calmac. 

Finishing the FA of Lucky Break E8 6c, Binnien Shuas. So happy with this route.

Since then I got back onto Binnien Shuas and led the E8 which I fell off and broke my leg last September. That was very satisfying and I shall write about that in a separate post as there is a bit to the story. I even got onto the Ben and repeated Trajan’s Column E6 6b with Calum. This felt surprisingly not too bad. Maybe I was just hyped up by the description that made it sound scary? I must admit that because I often do new routes, I sometimes get psyched out by guidebook descriptions. I’ve also been exploring some other new venues with massive potential. More of that later.

FA of The Circus 8a+ at Loch Maree Crag. Yes it is that big! The route is an extension to Hafgufa and was bolted by Ian Taylor who kindly let me climb it. It's an awesome climb, nearly 50 metres long and with great holds and climbing.

Last week I was up at the new sport sector on Loch Maree Crag. I’d seen a couple of pics of the place and it looked really big, steep and waterproof. And of course in a lovely setting as you would expect from a highland crag. It was even better than I expected. I repeated the great existing 8as and Ian Taylor kindly let me finish the huge extension to Hafgufa that he’d bolted which gave a monster 50m 8a+ called The Circus. This was an intensely enjoyable climb with brilliant exposure up the top arete, where the climbing is easier and you can just enjoy yourself. An absolute must-do for anyone climbing at the grade. I’ll be back here with my drill, soon.

Fingers crossed for some more mountain crags type weather coming up.

Cold hands on Trajan's Column E6 6b, Ben Nevis. This is a must do E6, people.

Move it or Park it E5 6c in Glen Nevis. Now without it's pegs but still a well protected route with a tricky move.

Calum Muskett eyeing up a huge arete. Many, many new routes to do here.

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