Wednesday 8 August 2007

Another week of hardcore climbing with Tweedley

Michael, rain and midges

Michael arrived for some more days of intense climbing. Sport climbing again since the country continued to be awash with rain. We were even washed out of normally perma-dry Steall by the condensation dampness from a sudden rise in temperature (the southerlies finally made as far north as Lochaber!). The warmth lasted barely 12 hours though. Next morning, with a good forecast, we headed into Cairngorm to clean new routes. Autumnal in the glens, baltic on the high plateaus.

A brief moment of sunshine at Steall, so rare I thought I better get a photo

I forgot my thermals, so much shivering later, I had partially cleaned a new climb for the Great Climb programme and was ready to retreat to Aviemore for a cup of tea. Next day we witnessed one of the great wonders of the natural world – what we both agreed was the densest swarm of midges either of us has ever seen. We were scoping out a new crag. We should have known better; warm, pouring with rain, still, and knee deep heather and bog approach. We ran for our lives.

The final day was looking similar as we negotiated the Loch Lomond road in a heady mix of floods, torrential rain, collapsing road and big coaches full of tourists. Two cakes each in Lochgoilhead caf was enough to raise the psyche level to walk into the Anvil.

Dave Redpath on the crux moves of his route Fire Power 8b, The Anvil

What an amazing crag it is – bone dry, while all around it the UK drowns in summer floods. We got cracking. Alan Cassidy’s new route Bloodfire 8a+ was first to go down for the warmup, first redpoint. Next up was Dave Redpath’s route Fire Power. I’d belayed Dave countless times over the three years he was trying this, so I’d steadily built up a huge curiosity as to just how crap those slopey pinches o the crux were. Fortunately, I had vicarious engrams for the crux after watching Dave perfect them a thousand times, so progress was quick. After a couple of near misses I was clipping the belay just as some weak sunshine glistened on the loch and broke the deadlock of bitter winds and intense drizzle. Scottish climbing is amazing when you go to the right place at the right time.

The Anvil psyche is on again for autumn.

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