Sunday 21 June 2009

Cubby's arete went down

Mid crux on Kolus E8 6c, Torridon (click on the images for a large pic)

It’s a funny thing, that just because it’s thought of as being remote, there’s still not that many people that know how good the north west of Scotland is. I suppose it’s a good thing, for those that know. Torridonian sandstone is one of the finest rock types I’ve ever seen. It’s very similar to Gritstone and, sometimes, Northumbrian sandstone, but better on the whole, than both.

Dave Cuthbertson told me years ago about a really outstanding quality arete project he’d been trying that would be E8 7a at least. He spoke about it several times, and eventually told me where it was and to go and try it. I knew by the way Cubby talked about it, that when I finally went there, I would kick myself for not going much earlier. And so I did.

If it was on grit, the arete left of The Torridonian on Seana Mheallan would be one of the hailed true grit classics. But it’s in Torridon, so it’s sat there quietly, just being perfect on it’s own, with hardly any climbers knowing about it.

Yesterday I had a chance to go there with Jamie and Claire, feeling good, with a cold wind forecast. At first we thought it might be too cold to even get warmed up. Fully baltic! Gritstoners should try this place out rather than be starved of friction over summer in the English heat.

During the past three months, nearly every time I’ve gone climbing I’ve felt guilty because I’ve been so behind with all my work because of the volume of it and other things going on. But now finally I’m getting within spitting distance of catching up with overdue work and after a good 14 computer screen hours the day before, I felt justified in going climbing for a whole day without worrying about late work. I want more of that!

I got a bit of a fright snapping an important pebble foothold off at the crux on my last toprope practice. Scary stuff. Thank god it wasn’t on the lead. Jamie said he got a bit nervous when some really big gusts of wind were whipping around the arete just as I was heading for the crux on the lead. It was really windy but it amazed me how the second I started climbing, the wind didn’t even register in my consciousness. For me, everything was completely silent until I was holding the jug on the lip of the slab.


Beautiful Glen Torridon

After my lead was done, we went off to try two more amazing projects, possibly even better in quality, with quite exquisite moves on grit smears. One of the routes, I’m hoping could get led on the next visit, the other is E10. Enough said.

If the summer can keep producing routes like this, I’ll be a lucky man. Claire shot these photos. But we also shot a little footage of the hard part of Kolus with the camera just running on the tripod. I’ll post up a wee youtube shortly.

Jamie sorts out ropes

Mid June in the sunshine. Still baltic!


  1. Truthfully Dave, that line looks incredible!! I hope that it climbs as good as it looks.

  2. Anonymous22 June, 2009

    Hey Dave mich here, nice one!!!Really made me want to get of this heap of metal and be out and about. Man i shouldnt of logged on. Oh well 5 days. Glad to see its cold there. Its freezing here.

  3. Anonymous22 June, 2009

    Dave, have you repeated Conquistador yet?

  4. Anonymous23 June, 2009

    Looks like an incredible route in an incredible place. I'd seen pictures of Thunderbird before and now I'm even keener to make a trip to Torridon.

  5. Anonymous23 June, 2009

    "But it’s in Torridon, so it’s sat there quietly, just being perfect on it’s own, with hardly any climbers knowing about it."

    Ouch! Repetitive and ungrammatical. That first "it's" is fine, second "it's" questionable, third "it's" clearly "its".

    Sorry ...

  6. Nice one Dave, looks amazing

    "Gritstoners should try this place out rather than be starved of friction over summer in the English heat."

    Agreed, although not in Torridon, I visited Reiff recently and couldn't believe the friction of the sandstone, you're spoilt in the northwest!

  7. Anonymous24 June, 2009

    wonderful blog! really makes me want to go back to Scotland everytime I come here! keep going!

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