Petestack Blog

30 June 2009

Completing the Jigsaw

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 11:38 pm

Tonight I did it. January Jigsaw with Henry. And the top part of Crowberry Ridge, the Tower and Stob Dearg again. And what a route it is… Agag’s more devious, but equally logical, twin.

So which is better? Can’t say, because they’re different, but does it matter? They’re both brilliant, quite sensational at their grades and the type of routes you should do again and again. And again! :-)

28 June 2009

Fast and fun in Glen Coe

Filed under: Climbing,Running — admin @ 2:45 pm

Having spent most of this morning working on a couple of websites and feeling the need for some exercise, a quick visit to Glen Coe for a run up to the East Face of Aonach Dubh and solo of the fantastic Quiver Rib (Diff) suddenly took my fancy, so off I went. And it was good, with the full 150m Lower Bow/Quiver Rib combination taking little more than 10 minutes on bone dry rock and the entire road-to-road round coming in at about 78 minutes (NB I’m so fat and unfit at the minute!)…

Saw teams on Eve’s Arete, Curving Crack and Rowan Tree Wall, but had my routes to myself and was up and down while they were all still there. :-)

27 June 2009

Still no Jigsaw

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 3:07 pm

This morning I was back at the start of January Jigsaw with Isi Oakley. But everything was damp from persistent low cloud, the sun just wasn’t breaking through to dry it up and, after waiting three-quarters of an hour in vain for some sign of improvement, we headed off up the Buachaille via Curved Ridge and Crowberry Tower. It’s sunnier now, but Isi’s working later this afternoon and we had to be back. Oh well…

26 June 2009

Glen Coe ups and downs

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 8:30 am

Three nights on the trot out this week, with not everything going quite to plan:

Tuesday evening saw Jamie B and me heading for the North-East Face of Gearr Aonach, where a desire for something quick and straightforward took us up the rather disappointing Bunny’s Route (V Diff). So perhaps it gets a single star in the guide, but we doubt we’d have given a Glen Coe summer star to the long, scrappy chimney (despite good winter potential if it’s ever in condition) making up the bulk of the climb.

On Wednesday, the Polldubh Club became formally constituted at a General Meeting in Fort William, I (somewhat inevitably) agreed to become its first Secretary and we gained our first paid-up members. Exciting times about which I expect to be posting more soon on the Club site! :-)

Last night I was back on the Buachaille with Daniel to do January Jigsaw (Severe), which shares an improbable sense of exposure and lower-grade adventure with the neighbouring Agag’s Groove and many folk rate even higher. But unfortunately Daniel became unwell on the second pitch and I had to take him down on an accompanied abseil from the big block belay shared by both routes. So naturally some mixed feelings here, but no doubt at all that our disappointment at being unable to complete the climb is absolutely insignificant beside the knowledge of having taken the only sensible option and carried out a safe and efficient self-rescue.

21 June 2009

West Highland Way Race

Filed under: Running — admin @ 8:50 pm

This weekend I was marshalling on the West Highland Way Race. Six hours last night assisting Duncan Watson at the Lundavra checkpoint (where I helped to set/maintain the bonfire and saw all the leaders go through) followed by an even longer stint from 5.00am this morning sweeping the course from Kinlochleven to the Fort to bring the tail-enders home. And it was a great race, producing the second, third and fourth fastest times ever and spectacular new ‘sub-17’ PBs for popular repeat competitors Richie Cunningham and local runner George Cairns in third and fourth position respectively. So watching everyone go through after pulling out of this year’s race at the start of the May has also been prompting some serious thought on my side, but gut feeling ATM has to be that taking part is not incompatible with getting the boat afloat if I’m organised, this year’s effort was compromised from the start by the December illness wipeout and May SPA assessment, and I’m currently more likely than not to go for it again in 2010 rather than 2011!

14 June 2009

Cloudburst on Aonach Dubh

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 9:56 pm

Today I was climbing on the East Face of Aonach Dubh with Jamie Bankhead, intent on a ‘smash and grab raid’ before a bright start turned to forecast rain. So perhaps you’ll not be surprised to hear that we did indeed get wet in the end, although just quite how wet was still a surprise to us…

After starting up Curving Crack (Severe, alt leads) on the Weeping Wall, Jamie pointed me at the delightful single pitch Terrace Arete (VS, my lead) above. And this is an absolute wee cracker, with a delicate crux requiring a confident approach as it quickly takes you away up left of the gear ‘protecting’ it, followed by some really good, steep, juggy climbing that had me grinning from ear to ear as I continued up to the top-out. So, with some spots of rain falling as we completed the route, perhaps we should have been content there and called it a day, but things appeared to be brightening up again, we fancied another and that’s how we came to be perched above the first pitch of Wounded Knee (Severe) on the Terrace Face when the rain came on again. Now, Jamie had just led that pitch and we were debating our options as it started to spit while we re-racked for my lead, but (with the top pitch up the ‘imposing headwall’ untenable and no attractive abseil option immediately to hand as this spitting turned almost instantaneously to torrential rain and hail) we were virtually forced into an escape up Quiver Rib (Diff), which I led as quickly as seemed wise through streaming cracks and puddling holds to bring an equally cold and wet Jamie up just minutes later. After which we descended via wet paths, wet rock and several waterfalls to get back to our starting point with a hint of returning sun, but soaked to the skin and thankful that no thunder and lightning had accompanied that particular drenching.

Comprehensively caught out, but able to appreciate the funny side of a potentially serious situation even as we made our way down. So quite a day out, and (dare I say it?) ultimately enriched through that bizarre conclusion!

Glencoe Regatta

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:59 pm

First sailing post (of what you might expect to be many once I get Fly back in the water) for my blog, but yesterday I was Race Officer for the Glencoe Regatta. The morning started unpromisingly with obstinate flat calm and rain forecast, and it took some juggling of the schedule (postponement of the morning race, early lunch and a proposal to run back-to-back afternoon races if the breeze kicked in) to give the day a fair chance. But luckily we got some reasonably consistent breeze in the end, the sun even chose to brighten up the second race, and everyone seems to have gone home happy after getting what they came for when it really looked for some time like they might get nothing. So I guess we ‘got a result’! :-)

Also took 200 photos which I hope to upload to the site ASAP.

11 June 2009

Climbing, falling and biting beasties

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 7:21 pm

Two contrasting evenings’ ‘climbing’ to report:

On Tuesday I was back on the Buachaille with Jamie Bankhead to climb the uber-classic V Diff Agag’s Groove, which I really should have done at some stage over the past 25 years but had somehow slipped the net. And it’s an absolute belter of a route, taking a steep, exposed and stunningly natural line up the Rannoch Wall while simultaneously being easy enough to really enjoy without being overburdened by technicalities or trepidation. So Jamie, having done it often enough before, led the first two pitches (rolling them into one on my 60m single) to leave me the spectacular third and delightful fourth, after which we took the scrambling traverse off Crowberry Ridge for yet another descent of Curved Ridge. And, despite the ‘lowly’ grade, it just doesn’t get much better than this!

Last night saw us back at Polldubh for the Club meet and heading for Secretaries’ Buttress with Twitch still the magnet for me and the VS lead of Jamie’s choice on any neighbouring crag the agreed price for that indulgence. So it’s an unprotectable E1 5b slab and I can count the number of E1s I’ve done on the fingers of one hand (for those who know me, even my left hand!), but I’d shunted it clean first go a few weeks back, love slab climbing and, while you’d be correct in surmising that I wouldn’t just go jumping on any old E1, saw this one as carefully chosen to play to my strengths. Now, just exactly how hard could it be?

Well, having considered and rejected the possibility of side runners in Secretaries’ Direct and/or Super Direct, the only available gear would be below my feet before even stepping onto the slab. And it’s thin. Really thin! As in (bar a pair of little crimpy things to get you started) virtually devoid of anything you might consider ‘holds’ for the hands or feet over the first few metres, and steep enough to make pure padding a daunting proposition. So I placed a nut and a micro cam (‘it’ll pull if I fall but it’s a slow-me-down rather than stop-me piece’) below my feet, thought hard about things and stepped onto the slab for a go. Sounding out the next move up but sensing things weren’t quite right, I started to downclimb, took a controlled slip and landed OK (‘so you can fall off this’) before repeating that whole procedure. Allowing myself one more go, I stepped up, continued up and was surely close to the point of no return as well as cracking the whole pitch when I finally fell off properly while still moving upwards, and this time came bouncing down the slab and ledges below to land considerably more awkwardly several feet below my starting point. So the nut held and the slow-me-down cam pulled, but the ropes were barely weighted because my limbs took most of the impact. The net result being a swollen, grazed right forearm, lesser grazing to left forearm and shin, bruised left heel and somewhat swollen left ankle. And, not surprisingly, the decision that that was that for the night (and possibly even the year) as far as Twitch was concerned. It’s E1 for a reason (IMHO harder than anything on The Pause) and will keep for another time. Although I’d have to say that what happened is the one thing I didn’t expect to happen, because I basically saw myself either doing it or deciding (not for the first time) not to take it on. Not taking it on and falling, because it’s just not the sort of route you’d want to fall off…

Anyway, I was a bit bashed up, but not too badly to head for High Crag and let Jamie lead yet another ascent of Enigma in a hopeful (but ludicrously misguided) attempt to escape the midges, which were starting to top even last week’s on the unbearability scale. And, having knocked out my left contact (despite never having lost a lens climbing before) with a fistful of wires at the top of the route last week, I proceeded to top that by knocking out my right with a fistful of midges at the bottom of it this week. So had to follow Jamie with one blurry eye, which proved to be even more of a liability when we attempted to follow the John Muir Sheep Trail back down instead of the ‘regular’ descent past Secretaries’, After Crag and Dundee Buttress. And had to chuck my clothes straight in the washing machine after removing a dozen or so still crawling ticks between the pub and getting home. By which time I’d long since sworn not to climb at Polldubh next Wednesday if it’s going to be so severely compromised by ticks, midges or any other nasty little biting beasties! :-/

7 June 2009

More solo in Glen Coe

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 6:16 pm

Another fine day with no partner arranged, so I took myself back to the Buachaille and up North Buttress (Mod), which I hadn’t done since soloing it together with Pete Harrop in 1991. With the same huge holds it’s always had and bone dry rock today, it was a joyous romp all the way to the summit, after which a jog down Coire na Tulaich left plenty of time for a late lunch at the Ice Factor (arriving exactly an hour after leaving the top of the Buachaille!) and a whisk round the garden with the mower.

6 June 2009

Solo in Glen Coe

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 11:53 pm

Short of a climbing partner but keen to do something, I took the van to Glen Coe this afternoon and nearly took it straight home again as it started to spit with rain just as I got myself parked. But fortunately I decided that it was still worth a look and set off at a brisk pace for the East Face of Aonach Dubh, where in 1947 the great W.H.Murray had discovered ‘simple and modestly difficult routes [that] all men may climb.’ It was here in 1983 that I’d done my first ever lead (Quiver Rib) and here, the last time I’d set foot on it (a shocking eighteen years ago!), that I’d taken my cousin Eileen up Archer Ridge. So it was clearly high time I got myself back on it and, with the rain conveniently stopping not that long after my arrival and three teams already on the rock, chose the Bowstring (Diff), which follows a faint chimney line up the full 150m height of the face and was the original Murray/McIntyre route from the May 1947 day that also produced Quiver Rib, Rowan Tree Wall and Archer Ridge. And it proved to be a great choice (NB it turns out that I had climbed it before… in 1983!), with some short, steep sections and interesting situations but festooned with superb holds everywhere, although sadly also less attractively adorned on this occasion with some, um, waste and paper poking out from below a stone where it crosses the left extremity of the terrace that leads to Quiver Rib and Archer Ridge… (Note to the culprit: your ‘toilet’ is a route and people climb it!)

Having finished the Bowstring, I was keen to continue to Dorsal Arete on Stob Coire nan Lochan, which Noel Williams had told me was still a worthwhile summer scramble. And so it was, once I’d got myself up the tedious scree below without dislodging any of the larger blocks that might have taken me straight back down with them. It was spitting with rain again, but not enough to put me off, and I was quickly up at the exciting crux fin. While obviously still every bit as exposed as it is in winter, the couple of big steps needed to take this direct went so easily (it’s certainly no more then Mod) compared to the awkward, strenuous and undignified moves I remember in crampons that I’d describe it as delightful rather than daunting. For sure, the rock (being somewhat ‘blocky’ in a way that’s not so immediately apparent when well frozen) both here and lower down requires care, and it’s never quite the classic it becomes under snow and ice, but it’s still a good, fun way to the top of Stob Coire nan Lochan. Which is exactly where I went next, before jogging most of the way back to the road through a slightly heavier shower to complete a great afternoon out. :-)

2009-06-06glencoe1 2009-06-06glencoe2

2009-06-06glencoe3 2009-06-06glencoe4

Older Posts »

Blog powered by WordPress. Feedback to