Not exactly rapid progress with so much else going on but, three weeks after building the tarpaulin frame for Fly, the decks are 95% clean (approx. six hours of hard scrubbing to test my ‘recovered’ ribs yesterday) and the cover fitted (another cold, wet job today). Have to say I’ve got mixed feelings about this particular tarpaulin (chosen for its combination of 5m x 4m size, decent weight and transparency) since it turned out to have reinforced strips rather than eyelets for the tie-down points and a couple of the holes I put through these have torn/distorted noticeably on first use. So naturally hoping it’ll last the winter without constant attention, but half expecting trouble with the next strong winds! :-/
18 October 2010
16 October 2010
Just back from a wee trip east with Jamie B, with some contrasting climbing at Dunkeld and Ley Quarry sandwiching an ascent of eastmost Munro Mount Keen…
Stopped off at Polney Crag on Thursday to climb Kestrel Crack (Severe), Consolation Corner (V Diff), an approximation to Beech Wall (HS) compromised by wet streaks (the top corner was dripping) and the steeply delightful little gem of Ivy Crack (VS), which I fortunately managed to lead quite nicely under the scrutiny of Graeme Watson and partner, who’d done it just before we got to it.
Next stop Mount Keen, but how to get there when it wasn’t our originally-planned hill day, the 28-year-old map we dug out of my glove compartment neither shows the current main road nor extends far enough north and we were looking for the wrong glen? Try just driving round and round Angus in the dark, marvelling at the number of tractors with trailers on the road (yes, it’s prime farming country) and trying to reconcile the signage with the map till the penny drops and you’re heading up the right glen! After which we dossed for the night before cycling up Glen Mark from the Glen Esk road end, stashing the bikes somewhat prematurely above the Ladder Burn when we started to run into a few gravel traps (turns out we could quite easily have taken them most of the way to the summit) and continuing into the mist and chilly breeze by foot.
Quite a few folk making their way up as we got back to a much busier car park by lunchtime with Jamie determined to squeeze some more climbing out of the journey home. So tried phoning my mate Campbell in Kirriemuir re. a guide to/possible company at the quarry there (too recently developed to make North-East Outcrops?), but decided to skip it when he turned out to be heading home from Yorkshire and thought we’d have to go to Dundee to get one. So off to Ley Quarry instead, eventually finding this hole in the ground (which Jamie seemed to quite like!) after a few more little diversions with many more tractors and stopping to play on the few ‘easy’ routes there. Of which Jamie did three and I did one (twice!), repeating the corner of Cat Scratch Fever and finding its innocuous-sounding F4 (a first outdoor bolt route for this sport-climbing sceptic!) pretty well equivalent to full-on, pumpy VS. But all good things come to an end (or maybe all holes in the ground come to a good end?) and we were back on the road not too much later and home by a pretty reasonable 8:30pm.
13 October 2010
Just had my brother Angus here for the weekend, collecting him from Tyndrum on Saturday and nipping up the Buachaille by Curved/Crowberry Ridges on the way home.
Climbed the great classic Severe (surely not HS?) Ardverikie Wall on Sunday, some 20 years after my only previous ascent. Ran pitches 1 & 2 together (the guidebook pitch 2 is brilliant, taking contorted jugs up a steep rib I still remember after all those years before finishing up a run-out slab), then later 4 & 5 after rejecting the low belay spike and most awkward stance of the route in favour of climbing on with my 60m ropes. Thought the big crack (strangely avoided on the first ascent?) of guidebook pitch 3 excellent, but was surprised how quickly the ‘crux’ of the supposedly stunning pitch 4 gave way to much easier ground and enjoyed my big ‘combo’ pitch all the more for keeping up the interest there. Also don’t know why I took a chalk bag (see first photo) up the route because I never even used it once!
Now, you might deduce from those photos that Sunday’s weather was as good as it gets here for the time of year but, with the wind dropping and the sunny blue sky staying, you’d have run out of superlatives to describe a perfect October Monday’s cragging with six routes/nine pitches in T-shirts in the stunning setting of the Ardnamurchan Ring! Did Oswald (HS), An Toiseach (V Diff), Yir (VS), Crater Comforts (VS), An Deireadh AKA Krakatoa (Diff) + Severe finish and Greta Gabbro (VS), with Angus leading An Toiseach and the first pitch of An Deireadh although I’d also have given him the second pitch of Crater Comforts if I’d known how sub-VS 4c it was. Thought Oswald quite nippy for HS with poor gear just where it’s needed most and the first pitch of Crater Comforts fair at VS for similar reasons, but that second pitch is a romp (low exposure, straightforward gear and more like 4a?) by comparison. To continue this contribution to the great Ardnamurchan grading debate, I’d place the supposedly soft-touch Yir (after my second ascent) squarely at VS 4c (technically more sustained on its main pitch, but comfortably protectable), but agree with those who’ve suggested Greta Gabbro (my third ascent) to be soft at the grade (really just one or two slightly tricky/bold moves, so maybe VS 4b?).
Might just add that (with the smaller Corran ferry running off the temporary pier in daylight hours only) we’d planned from the start to climb all day and drive round Loch Eil for a chippy in the Fort on the way home. So that’s what we did, topping out from Greta Gabbro at c.6:15pm and stopping up the south side of Loch Eil for a few minutes some two-and-a-half to three hours later to gaze at a spectacular starlit sky. Maybe going to get another weekend with Angus before he flies back to the States in a fortnight but, considering it’s October and he just flew over Thursday/Friday with this past one earmarked for climbing weeks back, how jammy is that?