Petestack Blog

27 July 2011

Another day in crag heaven

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 1:00 pm

Summer at last and you might think this the ‘wrong’ time to be sitting inside blogging, but I’m between climbing days, it’s on the hot side for mid-day running and (without looking at any wholesale waste of the weather) I’m happy enough to be hiding from the noon sun right now. So time to tell you about another good day yesterday and a surprising first visit for Noel (who’s climbed just about everywhere else I can think of!) to the Ardnamurchan Ring Crags.

Now, where better to start than the lovely VS slab of Greta Gabbro on Dome Buttress which, having led three times before, I had lined up as a nice wee lead for Noel? Followed by the steeper neighbouring (H)VS of Claude which, having seconded just once and remembering nothing about the moves, looked like a good tick for me. And it’s a great wee route with some surprises up its sleeve, being essentially non-pumpy where it looks strenuous, with good rests (the one thing I could remember clearly) and gear but some quite tricky climbing. So VS or HVS? For what it’s worth I can see the argument either way, with the rests and gear maybe suggesting VS but some of the moves (undoubtedly 5a) just feeling sort-of HVSy! And, having climbed both harder VSs and easier HVSs, I’m still on the fence here.

Anyway, after I’d abseiled back down Claude to get two hands and a nut key onto the walking Master Cam 0 that Noel couldn’t retrieve single-handed on the way up, we moved over to Meall an Fhir-eoin Beag (aka Creag Meall an Fhir-eoin) for the essential VS crag classic tick of Yir, which I’d expected Noel to lead before finding myself back on the sharp end. But Noel led the lovely curving crack (second pitch of Cuil Iolaire) above to keep things nice and even. And then we headed up to the summit knoll of Meall an Fhir-eoin for Fear of Flying (VS) so I could get on something I hadn’t done before (the lure being Gary Latter’s Scottish Rock description of ‘a good route in a wildly exposed position for the grade, following parallel cracks running horizontally left above the overhanging wall’)… but who knows if we did it right or not? So there are three cracks leaving the corner of Pyroclast, with the first being an obvious foot ‘ledge’ along the top of the wall but threatening an increasingly tricky escape upwards and the others (just a few feet higher and more obviously ‘parallel’) which I took being fingery and very, very naughty for 4b (felt closer to 5a)! Not quite what I was expecting either way, with these thin cracks being short-lived but exciting when I’d had this vision of fatter cracks going on for longer, and arguably a somewhat contrived way to leave the more logical Pyroclast corner, but still another good lead for me. And perhaps we were just spoiled by starting with three of the absolute Ardnamurchan classics, so… another day in crag heaven? Overall (with four good routes on perfect rock, stunning sea/island views from our progression up the hill and a perfectly-timed return for the second-last, 9:00pm ferry), you bet!

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