Sunday, 29 January 2012


Joanna and I decided to head to Ben Nevis this weekend, MWIS said it was going to be nice. We set off on friday night, escaping the party which was apparently going to be in my flat, and arrived at the north face car park just after midnight. We folded down the seats in the back and got to bed as tomorrow was going to hopefully be quite a big day. As it turned out getting up at 6.30 am was quite late by north face car park standards and we followed a lot of teams up the Allt a'Mhuilinn. The aim for today was to do Cutlass a VI, 7 on the douglas boulder and then finish up the alpine preportioned route Tower Ridge (IV 3). We geared up at the CIC hut, where we saw Simon Yeardsley, who had been staying there for the BMC international meet, and walked the short distnace to the bottom of the route. I had done the route next to Cutlass, Gutless (IV 5), ealier in the season so we found it with out too much difficulty.
The first pitch is described as being easy slabs but I did not find them easy. I may have taken the wrong route or there wasn't enough good ice on the rocks and it felt quite sketchy, so I was glad to find a good gear placement about half way which gave me the confidence to continue and get to the first belay.
The second pitch was the much photographed crux corner. A steep pull into the corner, which is just slighlty on the slabby side, and I was fully committed. The gear is ok and not too hard to place although it is quite well spread out. The crack in the corner was just wide enough that I could fit my knee in and so have a rest, so I didn't find this bit too strenous.
(Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
Knee Jam rest (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
The 3rd pitch takes a narrow chimney and then a cracked wall onto South West ridge. The Chimney proved to be quite hard. In hindsight I should have hauled the bag from here as it made the Chimney very difficult for Joanna, ending in her falling off.
Joanna lead the 4th pitch which she did up until a tricky step, where I took over and continued to the top. It was getting quite late now so we decided to abseil into the Douglas gap and walked out, instead of finishing up tower ridge. We arrived back at the car at about 8.30pm, resulting in a roughly 13 hours, car to car, day.
Joanna on the last part of South West ridge

Looking down South West ridge (IV 5)

Number 5 gully area, with the trident buttresses just in the cloud

Monday, 23 January 2012

Glen Coe condition 21-22.1.12

This weekend was the first EUMC trip of the year which was heading to Glen Coe. There were quite alot if us so we had booked out both the Alex Macintrye hut and Manse Barn.
On Saturday James, Hugo, John, Chris and I got an early start and were walking into Stobe Coire nan Lochan by 6.30. It was pretty warm in the glen and the snow level was quite high but once in the snow things seemed to solidify pretty nicely. Our target was Central Grooves, just like everyone else we talked to that day. It was however looking quite black. Most of the coire looked black except for parts of summit buttress. The obvious ramp of Scabbard Chimney (V 6) looked good so we headed over and geared up. There was some unconsolidated snow in the chimney but other than that it wasn't in too bad nic. There were some fun little bridging moves on the second pitch, I'm starting to come round to the idea of bridging now, and all the belays were insitu, which was handy.
James on the 2nd pitch of Scabbard Chimney
On the second belay we were joined by a pair on Spectre. One last pitch of hard climbing and we decided to make use of the insitu abb point and miss out braving the strong winds on the summit. Other routes climbed that day were Twisting Gully, NC gully, Boomerang Gully and Dorsal Arete.
After another 5am start on Sunday I met up with Tom Challands and went to climb Crypt Route (V 6) on Bidean nam Bian. Things were looking pretty bad on the walk in with a waterfall coming down a line on the left of Stobe Coire nam Beith, but we pressed on as we'd already come a long way. Most of Church Door butress was looking black but there was some good ice in the gully of Crypt route. Tom lead the first pitch and belayed inside the deep chimney. It didn't feel too bad to second until I got my boot stuck!
Crypt Route
I lead most of the rest of the chimney but belayed in the cave before the 45cm hole. The route finding wasn't as bad as expected and I only went up one dead end. After the hole, which Tom only just fitted through, we followed a thinly iced flake route to the top.
Tom squeezing
No question about this being in winter nic. (Photo credit Tom Challands)
The rest of the group either went walking or to Stobe Coire nan Lochan were Raeburn Route and SC Gully variation were climbed. Twisting Gully was apparently rammed and Twisiting Gully Right Fork looked thin. The Aonach Eagach ridge was looking good too.
Check out Toms blog for his take on the day.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

New Places

I have been trying to extend my horizons by visiting some new crags. In light of this Joanna and I headed off to the Cairngorms on Friday morning for some pre-university wintering. On friday we headed off up Coire Ciste to Creagan Cha-No, a newly developed crag on the eastern edge of Cairngorm. The walk in was nice and short and we arrived at the top of the crag by about 10am. This crag is only about 70 meters tall and there are a few hard routes dotted around. I was wanting to have a go at Falked Out, VI 7, but it was completely black so we moved abit further down the crag to the Arch Wall buttress. Smooth as Silk, VII 7, was looking good so we geared up and off I went. The first pitch followed a turfy groove to a big snowy ledge. The turf wasn't as frozen as I'd have liked but it wasn't too bad.
Me on the first pitch
I reached the big snow bay and set up a belay. I had to thread a small chock stone in a thin crag, which took abit of work.
The second pitch took a steep crack to the top and would provide the crux, as the first pitch didn't seem too hard. I traveresed out from the belay and managed to place some good gear in the bottom of the crack before bracing myself and heading into the unknown. There seemed to be a couple of little crux sections. Firstly gaining the crack past a hanging block and then secondly leaving the crack again, having to make use of some very small footholds.
Pulling through the second crux
Joanna managed to second me up this with not too much drama, despite it only being her second winter climb, so I figured she should probably try and lead something. We went back down to the base of the crag and managed to find the start of Jenga Buttress, III 4. Atleast I think it was the start, its not actually on the topo. Joanna set off up the first pitch following some turfy ground to the start of more blocky terrain.

Joanna on her first winter lead
It was starting to get dark now so to speed things up abit I lead the second pitch until just before the top where the rope drag was starting to get abit too much. Joanna ran up the final few meters and we began the short walk out to the Coire Ciste car park.
We headed down into aviemore for some food and a drink. While sat in the pub we checked the weather and planned what to do on saturday. We decided to go for Castle wall on the Shelterstone. The guide suggested it was a III but I have now found out that this is a mistake and it is actually a IV 5. The shelterstone is actually a big bolder with a cave underneath it, where people shelter. One side of the cave has been blocked up with a drystone wall and although it is abit of a grotty hole im sure I'd be delighted to find it if I was benighted.
The shelterstone crag is a large crag in the Loch Avon basin with some hard lines up it like Stone Temple Pilots, X 9, and the Cittadel, VII 8.
For further details on my climb on the shelterstone check out my previous blog post shelterstone conditions report 14.1.12 but here are some more pictures.

Shelterstone conditions report 14.1.12

Joanna and I got an early start on saturday and headed over to the Shelterstone Crag. I've never climbed on the shelterstone but with blue skies and very little wind things were looking good for a nice days climbing.
There was lots of hard snow and some ice walking down Coire Domhain into the Loch Avon basin. With some fresh snow this could pose a substantial avalanche risk. On the way we saw a couple of parties making use of an iced up looking Hells Lum.
Looking up at the Shelterstone I could see alot of bare rock but I was hoping that our route, Castle Wall, would be holding abit more snow, as it is only a III and therefore unlikely to be as steep as other routes on the crag. There didn't look to be anything else actually "in" on the whole crag and the likes of Sticil Face will take abit of forming.
Not sure exaclty what goes up here but its not "in"
The route itself took lots of turfy ledges up the ridge to the right of Castlegate Gully. The guide may say that this is a III but some of the climbing was much harder than that, the UKC grade of IV 5 sounds abit more accurate. The climb turned out to be in an accaptable condition with lots of well frozen turf and provided some excellent positions.
Joanna on the snow arete on the 5th pitch
We topped out at just before 3pm and began the long walk back to the Coire Cas car park. On the way I actually took a picture of a white Hells Lum. I took a look down the top of a few of the easier gullys in Coire an t'Schneada but they were looking abit bare. The top outs for Alladins couloir and Central Gully weren't holding any snow.
Hells Lum

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Newtyle mass sendage

It was back to Newtyle quarry today with Adam, Greg, James and Joanna. We got an early start so that we could have as long on our respective routes a possible. Adam was trying Torchlite, Greg his project and I was attempting Fast and Furious. James, who had managed to do Torchlite on his previous visit, was camera man.
To warm up me and Joanna went down to Doorjamb slab. I red pointed Roofiliscious, which Joanna seconded, and also onsighted Bonzai, D4.
Once we'd both done Bonzai Greg came down asking if he could have a belay as he was going to have a go on his project. He was going to need two ropes to reduce rope drag, as the route was so long and wandering. He gave it a good go and managed to clip all but the loweroff where he dropped his axe, ending his first redpoint attempt of the day.
Greg battling away
Joanna and I headed down to the Doorjamb slab for abit longer after this. On monday I didn't feel like I was using my feet atall well so I was trying to carefully place my feet on little features and keep my heels still. After belaying Joanna on Grooviliscious, D4, we headed back up the hill into the tube. When we got back we heard that Adam had managed to tick his project of Torchlite, D11.
I was next up to tie into the sharp end. I borrowed Greg axes today. They are Grivel Force Alloys and feel pretty amazing. Before starting I decided that I was going to be decisive with my movements and hit get the hooks first time. I started well and managed to remember the sequence well up until the 3rd clip where I lost my feet a little. I composed myself and managed to make it to the twin slots before having to take. This was by far my best link up of the route so far. I dogged up to the chains making sure I had the rest of the moves wired.
Greg on the top slab of TBBW
Greg was ready for a burn on his project next. He crusied through the lower sections, changed rope, and battled through the pump to reach his previous high point, despite cutting loose a couple of times. Greg reached the lip of the roof and, making sure that he didn't drop his axe again, mantled onto the final hanging slab. He managed to remain focussed an not celebrate too early and clipped the chain. Greg named the route "The Big Bad Wolf", after a song which he played when working the route, and graded it D12.
The pressure was now on me to get a day of mass sending in the tube by ticking Fast and Furious. I stood at the bottom waving Gregs axes around, as I was going to use them again, trying to get the sequence dialed in my head. After a quick cup of coffee and some food I was ready to go. I was feeling quite nervous but really psyched after seeing Greg on his route. I started badly messing my feet up but this must have got the mistakes out of the way as I remembered the sequence perfectly up to the slabby shelf. By this stage I was getting pretty pumped and had to swap bettween fig 4's and fig 9's to allow myself to recover. Once the lactic acid had drained out of my arms I pulled as hard as I could and managed to hit the next hold perfect first time and them up to the last hook. All I had left to do was clip the chain, easy right? Well actually no. I was so pumped that reaching behind my head to clip the lower off was proving hard. I hung around for a while, alternatively shaking out again, before pushing down as hard as I could on my front point and clipping the chain. I did a pull up on the final hold to make sure there was no doubt about my ascent and lowered to ground. This was my first D10 and I did it on my 5th attempt, so I'm pretty pleased really. Im not sure how much part my recent schmoolz training had on my ascent but they must have played a part.
Me just before the chain on F&F
Adam had a quick go on Too Fast Too Furious, the extension to Fast and Furious. A block had fallen out, which provided one of the crux hold, so he had to work a new sequence. Adam managed to reach the Torchlite loweroff, which is past the lost hold, so the route is still possible.
Adam on TFTF
I decided to have a quick go on Torchlite but I was abit too tired and it was quite hard so I didn't get too far.
All in all a pretty good day, and now I think I deserve a day off before heading back up north to make the most of the cold weather which is on its way.
Greg has a write up on his blog too.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Back Bowden

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been beaten up after yesterdays Newtyle sesh but I had planned to go to Back Bowden with Joanna so off we went. It was reasonably warm, well warmer than last time atleast, and the wind wasn't too strong. We had the crag to ourselves which was nice too. Back Bowden is a sandstone crag in Northumberland. The crag shows lots of nice sedimentiary features although there are far too many to describe here.
We set up beneath The Sorcerer and bouldered around for abit. Last time I was here Tom mentioned that the sorcerer is supposed to be a good route so I figured I might as well go for it. After abit of a battle to do the starting boulder problem, it's harder when you've got a rack on, I mantled onto the hanging slab headed for the groove at the top. The last bit wasn't as hard as the start but still felt quite nice. I had to abb to get the gear back as this was Joanna's first time climbing in 3 weeks, thanks to christmas, and the boulder problem at the start is quite hard. I also managed the start of sourceres apprentice, which is a steep font 5+, just next to the previous route.
Me on Sorcerers Apprentice
 We moved further down the crag to beneath Morgan which I wanted to have a look at. I have bouldered the start of Morgan before, font 6b, and I figured that the end wouldn't be too much harder, if not abit easier, as the route as a whole is given E5 6a. As I had already blown the onsight I decided to abb to check out the gear and holds. The gear looked pretty good with loads of small pockets around and even a thread. I ended up trying it on toprope instead of getting straight on the lead and i'm glad I did as I popped off just before the thread, which is the first real piece of gear. I got back on and managed to find the hold I needed but I decided to leave it to another day. If I get it it will be my first E5, or first of anything harder than E3.
After playing around on some boulder problems we headed back to Hazel Rigg wall. Here I managed to work out a few more moves on Hazel Rigg wall traverse, font 7b. It feels pretty hard and those moves will be difficult after doing the start of the traverse but its something.
Hazel Rigg wall traverse
 Despite not getting very much done it was quite a nice day out and im pretty psyched to head back again now.

Monday, 9 January 2012


Today I headed to Newtyle Quarry near Dunkeld with Adam Russel, Greg Boswell, James Dunn and Adams dog Holly. I had asked Adam if he wanted to go head to Coire an Lochain to make the most of the cold weather and climb the Auricle but he was heading down to Newtyle with Greg and James. I had never been to Newtyle before and I was looking forward to having a go at some of the super steep routes in the tube. The tube is a cave which burrows into the ground and has a rising floor meaning that no matter how far up a route you are you're still about the same distance off the ground.
Newtyle quarry is an old slate quarry. Slate is a type of metamorphic rock with a mudstone protolith. I would have liked to have shown some nice sedimentary features still present however there were too many scratches on the rocks to show the small ones, except small scale bedding. The rocks here have obviosuly been tilted quite alot in the past. Mudstone, like any sedimentary rock, is laid down in flat horizontal planes, called beds. These will be preserved to some extent during metamorphism. The beds here create the steep slabby walls around the tube, so indicating that there must have been some intense tilting of the beds during metamorphism. 
After giving Adam a belay on his project I tied in and with a pair of borrowed fruit boots, Thanks Greg, I set off up the fast and the furious. The moves all seemed really powerful and I didn't really trust my feet on anything so it wasn't long before I was off. The hooks were much better than I imagined they would be as almost everyone was a sinker. I managed to finish the route but it was far from clean. I must have been much stonger during the sts, or my footwork was that poor today, as I really struggled on it.
I sat around abit trying to recover and took this time to take some pictures, although most of them seemed to be blurred. James tryed his project of Torchlight, D11, and managed it on his second attempt of the day.
Later on I went out side to climb on the slab, which was a more achievable introduction to outdoor drytooling. I managed Groovilicious, D4, and fell off Roofilisious, D5, when something popped, although im not too sure exactly what. 
James clipping the chain on Torchlight
Next saw greg attempt his huge link up project which finished out of the tube. The line took in climbing from atleast 3 different route and an unclimbed finish. After working a few of the moves greg was ready for an attempt from the start. He did well and managed to achieve a new high point just before the lip of the cave before he had to take.
Greg on his project
Adams main project for the day was Torchlight, like James. He had a couple of good goes on it, getting pretty high each time, although he didn't manage to get it clean. I don't really have any photos of him on this but I do have one which I like of him on the fast and the furious which he did at the end in the dark. My camera flash didn't seem to want to work so the only light was from his head torch. 
Adam climbing in the dark on the fast and furious
Im really psyched to head back here again soon. I never thought I would be hoping that winter condition don't improve too much!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Holyrood again

Today I headed out to holyrood park for a climb on Haggis Knowe. I was still pretty tired from yesterday so I took my time waking up meaning that I didn't set off till quite late. I found a reasonably steep short wall over looking the road so I set off to boulder around on this.
The steep wall
I did a few traversy things and one short route which went up a vertical wall into a nice scoop with a small overhang above it. It was probably no harder than severe but pretty good fun.
There were lots of little vesicles, frozen air bubbles, around which had been infilled with either quartz or calcite. I presume its calcite but I didn't have any metal objects on me to actually check, calcite scratches but quartz doesn't.
I left the crag as soon the sun was starting to set and went for a walk around the park. On my way I had a look at the sill just below the long row. Its formed from micro gabbro and has some interesting features on its top surface. There are lots of parallel lines which to the untrained eye may be assumed to be glacial strai, thats what I thought they were to begin with, but are infact ripples at the hot magma was injected bettween layers in the rock.The photo below shows them, although they are hard to see.
Injection Ripples
On my way back I had a look at some sandstone at the end of the crags. I was going to take a picture of the sandstone-dolerite contact but instead I got distracted by some interesting features in the sandstone. Initially I saw some cross laminations but they weren't as obvious as another feature. Im not too sure exaclty what this feature is, although I have narrowed it down to either load casts of convolute laminations. What I am sure of is that they are examples of soft sediment deformation, so before the sediment has been fully lithified. I am also pretty positive that the sandstone I was looking at is of a sub-aqueos origin.
The sandstone as you can see in the picture is red and the grains were reasonably coarse.
Mystery sedimentary structures
Overlying this was a very light brown sandstone with smaller grains, possibly showing a change from a sub-aquean to a sub-aeolian environment. I will have to go back earlier in the day, with my hand lens, so I can see any structures, to make sure of this though.
On my way home I went into the CSE were Gerry was setting some boulder problems so I helped out. He set two routes using a total of five holds. One made the most of the features on the featured wall and the other was a bridging route up the chimney.

Hells Lum

Yesterday saw me visit the Cairngorms for the first time in 2012. I was going to go for a walk to look at Creagan Cha-No, a newly developed crag at the top of coire ciste. More details on the crag can be found on Simon Richardson's blog. Like the past few days I was climbing on igneous rocks, but this time of plutonic origin. Cairngorms granite is nice and pink and form lots of rounded breaks, which look useful but really aren't.
Have I ever told you that I dont like chimneys? Well I dont, I think they are the devils work. In light of this Tom, me and Dougal, Toms friend from school, headed over to Hells Lum to climb Deep Cut Chimney. Deep Cut Chimney classic IV 5 and is pretty famous for having some pure back and footing moves at the top.
Ive only ever been to Hells Lum, and the Loch Avon basin, a couple of times all of which being in the summer. The long walk in always put me off. We managed to get to the bottom of the route in about 2 hours, which is hardly a long walk in. Maybe the lure of Coire and t'schneada has always been too great for me.
A very black looking coire an t'schneada. The bit in cloud at the top is pygmy ridge and Alladins mirror is the snowy ramp on the right

We walked from the coire cas car park and up over the goat track onto the plateau. The wind was pretty strong and we were almost blown up the track. The plateau was in pretty much a white out but we followed our noses to the gully bettween Hells Lum and Stag Rocks. Ive heard of this slope being prone to avalanche, and it was being loaded with fresh powder from the plateau thanks to the Northerly winds. Some of the snow did seem abit dodgey so we hopped across exposed turf and boulders before traversing into the base of the route.
The MWIS forecast I saw said that it would be bettween -1 and -3 degrees at 900m, but we were at 1000m so surely it would be all nice and frozen. Well no it wasn't. The icicles on the boulder infront of us were dripping and there was lots of rubbish turf around. We decided to go for it anyway and Dougal took the first pitch. It was mostly just a snow slope, but the snow wasn't very good which made it interesting.
Tom took the second pitch which seemed to be taking him a long time. When me and dougal followed we found out why. There was lots of unfrozen turf and bad ice around, which made every move feel sketchy, even on second. Me and Dougal agreed that we would probably have backed off if we'd been on lead. We congrigated at the belay and sorted the ropes out so that I could lead the next pitch. Switching leads in a three doesn't work very well as theres a lot of faff with the ropes.
Tom starting up the 2nd pitch, Dougal is belaying

The third pitch started up some ever improving snow. There was a reasonable amount of gear too, which was nice as I didn't really trust anything I was standing or pulling on. I continued up into the depths of the chimney. I knew I was going to have to bridge somewhere, but where exactly? After excevating a massive hole in the snow just before where I wanted to bridge I decided that I would manufactre a belay and bring the other two up so they could try the last little bit. I managed to squeeze two nuts and a surprisingly good bull dog into a crack and brought them up. It was starting to get dark so I got my head torch out with the last bits of light.
Tom was in the best postion so it was his head torch lighted lead. After clearing snow he found some nice ledges and back and footed his way out into space and onto the chockstone in the top of the chimney. From the chock stone we hauled the bags, as they would make climbing very difficult, and he set off to the top. Dougal was first to follow and made short work of it, despite being shorter than Tom, and so had a bit more of a fight with the bridge. I was last and bridged most of it but I gained one of the steep walls, which had some good hooks on it, to get onto the chock stone. A small snow ramp saw me at the top, greated by Toms "bombproof" bucket seat belay.
Bridge for victory!

The route had been out of the wind all day, and thanks to the roof of chockstone at the top had been free from spin drift. The top out showed us what we had been missing all day. 
The white out conditions were no match for my two MIA climbing partners and we were quickly back to the goat track and then another 45 minute walk back to the car. I would probably have got lost without them, I must learn to navigate properly.
Walking out in the dark

We stopped at the chippy in Aviemore on the way home for some artery clogging goodness.
Tom has a write up on his blog.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Holyrood basalt

Today for a change I went for an explore around Holyrood park. Tom had told me about some small boulders next to the innocent railway which runs underneath Edinburgh Universitys Pollock Halls of residence. They were quite small although there are a couple of steep faces with poor slopey crimps which will probably give some interesting eliminates. These boulders are made of columular basalt, which is formed as a lava flow cooled quickly, but not too quickly, above the surface. They probably came from the samsons ribs, which makes up the best rock in the park but it is directly above the road so you can't climb on it, which are also columular basalt.
Columular jointing on the biggest boulder

After this I went to the gutted haddie, a steep wall at the end of, and perpendicular to, the crags. Id been told about this a while ago but id never got round to finding it. I thought it would be made from volcanic neck agglomerate but on closer inspection it was far too well lithified and looked abit basalty, so I figure its basalt. I had a quick climb here, but it was abit too windy and my things were getting blown away so I moved on to Haggis Knowe. I think I could get some pretty hard problems worked out on this. All the holds are either pretty thin crimps or side pulls.
The gutted haddie

Haggis Knowe is part of the long row basalt, which was an ancient lava flow. It is offset from the long row basalt by a fault which runs through the well next to St. Antonys Chapel. The guide book says that theres some quite good bouldering on Haggis Knowe and there does look to be some small steep sections and some nice thin slabs. I was going to climb here but it was getting dark and I saw a wire running up the crag so I went to investigate. I didn't find the end of the wire but I did see the preperations for the race around Holyrood tomorrow, lots of blue plastic tape blowing in the wind.
I headed off to the wall again tonight and saw Emma there who belayed me on a few more things with my Schmoolz. They had got round to setting some more route too including a really awkward 6b+ and a few boulder problems, which reminds me I need to work on pinching.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Schmoolz Review

Ive had a pair of schmoolz for just over a year now and I like to think they that have allowed me to improve my winter climbing and dry tooling ability. Schmoolz are indoor ice axes allowing you to simulate winter climbing or dry tooling on indoor plastic holds without damaging the holds, or yourself, with all the sharp bits.Since using Schmoolz I have managed to finish in an overall second place in the Scottish Tooling Series and pushed my winter grade to VIII 8, all be it not on lead.
Schmoolz look abit like nomics, or pretty much any other technical tool on the market. They have a big lower finger rest, which is abit too narrow when you first use them, and a smaller upper grip rest. The narrow grip rest does mean your little finger can go numb, but after a while this stops happening.
Schmoolz allow you to work the same muscles as you would using real axes, so are a good way of training endurance and strength. You can also train movement techniques, swapping axes and practice just holding the axes. Holding axes sounds simple but you don't want to be over gripping and getting pumped when on your real axe you will have a nice friendly grip rest to use now do you.

Some may say that having a rubber loop over a big jug is going to be more stable than using an axe placement. That may be true but if you branch out from jugs onto slopers things get abit more interesting. In my experience a bad sloper with one of these feels atleast as bad as a bad axe placement. A quick tip: If you want your Schmool to stick on that horrible sloper just stare at it and it won't dare move.
There are some things you can't practice for with schmoolz such as stein pulls and torques. It says on the info that comes with them that your only suposed to hold the wooden handle and not stick it into jugs, so you can't get around it that way.
Id like to see Schmoolz make some sort of indoor crampon, as im really not great with crampons on rock. With a pair of schmoolz crampons and axes your winter training would be pretty much as good as the real thing, if not better as there won't be any spin drift.   
So like the other 7 out of 10 cats I would completely recomend schmoolz to anyone wanting to practice for using axes for real or just finding a new way to climb any of the old problems at your local wall. Best of all they're just really good fun.

Salisbury crags

Today I headed up to the Salisbury crags for abit of a boulder around. Andy Moles has put some nice topos of problems on the crags on UKC so I printed some out and headed up with my shoes. Some bits were wet so I did problems on the slab under neath rotten overhang and black slab, which were dry. By the time I had done those the sun was out of the quarry and it was starting to get cold so I went back home. The Salsibury crags are a dolerite sill and not sandstone like the new Bouldering Britain guide claims, although there is sandstone above and below the sill which can be seen in the Hutton section on the crags and in the small quarry above hunters bog. The sill intruded between beds in the sandstone back when scotland was nice and warm and near the equator.
After the crags I headed down to the CSE. They claimed that they were going to have a day of setting routes, as they took down and washed all the blue holds yesterday. Being the CSE this didn't happen but there was a new 6b of Toms which I did. The main aim of going down was to train with my schmoolz for when the weather decides to play ball. I was working on some things with Sianan yesterday and managed to get one of them, the green 6a on the overhang, which includes a dyno for a large flat hold. The other, a 6b+ on the stepped wall, is still proving to be abit of a problem with a large crux move bettween a good hold, although not deep enough to pull off, and 2 directional holds. I managed the move after abit of work with a big lock off and abit of a wild flail in the right direction. I managed it yesterday too, but with an intermediate hold, and a cut loose so I did it in a much better style today. I will add a review of the Schmoolz when I get round to writing one, its taken me over a year so far! Sorry Schmoolz.

Contemplating the crux

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Starting a Blog

I have decided to enter the world of blogging. I will try and write about my climbing adventures in an interesting (unlikely) way with few spelling mistakes (very unlikely). Ive decided to start one as I have been meaning to do so for a while now and it might keep anyone whos interested up to date on winter conditions, all be it in honey pot locations, I do tend to follow the crowds in that sense.
Despite it being winter ive probably done more trad and boulder routes over the last 2 weeks than I did in the whole of the first semester at uni, im at Edinburgh doing geology and physical geography if your interested. Earlier in December I was on the ben with the STS winners and special guests and managed a couple of IV's and an unclean second of a new VIII 8 with Greg Boswell and Jim Higgins.
Hopefully the weather and avalanche conditions will improve soon, I cant do that much more cleaning in the flat and ratho is closed as the roof fell in!