Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A productive June

June has proven to be quite productive for me so far. I have climbed a lot, and worked a fair bit and got my results back, which I did quite well in.
I have managed to climb 95 routes, according to my UKC logbook. These have been from Reiff and Skye in the North of Scotland, see my previous blog post, to Heptonstall in Yorkshire. I haven't really done any spectacular on any single trip so these trips haven't merited their own post.
After the road trip I made a trip up to the Salisbury Crags with Joanna, where I repeated the Black Wall traverse and climbed a few easy routes in some of the smaller quarries to the right of the South Quarry. Whilst doing this I re-aggravated my finger injury, which was starting to feel a lot better.
The next day Joanna, Madeleine and I went to Aberdour. The intention was to go to Limekilns but while driving across the Fourth the weather to the west looked much worse than that to the east so we decided Aberdour was a better bet. Here I led Pain Pillar Proper (HVS 5a) and Guismo (VS 4c), while Joanna led Lilly (S). It was a nice day out despite a rain shower as Joanna was starting Lilly.
Aberdour, Gismo (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
On the 13th June I decided to head home and on the way stopped off at Bowden where I climbed a number of boulder problems including a flash of Scooped Wall (font 6b) and working The Lightbulb (font 6a).
Since being at home I have managed a few trips to Almscliff and a day out at Heptonstall and Widdop with Sarah Lund. Highlights include everything I did at Heptonstall; Thin Red Line (E1 5b), Bulls Crack (HVS 5a) and Fairy Steps (HS 4b). Fairy Steps felt about right for the grade but Thin Red Line and Bulls Crack felt hard with TRL being a proper E1, and a very good one too. I can't think of a better route of that grade which I have done.
At Alsmcliff I have climbed lots of very nice routes and problems, and also had to quickly learn how to jam whilst soloing. Highlights have been; Crucifix (sit down) (V4 6a), Crucifix arete (V3 6a), Wall of Horrors (start) (V3 6a) (flash) and Central Climb (VS 4c).
Almscliff, Zig Zag (Photo Credit: Katy Rudsdale)
Hopefully the rain will stop and I will be able to make it to over 100 routes this month.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Skye and the North West

Joanna and I decided to drive up North on Thursday night thanks to a favorable weather report. We drove to Cairngorm mountain where we stayed for the night. The plan was to climb Crystal Ridge but the weather on Cairngorm wasn't great so we drove further North to Huntly's Cave, near Grantown on Spey. Huntley's cave is a small Mica Schist crag which is improbably steep at the grade. I imagine the mica schist, which is a metamorphic rock, would have in a metamorphic aureole around the igneous intrusion of the Cairngorms, although I haven't checked this. Here we climbed a nice multi-pitch route called Diagonal (VS 4c), Central Crack (HS 4b), Cave Direct (VS 4c) and Double Overhang (HVS 5a). Double Overhang takes a corner crack which passes through two overhangs, and looks much harder than it turns out to be.
Double Overhang (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
That evening we drove to Skye. There was lots of very low cloud when in the Great Glen but this lifted as we approached the coast. Skye was cloudless and dry. There was even a little bit of wind to blow the midges away, so it was almost perfect. The EUMC meet to Skye was this weekend too so we drove around campsites trying to find them. We failed in finding them but we did join a beach party in Glen Brittle which had a fire and bag pipes and everything. Later on in the evening we drove to Neist and camped next to the road. We got a leisurely start the next day and arrived at the car park at Neist point at about 10am. Neist Point is a series of impressive sea cliffs, which are over looked by a light house. We climbed at the Financial Sector, which is above a raised beach. The routes here require a 30m abseil to get to the bottom of them. We only climbed two routes, both of which I lead, which where Security Risk (E1 5b) and Venture Capital (HVS 5a). Venture Capital takes a line up two parallel cracks which end in a small roof and Security Risk takes a very crimpy line up a groove, which is harder than it looks.The rock here was Gabbro, which is a very coarse grained plutonic rock. This combined with the relative remoteness of the crag, so it didn't get much traffic, meant that the friction here was amazing.
Security Risk (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
We had big plans for Sunday so we decided to move on to Elgol, which is another sea cliff but at the other end of the island. Elgol, unlike Neist, is composed of Jurassic Sandstone, which is much softer. This produced lots of interesting flaky features but made everything seem a little less solid than Neist. To add to this the rock is covered in a sort of grassy sea lichen. This lichen gave the name to the first route I did, which was called Hairy Mary (VS 4c). This route takes a series of crack up a steep wall of rock. Whilst at the crag we found the rest of the EUMC group, so we took Catherine Marsh along for the climb aswell.
There was enough time for another route so as Joanna's route was taken I decided to climb Veritas Splendour (E3 5c), which takes a steep roof around an arete and then after a short way up the left wall off the arete you swing back round onto the right wall and to the top. Liam Ingram had done it earlier in the day and he told me what to expect on it, which apparently wasn't too much difficulty. I found the steep bit not too difficult, except a long move into a crack around the arete. The hardest part for me, or at least the scariest was the top of the arete, which featured an insecure move, all be it to a massive jug.
Hairy Mary (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
Veritas Splendour (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
That evening, after dropping Liam Ingram and Catrin Nichols off at their campsite, Joanna and I drove to Reiff, which is another sea cliff North of Ullapool. Reiff is composed of Old Red Sandstone. Whilst stood at the bottom of the crag I could see features such as turbidites which suggested the rock was deposited at the bottom of an ocean.
Joanna had the first lead today and climbed Jim Nastic (VS 4c). After this I led Clam Jam (E1 5b) and Bank of Scotland (E3 5c). Afterwards I also soloed a number of HVS's. We were quite tired from our trip by now and decided to head back to Edinburgh, as the weather wasn't looking quite so good for tomorrow.
 I'm sorry this is so long but we did do quite a lot!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Before the rains came

Before the traditional Scottish summer rains arrived I managed another two days of climbing, adding to my recent active spell at the start of June.
On the 4th June Joanna and I had a short day at Auchinstarry quarry in Ayrshire. I led Cats Whiskers, all be it with the more sane arete finish, lowering the grade to E1 5a, instead of E2 5b. Joanna Led Mr Men (VS 4b) and Scream (S 4a).
Cats Whiskers (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
On the 5th June Joanna and I crossed over the border to climb at Bowden in Northumberland. We were going to go to Simonside but the weather forecast didn't look as favorable further south. I began by attempting the Trial (E3 5c). I made it up to the last break but I didn't feel I could commit to the finishing moves and so down climbed, saving the onsight. I managed to do the route clean on my second attempt. I also soloed Bloody Nose (HS 5a), The Shiner (VS 5b), Crab Wall (HS 4b), Woolmans Wall (VS 5a), Sue Direct (HVS 5b) and I also led Handrail (VS 4c).
The Trial (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
While at Bowden I decided to work a boulder problem with a climber who was by himself. His name was Nicolas and it turns out I did the same thing with him at the crags not too long ago. He was working His Eminence, a font 7a+ highball boulder problem. Although I didn't manage to get the full route I did manage to do the short variation on it which goes at font 6b.
His Eminence (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
I will hopefully manage to get some more climbing done despite the starting of the monsoon season. I shall explore the potential perma-dry crags in and around Edinburgh and report back.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Catch up

I haven't written a post in a while now. This is mainly due to exams but the weather also hasn't been great. In my 2 month absence I have finished my second year of uni, moved flat and also injured myself in a number of ways. I have damaged my little and ring fingers on my left hand (not recovered), hurt my shoulder (recovered), hurt my foot (recovered) and then hurt my foot again (not recovered). There may be more but that is all that springs to mind.
I have been climbing in my absence, but most of this has been indoors so not worth talking about. I did managed a day at the Wainstones in North Yorkshire during April, when I soloed a wet diff called Wall and Ledge, which felt quite hard in trainers. On the 16th, after my exams finished, I had a day trip to the Lake District, with Tom Challands. We climbed Brown Slabs (D) at Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale.
Aberdour (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
It wasn't until the 26th May when Fran Coles and I headed to Glen Coe and Glen Nevis for the weekend that I actually started getting productive. We climbed one route on Great Gully Buttress on the Buachaille, Direct Route (HS), and a number of things in Glen Nevis, including Tear (HS), Pine Wall (HS), Razor (VS) and The Gutter (D). On the Tuesday after Joanna and I headed late on to Aberdour, where I lead Guano (VS), just as the tide was coming in. We then decided to move to Rosyth where Joanna climbed Heathy (VS). It rained whilst I was seconding so we decided to call it a day.
On the 1st June Joanna and I returned to Rosyth. I climbed Cathy (VS), which is a sister route to Heathy, all be it harder. We weren't feeling particularly psychey so after a short play around on Philistine we went home.
Joanna and I went to Traprain Law on the 2nd June. It was Joannas first visit, although I had been there a few time. We climbed a good few routes including; Sabre Cut (VS), Wheechs Overhang (VS) and Steptoe (S). 
Loudoun Hill
Today Joanna and I decided to go to Loundoun Hill in Ayrshire. I have never been to Loundoun hill before so was looking forward to seeing what it would offer. We began by climbing The Edge, which is a classic VS arete climb. There are two pitches, although the first isn't very good compared to the second. There is lots of exposure on the knife edged arete. Afterwards I lead Pulpit Crack (HVS), which takes a steep fist sized crack up a pulpit of rock. It has a quite strenous start but relents once the crack has been climbed. Joanna then climed Pulpit Arete (S). We finished the day on The Belk (E1) and Cave Crack (HVS), both of which are worth their 3 stars, and are also very different style of routes.
The Edge
Hopefully the weather will continue and I shall try and update this more often!