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!

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