Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Bumbly Two

Well, my time in Applecrossis rapidly coming to an end and i'm back off down to Fort William for hopefully bigger and brighter things (which hopefully involve a lot more work, a lot more climbing and a lot less sitting around waiting!).

So today Chris and myself decided to make the most of the nice weather (not seen that for a while!) and headed out for an afternoon climb. We aimed for a route called Bumbly Two,  VS4b** which according to the guidebook has excellent, delicate, sustained but poorly protected climbing. Unfortunately this wasn't really what we found. While the route was certainly not terrible it was extremely broken, with far more heather bashing and gardening that actual climbing. There were a few very nice sections of clean, sound rock which gave lovely climbing but these were few and far between. It also seemed a little over graded. HS4b is perhaps nearer the mark?
Saying this we did unfortunately have to miss the final pitch and escape off to the side for a quick getaway as Chris had to be back for work. This looked like it would give some nice climbing for 20m or so but again was considerably more vegetated than we would have liked.
Chris on one of the nicer sections!

The Heather in full bloom!

Me at the 3rd Belay

Still, despite the slightly disappointing route it was nice to be back on the rock after a rather long break!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sword of Gideon.

Yesterday myself and Chris still didn't have any work so after a late night the night before we decided on an alpine start and to have a crack at a route we've both had our eyes on for a while now. Sword of Gideon is a 4 pitch, 3 star, VS 4c and was supposed to have some of the most immaculate rock in the area! So with this in mind we left at the crack of noon... ok well probably closer to 1pm but still! Unfortunately rather than take the normal approach from the road directly below the climb we decided to make a longer day of it and park at the top of the pass, follow the ridge down then descend to the climb. This was all going fairly well until we go to an awkward down climb in one of the descent gullies. We'd only taken one pack between us to save the leader carrying anything on the climb and it was my turn to carry it. Feeling slightly uneasy with the downclimb with the big pack i had a brain-storm! 'I know, i'll just drop it a meter or so onto that grassy flattening... Perhaps not by best idea... About 200m later it finally stopped bouncing and cartwheeling down the gully when it careered into a boulder filed and came to an abrupt stop. Thankfully we'd taken my rucsac (a POD Black Ice) which was lovingly made in Sheffield and can take anything you could throw at it! From its ordeal all it shows was a muddy smear on the front and a tiny pinprick hole on one side. (lets see your Berghaus Arete do that! lol ) Unfortunately my Sigg didn't come off so well and despite still being watertight is probably about half the volume it was at the beginning of the day! And as for Chris' tangerine... well lets just say it wasn't pretty!

So perhaps not the best start to the day, made worse by the onset of increasingly persistent showers but we pressed onto the bottom of the climb, kitted up and the heaviest shower yet started just as Chris began the 1st pitch! Pitch one involves a short vertical wall (only about 4-5 meters) and then scrambling along easy ground to the base of the climb proper. Seconding him up this i began to have serious doubts about leading this in the rain as the sloping ledges of this pitch were sodden. Arriving at the belay however i was pleasantly surprised to find that the headwall was steep enough to have dodged the showers completely! And even better the sun was coming out! Result!

Looking up Pitch 2

Feeling a lot happier geared up for my lead (the crux of the route, a 15m 4c crack) and set off up the beautiful, rough sandstone cliff. The gear was good, the holds even better! Lovely! A brief moment spent convincing myself to commit to a few thinner mover to better holds and a delicate traverse and the belay! Not quite the luxury belay ledges we had on the Cioch, more a small foot square of flat rock to perch on but all good! Chris follows me up, cursing the rucsac that seems determined to drag him backwards off the crag but still manages to second it in good style.

Just past the crux

Swapping lead and gear He makes quick work of the 3rd pitch and then its my turn to swear at the rucsac whilst seconding.
Chris finding good gear on P3

 From here we unroped and soloed the final easy pitch over broken ground before heading to the crest of the ridge and back to the car in beautiful sunshine!

Another great day and another classic route!
End of the day!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Cioch Nose at last!

Today myself and Chris had a day off from our hectic work schedule... Oh if only! Actually its been rather quiet on the Applecross peninsula this last week or so which has meant very little work and a lot of waiting around! So today me and Chris took advantage of the fine weather (which made a nice change!) and headed for the Cioch Nose, a classic four star Severe.

The weather was clear and warm, with a slight breeze to keep the midgies away. We parked at the top of the pass and headed to the radio mast before dropping into the corrie and along to the foot of the climb itself. Chris took the 1st pitch up a large flake with some interesting moves, to the belay from where i took over for pitch 2.
Chris on P1

Here i lead up a shallow and somewhat awkward chimney to a 'magnificent ledge' where we belayed. Chris took the next pitch which makes beautifully exposed moves over a huge drop to the corrie floor. The holds and gear are both good and we were soon at the last belay.
Whatever you do don't look down! (view down P3)

Here i lead up the final pitch of broken ground to the top of the Cioch itself.
What do you mean stop mucking around?!

Its possible to escape from here back to the corrie floor via a south facing gully which looks decidedly unappealing. We opted to continue along the ridge, which involved  a rather intimidating looking scramble up a steep broken headwall to a final pitch of Vdiff followed some fine scrambling and awkward downward steps before returning back to the mast at the top of the pass and a short walk down to the car. This last section was surprisingly good and reminded me of a mini Aonach Eagach and made for an excellent day out!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Back to work!

After several weeks of relative inactivity I've finally packed up and left Fort William for the time being! I'm now based up on the remote peninsula of Applecross working for Mountain and Sea Guides. The weather so far has been pretty variable but generally better than its been over the last month or so. I've been keeping myself busy running sea kayaking sessions in and around Applecross Bay and down the surrounding coast lines and working behind the bar on the local campsite in the evenings. I'll try to get some photos over the next few days as last year i failed completely to get even a single one, but most probably will only update the blog once a week or so to save too much repetition.
Today i was running the morning session for a full day course (2 of the participants are with us for a full 5 days) and look to have the afternoon off for now.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Secretaries Super Direct & Precious Cargo

On Thursday myself and G headed up Glen Nevis after work. I had my eye on a route called Secretaries Super Direct HVS 4c,5a*** This was my first HVS lead of the year, and only my second HVS lead at all. G jumped on the 1st pitch (4c) and cruised up it without even thinking. This psyched me up nicely for getting on the lead on the crux pitch. This is a beautiful slab with some very delicate climbing and some rather spaced out gear. The difficulties start as soon as you leave the belay, with a high step over a ledge to get off the ground. From here it was delicate footwork and small hand holds for some way to reach the next ledge. From here it eased off, with the holds getting bigger and the gear more closely spaced. A lovely route which deserves over one of its 3 stars.
Me on the Crux (photo by G)

After this we headed down to Scimitar Buttress where G has been working a route called Precious Cargo (E5 6a*). We slung a toprope down it and G jumped on to see how it was feeling. After a few practices, working the harder moves and scoping out the gear (1 size 0 cam 9m up!) he decided he'd better get on the lead before it got too dark. He made smooth work out of the route, making it look easy! There was 1 heart in the mouth moment when a foot popped just before he clipped the gear at 9m but he quickly composed himself, clipped the gear and got it done! Good work fella!
I had a wee play on the route and got most of the moves sussed before by fingers finally gave out halfway through the final crux. Nice route but don't think i'll be leading it for a while yet!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sunshine on Phantom

Today myself, Kev and Hue headed back up the Glen for a quick few hours climbing as the weather was so nice.
Kev was wanting to get on the lead on something a little trickier and i was hoping to get another VS tick in so the best option seemed to be combining Pandora (Severe) and Phantom Slab (VS).
These were both new routes to us all which was nice for a change! Kev lead up the 1st two pitches of Pandora which involved an easy slab climb on the 1st pitch and a slightly trickier, very exposed 2nd pitch to gain a good belay ledge.
Kev leaving the 1st belay

From here i took the lead, heading up Phantom Slab. This gave beautiful, delicate slab climbing in a nicely exposed setting, with enough gear on it to stop it being overly worrying.
Phantom Slab

To finish the day off Hue lead us up Pinnacle Ridge (Severe)
Hue on Pinnacle Ridge

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Back to basics

On Saturday myself and Nick headed up the Glen after work to have a play about. Nick is a pretty experienced climber but hasn't done much outdoors so the evening was largely spent going over the basics of placing anchors, rigging different belay setups and such like. To get things going i lead up Pinnacle Ridge (Severe), explaining the principles behind the different belay setups used as we climbed before heading back down to ground level to let Nick have a go at setting things up himself.

He picked it all up surprisingly quickly and was soon looking pretty slick with a lot of the setups. Hopefully most of it sticks!