With not much to do and keen to keep up the good form, John and myself headed to the pass of Ballater, where we were joined by Chris. The Pass is a steep granite cliff etched in the side of a small Vally. The climbing here is some of the best roadside cragging in the area and the routes often feel hard for the grade.
First on the list was Blutered E1 5a***. This tough little route has surprised some strong climbers. A delicate traverse (above) leads to the crux, a pumpy crack line that's hard to protect. John had no problems in this one though. Climbing the crack in true grit form, he jammed his way up it! (below) the first time I've seen this being done, I'm sure i heard him saying 'youth' whilst climbing.
I was keen to give Hangover wall, E2 5c, a go. With some hollow sounding flakes and a little loose rock this route gets no stars though it should. A solid 5c move with two old pegs for runners lead to the hollow flakes and easy(ish) though pupmy ground. I managed to get a good rest on route (below) and thus dispatched another E2!
Strawberry ripple*** is probably one of the best VS climbs here. Though short it's very technical climbing up a cracked slab to where the crack ends leads you to the 5a move a surprise if you don't expect it! Chris on the slab below.
John upped the tempo and got on his first E2 lead on Alcoholics anonymous 5b*. After a shaky start, i thought he was going to test the micro nut he'd placed, he climbed the steep wall above on small holds and crimps.
Last but by no means least was silent spring E1 5a***. I planned to climb a different line but thought, and was right, that Chris would like this one. I've seconded the 2nd pitch but never lead. A steepish slab with the last runner being the belay and with near certain ground fall over the lip, this is an exciting route for the bold climber. Reaching 'good' holds (above) after padding from the belay.
Perhaps next time out i can t tempt John to try Dods dead cat?