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Monday, 31 August 2009

Angus Sport

Trad climbing rules in Scotland but good quality sport climbing often in abandoned quarries emerges in various areas. A Scottish Sport climbing guidebook has been proposed for many years now but it is still in the making. When it comes to well bolted sport routes at a level that most punters can climb (French5-6c) with often better weather than in the rest of Scotland then Angus is the place to go. Here Neil Shepherd, Ken Edwards & Co have bolted the Abroath sea cliffs and Angus quarries. Because of poor weather forecasts, time limitations and not much practice Robin and I have spent the last three weekends sportclimbing at Kirrie Hill, Robs Read and in Legaston Quarry climbing from 5+ up to the softest ever 7a published in a guidebook (well, I could do it). Here are some photos and comments about the venues.

Robs Reed (closed from 1st of September for 2 months due to rutting season [the deer, not the climbers, are rutting])
The wall on the right is a mixture of usually solid, crimpy sandstone at the bottom with wall of pebble conglomerate above. Right at the top it can be a bit lose and a couple of pebbles usually fall down during a climbing session. So belayers should either wear a helmet and/or be alert. The following photo shows the main wall.

My two favourites at Robs Reed are ‘High Voltage’ and ‘Squeal like a piggy’. They are hard to get as an onsight because like with many routes hereabouts the holds are hard to find and read.

High voltage 6b+: A series of thin, crimpy moves on the sandstone lower bit leads to the break and a good rest. After a good rest climb the easier but steep crack on not obvious holds to the lower off. An Angus sport climbing classic.

Squeal like a piggy 6b: A thin start to a layback hold, followed to a series of crimps before a reach to a hold ends the hard bit. The crimps are hard to see from below. But it is still hard for 6b once you have worked the moves. The following two pictures show Pete Trugdill working the crimps...
...and finding the jug, belayed by Jackie.

Kirrie Hill
This is all red sandstone, a bit lose but there are nearly 60 sport routes mainly 5-6b, so a perfect vertical mileage venue for 6a-6c climbers but there is plenty for beginners but little for the >7a men and women.

One or the earliest venues to be bolted in Scotland. There are fewer routes but plenty of 5a’s to 6c’s. The grades are pretty good value here and also in Robs Reed while Kirrie is a bit softer. My personal favourite is the ‘flight of the Mad Magician’, a 6b with a fantastic crux followed by long reaches.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Sandy on Islander E3 5c, Whisky cliff

Many weekend trips got Sandy and Brian into very good climbing shape and on Tuesday they climbed for the second time on the rather obscure Whisky cliff on the Aberdeen coast. Brian climbed an E3 6a but got pumped, lowered down and handed the controls to young Sandy.

Sandy then took on Islander E3 5c. The initial bit is balancy and above a ledge the climbing is steep, pumpy and quite technical. Sandy battled hard to get the gear in but managed to continue to climb smoothly to an easier bit just below the grassy top out.

Here is Brian seconding without a problem...

... and here a view of the Whisky cliff and the North Sea at Aberdeen.
Yesterday I also got again a trad session at Clashrodney with Adam and we went for mileage doing Birthday treat E1 5a, Gorgon VS 5a, Cairngorm Club's other crack HVS 5a, Streetwise E2 5b (never 5c) and Schoolboy Alcoholic VS 4c. Adam battled hard and it is good to get going again.
Sandy and Brian were also there and Sandy looked a bit wet due to a hold breaking on sun(water?) lovers traverse. It is a solo traverse thankfully with water below. My personal conclusion: deep water soloing = maybe, soloing = no (it is not only Bachar who ended up as a pile of meat and bones on the bottom of a cliff).