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Monday, 25 July 2011

Black Mamba

The summer 2011 is a bad one: it rains far too much in Scotland and I struggle to get days in the hills due to conferences and other commitments. But yesterday Arno and I finally managed to walk the long walk from Glen Clova to the bottom of the mighty Dubh Loch. We had a look at Pink Elephant but the top corner seemed soaking and so did a lot of other routes. As there was also a strong wind we decided to play it safe and did Black Mamba, a VS4c classic on the left hand side of the cliff.

We had the whole cliff, 1.5 km X 350 m, to ourselves. The first pitch involves some initially poorly protected slab climbing and the crux of the climb.

Here I am a bit higher up. The angle is deceptive. It is steeper than it looks and padding is not an option. We passed some potentially unstable rock (there was a rockfall just a few weeks ago) and quickly reached the middle ledge for lunch.

Some walkers arrived at the bottom of the loch and lay on the white sand beach.

On the higher section the route finding is tricky. We traversed probably too far left to wet ground but a rib came as a rescue.

We climbed a micro-waterfall chimney directly under the Pink Elephant chimney and needed a dodgy traverse to get to below the quartz corner where the Blue Max, Cyclops and Black Mamba finish. I then went down Central Gully to have a look at our winter route, More Vertigo. It looks impossible from below and I am still amazed that we managed to pull it off. Arno and I met again after Broad Cairn and the long walk back to the car followed.

Good to have a mountain route in the bag. Not a hard one but a good choice for the conditions. Hopefully it'll stay dryer for a while so that the routes dry off properly.


Thursday, 7 July 2011


Yesterday I visited Portlethen for the first time this year. Despite spray and high humidity the rock had mostly good friction maybe due to the Easterly wind. I climbed a few easier classics and then watched Steven Wallce climb 'The Pit', a V6 test piece. A short video is here: