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Saturday 9 January 2016

Glenshee intro

Today Ana and I decided to try ski touring together in Glenshee. I had my touring ski's for a bit but Ana bought them at the end of last season. Here is Ana on her way up following the lifts. 
 We skinned following the lifts for orientation but did not reach the summit of Glas Maol. Here the descent...
 ... and here the last ascent. 
A great day out and an even greater surprise that the ski centre is not open. All the pistes have enough snow and the conditions pretty good. 

Wednesday 6 January 2016

A buttress as a birthday present

With Facebook birthdays cannot be hidden especially at an age where hiding them seems a sensible option. Being in-between jobs I had some time off on my birthday and so Simon and I decided to climb as a sort of birthday present. We drove somewhere, walked up to 900 m and after the early morning gloom a white buttress with frozen turf and some ice appeared. Simon led pitch one which followed turfy steps on an exposed wall. Here he is working his way up...
 ... and here he is closer up. 
 Very enjoyable climbing. I then led a short steep bit to reach the easier angled upper buttress which is some winter scrambling and walking. Some good neve to the top...
We saw nobody all day, and it is this type of adventure that I will miss when I move to Munich.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Season starter 2015: The Seam IV,5

This weekend I had no plans, Robbie and I had earlier agreed to do something together, and snow showers were forecast. So here's Robbie walking towards the Northern Corries to find a "snowed up" route with little turf as the turf would not be frozen.
 Things looked black on the Eastern side of the corrie so we approached Fiacaill ridge which was very snowy in places as the wind had blown spindrift onto the climbs
 We decided to try the Seam as it was white even though I had done it before. Here is Robbie soloing to reach the bottom of the chimney, the proper start of the route...
 ... and here the fault line that will higher up develop into the chimney.
 Good back and footing, all with plenty of gear and hooks. The trickier climbing does not have turf so ideal for these conditions.
 I then climbed the last bit to the top. Great climbing if a little soft for technical 5 under snowed up rock conditions. many great hooks and good gear everywhere.
Robbie topped out at 11.59 h. We scrambled a wee bit over Fiacaill ridge...
... picked up our rucksacks and went to the pub. Winter 2015 has started!

Sunday 4 October 2015

Catterline to Dunnotar castle

Whilst the Pink Elephant (see last post) did empty our energy stores a wee bit, Robbie and I felt that it was not quite sufficient. So we joined Ana's Catterline-to-Dunnotar castle trip. As usual with Ana's trips, the skies were blue and the sun were shining. Here she is leaving the small harbour at Catterline.
 Soon we passed a huge arch. Here is Robbie dwarfed by it. 
 The coast here is rich in features, making the sea kayaking truly world class. Here a waterfall...
 ... and here is Ana washing the front of her boat.
 There are many caves on this stretch of coast and some of them are 50 m long or are long tunnels through the conglomerate cliffs. 
 Here we pass these stunning cliffs...
 ... in two photos.
 Here another cave...
 ... and here is Ana and a nosy seal near by. The seals seemed quite relaxed and followed the kayaks.
 Moira on her way to Dunnottar castle...
 ... which is on a hard-to-invade hill.
 We had a lunch break and sunbathed on the other side of the castle. 
 After lunch the mild wind worked against the tide and it was a bit more choppy, ensuring that also the return journey was entertaining. 
What a great weekend. Scotland has spoiled us for the last two weeks! But the weather will turn tomorrow...

Saturday 3 October 2015

Pink Elephant HVS **

This summer has been very frustrating for me: poor weather, an almost dislocated shoulder in April and a penicillin-resistant chest infection all July triggered a no-proper-climbing summer. But then early autumn brought some Indian summer and we used it last weekend with a kayak trip to the Isle of May and Robbie and I decided to climb on the Dubh Loch this Saturday. As we have signed up for the Dundee 10 miler on the 1st of November we decided to do a jog in. Here is Robbie approaching the forest of the Glittering Skellies walk...
... and here we descend, just before the final climb to Broad Cairn, to the Dubh Loch. 
When we arrived we saw another party on the Blue Max.
We decided to do the Pink Elephant or more correctly the Dinosaur-Pink Elephant combination. It is with 320 m one of the longest rock climbs in Britain. J.W. Stenhouse and B.T.Lawrie climbed the Dinosaur on the 25th of July 1964 and J. Grieve and A. Fyffe then climbed the Pink Elephant above the terrace on the 14th of June 1969. Here is Robbie starting the climb near the lowest point of the slabs. The final groove is high above just below the sky.
The whole climb is a sea of grey granite. This is me on pitch 2 in a photo taken from Alistair Todd who was next door.
Here is Robbie starting ...
 ... and continuing the overlaps on pitch 3...
 ... and here I start pitch 4.
Here is Robbie in a corner above the terrace, the grassy bit that splits the lower from the upper slabs.
I then got a wet 4b pitch which felt much harder as it involved climbing soaking wet overhangs. Here I am preparing to do the crux move of that  pitch.
We reached a good belay before the final two 5a pitches. As I had climbed very little this year I offered Robbie the lead of both pitches for me picking up his rucksack. Here he is high above the Dubh Loch on a good belay.
Pitch 7 involves climbing a tapering slab...
... followed by good moves onto a huge piece of rock and a tenuous move for a knife edge on the left side of the final groove. Here is Robbie preparing the move onto big chunk of rock... 
... checking the moves.
The final groove involved 45 m of slimy rock but luckily with plenty back and footing, a technique well known to winter activists. Here is Robbie at the top.
I went down the spooky central gully with plenty of clean granite from recent rock falls to collect Robbie's rucksack. Back up to just below Broad Cairn and a long rucksack job back to the car which we reached just before 8 pm. Dubh Loch days are never short, especially when jogging in from Glen Clova.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Isle of May

The Isle of May lies in the Firth of Forth roughly 8 km off the Fife coast and roughly a 25 km round trip. It is 1.8 km long and less than half a km wide and a classic sea kayak trip on the East coast. We met at 9 am in Anstruther harbour at low tide...
 ... and over the day paddled this route. Not too much deviation as the tidal streams are not too strong. 
 Here we are about to launch our boats...
 ... and here we leave the Fife coast with Anstruther in the distance.
 Short break on the water...
 ... with very easy navigation. 
 The trip is potentially serious as it is an open water crossing but we had perfect conditions. Sun, hardly any wind and a well matched team. 
 The birds were already gone so we could paddle close to the cliffs... 
 ... which looked great when seen with climbers goggles.
 We went around the Southern tip of the island to land at Kirk Haven on the Eastern side. 
 Big open, summery skies...
 We left towards Fife and numerous seals were following us checking us out from the surface...
 ... and from below. 
 Here Katie and Robbie and a Mackerel fisherman in a wee boat. 
 Robbie close to Anstruther...
 ... and here is Katie returning to the harbour at high tide = less kayak carrying. 
 Summer on the beach...
 ... at the end of one of the best days of the year!