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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Traverses for training

Little time, no money and no endurance? Traverses are the solution. Here are two: a crimpy one at the Fraser Noble building and a pumpy one at Dyke's cliff.

1) Fraser Noble traverse: Chalky spots mark a traverse on often tiny crimps. It is about F6b.

The building is located on the Old Aberdeen campus (building 14):

2) Dyke's cliff traverse. The second traverse is at Dyke's cliff at Newtonhill. From the car park walk directly down on steep grass and approach the cliff from the right. It is an overhanging wall with big, now chalky holds all the way. A slimy puddle towards the end focusses the mind. About F6a. It is usually possible after rain.


Monday, 20 April 2009

Weekend of excitement Diabaig

The weather was looking fine and settled for the weekend, Paul was free and I couldn't be bothered with work, so we decided to head to a crag on the West coast that we had both been wanting to visit for a while, Daibaig. This steep slabby Gneiss cliff was developed my Andy Nisbet and Co. In the '80s and '90s. Not much for any climber operating under VS, most of the routes are of HVS/E1 grade, with a couple of E2s to go at.

We started the day on Route two a ****HVS. The first pitch containing a slabby crux move and the second a crack with some difficult over a bulge. Feeling confident I put forward the idea of giving Norhtunberland wall a pop. Described as top of the grade at E2 5c, I doubted it would be a pushover, it looks hard. We drew grass and I drew the short piece thus lost. Climbing was good, a couple of hard moves and the crux was reached. The way ahead wasn't obvious so i tried a couple of ways up then decided I had to go. Pulling up I lost footing and slipped with the rope around my foot wipping me upside down wondering what happened! Paul lowered me down, pulled through the ropes and gave it a bash himself, getting no further than me though giving it a good bash all the same.

Not wanting to let the fall get to me (and we had gear to retrieve!) we jumped on to Black streak, E1 5c. Paul led the crux crack well and I had a bold slabby start to the second pitch to contend with, good for getting the head back together.

Time was getting on so we headed down to the Pillar, E2 5b****. Paul led this in good style, no faffing with gear and not too much shouting! The upper part of this pitch is 5b move after 5b sometimes running out but never desperate.

We called it a day after that and enjoyed a couple of beers and a BBQ at the campsite where I got a fire going.

Sunday started even warmer. We met two climbers from Aberdeen that we knew, Jakie and Pete. Jakie was having fun on a severe. We headed out to look at Con con , HVS 5b, in the sun. Delicate crack climbing then a tricky flake topped with a slab made good climbing in 30m. This felt tricky on lead.

Route three, E1 5b, was next in line. Vegetated climbing led up to a traverse with a technical move took me to the scoop and some slabby climbing lay ahead. A grit style crack loomed above I had the crux so this should have been easy(ish). Not so, Paul climbed it well pulling off a Jack Russle (on leg) move after admitting that 'this is bloody painful'.

I was keen to lead the Pillar even though I seconded it the day before. I thought it would be a good idea for getting my head back in shape. It was, the climbing proved to be much more enjoyable on lead. A great route to end a fantastic, though painful, weekend.

Harry & Hammer

On Saturday the 18th of April Stevo and I went to the Etive slabs to do Hammer HVS ***. On the way down the glen I got a few shots of the locals...

... and at the bottom of the glen Harry Potter & Co. occupied all the parking spaces in order to shoot another Episode of Harry Potter saga. The Cockney film folk were quite nice though and allowed us to walk through to the Etive slabs. Here is a look from the slabs on the Potter folk (put some new contact lenses in; there are lots of 4x4's in the glen near the start of the loch).

The Etive slabs are at an easy angle but with few jugs and usually not much protecion. Here's an old photo from when we did Spartan Slab, a **** classic. When we arrived on Saturday it was grey and the older shot shows the slabs with the Heather in bloom and sunshine.

Steve started the first pitch, followed by me doing the second and both are easy. After that the proper Hammer starts with a 5a scoop pitch followed by the now 5b rated crux pitch. After the first cocky 'is that it' reaction you'll realise that the scoop is a wee bit polished, devoid of holds and move by move the gear is lower and lower. It feels different than it looks.

After that some good laybacking to a belay on a flake. Here is me starting again after putting the gear into the crack...

... and here is about to reach the belay.

More laybacking follows. The ancient ring peg is gone but chalk shows a very thin traverse to a line of flakes. This traverse is now rated 5b and it felt it esp. with the seepage that we had to cross. Gear on the flake line was limited before you reach an overlap with plenty of gear.

A wee pitch to the path ends a superb climb although the best bits are concentrated in two pitches. From the climb we saw climbers on 'The Pause' HVS/E1 running it out in the slabby sea.

Here another shot of the team from the descent path.

On the way back I went for a jog up and down the shores of Loch Earn. The evening light was warm and painted a classical Scottish loch picture.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

It's classic...Gogarth. Friaday 10th

Chris Wilson and Paul West-Watson made the long journey south form Aberdeen on Thursday night. We met up at the camp site on Holyhead island, as planned. We headed up to Holyhead mountain to warm up. After an short while i put forward to Paul that we head to Gogarth, knowing he was as keen so we left the others at Holyhead.

Gogarth is impressive steep and intimidating mass of rock the rises out of the sea for 100m. the route we planned to do that day shares the name coming in at E1 5b it's a classic in Ken Wilsons hard rock book. the decent to the cliff (below).

The views to the south stack (below) and surrounding cliffs were brilliant as we geared up below the route with the main cliff soaring above in great grooves and towers.

Paul led this first pitch. Easy climbing on good holds get you in to the flow of things.Next up was the 5a traverse pitch first right (below) to a hidden groove then back left to the slab belay.
A chossy pitch followed where Paul belayed at the foot of the big open groove (below). I'd seen this in books, it was big. I led off placing the only big cam we had low down in the crack, bad move! I had to run the rope out for a half the pitch, good job the climbing was easy.
A game of paper scissor stone was played the last game coming to a draw many times before the winner was decided, much to the delight of two climbers on Resolution direct. Paul won, jammy bugger. He set off on the airy traverse (below).
This takes you to the foot of the crux. Pumpy and over hanging with a good dose of exposure to top it all of it's easy to see why this is a classic.
We headed back to Paul's parents, talking most of the way back about the climb. It was good and deserved classic status. A BBQ was started and as the others arrived the food was plentiful and the beer flowed with talk of the days tales 'til late in the night.

Better than it would appear, Slate. Wedensday 8th

Tuesday night was wild in Nant Peris, heavy rain and strong winds made us retreat to the warmth of the local pub in the village. Thinking all climbing would be off in the morning we enjoyed a pint or two too much over competitive games of pool. The morning cleared dryer thought the wind was still fresh. The weather looked better down the valley. Heeding sound advice form the staff at Joe Browns shop we made tracks to the Dinorwig quarries.

The first quarry to to be reached was bus stop quarry. There's a couple of easier climbs here to get a feel for the rock, so it made sense to start here.

I started off on what looked a bold VS 4c called Equinox (below). Though as it turned out there was plenty of gear and the crux move was saved to the last.

John then jumped on the slightly harder line to the left, Solstice HVS 5a (below). Again good climbing (on some suspicious looking flakes!) with adequate gear wet our apatite for more.

We had heard of an area called Dali's hole and a great route called Launch pad E1 5b. We were both keen to see if it lived up to the reputation and it also gave us the chance to explore the other quarries.

A short walk past some impressive slag heaps and only buildings made of slate we come to Dali's hole. A sign on the gate reminding us that swimming was not permitted, as if you'd need reminding!

I was slightly worried about the lack of holds on Launch pad (below). Thin moves to below the bolt and the crux has to be climbed before you can clip makes nervy climbing, this is what i like about climbing. Above easier climbing up the arete to the top.

Dali's hole was busy with scouts and other groups on the easy sport lines so we headed up to a route called Looning the tube E1 5b. This cracking little pitch gave a feeling of exposure from the first moves as you traverse along the wall to a old rusty chain and thus a crack/fault is reached with the crux at the top. (john reaching the crux, below)

The Serengeti is an impressive piece of rock that juts up from the floor of the quarry. There are a few lines on this face. I tackled Seems the same E1/E2 5b. The climbing was steady 5a/5b from the ground up with a solid 5b move over the bulge. Me approaching the crux with the view in the background (below).

Once the crux was clear easier climbing on sparse gear led to the top. We were begining to have fun with the style of climbing required and the cool head for the run outs. I top out a happy man (below).

John had spotted a line higher up. Feeling confident he fancied his luck on Slippery people E2 5c. Stepping it up a bit on this steep bold line that's been bolted, with only 2 bolts on 20m of rock! The first bolt 8m high (below) gave a feeling of seriousness. Lay offs and good foot work to reach a big hold, this turned out to be classic slate climbing!

We called it a day after this, both of us satisfied with the days work in the quarries, we headed down to the valley to seal the day with a pint.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Roaches! Tuesday 7th

An area fully of climbing history and myth, the Roches lie to the North of the town of Leek. I'd never climbed here before though I was no stranger to grit.

After spending a damp night in a empty campsite the day broke dully and windy and I was begining to think we hand made a mistake. After breakfast we decided to head to Buxton for more breakfast and to see if it cleared up.

At Midday we finally headed up to the crag in lovely sunshine. Below shows Hen cloud crag which the campsite was below.

Much of the lower and upper tier was looking green and uninviting. Nesting birds put the classic Sloth out of bounds. The smaller skyline area appealed most. I stepped up to the challenge of Safety net, E1 5b (below). Solid 5b from the ground up with the crux being a friction move with a poor cam as the last piece of gear!
John rose to the challenge and was keen to do one better showing off his grit climbing skills by on sighting Short comings, E1 5c (below). Very technical climbing made sure john took his time on this one, hot aches came and went!

The classic Valkyrie is a must do for any visitor to the crag. John and i set off on this great grit line. First pitch (below) proved harder than it would appear, putting my jamming ability to the test.

The second (crux) pitch was delicate and airy. A traverse over the great roof (below) with good jamming and balance needed to proceed. This one is as exciting for the second as it is for the leader, a fall for the second would result in a massive swing over the roof!

On the way back we passed the memorial hut to the legend of Don Whillans. An man of great myth who developed much of the cragging here in the 50's.

Easter Trip-Northumberland gets the ball rolling sunday 5th-monday6th

With ten days free of any work duties and no marital ties to keep me in Town I suggested to Mr. Forrester that we make the best of the weather and head South to explore new climbing grounds and put our techniques and skills to the test by climbing on different types of rock.
First stop on the road trip was Kyloe crag in Norhtumberland. A crag john had visited before. High on his recommendations.
We warmed up on Slab and arete, E1 5B. Then John led the classic Spacewalk, E2 5C (below). This turned out to be easy for the grade though a tad bold.

Feeling confident i moved on to lead Wasted time, E1 5b. This consisted of a pumpy little climb with a thought provoking crux. Next to fall to Mr. Forrester was Headbanger, E1 5c. A technical bouldery start led to easier ground. And all this before lunch. Kyloe seemed to be putting up little resistance!
After a short break I gave Wasted time direct, E2 5c a closer inspection (below). A fingery steep crux with ground fall potential made for exciting climbing.
We followed the sun round to the quarry to see what treats were in offer. John led chicken run, E1 5b. Good climbing on poor gear. Last but not least was the plumb line of Devils edge HVS 5a (below) .
With our bellies full and time to waste 'til dark we headed to the nearby beach and walked over the massive sand mass to look at some shipwrecks (below). The sun set as we headed back to the tents.
Monday dawned as fine as Sunday ended. John spoke of a Stanage like crag called Bowden doors nearby so we packed up and headed over. This proved to be a poor choice as I could not get into the climbing and John had a stiff elbow. John led main wall HVS 5b (below). Then long crack HVS 5a, to retrieve a cam! I then had a pop at Broken crack E2 5c, which duly spat me out.
Feeling a bit low and looking for something new we debated where to head to next and both agreed that Wales was calling with a stop off at Roaches first. So we headed south.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Luath stone bouldering

Just briefly: Easter Monday was sunny in Aberdeen but the Haar was supposed to creep into town. I thus drove west for some bouldering at the Luath stone. See ScottishClimbs for a topo:
The bouldering is relatively limited for those that can climb 5b/5c but there are some decent problems. I spent most time climbing on the West side of the mouse in order to develop my crimp strength.

... as seen on these two photos.

Without a partner I wasn't too psyched so I took a few photos in the evening light...

... and just before sunset.

Over to Ryan now who has been touring the country with John for tons of climbing.