Sunday, 26 December 2010

More Lowland Continental-Style Ice Routes 26/12/10

I'm trying to make the most of this time when my family are all in the same place at the same time and it's been great. However with an utterly rubbish forecast for the end of today and into next week, with dramatically increased temperatures and warm southernly winds I was pretty keen to get out on an ice line "Moonlight Completion" in Corrie of Balglass near Fintry in the Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow. Last year I did Grey Mare's Tail and it was great so I was keen to get on this line, especially after seeing this awesome picture of it from last year;

So Neil and I set off early this morning and went into the Corrie to see if the line was still climable, we were a bit skeptical on the way in but fortunately it was perfect with amazing plasticy ice. The line looked pretty thin but when we actually got onto it there was no need to worry as it was p-h-fat.
We solo'd up most of the easier entry pitch and belayed on a big column below a platform which signals the pitch proper. I was slightly nervous whilst I was tying in and wasn't sure if it would be better to hand the lead over to Neil, but I thought I would go and have a look at least and after gaining the starting platform and putting in a screw I tried to psyche myself up to go for it. I managed to get psyched and overcome the intimidating start as the climbing looked fantastic and the ice was in brilliant condition. I pulled on and the start was quite steep but there were loads of cheeky features in the ice to use for your feet and I was soon placing my second screw. This theme essentially continued onwards for the rest of the pitch on slightly less steep ice, but continually interesting and greatly fearured. I was pleased to reach the belay ledge at the top and by the time I was at the belay it had made it a 70m pitch. Neil swiftly followed and we walked off back to the bags passing the other line in the corrie, a not fully formed III gully which looked quite fun.

We thought the route probably deserved V,5*** and it was fantastic to climb this brilliant line which doesn't get done that often, perhaps it won't form again this year! A perfect end to a pretty much perfect year, massively looking forward to everything that 2011 will bring! Happy New Year to everyone.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Menage a Trois With Two? 21/12/10

With another fantastic day forecast on the west, we decided to head back up to Beinn an Dothaidh and look at Menage a Trois which people on UKC seem to enjoy more than Pas De Deux. We were up early and managed to catch the lunar eclipse which was impressive in a weird way!

There was an awesome sunrise and the sky was full of pinks and blues as we walked in, again fantastic views in all directions. The line comes into view once you round the coire edge and it is a great line. We split the route into four pitches and Neil block led the first three which meant we were both warm and kept moving as it was pretty chilly around -13C. The second pitch up the first half of the corner was really good fun, the second half just felt awkward but was also fun in a masochistic and mental way! Mixed climbing ay!

I think we both decided that we have now done enough mixed climbing for the season and shall be pursuing more ice routes...on a purely ethical basis of course.

A great two days before winding down for Christmas, hope it's a good one for everyone.

Monday, 20 December 2010

More Than Two on Pas De Deux 20/12/10

Neil and I were psyched to get up to Torridon or Applecross and climb some of the classic ice falls but it didn't look like they would be formed yet due to a dry summer, hopefully they will form up nicely with this snow and forecasted thaw causing some freeze-thaw on the mountains and we will be able to get up there at some point this season.

As an alternative we headed to Beinn an Dothaidh hoping to climb Pas De Deux and get on some crazy mixed climbing. Unfortunately there was a team of three on the route when we arrived at the base and they weren't moving particularly quickly. After having a quick scope around we decided on the line of Cirrus which we thought was the best looking line on the crag. The ice line wasn't fully formed but there was just enough ice to make upward progress possible with some squirming and boldness. Neil made good work on the first pitch which had a fun cave start before moving out onto the semi-hanging icicle. The second pitch was more thin icicle madness and great sport, made all the more exciting by our extensive rack of three screws!

The last pitch was straightforward up to the summit which gave fantastic vistas across Rannoch Moor all the way to Ben Nevis. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the climbing was fantastic, altogether a great day, looking forward to tomorrow's antics!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Back to Beinn Udlaidh 18/12/10

This morning I headed up with Scott, Neil and Sean to the West Coast again. With lots of snow reported we wanted to do something low and north facing, we were slightly worried about how much the thaw would have stripped Beinn Udlaidh but with reports of things being climbed on UKC and a fantastic weather forecast we headed up. There was far less snow than I was expecting, there was a big temperature inversion and it snowed...not exactly what was forecast but it was a great day nonetheless.

Scott and I jumped on Peter Pan Direct which was fantastic, the ice was a perfect toffee consistency and gave first time placements, even for a good old hacker like me! There was a fair bit of water running down the surface of the ice which meant we both got soaked, but both pitches were fully complete and gave some great climbing so we couldn't complain. Neil and Sean headed up South Gully of the Black Wall and did a slightly harder left-hand variation half way up. After walking back to the bags Scott and I jumped on South Gully which also had some fantastic ice.

The season has gotten off to a great start and it looks set to continue for a good while yet. There were lots of teams out enjoying the delights of Scottish ice in December!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Back to Beinn Udlaidh 08/12/10

It seems like yesterday I was up at Beinn Udlaidh but so much has gone on through the summer!

This morning I met up with Sean and Neil and we headed West, again without any real plans. By the time we got across and picked up Greg en-route it was slightly later than hoped and we decided that a long day plodding through deep snow up high wouldn't be much fun, so we opted to take a drive down Glen Orchy and have a look at Beinn Udlaidh. Of course with such low temperatures there was some ice formed, but with the unusually low and sustained temperatures some lines aren't formed at all whilst others are forming in unusual places.

On the walk in Greg and Neil were spying up a hanging ice fringe right of The Grin; which Greg put up last year. Sean and I decided to follow them up to the base of the route and try and get some photos before heading off for a short route round the corner.

The guys made an impressive ascent, check Greg's blog for full details ( whilst Sean and I poked our head round the corner to have a look at Organ Pipe Wall but it wasn't fully formed so we headed up West Gully which had a nice ice pitch which Sean led up and then we simu-climbed to the top.

Another stunning day and I can't wait to get back out in the hills! (photos credit of Sean Bell [])

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Blue Riband 07/12/10

Scotland; better than anywhere else in the world on the right day.

Whilst I haven't been psyched for winter much recently, after speaking to Greg ( and hearing about his mad antics and very impressive new routes my psyche started to build, then I flicked through the winter blogs and I was itching to get back out on the tools! It's crazy how fast psyche can switch from one thing to another!

With a stunning forecast I jumped at the opportunity to climb with Neil and we headed across to Glencoe to climb something. We initially loosely planned to do a mixed route but with heavier than forecasted snowfall and -19 Celsius at valley level we changed plans and decided to do a bit of searching for some obscure ice routes that don't normally form. Unfortunately both the routes we were thinking of weren't in condition but our back up plan was one of the best possible! We knew Blue Riband had been climbed this week and whilst Neil had done it last year he was keen to do it again and it's been one of the iconic routes that I've always wanted to climb.

The route fully lived up to expectations and it turned out to be a fantastic day, one of the best I've ever had. The view was incredible, climbing continually interesting, it's a totally classic route...perfect really. Pictures say a thousand words, so hopefully the video describes how amazing the day was! (photos credit of Neil Carnegie)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Early season shredding 03/12/10

I can't believe it's December already and I can't believe how much snow there is! With this in mind Sam and I tried to get up to Aviemore but were beaten by the Forth Road Bridge being closed. We had a mini descent down Arthur's Seat to keep the dream alive and fortunately made it up the following day. Thursday was fantastic with plenty of snow, unfortunately none of it was as fluffy as last year as the snowpack was quite wind scoured but the beautiful skies made up for this. Friday was a bit more Scottish with 60mph winds and understandably very little soft snow, they closed the mountain around lunchtime but we still had a fun half day being blown about! Considering it is only early December this is a great start to the season, hopefully it will be another great winter!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

New things in November 30/11/10

A beast of a bike has joined my growing collection. The Sunday joined the team at the beginning of the month and has been out getting muddy a few times at Innerleithen, Bonaly and Falkland already; all great fun!

Uni has picked up so I have been a bit busy with that but hopefully that will die off soon!

The snow arrived on Friday and I had a sweet weekend down in Keswick with Neil, Mhairi, Sophie and the duracell Daisy performing some squirmy snowbiking at Whinlatter! I've not got much psyche for winter climbing at the moment but I'm still mega keen for the biking so as long as I'm outside having fun then it's all good!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Outings in October 30/10/10

I'd had the idea of putting together a full video of the descent of Glentress a while ago and after last month's efforts I was psyched to make it a project and get some footage so I headed down to film Sean on the next section, Super G;

I think it came together well and I've got some ideas I want to try and put in practice for the rest of the trail and I think it could be quite a cool little film once it's all finished.

I managed to borrow Scott's Orange 224 for another session at Innerleithen and I'm still on the search for a downhill rig. In the meantime I've been trying to get out as much as possible, in between uni and some work, on the xc bike which has been fun; especially a photo session at Sean's local trails. (photos credit Sean Bell

I also had a great afternoon sampling some more of Northumbria's best crags with Neil, Mhairi and Daisy at Dovehole. I've had a slightly sore finger for a wee while from biking so I wasn't on full form but it was a great day nonetheless with glorius sunshine and tops-off weather. (photos credit of Neil Carnegie)

After the great two days enduro riding with Ady Smith earlier in the year I was pleased to hear he like the video I made of Rich, even more so when he asked me to do a promotional video for him. We only had a few hours before the daylight failed and the sound quality isn't great but I'm quite pleased with the result.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Stuff in September 27/09/10

After Rich got the motocross bike last month we were out playing in East Lothian and I fancied shooting some video so we spent a day making this short video;

The following week Rich returned the favour and filmed me biking down Spooky Woods at Glentress;

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy video editing and will definitely be doing some more in the future! We also got some new editing software which reads the GoPro files so I will be able to do some proper editing without any of the funny subtitles that appeared on my edits from last winter. I've been loving the GoPro camera and how easy and versatile it is, I would thoroughly recommend it; I've been using it a lot recently for both motocross and mountain biking.

I did some more local road and mountain biking and spent a long weekend with the family up in Aviemore which was great fun. We spent a day through in Fort William watching a round of the Scottish Downhill Association racing which was incredible, those guys go seriously fast through some mental terrain!

After my psyche increased dramatically Sean let me borrow his Speciaized Demo for a day of downhill at Innerleithen which turned out to be everything I expected! I am on the hunt for a downhill bike now as it was a lot of fun!

It's been another great month, I've not been out climbing much and psyche levels are low due to ongoing wetness, I'm really getting into the biking though and trying to make the most of my free time before I start back at uni at the beginning of next month. Hopefully my timetable is as minimal as last year and I am able to continue getting out and about!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Activities in August 31/08/10

After Ieuan left at the end of July I made the most of a week of good weather, but no climbing partners, to get out cycling and get some road miles in my legs. I did a few good circuits around Fife taking in the climbs of Glentarkie and Falkland which are always fun, I am still loving my new bike!
On the 3rd Ally, Greg and I headed back to Glen Clova as we all had routes that we wanted to get on after the last trip there, unfortunately the weather forecast was totally wrong and after half an hour hiding from the torrential rain we made a bid for a dry car and headed home with our tails between our legs. Fearing a similair downpour on Sunday we instead headed to Lochearnhead to get out on the water and had a brilliant day mucking around on the boat.
The following week I did some more road cycling until James came up from Birmingham on Thursday for 10 days of mountain biking. After much...well not much at all really, deliberation I sourced an ex-demo Kona Dawg Deluxe 09 bike from Laggan Wolftrax. So I have been trying to make the most of that and have been out biking fourteen times since which has been mostly injury free and great fun!

I've been out group-cycling with Edinburgh Road Club a few times when the weather has allowed, had another two fantastic days at Lochearnhead on mirror flat water, had Holly up to visit, helped Sarah with her new horse (Eddie) and been motocross/enduro riding with my brother Rich a couple of times, so its not been a bad month at all! Let the fun continue!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A Welsh Visitor 19/07/10-25/07/10

After a very warm week spent relaxing by the pool in Portugal I had planned to get out climbing most of this week. Unfortunately the weather dictated otherwise and with showers forecasted for most of the week Ieuan and I tried to do some things that weren't dependent on dry rock! After Ieuan arrived on Monday we did a great cycle on Tuesday taking in some good hills on a lovely circuit.
Wednesday say us out in the rain in East Lothian at a KTM Off-Road Motocross Day ( which was incredible, and whilst pretty knackering was definitely the most fun I have had for a while. We had a nice day recovering on Thursday with some good weather meaning we could have a play on the slackline, and watching the controversial and decisive Tour stage up the Col du Tourmalet.
On Friday we were back out at the KTM School tearing up the grass and thrashing two-stroke motorbikes which was again great fun, unfortunately I picked up a bit of a strain in my left wrist and the tendons have been very stiff so I will be resting it from climbing for a while, but hopefully should get out cycling a bit more.
With nicer weather again on Saturday we decided to head out wakeboarding at Lochearnhead which is the first time I have been this year, after only getting out once last year as well. It was a fantastic day and the water was very flat and warm enough for summer suits, I was super stoked to land a pop-shuvit and almost get a wake-to-wake 180 after such a time off but it was so much fun that it will definitely not be the last ride this summer!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Back to Cambusbarron 05/07/10

With nice weather at the start of the week before forecasted deterioration, I was keen to get out climbing before heading down to London for an overnight trip, then hopefully driving round the noth coast on the motorbike with Sarah if the weather permits, and finally spending a week in Portugal with most of my family. Greg, Sarah and I headed to Cambus' and I was psyched to get on Gobi Roof after having seen it last time. Negating the benefits of warming up I jumped straight on and got bomber gear at waist height before trying to rearrange my left foot whilst holding the crimp, this obviously didn't work and I sunk onto the gear.

Slightly disappointing, especially as I had less than a minute rest before getting the route on the ground up attempt, but pleased to have gotten a clean E2. The route seems to have a stiff reputation but it was probably not E2 if you are over 5'10", as there is only one moderately powerful move from good holds to more good holds with solid gear at your waist. Above the climbing eases but is still interesting with some sandy moves.

Sarah then did well to second Ramplin' and seemed to enjoy it too which was good. We then headed into the Inner Quarry for Greg to have a play on some of the gnarlier routes as a good finish to another good day.