Friday, 25 June 2010

Highland Outcropping 22/06/10-25/06/10

Unfortunately plans of going to Reiff were foiled by a poor weather forecast so we decided to head up to Aviemore and base ourselves there for the week, aiming to follow any good weather patterns developing. After managing to cram everything into McGeachy's Micra we ended up at Creag Dubh on the way up. This was my first time at the crag and I had heard some stories about the boldness of the venue and was sligthly trepidatious about doing anything bold on lead. Greg led up the classic HVS of the crag Inbred which I found to be okay, but certainly not worthy of three stars, perhaps I was missing something. Having lost most of my psyche I spent a relaxed afternoon sunbathing and taking photos.

With rain forecast for most places in the afternoon we decided to head to the mostly overhanging Huntley's Cave after another session at Creag Dubh. Greg and I did L.M.F. which I thought was fantastic with good gear where you needed it and brilliant climbing, especially over the second roof. Again I didn't have much psyche and took more photos of Greg and Neil going boldy where...some people have gone before...before we headed to Huntley's Cave for an evening session. I was keen to get on some more E1's and Diagonal Direct looked like a good contender as I knew the middle was straightforward as I have climbed Diagonal before. The direct start was quite interesting with green, polished holds and plenty of midges to keep things entertaining before pulling into the corner and moving up onto a big ledge under the crux roof. After plugging the crack above with plenty of gear I managed to work out a sequence and pull onto the face and rockover to finishing jugs. The route was totally brilliant and I was pleased to get the onsight. With the midges exceeding tolerance levels we scarpered quick and headed back to the house.

With a solid forecast towards Aberdeen we decided to head up onto the Moray Firth coast and see if we could get onto some more sea cliffs. We ended up at Cummingston which was home to some sandy but great routes. Neil and Greg had a good day climbing the amospheric and picture picture-perfect Prow, whilst I warmed up before attempting my first E2 The Prophet. This didn't go as well as I had hoped and after getting boxed on the onsight fiddling in wires, a foothold blowing on the lichenous mantle on a ground up ascent, and plenty of brushing after resting on the gear I made it to the top. Not the best style, of ascent or during the ascent it has to be said, but the grade seems a lot less intimidating now and I was happy to get up it! After plenty more of Neil's adventurous driving (he has a special liking for roundabouts) we made it back to Aviemore after another good day.

We managed to get up reasonably early this morning and heading down towards Glen Clova as a "on the way home" venue. This was again my first time at this crag, and it is a really cool place with lots of inspiting lines. We were all quite tired but McGeachy strapped it on for Cinderella which was very impressive, but also quite haggaring to watch from only a few feet above him! After a glorious ascent in the basking sunshine of the three star Wandered living up to its suggested quality, I again took to sunbathing and taking photos.

After some stunning weather, and plenty of climbing and general hilarity I am looking forward to Sarah coming home and having some chillout time on the beaches of Lewis and Harris, and hopefully getting out on my new bike a bit more!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Cambusbarron In The Sunshine 21/06/10

With such fantastic weather I was itching to get out climbing somewhere, after much logistical worries Neil and I eventually headed up to the quarried Dolerite haven of Cambusbarron. After warming up on Easy Contract I jumped on Not Easy Contract and then on to a link of Malky The Alky and Another One Bites The Dust to give some brillaint climbing. I was mega psyched to tick my second and third E1's onsight and am really enjoying my climbing at the moment.

We then headed into the inner quarry, after Neil had kindly held my ropes, for Neil to work the moves on Both Ends Burning which had some fierce looking climbing, he managed to link it cleanly after working through the moves; now just the small task of doing it on lead! This summer is properly living up to the trend set by winter, today was 23C and the rock in most of the country is dry. So much to do, and a fair amount of time to do it in as well :)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Floor's Craig 18/06/10

With good weather forecast Ally, Greg, McGeachy, Ross and I headed up to one of the sea cliffs around Aberdeen for a day of atmospheric climbing. The crag has a great outlook and it's always fun climbing above the sea. Everyone had a good day with some impressive onsighting going on as usual.

Unfortunately no one could squeeze through Japs Eye Chimney, which had a very small hole to wriggle through. I was pleased to get my first E1 onsight - Blockbuster, which had some great climbing leading to the somewhat teetery crux at the top.

Another new venue worth going back to in the future.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Pass of Ballater 16/06/10

After a disappointing trip to Chamonix I was keen to make the most of the nice weather here so headed up to Craig an t'Seabhaig to meet up with Greg, McGeachy and Jonny. As the weather was nice I decided to head up on the motorbike and the A93 from Perth onwards provided an excellent start to the day! This theme continued throughout with some brilliant climbing on the sometimes polished granite keeping things interesting. I started the day with a nice ascent of Little Cenotaph which gets two stars before getting some photos of Greg on Peel's Wall.

I then got on the three star Black Custard and got to the last move on the onsight attempt before missing out a crucial foothold which meant my body was in the wrong position as I fought to get through the niche in the roof, a flailing slap to the finishing jug went as expected really and I ended up a good couple of metres nearer the ground. After a rest I got back on and managed to get the route ground up.

A good day at another new venue, pleased to be pushing my grade a bit and had fun getting some air miles! A slightly wet ride through the pass of Glenshee before the roads dried out gave a suiting finish to the fantastic day.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A Very Wet Weekend in Chamonix 12/06/10-15/06/10

After the building excitement for my first alpine climbing trip it was with much disappointment that I arrived into a very wet Chamonix on Saturday lunchtime. After meeting up with Lee and booking into a campsite we hoped the weather would improve later in the week as forecast. Unfortunately as the weekend progressed the poor weather forecast continued and on Monday I had had enough of sitting in a wet tent, especially with the weather good back home. I changed my flights and headed back to Geneva to get an earlier flight. Slightly frustrating that the week I book to go to France is the week there is torrential rain and flash flooding, but the mountains will all still be there next year.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Mountain Biking 07/06/10-11/06/10

This week I was trying not to hurt myself whilst flying down mountain bike trails. On Monday after James arrived from Birmingham we headed to Glentress and did the XC trail which is a lot of fun with a good variety of riding. After Tuesday's wet rest day we met up with Neil and headed back to Glentress again; this time to follow Neil's burning track of shredage down the trail! On Thursday Neil kindly lent me his Cannondale Rush which made everything a lot more fun after two days of Kona hardtail riding so James and I headed to Innerleithen. After the good old slog to the top we headed back down the incredible trail. I felt myself getting better on the bike throughout the week and really enjoyed all the riding, I was just concious not to fall off with my departure to France on Saturday! I had the GoPro camera out on all the days and here is a short video I put together:

Friday, 4 June 2010

Noble Steed Upgrade 04/06/10

With much excitement I unwrapped a bicycle sized box that was delivered this morning to unveil my new carbon steed!

I bought the bike from Ribble Cycles who, it has to be said, didn't provide the quickest service in the world but you can't complain at the price they deliver.

The full spec is as follows:

Ribble Gran Fondo Carbon Road Frame and Forks
Shimano Ultegra 6700 Double Groupset
Mavic Aksium Wheelset
Cinelli Bianca Palm Handlebars
Deda Quattro Stem
Fizik Arione Saddle
ITM Alutech 7075 Carbon Seatpillar
Michelin Pro Race 3 Folding Tyres
6.1 kg

I am thoroughly looking forward to getting out on a proper ride with it, the next trip I go on may well be a cycling one!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

A Warm Day at Widdop 03/06/10

With the end of the trip approaching, Ieuan and I met up with Adam again and we headed to the north facing Widdop; hoping to catch some respite from the glorious sun in order to climb some more grit.

We made our way from the left end of the crag across to the right hand side to the striking arete of Reservoir Dogs, with enjoyable ascents of Ordinary Route, Krypton Route and Celebrity Buttress. All was going well until I had to get a top rope lowered and down climb Artificial Route, which seemed exceedingly awkward, bold and gripping in the warm temperatures!
We finished the day with some pleasant bouldering before heading back to the train station and back up to Edinburgh for me. Another great venue and a good end to the trip. A week of cycling and mountain biking as some last minute training before heading off to the Alps on the 11th. Summer psyche is definitely very high!