Sunday, 13 September 2015

New route at last!!!

Eventually after a pretty crap Summer in the Highlands and a few unsuccessful days looking for new routes I eventually bagged one on Friday. Another early start found Foxy, Joe and myself yomping up to the Caldera slab once again.

Joe and Foxy approaching the crag

Love the view from here, Joe wastes it though!!

While Foxy checked out a place to shoot from Joe checked my route 'Arrakis' while I checked a new line to the left. Joe decided to go for it and sent the route and I went for mine shortly thereafter. Its pretty bold and quite technical slab climbing (defo my favourite), it was all going fine till I realised I had been so focused on the delicate climbing that I'd forgotten to place a vital bit of gear and suddenly realised I was looking at the upper crux well above my tiniest micro cam, I was also getting Elvis leg which wasn't helping. The last few moves are pretty committing and I had to have a word with myself before launching up. Route done, relief for me and abuse from the lads for being such a nugget. The route got called 'Senior Moment' I reckon about E5 6a but with a left hand you may be able to get gear out to the left, who knows the grade aint important I just enjoyed the experience.....

First ascent of Senior Moment-Pic-Alan Fox

Monday, 13 July 2015

Scrambling etc

Typically while feeling on good form I've injured myself by rupturing a tendon on my right hand, thankfully its not too bad and wont require any surgery etc as I'd be right up the creek with my right hand out of operation :) Regardless though I've managed to get a few scrambling routes, North Buttress with Rhona then Lagangarbh Buttress. It's frustrating being injured and not being able to climb at my best but I love just being in the mountains, Glencoe is a very special and beautiful place and I feel lucky to have it on my doorstep and in being able to still go out and enjoy it. Also going to be trying to clean and recce routes during recovery period so I can get straight into climbing when my finger gets better.

Rhona on North Buttress, Glencoe

Conor at Type Two Films has edited up this footage from Lochailort the other week about my new E4 and repeat of Skyfall. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Back to it

On Tuesday I headed back to Lochailort with an aggressive focus on putting some stuff to bed out there. I picked up Steve , Nathan and Dave in the Fort and set off. We arrived and decided to first check out some new route potential two tiers down from the main crag, although shorter (10m) we found a few nice lines. Nathan got his first new route and I found a lovely wee slab which offered involving slab climbing.

Nathan on first ascent of Spanglers Bunnet S4b

Myself on first ascent of Bonnie Fechter E4 6b

After the two new routes we headed up to the main crag as the lads were keen to knock off some routes and I had unfinished business with Skyfall E6 6b. If it was going to happen any day then this was going to be it. I dropped a top rope down it first, two quick goes and I decided to just go for it, I repeated my earlier pre-lead routine of cleaning my shoes while listening to a bit of Slipknot then set off. This route has been a long term mental battle for me with a couple of on/off moves and only one gear placement, the crux move would be bad to fall from, the last hard move would probably mean going straight to the ground. I fought my way through to the top but its definitely the most "out there" I've felt for a while.

Getting into the lead headspace

Last of the hard moves miles above my gear

It was possibly one of the best days climbing I've ever had but marred slightly as Steve couldn't climb due to a full on sciatic nerve problem which sucked as it'd have been good if we could all have bagged something so big thanks to him for belaying. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Gut

With plans to get on the lead on Pallor on Thursday I had a sleepless night though on opening the curtains to heavy cloud in the morning plans changed and we headed to Lochailort. Conor was there to film and take pics, Steve was trying a new line as was Mark. I decided to salvage something from the day and had a look at an existing scary E6. I top roped it, Steve did his new line then I decided I should think about getting on lead. 

Contemplation-Pic-Type Two Films

As I stood below the line I began to struggle to justify the level of risk, there is a very on/off move for me and a fall would've likely meant broken bones. I went through all my usual motivators but gut instinct told me to walk away, for a few minutes I tried to fight the feeling but the route didn't give me enough psyche to take a proper big risk. Maybe I'm losing my mojo or maybe just getting slightly wiser, maybe.....

On the walk out-Pic-Type Two Films

Monday, 13 April 2015

Solo again!!!

It's been a busy wee while since the premature end of my winter. With the limitations of my ankle becoming more noticeable I've been firing a lot of energy (and my wages) into my biking and I am getting really into it. It's been a bit of a saviour being introduced to this as it's helping take the edge off the loss of some of my climbing ability.  

Looking down Loch Leven

Last week the rock season began for us with a trip to Ardnamurchan with Steve ,Joe and Rich. Plenty routes climbed in stunning but windy conditions.

The lads walking into Ardnamurchan crags

All smiles at end of the day.Pic-Steve Holmes

While climbing at Ardnamurchan I felt a need begin to grow that I hadn't felt in years, soloing was calling out to me once more. I guess I always knew that one day that dog would hunt again and two days later I found myself at the Quadrocks with Tam and looking up at the unprotected line of The Arete E3 I knew it was time to stop running from what I guess is part of me. I loved being back in the situation of no margin for error, the focus distracting me from all the worries about where my life is now going.


Tam on the walk out

Sunday, 8 March 2015


It looks like an early finish to the winter season for me as my ankle injury is getting rapidly worse, there are a few reasons for stopping now. Foremost of these is it makes me sick letting folk down when pain stops me, then theres the volume of painkillers getting unhealthy even though I do love a tramadol and last but not least I want to be capable of climbing all the new routes I have in my book for this season on the rock. It's in looking forward to these projects that I can turn the negative of missing out on winter and the accompanying frustration and bottle that feeling till I'm stood below the upcoming scary leads and use that as part of what I need my head to do to get me through. 

 It's been a decent season though considering I thought I'd have missed it totally, couple of pics below of the final week.

On Waterfall Gully-Pic Joe Saunders

Getting buried by spindrift during filming-Pic Kieron Ross

Bantering while Nadir gets shots-Pic-Joe Saunders

On the way to the cafe after bailing-Pic-Kieron Ross

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Right Choice?

Today Joe, Dave and myself headed up to climb in the Trident area, with some of the lads already on my chosen objective Dave headed up his. He got a belay before the crux and I started up beautiful ice toward him, shortly after though we began to hear blood curdling screams coming from the mist somewhere near us. We had a very short discussion and decided the decent thing to do was go have a look in the general direction to see if we could help.

Dave gearing up while I sort ropes

Me seconding shortly before the screaming began

We descended nearly to the hut then back up into Observatory Gully but never found anything, hopefully it was not as bad as it sounded. I felt somewhat guilty at making the decision to go searching after Dave had put in a good lead in fine conditions but thankfully the boys agreed and I didn't get lynched. Sometimes making rapid decisions under stress can lead to feeling like an arse but had someone needed help I'd have been glad we bailed to try help.Glad is the wrong word, hopefully you know what I meant..........