Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Curtain & Cobbler & An Ember

On Monday Dave and I headed up The Ben again to get on the Curtain, one party in front of us on the last pitch meant we didn't need to queue or avoid debris which was good. One day like this on the Ben is worth the weeks of miserable weather we get.

Hotaches, ouch

Dave on Pitch 1 of The Curtain

Me setting off on pitch 2

Dave steals the final and best pitch

Top out

Yesterday Dave MacLeod and I headed for the Cobbler. Dave had his eye on a line but for a few reasons it wasn't a day to push it. 

Dave walking into the murk

We rescued this sheep on the way out.

Over the last few days I've been run out on gear or soloing on relatively easy ground and have felt that the fire I thought I had extinguished for soloing is still perhaps a smouldering ember that may soon relight itself........

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Anti Social Climbing

Yesterday Dave and myself headed up the Ben with no definite plans. After a few thoughts were ruled out to avoid crowds,queues and avalanche risk  we decided to link 2 pitches of ice/snow between the Curtain (which was getting climbed) and Ledge Route which gave some nice climbing. Ice was great for axe placements but not great for gear. 

The plod in

Great weather, Daves grin says it all.

Gearing up below Moonlight Gully Buttress so we were belayed across No5

Starting up the first pitch

Best bit of my belay!!!

Wading up to meet Dave. 

All in all it was a cracking wee day out, teams on the Curtain, Vanishing Gully, Point 5, Tower Ridge and the Douglas Boulder was crawling with teams. Good to meet Cliff up there too!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Past Month

To start with I needed to change up my training to keep it interesting so I did this!! After that it was up to Ben Nevis with Steve and Joe, I tried what I thought may have been a new route but found old gear and lost the psyche and headed home to leave the boys to head elsewhere.

Joe and Steve on the walk in.

Joe sheltering from the brutal spindrift

After that it was home to Ayrshire for the festives to see family and friends, usual great laugh and I also got to take my 4 year old niece for her first experience of climbing which was great.

Family and friends at Hogmanay

Wee Gwen at GCC

It was straight back to work and training after that which was a shock to the system. Today Steve and I headed to Glencoe in search of some ice but after some fairly hardwork walking in it wasn't to be with crap conditions. 

Steve on descent earlier today


On the walk in

Hopefully get out more over the next few days, feeling the need to do something good after news this week that my foot has gotten worse........

Saturday, 6 December 2014


Yesterday saw what is hopefully the start of our winter climbing season so Steve and I headed up to the Ciste on Ben Nevis to have a look at a route, it wasn't in condition so we settled for The Gift, usually a III/IV ice route but was a bit harder in mixed conditions. 

Steve on the walk in
I won the flip of a frozen flapjack for first lead and got stuck in, the route provided a nice wee fight to start the season off with some blind hooking, small torques, lots of powder and some crappy gear, well worth doing though.Good to get some success after recent efforts, always feels harder won and therefore more rewarding in winter.

Me wading into first pitch

Looking for gear

Steve heading onto second pitch

Just about to top out

Steve heading toward the tourist track

Stunning views on way out

The weather looked wild out West

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Recently failure has been a central theme to my own efforts on the crags but I dont see this in the negative light that I once did. These days I try learn from it or bank the feelings of defeat and turn them back on themselves and use it for fuel the next time I'm out or even for training. The memory of coming home disappointed fresh in my memory always helps me get my lead head together or dig deeper into my pain reserves when training. 

Since the Works trip I've been trying to get a very bold E6 at Lochailort in the bag as it's unfinished business but on the one good conditions day I attempted the lead but my head wasn't 100% there and with a fall holding a high possibility of a career ending injury I wasn't willing to take a pointless risk, perhaps it would've been different on a first ascent. The second day we went out the holds were wet, gutted.

Frustrated at not committing- Pic- Conor McCarthy

 Wet holds + psyched mindset = anger-Pic-Conor McCarthy

Dave, myself and Steve freezing at the crag, a good team always helps- Pic- Conor McCarthy

To try tame the frustration I've been feeling I climbed 100 routes on the ice wall at work (about 1100m of vertical and overhanging ice) in 3hr 45min non stop yesterday. It was tiring but not anywhere near enough to feed that appetite that only seems to find nourishment with me on routes that scare me shitless, thankfully it looks like winter may eventually be arriving and that means theres plenty opportunity for a banquet of fear.........

Friday, 14 November 2014

Usual November

As per November is a busy month for me between work, sponsor stuff, family obligations, training, partying and of course trying to climb. It started with our comp at the Ice Factor which went well and we raised around £600 for the Glencoe MRT. The following Friday was helping set at GCC for their comp then on the Saturday to Snow Factor with Rhona for her first shot at ice climbing. 

Monday morning was an early start with Joe and Conor to pick up Jeff Mercier who was visiting from France. First we headed to Lyon Outdoor HQ so I could do a short talk and we met Steve Johnstone there too. After this we had an epic trying to find the Works but got there eventually to find Greg, Masa and Will already there and everyone got stuck in. Watching these guys is a real eye opener to how strong the top boys are and it has really made me want to train harder.

Cave full of psyche

After a first day where I felt the effects of sleep deprivation and horrendous recent epilepsy side effects hitting me I knew I had to try harder the second day. After a good warm up I tried the route below but came frighteningly close to breaking my left arm and became very dejected, definitely the low point of the trip for me. 

Seconds before nearly breaking my arm

Severely scunnered and thinking of selling my DT kit

I kinda just walked off myself for a few minutes after this told myself to stop being weak and just get back into it. Shortly afterwards Jeff sent Powerdab (hardest route there)  first attempt which seemed to psyche everyone up, the guy is a machine. 

Jeff on Powerdab D13

Next day was our last visit to the cave and with everyone keen to finish routes and some good patter with Ian Parnell the mood in the cave was good. Joe sent First Blood in an impressive battle and its his hardest route to date.

Joe on First Blood

A mix of French, Polish, Scots, Irish and English accents made conversation interesting.

After numerous attempts at First Blood I was feeling strong and on my last attempt I got to within one move of the finish and dropped my axe, denied :) 

Me on First Blood

Jeff laughs as I try stretching and Joe takes the piss, humour soon killing my feeling of defeat.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Extreme Gardening and TV

It's been another busy stint again with working on arranging the DT Comp, training and more cleaning at Wave. Steve and I were both busy there last weekend cleaning new routes and also cleaning heather, muck and sludge from Teenoso (VS) and from Ziggy (HS), rarely climbed but now looks like a really nice route, may take a bit of rain/wind to finish the clean. The base of the crag was also becoming boggy as the last rocks put in place by whoever and whenever were sinking so we dragged some more over and have placed them there.

Steve cleaning heather away to make a safer top out

Also this week EpicTV posted a short interview I did with them last week and the response has been fantastic, none more so than this piss take picture from Steves fiancee Jane :) The vid is here....

This cracked me up!! Pic from Inside The Lens