I’ve had a busy couple months since Sincalir and I were in Chamonix. I’ve started my third year, done a bit of climbing, running, work, and cycling as well as finding time to captain the Univerisity mountaineering club.

I guess the main reason i’m writing now is that my laptop’s been fixed after I spilt wine over it (in perfect timing of course for the start of my 3rd year ) and because i’ve only just moved into my new flat (having been in lofts and on floors for 3 weeks). Blogging and general communication have been of course pushed down in the the grand  priority list..

Recent climbing exploits have included some good days on the Aberdeen sea cliffs, at the Pass and in Wester Ross. In the long haven area, Uisdean, Rory, Tom and I  had a superb, sunny day on some classic E2’s and E3’s. We climbed on the big pillar buttress, where i took the middle face route and Uisdean did well onsighting a hard and intimidating line called Monkey Puzzle. On the lesser frequented seaward slabs of scimitar ridge, which had been well cleaned and chalked, we did both E3’s. Both lines begin below the hanging slab and  have bold, fingery starts. A fall before fiddling in your first nut  will have you tumbling a long way down some barnacle encrusted shelfs and into the sea and so it is certainly somewhere to have confidence in both the conditions, your ability and your partner. The climbing is mentally intense and really enjoyable though  and  so we certainly appreciated the extra 

Me seconding Uisdean up Monkey Puzzle E3- knee torque/jam in the offwidth for the short! (photo Rory Brown)

Tom, topping out on Riders of the Storm

 Earlier on i did  a bit more climbing at Loch Tollaidh, where i’m unfortunately running out of E2 5b’s to do, but feeling inspired to get on some of the harder lines like Macdonald etc. Alli and I had a good day on the Stone Valley crags, Uisdean, Marcus and I revisited Seanna Mheallain to climb the shorter routes on Bedrock Buttress (the new e3 isnt very good).  I’ve even did a little bouldering, working and cleaning through a hard traverse on my local conglomerate boulder – Tom Riach. It may look like a grey lump of warti-ness but it is good, honest!

The little wisp of cloud we had on the first top of Slioch 

In terms of  summer goals i set myself in the spring, i’ve done way more than i had intended. My grade has improved alittle, but most notably for me, i’ve managed to get in a big volume of rock climbing and (almost)always enjoyed myself in the process. 

I’ve been in the hills a lot more recently, with a few days in Assynt and the Cairngorms bagging corbetts as well as a couple brilliant weekends walking with the Lairig Club while staying in Achnasheen and Glen Affric.

I’d never been to Glen Affric and was surprised at how heavy a footprint has been left on an area so famed for it’s wildness and natural ‘decor’ ( cant bring myself to write beauty). Marcus and I took the Spanish and French  for a bit of waterfall hunting and up an outlying  top of the south Mullardoch ridge which was about as exciting as an ‘outlying top’ on a grassy ridge can be. To spice things up on the way back to the hut, Marcus and I descended a few km scrambling down via a river gorge while the others took the path.

The team on the summit of Slioch

In Wester Ross. 17 of us did the Slioch horseshoe in spectacular weather, on the same day that Finlay Wild shaved 12 minutes off his previous record on a traverse of the Cuillin ridge – an incredible 2hrs and 59mins from south to north. On Liathach we took in the intimidating northern pinnacles, via a chossy gully and the ‘munro top’. How the ‘f**k munro toppers are supposed to get out there i do not understand, nor wish to comprehend! I also got hit in the face by a rock on the way up the gully and since feel a bit shaken by the prospect of that rock being any bigger than it was. It sounds silly, but it seems these kinds of  unexpected glitches in the mental plan seem almost necessary in order to fully respect your surroundings – it’s a thinker and i am certainly not wishing for any more rocks to the head. We met Murdo and his friends at the boulders to collect our pads, and i showed Alex and Steven some of the easier classics in the Celtic Jumble. I also had another play on Malc’s, almost latching the big sloper move but finding the whole affair a bit too taxing.. ie another spanking!  

Spectacular view of Torridon hills and the Cuillin (far distance)

Mike and Greg on the western summit of Liathach after the northern pinnacles of death

Since then the weather has really come in and the first snow has dusted the higher tops. I’ve alos badly injured my shoulder to the point where i can barely lift it past 90degrees from my side and am religiously taking at least a month off to make sure it heals. I’m quite confident it will do and  am partly glad of it seeing at the wall is so expensive, its wet anyway and i have lots of uni work to be getting on with. Again, i am impressed by my own fragility (ha ha ha),  especially after having done a lot of ‘cross-training’ over the past few years and being generally quite fit. I suppose it’s impossible to safeguard against everything.

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