Tuesday 1 February 2011

Great things have been happening in Scotland over the last few days (well the whole winter to be precise) and it was inspiring to be up there to witness some of it. The weekends goings on have been well reported elsewhere, so I'll just relate my latest adventure.
I drove up to Scotland on Friday night with Dave Garry and Dave Almond and after a couple of hours sleep in the Northern Coiries car park we met up with Helen and walked in to Lochain.
Although it felt quite mild, by the time we reached the crag the temp was just below freezing and things were looking good. Dave Garry and myself headed up to Daddy Longlegs, a route thats been on both our tick lists for a while now, while Helen and Dave went for War and Peace.
I started up the technical first pitch as this suited my style of climbing, and Dave is the man for anything overhanging, like the second pitch.
Conditions were perfect with not too much ice and just enough gear to keep me moving, and after some thin moves at the top of the first groove, I reached a good rest before moving rightwards into the continuation, where more delicate climbing using a crack on the left led to a piece of fixed gear. Unfortunately at this point I made a stupid mistake. As I pulled the rope up to clip, my hand knocked my axe out of the crack and I watched it fall away, fortunately landing by Dave in the snow. After retrieving it I completed the rest of the corner and the moves round the roof, then moved up, to belay below the final pitch. A bit annoying really, as it was going so smoothly, but hopefully I've learnt my lesson and I'll be more careful in future.
Daddy Longlegs P2
One more pull
The second pitch was a complete contrast and deceptively steep. After pulling on, to place some gear, then moving back down for a quick rest, Dave cruised up it to complete the deception, and it was only when I got on it myself, that I realised how steep it actually was. It was steep! A bag with a belay parka, water and a guide book, never felt so heavy! and after pulling over onto easy ground, it was a good five minutes before the pump had gone from my arms.
Walking back in on Sunday, the wind was about 50mph straight on the nose and it was sapping my motivation for getting on anything challenging, but as we approached the cliff I could see Ines and Charly on Happy Tyroleans and my motivation returned.
War and Peace P1
We decided to climb War and Peace, another route on my list for a long time, with three good pitches up the steep face to the right of Fallout Corner. I led the first pitch and after moving across to the usual belay I continued up to some fixed gear higher up that allowed my to get a good view of pitch two. 
Overhanging ground on P2
This was another steep one for Dave - that can be seen in the photo above - then a squeeze chimney, before the last pitch up a slab, with a final sting in the tail.
P 3
Meanwhile Dave and Helen were climbing Bulgy, and if there was a category for the most protection-less ascent of a route, I think he might have a first. From the last piece of gear he traversed out leftwards through the crux at the stepped roof, then up the groove, before placing a dodgy cam. So about 10m of tech 7 with no pro!
We drove up to the car park again on Monday but with the temperature reading plus 7 we chose the cafe, a mistake it would seem, when I read that Ines and Charly were at it again with a new route by War and Peace. Obviously we're just not committed enough! 
Still I'm happy for the moment!