Friday, May 30, 2008

South Stack - Isle of Skye

We fancied a bit of an adventure today so decided to climb the sea stack that is pictured on the back of the guidebook for Skye. South Stack is situated off the very North tip of Skye at Rubha Hunish. We climbed the route Willie Hunish (VS) and used two tyrolean traverses to get to the base of the route without Simon and Paul getting wet - of course I had to swim the ropes across. A beautiful day to end a cracking week.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pinnacle Ridge, Sgur nan Gillean

We had an overcast and slightly damp start to the day today but it has brightened up nicely as the day has gone on. We decided to do Pinnacle Ridge which is a great mountain route described by the guidebook as one of the finest rock courses in Britain (whatever a rock course is!). There we a couple of other guided parties doing the same thing and the clouds swirled around us atmospherically giving the impression of voices in the mist. The route includes a good abseil off the 3rd pinnacle as shown in the photo and we enjoyed a dip in the mountain pools to cool off at the end of the day. Simon & Paul refused to sign the consent form for swimwear shots so just me I'm afraid!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sea Cliff Climbing at Elgol

We headed over to Elgol today to do some sea cliff climbing. A short walk along the top of the cliffs provided us with some beautiful views of the Cuillin and the smaller islands of Eigg and Rum out to sea. We abseiled down our first route, accompanied by a few midges who were sheltering from the Easterly wind. Jamie Jampot (VS 4c) was dispatched pretty quickly to escape the blighters. We then scrambled down the side of the cliffs and did a fun sea level traverse to the foot of Fertility Right (Severe) which Simon lead in good style. By now the midges were too much so after a bite to eat we headed to the Schoolhouse Buttress and climbed Schoolhouse Rock (VS 4c) as it started to rain. We then escaped the rain in the café for tea and scones!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jack of Diamonds - Hard Severe

It has been another gorgeous day here on Skye, like May always used to be. I have been coming to Skye every year since a teenager and it never disappoints. The combination of lochs, sea and mountains together with perfect gabro rock (so grippy it wears your fingers out rapidly) means that any trip here feels special.
Today we headed back up to Sron na Ciche. This crag is divided into 3 parts, The East Buttress, Cioch Buttress and Western Buttress. Whilst we were on the Cioch yesterday in the shade we looked enviously on at people climbing Eastern Buttress in the sunshine so today that’s where we went. We had our eyes on Shangri-La a classic VS but we were beaten to it so climbed Jack of Diamonds instead. This is a 100m Hard Severe that leads to the top pitches of Direct Route (Mild Severe). This gave us about 7 pitches of climbing in all and took us to the top of Sron na Ciche. We got some great views across to the Cioch which is shown in the photo

Monday, May 26, 2008

Isle of Skye - Rock Climbing Course - Cioch Direct, Slab Corner, Trophy Crack & Integrity

Regular readers of this BLOG will recognise Simon and Paul who are regular clients and friends. We have all headed up to Skye this week to do as much climbing as the weather allows and some mountaineering if it gets wet.
Today the weather has been fantastic with bright blue skies, sunshine all day and enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay.
We headed up towards the Cioch, scene of the famous sword fight in the film Highlander, and climbed Cioch Direct, 150 m Severe. We enjoyed lunch on the Cioch itself and then climbed Tropy Crack, E1, 5b, 4b and then Integrity, Mild Very Severe.
Ice creams were enjoyed back at the beach at Glenbrittle!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shorn Cliff - No Musketeers

Yesterday evening I headed down to Shorn Cliff with a friend of mine, Terry. I haven't climbed at all of the Wye Valley crags, there are a lot of them tucked away deep in the Forest of Dean, but of the ones that I have climbed at this is my favourite.
The climbing tends to be technical in nature with the rock being a slab rather than the usual brutish steep climbing you get on Limestone. The rock is also not as polished as in many places and the 30 minute walk in means that it is normally quiet.
All of the routes are single pitch but are about 25m long. This one is HVS 5a but I decided to do the direct alternative which puts a direct finish up thin cracks over a bulge to a grade of E1 5c. The way I climbed it the last move involved pulling up on one finger with my right hand into a dyno for a hold for the left. I didn't catch the hold and took a whipper which was a bit of a nuisance. My last piece of gear was only a meter or so below me and held (it was a micro wire!). So there we go, no onsight for me! Terry then climbed One For All, a lovely Hard Severe before we headed home.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dream of White Horses

On Saturday evening after work I met up with Andy at South Stack car park and we headed off to Wen Zawn to climb A Dream of White Horses HVS 5a, 5a, 4c, 4c. This is a legendary route and I have wanted to climb it for some time. We abseiled down to the Wen ledges and climbed the latter half of the 1st pitch as the tide was not low enough to do the start of it. We shared pitches although it didn't really make any difference whether leading or seconding as the route is a monster traverse around the zawn and any fall by leader or second will require a lot of prussiking! There are more photos on my gallery page.

Intro to Climbing Course

This weekend I was joined by Stuart, Kelly, Becky & Kevin for an intro to climbing course. We headed to Holyhead Mountain on Anglesey on Saturday and climbed a range of routes including my favorite Severe "New Boots & Panties". We had some beautiful sunshine all day and some great climbing.

On Sunday we headed to Llangollen for a day of Sport climbing. Again we got loads of climbing done and an abseil off the top of the quarry.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Old Man of Hoy, Bank Holiday Adventure

8:30 Friday morning Sid, Andy, Tom and I left Worcester headed for the Orkney Islands, in particular the Island of Hoy. By 10:00am we were sat in stationary traffic on the M6! Thanks to the wonders of Sat Nav we found a burger bar somewhere in Staffordshire and then slowly wound our way North.
We arrived in the port of Scrabster at the far North of Scotland at about 9:00pm, just 20 miles away from John O Groats. In no time at all the perfect camp site was found behind a stone barn on a neatly ploughed field but with handy parking for the car! After a brief look at the ferry timetable we decided an early start would be in order to catch the 9:00am ferry. The next morning we were proud to claim our first place in the queue, only to establish that there wasn't a ferry until 12;00pm!
We arrived on Hoy at 3:30pm and having been given a shocking forecast for Sunday decided to route march across to the Old Man.

For those that haven't heard of it before the Old Man is the sea stack shown in the photo. It was first climbed by Chris Bonnington and chums and was the subject a year later of a BBC outside broadcast with an all star cast. It is graded E1 4b, 5b, 4b, 4c.
The route starts at the bottom of a broken pillar at the end of a walkway that links the stack to Hoy. This walkway was once an arch that collapsed 100 years ago to form a causeway. We started at about 5:00pm with a guidebook time of 6 hours. I teamed up with Tom who was on his 2nd ever multi pitch route! The traditional climbing calls were scrapped and replaced with "safe" and "GO". It was dry but very windy so things needed to be simple and of course with the threat of darkness fast!
The first pitch is straightforward and allows you to get your head into gear before the crux second pitch. This involves a delicate traverse followed by and offwidth chimney through two overhangs. The holds were all very dirty covered in sand and I was glad of the wooden wedges left in place by Bonningtons team! Tom took over the lead on the 4th and final pitch which was superb, a steep crack with good holds and lots of gear and we topped out to a very windy summit.
We decided to use 4 abs to avoid rope jams with the last one being particularly spectacular hanging free over the sea. We reached the ground at about 9:00pm.
Sid and Andy joined us a little while later, all of us ecstatic and knackered! We made our way back to Rackwick bay and slept in the car until it was light enough to find the bothy and sleep some more!
You can view more photos and a short film will follow on my gallery pages, follow the link on the right.