Friday, 30 May 2008

KIRRIE HILL - Tues 27th May '08

Went for an evening session of bolt clipping with RB and Jonathon. I was hoping today would be the day when I did my 1st 6a clean but it wasn't to be!
We started off with our usual warm up on the very easy F3+ Kirrie On Regardless, which I swear gets dirtier each time rather than cleaner! RB decided that she wanted to lead too today and got up no problems whatsoever.
Jonathon couldn't decide whether to jump straight on his 1st 6a+ or to warm up on something else first and decided on the latter option, cruising up the F5, The Hill Has Eyes. RB wanted a bash at leading this too but I seemed to recall a pretty tough and reachy crux on this route from when I tried it on a toprope last year. Couldn't remember whether I found it tough because of my injured spine at the time though, or because it was hard. I managed to dissuade her anyway which is just as well because it was really reachy for her and she ended up sitting on the rope and taking a good few attempts to crack it. I can't seem to reconcile myself to the fact that as she wants to climb harder stuff on lead she will take a fall one day, but the easy routes at Kirrie are too ledgy etc to want to be falling on easy stuff and being a mother I hate the thought of her falling!
Anyway, I tried it on lead and ended up frigging my way up the damn thing at the crux, it's bloody good value for an F5!! I have to stretch right up to reach a good handhold and get my foot up for a highstep and then it's straight onto a 2finger pocket, then 2x 3 finger pockets before I can reach the jug and clip. Finger pockets on a 5 just aint right!
Next we jumped on Spent, F6a, this is the one I wanted to lead cleanly having toproped it a few weeks back and having sussed how to get over the wee bulge. Jonathon cruised it as per usual and RB needed to sit on the rope just the once. She asked if she could try and lead this one next time and I told her if she managed a couple of the 5's over on the left wall cleanly then she could give it a go. It's not too bad for a fall that one, as there's nothing to hit on the way down. Anyway, I didn't get it clean, gggrrrrrrr! I was up and down like a yoyo at the crux and couldn't remember how I managed the bloomin' high step and rockover! Julie was there climbing on the 6a+ next to me and she was trying to get me to get my right foot into a wee pocket as that was the way she does it, but that just didn't feel right to me and had me too bunched up for the rock over. But if I had my foot where I was placing it then I just couldn't get my body weight over my right foot. Took me a few attempts but I finally found a wee groove for my right foot just under and to the left of the wee pocket. I will get this route clean next time, oh yes!
Jonathon went for his 6a+ next and managed it no problems whatsover, 6b for him next me thinks which will be great cos then I'll get the chance to try some harder stuff too and maybe improve my climbing! RB managed the crux roof after a rest and some impressive heel hooking and I had to rest too and thug myself over the roof with little finesse or technique!
Forgot my camera so no photos today.

KINNOULL HILL RACE - Wed 21st May '08

Having started running back in January of this year, after quitting the fags 6 months previously, Kinnoull Hill race was recommended to me as a good 1st hill race. Arrived in Perth around 7ish and walked along to Kinnoull Primary School to register and then back along to Branklyn Gardens carpark for a short warm up run. I was told there would be folks there of all abilities so felt a wee bit intimidated by all the folk there who looked like proper, experienced runners with their club tops on! Race kicked off at 7.30pm and after a flat stretch of road, turned up a track and climbed steeply upwards. The flat start was a bit of a dash to get infront and I was getting overtaken again and again, with feelings of, 'oh what the feck am I doing here, this is way beyond me!' I managed to run the 1st couple of hilly sections but walked the rest, just breaking into a tortured run to get over the brows and back onto the flats. There was a couple overtaking me on the hills but then I'd overtake them on the flats, but that didn't last long and they were soon well ahead! Another lass was behind me for most of the way up and I was determined to stay ahead. Eventually got up the steeper bits and onto a more undulating section and the top of the hill and then it was lots of downhill, yeeha! I love running the downhills! At one steeper bit, I was going so fast with the breaks off and at a tight bend nearly went careening off into the woods! Down at the bottom, after the last downhill, there was a bloke taking photos and just as I was about to give a wee smile and nod, I realised it was my brother and broke into a big grin!

Race was just a short (but sharp) 4 miles and my time was 40mins and 34secs. I came in 109th out of 120 odd and was just pleased not to come in last!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

GLENCOE - Sat 24th May '08

we went up to do Crypt Route, tis a route I've wanted to do since I read classic rock when I first started climbing, but have had nobody to do it with, cos the usual response is, 'I'm a climber,not a caver' Anyway, had a braw day! Got to glencoe about 10ish and started the 2 and half hour trudge up to the route. There is a boulder/scree slope on approach which was horrendous, then we had to deal with a snow slope. Thankfully, that was soft so I could kick steps into it (I only had soft walking boots on) Then we had a berschgrund (sp?) to deal with which was nearly 10ft in places. Then there was the approach to the bottom of the route up a minging, loose gully and then a scramble up a minging loose groove/wall bitty, yeuch! Chris led the 1st pitch which was very 'traditional' V.Diff style climbing. Everything was there (once you found it!) but it was pretty strenuous and steep climbing. The chimney got harder about half way up and up Chris was up and down a few times. Then he said, 'I'm just gonna try and wedge myself in this crack bit here' and promptly disappeared from view. Much ooohing and aaaaahing came from Chris, he had found the route and cave! I was dying to get up there and see it. It took him a while to set up a belay in the half dark, and then it took me ages to climb the 1st pitch. I had to climb up onto a ledge, take the rucksack off, get my rockshoes on, and get the rucksack back on again, not easy in a chimney! Finally got to the cave and wow wow wow, tis amazing! I led the next pitch, down the corridor of the cave, across a gaping hole in the floor with fell down about 10foot into another chamber, then up another chimney and over a chockstone above the hole in the floor, so a big drop below at this point. big holds all the way here, and it was lovely. Then I got to a window and there was a vertical drop down the cliff face here, very exposed! But this is where it went all pear shaped, I couldn't understand where to go next. Through the window and across a bad step there was a grassy ledge with a block with tat on it, or there was a ramp leading up into another corridor to what looked like a dead end. I was shuffling forwards and backwards unable to make up my mind where to go. Then remembered that back down below before I started going upwards, that you could cross a chockstone blocking the corridor so I thought maybe the route went that way. Next came a downclimb of what I'd just done, crossing the chockstone was fun (not) and that involved a dead end of fallen boulders (think I had found the no longer existing Tunnel route) So, it was back up again. Got to my previous high point, decided that going through the window wasn't right as it looked too vertical and hard for V.Diff territory, so continued round and up the ramp, which was exciting! Found crampon scratches so felt confident again that I was on the right track. But then, hmmmm, where the feck does the route go now and it was getting darker and darker. Decided that if I continued there would be too much rope drag as I had turned 2 corners already, so got a stonking belay and brought Chris up. Guidebook came up and trying to make head or tail of the route descriptions was impossible! chris wasn't keen on going back and out through the window either, so eventually after much discussion he tried going up this VERY narrow cleft. He went right into the back of it as there was a crack there for gear, but got a bit spooked and came back out. Went up and down a few times and then went for it. he had to udge up the back of the cleft, for about 10ish m, then grab a ledge and hand traverse across, still wedged in the cleft, to grab hold of a chockstone at the front of the top of the cleft and then hold that to swing out of the chimney and onto the main cliff. Once you step off a ledge and into the cleft, there is a drop all the way down the chimney, right down to the very bottom chamber through the hole in the floor below. Once you were wedged in high up, if you fell, I think you would just jam in but it must have been pretty unerving! I was certainly glad that Chris was leading that bit and not me! Anyway, chris got up to the ledge, and discovered there was a wee tight platform up there, dunno if that was the Gallery variation we had found but he didn’t want to commit to the hand traverse (don't blame him, it looked terrifying, and we still weren't sure whether we were on route here) So, he came back down and we deliberated on what to do. Chris tried another option that we hadn't even noticed at first! One of my belay anchors was a thread through a chockstone and I had checked, with much difficulty past the chockstone to see if there was a way through, but it seemed a dead end. But, chris crossed the chockstone and went up, standing on it and could see a small hole. I had a nosey, but the hole looked tiny, far too small for the rucksack surely (which in retrospect was a bad idea even taking in the first place!) Chris went further up for a nosey and reckoned it was maybe doable, but he was a little hesitant of going further into the bowels of the cliff if it wasn't the right way, and getting stuck/lost etc (mind you, we seemed pretty lost anyway!) I just happened to ask what the time was and chris checked his watch. NO WAY, it was 6 o’clock!!!!! How the hell could it be that late!!!?? Had we really got so lost, and faffed so much :o( Anyway, after a lot of deliberation, we decided that under the circumstances and cos we weren't entirely sure if going through that hole would go, we decided to bail out. So, we had to downclimb back down the ramp, which was a bitty scary, then set up an abseil. There was a fair bit of old tat here (I wonder if many parties had made the same decision as us, after getting hopelessly lost!) Took about an hour to set up the abseil, double check and tripple check it. I got a major bout of paranoia about the tat and decided to sacrifice a sling and crab around a block so things were doubley safe. Whole setting up and ab’ing down took about an hour. Then we set up another ab, and ab'd down the yucky gully, across the berschgrund and down the snow slope. Back down the slippy scree slope and back to the other rucksack. Stopped for a breather and some food and water, then down we went, running down the hill once we had got to the better path. Got back to the car at pretty much bang on 10 o'clock. I had forgot that the car was parked ages away too, cos there was roadworks at the Coire nam Beith layby, so that was a bit of a groan after a long day! Anyway, pretty much bang on 12hrs on the hill, for a fecking backed off of, V.Diff, oh the shame! But what an adventurous day, encountering all sorts of mountaineeringy things, was fab! And after doing a bit of research I think the route did go through that hole we found, so I'll need to go back and finish the route at some point (but not this season, I'll be happy if I never see another chimney again at the mo,lol!)

BLACK ROCK GULCH -Tues 20th May '08

1st trad session of the year (at last!) but pretty nervous, hate the damn seacliffs! I remember Black Rock Gulch as being not too bad though so hopefully I'll not find the sea too intimidating and wimp out of leading.

Out with RB, Adam, Ellis and Phil. RB, Adam and I climb as a rope of 3.

It's a nice enough spot, with easy routes ideal for beginners but as with alot of places on the Aberdeen coast I find the gear placements a little finicky.

Adam led Astra, which was pretty damn good value for V.Diff on the top out! I've climbed severes which felt easier. RB seconded this route in far better style than her Maw!

I then led Windy Ledge, a nice V.Diff chimney with more gear than you can shake a stick at, just the way I like it! I was happy to find that my gear placements were good (and not too slow) after barely climbing in the past 2 summers due to a spinal injury followed by spinal surgery.

Adam then led Mellow Yellow, a nice wee Severe route. I had been kinda wanting to lead that one, but Phil was leading the severe called Yellow Edge that Adam had wanted to do. I'll get it next time though.

By that point it was time to pack and go. Forgotten how slow trad is compared to bolt clipping!

Lovely evening though with good fun company.