Weekend previously one of my 3 cats had torn his paw open. He likes to lie on top of my computer monitor and sook up the heat but on this occasion his 'thumb' claw got caught on one of the vents and ripped his paw open as he tried to get free. So, bloody cat, bloody computer and bloody walls where he had shaked his paw once free! And me £55 down, with instructions from the vet to keep him indoors for 2-3 days. Bang goes my weekend out on the hill!
Wasn't looking the best weekend for winter climbing anyway with strong winds, so Andy came down to mine and we headed over to Kirrie Hill for the season's 1st cragging session (though Andy had been to Cummingston to solo a few days previously) We were going well, I was nervous about being back on rock after the winter but it didn't feel stiff and unnatural and I was managing to climb 6a so that was good. The next day we picked up RB for a day indoors as she had missed her Wed training session as I had a Uni interview (finger's crossed!) RB decided to boulder mostly whilst Andy and I climbed, me managing a 6b clean that I've struggled on previously and RB flashing her 1st V4!!! And that was followed by cleanly climbing a 6b+, wee monkey!
Made it back out on the hill this weekend thankfully. We'd semi planned on a day out on Braeriach, perhaps to climb Vulcan, a V4, (winter route though, not boulder problem!) but Andy had a call from a mate of his the day before, who was standing above the Coire saying it looked guff, too warm and thawed and with hideous cornices and they were walking back out having not climbed. That was that plan down the drain, so I guess it was a day on a crowded Ben Nevis I had to look forward to. Still, sure Andy could find us something obscure to climb away from the hordes.
Andy had slightly different plans however! I'd mentioned on a previous email that if Braeriach was a no goer, then we could go do an easy mountain rock climb (aka a Diff or something) but that got Andy thinking about Ardverikie Wall on Binnean Shaus, low down, South facing and supposedly a good early rock option. Hmmmmm. I was dubious, had heard it was horrible when wet,
'It won't be wet,' Andy says, 'it's been dry for days.'
We got up around 7ish and arrived at the carpark maybe about 9ish, to be met with quite a few cars parked, some of which were definitely other climbers, we were going to have company. Still, someone had put a post up on UKC about the route a few days previously so it was inevitable that other folk would find there way there.
It was dank and cloudy on the walk in, with the cloud level getting lower and lower, accompanied by a thin drizzling of rain, great! And it wasn't warm. I hate rock climbing in the cold, the cold is for winter not for rock. Andy reminded me of the cold's great friction on the rock, and I reminded him of numb hands unable to feel anything of the rock. And so it was! What should have been enjoyment of a sunny classic route, was far from. We had to hang about waiting for a wee while in the clag and cold as 2 parties were up above us, but the lower ones weren't too long in moving up and off we set. Andy was to lead the harder pitches and me the easier ones but it didn't quite work out like that. My hands were completely frozen, numb and unable to feel the rock, most off putting and I wasn't enjoying it that much and couldn't really see up ahead or enjoy the surroundings. And the route was all slabby, I don't like slabs! I can climb them really well, but they always feel precarious to me. Still, the 3rd pitch *was* fantastic! Quite involved and very nice climbing indeed, so much so that I forgot about the cold and clag and once I got to Andy, the clag had parted and the sun was starting to peek out. Damn it! Why couldn't it have come out at the bottom of the route! We should have stayed in bed for an hour longer to get the best of the day. As it was the folk who had arrived after us, were catching us up but the sun was out now and I decided to lead the last pitch which was a bit run out in order of the day, but OK enough.
We then zoomed down and as it was early enough, decided to do Kubla Khan also, a ** Hard Severe. Oooooooooh, I did like the look of the 1st pitch! Much steeper than Ardverikie, but much, much more my style of route. It's funny the way some routes just scream out to you to be climbed and others not so much. Up a steep wall with nice little ledges and then up an even steeper wall above, with massive jugs to pull on. Shoved in a hex and a cam and then laybacked 2 steep moves onto another ledge and up another wee bit onto a big ledge to bring up Andy. The top pitch looked nice too. Slabby again, but steeper slab and the rock here is just so clean and the friction just superb. We were up in no time, but next was a dreaded abseil down.
I think Andy had forgotten just how much I hate abseiling, so when I was questioning the anchors, questioning whether the ropes would reach the bottom and then questioned about clipping my prussic into my leg loop (I normally clip it onto my belay loop) he lost his temper with me a bit, which of course fired up my temper as I simply won't be shouted at. I was livid! I ab'd down the route in a fury and still had steam coming out my ears by the time Andy came down.
'Am I forgiven?' There's that cheeky wee smile and sparkling eyes, and god damn, dinnae do that, yer making me laugh and I'm trying so hard to be a stroppy mare here and can't possibly be annoyed when you look at me like that! All forgiven, I can rant on about what a brilliant route that was and Andy points out some of the harder stuff on the crag, one route of which is a mental looking crack up a steep arete and wall, hideous!
The wind is picking up and it's a cold walk out, but the wind is exhilarating and I decide to run the last wee bit back to the car, can't go fast though as the sack weighs me down, but I dump my sack at the car, run back to Andy and then run back to the car again! I'm in the mood for running, all this tread milling at the gym is fine for keeping fit, but I need a run in the hills and soon! I think it is the wind that does it to me, it's fresh and makes me feel so vibrant and alive, that I want to run for the pleasure of feeling free.
Sunday, rock climb? The Ben? Quick day up Sneachda, maybe up the Runnel? Sandy Allan did it the other day with some folk off some Radio show and said there was still ice. Andy preferred to go rock climbing, but I was desperate for just another winter route as I'm not convinced I'll get anything else done this winter. The Runnel it was, neither of us could be bothered with an early start, drive and long walk up to a crowded Ben and the forecast looked better East anyway.
There were steps all the way up the gully and all the way up the ice in the chimney. I placed 2 token bits of gear in the chimney, which we roped up for, which were hard to clip as the wind was battering up the chimney and blowing my quickdraw all over the place! The ice had water running over the top of it and was dirty and cruddy at the top, but solid apart from that.
It was slow going at first until I felt more confident that the wind wasn't going to blow me off balance, but speeding up, my shoulder started protesting and protesting some more! Protesting more and more until it was a knot full of burning pain and my arm felt floppy, my hand weak on my axe. So hard to keep hold of it, I lean into the slope and just let my arm hang relaxed for a minute, before carrying on until the pain builds up to unbearable again.This is infuriating! I wish someone could tell me what the heck is wrong with my shoulder. I think it's some sort of rotator cuff tendinitis but 'they' keep telling me it's from my neck. But my neck feels fine until they get me to do the stupid neck stretches which make my neck feel stiff and sore, not stretched and relaxed in the slightest. Stop the stretches and hey presto my neck is back to feeling normal again, funny that!
Anyway, down off the steepest part of the Goat Track and I can walk down, the wind has calmed just enough that I can keep my balance. It's raining though and Andy's not enjoying the wind and rain, but I feel refreshed and happy to have got out just one more time. I've yet to meet another person who enjoys the hills in the driving wind and rain, surely it's not just me?
We're back at the car for 12.30, not bad for a day's work!