Sunday, 30 August 2009

CLIMB AND RUN - 28/29th August '09

I'd promised to climb with Mel this weekend seen as I'd been jetting off loads with Andy of late and hadn't climbed with Mel since we climbed together at Clova ages ago.  I was looking forward to a weekend of relaxing climbing and not being dragged up anything hard, loose or wet and possibly pushing it a little if my arms didn't protest too much.
The forecast was somewhat dubious, but the East coast definitely looked like the better option.  I'd thought of Meikle Partans as I know Mel hadn't been and was keen to check it out, but after Friday's gales I was extremely hesitant to go up there and find that the sea was too choppy and then have me bottle out of climbing.
I hadn't been to Traprain Law for a few years and I remember it being a crag with a pleasant outlook and loads of easy routes, but with also plenty of VS's to go at and Mel was happy to check it out, never having been before.
We arrived before midday, to winds gusting at around 30mph and grey clouds looming!  Great! I felt bad for suggesting the place, especially seen as it had been warm and sunny back home.  But hey ho, we were here now so had to make the most of it.  I offered the first lead to Mel, after we'd had a wander round the bottom of the crags checking out all the routes.  Some of the VS's looked really intimidating and I wasn't sure about them at all!  Although one of the HVS's over a roof looked interesting, and it started next to a Severe which I liked the look of, so could check it out.
Mel started off on Great Corner, a ** Severe and took a wee moment to figure out the start, then flew up the rest, being constantly buffeted by the strong wind!  Even after watching Mel doing the start, I still found it difficult.  Tiny crimps and horribly polished edges for your feet with a really wide step across and up.  A tricky move around a roof, then plain sailing to the top. 
Now the clouds were really looming, dark and grey and just as we descended to our sacks there were a few drops of rain.  Sod anymore climbing in this cold wind and that polish was going to be horrific when wet!  Mel suggested heading back over Edinburgh way to Rosyth and I didn't take much persuading, but we'd both like to go back some time.
Rosyth was much more sheltered and I started off on a short and sweet Severe called Drizzle.  It was a 1/2 move wonder really, but the easier climbing above, flowed really nicely.  If only the route hadn't been longer!  We were both eyeing up the HVS called The Waullie that someone had recommended as a good first HVS, but there was no way I was trying it today, not with my poor climbing performance and weak and injured arms of late.  After playing about on the starting moves, Mel decided to lead a VS instead.  I'd wanted to lead Heathy for ages, but Mel was keen to do it too, so I was happy to lose the onsight (very happy in retrospect as it was bloody hard!)  This was after Mel soloed a V.Diff called Andy's Route.  There were a couple of other girls climbing in the quarry, one of which had been perplexed by the start of A.Route, and then asked how I'd found the Severe and jokingly asked if we could do the V.Diff so she could see how it was done.  We both had a play about on it, then Mel moved up quite high, agreeing it was tricky for the grade and decided to go all the way up, rather than try to downclimb the tricky move.  I jokingly commented that, that was her route done, so it was my turn now!
Even getting off the ground on Heathy is tricky.  I can't exactly remember what I did, but it involved jamming I'm sure, wide bridging and much grunting.  Mel did the start in far better style that I did, making it seem quite easy!  The next section was over a block where knees were used by Mel, but I somehow managed to do differently and mantle up quite easily.  Then came the crux.........
'oh no,' said Mel, 'I don't like jamming!'
(Rats!  Neither do I!)
'It will be good practise for you then,' I shouted up.
I could tell she found it tricky and was routing for her, especially when a few drops of rain started splashing down.  She'd just gotten past the crux when the heavens opened and it started raining pretty heavily.  Mel went off route a bit at the top, and ended up having to hang off the lip of and overhang and edge her way round and back on route to the top, letting out a massive woop when she got to the top!  I shouted out that the rock was too wet, and I would meet her at the top and ab down for the gear.  Just as I untied, the rain stopped and I changed my mind.  The bottom ledge was still soaking wet, but inside the cracks should hopefully be ok. 
I really struggled at the crux.  I had one hand jammed in for sure and was trying to find a good spot in the crack to jam my other hand, but a wedged in cam seemed in the way.  With my legs splayed out in a very wide bridging position, and no footholds low down enough that I could see, with the prospect of my hand slipping out it's jam (it wasn't a brilliant jam!) I shamelessly pulled on the sling of the jammed crack to pull myself up!  It wasn't over yet though, a couple of wedged in, grunty and awkward moves saw me past the crux.  Mel said later that she'd jammed her foot in the crack, rather than bridge at that point where the cam was.  I hadn't even thought to jam my foot there, having tried a foot jam lower down and deciding it didn't feel right.   But in retrospect, if you're not bridged out widely, you can reach up further also, so I might have found a better hand jam in that position.  Mel said that with her foot jammed in, her knee felt locked in also, and she felt almost secure enough that she could have freed her hands up!  The top bit was easy enough when you go the right way, and just one wee awkward reach and that was it done.
There was a VS next door called Grenville that I liked the look of, but across the other side of Rosyth we could see bands of rain falling from the clouds.   Hmmmmm........enough time for me to get up that VS?  I didn't think I'd be able to zoom up with any speed, seen as I'd found Heathy so tricky.  Aaarg, what to do, what to do, what to do!  In the end, I decided to leave it for better weather, as the crux was at the top and I didn't want to get caught on it in heavy rain.
I did a Severe called CND instead which was pretty goey and hard for Severe at the start!  Felt quite bouldery and there was no gear, but Mel spotted me until I was in a good position on a small ledge.  The gear was fantastic after that fairly bold start.  Every nut I got in was a sinker!  It was a pleasant enough route, but not worth ** stars.
We both decided on quickly soloing something easy before the rain came down.  Too late!  Mel was half way up the V.Diff called Sickle (my first every lead) when the rain started, and I was just starting a V.Diff called Jack's Route.  The rain got heavier, the rock got wetter and at the crux I had to swap feet on a small hold and then move up to a slopey ledge, which felt a bit disconcerting in the wet and high up enough to break an ankle if I slipped off.  But up I went, enjoying the freedom of movement upwards with no hindrance of rope or gear.  Nice!

Mel asked if I wanted to do a hill run the next day.  I had been toying with the same idea, but hadn't thought Mel would be up for running up hill!  So, great minds eh?  I suggested we run up Morrone, just outside Braemar as it was the only Corbett I had left to do in that area.  In retropsect it might have been nice running up Clach na Beinn and taking our rock shoes and having a wee play about.  But Clach na Beinn is steep!  And not a good one for a first hill run, and I'd struggle with it too!  But I think if I get a nice day soon, I'm going to run up and have a play.
Although, when I say run up, it's more run/walk/run/walk.  Mel did well for her 1st attempt at running up a hill.  She did mostly walk, but she kept her pace fast and did run quite a few of the really steep bits and it wasn't an easy hill to run!  On the last leg I was determined to reach the top in a one-er but had to stop and die just short of the top, with Mel booing down hill from me.  I caught my breathe, waiting for the 'sickness' to subside and trotted up to the top.  Yes!  We made it!  
The downhill was ace as ever!  I let my brakes off on the 1st bit, zooming down, long strides and wind through my hair, brilliant!  Next there was an uphill and I ran most of it, with Mel managing the steep bit near the top too.  Then it was more zooming downhill, all the way to the bottom, with a long flat stretch back to the car which we did as a fast walk/slow jog to cool down, with me rescuing a baby hedgehog from sure squishment on the side of the road.  Which I regretted after, as I'd picked it up with my fleece and didn't want to put the fleece back on in the car with the thought of all those hedgehog fleas!
It was ace getting in another hill run, and I think Mel thoroughly enjoyed it too.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Beinn Eighe again - 21/22nd Aug '09

I got spanked by yet another VS!
Andy and I had decided to climb the winter line The Ace, on Beinn Eighe and I was really looking forward to the technical climbing that Beinn Eighe has to offer on small, flat holds (though I wasn't much looking forward to the slog up it's Southern flank!)
The forecast was for light showers in the morning to clear up around 10/11ish and then sunshine and 20degrees (valley level) Hah!
The roads were wet driving up, cloud looming and threatening and it wasn't long after leaving the car that it started raining. Just a passing shower right? Well, it rained all the way to the top of the hill though Andy was insistent that the rock would dry if it stopped, me not so convinced.
The rain stopped as we approached the top of the Western Buttress area and by the time we were gearing up at the top of Fuselage Gully, there were even little bits of blue sky trying to peep through. It was still cold though and I kept my over trousers on, if not to keep me dry from any more showers, at least to keep me warm.
Walking down the top of Fuselage Gully, I felt uneasy on my feet. I started feeling a bit off and nervous. I didn't like all the plane wreckage about and kept imagining that plane crashing into the gully and all the violence that would entail. It made me feel a bit spooked which didn't help the nerves. I was glad of those over trousers though as the gully was wet and minging as only gullies can be! I didn't like the creaking noises that the wreckage made as you ab off the propeller jammed into the gully bed. That propeller has been stuck there since 1951 so more than likely is properly wedged in, but the creaking and groaning of the bits of metal surrounding it was very disconcerting!
Standing below the face of Fuselage Wall gives you the total WOW factor! What a wall! Steep, steep, steep and capped with massive roofs and overhangs, are we really going up there?!
The first pitch was easy enough and enjoyable and took us to a ledge below a very steep, and blank for feet crack which we went to the left of. Up a very awkward ramp come groove which involved getting hands wet in a crack, laying right out on that wet crack and getting my feet higher than my hips to get them onto a small horizontal crack in an otherwise blank block. This is where I started struggling. I was cold and my hands were now numb from having to use that wet crack and I started to feel more and more vocal about how hard I was finding things. Approaching the roofs found you in an utterly amazing position, pushed out by the overhangs you had to mantle onto a large block. Only problem was this block was as high as my chest and with the rope being behind me it had to stay loose enough so as not to pull me away from the block, but I became scared of swinging off into nothing if I didn't manage the mantle. I kept screaming up to Andy that I wanted a tight rope, so he'd take me tight, then I'd get pulled the wrong way so would scream up for slack, and then get totally gripped! I really struggled with the mantle, grunting and cursing and ended up on my knees eventually, a miserable wreck with poor Andy above frustrated at the torrent of abuse coming from my mouth!
And there was no let up either! Because of cold and nerves, I got a case of tunnel vision, unable to see holds unless they were directly in front of me. The next move involved a long step leftwards to take you right onto the steep wall below the roofs. Every time I tried to step left, I couldn't reach without letting go of a nice hold I had and boy I didn't want to let go! After some more cursing and back warding and forwarding I eventually remembered to look for a different way of doing the move that would give me more reach and found a massive side pull that made the move easy!
A move upward found you jammed into the bottom of a chimney with a massive capping roof, with no obvious way of freeing yourself. I can't for the life of me remember how I managed to move out of that hemmed in position but it did involve more cursing and a tight rope, with squeals of frustration as the rope and roof kept threatening to decapitate me!
That was it, I just gave up and surrendered to the tight rope and hauling up the last couple of moves. I struggle with back and footing at the best of times! But when I'm cold, stiff and a raging mess of nerves and frustration, unable to trust the friction on the rock (which had been far too wet in places for my liking!) then it just 'aint happening!
I got to the top of the pitch, sat down and needed 5 to compose myself, after muttering that I was never climbing a wet route again, I hated new routing on rock, it was wet and minging and I was giving up rock climbing for good as I was utterly hopeless and crap! I then ran out the rope up to the top of the cliff, which was just scrambling, untied and scrambled up to our sacks, brooding and feeling embarrassed by my display of utter patheticness and inability to climb. I hate the sheer indignity of having to be hauled when finding something too difficult and yet I make it worse on myself by losing my temper. I wish I could stay calm and collected and in control, and I need to find a way of tempering my volatile nature so it doesn't affect my head when climbing. It's a damn shame as in retrospect, if it had been dry, then I could appreciate what an amazing route it was, I mean the rock scenery and positions were so spectacular.
Whilst I'd been shouting and screaming my head off, a couple had been scrambling up to the top, from Sail Mhor and I was mortified to meet them on the descent down the scree from the top and apologised profusely for all the noise they must have had to listen too. They had walked in to climb, but found it too wet for their liking, which did make me feel a little better that I'd struggled cos we had been attempting a steep and sustained VS in those conditions. The descent didn't seem to be so bad this time round and we flew down in no time at all.

The next day was forecast for high winds and rain and so climbing was out the question. I'd taken my running stuff up to Andy's to get some exercise and when Andy mentioned walking up another Graham to do some mapping for the SMC Graham's book, I decided that I'd do a hill run.
Carn na h-Easgainn sits at just over 600m and near a large windfarm. Andy dislikes windfarms but I think they look alright, all futuristic looking, though I wouldn't like to see them scattered about everywhere. There has been a new track built up there recently and it was to map this track that we were going up for.
After walking for 5 mins or so to warm up, I started my run. It involved run/walk/run/walk right to the top. The top was closer than I realised (we'd managed to drive a fair bit of the way up) and I got there by running for 1 minute, walking for I minute, running for 1 minute, walk for a minute, run for 30 secs, walk 30secs, run for 25 secs up an excruciatingly steep bit, walk for 25, my body not wanting to run yet, but forcing myself to run another 30, walk 30, then run the final stretch to the top. I was running against the wind the whole way and at 40mph it was knocking my breath away and blowing spit out my mouth in my exertion! I waited for Andy to get to the top, he wasn't far behind and he went off left whilst I ran the longer track right to see if it joined up with a track lower down which was already on the map.
This section was gently undulating but still into the wind, and running along listening to Patti Smith was most enjoyable! I've missed running out in the hills! Took a slow leg back up to the summit and told Andy I'd see him back at the car, before setting off at a slow run which got faster and faster as the ground descended more steeply. I'd forgotten just how mental it is to release your brakes when running downhill steeply. I was flying! My strides long and free, the wind gushing behind me, pushing me all the faster! Thoughts that if I fell by placing an awkward step on the rough ground, I'd more than likely break my leg, were off little consequence! Exhilarating!
I had time to have a big drink, mull around deciding whether to change or not, deciding not to as I wanted to do my core strengthening exercises back at the house so no point getting into clean clothes. Then do all my leg stretches and boy were my quads tight! They've not worked like that for a while!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Bouldering, hillwalking and finding another HVS - 12th&14th Aug '09

It's been a fairly quiet week on the climbing front.
Wednesday came with forecast showers, but dry for Kirrie. Only problem is, I really can't face another days climbing at Kirrie, without the thought of slitting my wrists due to sheer and utter boredom of the place! I've led the easy routes far too many times, and don't feel inspired to push myself at the moment, not there at least. Where to go though? I trawled through the NE Outcrops for possible sea cliffs to visit, that might not be too intimidating. I was keen to check out Floor's Craig again, good few VS's to try there. Only problem was that the tide was to be high at tea time, bugger that!
Decided in the end to check out Boltsheugh, Aberdeen coasts only bolted venue. There are one or two easy routes and I found out the harder stuff can be toproped quite easily and thought that it might be ideal in the forecast showers as it's an overhanging venue. Better than going to the wall right?
On first glance I wasn't too impressed with the place, but as a bouldering venue, it's superb! So, so, so, so pumpy! We couldn't be bothered leading anything or setting up ropes for routes that are so short, and Jonathon jumped straight on the 6a+ on the Upper Right Wall and soloed it in his trainers! He reckons it's low end 6a. We then proceeded to spend the evening traversing the length of the right wall. By god, it doesn't half trash your arms and fingers! Flash pump, getting warmed up, sussing the moves, but our hands got way too wrecked on the sharp rock long before we could suss out the whole traverse.
Jonathon then played about on the HVS at the left end of that wall, going up and down, but never sure about the crux. I pointed out a hold up and to the left, and he went for it, soloing the damn thing! Ok, it's only like 6 or 7m or something, but there's no way you'd catch me soloing that! Be broken ankle/leg material coming off it for sure! Especially as none of us has bouldering mats. Anyway, he cruised it. His 1st HVS 5b, although it's more of a 5b high ball if you solo it I guess.
We were having a laugh anyway, seeing who get the furthest on the traverse, and being daft and having a banter (distraction techniques to put the winner off!) Of course, I came off last again and again! It was a nice chilled evening though, and that HVS is another strong contender for my 1st HVS lead. Steep, juggy and good gear, oh yes!

Friday, I had promised RB's Stepmum Laura that I'd go out hillwalking with her. The forecast was utterly minging however, with rain all over Scotland and 20-25mph winds, gusting 30 (try 30 gusting 40) RB refused point blank to go walking in the rain (sensible child) and Laura managed to get her Dad to take Beinn (RB's brother) so I couldn't get off the hook and was fully committed to going out, damn it!
It was minging as forecast and walking up towards the top of Carn ban Mor, Laura said she'd prefer to do just one Munro rather than the 2 as planned, yes!
'The shorter one or the longer one?' asks I.
'The shorter one.' Laura replied.

Compass out, was misty and horizontal rain. God, I love the wind and the fight against it, but wind and rain together is minging and by the time we were at the top of Carn na Criche I was pretty damp under my waterproofs and my boots were a puddle of water, what with the holes in them and all.
The summit cairn on the top is the smallest I've ever seen, and luckily the mist cleared just briefly so I could peer over the edge to see the long cliffs below. Nice! I'd like to visit these cliffs in winter, they look just like my cup of tea! And in this disgusting weather, thoughts are definitely starting to turn to winter.
The wind was biting on the way down, driving icy cold rain into our faces and after a wee hiccup of following a path which petered out into nothing and having a feeling that we weren't where we should be (we should have been high, but we had two upwards slopes to either side of us) I got the compass out so we could follow a back bearing back to the path. We ended up skirting round the side of Carn ban Mor and were quickly back at the main path. First bit of navigation I've had to do for a while, and it shows, am a bit rusty! But more in the sense of doubting my bearings and my ability to read the map, as I was actually correct as to where I thought I was. So not too rusty.

We were back at the car before long, to be greeted by The Auld Grumpy Git of Achlean! A right old 'get off my land' type. He was having a fit because we'd parked on his track and not used the car park. No harm was done as we'd stayed off the turning point for his lorries and gone right up onto the grass, but he was spittin! And threatening us with fines, aye right!

We nipped into Andy's afterwards to dry off, change, and get a warming cuppy (thanks love!) before zooming back down the road so we could get the kids.

Monday, 10 August 2009


I sat at home eagerly awaiting the Postie on Tues 4th, for my Higher exam results only for it to dawn on me that the results actually came out the day after, on the 5th! Aaaaarg, what a dimwit!! Especially since I had organised to drive up to Andy's on Tuesday evening and return to Dundee to stay at my folk's on Sunday evening, meaning those exam results would be sat by my front door until Monday morning. It was torture knowing they were at home and I couldn't access them, if only I'd been organised enough to register to get them texted to me!
Being up at Andy's and finally getting out into the hills helped to distract me from the anticipation of exam results and also the worry that RB and Laura and Beinn were going off hillwalking up Glen Shiel. So silly for me to worry, but my imagination runs off and before I know it, horrible things have happened and I feel sick to the core. I've got to stop this worry and stress over things that 99% have no chance of happening!

It just so happened that as I wanted to go hillwalking on Wednesday to give my arm a bit of a rest, and Andy needed to go up A Ghlas Beinn for his 4th round of the Munro's, that I was able to get first hand experience of the hills that RB would be going up. I knew she'd be fine on them, but I also knew they were big hills and not an easy stroll. Turns out they were all fine and had good weather and not bothered too much by midges! Nobody got lost in the mist, nobody fell off cliffs and nobody got eaten alive by killer midges! (apart from Andy and I in Torridon on Thurs, but that's for later)
Andy and I went up A'Ghlas Beinn by it's West Ridge, then up to the summit, down by it's SSE ridge to the Bealach an Sgairne, then down some of Glean Choinneachain and around and up into Coire an Sgairne, and up to the summit of Beinn Fhada. We then went up the Plaide Mor to the top of Meall an Fhuarain Mhoir and along the scrambly ridge that followed NNW. That was quite good fun and a there was a wee tricky slabby step. Nearing the end, Andy was fed up of all the up and downing involved and proceeded to take a 'short cut' (aye!) with me the fool following, even though I'm certain the map had it better to continue!
'But I like downhill better,' he says!
'I don't like this steep grass and wet mud!' says I, but I follow on regardless and after stumbling and cursing to the tune of,
'this is what is was like before paths,'
we eventually came to the point where we would have more easily by following the end of the ridge. No matter, the descent though steep, was easy enough and before long we were trudging along by the river with Andy saying he'd forgotten where the bridge was and me having visions of river wading, but find the bridge he did, genius! But not in time to be saved by the heavens opening just 10 minutes from the car and us getting a soaking. Aaaaaah, I love the hills, it feels so good to be home!

A day of rest and Harry Potter saw us drive up to Torridon to climb on Beinn Eighe. At last! I've dreamed of climbing here since last summer, tis so beautiful and the rock so good! We walking in good speed (racing against the midge's which were horrific in Torridon stylee at the carpark!) I was nervous about the approach to East Buttress which involved a very narrow 'path' around the top of the sandstone tier (you can see in the pic of the Tripple Buttress, where the brown sandstone tier ends and the lighter quartzite tier begins) The path consists of muddy foot holds in grass and there is a narrowing that is about a foot wide and is very muddy and slimy, where a slip would have disastrous consequences. I tried not to think about that as my mind went into vertigo mode, and the scenery to my right flew past me at a faster speed than normal, my legs feeling like they were moving on the spot and becoming more and more unbalanced. Concentrating on where I place my feet, trying to ignore the dizziness and concentrate on my breathing instead.
'Where is the narrow, horrible bit?' I ask.
'You've just past it!'
'Oh! Cool!'
We're at the bottom of the route and this funky looking chimney awaits us. The climbing is weird. It's not like the HVS we did here last summer, similar but different. Many of the holds are same in their flatness but they are much bigger. But the climbing is different, the moves are quite big and there is alot of back pressing and mantley type moves, but we are bridging up a chimney. I lead the top pitch which is the best and I love it! I get to a steepening and I'm sure this can't be right at V.Diff! The wall looks bare, bar a crack on the left, a very thin crack in the centre and a wide crack on the right. There are some footholds in the centre so that's where I start. And as I move up, where the wall seemed blank, all these holds just keep appearing and appearing and the climbing is just so smooth and lovely and much, much easier than seemed from below! Another crack follows above and I take the wall just to the right of it, over walls and ledges and before I know it I'm at the top, bringing Andy up. I'm so happy!
Andy had spotted some line last year and went off, happy to solo up it whilst I went round to bag Ruadh-stac Mor. I set off at a run, leaping down over rocks and boulders, loving the freedom of running downhill, it's been to long! I slow to a fast walk on the uphill leg, bag my summit, and fly downhill again, the wind in my hair, only pausing to snap a picture of a lone deer grazing on the slopes.
Amazingly, by the time I'm back up, Andy has finished his route! I'm gobsmacked by how quick he was, so sure I'd be hanging around waiting. We'd spotted a team on Ling Dynasty, an E5 that Andy had teamed up with someone with and done the 1st ascent of. We were curious who was on it, but they'd gone and though we spotted them scree running down the hill, they were far, far quicker than us. I was amazed by how quickly the could move, sure I'd be on ankle breaking territory if I dared go that fast!

On Saturday we decided to walk into Coire Sputan Dearg. I'd quizzed Andy about the HS Grey Slab, but knowing my dislike of slabs Andy was hesitant and we decided that Snake Ridge would be a better option for me. It took just over 2hours to walk in, through Sneachda and up the Goat Track, then heading south across the Feith Buidhe, the Garbh Uisage Beag and the Garbh Uisage Mor, then down Glissade Gully and into Sputan. Andy was walking ahead of me down the gully and said there were a couple of folk gearing up at the bottom of our route. No way! I thought he was winding me up! What were the chances of walking all this way just to find someone on the exact route we wanted to do! I didn't believe him until I saw an orange helmet bobbing about and the other team came into view. No worries though. They weren't too long and Andy seemed happy to wait for a change.
I led the 1st pitch up a fantastic crest which narrowed significantly near the top! It was fairly steep at the bottom, and then levelled off into a knife edge. I contemplated using the edge as a handrail, or going Au Cheval (having had practise!) or doing a crab crawl! It was too steep to bum shuffle up, and it felt a bit like cheating not going direct, so I went for the crab crawl, scuttling up on toes and hands, it was great fun! I'd run out all the rope (1st pitch 60m and we only had a 50m rope) so Andy climbed up to let me finish, then he carried on, running the next 2 pitches together at 20 and 15metres and covering the crux which was brilliant climbing! A couple of really good moves and good value at the grade! The weather was really threatening and we had to move quick. I flew up the next easy pitch and it was an easy scramble to the top that we just soloed up. The cloud was thick, wind had picked right up and it started a steady drizzle which lasted all the way back to the Goat Track. Snapped some pics of climbers on Magic Crack, which turned out to be John, an old climbing partner and then we zoomed off back to the car, just in time to use the toilets!

On Sunday I had assumed we'd not climb so was thinking of what hills I could go up on the way home. But Andy was having none of that! He admitted he was tired, but still had a day left in him for more routes. I wasn't too keen on going cragging but a day in Sneachda piqued my interest! The plan was try for the 1st summer ascent of The Messenger and then ab down Pot of Gold and for me to lead that. Well, on approaching, Andy admitted that he didn't know how close we'd be to ab down Pot of Gold and it might involve traversing across or scrambling down from the summit and then we'd have to walk off in rock shoes after! Grrrr, I was grumbling as I'd left my light trail shoes at Andy's and only had my heavier boots which were too big to clip onto my harness. I could feel one of my strops developing and it only got worse, when The Messenger's 1st pitch turned out to be utterly minging! Up a wet slab, followed by a huge wet, grassy and muddy ledge until you could get to the clean rock. Yuck! The 1st pitch was the crux and I found it desperate! You had to use an undercling and then reach round a corner and round the side of a roof to a crack. But try as I might, I couldn't get round the corner and reach the damn crack! I hauled on gear and had a tight rope and ended up having to be hauled up the the crux! This left me grimacing! The top crack was desperate too! Steep wall with rounded cracks that I can't get my hands around and can't jam. Tight rope again and heaaaaaave! Am fuming by this point! This isn't bloody climbing! Being pulled up stuff IS NOT MY IDEA OF FUN! Andy is learning to keep his mouth shut when I go off on one lest he get his head bitten off and he waits for me to calm down whilst I spit that I'm not climbing another bloody route and I'm too angry to ab! So we walk off, the concentration needed not to slip on wet grass, calming my fury somewhat. By the time we're back at the sacks I'm ready to set off up that minging 1st pitch again to get to the clean rock on Pot of Gold. I'm even contemplating leading it, but I'm very hesitant after the thuggy, desperate and reachy climbing on Messenger. If Pot of Gold is anything like that, I'm really going to struggle!
I look up at the 2nd pitch and I have to admit, it certainly looks appealing! A steep wall broken by a system of corners, cracks, grooves and blocks, so off I set. I'm really shaky to start of with, my mood and nerves still affected by my dismal failure on the previous route. I'm struggling to read the rock but with encouragement from below I finally start relaxing, my leading head slowly comes together and the route starts speaking to me and pulling out full involvement. The top of that pitch is ace, up a dubious crack and chimney would looks impossible at the grade but is actually pretty easy!
The crux pitch *is* unlikely though and Andy gives me one bit of beta by telling me where a hidden hold is, bingo! Well, bingo for a minute! I still can't do the move the way he does it as it feels way too unbalanced. Instead, I get a really high foot and a big rock over and I'm up past the crux bulge. The rest is easy and I scamper off up to the top of the cliff, so much more happier than I was in the morning and so glad I'd relaxed enough to keep on climbing.
Again, we are back down to the car park early, and after sleeping at my folk's house in Dundee and picking up RB this morning, I zoom off up the road to eagerly rip open my awaiting exam results!

Higher Biology - A
Higher Psychology - A
Higher Maths - A

So pleased! I knew I had an A for Biology, was certain I also had one for Psychology, but it was 50/50 for an A or B for maths and I was so certain I wasn't going to get an A as I'd found the 2nd paper really difficult (forgetting that I'd found the 1st paper a doddle though!) which probably made up for messing up a couple of questions in paper 2 and being unable to answer 1 of them. Getting that A in Maths really was the icing on the cake to a fab week.