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.

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