Monday, 28 September 2009

PITLOCHRY 10K - 27th Sept '09

A few weeks ago Mel asked if I wanted to do the Pitlochry 10k with her.   Hmmmm, I wasn't *that* keen on the idea as I'm not really into racing that much, bar adventure/trail racing but I knew she was keen to have something to train for, for motivational reasons, so I decided I'd go for it.  I was a bit nervous about how I'd cope in a race situation, not having done much road running before.  But, over the course of the summer I'd done a few road runs and had done a 10k road run out of curiosity to see if my back could cope with it.  The old back seemed to manage just fine, and so that was that, I was spending the remaining few weeks training on the roads rather than my favoured off road circuits.
I'd been out running a lot at the start of the summer, around 4x a week.  But just 5k runs, with the odd 10k run thrown in now and again, but once the school summer holiday's started, my running stopped and training only began in earnest 4 weeks ago.
1st week I made the mistake of setting off on a 4mile run way too fast.  I'd downloaded a load of music onto RB's old Ipod which I commandeered after she got a new one and was looking forward to having music to listen to whilst I ran.  First track was a fast one though, and of course I was running to the tempo of the music, so by the time I'd ran 3/4 of a mile my right shin was in so much pain that I had to turn about and walk back.  I walked for a while, then tried to run again, but no good.  Once I hit the forest track by the river I tried to run again and it felt fine, so decided to stick to off road for that session, having no more troubles.
2nd week I decided I'd throw in some fartlek training over a distance of 10km to see how fast a time I could get.  Bad idea!  I burnt out really quickly going too fast too soon, and only managed the first 5k in 26 minutes as I had to slow down near the end.  By then, I felt so heavy and wasted that I had to walk some of the way back and that's the first time I've ever had to walk during a run due to being too tired!
On my Thursday session, Mel couldn't make it as she was stuck in a traffic jam, so I decided to go out during the evening on my own anyway and ran a distance of 12km, and it was the most pleasurable run I'd done in ages.  I drifted along slowly, listening to my ipod, watching buzzards eye up distant prey in the fields and the sheep grazing peacefully in the fields, rosehips growing and evoking memories of itchy coos!
The 3rd week involved interval training on the Monday, where I covered 5k in a time of 22.5 mins, really chuffed with that time!  But there's no way in hell I can run like that over 10km!  I was getting into it so much that I decided to go for another 10k road run on Tuesday, managing it in 54minutes.  Then Mel managed our Thurs eve session and I ran another what I believe to be just over 11km.  Uh oh, trouble brewing!
I know you are supposed to up your mileage when running at a maximum of 10% a week, so if I'd been running 15km a week, then this week I should have ran 17km max.  But I didn't, I ran 26km that week, possibly more.  And to make matters worse, I had a brand new pair of running shoes on and had been advised to break them in gently.  But when did I ever listen to advice!?
So, it's Friday and my knee hurts a little from Thursday's run.  An evening's bouldering session does little to help, with me falling off just about every problem I try, my arms weak and ineffective!  As stated last week, I'd planned to run up a Corbett on the way to Andy's, but there's no way that was happening.  The munros I did last weekend didn't seem to irritate my knee too much the days after, so I went for a slow 5k jog the Tuesday before the race just to make sure my knee was up for it.  
It was ace!  Tight and sore to start off, and loosened off after 1km with no more problems.  Ice and stretch after and I reckon I can do this race on Sunday as long as I don't push myself    I'm very tempted to go for another run on Thursday, but I manage to restrain myself.
Sunday looms, and the night before I am so nervous that I'm having nightmares about some guy trying to trip me up during the race and stab me!  Melanie is just as bad, and she has butterflies in her guts, we both feel like,  
'aaaaaaarg, what the heck are we doing here, look at all these fit people!'
There are just over 200 competitors, and most look like club runners bar the odd punters like us!  They are using micro chips that we tie to our trainers, so it doesn't matter if you start at the front or the back, the timer will clock you when you run over the mat it's connected too, and will start timing you from that moment.  Mel and I had agreed that we'd run together over the 1st couple of kilometres, so we wouldn't push off too fast and burn out.  And oh I did try!  Maybe for the 1st 1/3 to 1/2 km, but even running slowly, I was making gains and having to slow more and turn to make sure Mel was keeping with me.  I couldn't keep it up for very long, and I felt guilty for about a nano second, before thinking feck it, I'm outta here!  
'I'm pushing on,' I shout.  Ipod on, and I'm off!
I lose count of the amount of people I overtake, but I'm buzzing, this is ace!  Fist hill, slow down the pace, don't knacker yourself, you know you can't go fast up hills.  Flat ground, pick up pace, wee downhill, let off the brakes and I'm off again, over taking more people.  There's the 3km mark, there's the 4km mark.  
'Oh, why has that person turned back?'
'NO WAY!!!  They havn't turned back, they've turned over the bridge at 5km, ran through the woods, ran over the road bridge and are on their home leg.  Jesus!!  That's bloody fast!  I'm gobsmacked, and a few of us cheer out in support, amazing!
Ah, there is the turning point, I'm feeling good.  Over take more folk on the down hill here.  Some uphills through the woods, keep going, keep going.  Aaaaarg, stairs!!!  Sod it, take a deep breathe, fight the pain and I bound up the stairs 2 at a time, over taking another 2 people, hurrah!   Water stop on the bridge.  Ugh, I can't run and drink, stop for a gulp, don't wanna stop!  Pour water down my legs, pour water down my arms and throw some over my head.  Another gulp, throw the bottle in one of the big bags, over take another person, and I'm on the home run.  God, I'm hurting now!   My shoulder is killing me!  It feels like it's on fire, painkillers before the race don't deal with the burning nerve pain that's searing me.  Ignore it, ignore it, push on, the pain will pass if you don't let it beat you down.
The first person of the race over takes me.  A bloke in red, zooming past, so fast he's almost sprinting.  Wow, he kept that in reserve!  There's a couple of Perth Road Runners that over take me on the 1st hill.  Back on the flat and I manage to regain my place in front.  Not by much though, then they are past me again.  Pick it up and I pass them.  This goes on 4 times, until I reach a killer of a hill past a bridge over the road and the couple over take me again.  I don't manage to catch them up this time.  This hill is a killer so late in the day!  Keep going though, this must be the last hill!  I manage to over take another girl who had been ahead of me since the road bridge over the river.  The hill must have killed her too! 
There is the sign now for 9km.  One more to go, yes!   And it's all flat now.  A bit of confusing heading down one of the side streets.  There is a barricade and I'm directed to the right side of it.  Aaaaaaarg, which way is right, I'm shouting down the warden, 
'which way, which way?!'
He's shouting, ' Right, RIGHT!!'
'Aaaaaarg, I don't know which way is right!' as I run to the left!
The warden uses his arms to point rightwards, and I'm sorted.
Past the railway station, there is a short and steep downhill, let off the brakes, yeehah!  Then there is one last hill, but it's ace because a crowd has gathered up there and they are all cheering away, mental!  A quick dash and I'm over the finishing matt.  Folk are trying to hand me cups of juice and bottles of water but I brush them off, I need to sit down!  Catch my breath, then grab a bottle and someone comes over to remove my chip.  Service or what!  
I have a good few swigs, then go back down the course to find Mel.  I spot her coming down after the bit where I got confused, give her my water and try to urge her on, not far too go!  She looks as red in the face as I feel but she's made it, hurrah!
Back to the car to get changed, then it's off to the village hall for tea, rolls and cake, yum!   The fastest person got 31 minutes, crazy!
I had really wanted to get 50 minutes but there was no way that was happening with the little training I did and Mel had been keen to get a sub hour, but she did really well to manage to complete the course as she got even less training than I did!
So, my time was 53 minutes and 19 seconds (which is a minute faster than my best 10k that I'd done of late) and I came in 11th in my category of Senior Women.  Err, there were only actually 33 senior women that completed the race (more seemed to either enter and not finish, or their names were on the list but they didn't enter)  But even still that puts me in the at the back of the top third and I'm mega chuffed with that!  It sounds really positive thinking on it like that.  There were 180 something competitors and I came 119th, and that doesn't sound as impressive :oD   Even still, it's much, much better than I've done in my previous races.
My knee coped well, but did swell up again that evening, with stabbing pains on the medial aspect.  But those have gone, the swelling has subsided some and it's back to a deep, dull ache that stops me from bending or kneeling down.   Boy, I'm looking forward to a good massage on Wednesday!
A couple of photos will follow shortly, once I figure out where the software is for my mobile phone camera.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Andy and I decided to have a fairly chilled weekend and do some hillwalking instead of climbing.  Must say, I was really looking forward to it.  No stress of abseils, chossy gully descents, cold and wet climbing, fear creeping in, no mental stress whatsoever, fab!
Andy had only 12 munros to do, to complete his 4th round of the Munros, and I was on 99, so keen to get my number 100.   I havn't done any of the ones Andy has left to do, bar Ben Starav, so was happy to go to the edge of Knoydart, at the head of Loch Arkaig, to upper Glen Dessary and bag Sgurr nan Coireachan, Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche, and also possibly Sgurr Mor if we were going well.
My only concern was my knee.  After running over 10km on Thursday evening, my knee had swollen up a little, and probably wasn't helped by going bouldering on the Friday and falling lots.   I'd planned to run up one the Corbetts near the Lecht on Saturday, on the way up to Andy's but my knee was by that point, pretty tender and puffy and I didn't think bounding down hill would help matters, and not even sure if I could have bounded anyway!
Forecast was for showers on Sunday.  Typical!  The rest of Scotland looked rain free, so why the hell were we going to one of the wettest places in Scotland?  The day dawned windier than expected, and we could see there had been rain through the night in the West. 
The road up to and past Loch Arkaig is horrific.  An extremely narrow and twisty track that bends and winds up and down and left and right, until you feel utterly nauseous.  Luckily, Andy was feeling it too, so he wasn't zooming along.  Actually, his driving was very good all the way there, and he was making a big effort not to go too fast round the bends, so it was much more relaxing.
We'd packed the bikes the night before, so we could cycle up to the head of Glen Dessary, to make the walk shorter.  Jeeze I was finding it hard work!  I couldn't work the gears on Andy's bike so I was having to peddle furiously, and I just couldn't manage the up hill bits.  Andy had a look at the gears and managed to put it into a higher gear for me, and it was loads better after that.  Before long we were dumping the bikes and slogging along what has to be the most boggy path I've ever encountered.  We'd decided to bag Sgurr na Ciche first, and the walk along to where you cut up to a col between the Sgurr na Ciche and it's neighbour, seemed to be never ending, and involved lots of leaping about to avoid bogs and pools of water.  At last though, we were trudging up hill, no complaints from my knee, until we had to traverse downwards when I realised that going downhill was going to be a snag.  My knee would only bend back so far before it went, 'ooooh don't do that!'
The walk up to the Col involved going up a Gully, reminiscant of the approach to White Gyll in the Lakes the weekend before.  I wasn't too sure what to make of Knoydart to be honest.   It's supposed to be a wilderness area, and we were far from a road, and it was pretty when the light shone on the hills in a certain way.  But I just didn't get that wow factor that I do when I'm up further North West, and it all seemed a little bleak.  But I think the drizzling rain and cloud didn't help.
By the time we'd bagged the first peak, the cloud and rain had moved in, and was there to stay for pretty much the remainder of the day.  We didn't get too many showers Andy commented, just one that lasted all day! 
The ridge from Garbh Chioch Mhor to Sgurr nan Coireachan seemed to be never ending even though according to the map it was only around 2km before you hit a col.  But it was 2k of up and downing and big steps that my knee wasn't too keen on, and the going was slow.  By the time we were going up to the last summit, my energy was flagging and it was a relief to finally get to the top, even though I had the painful job of getting back down again!  By this point, the wind had picked up and at times there were gusts of 60mph, which would drive the rain into my eyes so I struggled to see, and would blow my hood down, with the chin bit of my hood covering my mouth and making me feel like I was suffocating in a layer of gore tex!
My knee tweaked on a good few occasions when I bent it back too far, but I necked a painkiller and it eased off somewhat by the time we were half way down.  The incline eased off by then too, and Andy had been a darling.  It must have been very frustrating for him, who normally moves fast downhill to have to keep stopping and waiting for me, but I could see him turn round every so often to make sure I was okay. 
Once down though, it seemed to me to take forever to get back to the bikes, I hadn't remembered this section being so long on the way in!  I'm not sure what was best in the end?  To do the munros last after the long walk in, and being a bit tired by the last one, or to do the munros first, and then have a soul destroying slog along the boggy glen on the way out.   Considering that final section felt tiresome, then the way we did it was probably the best way.
With relief we'd reached the bikes and rewarded ourselves with a chocolate break.  I felt a bit more relaxed with the bike on the way out, and was managing to freewheel some of the less steep bits.  Now the gears were sorted, I could cycle on the flat very easily, and manage the slight uphills.  Think I only got off 2x to push a wee steeper uphill.   It was mostly flat and downhill though, so was absolutely ace to cruise along effortlessly at the end of a long day and it was pure pleasure to get back to the car and warm, dry clothes.

Monday, 14 September 2009

SUNNY LAKES VS'S - 12th/13th Sept '09

About a week ago, I received an email from one of my winter climbing partners, Matt Griffin   asking if Andy and I fancied a weekend down in the Lakes for his 30th birthday climbing do.   We were quite keen as we'd talked about going to the Lakes at some point over the summer, so this seemed a good a time as any.   We'd had fingers crossed for good weather, what with the Lakes being on of the wettest places in Britain and we were rewarded by the best weekend of sunshine that we've seen for over a month.
RB was going to come down too, but woke up on Friday morning with the beginnings of a head cold.  Her Dad was pretty busy with stuff over the weekend, so it didn't look too much like RB was going to get a rest down there, so we came close to cancelling our trip.  She perked up by later in the afternoon though, so we figured that if she dosed up on Paracetemol she would be fit enough, and if not then at least Andy could climb with the others if RB was too weak to climb.

The drive down was as terrifying as I was expecting it to be, what with Andy's driving on all the narrow, windy country roads, especially seen as it was dark by the time we arrived in the Lakes.  I swore that if we were ever going any place like this again, then I would be driving!   Mentioning that RB suffered from travel sickness and might puke up, seemed to make him slow down the speed on the corners a bit though.

We were dossing at Ed's house and arrived there, after a slight detour (ie we got lost!) to find a gorgeous old farmouse that Ed has done up himself.  It was lovely, low ceilings and raftered roofs and best of all a huge barn complete with climbing wall and a special problem that involved having to sit and swing in a hanging chair, try to reach a trapese type bar that was hanging from the ceiling.  Then from the bar, you had to reach a rope swing and from the rope swing, latch a rounded volume on the climbing wall.  Nobody has ever managed to complete the problem and I think only Dave Birkett has managed to get to the rope swing.  We spent around half an hour playing on it, and never once managed to leave the hanging seat!

We met Matt at the Old Dungeon Gill carpark at 8.30am, which I thought was quite late, but actually seems early for these southerners, as we were practically first up to Gimmer Crag.  Oh what a slog up though!   We should have gone directly up the hill, but instead took a detour underneath Raven's crag and slogged up the side to traverse under Gimmer, and then had to walk down and round to find the route we wanted to do.   I'd heard that the route called The Crack was a fantastic VS, and pictures of it on UK had certainly inspired.  We geared up quickly, to beat other folk who were now starting to arrive.  Andy led the 1st pitch, which involved a jamming crack (which was actually really nice) and then a tricky traverse leftwards and onto a ledge.  I led the 2nd pitch and gave myself a fright when my foot slipped whilst trying to do the 'Mantelshelf' move.  I'm not sure what happened, but I was think I was overstretched to reach a wee side pull in a horizontal crack and as I was trying to get my foot up, my other foot slipped.  I slithered down the rock, giving a squeal and then managing to grip onto a good handhold to prevent myself from falling completely.  Phew, that was a close shave!  I needed a moment to calm myself down, talk myself out of backing off and then carry on with the route.  I made the move and then came to a standstill at a powerfull move over a bulge.  Surprise, surprise, I couldn't reach!  I had to make a blind pop for a hold, praying that it was good, which it thankfully was.   I set up belay in the wrong place however, and held things up for the party below us which ended up with Andy leading off on the 3rd pitch, and the couple below us arrving at our stance with nowhere to stand.  So the girl who was to lead on, had to hang around and wait.  RB sussed the crux quickly and seem to fly up, whilst I struggled to trust my feet on a small and polished hold, from having slipped earlier.  The rest of the last pitch was fantastic climbing, really sustained and thoughtfull and never letting up in it's technicalities.

Andy led North West Arete after that, which I didn't like all that much.  The arete itself was nice, but the bit below was really scrappy I thought.  We ab'd down after that route, and by then I couldn't be bothered climbing anymore, so sat and took pics of Andy and RB climb a VS called Asterix.  I regretted not climbing it after, as it did look very good.

We then zoomed straight down the hillside, dashed back to Ed's to get Matt's birthday present, then back to the ODG for a bar meal and a quick drink.  The bar was too busy and noisy and antisocial me couldn't handle the noise, so we headed back down to Ed's for a couple of glasses of red, then bed.

Sunday saw us meet the guys at the Stickle Barn carpark to walk up to White Gyll.  The guide had the walk in as a slog up the Gyll, taking aprox 851 steps, RB counted 857.  We passed Slip Knot at VS and I thought it looked amazing, but Andy was keen to do either Haste Not or Gordian Knot, so we carried on up the hill.  Matt and Co, were on Gordian Knot, and we discovered that Haste Not had a serious traverse on it, not a good idea for 2 seconds.   A bit of an argument ensued, with Andy wanting to wait till the guys had finished Gordian Knot and me wanting to do something quick and easy whilst we waited.   Andy said he was quite sore, so then I thought we should wait, but Andy had changed his mind and thought we should climb.  Aaaarrgggg!!  Much heated discussion followed, ending up with us agreeing to do a Severe called Slab 2.   Andy ran the 1st 2 pitches together and I was supposed to lead the next pitch.  I hadn't enjoyed the previous pitches though, and didn't like the look of the next pitch, so we had to faff with the ropes to organise things so Andy could lead the rest of the route, oooops!  In retrospect, we should have really gone back down to do Slip Knot and just do that route, as by the time we finished the Severe, slipped and slided down the horrible scree gully descent, had something to eat and wait for Matt to finish the crux on Gordian, time was getting on.

RB was determined to lead the 1st pitch of Gordian however, and she totally cruised it!  It was solid VS, and pretty awkward and run out in places, and pretty damn impressive for her 2nd ever VS lead!   I wasn't too happy with her belay set up however.  One sling was bommer, but I thought the other sling she'd placed was pretty marginal, so bunged in a cam as a back up.  Andy led off on the crux pitch, which traversed easily rightwards to a bulge, and then up a steep crack.  Owen shouted up that you could use the arete at the side of the bulge, but RB went across too early, and had to use some foot trickery to get over the bulge. 
'I'm not sure I did that properly,' she said, much to the amusement of the folk below who said she seemed to cruise it effortlessly!  I ended up bridging over the bulge and found it fairly easy, but strenous once you figured the moves.   The crack above was amazing!  Really technical climbing and just the sort of thing I love.
I led the last pitch, first trying to go up a steep wall too far to the right, but then moving left and finding jugs.  Pumpy to place gear, but woohoo, steep and jugtastic!  The top bit was easy but flowed really nicely and in no time at all, we'd found the much easier descent down the Easy Rake.  Flew back down to the car, back to Ed's, then the long drive home.  I was far too nervous of Andy's driving to manage to sleep in the car, but RB crashed out immediately, back to feeling pretty rough with her cold.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Recovering from whiplash - 5/6th Sept '09

At 36 years old, with a good enough diet (ok, I do like crisps and chocolate as much as the next woman, but I aint no pig,)  daily exercise including running, badminton, pilates, climbing, hillwalking blah blah, the ability to slog through deep snow for hours on end and drag myself up frozen cliff faces, or hang off rock with my bare hands, no smoking, like a glass of wine once in a blue moon, well with all that you'd think I'd be a living testament to a physically fit, shaped like a goddess, lean mean rock crankin machine (er)

Ho, ho, ho!  No chance!  Why oh why is it, that with all the above I can still manage to be a stone overweight with a body that's falling to pieces?
Before I started climbing, I had a fondness for a 30 a day fag habit (rollie up's if you don't mind) binge drinking extrordenaire and liked to indulge in the odd bout of illegal substance abuse.  I wasn't as fit as a fiddle (I could probably run around 30 seconds before having a heart attack) but I was a good weight and I'd never had an injury in my life, bar a broken pinkie when I was a young girl due to catching it on a crack in a playground slide as I was sliding down.

So, why is it, in the last 5 years I've suffered from a broken arm,  De Quervain's Tendonitis, a torn Interosseus muscle, a sprained ankle which after a year still gives me grief, a ruptured disc in the L5/S1 area of my lumbar spine which is now 100% dessicated and with degeneration in the level above, bouts of Lateral Epicondylitis on both elbows, possible C Spine problems leading to the former elbow problems, numb hands and tricep pain and just last week, suffering from another bout of whiplash?

Hmmmm, is this part and parcel of growing older?  But I'm only 36 for fuck's sake! Or do I have to accept that my body is just weak and not very capable of the demands that I ask of it?  How much more punishment do I have to put myself through to keep my body in a fit enought state to enable me to put it through the things I do?
I could understand if I was a bouldering and climbing demon, but c'mon eh!  I only lead VS on a good day and my feeble attempts at bouldering have never taken me past the V3 level and that was only during an extended bout of non injury.

Anyway, all this wittering about injuries is down to me falling badly whilst bouldering last Wednesday.  Down at 

there is a V2 problem in the bouldering cave that goes up over a roof and then across the ceiling.  There is a pyramid shaped volume which hangs down from the ceiling and it was at this point where I was coming undone.  You have to cut loose with your feet, then monkey to the next hold.  I was attempting to get my body to swing in the direction of the next hold (it really wants to swing the opposite way due to where the holds are set) and then you have to reach under under and behind yourself which twists your body round in the correct direction.   Idiot that I am though, I reached through with the wrong hand, this twisted me round in completely the wrong direction and the momentum of the swing and twist had me come flying off backwards, with the nano second thought that I was going to crash into the wall behind me, landing awkwardly on my hands and knees with my head flung giving a good bounce on my neck!  Thud!  I think the word 'UUGGHH!' was heard to escape my mouth.

No problem though, I carried on bouldering that evening, still failing to do that problem, regardless of doing it the correct way!  My neck did start aching a little later in the evening, and when I woke up at 5 in the  morning, it was a poker straight rod of agony.  I couldn't seem to bend it in any direction and taking Dehydricodeine and Raboxin didn't seem to touch it.   No more sleep was had that day, and it was a weary woman that took RB to school the next morning, and that whole day was a blur of pain and painkillers which didn't seem to work.  I'd rememebered when I hurt my neck after falling off the slackline.  That was much better by the next day and even though it felt worse this time, I was thinking I'd be fine the next day also.  Uh uh!  Next day I woke up still unable to move my neck much, after another night of very little sleep, too scared to lie in certain positions incase I hurt it more, it was hard to relax, regardless of the pain!  As the morning went on, it did ease a little and I began to wonder whether I'd be able to climb some easy stuff at the wall on toprope.  Bouldering was out of the question, I cringed at the thought!  And I'd already dismissed going for a run when the idea popped into my head.  I was concerned though, a quick google of whiplash told me that I should really be getting my neck checked out.  So, after much pondering and a phone call to NHS24, I tootled off to my local Minor Injuried Unit where the duty nurse had me panicking my mention of cervical fractures, ambulances and spinal boards!  Aaaarg, what the fuck!?  I was concerned that I might have 'popped' a disc, no way I've broken my neck, daft cow!   I was made to lie down and not move (tedious to say the least and once she'd left the room, I got myself to a more comfy position)   Thankfully, my GP who was on duty, had sense enough to comment that I'd been walking about for the past 2 days so sitting up wasn't going to kill me!   A quick diagnosis of whiplash that should be back to normal in a few weeks (he reckoned the C spine was okay seen as my numbness was no worse than before) left me feeling confident that a bout at the wall would do no harm, hurrah!

So, I managed a few easy routes on toprope with no problems and decided that I should be okay to climb with Andy at the weekend.  I didn't feel confident to lead though.  The range of motion in my neck felt 99% restored to it's still self, but deep inside still a weird feeling that if I fell again, my neck would snap off.  And it still burnt a fair bit.  Forecast was a bit iffy, so we decided to head across to Kirrie for a few routes.  Belaying was going to be a bit of an issue and I'd have to feel more with the rope than looking up too much.  Was very hard to do as it just feels so wrong not to look up and watch what the leader is doing!  Managed to belay around 3 routes before it got pretty sore and I had to keep looking down, and also managed to lead an easy route that I'd done a billion times before and couldn't resist toproping a 6a that I'd never done.

Sunday, we went to Clova which was still a bit damp in places.  Andy led Proud Corner, which has to be one of the best single pitch VS's in Scotland.  I'd romped up it at the start of the year, but found the crux quite reachy this time round, and seemed to get my hands muddled somewhat.  Couldn't remember it being that hard last time!   Andy then led Cauldron Crack but I didn't want to second it (though I was sorely tempted!)  This posed a few problems for gear removal when Andy ab'd back down, as it's mega overhanging.  But it's a route that I love the look at and it's one of the nicest HVS's I've seen and I want to save it for an onsight.

We then decided to take a look at the Doonie crags as I'd never actually climbed there before.  Bad mistake!  My feet got wet on approach, after taking a path through bracken which quickly turned into bog.  Then the route we'd decided on was wet on the first pitch and had bushes, trees and massive clumps of dripping wet grass on it.  Nice!  How the hell did this route manage to get two stars!?  After much deliberation Andy decided that it would be a shame not to climb it as he felt obliged to after walking up.  Bloody great!  It looked utterly minging to me and I don't see the point in climbing ming just because you find yourself standing underneath it.  But I knew Andy would strop if I refused, so I decided to suffer.  He slowly eased himself through the slime on the first 10 feet, then picked his way through the vegetation, before coming to a standstill and admitting that it was pretty disgusting and then saying the sweetest words I'd heard him say all weekend.

'I'm just going to climb to the tree then ab off.'

YES!  I didn't particularly care that the climbing above the tree might be nice (still looked wet to me, though Andy reckoned you could manage it without getting onto the wet stuff.  I wasn't convinced by that)   It wasn't worth climbing though waterfalls, mud, slime, brambles and bushes to get to what might be damp climbing above.  Not for me anyway and I was so happy that Andy knew I wouldn't be enamoured by it.  By the time Andy ab'd down it had started raining, so it was good call to come down anyway.  Stuff being on a wet 5a crux, after climbing the most minging pitch of vegetated awfulness!

Roll on next weekend and the Lakes, yippee!