Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ben Challum and Scottish Bouldering Championships - 19th Sept &24 th Sept

Went up to visit Mel and Ed in their new hoose in Kinlochleven, was good to be back up there, even if just for a night, forgotten how ace it is to have mountains on your doorstep!  Mel and I were supposed to go for a hillwalk on the Saturday, but I brought up 2 bottles of Sauvignon and seen as I've not drank so much in around 5 years, I had a horrible hangover, bleurg!  Still, we had a stroll up to Blackwater dam and that sweated it out.

Drove down to Dalrigh on Sat eve to meet D, with the intention of heading up my final Mamlorn hill, Ben Challum, plus a couple of the Corbetts the next day.  Well, decided that a late start was needed as I needed to catch up on my sleep (just can't handle booze like I used to!) and then decided that I really couldn't be arsed going up the Corbetts as well as Challum, so went for the lazy option of Challum only (although once on the hill it was tempting to go round them all in a circuit.)

Think we started around 10ish, by driving down to the old St Fillans ruin and then started the hill from there.  There wasn't a path so we just ploughed our way up the hill, meeting up with a path eventually after a bit of bog trotting and bracken wading!  Going up this way is quite grassy/knobbly but the ground soon evens out and then it's just up over a few false summits and finally up onto the top.  The way up was pretty unmemorable but we decided to take a short cut down which ended up on steep ground, wading across a river and me getting shocked on an electric fence!

We went down into the Coire nan Each which although wasn't massively steep, it was steep with that sort of grassy ground that your foot sinks into one minute and then doesn't sink into the next, with the grass long enough that you can't really see where you're putting your foot.  Exactly the sort of ground I hate, where I'm sure I'm going to go over my ankle at some point.  Finally it was less steep but I was beginning to think coming this way was daft as we had the river to cross and then had to go back up hill to meet up with path going down the Gleann a Chlachain.  D had veered off to the right, angling his way downwards but I decided to plough straight onwards as the section of uphill to meet the path was at it smallest here.

Unfortunately, I came to a section that was all fenced off due to some birch saplings.  There was a double fence, the first fence being about the height of my waist.  Hmmmm, that looks like an electric fence to me...........So, rather than just crawl under the first fence, and being a bit dim, I decided to test it to see if it was electric.  Gave it a quick tap with my hand, no shock, gave it another quick tap with my hand, no shock.  Okay, maybe it's not electric then.  Grabbed the wire with my hold hand and ZAP!  Oochy! It's not sore at all, just a shock that goes right up your arm to your shoulder, gives you a bit of a fright and a jolt more than anything.  Okay, so it *is* electric!  I crawl underneath and then clamber over the second fence, mindful not to fall back onto the first fence!

The ground through the saplings becoming increasingly long grassed and boggy and is slow going, no sight of D anywhere now and as I approach the river I can see there is no way of crossing.  Bloody knew it!  Oh yeah, 'it'll be fine to cross as it's so high up.'  Well, D found a crossing lower down where he was, but getting down to him would have meant traversing a steep section about the river or going back uphill towards the fence.  Screw that!  The river wasn't massively fast nor massively deep and my feet were wet in my holey trainers anyway from all the boggy ground.  So I just waded across, cursing as I went at agreeing to take this stupid short cut! Then of course, because I'd had to head downstream to try and find a place to cross, I was away from the shortest uphill section to the path and then had to plough up hill through the deep grass, saplings and bog and back up to the path.

Finally!  I did think about stopping for something to eat and D could just bloomin well wait, wondering where I was, but decided I better go catch up with him.  Found out, he'd just traversed around the fence, not needing to cross and had found an area to cross the river also.  And he said he'd heard me cursing on a couple of occasions.  Probably the time I got a shock off the fence and probably when I stepped into a boggy section that went above my trainer.  We were on the path though and it wasn't long to get back to the car, stopping at the graveyard by the Priory for a nosey.


Saturday the 24th saw Beks and I drive up to Transition Extreme, the wall in Aberdeen, for the Scottish Bouldering Championships.  Normally it's open to those who have come 1st-5th in the Scottish Youth Climbing Series, but I think it's an open competition to all now, atleast I think it is.

It was a great comp, and all the boulder problems were well thought out, although I think it was only really the last few problems which were really hard. Beks and her friend Kristy went round all the problems together, with Kristy beating RB by 2 points and Rachel coming in 1st place by 10 points.  Beks fell off on her 1st go on one problem where you had to use just one foot hold to get onto the wall, grab a ball shaped volume and then smear up the wall, mantling onto the ball then getting both feet on and standing on it, with no hand holds above.  Just don't think she smeared up enough the first time so was trying to mantle from too low down and not enough power, but she got it on the 2nd go, putting her 3 points behind.  She then managed to scrape back a few points by holding some bonus holds in control on the harder problems.

Problems 22-25 were much more challenging for the girls.  Both Beks and her friend got no 22 on the second go which involved some steep and balancy crimping and heel hooking. Problem 23 involved a steep and long stretch out to a massive sloper.  The hold above the sloper was the bonus hold but the problem was that they kept latching the sloper and cutting loose with their feet and then swinging off.  Beks finally got her feet really high so she wasn't as stretched out as much and this meant that she didn't ping off completely once latching the sloper.  She then managed to top out on her 4th go but this still only gave her 1 point, just the same as if she had only got the bonus hold and not topped out, which seemed a pretty daft way to work things.

Problem 24 involved lots of heel hooking on an arete, and using horrible steep, blocky holds and RB didn't manage to top this one, but she did get the point for the bonus hold.  Then the final problem was hideous and even the boys were having trouble topping out on this one.  There was a  pocket to start, then up to an long overhanging pinch.  You then had to heel hook the pocket and make a huge reach over a roof to an edge on top of a big hold.  It was a huge reach though and Beks finally sussed that she could use the edge around the side of the roof to slap against with her palm and thus enable her to work her feet a little higher and grab the sloping bottom edge of the big hold over the roof.  She then managed to hold this for long enough to get her other hand up and over onto the better top edge of the hold.  It was then a case of cutting loose and swinging a foot out to the left and then locking off and stretching up and slapping for a huge, horrendous sloper.  The sweet point was over the top of the big sloper and there was no way RB was getting up that high, she just didn't have the power for it.  But she did really well to get the bonus hold on her 5th go.

The top 4 went into isolation and were then given 4 minutes per route to onsight 2 boulder problems which were nails!  The first one started under a roof and crimped it's way under and over, then from the lip of the roof, you had to get a really high foot up onto the wall to propel you up to the next hold which was miles away and only one boy managed to top that route it was so hard!  You were allowed as many goes on the problem as you liked within the 4minutes and once they called 'time' you were allowed to complete your go if you had already started.  So timing was of the essence, imperative to give yourself a wee rest in between goes so as not to get too pumped.  Beks managed to get over the lip of the roof, held the holds in control but then fell off.

The second problem involved horrible slopers, including the previous one from problem 23.  You started on the side wall, moving diagonally across an overhang on slopers, making a huge move to a slug round a corner, then from the slug you were to go diagonally up on big, flat edges and up into another corner.  All the girls bar one and most of the boys only made it as far as touching the slug.  Beks was trying all sorts to get to it, involving some crafty heel hooks above her head!  Rachel managed to hold the slug briefly before falling off each time and only 2 boys got past the slug, with one nearly managing to top out.

So that was RB in 2nd place by just one point which was pretty impressive.  All the hard work she's put into bouldering recently has paid off.  Time to start getting more routes in for the BLCC's now!

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