Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The scottish summer summary

Pre - summer goals:

Monar - got here, extraordinary.

Ben Alder - no (been before)

Carnmore - no

Orkney - no (been before)

Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair - no (been before)

Hell's Lum - no ish (looked down, didn't get on project, have been before)

Corrour - no, been before

Barns of Bynack - yes

Undoubtably the find of the summer is monar, incredible lines and an incredible place. Already thinking about a winter visit. Sam's palace is a close second.

Pre home for winter training goals -

Do A Different Game, I'm not too far away, tools getting stuck in the crack is the main obstacle. Have been sussing training possibilities for this, got a few lined up.

Get better at converting gastons to straight arms.

Do a few V5's.

Link the training traverse.

Winter doing goals -

Go to monar

Go to corrour

Go to culra

Get on one big summer route

Get to duntelchaig

Get to crags around loch ness

Go to slioch

Go to skye

Climb one or more roofs

Learn to ski, the recent trip to bynack more reminded me how good it'd be to be able to roll across in the winter.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Barns of Bynack

Eastern cairngorms are rarely visited, I had heard about bynack more and wanted to check it out. I'd seen pictures and it looked similar to natural grit in style, loads of rounded breaks, just hopefully without the ridiculous friction.

Mclells rolled up as rope boy.

Initially, I optimistically hoped for a first winter route of the season, in previous years I've missed a couple of opportunities and I wasn't letting this one go.

However, it was not to be, some hurricane was rolling in from down in mexico, bringing forecasted 100mph winds and warm air.

The walk in was pleasant, we ran past the green lochan in sunshine, yes, it was going to be perfect.

The weather started to get a bit blustery, some clouds were lurking.

When we reached the summit of bynack mor, the rain was kicking in to the mix.

We then spent a short time chasing a hare. A couple of bearings were required to reach the little barns, which we passed pretty quick, and then out of the mist, the real barns loomed.

I was super excited. We got the tent up without too much bother. Rivers were running down the rocks, I had a play about and realised why it's rarely climbed on. The rock's coat is savage sharp crystals, which often break off. Perhaps with a winter coat it might be more fun. Loads of offwidths and chimneys.

In the night, the wind got up, so even in our relatively sheltered position, the ICMC tent I'd borrowed seemed unhappy, and we took it in turns to hold it up while the other slept.

The next day, the weather was a little better, showery but the wind was strong and I thought there might be a side that'd be dry, we had a good scout around but it wasn't to be.

This was what I was here for, this arete looks brilliant.

Steep slab climbing also available.

However, this was as much climbing as I got done.

Plenty of interesting things to scramble about on, even in the rain.

We decided to either head to fandouran, the shelterstone or home. Home won in the end.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Monar puzzle

Me and chizzy rolled into achnashellach, intending to head to bearnais bothy and then over to monar.

The initial section to bearnais looked easy. We walked out the village, through fields, into a forest, looking for the bridge (which we found later was dreamt up by the kalidiscope mind of an OS map boy in the eighties) . After about 3 hours of looking for the imaginary bridge, we gave up and waded the river, straight into an enormous gorse field. Once we'd battled through it, the walk to bearnais was easy, passing some inspiring lines on the way.

Central crack line looks wicked, hopefully doesn't ice over with seepage in the cold. It's less than an hours walk in if you don't get lost, so get on it.

We got into bearnais midafternoon, faced with a dilema whether to go out and suss it out that day, facing certain benightment, or wait till tomorrow.

An excellent late lunch settled the decision.

Need to get a bigger pan.

We decided to get up at 4am the next day, jumped over the pass to monar, very swampy.

Saw some sawn off unicorns (or possibly silver ponies), the cloud lifted, the sun came out, everything felt lush.

Saw two particularly brilliant projects. No pics of them till I've done them.

1) A wall with a corner on one side, the corner is pretty steady bridging to begin with then slopes off to an easier slope then gets gently overhanging, ballpoint V ish. A direct finish rather than sloping off looks desperate, bold and thin, will try it in summer if it ever dries up.

2) A magical slab, broken up by 6 roofs, each bigger than the next, one line of weakness that's still gonna be really hard, serious.

Nights are drawing in, write your story in the mixed.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Have eight legs, party all night, weigh a gram

Moving effortlessly up my wall, the spider shows the way, no hesitation, the only holds it needs are in it's mind. On the topout, a bird swoops and eats it.

Bored with the inverness wall, which consists of textured panels at a vertical angle, and problems which are mostly easy or desperate, I decided to make a change. A days work and I have a board. Been adding more and more holds to make it easy for me to get to the top, it's ace rolling out of bed, out to the garden, on the board.

At a 35 degree angle currently, it is adjustable down to about 55 or so, but 35 is enough to make me fall off alot.

We made most of the holds ourselves, apart from the small footholds, pretty easy to make 50 holds an hour when you get the method dialed.

It is brilliant, next for some soft big numbers trad games or a fashionable finger injury...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Beinn Eighe

Me, chizzy and sam rolled up to the poolewe palace for a few days. Adventures were had, during which chizzy broke his arm, once back at the palace, I made an excellent splint out of a wooden spoon, we whisked him to raigmore, picked up mckinns and headed out west again.

We then mourned the death of chizzys arm with eating.

Scone and tunes, when we do it we do it big.

We headed up to the hills around beinn eighe for a look.

I especially liked the look of this gently angled corner, one to come back for for sure. The steep wall above might also be good.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


good eating, good climbing, sun and every prickly thing you can imagine pretty much sums it up.

We got on an excellent route up a gully, featuring an interesting section with an overhanging flared offwidth, actually pretty easy as the footholds were there. However, the exit slopes were softening so we bailed, descended, got a little unaware of where we were, then ended up doing 3k ascent that day, by the end of it we were suffering. The next day, we went for a hike, deciding to have a nap in the sunshine at the top of a pass, it was amazing.

Steep stuff was everywhere, caves, long, short, generally good holds, it was ace, inspiration to convert to the cult of bouldering. The rock quality was amazing, plenty of worrying breaks to poke a hand into and hope that nothing bites. We did an easy footless traverse across this cave while eating lunch and enjoying the shade.

The choss enthuasiast would not be disappointed either.

Lots of inspiring things to go at dans l'hiver, decent gully line right to the summit. This ridge line looked ace but we didn't get on it.
Lightening was present as usual, though mostly just the pleasant late afternoon/dinner bell stuff.

We got to the top of toubkal (biggest mountain in north africa at about 4000m but not technical) one day to hear a rumble, within 10 minutes we were enveloped in it, hailstorm, dodging a few rocks dislodged by it, it felt just like being back in the alps, wouldn't have fancied abbing off a route in it. We stopped under the shelter of a rock and watched it, chilling with a few oranges, ace.

Great trip, keen for a winter visit.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


was a washout. Apparently, west sweden is the new west highlands.

We went to Utby, did one route, it looked like it could be alright when dry. We decided against Hono. We went to Marstund, the rock momentarily dried out, the DWS was ok if you like friction slabs and ledges, it was fun, the routes were short, no swims were taken. Soon the rain came back.

Gothenburg in the dry looks like a great climbing city, the locals are keen and the routes are soft, and plenty of potential, not much steep stuff but everything else is there.

And the baked goods are great.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Old School Training and Summer Plans

Hidden away in the corridors of uni, there is an old wall. It's always deserted, holds polished, sharp and snappy with an array of bizarre jamming cracks. In places, it's polystyrene innards spew out. It's six years older than I am. The landing is unforgiving. If you are lucky you might land on a passing medic to cushion your fall.

It's awesome.

Uni finished, summer plans include a couple of trips abroad, morocco and sweden. Both look brilliant. The cham alps calls but I'm not that keen, good lines are still there to be climbed, keen parteners everywhere, offer of free accom, but I've fallen out of love with it, well not all of it but I'm not psyched for 20 pitches of easy rock and ice in a day, dodging missiles, down to the valley, repeat until death/end of trip. There was a line on the freney I wanted to do and the ginat in lush neve conditions looks balling as well, another look at the dru, the gulley on mont dolent. Spring and autumn look like the time to go, winter is for scotland of course, summer in the alps seems to consist of everything being out of condition and chatting bs in the valley, excessive pasta consumption, rest day frolicks on bolts, being outclimbed by goats, man it's so good.

But this summer is about scotland for me.


Ben Alder



Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Hell's Lum


Barns of Bynack

Need to be fitter, stronger, cleverer. Feeling inspired.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A quick trip to hell

Fantastic weather meant I was thinking of a route in the cairngorms that I've been wanting to get on for a very long time.

We arrived in coire an t'schneada about 7:30 after a very early start. Spent some time looking for crag swag, was pretty successful, another couple of trips and a decent rack would be aquired. If you've lost gear on it and want it back, holla at me.

Then we ran up fiaciall ridge, which I'd never been on since our previous epic descent of it last winter, gazing at some hard winter lines which looked very doable when they're not snowed up.

Onto the plateau, checking into a few nice snowholes, over and down to hell's lum, a few people about, loads of people on the shelterstone, all climbing one route in a caterpillar train, possibly the needle, looked class.

Must be very intense in winter indeed.

Wasn't entirely sure where the line I wanted went, eventually figured out where it might be.

6 feet under.

Chopped our way up the neve, a schrund big enough to eat you, had a look, decided falling into the schrund would be bad times, left it for another day.

We then headed down to loch a'an for some bouldering.

Mclellan on boulder.

It was actually really good, we did a pile of stuff, I'm beginning to understand why boulderers go bouldering, as opposed to climbers who go bouldering to get strong for routes.

Particularly fun was a steep roof on excellent holds. Want to do a really excellent arete I saw but the landing was pretty poor, and it was hard enough that I wasn't sure I wouldn't come off. Loch A'an is not the place to hurt yourself. Will go back again with a pad.

Psyched for shovelling.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Grit and rain and chips and drytooling

Went out to the roaches, it hailstoned, did some bouldering.

Went out to stanage, it rained. Spent 3 days climbing Robin Hood's Gully, a 12m Vdiff.
It was awesome. The cave was ace, at first I thought I'd discovered Parisellas of the Peak, however, the rock is a little bit soft. But, you can easily make new holds with your hands so it's not all bad. The next day was sunny and excellent, did various trad things, got bumped up on big air.

Went to almscliffe, it rained, did some bouldering.

Went out to black rocks, it didn't rain. It was awesome, got on some pretty tricky slabs, loved it, will be back for sure. Mclellan as usual was drawn to the worst routes on the crag, "What's that you say? Green gully? Sounds brilliant." but i vetoed the worst of them. Tried to lasso a tree.

On the only non-slab route of the weekend, I fell off a couple of times, Mclellan fell off, it felt tricky.

Went out to some limestone quarry (masson lees), we couldn't find it in the dark, it rained the next day. Were planning to go drytooling on Sub Rosa which looks really wild, instead we just made and ate some chips.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Chalked up

Been making lots of visits to the chalk, 4 times this term, living the dream.

Cool stuff that happened:

1) Discovered saltdean west, previously I'd just been going to the pleasure/thunder dome. Attempted to do a traverse of saltdean west. There's an excellent roof section at the start but the rest is pretty easy.

2) Discovered the way to climb well on chalk and still be weak is to dyno everything.

3) Saw a helicopter when I was on the route, it came in close, thought it must be surveying the cliff for building or something. Then noticed that it was a police helicopter. Bizarre I thought. Eventually the police rolled up on the beach, appartently someone thought we were gonna jump.

4) Strong wind from the south = terror. On one visit, the wind was about 50mph, the waves were breaking onto the steps, about 5 or 6 metres in height. The most impressive thing was the noise of the waves and the pebbles rushing back down the beach and occasionally bits falling off.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Duntelchaig winter

Went out to duntelchaig mega psyched shortly after the cold snap in late december, it was warm but I was hopeful.

I'd hoped the thaw would have stripped back the snow and left a helpful bit of ice in the cracks.

The project was black, seeping and totally unwintery. I was gutted.

The day was salvaged by playing on some icicles nearby. It was about 10C and the ice was keen to detach itself from the rocks, and the topout of 10m of unfrozen vertical heather was unappealing, crampons balled up with mud.

Newmark + ice heading towards the ground.

Climbing without gloves reminded me of cham. It was ace.

The rest of the hols were spent going to various other projects, again conditions weren't helpful and/or I wasn't good enough, yet. Got some useful info and know what I need to do to make it happen, back to training for a couple of months, then crush.

Roll on easter, psyched!

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Was busy for the rest of term, with alot of work to finish off, but got out on the chalk, at saltdean then at telescombe, it was ace. Loads of brilliant new lines waiting to be climbed before they fall down. First time placements and most of them were pretty secure. All the established routes were very juggy, which was interesting and not what I'm used to.

Extreme wild camping in Grindleford.

Got back to Sheffield for some grit, it was pretty banging, did mostly bouldering which was ace. To finish the term, I managed a visit to the climbing hotspot of Swindon.