Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Getting out of the car

As we all know, sometimes the hardest thing about climbing is getting started. The first few moves of a pitch are often the hardest. Racking up can sometimes be a forced procedure. Getting out of the car can seem like a fate worse than death. You could trace it back even further; getting out of bed, packing the night before, being born.... sometimes it just doesn't feel easy.

Murdoch taking one for the team in 70 Mph winds.

The last month of 2013 has brought some of the worst winter weather Scotland has seen in a while. I've worn my ski goggles from leaving the car to the bottom of the crag more times in the last month than ever before. Its fair to say that its all been a bit harder than usual.

Attempting a speed record on The Message...
However, its also pretty cool when you can be tested climbing a route 5 grades beneath your limit due to factors other than the climbing itself. This element is what makes Scottish climbing special and feel so much "bigger" than it actually is.

Myself on Babes in The Wood.
On a slightly calmer day a couple of weeks ago myself and Greg managed the second winter ascent, and first on sight of a fun route in Sneachda called "Babes in the Wood" VIII,8. Its a fantastic tenuous pitch which gets E2 in Summer and climbs very differently to how you'd expect.

Down-climbing from something new and tasty yesterday

 Over the last two days me and Greg have tried four different routes, none of which we got up. In fact, on none of which we got further than 10 metres up the first pitch! But this is why climbing is great, sometimes you float up things with seemingly little effort, sometimes its an effort to just get out of the car - but without the contrast, i think there'd be a real lack of appreciation. Bring on 2014.

Bailing for the second time yesterday!...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Change of Modes

I've always loved Autumn. Its a time when your motivation starts to change, and you look forward to the upcoming winter and new goals.
       This November i went to the world mecca of sport climbing - Catalunya, for two weeks with a large group of friends. We mainly climbed at Terradets, with a few days spent elsewhere and enjoyed sun with cold crisp temperatures for all but two of the fourteen days.

Martin Doyle at Abella De La Conca.

The quality of the sport climbing in Catalunya is simply incredible. Pitch after pitch of the best moves you'll ever do, stacked on top of each other means you find yourself wondering why you've ever bothered with nuts, cams and long walk-ins!

Hot Austrian girl attracting some attention on Bruixes wall..

In the first week i wasn't feeling too good, recovering from some kind of virus which made me sleepy and dizzy all day, i was really worried that it was going to stop me from trying hard. However come the second week i was over it, and managed to onsite 7c and get an 8a in a hand full of goes!

Myself on Bon Viatge 8a.

Shortly after returning from Spain, and after a small work stint on the farm, i drove north to Aviemore. I'm going to be living in Aviemore until the end of February, which is when my Scottish winter guide's test is. I've made it my mission to be in the best possible state i can be before the test starts, which means knowing all the major crags in Scotland like the back of my hand, and being able to nav off the Cairngorm plateau in the worst possible weather imaginable with an assessor breathing down my neck!

On arriving in Aviemore at the end of last week, i managed to snatch two consecutive days of climbing in Coire an Lochain with my mate Neil. First we did "The Vicar", and then "Ventricle", both fantastic routes I've wanted to do for a while.

Starting up the Vicar, i realised i hadn't hung on axes in almost 10 months!

Fun steep climbing.

Myself on the first pitch of Ventricle.

As i sit here now, its +7 degs. and gusting 80mph at 700 metres. I need to find somewhere to hang my Beastmaker soon or i'm gonna go mad!