The excellent SMC Highland Outcrops South came out again as Rich and I had a rare day off that coincided with each other and some dry weather. Fancying a change we made the hour long schlep (look it up, its Yiddish and means 'a tedious or difficult journey') up from Sheep Fank Buttress out above the trees and bracken (and insects too) in sweltering weather to reach Saddle Crag where rather than walk up the side we mad a quick big boot ascent of Albatross- a pleasant Diff (although I led us up the finish of the neighbouring VDiff, Seal as it looked much more interesting). This brought us out below Rounded Crag where Rich led us up Blue Lace which we both found tough for VS4c and I led Omegalegs (it gets Severe but although the climbing feels VDiff there is very little protection worth the name. Then we drifted right past Gully Crag and Boulder Buttress to Twin Buttress where the line of Middlelast a 3 pitch HS had fought our eye. The first pitch (Scrappy in the guidebook- try filthy) led to a steep pull over onto another blank slab. Rich brought me up to the belay and we look up and across pitch 2... a 15m traverse on a fearless slab. No thanks. Escape was made easily up Cigol a Severe with gear but sharing the first pitch of Middlelast (although that pitch would give a Severe leader nightmares for life!). Impressively these routes are all Klaus Schwartz 1970s specials climbed in poor rock shoes with little gear or just soloed. They built them tougher then!
It was fun exploring somewhere new close to home but sad to come down to news that 2 members of Scotland mountaineering and instructional community are no longer with us. Rest in peace James and Paul, you'll both me missed not least by your families who have my sincerest condolences. Maybe you're sharing a rope at a big crag in the sky...?