Wednesday 30 July 2008

Sandy Halewood

On Saturday at 3.20pm Jane and I had a healthy baby boy; Sandy Robin Halewood (7lbs) in Inverness. I'm now working on the NGB qualifications on nappy changing and bathing!! He has more hair than me already.....

Thursday 24 July 2008

A different angle on granite

Today was supposed to be a day to rest and recover from the cold but it was going to be hot and sunny so Guy and I agreed to bag a route this afternoon. After yesterday's steep granite we decided to go to the Etive Slabs to tilt our world back 45 degrees and keep things easy on our fingers. We had hoped to climb Vein Rouge or Raspberry Ripple but a couple of weeks wet weather have left a damp streak down that part of the crag so we opted for a quick ascent of an old classic - Spartan Slab (my first VS, first VS lead and still one of my all time favourite routes). I led the first 3 pitches in hot sunny weather and Guy finished the route off with the final 2. Leading in blocks like this can save time in terms of sorting gear and getting the leader in the correct 'headpsace' for leading and we topped out in a leisurely seeming 2 hours of climbing. Back to my Lemsips and cold capsules - it finally seems to be shifting.

Erraid Wednesday

I learned 2 things yesterday (to be fair, I already new both of them but obviously needed reminding): Firstly if you are not well (I caught a stinking cold in the rain and NWerly wind last weekend) dont go and push yourself climbing, secondly, dont forget to warm up no matter how keen you are. Guy and I went to Erraid- tempted by Gary Latter's excellent new Scottish Rock Guide Vol. I ( for the day, on Mull. Lovely place and perfect granite but steep (I need to train more at the wall obviously)- the short routes pack a real punch. I jumped onto a nice HVS and was pumped for the rest of the day! Having a head cold probably didnt help with my recovery and after a fall or two I was forced to calm down a little and stick to easier grades (still struggled to find anything only vertical though!). We climbed Bacteria Soup (S), Smelly Mussels (HVS), One Dead Puffin (HVS), Goupher Hole (VS), Misunderstanding (VS), Blood Orange (S), Oliver (VS), Elephants (VS) and Panther (S). The setting is superb, right above a lovely sandy beach and the rock rough and clean (plenty of nicks and cuts) with lots of birds and flowering plants (Stonecrops, Harebells and sweet smeeling Thyme) around. I'll be doing some work on my crack climbing skills (something most Scots have never had a flair for) before I return though!

Sunday 20 July 2008

Dodging showers in the Glen

I was thinking harsh thoughts about weather forecasters today as despite a largely dry forecast we endured a stream of heavy showers today in Glen Nevis. The srong winds did a good job of drying the crags though and we rarely put shoe to wet rock. George and Henry followed me up Pinnacle Ridge and 3 Pines. then George led his first route (Reptons Right Hand Route - comfortably and in good style) and we just had time for the excellent Flying Dutchman before the guys drove south for their flight back to London.

Saturday 19 July 2008

North Buttress on The Buachaille

I never tire of Buachaille Etive Mor. Between the many excellent rock routes and its mountaineering ridges there is always something to do. Today Henry, George and I went and scrambled up North Buttress. The forecast was for showers and cold northerlies - well the showers felt like rather continuous rain until about midday when we saw our first glimpses of sunshine. The route is a steep scramble on mostly positive holds. here are lots of spikes for good anchors but many well worn ones are working loose over the years so test them before use. The guys had only had a few hours kip having flown up from London last night so we were happ to retunr to The Ice Factor for half an hour's ropework training in preparation for some (hopefully drier) rock climbing tomorrow.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Another CWA Training

Over the last 2 days I have been directing a Climbing Wall Award Training course for 2 Ice Factor Staff and 3 staf from the Atlantis Leisure Centre in Oban. This is the 5th training course I have run this year and its great to see a variety of venues (so far: Transition Extreme - Aberdeen, Glasgow Climbing Centre, Bunkhouse Boulder - Fort William, Climbzone at Xscape - Braehead and Atlantis Leisure Centre) and the issues involved with working at them.

Monday 14 July 2008


Donald, Chuck, Guy and I went to Duntelchaig today. It was breezy and fine and the rock was dry and warm. Chuck and I climbed the VS Inaccessible Crack and then went back and strung its direct start together with Misty Crack to give a couple of good 5b pitches. From there we went along to Dracula Buttress where I pumped out on Balrog. Guy and Donald had also found this route quite sporting but had gone on to climb the Dracula the classic E3 on the crag and Frankenstein but Donald decied that discretion was the better part of valour and retreated from half way up the first pitch of another E3 (Vampire) deciding that it was a bit too mossy for his tastes!

Friday 11 July 2008

Pollbubh Climbing

Today I took Lindsay for her first day's climbing on real rock. She has been climbing for a few months at Alien Rock in Edinburgh and wanted to find out what its like outside. We went to Glen Nevis and the weather was quite kind to us - mostly dry with a little breeze to keep the midges down. We looked at belaying the leader, placing and removing gear, grades and routes and soon Lindsay was building her own belays. we climbed Pinnacle Ridge (Severe) in 3 pitches, 3 Pines (Hard V Diff) in 2 and Right Wall of Styx Butress (V Diff) in 2. Lindsay was climbing well and placing gear well enough that she then led a pitch of The Gutter (Diff) and followed me up a pitch of Pine Wall (HS) before finishing the day with a (rather wet) ascent of Tear HS. 11 pitches of climbing - not bad for her first day!

Thursday 10 July 2008

New ropes course at The Ice Factor

We've built a new ropes course at The Ice Factor and here is a video of yours truly on the big swing!

Saturday 5 July 2008

CWA and an afternoon scramble

I was Directing another Climbing Wall Award Training for Glasgow Climbing Centre on Thursday and Friday and had another 10 candidates for this successful and popular course. On the way home from Glasgow I went for an afternoon scramble over the Aonach Eagach. It was dry in Glencoe for most of the day today and the car parks were full of happy hillwalkers. From the West end of the ridge I dropped north into the Cam Coire and then cut back east over the col to the South of Garbh Bheinn - a real contrast in these lonely Glens from a busy Aonach Eagach - to finish down the West Highland Way back to Kinlochleven. The crags are alive with flowers; Lady Bed Straw, Alpine Lady's Mantle, Tormentil, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Heath Spotted Orchids, Starry Saxifrage and Bog Asphodel abound. The strong winds kept it from feeling too warm and kept the midges down for me to pick my raspberries this evening!