Friday, 29 May 2009

Tim's visit

Nothing much happened since Tim Chapman was over. Did I mention Tim was over? No?

We had a couple of nice days in the Trossachs, in Loch Kathrine first (where I did not even give a go at the Barrel boulder) and in Ben Ledi the next day: it is quite a long walk with an unappealing finish but really worth it when you consider the size of the boulders. They are enormously mahussive! Not little stones with a couple of moves including sit-start but proper boulders which some would consider as highballs. The rock however is a sharp schist covered with little curvy waves and shapes.


Although this can be enjoyable for the photographer, it makes it hard to read for the climber: we got our bum well kicked, struggling up 6bs, throwing ourselves at fake jugs and missing hidden crimps...



Two days later I nearly flashed Mugsy traverse in Dumby which was good for my wounded ego.

Since then nothing.


Well that’s not true. Last week young Felix managed to get me on a rope at the Ratho wall, and dare I say it, I got scared on an overhang, maybe 25m high, with quickdraws every metre and full of big red resin blobs everywhere (apparently they call them holds...).
The reality is I am actually very busy at the moment as I am seriously considering starting a business as a freelance translator (Any publisher out there, hint! Hint!) and our little boy is seeking more and more attention, so this does not leave much time for climbing. Although on the long term this should mean much more time flexibility, it looks like I will have to get extremely organised if I do not want my climbing routine to suffer.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Getting out

Having a baby is a great new life, but obviously it does have a serious effect on your climbing. You are more tired which means you need more rest and less training. The good side however is that you need to get out and the baby too, so instead of going to the park like most people do, I’ve decided I’d go to for long walks and check out a few places.

Benarty Hill

Benarty Hill is the obvious pointy hill with a crag at the top to the right of the M90 when coming from the Forth road bridge. I believe there is a nice walk to the top of the hill from Vane Farm Nature Centre, but that was not what I was interested in. From the road I could clearly distinguish a little boulder field at the bottom of the hill. The place is called Brackley and it is farming land but the boulders clearly lied beyond the boundary walls. (Not sure it is not included in the Vane Farm land though...)

So I walked up to them from the car park of the Nature Centre, just to discover that most of the stones are less than 2m high (which is probably why they are not documented anywhere...) The rock seems to be fairly solid though it was well weathered and would need some serious brushing.

I then walked up straight up to the crag to enjoy the nice sunset view over Loch Leven. The crag is not really high and has some awesome arêtes that would provide top class bouldering if they were not at the top of a 100m straight slope with virtually not proper landing platform... Here I must mention I have not any Scottish trad-climbing topo and maybe they are some routes up there, but if they are none then a couple of first ascents could be worth it as the location is purely stunning! And it’s only 30mn a drive from Edinburgh with another 30mn approach walk, depending on your fitness that is...



Loch Katrine
The whole family (that would be just the three of us, but I quite like the sound of it...) went to Loch Katrine for a Sunny Sunday afternoon. The ferns had not grown yet and it was a very warm day. The place is beautiful enough to enjoy as picnic location but hey, why would you go there without a pad and a pair of climbing shoes?

After a good warm up on the Sentinel boulders, I had a few of hopeless goes at Lock, stuck and The Victorian. I gave up probably too fast (John, if you’re reading this: are the upper crimps in?) and tried a full traverse of the Barrel boulder from the left, but could not finish it. I then got stuck into Big up, but after what seemed like a 100 tries I finally packed up and enjoyed the rest of the day trying to show the beauty of the Trossachs to my wee bairn as they call them over here. Pretty much a good day I thought!


Earlsferry
Having climbed all the sandy lines in Kirkcaldy and given the fact that there are not too many eliminates there, I thought I could go and look further north along the coast. This is how I came across that little roof about which I posted a video last week.

We went for an afternoon picnic in Earlsferry and the tide was out, uncovering that nice “canyon” alley with the mine-entrance-look-like roof at the end. It is located here, approximately a 100 m from the road, so it's good for a quick evening summer session if you happen to be around. The rock is columnar basalt and is really solid. I got three lines out of it as shown on the video:

1. Left side SS. Stand up using a slot crimps, wee undercuts and the big hole, move out and top out.
2. Right Side, SS off the huge undercut jug, feet on the big ledge, move to the small middle crimpy rail and slap to the lip of the roof. Top out.

3. SS on the back undercut jug, lock the right foot and reach back to good crimp. Use a pull-toe and move to the small middle crimpy rail. Slap to the lip of the roof and top out.
Unfortunately this is the only thing there is in Earlsferry. However, we could see the appealing cliffs of Macduff cave in the background and even though I suspect the rock is probably very loose there, I will give it a go as I heard the chain walk was a nice Sunday afternoon promenade.
Agassiz Rock
We also went a few times to Agassiz Rock though it is getting quite boring: I tend to boulder only on the left part of the wall now since that overhang seems to be much looser than it looks.

Since I started to go there in January, many holds have disappeared, the main ones being the top jug referenced D/E-4/5 on http://www.scottishclimbs.com/ (That wasn’t me!) and the bottom Sit-Start jug referenced H13 (Ok, that was me...). One time I met a few lads who were pulling hard on the groove crack: I said that the whole thing was going to come off. That was a joke, but if it does happen, at least they’ve been warned....