Saturday, 26 November 2011

Another Torridon weekend

Trying to make the most of the remaining good weather, we got it wrong and spent a photo free day (often with no views due to the mist then rain!) on Beinn an Eoin, a lovely hill near Stone Valley. Despite the inclement weather, I was perfectly comfortable wearing shorts all day, and this held the advantage of less wet clothing! Coming back off the long walk in to the hill though, we were a little disappointed to see that the weather was clear and the sun setting to the west. We chose the wrong spot for the day!

Not to be out done, the next day we set off from cloudy Loch Maree to sunny Gairloch. What a contrast - no midges and we were able to breakfast bathed in sun on the quayside. Then off to Aztec Tower, always at its best with the sun illuminating its fascinating red sanstone, for some new routing and old favourites.

Aztec Tower as it should be, bathed in sun. The unusual rock is partially metamorphosed sanstone, with a strange, shiny patina, very very lovely!

Stuart's  hopefully new route submitted as:
Texcoco 15m HS 4b. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 2nd October 2011.
Climb up Warrior God to the middle ledge of that route then follow the obvious left diagonal crack which joins the upper part of Conquistador. 

Jeanie on a new route Stuart put up earlier this year, Coatlicue. Yes, it still felt the same grade!

Inca Trail (or Coatlicue) 15m HS 4b. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 5th June 2011.
Start at the base of Warrior God and follow the left diagonal crack out to the arete of Conquistador and then continue up the arete.

Jeanie's new route:

Another new route? Sacrificial Stone 10m S 4a. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 2nd October 2011.
Between Sun God and Infanta is a vague crack line leading to the top. The crack is attained by a tricky move to gain a ledge with a large clump of heather. Easier climbing up crack line leads to the top.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Gairloch - 2nd and 3rd July 2011... more mid summer madness (and midges)!

Yet another fabulous weekend in this very special area. By now, no adventure at Stone Valley would be complete without some new routing...this time we put up 4 of what we think are new routes! And of course enjoyed the crag classics once more!

Saturday evening culminated in a spectacular drive along the coast past the beautiful wooded coastal havens around Badracho then onto the more exposed, wild and windswept West coast. The road ends spectacularly at Red Point, with beautiful reddish golden dunes, resulting from the surrounding red sandstone. Having forfeited dinner in the pub at Badachro for the opportunity to spend the evening outdoors we dined from our camp stove at the viewpoint at Redpoint, feeling as though having just completed one day, climbing, we were now being treated to a second bite of the apple: sightseeing. Thanks to it being close to the longest day, the evening seemed to go on forever in a glorious golden haze radiating out from the setting sun. And what a situation, with the north of Skye out west; the Cuillins to the south west and further south and east the Torridon mountains.
Walking down the last section of road from the viewpoint we passed an old house being renovated. Despite no occupants to be seen, there was a sign selling eggs and an honesty box...overseen by a peacock and a curious horse! A bit further on was another curiosity: a postbox, here in the middle of nowhere, set into a large boulder by the roadside. Charming!

A little further on and we had the beach to ourselves without a footprint to be seen, other than those created by birds. We enjoyed photographng the lovely effects of sunset over sea and sand ripples, while trying to avoid treading on literally millions of tiny sand hoppers, little gleaming golden nuggets leaping about in the magical light. Further on we found various large starfish, and their scattered dismembered limbs. Finally, as the sun was setting and the light fading, above the high tide line we came upon two oystercatcher eggs sitting in a slight hollow in the sand; amazingly exposed, but again with no human footprints anywhere to be seen.

 Stuart on Round the Block ... this gave us a good view of the delectable but thin looking slab to the left

Jeanie went on to on-sight this apparently new route - now submitted as: 
FarNorth Slab 15m VS 5a. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 2nd July 2011.
Just to the left of 'Round the Block' there is a slab with a corner on it's left. Climb the slab, which widens with height. Climb using the slab only and do not use the holds of the corner on the left or the higher holds of 'Round the Block' on the right. Corner used for gear lower down.

Another new route crying out to be climbed! Jeanie on-sighting, submitted as:

Game of 2 Halves 15m Hard Severe 4c. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 2nd July 2011.
To the left of the route above and to the left of the corner climb a steep rib to a platform. The start of the route involves a tricky bouldering move. From the platform avoid finishing left and climb the face to the right and up using bridging moves

Evening sun at Red Point

The little specks aren't all sand - sand hoppers were frenziedly leaping around

A very exposed nest for these Oystercatcher's eggs

Sun setting over the Uists

Back to the campsite after dusk had descended; very late at this time of year, but who cares, after a day and evening like that!

Stuart on his own new route, which just had to be called Cheesewire, sitting as it does to the left of an established route called Cheesegrater! Details:
Cheeseslice 10m Very Difficult. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 3rd July 2011.
To the left of 'Cheesegrater Slab' is a prominent crack. Climb the crack.

 While seconding Stuart on Touch and Go, Jeanie decided there was potential for a new route taking in some old favourites higher up: 
Albatross 25m VS 4c. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 3rd July 2011.
A wandering and anti-social route. Climb the crack on the right edge of the slab of 'Touch and Go' and veer left up steps at the top of the crack to finish at a niche with the main slab. Traverse scross the main slab of 'Open Secret' to the finishing corner of 'Inside Information'. Climb this awkward corner (crux).

Cheesewire to the left and Albatross on the right

A Game of Two Halves on the left; FarNorth Slab to the right

Midsummer at Reiff - 24th to 26th June 2011

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Loch Etchachan camping - 10th to 12th June 2011

A boys weekend in the Cairngorms. The plan was to camp high on the Friday & Saturday at Loch Etchachan and climb multi-oitch granite slabs. Unfortunately a crash on the A9 caused hugh traffic problems and the organiser, John, took ill and had to abandon the trip. After plans were discussed in the Bridge Inn we headed up to Coire an t-Sneachda and camped just short of the coire. We the headed over to Loch Etchachan in worsening weather. Howere, after camp was set up in Loch Etchanan and the rain subsided we went for a walk up Beinn Mheadhoin in the late evening. The Sunday morning was glorious and we headed for Gray Man's Crag in Coire Sputan Dearg to climb Grey Slab. On the walk out we also bagged Ben Macdui.

Stone Valley Crags - 2nd to 4th June 2011

We headed back up from the lakes on the promise of some decent weather in the far North-West. We headed up to the lovely campsite near Kinlochewe. We spent 3 days climbing at the Stone Valley Crags. Roddy joined us for two of the days.
We put up a number of apparently new routes on a wee crag, when our intended crag was seeping:

Flowerdale Beag
(NG 868 719) Alt. 270m South-West Facing

Approach: As for Flowerdale Wall. This crag is just below and slightly to the left of Flowerdale Wall. It provides short routes suitable for novices.

Descent: Walk off to the right.

Too Windy for Blood Suckers 10m Severe. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 2nd June 2011.
An eliminate up the wall between Cracking On and Central Crack. Use of either crack is not permitted for holds. Central Crack may be required for gear by the less bold.

Rowan wall 10m Severe. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 2nd June 2011.
An eliminate up the wall to the right of Central Crack. The use of Central Crack and the crack line to the right is not permitted for holds or gear.

Cracking On 10m Very Difficult. J. Northover, S. Macfarlane. 2nd June 2011.
The first crack line left of Central Crack.

Central Crack 10m Very Difficult. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 2nd June 2011.
The most obvious and central crack line.

Wanting something a little more challenging we moved further up the valley, although our intended route wasn't much meatier, despite the gorgeous rock!

The Valley Walls
(NG 868 719) Alt. 270m. South-West facing

Approach: As per guidebook.

Descent: Walk off to the right.

Windy Cracks 15m Severe. S. Macfarlane, J. Northover. 2nd June 2011.
In the bay beyond Three Stepped Slab is a short steep crack. Climb this and move slightly left to another hidden crack that continues to the top. The bottom crack is severe and the upper crack Difficult.

Evening sun on the Bonaid Dhonn (Brown Bonnet) with Slioch, to the left, a golden glow above Loch Maree.

Some suberb climbing here on impeccable rock (gneiss)

Here you get an idea of the scale of the longer routes

Roddy making short work of the worryingly named 'Cheesegrater'

While Stuart takes on the alarming 'Touch and Go'

What a view, with Beinn Alligin in the distance

'Bald Eagle', one of the best continuous lines here

A belay with a view. Thanks for this, and other, pics Roddy!

Next new route (or start to route, too irresistable to resist!):

Stone Valley Crag
(NG 868 717) Alt. 250m. South Facing

Arete Direct 25m VS 4c. J. Northover, R. Mackenzie, S. Macfarlane. 3rd June 2011. 

To the right of the prominent corner of Updraught is an arete. Climb the arete direct and continue to the top. This route joins onto Updraught but is a more direct start.

Jeanie on the lead (left) then belaying Stuart

Borrowdale, Lakes - 29th to 31st May 2011

We had a weeks holiday ahead of us but unfortunately the weather forecast didn't seem great anywhere. We opted for a few days down in the lakes to begin with. In general whilst in Borrowdale it rained in the morning and cleared to a lovely afternoon and evening.