Fingertip Finale

After college Craig, Jamie and I headed to Poll Dubh again, but this time to the lower Scimitar Buttress. After doing 'Where the Mood Takes Me' Kev told me to get on the routes on this crag. We played around on a top rope for the rest of the day working the moves on 'Fingertip Finale' (E4 5c*). This is completely different in style to 'Where the Mood Takes Me'. Instead of being a bold short couple of moves with no protection. It has one piece of 'protection' (using the term losely) in the form of a micro wire, which is a good five to six metres up and doesn't really protect the crux moves. Plus it is much more sustained climbing but there is a rest before the crux.
My right hand is where the first bit of protection would be
I can climb the route on top rope but I am finding it hard to justify whether or not to do it on lead. It isn't a matter of being physically capable more a matter of being mentally capable. One slip, one wrong hand placement or a small gap in concentration, well I'm not going to be dead. However a good couple of broken bones and like my Dad reminds me I am not covered by BUPA.
Left hand now where my right was and still a lot of climbing to do
On the other hand I can't stop thinking about the route and I think it will haunt me until I do it.


Where the Mood Takes Me

I was in Poll Dubh today with Kev, Johann, Alex and Dot. It was the usual story of standing on the road looking for dry patches of rock all over the Glen.
Johann was working on a project on Upper Scimitar. We all headed up there to hope for dryness and play on a top rope. Luckily the crag was dry and the weather was quite breezy so it gave for good conditions.
Where the Mood Takes Me E5 6a*
Photo Courtesy of Dorota Bankowska

Looking hopefull (left to right) Me, Alex, Kev, Dave and Johann (Photo Courtesy of Dorota Bankowska)
Upper Scimitar Buttress before Johann's attempt 

Johann was on the project straight away watching him I could tell I was way out of my league but we all had a bash at it. After falling off every move I realized I wasn't going to be getting anywhere. Thats when Kev and Alex suggested trying the E5 6a* called 'Where the Mood Takes Me'. I climbed it first time on top rope and was told I had to lead it. The sheer precariousness  of the route gave me no desire what so ever to lead it. Plus the fact that it must be soloed because there is no way of protecting the route. Then Alex went up and used a really nice sequence which took away the uncertainty of whether it could be done or not. The only problem being that I had no excuses not to do the route.
Whilst this was happening Johann had linked his route three times and couldn't decide weather to go for it or not. However I had made my mind up and found myself comitting to the crux knowing full well that it can't be messed up. The crux was short lived, four moves and it was all over and I had just climbed my first E5.
Then I was walking back down to the road to get Johann some crash pads so he could try his route. Dave also showed up with some pads of his own and also helped Johann test the fall for him.

Dave and Johann testing the fall

After a test fall of his own Johann was comitted to his route and on reaching for the crux hold he looked for his landing spot and took a big fall bouncing of the mats, laughing with relief and ready to give it a go another day.
It was then up to Blacks Crag to belay Kev on an E6 he was working but the rain started as as soon as he got on the route.

Dave working his latest project
We then decided to go and meet up with Dave again at High Crag to get some shelter from the rain. Dave was also working on a project, which looked physically impossible but he was managing it.
Also one of my pictures made the top ten on UKC check it out here also please give it 5 stars. 


Performance Clinics

Was canoeing with the college today as part of the performance clinics the college are putting on for the students. We where with Matt who is a demon in a canoe and we where going over topics like forward paddling, indian strokes and other useful skills.
Then it was back to College unfortunetly.



I was stuck in college today but couldn't help but look outside and see the notice sunny rock drying weather. After a quick check with Graham on facebook and we were heading out for an evening cragging session.
I had my eye on Plague of Blazes (E2 5b***) but it was still wet. So we headed back down the Glen and looked for something more roadside. We ended up on Dundee Buttress, Graham started up Promises (HS 4b**) then I headed up Dundee Weaver (HVS 5a*). Before it got completely dark I headed up The Old Wall (VS 4c**)
Graham starting on Promises

The Old Wall


Vanishing Gully Take 2

Due to all the snow the walk in to the Ben took much longer than normal. The forrestry comission had closed the road to the top car park plus the snow had covered the path which meant there was lots of wading through deep snow to get to our route. There was lots of teams on the Orion and Minus faces plus a long queue at Vanishing Gully.
We started late though so we didn't get caught up in the traffic too badly. The ice was in great condition and we had access to probably the best belay ever on a winter route, which kept us out of the wind and the constant spin drift avalanches. The only problem was leaving the comfort of the cave.

Craig entering the Carlsberg belay stance

Trudging into the Ben



Well it's been a month exactly since I have been on the hill properly and after missing a gorgeous day yesterday. I was rather disappointed to wake wake up to clag and rain today. I met up with Jamie B in Glencoe and we headed up to SCNL. After backing off Spectre last week Jamie was desperate for a rematch plus he left his bulldog on the route.
We managed to climb the route but unfortunately didn't manage to retrieve the bulldog so it might be a bit easier for the next team. 

Winter has returned to Glen Coe

Jamie on the second pitch

Jamie topping out of Spetre (V,6)
The Coire was busy with the usual traffic heading towards Dorsal Arete and three teams were with us on the summit buttress, everyone  was avoiding broad gully like the plague.


The Wrong Activity

It was another college day today, the sun was shinning, not a breath of wind and the hills were gleaming white. It was safe to say nobody wanted to get into a swimming pool and practise Kayaking before going out onto Loch Eil.
Looking out from Mallaig swimming pool.
Perfect weather
To be fair I was just happy to be going outside after a month of terrible weather, rubbish conditions college, work and flu getting in the way of climbing. Apart from the odd session at the indoor wall I am beginning to have withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully this will change tomorrow.