Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Cat Scree Crags

I have glanced at these crags many time passing along the Loch Lubniag road, trying not to wipe out bikers as I veer over the white lines. They are really obvious just across the water above the new fancy chalet community and there may be sports potential. I certainly haven't heard of any trad action there.

I walked up today into the impressive steep wilderness of Sgearnach a Chait (the 'Cat Scree', presumably there are or were wildcats here) to check a couple of walls named on the OS map as Creag na Comh Sheilg. I got bogged in poor cleared forestry ground, which blew my mojo a bit and I retreated. However, it seems there is one particularly impressive 25m sport wall at a hellish angle above the larch forest (which might be a better approach from further north along the shore path). It looks featured and clean and might be worth a drill, does anyone know this wall? it's above and left of the impressive but messy lower crags which might provide hard sport as well...

Here's the Googlemap:


View Sport Crag at Loch Lubnaigh in a larger map

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Udlaidh - oodles of ice



Beinn Udliadh has continued to fatten and form some of the best ice in years. We passed a pleasant short day in the corrie on Tuesday with parties on almost every major route: Quartzvein, Cut throat, Peter Pan, Sunshine, Green Eyes, Junior's Jaunt, Doctor's Dilemma etc, with Organ Pipe wall looking particularly fine and the Smirk in as well. Expect it to be busy however - we saw 15 cars parked when we arrived and popular routes were fairly chopped. Little cornicing and the tops were well frozen with the finishing neve good.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jacksonville Royale


What is the finest hillfood in Scotland?

You will have your own favourites. I guess it's all about the situation - how battered you are, how thirsty or simply how hungover. You will have gathered this is not a post for you muesli-munching banana-peelers who demure at the sight of amber bottles and frying pans.



Two days in Glencoe absorbing some fine and traditional weather alike leads to different conclusions on this. A wet day of sleety rain with sodden feet frozen from bare-footing it through a frozen river or two (cursing the forgotten wellies) and I'd murder a flask of French Onion soup for some reason. The end of a sweaty walk-in and the blue Power-ades work a treat for the thirst. Babybel cheeses seem inordinately fun to unwrap in a private moment - little parcels of chewy cheese that remind me of 'No-Entry' signs as you unpeel the wax strip.

Or winegums found congealed together in the bottom of your chest pocket (with glove fluff) are the best for winter belays, I'm convinced on that one.

In the evening, stuck in the bothy and choking on a stuttering fire, the sound of a primus coming to life and a can of beer cracking is mighty close to perfection.

Or the first pint in the Kingy and a bowl of salted chips. Brown or red sauce according to which Scottish city you hanker for the most.

And the breakfast of champions? Two Lorne sausage 'squaries' interleaved with the cheapest, most orange Kraft cheese slices (melted to a fondue consistency on a high heat), squeezed between two flattened wholemeal rolls (the healthy concession). I will have to add the caveat that they taste better after beer than before.

Long live the Jacksonville Royale...




Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ben Nevis - in tribute to Marshall & Smith


Took a walk up Ben Nevis to take a few photos and scope out the conditions. The settled weather has left the Ben looking good but a lot of classic ice doesn't seem to be there in quantity (eg. Orion Face, the Curtain, Megaroute X etc) needing maybe more snow to freeze thaw - it's probably been just too cold for that. The CIC cascades were in good nick and touching down however and I saw a party on good ice on Boomer's Requiem, and abouyt 3 parties in Point Five. Most classic gullies look good and full of firm neve and in fast nick. Of course, it's Marshall Smith week, with Dave MacLeod and the Hotaches crew out filming on Minus 3 gully. If you don't know what this means, it's the 50th anniversary of Robin Smith's and Jimmy Marshall's remarkable week on the Ben step-cutting their way to now-famous classics. Here's the list of what they got up to 50 years ago without front-points and sans drop-head axes:

The Great Chimney (IV,5) 6th February 1960
Minus Three Gully (IV,5) 7th February 1960
Smith's Route (V,5) 8th February 1960
Observatory Buttress (V,4) 9th February 1960
Point Five Gully (V,5) 10th February 1960
Piggot's Route (V,6) 12th February 1960
Orion Direct (V,5) 13th February 1960

Jimmy Marshall and Dave MacLeod will be speaking about this special week at theFortwilliam Mountain Film Festival on Sunday 14th feb.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Le Tour de Technique

Mike Lee used a break in exams to good effect at Dumby, creating a new problem out of nothing it seems. He traversed the lip of the BNI boulder, standing start half way through Sabotage, giving it 7b+. Looks a good problem...






Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Going Underground



Stew Brown has found a hidden railway arch in Glasgow which he is busy equipping with home-made holds from stones found on a nearby river bed. I must say the holds are the best I've ever pulled on: grippy real rock with texture and contour, perfect for getting back the training psyche. If he could mass produce them he'd make a fortune! After a short session I felt my skin nicely pink and my tendons well massaged. Though the venue needs a little civic work I must commend his spirit of ingenuity and creativity. I can't imagine our council endorsing this kind of architectural multi-tasking just yet in this safety-fascist society, but for us it will be a cheap underground training venue and should be popular amongst the cognoscenti... Stew will no doubt reveal the location soon enough!


Stew's immaculate pumice holds