It's become a regular and very enjoyable fixture in my diary - road tripping round Scotland climbing stunning and classic lines with Rob & Jude. After last years soggy experience it was great to find some dry rock and get some serious mileage in. This years ticklist included Agags Groove & Grooved Arete on the imposing Rannoch Wall, Archer Ridge & Quiver Rib in Glencoe, Savage Slit in the Cairngorms, the Classic Rock trio of Cicoh Direct, Arrow Route & Integrity on Skye, Tower Ridge on the Ben and a wet adventure up the iconic Clachaig Gully - 9 Classic Rock routes and 27 stars :)
Last weeks adventure was Rob & Judes annual pilgrimage north of the border to sample some of Scotlands most iconic routes. The long range forecast wasn't looking promising but we perservered and initially headed for the Isle Of Arran and the amazing granite climbing on Cir Mhor. The worst of the weather appeared to be confined to the Saturday so we went for an extremely soggy scramble round Glen Sannox and over the summit of Goatfell. by Sunday it had all changed again and the next pulse of rain had arrived. Our search for dry rock eventually led us back to the Lake District and a sunny evening's climbing on the reliable Shepherds Crag. Shepherds Chimney (VS) and Monolith Crack (HVS) both provided good entertainment.
An early start on Monday saw us enjoying Irony (HVS) and Mandrake (HVS) on Quayfoot Buttress before yet more rain drove us back to Shepherds Cafe and an afternoon of rescue training, coffee drinking and cake eating. A break in the weather saw us take a punt on the quick drying properties of Esk Buttress. There were still a number of seepage lines but we were able to climb the 3 star Bridge's Route (HS) in the sunshine.
Weary legs on Wednesday steered us towards the roadside crag of Brantrake in the Eskdale valley for a day of leading practice, a few rescue scenarios and top roiping of some harder lines. Suitably refreshed we commited to the climb up to Buttermere's Birkness Combe under threatning skys. The clouds parted in front of us and we enjoyed the classic link up of Harrow Buttress (D), Slabs West Route (HS) and Oxford & Cambridge Direct Route (HS) to the summit of High Stile.
The weather forecast wasn't very promising but some crafty crag choices and a spot of luck has meant we've just had a very successful week of Lake District rock climbing. Classic rock devote Patricia was over from Ireland for her regular dose of the high crags. Monday saw us making the trek up to Pikes Crag on an improving forecast. The cloud base hovered at the level of the crag all day giving us avery atmospheric ascent of
Tuesday was the best of the week and we spent it in the suntrap of White Ghyll
Wednesday was forecast to deteriate significantly mid morning so we made a quick raid to Pavey Ark and came away with an ascent of Coati (VS 4b) topping out just as the rain arrived
Raven Crag Buttress (VD) was our choice for a wet Thursday. However we opted to ab off after the first pitch which had proved awkward and greasy
Despite a good forecast for Friday we woke to heavy showers and strong winds. We perservered with plan A trekking up to Gimmer Crag. The forecast break in the weather was late but we started up the waterfall of Ash Tree Slabs (VD+) just as the wind changed. We topped out an hour later on dry rock in the sunshine. A Route (MS) was the final climb of the week ascended on what could almost be described as warm rock.
I've just returned from a 9 day road trip across Scotland chasing some Classic Rock ticks with Rob and Jude. All told we totalled 6 Classic Rock routes from 9 climbs with 22 stars and 1175m of climbing plus a few scrambles, Munros and Corbetts thrown in for good measure.
We kicked off on a stunning day on the Cobbler climbing 3 routes. Recess Route (S) and Ardgarten Arete (VS) were pleasant climbs but nothing to shout about. However Punster's Crack (S), our final route of the day, more than made up for it offering 3 very different pitches including the infamous bulge.
Day 2 dawned cold and wet in Glencoe so we headed up to have a look at Crypt Route (VD). However this winters extensive snow cover meant that without crampons and ice axes we were unable to even to get to the foot of the route. The day wasn't wasted as we made an ascent of Bidean nam Bian ( 1150m) between the showers.
We went 'abroad' for day 3 taking the Corran Ferry over to Ardgour and Garbh Bheinn's Great Ridge via it's direct start (S). Despite some incredible downpours we made good progress before escaping off across the south face and up to the summit.
Staying in Glencoe with the promise of good weather we opted for The North Face Route (S) on the Buachaille which gave some great exposed rock climbing. A heavy afternoon shower put paid to our plan to continue up Agag's Groove. Heading north we made the trek into the classic Ardverikie Wall (HS). I walked past this famous route back in 2001 and it's been on my to do list ever since. It didn't disappoint giving amazing and in places bold slab climbing with every pitch memorable.
Day 6 found us across on the Applecross Peninsula gearing up for the obvious line of the Cioch Nose (VD) which we followed in it's entirety. Still heading north we then went for an less demanding day playing in the sunshine on the pinnacles of Stac Pollaidh which gave some amazing views across Assynt to Suilven and beyond.
The Old Man of Stoer (VS) was one of our main aims for the trip and an early start saw me braving the water to rig the Tyrolean. From pitch 2 we were able to look down on a huge dog otter hunting in the narrow channel which separates the stack from the mainland. We summited in blazing sunshine before the awe inspiring abseil back to the first stance. Other teams had arrived and we were able to use their traverse line to retrieve ours saving me the pleasure of a second swim.
With our legs feeling the pace and wet weather arriving our final day was spent on the Forcan Ridge which gives a great wee route to the summit of the Saddle (1010m) in Glen Shiel.