Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Short Straw

Last April I had a quick look at The Short Straw E4 6a on Scimitar Ridge in Glen Nevis. It was a very different style to what I usually go for being overhanging but the climbing is great and I was keen to give it a proper try.

Top roping in 2016-Pic- Vertical Fever

Steve had been keen to look at a new route further up at Bistro Buttress so we both worked our lines and headed up with Ken last Tuesday and Steve got the first ascent of Tupilaq E5 6a, an amazing line, you can check it out here . I didn't manage Short Straw that day due to an elbow injury but we went up on Friday with Euan from Finalcrux on Friday morning for another try. 

After a bit of talking to myself I eventually got on lead and really enjoyed the route. It felt quite hard for the grade but perhaps thats due to the style of climbing. 

On the route-Pic- Finalcrux Films

Euan, myself and Steve. Pic- Vertical Fever

Sunday, 26 March 2017

New Season-New Route-New Chapter

Yesterday Jane , Steve and myself headed out to Lochailort. Steve was ultra keen to get on Skyfall (a very bold E6 6b which I climbed 2 years ago after a drawn out mental battle) and I had my sights set on a new route. We both knew if it all went to plan it would be an outstanding way to kick start our season and to set us up for bigger plans later in the year. It was warm on the walk in but thankfully there was a nice breeze, we set up our respective top ropes and Steve tried his route first, on his second attempt I knew it was going to be a good day.

Chatting and chilling out. All pics by Jane Holmes

Steve quickly decided to just get on lead. He belayed me when I lead it and he said it was scary to watch, I soon found out what he meant but he climbed in his usual solid style and topped out with a big sigh of relief, effort for his first route of the season.

Steve on Skyfall

Next was round to my route and it was getting very warm which was giving me a slight bit of concern due to the smeary nature of the climbing, also it was my first climb since my surgery. However I was psyched after watching Steves lead and I was keen to get this route sent to get my head in gear so after a few top ropes I decided to just go for it. It felt amazing to lead again and especially on such a consequential bold route way above marginal gear.

 Nearing top of The 45

Standard celebration

Traditional sip of whisky

This was likely my last trip to the Lochailort crag as I've climbed everything here I want to now. It's gave me every emotion possible and it's quite sad that I'll probably never climb here again but I'll always have happy memories of the amazing times I've had at this amazing crag. It's not just the climbing thats great but the outlook and in particular the feeling of the history of the area that seems ever present.

Walking out, end of one chapter, start of a new one............:)

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Listen to Yourself

Back in October I was invited to do a TedX talk in Inverness, I've never been so nervous in my life not even standing at the bottom of scary routes. The theme of the night was challenge and I decided to talk about embracing challenge. My experience being that it's best not to see it as a negative thing but to somehow find a positive there.

Me yapping at Tedx Inverness

So having struggled since my last ankle operation I had to listen to my own advice and start to search for the positives in my predicament. First step is being realistic about what I can and cant do, running is a thing of the past, multiple mountain days are gone as is more than one winter day per week or so which is one of the more bitter pills I've had to swallow. Having to say goodbye to these things isn't easy as all of them were a huge part of who I was but I need to change with my abilities or I'll drive myself crazy so I have to look at them like anything else that hurts me or gets in my way and cut them loose. So the search for the positive side begins.

Over the previous years I've grown frustrated with mixed climbing regardless of how much I love it and found more of a love for pure ice so I can focus more on that which suits wearing a prosthetic better anyway. 

The other big positive is more time to focus on my main passion in climbing these days which is climbing new routes, I love the process of discovering,cleaning and climbing these things and theres no shortage of it out there.

End of a day projecting-Pic- Vertical Fever

So I think 2017 may involve some serious adaptation but I'm looking forward to the challenge of it and seeing if I can leave behind in some small way the frustration of injury and disability I've felt and focus more on what I can do than being pissed off about what I cant........All the best

Still keen for a wee bit of winter though :) -Pic- Dan Vernon