Summer of Rock

Like most climbers in Scotland the winter had brought nothing but frustration. The mild dry weather meant winter climbing conditions were absent for the most part and the season never really got off the ground. By the time spring finally came round I was itching to get out rock climbing.

Initial forays onto the crags and sea cliffs of Aberdeenshire gave me a reality check as to the state of my long neglected rock skills. This was further compounded by an extra 8kg of body weight gained in the gym over the winter. More muscle yes, more power:weight ratio no. More climbing was to be the solution.

Early highlights include May ascents of Cumming Crofton on Beinn a'Bhuird and Sgurr Alasdair's Commando Crack, which had rejected my efforts last summer. These are both contenders for the finest routes of their grade in Scotland.

Myself on Cumming Crofton Route (photo David Bird)

On the morning of the dreich June day that Scotland had their dramatic clash with the auld enemy, Dave and myself were clashing with the slate at Newtyle quarry for our first taste of the dark art of dry-tooling. Its basically climbing rock with ice axes and crampons, fun but exhausting!

Dry tooling at Newtyle Quarry (Photo David Bird)

Later that month I was in the Dolomites with Alan and John for a tremendous week where the weather was almost as good as the routes. Highlights were the Mariakante on the Piz Pordoi and the classic Piaz arete on the Vajolet towers, where the opening scene of Cliffhanger was filmed.

Myself on the Piaz Arete (photo Alan Sewell)

Myself on the Mariakante (photo Alan Sewell)

The Famous Tre Cime Di Lavaredo

Since June I have been busy with work but have done very well with the weather when I have been around. I spent four of my five days off in July climbing the first of which was a long day trip to Skye for Integrity, a route I have been talking about for a while now and definitely worth the hype.

Dave climbing on Integrity with the Cioch below

Sgurr Alasdair from Sgurr Sgumain

A couple of days later I was in Assynt climbing my first sea stack. July was rounded off with two days climbing on Stac Pollaidh with Russell before work sent me away again.

The Old Man of Stoer

Russell on Stac Pollaidh's 'Vlad the Impaler'

There have been other successes, washouts and failures over the months since winter left us and hopefully a few more to come before it is upon us again but I'd be lying if I said that visions of icy gulleys and snow plastered buttresses were not becoming more prevalent in my thoughts.

Looking in toward the Fhidhler's nose, an ambition for coming summers


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