Tag: trad


When I first started climbing I thought I’d be climbing VS in no time. But that didn’t happen. Then as the years passed I got content with being solid at Severe. Then a few big upheavels in my life bought some fresh perspective on the things that were important to me; I started to climb more.

There’s been a lot of learning in the last 18 months. Getting my confidence back, learning to be positive and learning to make things happen. There’s a lot more work to be done there, but it’s moving in the right direction. And so is the climbing. Hard Severe’s. MVS’s. A few gentle nudges from my climbing partners “come on Gueste, you can do that”.

And because I’m like that I didn’t want to take a route that was MVS in the guide but VS on UKC . And I didn’t want it to be a route I’d seconded before. I wanted it to be real.

Walthwaite Gully

Walthwaite Gully VS. Photo by Jan Bella

So yeah; VS.

And it felt pretty nice.


Is it just the Lakes where this grade exists…


Ardus, classic lakes MVS

It’s a nice grade – I’m liking it as a staging post on the way to VS.

Reiff Break

Have wanted to go to Reiff for ages – Coigach is such a lovely corner of Scotland and the climbing at Reiff has a big reputation. Luckily for me some mates didn’t take much (read none) convincing that a weekend trip was a good idea. Leaving Edinburgh at 4pm, stopping for chips in Aviemore, and being witness to an amazing sunset as we travelled the last stretch, we made it the 235 miles to Altandu before closing time.

Roinn a’Mhill

Saturday dawned, and with about one good nights sleep between four, we rose groggy but keen. An overcast sky wasn’t ideal, but a stiff breeze made up for it. Predictably, because it’s the first area you come across and has the shortest walk-in, we headed to Pinnacle area of Roinn a’Mhill to start off. By the time we had got organised and Fiona had led her first route, Helen and Tim had got 2 routes under their belts [note to self: faster pussycat!]. On Helens recommendation I opted for Diagonal Crack (VD)* as my first climb – just as I was about to set off both rain and midges decended. In these situations the best thing to do is just crack on with it (geddit?) and get to the top sooner. Steepish but steady climbing that required a bit of thought – worthy of it’s star.

Photo of Roinn a'Mhill cliffs taken from the cliff top at An Stiuir
Roinn a’Mhill taken from the cliff top at An Stiuir

A few routes later we headed over to the Marriage area to find Junior Groove (VD). It looks a bit like a mini version of Inverted V at Stanage, but tucked away in a gully. Fiona decided half way up that this wasn’t the route for her. A few more short routes later and hating unfinished business I found myself back in the gully and on Juniors Groove (did i mention that grooves really aren’t my thing). Actually it was quite nice – and as the 7th climb of the day, finished what for me was a pretty high route tally, on a high.

Route Tally

Decent Route (Diff)

Diagonal Crack (VD)* – Lead

Special K (Diff)

Sandstone Shuffle (VD) – Lead

Something Blue (HS)

Something Borrowed (VD) – Lead

Juniors Groove (VD) – Lead

An Stiuir

For day two we headed further along the coast, away from the crowds, to the Sea Cliff in the An Stiuir area. We did know the tide times, but when we arrived it was still much more ‘in’ than we would have liked, so some time killing ensued. We did some scouting around the diffrent sectors – the Seal song wall is immense – and at Severe overhanging crack has got to be on my wishlist. Eating lunch in the sun, scanning the horizon for dolphins, we managed to pass an hour or two easily.

Time dead, and the tide had pulled out to reveal solid ground to climb from – so we abbed in and got on with it.

Fiona led Sea PInk (VD) then my turn. Sea Phylis (VD)** looks well tough from the rock fin, but looks better from underneath (look mum, hold’s and everything!) – it climbs very well too. I’m not sure what the other routes we did where – there was an easy groove, just left of the decent coner (possibly Sea Quim), and then Fiona tried what we thought was Sea Weed (VD) – but in retrospect might have been Sea Stytis (S). Whatever it was, it was more like a tough Severe than a V.diff, both to look at and to climb.

A dropping breeze, signaled a retreat, and the long road home.

Route Tally

Sea Pink (VD)

Sea Phylis (VD)** – Lead

? (VD) – Lead

? (S)

Sat on the cliff top at An Stiuir
The end of the second day

Cheers guys for a lovely weekend, and Reiff = defintaly worth a return trip. In fact I’m already working on my wish list…

An easy day for a lady

It has frequently been noticed that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak; The most difficult ascent in the Alps; An easy day for a lady.” Albert Mummery

Well who doesn’t love easy days? So a plan was brewed up (in the manner of tea), to get away with the ladies to Northumberland for a day of easiness. ‘H’ could well be right on her theory that nothing makes climbing easier than a nice sunny day – because we all managed to hit former high points pretty easily, considering it was the first trad day of the summer.

H was on storming form, putting in some pretty impressive leads – she also managed to wear poor Mike out totally (bless) with seemingly boundless enthusiasm. F continually manages to impress me by feeling the fear and doing it anyway – there’s lesson in that for us all. And me? Well I managed to lead 3 Severes pretty comfortably – and I haven’t ever led out harder, so that’ll do me very nicely indeed.

So thank you climbing friends for a lovely ‘easy’ day out.

  • Easy Traverse (Diff) – Seconded
  • Birdlime Crack, (Mild Severe) -Led Onsight
  • Christmas Tree Arete (Diff) – Seconded
  • Mo (Severe) – Led , but done before
  • Meeney (V.Diff) – Seconded
  • Flake Crack (Severe 4b)Led, but done before
  • Deception Crack (HS 4b) – Seconded

Troutdale Pinnacle

A day of 3 star Lakeland classics.

Up early-ish to take Mike up Little Chamonix, a Lake District über classic. Very easy for him, do-able for me. Infact I have climbed it twice before – but ages ago, and this time I led the pitches I seconded previously. The first pitch was pretty dirty and polished, a strange combination. You know how sometimes when you second things they seem really hard? I thought I would be on ‘that block’ for ages faffing about making ‘that step’ – as it happens I was pretty damm speedy on the lead. No queues, a bit of sun and nice climbing, all very pleasant indeed.

There then followed a long lunch in Keswick, with a almost mandatory browse in Needlesports

After lunch we decided to head over to Castle Rock – but when we got there we didn’ have any change for the car park – so decided to head back to Borrowdale and try another classic route.

From then on in it played out very well. The walk in to Black Crag takes you through wildflower strewn meadow and wood, up a path to the crag. Everywhere seemed very verdant, and in good condition. The crag sat up on the hill looking very inviting in the now glorious sunshine.

Troutdale Pinnacle 105m (Severe) is another 3 star classic. 6 ‘magnificent’ pitches taking you up varied terrain including the ‘pinncale’.

Troutdale Pinnacle
At the 1st Belay of Troutdale Pinnacle on the Idyllic Black Crag

We alternated leads – Me taking 1,3 and 6. Mike taking 2 and running 4 & 5 together. I think the climbing was pretty steady for the grade – no real easy pitches, so I’m pretty happy with it. It might just be the hardest thing I have led. The first pitch was steady – no sign of the birch tree mentioned in the guide book – there is however an oak tree in about the right place. Third pitch starts off quite steep, with a big step up, and finished with another awkward step. The final pitch looks pretty steep, but the holds are good once you find them.

As a climb it was almost prefect! The weather was on our side, with blue skys and because it was Friday it was quite and we had the route to ourselves. I’m totally smitten by the crag, it felt totally idyllic – I can’t believe I have never climbed there before. The climbing was lovely – varied and interesting, and it didn’t feel too easy, but it didn’t feel to hard either. All in all a big Yay! from me.