The last week of January could have quite easily passed as April/May in Scotland, brilliant blue skies, that tempting warmth from the sun and dry rock all round. Winter this year in Scotland has been a pretty strange one, although as I write it is once again rearing its head. So with a real lack of Winter in the hills and with time off, myself and Sean headed North to Inverness to check out the sport climbing around the area.
We stopped first at Moy which provides some superb, well equipped, longer routes on conglomerate with a sunny Southerly aspect - what more could you ask for in January?! We warmed up on Holly Tree Groove, a pleasant 6a along to the left end of the crag, before moving back right to Herring Wall. Here we climbed Fighting off the Vultures 6a+ as well as Pebbledash 6b. It was clear my head was out of the 'falling' game and my arms severely lacking any power endurance, I will blame TCA!
|Me 'Fighting off the Vultures'. Credit Sean Henderson.|
|Moy crag outlook.|
We dossed that night along at Golspie down the single track to Littleferry in Sean's van. Some good food, a fire and beer to round off the day.
|Me on 'Ground Clearance'. Credit Sean Henderson.|
Next day we checked out Creag Bheag, but it was pretty seepy unfortunately, despite the dry weather. So we headed for Silver Rock instead which sits prominently up on the hill side above Golspie. The climbs here are conglomerate again but generally shorter, steeper and quite punchy! We warmed up on the longer Ag Rippa which provided a lichenous 6b+, both of us taking two goes after clearing the vital foothold at the crux overlap. We then went straight onto Ground Clearance which is a super steep but excellently juggy 6c. Unfortunately for me my arms and day light were giving out so it's one I will have to come back for but Sean sent it in good style.
We parked up that night near Loch Achilty as I had to get the train home the following day for work. We found another great spot with endless amounts of dry silver birch wood for a fire - happy days.
We actually managed to start climbing the next day before 10am, committment. We concentrated on the Big Flat Wall at Moy which looks to be best at the crag. I'd failed right at the top of Little Teaser the other day so that was on my cross hairs. Its a superb 6b+ which packs a punch right at the top! Some steady 6a climbing sees you three clips from the top before some cruxy moves take their toll, leaving you with an all out sprint for the chains!
|Sean on Little Teaser - he made it in a oner, just!|
For me lacking any power endurance at all this was a proper pump fest at the top with the route being 20m in length. I got spat off three times at the top, forearms solid and began doubting if I'd get it that day. One more shot after a long rest saw me shaking out my right hand up at the chains going for the final jug and clip - made it! Some stamina at Ratho is clearly required for the approaching Spring!
|Sunset at Moy. Credit Sean Henderson.|
Sean was really on it, managing to tick a tough looking Cloak and Dagger 6c+ before scooting up The Dark Side 6c to round off the day.