Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coire Laogh Mor

A good start to the season on Cairngorm. Nice snow in Coire Loagh Mor yesterday and great to be able to ski right down to the bottom car park (almost). This is the Coire east of Coire na Ciste at Cairngorm accessed by a long traverse from the top of there Ptarmigan Tow.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Longs Peak

Alec Sharp is one of the climbers who inspired me as a youth. He left the UK in 1982 and settled in Boulder CO. Jonathan Lagoe made contact with him during his stay in Boulder and through Jonathan I was lucky enough to get to know him as well.

The three of us climbed Longs Peak via the Loft Route and back down by the Keyhole Route. 7 Hours round trip. The weather was with us, it's raining this morning and snow is forecast for Longs Peak; winter has arrived in the mountains.

The Diamond
Alec Sharp on the Loft Route

On the Loft Route

Ice on the Loft Route

Saturday, September 22, 2012


A stupendous, funkadelic (yes, I've been here too long), 800 feet of high quality easy climbing on perfect rock in a beautiful, quasi wilderness/urban setting......alright if you like that sort of thing.

Low on Freeway, Boulder behind

A bit higher up

Near the top

A canny arch (Biffa)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fourteener Ticking

Crusher said:

Hi Andy, I just injured my shoulder a few days ago. Nothing too serious, inflamed bicep tendon area; not the first time but a bit worse than last time. I expect to be not climbing for a couple weeks or so, maybe until end of September before anything very difficult.

Ed said:

Hey, Andy, I took a 50 foot fall yesterday. Rappelling down a canyon. The anchor knot unravelled and I made it to the bottom in record time. However, due to my haste, I broke a few ribs and had some nice internal bleeding. I also saw my right elbow bones and tendons. It's not broken, just cut wide open. I'm in the Grand Junction hospital, St. Mary's. So I regret that I will be unable to make it to go climbing with you this week.

Bring on some 14er bagging.

The Grays, Torreys combo offers two peaks linked by a high saddle. I would have liked to have climbed Torreys by the Kelso Ridge (class 3) but strong winds and fresh snow put me off.

Climbing Grays Peak
Looking down the Kelso Ridge

The Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross combo is a neat four peak horseshoe centred around Kite Lake. Climbing Bross is discouraged because it is private land!

Looking south from Democrat
Aspens near the Hoosier Pass
Mount Bross
On the way to Lincoln

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Super Worthy at the Voo

After a life time of waiting we finally made it to Wyoming's legendary crack climbing destination, Vedauwoo.

Our crack technique may have been lacking but not so much as our essential Voo lexicon. As luck would have it, local crack meister Lenore Sparks was on hand to put us right.

Essential phrases added to our crack climbing vocabulary now include 'clip that shit', 'stick that shit', 'it's so sick', ' man pants' and of course 'super worthy'. No more embarrassment at the crag for us dudes!

The day finished with an extremely rare sighting of Black Moose. It must be a sign!

Big thanks to Lenore Sparks and Paul Hock for fantastic afternoon at the crag.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Ten Sleep

It's ten sleeps from a couple of big Indian camps in either direction (or was), before we killed them all. The town is small, a bit run down, has a couple of motels, a good cafe for breakfast and a bar with excellent beer and food. Bring any other food you might need; the gas station/store has limited choice. I really liked the place, the locals chat at the bar, and the cafe has a 'home cookin' feel about it despite the breakfast options being either 'Breakfast 1'or 'Breakfast 2'.

Limestone, a bit of a rarity in the US. Loads of it, and surprisingly good quality. The routes range from vertical to radically overhanging. Not much sub 5.10. We had three fantastic days hauling our aged bodies up routes until completely trashed and in need of a day off.

The guide book is bit crap. Lots of wasted space devoted to introverted Ted Nugent style weirdness. You get the picture with sectors such as Vietnam and Sex and Drugs. Route names; 'Bikini Girls With Machine Guns', 'B1 Bomber Dude', 'Insane Hound Possie'.....

Go there, it's cool (as they say).


Monday, September 03, 2012

Crack Shock

Hot and slippy. Flaring cracks, not much for the feet. 10a feels like E2. Yes, we're having a hard time on Boulder Canyon cracks (not to mention Estes Park). Did I really climb that large piece of rock a thousand miles to the west, in-a-day? Feels like another life time now. Feels like a long way from Neist!

What I do remember about crack climbing (US style), is that you have to bang your head against it for a few days to reach some level of efficiency. Feet are key, trust them, and trust those slippy jams and perfect cams; easier said than done.

More of the same tomorrow.


Sunday, September 02, 2012


To the east, completely flat for 1630 miles, then sea. To the west mountains. Looking forward to a month of cragging in this climbing Mecca that I've only just got around to visiting; perviously written off as a few insignificant loose cliffs in the mid west. I was spending a lot of time in California at the time, none-the-less, a typically sweeping and overly generalised opinion.

I contacted a couple of old friends living in the Bay Area before leaving the UK to see if they had any climbing contacts in Boulder; shockingly neither of them knew anyone at all. How could that be? Main stream climbers from California not knowing anyone out of thousands of climbers resident in the Boulder area? Those Valley boys need to get away a bit more.

First on the list was a shopping trip down town on the push bike. After waving and nodding to a couple of hundred cyclist the task overwhelmed me; there's just too many of the buggers. I was feeling like Crocodile Dundee on his first day in New York.

A visit to the Patagonia Store, REI and the Apple Store. Those shop assistants are just so friendly! I was more than happy to hand over substantial amounts of cash in exchange for premium priced clothing and IT equipment and, even feeling up-beat, positive and communicative myself; laughing joking and generally enjoying the experience. A nauseous hangover awaits no doubt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wheel Sucking Bastards

I learnt a new phrase on Scottish Ski Area Challenge, just in conversation you understand as we were (of course), riding as a team. It seemed a little over the top to me; why would you be SO bothered about someone else latching on to your back wheel?

I didn’t have to wait long to find out. Both Mike and I suffered extreme examples of ‘Wheel Sucking’ during the Corrieyairack Challenge. For those who don’t know it, the Corrieyairack is a pass between Fort Augustus and Laggan. There are various options for racing the event including, run/bike, walk/bike and mtb. We choose the a latter. The first part of the race consists of a big climb over the pass on a good track to a fast descent (some mild technical difficulties) , followed by a long road section back to the finish in Kincraig.

With Coach Mike Devlin

So, if you’re interested in ‘wheel sucking’ this how to do it: Close in to less than a metre off the back wheel of someone riding at an appropriate pace (make some patronising comments about how well the person in front is doing), coast in the slip steam until it’s possible to jump the gap to the next person in front using all the spare energy you have managed to conserve. Coast and, if the original guy (me), catches you up again (and is making progress) jump on his wheel until you can leap frog to the next person in front. Work like this until a couple of miles from home then blast off leaving everyone else in your wake.

Now I understand ‘Wheel Sucking Bastards’.

Up front somewhere Mike was having a similar experience. From the Mikes Bikes Blog:

“Mike set out again with the red mist fully down, and got back up to fifth place only to be past at Kingussie by the biggest, most flagrant, open “wheel sucker” known to human kind, attached to another’s back wheel. A chap Mike had already thrown off his wheel some 10 miles before.”

The team did ok. Hamish Irvine 4th, Mike Devlin 7th (with puncture) and me 14th.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scottish Ski Area Bike Challenge

I’d heard a few people talk about the idea of cycling between all the Scottish ski areas; Glencoe Mountain, Nevis Range, Cairngorm Mountain, The Lecht and Glenshee. It’s not easy to find a workable route given the distance and the busy roads. A circular route would inevitably have to use the narrow and dangerous A82 between Crianlarich and Fort William and at 230 miles would be bit long for a single day.

Misery at 6am
Brian Fishpool came up with the idea of an end to end ride starting at Glencoe and finishing at Glenshee. A 170 miles sounded at bit more reasonable.

The weather wasn’t great on the day but we left Aviemore in the G2 van at 3.45am and started cycling from Glencoe Mountain at 6.06am in the pouring rain. The weather improved by Onich and we had dry conditions with a following wind through to Cairngorm, arriving at 1pm after some mechanical issues. We hit heavy rain again after Nethy which continued all the way to The Lecht.

Bacon butties at Spean Bridge
The bunch was getting a bit jaded on the two big climbs over to Deeside and by the time we had descended to the A93 we were cycling into a strong head wind. A quick stop at Braemar before the final 9 mile climb to Glenshee finishing around 9.30pm.

Glenshee at last

I have to admit that my motivation for the challenge wasn't soley fueled by my charitable nature but it's nice to be raising some money for local and national causes all the same. If you feel inspired to donate please visit our Just Giving Page

Cyclists: Brian Fishpool, Rob Edmunds, Paul Wainwright, Hamish Irvine, Andy Hyslop.

You can find full details of the ride on Paul Wainwrights Strava Page including distance, elevation and riding time.

View Scottish Ski Area Challenge in a larger map

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I had a first look at the coast east of Kintra a few weeks ago with Pete Whillance. We had an hour before driving to Craignuire and the ferry so didn’t have much time to explore but what we did see was very interesting. Cog told us that Danny Brooks had climbed several routes in the area but didn’t record them.

I returned two weeks later with John Topping. We found some more interesting crags and one very impressive overhanging buttress. I thought I could probably get up a line at the left side of the overhanging buttress but there was clearly scope for hard routes beyond our ability. Yan and Tess were in the area so we arranged to meet at the crag and point them at a few lines.

Yan attempts the right-hand line
Tess onsighted a good looking corner line at HVS/E1 and Yan tried a line at the right side of the overhanging buttress but backed off due to loose blocks. In the mean time I cleaned the left-hand line; it was very steep and I had to nut down on the ab rope to stay in. The start looked like a tough boulder problem while the rest was continuously overhanging climbing in an impressive position.

Yan and Tess left John and I trying to boulder out the start. John eventually managed to reach the good holds but I was too tired after the cleaning and multiple jumar ascents to make much impression.

Yan led a new E3 in an inlet back towards Kintra. They had gone home the time we got back to the car but had left us a note. At least we had a route name now!

I’m not that interested in new routing as a rule especially when there’s lots of cleaning involved, and definitely when the climbing is too hard for me to onsight. However I was inspired by this line. The new crag was almost 30M. Overhanging granite with holds is a rarity, even more so with good gear. I could feel a mega classic coming on.

First attempt with John Topping
 Many thanks to Ian (Yan) Taylor and Ullapool Rock  for this image

I arranged to meet bouldering ace, Greg Chapman at Craignuire on the 18th May. Greg had driven up from Lancaster with a car full of mats and I was hoping to utilise his superior technical know how, plus mats, to get me up the start of the route. We spent Saturday in the first inlet looking at some bouldering prospects. Greg climbed some fingery looking V10s while I cleaned another line to the right of Yan’s route. I ran out of energy on the first attempt but left the gear in place and came back the next day to climb the route clean, all be it with half the gear in place. Cynthia seconded and characteristically found a V Diff version to the 6a crux by climbing a hollow flake. I levered the flake off with Cogs ice axe to stop anyone else ruining my beautiful creation.

A new E4 6a near Kintra
 In the afternoon we all headed over to the big crag. Greg instantaneously dispatched the boulder problem start but had to modify his instructions to accommodate a lanky, weak, 53 year old. With the mats at the base I reached the good holds after a few tries and eventually managed to place a crucial blue Alien (Friend 0) that would protect the next section. Yet again I didn’t have the strength to continue and spent the rest of the afternoon on more cleaning and removing a huge flake from the niche with Cog’s ice axe.

I decided to rest on Monday and took Greg to some of the possible bouldering areas near Knock Vologan. Greg caught the bus back up to Craignuire that night but Cynthia stayed on to hopefully bag the route on Tuesday morning before heading home ourselves.

Greg Chapman on Roughcut Reality 7c+
Following Greg’s advice, I warmed up well. I made the good hold on the second try and continued up for a couple of metres to where I could get a hand off and drop a loop so as to pull up the rest of rack. The climbing up to the niche wasn’t too hard  (F6a+) but I was seriously pumped after the boulder problem start (F6c+). After a good rest in the niche I pulled out right into the hanging chimney for a final ‘traditional’ struggle up to a spacious glacis belay (25M). A short VS pitch up the rib to finish making the whole route around 30M.

At last “Yo Sloppy” was in the bag, E4 6a, and even though I say so myself, its gotta be a three star mega classic ;-)

Yo Sloppy E4 6a

View Kintra - Some Bouldering Locations in a larger map

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cairngorm 4000 Ski Tour

Tailler Burn from near Cairn Toul
Having just got back from Eigg (see previous post), it was a bit of a rush to get everything together for an early start on Cairngorm 4000 tops.

I got up at 6.00 am and left the car park at 7.30 am fully prepared to skin up to the summit. Luckily I bumped into my anonymous mate at the bottom of the M1 tow who generously offered to give me a lift to the top. Purity and ethics out the window and enjoy the ride!

Macdui by 9.30 am and on to the top of the Taillear Burn. I was concerned that the headwall had obviously avalanched in a big way at some point in the last couple of days. There was a huge amount of debris but the snow pack seemed to have stablised since the weekend. Never the less I was anxious to get out of the danger zone as quickly as possible, particularly as I was alone.

On the way back through the Chalamain Gap
The snow did not extend down to the Ghru necessitating a wade across the Dee and flog up Corie Odhar. I was lucky enough to bump into Graham Stein and Andy Lole on the plateau. We worked as a team on the second half of the tour which was useful in the heavy afternoon conditions.

The descent down Corie Gorm was still in excellent condition despite the heat. The snow ran out a short way above Lochan Odhar. Back at the car park for 6.30 pm.

Another incredible day in the Scottish hills.


Cog and Cynthia were heading to Eigg for the weekend. I’d never been so asked if I could come along. After a week of cold rain in Aviemore the weather cleared on Saturday morning to reveal an utterly plastered ‘Hill’; bright sun, no wind, powder and I’m heading west to a tick infested island. I was close to doing a U on the A9.

I kept driving and met Themselve’s at Lochailort. Cog took us to a nice sport crag on the coast near Arisaig.

We took the ferry in the evening and walked out to the north end of island to inspect some potential development on Sguorr Sgaileach

The guide says:

“ No routes have been recorded to date but it does have some potential”

Nice looking crag but not extensive, covered in green lichen and too far to walk.

Sguorr Sgaileach

The next day we explored the cliffs on An Sgurr and did a new route on an unclimbed buttress at the east end of Ocean Wall. Once the loose stuff has been removed the rock is good with excellent friction. We climbed our route on-site; Cog removed what seemed like a skip load of blocks while seconding.

Snipe on a Grad Piano VS 4b. Colin Moody Photo

That evening a had a look at Poll nam Partan near the harbour and decided to clean a couple of lines before it got dark.

The guide says:

“ overgrown and guarded by steep muddy ground and bramble tangles”

I say, a quick access crag with some excellent looking lines and lots of potential for development. There is a road at the bottom and grass at the base (the right hand end at least).

It was raining on Monday morning but cleared enough for us to climb one of the lines before the boat left at 4.30pm. Fierce, well protected climbing using thin cracks and bridging; my kind of climbing.

New E4 6a at Poll nam Partan. Colin Moody Photo

I drove back east with the setting sun behind me. The hills looked incredible, still brown from the winter with every rock feature illuminated in the strong, low evening light. Cairngorm and Braeriach were still plastered and the 4000s were calling strong. (more on that soon)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Erraid New Routes

I had four days new routing on Erraid, Mull. We seem to have more or less run out of totally unclimbed crags but there are still plenty of gaps between the existing routes.

Colin Moody has some topos on his site.

There is also a free mini guide on the Rock + Run info site
Pete Whillance on a new E1 at Craig Mor
Oatcake Thin E3 5c at Craig Mor

Undeveloped bouldering crag at NM295204

Pete Whillance on a new E2 5b opposite Mink Walls

Scotland's 2nd Tuffa! The other one is on Goat Crag

Asphodel Wall
(NM 290 195)west facing
1- HVS
The clean pillar.
2 - Fang   16m   HVS 5a *
Start below a downward pointing spike. Climb up towards the spike then move left and climb up another spike. Pull right and finish up the crack above the downward pointing spike.
3 - E3 5c
Climb up to a deep slot. Use knobs above a flake to gain the upper groove.
4- E1
The obvious crack is more difficult than it looks.
5 - Twin Track 16m VS 4c *
Start up the next crack to the left which splits into two cracks and convergences again at the top.
6 - Green Cracks   16m   VS 4c *
Climb twin cracks just left of the arĂȘte at the right hand side of the face, this is left of a green corner.

Creag Mor (NM 295 199) South facing. Cynthia Grindley climbing.
1 - E3 5c
Climb over blocks and up to the small roof. Make difficult moves over the roof (small wires) and climb the wall above.
2 - Oatcake Thin 20m E3 5c
A boulder problem start leads to a thin flake. Arrange gear on the right then cross the steep wall above leftwards to good holds, (good micro nuts but blind to place). Climb direct to the top.
3- E1
Climb cracks to a right facing corner which is followed to a heather ledge. Climb a delicate ramp leftwards to finish.


I was looking for something different; nothing too frightening, well bolted routes with a good range of grades in a scenic location and, reasonably quiet. Too much to ask?

Sicily didn’t disappoint. It is a mid grade paradise with hundreds of perfectly bolted lines in a beautiful coastal setting.

Full article on the Rock + Run Info site.

Many thanks to Cog for the excellent photos. More on his site

Catwalk 6c+ (Coln Moody Photo)

No People No Stress 6c (Coln Moody Photo)

Red Necks 6b (Coln Moody Photo)

Il Ritorno dei Nomadi 6c+

Per I Nostri Amici 6b

Swordfish 7a (Colin Moody Photo)

The Riddle 7a (Colin Moody Photo)

White Wall 7a (Colin Moody Photo)