Monday, April 9, 2012

Kilt Rock and Diabaig

Amazingly I managed to convince my mother to lend her car for a week. Even more amazingly she agreed that I could drive it to Skye. So on Monday morning after a weekend of hard work Duncan and I set off North. We stopped in Glasgow to collect Jimmy the Greek and kept on going. The roads got smaller and smaller and after what seemed like an eternity arrived at Glenbrittle. It was raining.

Road tripping!
Duncan reads the guide book whilst Jimmy fantasizes about sharing a portaledge with Hazel Fitty...
I've been winter climbing Scotland plenty of times, but I've only ever done two rock routes north of the border so I was mad keen for anything. The weather was set to clear at 4am so optimistically we stayed put hoping that we'd still be able to send the Cuillin Ridge. Unfortunately it didn't and after a very wild night we awoke to snow on the ground.

Snow stops play on the Cuillin.
It had now stopped raining but was very windy. I managed to persuade a reluctant Duncan and Fingers that Kilt Rock might be worth a look. We arrived to find it in the sunshine, but it was still incredibly windy. Undeterred we donned all our clothes and abseiled in.

Kilt Rock - Grey Panther climbs the groove up the centre of the crag.
Our chosen route was Grey Panther a classic E1 and one of the easiest routes in Extreme Rock to boot. I was really psyched to lead Grey Panther as I'd seconded and fallen off quite a few routes in the book, but had never lead one clean.

Nervously I set of up the route. It's a big 40 metre pitch of sustained bridging and jamming on perfect rough rock. Thankfully blessed with good rests and with more runners you can shake a stick at (I placed 20!). Thankfully the pitch went smoothly and I was soon belaying Duncan and Fingers up. We then headed to Portree to warm up and escape the wind.

Dunc and Jimmy on Grey Panther.
Dunc near the top.
My mum wasn't pleased when I returned the car in this state.
The snow on ridge hadn't cleared so we decided to leave that for another day. We got back in the Car and zoomed off to Diabiag. This tiny coastal hamlet is one of the beautiful places I've ever been. We found somewhere to doss and spent a chilly night spooning together in our summer sleeping bags!

Diabaig in all her glory - The Pillar takes the prominent slab.
The next day we Duncan lead the Classic E2 The Pillar. A perfect 45metre long slab pitch with good but small and spaced gear. A good lead in the freezing conditions!
Cold rock and cold hands - Dunc on the Pillar.
We then headed rounded to the Main Crag where Jimmy lead the brilliant HVS Route 2. I then had a go at Northumberland Wall the crag's other classic E2. I couldn't work out how to climb through the overlap and wasn't prepared to commit to collection of crappy wires I had placed.

Jimmy leading Route 2.
Me on Northumberland Wall just before I backed off.
I then climbed Route 3 (E1 5b) as compensation. It wasn't great to be honest - a one move wonder with a reachy crux. The top 5a pitch was good fun though with a few moves of steep jamming.

Beautiful people in a beautiful place.
I had to be in Edinburgh the next day to collect some skis we're borrowing for Alaska (Thanks a million Anatom!) so we drove East. The plan was to do a couple of routes at Creag Dubh, however arriving in Aviemore there was snow on the ground so we enured another cold night before heading back to Glasgow the next day.

In short Scotland and Scottish rock climbing is amazing and I can't wait to go back for more!

1 comment:

  1. Good effort, especially for April. There are loads of great routes up there but you need the weather!