Monday, 18 April 2011

Lust for Life

Inspiration can come from strange places and wears a variety of guises.
On Saturday, it turned up at Auchinstarry Quarry half cut and wearing a tracksuit to give me a much needed kick up the arse.
I’d just lost my Scottish rock virginity, but as is often the case, my performance had been nothing to write home about.
Auchinstarry has to be one of the least impressive places I’ve climbed, and after my first route I moped around wondering what to do next.
I was with a nice new bunch of people so could easily have drifted into an armchair role, chatting and maybe seconding a line or two, but just then over came this ‘yoof’ with a can of lager and the usual tedious banter about how he could climb up that and did I scale buildings like Spiderman.
Not feeling up to an Alain Robert impersonation (central Scotland doesn’t really do sexy high-rise anyway), I indulged the lad with a layman’s explanation of the ethics of climbing, and was surprised by his enthusiasm.
He pleaded for a go on a toprope on a robust HVS, and something in the way he was clearly prepared to put his street cred on the line in front of his mates persuaded me that he was up to it. I helped him squeeze into my harness and tied him in, and he set off up a layback groove.
I say layback, but seeing as he was wearing an old pair of trainers that elegant technique wasn’t really an option for him, so instead he propelled himself upwards by sheer bloody-minded determination, wriggling up and sliding down until he could finally clamber onto the half height pinnacle: where he found the energy I shall never know.
The stout fellow then made an airy traverse before being confounded by a hand crack just feet from victory, conquered his fears to rest on the rope, and finally made the top. His mates heckled him mercilessly for taking more than ten minutes.
After watching that, I felt I should go and do some climbing, so spent a pleasant afternoon battling with the logistics of a waterline traverse, hanging belay and a groove coated with a winter’s worth of grime and mud befitting the seepage line it obviously was.
Some might have been disappointed, but I had a good time and made some new friends - it’s always worth making the effort.
That’s something I’m having to remind myself of now that quality rock is no longer on my doorstep.
I’ve had a massive lifestyle change and need to learn to approach climbing in a new way, setting aside a finite amount of quality time to hit my targets. With a new country to explore, that shouldn’t be too hard.
But faced with vast acres of curvaceous beauty, it can be hard for a young man to know where to start. I’m told in these matters it’s best to be open minded and willing to experiment, so I’ve been poring over Gary Latter’s excellent guidebook to the highlands and islands, and set myself the target of doing a route from each of the ten main areas covered in volume one by the end of the year.
I’ve actually been sad and made a list, but I’m not sure if I should make it public.
I’ll tell you what, I will, on one condition: anyone who also fancies a bit of the action can get in touch and we’ll make a date and go and do a route.

They are:

Arran: Vanishing Point E4 6a
Arrochar: Osiris E4 6a
Mull: Ring of Bright Water XS 5b/c S0
Glen Coe: The New Testament E4 6a
Ardgour: White Hope E5 6a
Ardnamurchan: Heart of Darkness E4 6a
Glen Nevis: On the Beach E5 6a
Ben Nevis: The Bat E2 5b
Central Highlands: Marlene F7b+
Cairngorms: Voyage of the Beagle E4 6a

They may be preposterous, I may get spanked, but I hope that by going off and finding them I will get to know Scotland and a few of its people, and maybe rediscover the fun and adventure of my early climbing days.

1 comment:

  1. dude, thats a pretty awesome looking wish list!!! met you at the crags the other night, we were having a blether about the scotsman.... i had a look at your stuff and at Roger Coxs site, both well good - some really nice stuff!!

    anyways, if your struggling to find folk to hit the mountains with im always keen, nowhere near you standard at the mo, but wanting to improve!