Monday, 2 January 2012

New year, same ambitions

The year that life got in the way. That’s how I’ll be remembering 2011, in climbing terms at least. (Other terms are available, I’m told, but I’m not sure I like them.)
What I climbed last year could be written on the back of a postage stamp, but since I can’t mail you all, and you wouldn’t be able to read it anyway after I’d liked it and stuck it on an envelope, I reckon I’ll save myself the embarrassment and stick to making a few recommendations based on my best discoveries.
They are: Dove Holes, a great little bouldering spot in Northumberland; climbing Five Finger Exercise and Fern Hill one after the other at Cratcliffe; the Tissington Spires in Dovedale; Fun and Frolics at London Bridge in Torbay; and Fastcastle near Edinburgh.
That’s not as much as I’d hoped to be reporting when I moved to Scotland a year ago, so I’m going to pretend 2011 never happened and pick the list of ten Highland routes I made back in April as my New Year’s resolutions for 2012. They’re as good a list as any for getting to know Scotland and scaring myself shitless in the process so I’m going to paste them back in here and people can hold me to account by mocking and heckling should I fail to get them done.

The battlefield in the fight between the forces of climbing and real life is motivation. Motivation to get out of bed on a Saturday morning early enough to go to a distant crag. Motivation to organise yourself during the week, get a partner and spend some money travelling to the climb. And motivation to get on a big scary lump of rock that looks like it might hurt you.
Now is the depth of winter and I’m working strength, but in mid February the true training will begin. I’m going to get up at dawn every Sunday and hitchhike round Edinburgh’s ring road three times before breakfast. I’m going to burn £20 and go and sit under a boulder in Holyrood Park in the rain two evenings a week – and I’ll persuade someone else to join me. And I’ll be locking myself in a room with a candle and burning my feet over it while/until I can crank 20 pull ups.
By the time Spring arrives, I’m gonna be psyched, man!

Here are those routes from the ten main areas of Gary Latter’s Scottish Climbs vol 1 again:

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