Round Tower

The tail-end of a recent two week warm spell brought friend Fiend – fellow climber and Starcraft2 comrade – to the North East from Glasgow. Perhaps the recent alignment of the planets had something to do with such a rare occurrence of good weather before the nesting season fowled up much of the good coastal climbing here. In any case, we were instantly agreed that we would check out the Round Tower.

The Round Tower holds some of the finest extremes on the coast but does unfortunately get quite “birdy,” rendering the easier climbs unclimbable from April-September. Even after the birds leave their nests, their nests remain. The Round Tower is also home to the coveted local E2 test-piece Tyrant Crack which adorns the North East Outcrops guidebook cover.

This route has been on my wish list for a couple years now, but conditions have conveniently kept me away from the attempt. Now we were going and I didn’t feel ready. I decided that I probably wouldn’t try that day, but rather to enjoy the routes I could do and follow Matthew up some routes that were beyond my leading ability. Even as we drove out the rain started spitting down so it seemed like I was going to be granted a reprieve after all. The rain didn’t last and the climb was nicely sheltered from the cold wind so we geared up and started with the easier routes. I started with High Voltage (HVS 5a*)  which begins by surmounting some poop-encrusted ledges that leads to a fun finishing flake on good holds.

Matthew warmed up on Ramadan (E1 5b **) the sensational arete on the right side of the tower shown in the photo above. He abseiled and cleaned his gear so I could lead it on mine. A tricky run out start over some dubious protection gains the arete and a spectacular exposed position on huge holds and perfect gear. It was hard not to linger for awhile. This is now one of my favorite climbs on the coast and really set the tone for me that day. I felt solid pulling the moves above less-than-perfect gear and the climbing above was sheer joy. Suddenly, Tyrant Crack looked not only doable, but fun!

Matthew racked up and led it and then cleaned it. Not a problem for him as he’s quite strong. My turn next. I climbed up and placed some gear and climbed down for a short rest. It’s quite strenuous placing gear in the start of this one. The difficulties are right off the start and go for a few meters, but the protection is excellent and there are many opportunities, you just have to be strong enough to hang on and place it. I was a bit sketchy getting onto the wall proper, but after that it seemed to flow pretty well and I made it to the sanctuary of “the spike” without much trouble. Above the spike, gear is sparse but what there is, is good — and the climbing gets easier. Halfway up, I couldn’t help grinning that I had it in the bag.

It started to get colder after that, but Matthew was keen for Silver Surfer (E3 5c**) a nice looking wall climb to a ledge and crack and corner finish. I was once again impressed with his ability to commit and climb confidently and safely over thin unprotected looking rock. He found good gear and made it look like HVS. I seconded on numb fingers, nearly fell off, couldn’t remove two pieces of gear and had the hot aches by the time I got to the halfway ledge. Good thing I didn’t attempt it on the lead.

We hummed and hawed over the possibility of a very green but cool looking E3 on the corner but decided that it was taking the full brunt of the strengthening north wind so I finished up on the “not well protected” Life of Brian (E1 5a**) which is a big traverse across the back of the crag. With two distinct cruxes and not much gear this climb gently rises up and right to the top of the crag with the final crux a committing series of thin moves on lichen-covered rock well away from the last bits of questionable gear. I climbed out and back several times before committing. There was always the option of escaping up an easy corner, but I was glad that I finished it properly as it was quite the exhilarating finish and overall very satisfying climbing and a fine conclusion to a great day out.


SVG 2012 and Dubh Loch Climbing

The past few months Amelia has been quite busy organizing her first conference. The Scottish Vision Group chose her and a colleague to co-organize the 2012 meeting. Amelia was in charge of selecting the venue among other things and this year’s meeting was held at the historic Douneside House in Tarland.

The house is beautiful. 14 bedrooms, huge conservatory, dining hall, lounges, studies and full bar all interconnected by a warren like maze of hallways adorned with period furniture and art, Douneside House was a delight to stay at. The grounds of the house are extensive as well. There’s a small burn trickling past on the east side around which beautiful trees, flowers and shrubbery are lovingly maintained. A small path leads visitors through passing small benches to sit and over tiny bridges. Many wild birds call this place home. It’s quite magical.

The crown jewel of the grounds is possibly the “Infinity Lawn” which seems to stretch on forever into the distant hills of Lochnagar. As conference organizer, Amelia scored us the #2 bedroom so we had quite the amazing view in the morning. If I’d known it would be this good, I might have stayed both nights!

The weather in the mountains was too good to pass up however, even for a night in Douneside House. My friend Ben and I spent Friday night climbing and camping at the nearby Dubh Loch. Friday we walked in at a fast 2 hrs and climbed the superb three pitch route A Likely Story (HVS 5a ***) on the Eagle Slabs. I led pitch one and three while Ben led the delicate traverse of pitch two. Really good climbing on perfect mountain granite.

Saturday we climbed the 5 pitch classic Mousetrap (VS 4c ***) up the right side of the Dubh Loch. Long pitches of sustained difficulty took us the full height of the crag (200+ meters). We made it to the top in good time despite a later start only to discover our descent gully was still covered in snow. A moment’s consideration of that terrifying descent compelled us off the north side of the mountain at an easy run as we were now hard pressed to get back in time for me to make it to Douneside House for dinner at 6pm.

JLS and Clach na Beinn

The outdoor climbing season opened for me on Saturday March 17. Danimal and I headed to Longhaven quarries for the classic sea cliff climb Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (E1 5c**). I had led this route last year with another friend, Johannes and this year Dan was keen for it, so offered to hold his ropes. It’s an excellent climb in a dramatic situation and one that requires a fair degree of adventuring just to get to. Below is a photo of another climber on the route. The climb starts a few meters above the sea under the big arch.

The next day, Amelia and I headed up to the high crag of Clach na Beinn. We had been there before a few years ago. It’s a great crag perched high on a hilltop. The walk in is long but lovely and we felt like stretching our legs. Walking in the hills is fine, but it’s always better if there’s climbing to be had at the end of it.

We packed a nice lunch and ticked off a couple of climbs, one new and one we’d done before but kind of got wrong. The last time we did Bogendreip Buttress was when Amelia’s sister Kate visited. I led it the hard way and she followed the proper way. I was keen to do it the proper way, but it still felt hard.

Climbing Trips: Isle of Skye

Back in August we took a weekend trip to the Isle of Skye to do some climbing and hillwalking with some friends. Our good friends Johannes and Jane organized food, drink and accommodations so all we had to do was show up and all would be looked after. They did a super job too. Our bunkhouse was just up the road from Talisker and quite central to any and all mountain-related activities we wished to pursue.

The first day Amelia and I went for our big mountain goal of the season — something on Sron na Ciche capped by Integrity. A big day out, with 11 pitches spanning 3 separate routes from bottom to top. We got quite an early start and did the enjoyable route Cioch West (V Diff*) which placed us at the bottom of Cioch Nose (V Diff ***).  Amelia and I swapped leads all the way up. It was a superb day on the mountain with great weather, rock and magnificent positions. Topping out on Cioch Nose was definitely one of the highlights. It was a bit surreal watching the mountain rescue helicopter fly maneuvers in the valley below our position. From this position climbers have the option of escaping off the mountain or continuing up a final 2 pitch wall.

Our friends Dan and Marianne were also in the area with another friend to do some scrambling, but the lure of Integrity was too great and we met them at the base of the route. The first pitch of Integrity (HS 4b ***) is one of the best climbs I’ve ever done. It is an amazing bit of climbing. Not hard, and extremely fun. The second pitch is merely ok, which is a shame, but the thrill of being so high above the valley saves it a bit.

We topped out around 5pm and you know that getting to the top is only halfway. The way down was a bit epic in that we missed the proper descent gulley so ended up in a scree gulley of doom. To say this was a bit harrowing is an understatement, but suffice to say we made it without any real harm done. We made it back to the car, just as it was getting fully dark — probably around 10pm — and then back to the bunkhouse by 10:30 to some very relieved friends. It was high summer on Skye, we used every last ounce of day we could get I guess they got a bit worried when we didn’t show up for dinner. Luckily they saved us some! We have some seriously great friends.

The next day, the weather deteriorated a bit so we all decided to go on a hillwalk up in the Cullins. Johannes engineered it so we would just happen to be walking past the tooth-like formation of Am Basteir/Bastier Tooth home to the famous Naismith’s Route (V Diff**). It took us a few hours of walking uphill past streams, boulders and sheep, up into the clouds and the rain. We only got a bit lost, but we were all having a good time. I honestly didn’t mind at all, the previous day was just so great.

It was bitterly cold up on the hill and Am Bastier was barely visible in the swirling mists. We did bring ropes and harness and helmet, but not climbing shoes. We figured the climbing would be quite easy and manageable due to the easy grade, even in the rain! Ha, were we wrong.

Danimal went up first to check it out. He climbed up about 15 m before reaching an impasse of loose vertical rock. His one piece of protection at 7m had long since fallen out. The wind and rain continued to howl.

We yelled up to him. “Dan, how does it look up there?”

“Not good,” he calls back.

“What’s your plan?”

“Run away!”

So down he comes. Fair play and good sense to you buddy. Johannes decides he wants to go “have a look anyway.” Dan and a couple of our group decide to carry on and do so more hillwalking while Johannes and I have a closer look at the tooth. Amelia and Jane decide to stay and make sure we don’t get into trouble. Johannes gets to Dan’s high point and builds a belay to bring me up, and before I clue into what’s happening, I’m at the belay and he’s handing me the rack. Swell. Now I get to lead up the loose vertical section and our anchor is not exactly confidence inspiring. I try to ignore the fear and launch on up the wall. In rock shoes and fine weather it would have been easy, but in the rain with big bendy boots the climbing was quite gripping. I managed to not fall off and die which was good, so I brought Johannes up and we scrambled easily to the top from there.

Here is where I should mention the conversation that happened before we set off. Amelia asked Johannes how long his rope was, and if it was in fact long enough to abseil off the top of the tooth, which is 30m, requiring a 60m rope. To which Johannes replies, “48m, we’ll be fine.” Somehow I missed this, or just failed to process the implications, but now here I was at the top of the tooth an hour or two later with frost forming on my trousers. Johannes is dangling in the mists some 24m below me having an epic because his 48m rope will not in fact get us to the bottom.

The solution of course was to build a hanging belay to which I abseiled down to. We then pulled the rope and willed our freezing hands to not drop the rope. That would be disastrous. We rigged another abseil which then took us to the ground. Lesson learned eh buddy? Hehehe.

Ah, I didn’t think it was so bad. He had a rope and some gear. It was a shame he had to leave his gear behind on the wall but hey, it’s all part of the mountain experience sometimes. Not too bad all things considered.

We hoofed it down the mountain and headed straight for the pub. We met up with our other friends there and recounted the story, much to Johannes’ shagrin. It is a good story, and a fine ending to a crackin’ weekend. Thanks guys!

Torridon Crags

After we got back to the car from climbing the Cioch Nose, we headed north for Torridon via Applecross which seemed to be in full swing as host for some Highland Games. We drove into town looking for supplies and we ended up driving a few miles past to the weirdest shop I’ve seen here yet. In retrospect, I suppose it’s not that unusual to have a big cattle grid right outside the front of the shop, but at the time it seemed odd. We bought some cold drinks and drove through some amazing coastal roads while in the distance huge domes of rock loomed.

Torridon is a small town beautifully situated on Loch Torridon. There’s a small high street with a few shops and a hotel with a very nice gastro pub. We found the free campsite on the next street up the hill and after pitching our tent walked back down the hill to see about supplies and supper. It was sunny and very pleasant indeed. We bought supplies just as the shop was about to close and then looked at the menu for the gastro pub next door. On top of an extensive fresh fish menu, they had vegetarian pizza, excellent beer and a rooftop patio. We enjoyed a nice evening on the patio until it got just a bit too chilly and then it was back to the tent for some sleep.

The next day we drove five minutes from town to park in a passing place under the high crag of Seana Mheallan.  The view to either side of the road is wild and mountainous. There is a nice river next to the road that we must cross, then it’s a steep stomp up the mountainside to an upper rock tier. We were warned that the approach was grim and it didn’t disappoint. After crossing the river we picked up faint trails leading up the steep slope. Thankfully the ground was quite dry at the time. That being said, there were many muddy spots, especially the higher up the hill we got. Most of it required pulling on heather and picking ones way carefully. Finding the right tier was a bit tricky, but find it we did and it looked amazing.

Most routes involved crack climbing to some extent and averaged about 15 meters long. Around 30 routes with most in the HVS-E3 range and on perfectly formed and mostly reliable sandstone with a bit of grit for friction. Shame we didn’t have all day, or all week for that matter since there’s a neighboring crag not ten minutes away on the same tier.

Since we didn’t have all day, we started with the best rated. Fish and Chips (E1 5c ***) bridges up a wide corner to a tricky bulge and continuation crack. I found it quite hard for the grade, but worth it’s stars! The next route Unmasked (HS 4b ***) was a delicate crack in slab, quite a nice change to the previous thuggery. Our final route was Incognito (E2 5b **) in our guide but easier than the first climb. It climbs a compelling steep crack line. This was my favorite of the three.

Back down the slope to the car and home in 3 hours flat! Torridon is nice and close. Can’t wait to go back!

Cioch Nose

Last weekend the weather was good on the west coast, and despite a moderate midge forecast of 3, we packed up the car and headed to Applecross on Friday night. Our plan was to stay at the Wee Bunkhouse Friday night in Shiel Bridge, then press on to the Applecross area and climb the famous Cioch Nose (VDiff ***). We would then drive to Shieldaig in Torridon and do “some cragging.”

The drive up to Shiel Bridge took us about 4 hours. I think it took us 3.5 hours to get out of Aberdeen alone. For such a small city, rush hour traffic is horrible, especially on Friday. Upon arriving at the Kintail Lodge Hotel, we immediately saw the Wee Bunkhouse. It was right in the middle of the car park! The website says it sleeps 6. It is very wee. Whatever, for £15 a night and the pub right there it was perfect. We grabbed the guidebook and headed into the pub which, at 10 p.m. was already in full swing. I’m always amazed at rural Scotland’s ability to party on the weekend. The town population is probably 10, they’re all here and they brought some friends. It’s great. We had us a pint or two, fleshed out the plan and went to find our bunks.

It was dark in the bunkhouse, and the other 3 occupants had already gone to bed. We tried to be as quiet as we could. I had a fine nights’ sleep, despite everyone getting up once to go to the toilet. Amelia didn’t sleep as well I think. She complained the other occupants were quite flatulent. Ah well. Early start for us!

Skipping the £11 breakfast we drove on towards our goal for the day. The Cioch Nose is approached from the historic Bealach na Ba which is a high mountain pass. We packed up in the morning chill eating what little food we brought with us. The day was looking very fine and we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Isle of Skye.

There was a young family hiking in just ahead of us. The man asked if we were going to do the Nose today. We said yes. I think he was a little jealous. We navigated to the base of the route easily enough. It took about an hour and involved a steep descent into a glen and a pleasant walk to the end in the now very warm sunshine!

There was just enough of a breeze to keep any midges away which was a bonus. Towards the end of the valley, we needed to start looking for a way to get up to the “halfway” ledge from which the climb begins. The route itself is 125m done in five pitches. VDiff is not a hard technical grade as far as the climbing is concerned, but it is a big wall in a remote setting so a good foundation of mountaineering skills is essential. This route is near the top of a list Amelia has. The list was designed to progress her steadily up to the grade of Severe (Diff, Very Diff, Severe…). The main goal being that we could swing leads on long “easy” routes like this in the mountains. We did skip ahead quite far on the list and once we were standing at the base of the route, Amelia decided against taking the first lead. No problem. I was quite happy to get the ball rolling.

I found the first pitch to be quite tricky actually. It starts with off-width jamming up a huge flake! Not what you expect from a non-technical climb. The climbing is excellent. After the flake a few easy moves lead to a steep groove. Again, I was quite surprised by the difficulty of the moves. I think another guidebook gives it a grade of Severe 4a, which I would agree with. Amelia followed the pitch no problem, but decided she was happy to not lead it.

Pitch two was equally challenging. Amelia racked up for the lead and headed up a steep groove only to encounter loose rock and dodgy gear. After some fiddling about, she came down disappointed and relinquished the lead. I went up and sure enough, the climbing was awkward, the protection not abundant and there was the occasional bit of loose rock. Adventure climbing in the mountains – what’s not to love? The third pitch was exposed climbing on a steep wall with amazing holds. The exposure was good, but the climbing quite a bit easier than the first half. I linked the third and fourth pitches together because I could and then Amelia tied in for the final pitch which she led with ease.

As it turns out, the climbing is nowhere near over! The Cioch Nose is over, and one can scramble back down a gully to climb something else on the wall, or one can keep going to the top. To the top we went. There is still another 500m of cliff that goes at mostly Moderate but there are a few bits of VDiff climbing that we roped up for as well. Amelia was quite good at finding the route up the imposing wall above. We soloed 100 m of exposed terrain to a wide ledge. From here we roped up again to surmount a short steep wall. I led up 15m, brought Amelia up, then she led through another 15m and brought me up, and we covered the rest of the way like that quite quickly placing minimal gear. The climbing was quite easy, but fast and really fun. It would be great to be able to do that on harder and harder climbs.

The mountain just kept on going. We would surmount a big step only find another big step in front of us. We only got lost once which was a little tense. We lost the “path” and were high up on a grassy slope with loose blocks all around us, and the wind died off and the midges came out. We kept on going and I was sure we would have to down climb, but we topped out, found a path and headed off towards the car. Fantastic day out!

Weird Sister

Just had a fantastic morning out with my friend Johannes. We did a 3 pitch E3 5c which would be about 5.11 a. I got the first 5a pitch which felt a lot more like 5b above poor gear but I’m not going to quibble. Johannes kindly led out the crux second pitch placing all the gear and testing the peg by falling onto it four times before handing the lead over to me. I was able to climb through smoothly and before I knew it I was up above the peg and climbing the last airy 5 meter runout. Yikes! Thankfully I didn’t fluff the final 5b moves but made it safely to the belay. Johannes took over and led out the final 5c crack without difficulty. Top day!!

Weekday warriors

Summer in Aberdeen may not be hot, but there is certainly a lot of sun. These days, the sun is up for nearly 18 hours, so if you leave work at 5pm, you’ve still got a good 5-6 hours of play time before it gets dark (and it doesn’t ever get fully dark). There are over 100 different crags within 25 miles to the south and north of the city, all on the sea cliffs, with relatively quick approaches — prime for after-work raids when you get a spate of good weather like we had last week. Here’s the roundup of last week’s climbing adventures:

Tuesday night at Harbour Wall / Backdoor Wall:

There’s a lovely pair of cliffs on either side of a narrow peninsula about 10 miles south of Aberdeen, in the cute little village of Newtonhill. You can see Harbour wall from the Newtonhill harbor, facing west and catching the evening sun. You can walk to it along the shore at low tide (at high tide you have to go up and over). Near the point there is a cave cutting all the way though to the other side of the narrow peninsula, and you crawl through this to get to the Backdoor wall. You emerge from the cave onto a sheltered platform surrounded by steep, gorgeous schist. A big school of dolphins was swimming by when we arrived. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The only drawback is that the really good climbs are all well beyond my current leading ability — HVS and up, and very steep with fiddly gear — so Brad did all the leading. But we ripped up an HVS and two E1s before we started to get hungry for dinner.

Thursday night at the Graip

Sounds like a nightclub, said like that, but it’s another south-west facing cliff that catches the evening sun and has a quick approach, so it’s perfect for after-work adventure. This was our first visit to the Graip — It looks great in the guidebook, with lots of fairly easy climbs of a good height, but we’d heard mixed reviews about it, particularly about the quality of the rock. It’s about 15 miles north of Aberdeen, in Collieston – another very cute fishing village.  Brad started on an HVS, and then I led two Severes, both of which were quite nice. The rock was much like the stuff closer to our house in cove, kind of a mixture of granite and schist that is (mostly) better than it looks. Lots more routes there to do, so I’m sure we’ll be back. Two thumbs up for the Graip.


Friday night at Meikle Partans

We’ve been to Meikle Partans 3 or 4 times now, and it’s one of the few areas where I think we’ve now, after this last visit, climbed almost everything we want to climb there. But we’ll probably go back anyway. It’s easy to access and very picturesque, with a huge ruined castle perched on the sea cliffs in one direction, and the teaming bird colonies on the archway of Dunbuy rock in the other direction. The rock is a lovely pink granite characteristic of all the climbing areas along that stretch of coast, which is very pretty and has a perfect texture in the spring and fall. It does has a slightly greasy quality in the summer time that makes it a little disconcerting though, and the area is prone to haar (the cold, wet fog that can roll off the north sea). So you have to pick your days. The best feature of Meikle Partans is the sheltered alcove at the top, perfect for barbecues, of which we took advantage on Friday with Dan, Rory, and Sandrina. Good times!


Glen Clova

We went climbing in Glen Clova last weekend. It’s an hour’s drive south of here, in Angus. The closest town is Kirriemuir, whose claim to fame is being the birthplace of both J.M. Barrie (the author of Peter Pan) and Bon Scott (the lead singer of ACDC), who I like to imagine would have hung out together had they been contemporaries. We’d been to Clova a few times previously, but for hill walking rather than climbing. It’s a lovely glen with rolling green hills, lots of wildlife, and a burbling river winding through and waterfalls tumbling down the surrounding hills.

The climbing is on crags perched on a steep hillside, so they feel very high and exposed even at their base. It was sunny for the most part, but rain showers were rolling down the glen at regular intervals, along with very gusty winds. So we had to pause a few times to wait out a squall, and put up with some chilly belays on the top of the cliff. There was always the worry you’d get halfway up a route and it would start pouring, but that never actually happened.

Brad started out on two steep HVS’s, Wandered and Witch’s Cauldron, both of which were steep and intimidating from the ground, but had solid gear and big holds right where you needed them. Then we walked over to another face to see what Dan and Julie were up to. Julie was leading Flake Route, and it looked like a nice long line. Dan highly recommended the adjacent route, called Central Crack. It was HS 4b, which is pushy for me, but it looked nice, and not too hard, so I got on it. It was harder than it looked! There were several points where the crack tipped back and the feet ran out for a while, and in between those spots was quite sustained as well. It was 40 meters long, so sewing it up was not an option – nothing worse than running out of gear before the climb is finished! A few times I placed a piece to make a hard move and then reached down and back-cleaned it so I could use it again later, which worked reasonably well to keep me moving. Before I knew it I was climbing through the final slab to the top (in gale-force winds!).

Brad finished off the day on an E2, the opening moves of which included an overhanging fist jam section. I tried to follow and failed. Dan took over and made it look easy. I need to go to jam school. I like cracks because they are easy to protect and rarely height-dependent, but I am crap at jamming.

We didn’t take many pictures, but I included a few below from some other visits to the glen, including walks to the summits of Mayar and Driesh via the magnificent Corrie Fee, and a walk up to Loch Brandy.

Climbing Trips: Garbh Coire

Recently, Amelia and I headed into the remote Garbh Coire to climb the incredible Squareface Buttress (VD ***). This is all part of our (my?) mission to get Amelia leading regularly on rock and up to a point where we can swing leads on long mountain routes. She’s taking to it with a new found passion and I’m delighted that she’s enjoying it so much. She led the first pitch and the last pitch of this three pitch mountain classic. She almost backed out of leading the last one. Thankfully it didn’t take much encouragement to get her up there. Hearing her woop! after the last of the difficulties on the flake made the long trip in worthwhile. Oh, yeah, and the route is quite excellent too.

The next day we hiked back into the coire and met our friend Johannes at 10:00 on the dot. Quite a feat. We racked up and all three of us climbed the Cumming-Crofton Route (S***) in glorious sunshine and bitter winds. Johannes led pitch 1, the crux 4b pitch. I led pitches 2 and 3 together. Johannes got the rotten pitch 4 while I took the mega-exposed pitch 5. Johannes brought us to the top on the final pitch. Amelia didn’t want to lead any of these and I don’t blame her. Maybe it was just me having not been on a big mountain route in awhile but I found it wild with sustained 4a climbing and tricky route-finding.

Johannes was quite keen to have a go at the neighboring Slochd Wall (HVS 5a**) so we dropped back down into the coire and kicked steps across the 30 degree snow slope that guarded the base of the route. That snow slope was big and scary. The steps I kicked into it were shallow and icy and without gloves my hands became quite cold. There was really no alternative but to grab fistfuls of snow as handholds and not think about falling. A slip would’ve sent me to the bottom of the 200 meter slope in a hurry.

Once we reached the safety of the rock, we had to cut back up the gap between the cliff and snow. The first “pitch” had us scrambling out of the frozen gap in trainers onto the wall proper. From our tiny ledge we got a good look at the vertical wall above. It looked hard and intimidating. Thankfully Johannes was up to the challenge of the first real pitch of climbing, which also happened to be the crux pitch. I was happy to let him go first. It was his idea after all.

He pulled it off without much difficulty. The climbing was quite good actually, and the position was amazing. From the hanging belay I led out pitch two — a scrappy traverse, a pull up a corner and a large belay ledge that was quite small. I was not pleased with the quality of rock here. It was all quite hollow and we were standing next to a completely detached pillar. Johannes just shook his head at the shitty belay I had constructed, put some big gear in (brought up from the previous belay) and we eyed up the next bit.

I got to climb the next pitch as well which just happened to go straight up the detached pillar (excellent exposed climbing!) to a roof which was avoided on the left to some easy ground, another roof was avoided and I belayed on the slab above. Johannes led out the final easy slab. We were both quite pleased with the effort. I was in quite a good mood by that point and it left me wanting to do more mountain routes.