It seems like forever and a day since I wrote the last blog post. So much has happened in the last year that I think I will still be reeling from the motion for another wee while. I thought I had found something that I wanted to do more than anything else, and that nothing would ever stop me choosing anything else over climbing (given the choice, of course) but I have been proved wrong. Life just takes over sometimes. There are lots of things to do in life. Making the decision what to do first is a dark art, that I am not convinced I will ever master.
So, despite the fact that I have a storage problem at home, stuff everywhere, a house to organise and a pile of filing, I went out climbing. Although my regular trips to the wall have dwindled significantly over the last 6 months, I've still managed to get outside whenever the decent weather (what decent weather??) has coincided with a weekend. This hasn't always meant climbing, but then better to be outside than in, no matter what you're doing.
Three of us trotted up Ben Venue in June, hoping to escape the late afternoon rain. As it was we got drenched, but it was fun anyway. The summer greens and the smell of wet bracken on the walk up was beautiful, and a huge relief from a stuffy office. We found a cute wee frog hiding in the grass too, and nearly got blown off the top.
Soon after that, I had a glorious walk up Beinn Iuthan Mhor with Andy. We walked from Dalmunzie House Hotel, up the glen running parallel to Glenshee. In fabulous hot sunshine and a warm breeze it didn't feel like the full 12 or 13 miles. It felt like real summer at last and it was nice to be able to enjoy it.
Early in July we spent a day in Glen Clova. Another glorious day, with tops off, sunburnt shoulders and enough warm breeze to keep the midges quaking in fear underground. We were bouldering this time, with John Watson's new guide to Bouldering in Scotland. It's a beautiful book. At first I thought it might be disappointing because there appeared to be so much rock to climb, but so little of it was documented in the book. But I changed my mind about that, instead finding it pretty inspiring to look at, run around like a nutter and invent my own things to climb. We found a few things first, and then realised they were written up in the book.
In fact we spent pretty much all day on the Peel Boulder. With Andrea's technique, my slightly foolhardy bravery and Caroline's strength we managed between us to work out the sequence on the Peel Sessions. Given that it was a joint effort I don't think we can claim the Font 6c+ tick! I managed to complete it from standing, but couldn't touch the sit start for love nor money. Andrea cruised the sit start but (probably sensibly) withdrew gracefully from the mad scary top out moves. Caroline too opted to come down rather than go up, as is her wont (ask her about retreating from the highball problem at Bas Cuvier). Instead she proved that her daily trips to the wall are worth it by cruising a tough move to pull from the ground, over the lip of a small roof and onto the slab above.
Diff had some work to do further north so we headed to Inverness for the weekend. The weather looked very flaky for the Saturday so I stayed home with friends, hung out in the garden, played with train sets and watched Cbeebies. It turned out to be sunny where I was and rainy where Diff was. Ah well. On the Sunday we headed south via Huntley's Cave.
Thinking it would probably be running with water our expectations were low. It's a lovely spot, although not ideal for Scottish summer climbing, being down in a gully, by the river and surrounded by trees. Prime midge country, and probably not a quick-dry location, but very pretty. We had Diff's original Highland Outcrops guide which resulted in some interesting route-finding. We also had minimal gear and only one cam! We started on the classic Cave Route, and then moved on the Diagonal (accidentally finishing up the last 3 moves of Cave Route). By the time I was half way up Slot Direct, it was raining. I didn't realise this until I looked down to see Diff with the rope tarpaulin over his head; I was bone dry under the roof of the slot. Good job I did look down, because the top holds were pretty wet and a bit slippy by the time I got to them. Despite not doing much, we discovered it was a good place to go back to. The chippy in Grantown was very nice too!
Somehow in amongst all this I have managed to unpack most of the boxes from our move. What I haven't managed to do is put the contents of the boxes anywhere other than the floor....