Sunday, 30 August 2009

Upper Cave

In a bid to get a bit of fitness back, I've been up to Dunkeld a couple of times this week trying Marlina. Much to my suprise, I did the route yesterday which was a lot quicker than I expected. The debate about the grade is still on going, but it is definately harder than Hamish. I think that soft 7c is probably right as the hard climbing is well over for Hamish at the point the routes join and begins again for Marlina. I am always surprised at the quality of climbing that the routes on this wall offers, and with minimal polish.

A big thanks to Neil and Dave for their effort to replace all the bolts.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

CWA Training

Over the last 2 days I have been running a CWA Training course with Euan for the EICA:Ratho. The 2 days went very well with the candidates picking things up veryt quickly. As always, the abseil module seems to be the area that most candidates have to focus on. All in all a good to 2 days.

For more info on the Climbing Wall Award visit the or

Monday, 17 August 2009

Road Trip

After driving for two days we decided to get the muscles moving on an easy route and see how we were climbing together as a three. We chose the South Face (Cassin Route) VII- (E2) on the Cima Piccola. All went well, as we moved quickly up the route with only a little bit of grip at the loose bold sections. Even the decent went well. Once we had packed the kit away we headed over the shoulder to have a look at the Cima Grande North face. It was just as big as I remembered from my last trip here, and from the look on Neil and Johnny’s faces it was a lot bigger than they had thought. With nervous excitement we were psyched to return tomorrow.

Me on the Cassin Route

Neil on the crux


Thursday morning saw a 4 am start and an excited walk around to the route. We were the first people there and got started straight away. We had a mix of topos that I had found on the tinterweb, all of which where not overly clear about the starting two pitches. I started and thought that I had linked the first two pitches and belayed below a good looking pitch, pretty happy to be on the move. The others came up quickly and Neil took over for the next stint. After another pitch and a half the climbing was suddenly much harder than it should have been. Even after mine and Johnny’s helpful comments to push on and man up, Neil was back at the belay. It appeared that we had wandered onto the Super Directissima. A little harder than planned at E7. A quick retreat, back tomorrow and go the right way, simples.

A less enthusiastic 4 am start and an even less enthusiastic walk back to the route saw us ready to start again. We all felt a little pressure to get up the route and this made things a bit more focused. Armed with a better sense of direction I ran up the first pitch. The second pitch involved easy but bold climbing that went sideways, down, then up. No wonder we got lost. After this things became a lot more obvious. We made very good time, block leading and climbed at the same time as two seconds. After what seemed like a very long E5 already, we arrived at the crux section. Johnny did a sterling effort linking a solid 6b pitch into the first 7a pitch. After some hard sustained climbing he ran out of quick draws short of the belay. This gave us all an atmospheric hanging stance. I took over and did a short section to get us to the main, better belay. From here Neil went into over drive, leading the next three hard pitches. A truly inspiring thing to watch as he power screamed his way though some extremely tiring sections. Things eased off after this but tiredness and frustration at the never ending final sections caused some entertaining mood swings for some. I earned my keep on the last five or so pitches which took in some bold and less solid climbing to take us to the top. With not much daylight left, cloud coming in fast, we needing to descend quickly. This proved to be a bit difficult. It appeared that only one of us had remembered to bring a head torch. We managed to descend the abseils with the help of a French couple, but with no head torches the down climb sections were too dangerous. This was the first time I have been benighted, and hopefully the last. After a very long and cold night with much snuggling to keep warm, the light came back and we could pick our way down the descent. By 7am we had made it back to the car and could finally get some food, but what an experience.

Neil on 4th Pitch Brandler-Hasse

Johnny on Pitch 5

Johnny on the 1st crux pitch

After a rest day and some fishing we decided to leave Italy and head to Austria. Johnny has the world cup coming up and needs to do some hard sports climbing to train. He had heard about a valley called Zillertal near Innsbruck, so off we went. Did I mention that it also appears to rain all the time in Zillertal. So, having found some steep looking crags in Ginzling, we finally got on some rock. The climbing was awesome. Due to everywhere being mostly wet, even though the weather improved as the week went on we climbing in Ginzling the whole time. This was no bad thing. There are many sectors, but we where based in the Bergstation. Sector By The Way provided some good routes to warm up on, as well as breaking up the trudge up the hill to sector 5 Sterne. Despite the climbing being very burly and bouldery, we all enjoyed it. Johnny flashed a hard 7c I was working and made very short work of his first 8a+. Neil made a quick ascent of 7c and worked a number of harder climbs. I even managed to on sight a hard 7a+, which felt like something special after the preparation I hadn’t had for the trip. The final day climbing before the drive back saw us doing a little bouldering.

Me working Tannen Judas 7c

Johnny climbing Little Sister 8a+
Ginzling Wald bouldering
Overall an excellent trip.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Italy (Dolomiti)

I have been in the Dolomites in the last week climbing with Neil and Jonny. After the long drive over we climbed the South Face Cassin route on the Cima Piccola as a way to loosen up. We have also climbed the Brandler-Hasse on the Cima Grande. There will be more info and pictures when I get back. We are currently in Austria in the rain waiting to do a week of sports climbing as Jonny has the World Cup coming up. Finger crossed it will clear up soon.