Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Coming Down

With the pain in my ankle and knees becoming constant and now causing me to fall down stairs I knew some choices would have to be made. Feeling that I could end up broken and being a liability to my climbing partners I felt the lonely urge to begin soloing again. I thought I had this particular demon truly defeated but it seems to have a lingering presence at the back of my mind, the pressure began to grow on me personally and I couldn't control its aggressively expanding control over my mind set. I really do not want to get drawn back into that game and so I took the decision last week to leave Fort William and move home to Ayrshire to focus on training before the operation in just over 3 weeks. Living in sight of Ben Nevis and not being able to climb was akin to being a junkie living next to a dealer, the temptation, the need of a fix, the ever present risk and no way to escape it apart from going on the run and going cold turkey.

I've had 11 months in the Fort since my last op and it's been amazing. I've managed to spend a year without soloing which has changed my whole mind set and made me a better climber. I've had great days simply among the mountains too like swimming in Glencoe or sleeping under the stars watching the sunset over Skye and lighting the Paralympic Torch on the Ben all the way through to scary new rock routes, thin ice and an epic mountain day on Tower Ridge. I really feel I've gotten to know Lochaber better in the past year and there is no place in the world I'd rather be, cannot wait to return after the op and rehab.

The life I have in Lochaber wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it is without the tight knit group of good mates I have there, you know who you are, thanks for a great year, more of the same soon I hope! With the exception of Craig McKay who keeps dragging me to Ossians 'nightclub', no more Jaeger next year mate......

Sunset over Skye last year...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Scotland at its best

The high pressure that had settled over Scotland for the past wee while provided the most stunning conditions I've ever had the fortune to witness in the mountains. We made the most of it by getting out to play as much as possible, my ankle and knee suffered but it was more than worth it. Firstly I spent 2 days belaying Dave MacLeod on his new project in the CIC Cascade area then after that Dave Anderson and I went up Green Gully in a quick time and were rewarded with outstanding views on the summit.

On the final pitch of Green Gully-Pic- Dave Anderson

Next up was North Ridge of Stob Ban and over to Devils Ridge with Amanda, Anna and Craig. A good day out in more stunning conditions.

Amanda, Anna and Craig

Me on Devils Ridge-Pic-Craig McDonald

Next up was a cracking day in Glen Nevis with Amanda to get her first outdoor lead done. Dave came up too and soloed alongside her to check placements and belays.

Amanda at the top of pitch 1 of The Gutter

Top of the 2nd pitch

Next up was one of the finest days I've had in the mountains. Dave and I met up just before 4 in the morn to head for the ultra classic Point Five. We walked in by such bright moonlight that we didn't need headtorches, first on the route, perfect conditions and on the summit before midday. 

Dave and me on Point Five

Leading pitch 2-Pic-Dave Anderson

On the summit-Pic-Dave Anderson

On the way down-Pic Dave Anderson

Next was another slog up to the E7 project. I'd been up the week before with Paul Diffley and Nadir Khan and had to kick ice off the route, I couldn't feel my fingers and the crux moves were wet so we bailed and I top roped the terrifying project next to the E7. I went up this time with Joe, James and the two Matts. The route was bone dry, psych was up and I thought it would definitely go but we encountered something none of us expected, springtime heat, I couldn't get purchase on the rock so I decided to salvage something from the day and climbed a new E2 'The Wafflin Blues' to the right, cracking wee route and Joe got the second ascent straight after for his first E2.

First Ascent of The Wafflin Blues-Pic- Matt Hardy/Hotaches

To round it all off we had a big night out to send off our mate Johann who is leaving to start a new life in Canada.
Johann and me on the road to getting very very drunk