Friday, 23 May 2014


Today was another chance for Dave to practice his MIA training and for Andy to get on Tower Ridge for the first time. Pretty chilly on the walk in so we didn't waste any time, while gearing up before the Douglas Gap we were hit by the first snow shower. Climbing up onto the ridge proper the snow kept coming as did the memories of a bone chilling, patience testing 14 hour epic here last winter so when the cloud cleared and we saw rime building up higher on the route we had to make a decision. None of us brought crampons so decision made we bailed off into Observatory Gully via the easy path. 

Dave & Andy in the Douglas Chimney

Dave looking for the escape

Axes out, Dave & Andy in Observatory

Dave & I trying to 'fish' for crag swag with a line made of 2 240cm slings and an ice axe, this became strangely obsessive, if we hadn't hooked it we'd still be up there!!!

Being in this place never gets old, very lucky to stay here- Pic Dave Anderson

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Route

Since climbing Cu Sith E7 6c the other day I've been asked about the name and for a bit more detail on the route. Cu Sith (pronounced Coo Shee) originates in Scottish folklore, a huge wolf like creature that hides out among rocky outcrops in the Highlands to carry folk away to the afterlife. It was known to let out 3 terrifying howls and if you heard it you were not long for this world. I related the 3 howls to thee 3 bits of gear on the route. 

Cu Sith

View down the slab just as I clip the last and only good pro-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Cu Sith-Wave Buttress- Glen Nevis- 25m- E7 6c- Bold and smeary climbing straight up the middle of the slab between Edgehog and Teenoso. decent cam/skyhook before committing to the tech crux then another shaky skyhook before good cams then runout to ledge above Edgehog. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Cu Sith

Today was one of those rare days where everything needed to be successful comes together, mindset, conditions and the right partners. It's been nearly 5 years since I last fought my way into E7 territory and since I had my accident only a few months after I've been fighting since then to get back to my high point. At 5.30am I picked up Steve and Dot and we headed up once more to Wave Buttress, me with a lead attempt at my project in mind, Steve looking to lead 'On the Beach' and Dot there to take pics/film before she shot off to star in a diving film. 

I ran through the route twice on top rope and while lowering off my foot slipped and I jarred my ankle badly but switched off from it and tried to remain positive, 10 minutes with my iPod and I was ready to go. I moved up to the 6c tech crux and bottled it on first attempt, I sorted my head and fully committed to the tenuous moves, getting through I moved higher and smeared to the skyhook placement and chapped it on. Sticking with the "speed is saftey" philosophy I tried to keep up the momentum, more sketchy and now bold moves followed to the good cams, keeping moving I disappeared into that special place you find when you're pushing yourself in a dangerous place, everything is dreamlike. As I approached the last few moves I became aware of Dot standing above me and the total difference in our two worlds at that moment, she was only a few feet away but totally safe where I was on sketchy ground with a slip meaning a likely broken foot at least. Still I reached the thank god hold and it was done, 5 years on and I may get a nights sleep.

First ascent of Cu Sith-E7 6c-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Next up it was Steves turn on the sharp end. His plan for this season was to climb an E5 and he managed to realise that dream today. He had a slip on top rope but came down and got straight on lead so good on him.

Steve leading 'On The Beach' E5-Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Steve relieved to have bagged his route before we hit the beer!Pic-Dorota Bankowska

Massive thanks to Steve and Dot for today but credit goes to the others who have helped make this route a reality for me, James,Rich,Joe and Dave!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Yesterday marked a very positive change in mood and pace at the crag, Steve, Dave, Joe, Dot and myself headed up to Wave once again. Dave was keen to check out my project and he managed to find a very thin way through the part I have been struggling on to make it a truly direct plumb line up the centre of the wall. This means using a single finger sloper with smeary feet and a tiny thumb press above a skyhook, interesting :) For the first time I linked the whole project and am now working on the head game I need to play to climb something which is harder than anything I've ever done before. 

Nearing the top on first ever link-Pic-Dave MacLeod

Everyone else was getting stuck in too. Steve cleanly top roped his E5 project 'On the Beach' so an impending lead for him too, Dave onsighted another E5.

Sociable cragging, Dot, Dave, Joe and Steve, I love days like these.

All this action obviously got Joe psyched as he decided to climb Edgehog, the classic arete at the crag. It was to be his first E3 and its tough at the grade. He climbed well and in control only "having a word with himself" at one point but still sending the route, pretty impressive. 

Joe leading Edgehog

Myself, Joe, Dot and Steve at the end of the day, a tired but very happy team, beer o'clock!!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


Today I started to payback a long overdue belay debt owed to Dave for the time he spent belaying me on The Rebellion. He's recently done his MIA training and needed two 'clients' to go scrambling so Andy and myself volunteered. We headed down to Glencoe in less than optimal weather as Dave had settled on doing Curved Ridge. It was also good chance for me to get in a mountain day, albeit a short one, to test the ankle again. It actually turned out to be a better day than forecast only really raining heavily once. We rounded the day off with a pint in the Clachaig......

Dave low on the ridge

Andy and Dave nearing the top

Myself and Dave on the summit

Checking the descent

Dave on descent

Saturday, 3 May 2014


For a large chunk of my climbing career I've waited to be invited to climb in the greater ranges, not having the confidence to plan my own trip. Just as it seemed after the operation it was never going to happen I've been asked about two possible trips next year. I'm keen to get out there but at what cost? 

I got up this morning and decided to try my first run in well over a year, knowing full well it was going to hurt. As the distance ticked by I tried to concentrate on rhythm and not on joint pain and a few realities came home. I know I can handle a fair amount of pain so maybe I just need to forget about help from the surgeons (which isn't exactly forthcoming) and just accept a whole new way of suffering? I remember reading in Andy Kirkpatricks book that "There's no point practising being wet and cold"  but perhaps there is a point in practising in hurt to see if I can raise my pain threshold?? 

I also realised that if I couldn't raise my pain barrier without causing huge damage and potentially putting mates at risk in the hills I'd more than happily have my foot amputated if thats what it took and I could find a surgeon willing to do it, barring that it's Talisker and a chop saw!!

Thinking I'm in pain but am I really?
Pic-Cameron McIlvar