Category Archives: Climbing Travels

What’s in Scotland? (Rain, Climbing, Rain, Bouldering, Friends, Sushi, Rain, Kilts…), Part VII

On our final of climbing day in Scotland, we finally went back to a place, but not a sport climbing place (alas). Instead, we headed back to Torridon, as it seemed like conditions might be best there for the day, and as I’ve mentioned in earlier entries, conditions are really quite a big deal in Scotland! This day was cooler, cloudier, and windier than our previous day of bouldering at Torridon. After warming up, Kevin went back to a new problem he’d tried the other day, but kept slipping off – and did it quickly in the better conditions. Nice one!

The rest of the day was a fun, quick tour of a whole bunch of problems (though we studiously avoided most of the taller stuff, as always not wanting to risk injury before getting back to sport climbing on the next part of our trip). Again I found myself appreciating the variety of styles, angles, holds, and difficulties offered by the problems at Torridon. What an amazing place! We finished our final night in Scotland with another delicious homemade sushi dinner (we will definitely be hiring Alisa as our personal chef if we ever have the resources to do so). Such a good time with great friends – laughter, exploration, challenge, flailing, falling or sending – everything climbing is about!

What’s in Scotland? (Rain, Climbing, Rain, Bouldering, Friends, Sushi, Rain, Kilts…), Part VI

More rain meant more wet rock and less motivation to try to get out sport climbing again between the showers, and so we were back to bouldering – to yet another location, or more correctly, a few locations scattered around Ardmair. One of these involved bouldering on a cool beach. The landing area was covered with seaweed, prompting our host to pull out – what else? – a rake to remove the slimy stuff as best he could from the landing area. Between this and handily plopping rocks into the tide pools to avoid soaking the bouldering mats, we were getting yet another “How to boulder in Scotland,” lesson. Preparation is key! Pack tarps to cover boggy landings and to keep bouldering mats dry, wear wellie boots on approaches, and now, rakes for seaweed removing and rocks in tide pools to keep pads from soaking. Got it.

After the beach, we stomped through a sheep pasture to try a couple problems hidden in a little cave feature, and then it was on up the road for a super-boggy adventure to a fun, kind of highball arête problem (to me, anyway, most definitely not much of a boulderer and definitely not a bold boulderer; but then again, we did run into our buddy’s friend before heading out there and they said they’d top-roped it before…). After a shrieking and rather out-of-control plummet into the pads on one effort, I steeled my nerves – but it still took me several more tries to commit enough to a slippery, sloping “foothold” to make the move and top that thing out. A perfect example of one of those not-so-hard in difficulty but nonetheless hard-for-the-timid-of-heart (i.e. me) in commitment required problems. A good way to end another great day of bouldering in Scotland!

(By the way – I do plan to resume the nutrition series, as well as my other series here, at some point in October when my travels are completed and the jet lag has dissipated. Until then, I hope you’re enjoying an awesome and successful fall climbing season!)

What’s in Scotland? (Rain, Climbing, Rain, Bouldering, Friends, Sushi, Rain, Kilts…), Part V

When the rain finally cleared out, we were treated to three fantastic bluebird days of sunny climbing in Scotland — two at two nearby sport climbing areas, Glutton (sandstone) and Goat Crag (gneiss), and one of bouldering at Torridon (sandstone). The sport climbing felt quite unfamiliar to me, but really fun and challenging, with technical (hard-to-read/see holds) and powerful, relatively short routes at Glutton, and longer but still technical routes at Goat Crag.

Torridon bouldering is not typically a summer destination — friction on sandstone slopers would be far better in winter — but it was well worth the trip to see it on the uncharacteristically hot day of our visit. Torridon is quite a large area with what looks like endless potential for more problems to be developed on this superb rock,  with all different kinds of holds, angles and variety in terms of heights, difficulties and styles of problems.

I have been consistently wowed by the rock quality and the epic settings for each and every climbing area in the Northwest Highlands. The catch for planning a trip here is of course the weather, but if you can manage climbing when the weather’s decent and it’s not midgie out, (regardless of your body’s recovery status — something I’m not used to doing at all!) and sitting tight and being patient when it’s not, and you have the time to do this, it’s a good time, for sure.

At this point in the trip, we’ve climbed in seven different climbing areas on seven climbing days, all within just over an hour of driving distance from where we’re staying in Ullapool. That’s just amazing to me! We hoped to make a couple return trips to one or two of the areas we’ve seen before we depart — but that all depends on the weather, of course, and of course, now it’s raining again. But thankfully (unlike our forced huge rest period earlier in the trip), right now, I need the rest!