Category Archives: Climbing Travels

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!

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

We’d hoped that the weather would clear out enough after our three days of Scottish bouldering (split up by some seriously unclimbable rainy conditions between the first day on and the second two days on) for some roped climbing, but rain showers washed those hopes down the drain, since more rain meant more seeping. Nonetheless, as seemingly often happens here, the weather cleared up enough by early afternoon on the next day we were hoping to climb to prompt an abrupt departure for bouldering at the seaside area called Reiff, despite the still blustery conditions.

By the time we showed up at Reiff, the rain had passed, but it was still cold (cold enough for locals to say it felt like winter climbing conditions!), and also windy and shady at the problems we went to first. It was yet another gorgeous setting, with the surf pounding behind us and just brilliant rock. After a couple of half-a@$ed tries at warming up on small holds in the wind-blasted shade, I gave up and went into observer mode; I know myself well enough to know when it’s pointless for me to expect my fingers to warm up enough to climb at all, and being that cold increases the risk of injury big time. No biggie; plenty of climbing days left on this trip, and I was honestly still feeling the sting of the previous two days of bouldering. Despite one rest day, having not bouldered at all since last February, I am definitely not in great bouldering shape at the moment.

So I’d decided not to climb…until we walked back up and around to a more sheltered area, where we happened upon this gorgeously featured, super-steep and rather long roof problem. Like magic, the wind died down, the sun came out, and in those conditions, this roof was an irresistible draw, and I found myself pulled right into it, as we worked to make the problem longer and pumpier by adding more and more holds to the start and finish, eventually traversing into the roof and around the corner. Such fun — and so again, fantastic rock quality, an unbelievable setting and great companions made for a memorable bouldering day at Reiff.