Tag Archives: climbing

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.

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

Day three of bouldering brought even better weather – just a few scattered showers here and there. Of course, this gave us our first mild experience with the notorious midgies as well. Trade-offs, always. But the fantastic bouldering at Stac Pollaidh kept our psych up while the breeze kept the midginess relatively low. We finished off the day with a Scottish tradition (fish ‘n’ chips!), and headed into a day of rest with hopes of dry enough rock to climb on a rope in the days to come; the routes tend to seep more than boulders do, so we need some days without downpours to help us out now (or not, in which case, more bouldering!).

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

Having a pretty solid idea of what to expect from climbing in Spain (Steep! Tufas! Limestone!), the first part of our trip we left pretty much unplanned, besides arriving at the airport in Inverness and staying with our friends in Ullapool. We had zero idea of what we’d be climbing – and in the first week, it turned out to be not much! We got slammed by one of the worst summer weather systems they’d seen in quite some time – it was nearly perpetually cold and rainy.

However, good friends and determination make for a good time, regardless – we fit in a few sessions of bouldering in between rain showers (one in absolute pouring rain), plus an indoor training session, a visit to some ruins (pictures in my last entry on Scotland), a homemade sushi dinner (along with many other fantastic homemade meals), and lots of catching up and laughter.

I didn’t expect to boulder on this trip, but having an open mind and no expectations and a sense of adventure served me well, as I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed the bouldering, so much so that I wanted to boulder more after the first day. The sandstone is just fantastic quality, solid and featured, very sculpted, and quite pretty. I love pretty rock.

The second day we climbed, in the pouring rain (after several days off because of rain), we found one dry straight-up problem and a traverse to warm up on at Ardmair (thanks to our local guide, of course!). I actually found it pretty fun to get into that mind space that’s just never the same (for me, anyhow) as sport climbing. At some point in bouldering, I always know that I’ve crossed the line and that I’m really on my own; falling is not really an option and if something bad happens, it’s not my spotter’s fault. It’s exhilarating, and (so long as you don’t fall and break your noggin or bust your ankles), it builds confidence and trust in your ability to execute when push comes to shove. Good stuff!