The week up to the end of May bank holiday, Gilly, myself and a bunch of other mates went for a week of chilling out in Scotland. The venue was Borrodale House in Arisaig, courtesy of Will and Mandi Dodson, who generally know how to organise a good time and once again they didnt dissapoint. The week was spent soaking up all that the area had to offer, of which there was much. Beach strolling, fishing, Munro bagging, speed boat wizzing and of course climbing. Its also a special place for Gilly and I, we got married on Camusdarach beach last year and i have spent the last 10 years going up to Glen Finnan to work on the Harry Potter films, so we were excited about going back to relive some good times.
At last the shoulders were on the mend, and it hadn't gone unnoticed that the slab that Dave Macleod put up 2 hard new routes last year was only 10 minuites away from where we were staying. Another hard slab? It seemed apropriate to ease the healing shoulders back into climbing hard on something not too steep and the 2 routes Die By The Drop and Apophenia were exactly what i had in mind.
On the drive up Gilly and I stopped off for the eve in Helensborough to visit our good friend Garth. The forecast was looking great throughout the whole UK with the exception of the north west of Scotland. Reports from the rest of the crew already up there was that it was pissing it down, and so the next day the 3 of us decided to take a detour via Dunkeld where the forecast looked better. I'd not been before and was keen to check it out. We were rewarded with a beautiful day of sunshine. Garth cruised his way up the classic sport routes he'd done hundreds of times before, Gilly got back on the trad sharp end after nearly a year with a gutsy ascent of Coffin Corner HVS 5a, and i had a brilliant time doing the classics Corpse E2 5c, the bold Warfarin E2 5c and the Extreme Rock route Rat Race E4 6a (always nice to get another one under the belt).
The next day we were in Arisaig and the weather was terrible, but i made a quick visit over to the slab to have a look at the routes. It stopped raining enough for me to get my boots on a have a quick tinker on Apophenia. I worked out a sequence pretty fast and then top roped it clean. The gear was tiny (3 RP 0's and an HB 3) but the climbing didnt seen too bad. I just needed it to stop raining long enough to have a proper go.
Needless to say it didn't stop raining for a while and as well as that there weren't too many takers on trudging up the hill to belay in the cold when there were so many other activities going on. I couldn't really complain, it was such a beautiful place to be hanging out in, and so many other things to be doing with all our close friends around. I'd just have to bide my time. And what better way to burn off some energy than a bit of old school Munro bagging in torrential rain and force 8 wind. I went to Glen Finnan where i have spent so much time over the years working on the Harry Potter films, and walked up Sgurr Thulim in the most atrocious weather i think ive ever experienced on the Scottish summits, and followed it with a well earned dram in the Glen Finnan House hotel.
The next day the waether was finnally looking like playing ball and Dave 'Noddy' Noddings said he was psyched to get involved. A quick top rope again and a recheck of the gear and i set off. I havnt climbed anything particularly hard for quite a while and i felt more tense than usual. It was hard to commit to the crux step through, and then near the top i couldnt make up my mind whether or not to stop and place the top gear. In the process my right foot slipped slightly and i decided to push on rather than hang around on the small crimps. All in all though it went fine and it felt good to have a bit of a struggle. Dave graded the route E8 7a, but i'm not so sure it warrants such big numbers. My foot sequence is different to the one he used and i think E7 6c seems more appropriate.
It would have been good to have time to look at the E10 Die By The Drop as well but maybe next time. Besides Tim Emmett was coming up to join me the next day. We had a much bigger plan over in Skye.....but that's a whole different story.