Archive for September, 2010

Return of The Summer (That Wasn’t)

September 7, 2010


Maybe we should all have gone to Sron Ulladale this summer – all the other mountain crags have been terminally wet.  Until very recently that is.  For those of us only periodically ‘lost’ to bouldering and sport climbing (the methamphetamine of contemporary rock climbing?) the last week or so re-opened the possibility of some high and dry rock.  After an evening’s effort waved goodbye to a red point project, I thought I’d take my well-earned chance and went up to Torridon for another classic mountain E5.

Far East Wall is one of two big stones on Beinn Eighe that will feature in our new book, the other being West Central Wall.  Far East sits on its own away from the celebrated Triple Buttresses, where West Central is located.  however like all the rock hereabouts the two cliffs have two things in common – Dolomitic exposure and super-steep positive rock.  There’s simply nothing like it anywhere else.  The Far East Wall in particular has to be the biggest single length of continuous verticality our little island has to offer (on the mainland, at least).  The views are unsurpassed.  The only slight drawback for today’s climbers is that despite their unrelenting  steepness the cliffs are perhaps a little too positive, and maybe not quite steep enough.  For most mortals though, the seemingly endless supply of routes in the E1-4 bracket will ensure beaming faces and plenty of return trips.  Onm a dry, warm, windless day this really is a crag to be savoured.

On this occasion I was keen to scoop an ascent of Ling Dynasty, a stunning-looking E5 first climbed by Graeme “The Brat” Livingston and Andy Nisbet.  It was climbed in the 80’s, in something of a tour-de-force by Livingston – ground-up and on-sight.  The original E6 grade seems to have settled down a bit so I wasn’t expecting too much of a fight.  My partner however (Phil Ebert, an E3/4 leader) was somewhat apprehensive about the prospect of sustained 6a crack climbing way up on such an awe-inspiring chunk of rock.  Suffice to say neither of us were let down!  Perfect rock (after the easier entry pitches), perfect line, perfect protection and perfect positions.  I don’t think I’ve done a better E5 pitch anywhere else in the Scottish mountains.  Nice as well to catch up with one of the route’s authors, Old Master Nisbet himself, who spent the day, on his own, quietly prospecting high on the neighbouring Eastern Ramparts (see crag photo above). 

Best mountain E5 in Scotland?  Well actually, come to think of it…