Friday, December 16, 2011

Stone Temple Pilots

After last week's routes myself and Greg had a real yearning to do something big. Maybe its the alpinist in me, but i really like the idea of routes which have a bigger feeling than just cragging. Scottish mixed climbing has to be one of the most time consuming and energy-absorbing types of climbing i know of metre for metre, so i was motivated to try something long with hard pitches.
         Discussing what to go for, we went through the decision process something like this; lets go do something in the North West - lets do The God Delusion - lets do something on Shelterstone so we know the crag ready for "Temple Pilots" in the future- fuck it, lets just do "Stone Temple Pilots"
          Good weather and an 86% moonphase was on our side, but we were very aware that neither of us had been to the crag before and there was going to be a lot of hard climbing.
          We left the car at 3.30am and broke a not-too-deep trail up and over from Sneachda in to the Loch Avon basin and across to the crag, stashing one bag and some kit half way. Greg set off up the first pitch at about 6.30 in pitch black and fairly heavy snow. By the time i'd seconded it it was light, and i led through in to the corner above which was great fun technical climbing.

Greg setting off on pitch 1 in quite heavy snow at 6.30am.

Myself seconding the same pitch.

The linking groove of pitch 2.

     Some easyish ground and a boulder problem led to the crux wall which Greg slowly but confidently dealt with. I must say that Greg is a total animal at the moment.

The higher you go on this route the steeper it gets.

Myself on the crux pitch. Very steep and sustained but with mostly sinker hooks.

A techy and insecure feeling slab.
The next few pitches we have no photos of, which is a real shame because it was some of the meatiest climbing. Greg lead a steep crack and techy traverse which led to a turfy groove for 30 metres. After realising that he was belayed in the wrong place, i didn't follow all the way to the belay, and instead lead up right back on route.
              Now dark, and with tired cramping muscles, the next pitch looked pretty full on. I started up it feeling weak but felt better once committed, a brilliant sustained pitch (photo from Pete and Guy here- which completely wasted me.

Greg eyeing up the very hard 4 metres above, on the last pitch.

Chuffed but feeling a little fried on top.
      What a route, just totally awesome, and very intense. I'm pretty inexperienced with regards to top level Scottish mixed, we both thought that the X grade was pretty big sounding. Having now done the route both myself and Greg can certainly see why the route gets the grade. That many pitches of VIII and harder certainly equate to something much harder than the pitches themselves.
      Awesome job Pete and Guy putting up such a great route. Some brilliant route-finding.

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