Monday, 26 January 2015

Costa Blanca

This January we decided to escape the cold and wet weather in Scotland, so we flew over to Spain for some sunny sport climbing! I'd never been away at this time of year before but it was great...super cheap and a nice temperature for climbing. The holiday cost £300 each for flights, hotel(full board) and car hire!

The first day was just a chillaxing day as we arrived in Benidorm at about 2pm, so we went down to the beach and spent the afternoon sunbathing. The next day we met up with our friends Ross and Alan and drove out to Gandia for a milage day in the sun. We started off on a classic 6b+ called 'El Sol'and then moved right along the crag to the steeper sector. Here we both onsighted/flashed 'L'os' 7a, 'Don Diego' 7a+, 'A La Babilla' 7a+ and 'Enya' 7b. These were nice routes all with a similar style, a steep and pumpy start into an easier slabby finish.

Enya 7b

Crag dog...

In the evening we met up with Ross and Alan again and went out for a couple of drinks for their last night. We even ended up at a casino in Benidorm! Luckily I managed not to lose any money and actually came away 10 Euros richer!

We had planned to go to Forada the next day but unfortunately our car broke down in the morning so we had to take it back to Alicante for a replacement. We still headed out to Forada but after getting lost and going around in circles for hours, we ended up making it to the crag at half 4! Oh well, at least we knew how to get there for next time...

Lunch on our search for Forada.

Looks good...wasn't good!

Although Forada looked amazing, we decided to check out Wildside at Sella the next day as it was slightly closer and looked even better! Luckily we managed to find the crag ok thanks to my expert navigation...or maybe it was the Satnav! Anyway, we made the short walk up to the crag and got warmed up on a 6c+ on the right side. This route was ok but got slightly chossy higher up and had a massive run-out whilst climbing through some dodgy blocks. Since there weren't many easier routes we decided to jump on the classic 7c 'Ya somos Olympicos'. Neill went first and had a great onsight attempt, getting just over halfway where there is a tricky section up some tufas. After working out the rest of the moves and giving me some beta Neill lowered down and I had a go. It has a bit of a bouldery start and then a big ledge to recover on before the main route. I climbed fast through the first tufa section and then traversed left to the first tricky tufa. Neill made this bit look really nice by bridging out and knee-barring but being pumped, I just decided to clamp it with my thighs all the way up...not very graceful! After a good rest I blasted through the crux and was relieved to find some jugs to clip the chain. This was my 3rd 7c outdoors and my first 7c flash so I was pretty happy! Neill swiftly dispatched the route on his second go.

Neill on Olympicos 7c

I decided to try something a bit harder and opted for an 8a+ called 'Tirali Valent' as it already had somebody's draws on it. This was a brilliant route, super crimpy and sustained with a really tricky crux! I managed all the moves ok but thought it might take a while to link and so decided that I didn't want to spend too much of the holiday on one route. The guy ended up stripping it anyway and we only had 17 draws between us, silly mistake! I would defo like to try this route again next time though! To finish the day, Neill onsighted 'Oceano' 7b+, what a beast! Oh and on our way back to the car we were chased by a donkey! What an ass!!!

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After a rest day, which was spent relaxing in the sun, we drove back out to Forada with the intention of trying all the classic 7as and bs. This day was the coldest and windiest so far and it turned out to be a bit of a mistake heading to such a high crag that gets no sun! We walked in anyway and went for 'Starman' 7a. Neill manned up and managed to onsight it.....I was a total wimp and dogged my way up with numb hands! We decided to strip the route and head somewhere else. After another hour in the car, we ended up back at Gandia, this time at the El Bovedon cave. Neill managed a quick redpoint of 'Arcadia' 7c, which was a very cool route following a tufa up into the roof of the cave. I tried a 7c round to the left but no success! All the draws were in-situ here and I was a little worried about the state of some of them....

Starman 7a

Loving it...

Our last couple of days were spent at Wildside. We warmed up at a crag near the car park climbing a nice 5+ and a 3 star 6c+ called 'Kashba'. We then drove up to Wildside and both tried to redpoint a 7c+ called 'El Gremio' but unfortunately it didn't go. This was a cool wee route with a pretty easy start and finish and a totally desperate crux in the middle! We also had a wee play on 'Celia' another 7c+ at the crag but neither of us managed it in the end. It was pretty cold on the last couple of days though.....2 degrees, I know...excuses, excuses!

Kashba 6c+

Definitely missing the sun already but we've already booked our next trip away, we are heading out to Turkey at the end of March! Until then we will hopefully get out and do some winter climbing...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Runnel

On Boxing day we managed to get out and do our first winter climb of the season. We opted for a nice easy day to get into the swing of things and so went for a 3 pitch grade II in Coire an t-sneachda. The route, called The Runnel, was a brilliant climb that followed a gully up Fluted Buttress, topping out through a tricky wee chimney.

We just drove up for the day and so had to leave super early (4am)....I don't think I will ever get used to this, no matter how good the climbing is! After a big can of Red Bull and a very foggy drive we made it to a quiet and dark car park. Stupidly, I had lost my headtorch and so the start of the walk in was interesting....I led us wayyyy off the path and down towards Coire an Lochain!

Once we made it to the bottom of the climb it was nice and sunny and the climb looked in perfect condition. We kitted up and scrambled up to the first belay and Neill took off on pitch one. After seconding up, I set off on my first proper winter lead. It was a very enjoyable pitch up the gully and then I ran out of rope and faffed trying to find a belay and ended up with the most uncomfortable stance ever! However, it didn't dampen my excitement and I had a great time following Neill up the chimney pitch to finish.

After having some leftover x-mas soup at the top, we headed back to the car. It's safe to say that my legs were feeling it! Weak calves! (not baby cows!)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


I have just returned from an amazing trip to Kalymnos, our second trip there this year. I felt a big improvement since our last trip in May, moving a lot more confidently on the massive tufas and stalactites.
We flew over to Kos on the 7th, only just catching the ferry to Kalymnos after our flight was delayed. When we arrived at our apartment we found out that they had double-booked our room and so they put us up in a fancy hotel for the night, not too shabby!

Our first day was spent at Panorama doing a few easy routes to get into the swing of things. We warmed up on a couple of 6bs and then I onsighted 'Joggel and Toggel' 6c+ and 'Commandant Marcos' 7a. We finished up on a 6b+ further right and headed back down for a swim!

The next day we hired a car and ventured further round the island, a first for both me and Neill. Joining us was our friend Pete and our new American friend (who we also bumped into in Ceuse!) Mike. We decided to visit Arhi which turned out to be a great crag but unfortunately quite polished. We warmed up on a 6b bridgy/tufa route which I didn't find too enjoyable due to the slopy pinches and the shiny footholds. We then jumped straight onto the classic 7a 'Kastor'. I found this route pretty powerful with a couple of big reaches but luckily there was a nice knee-bar rest to recover.
While we were trying this, Mike was putting the clips in 'Eros' a 3 star 7b+. This route consisted of a hard boulder problem at the 4th clip then steady climbing through big stalactites to the top. Neill tried it first and came off at the crux after using some dodgy beta, he then worked out a better way and cruised to the top. I managed to get through the crux with Neill's better sequence and then knee-barred my way to the top. This was my first 7b+ flash so I was pretty chuffed! Neill dispatched the route easily on his second go.
Great success!

Neill on Eros 7b+
starting up Eros

Pete and Neill

After we both did Eros the sun crept round onto Arhi and so we decided to drive round to a crag called Local Freezer which was in the shade all afternoon. I put the clips on a 7a+, falling once at the top from a massive reach round a roof. I did the route second go and had to scrape my face along the rock to make the big reach! Neill flashed the route and then we drove back for some ice cream and a swim!

Local Freezer...


Neill was coaching for the next 5 days and so we got less climbing done, however, I still managed to squeeze in some routes with Pete. We went to Spartacus on the first day and I tried 'Gladiator' 7b. I slipped off the really tricky crux at the bottom but managed it on my second attempt!

I also visited Iannis with Pete and repeated some routes that I did in May. Pete just missed out on 'Adolf in the Bay' 6c+ coming off right at the last clip! I attempted what I thought was a 7a+ to the right and had an absolute epic, I then found out that this was a new 7b+ that wasn't in the guide!
We went to Odessey twice during the trip, the first time Neill was coaching and so I only did a couple of easier routes over on the right. The second time we went was great as Neill managed to redpoint 'Polifemo' 7c and I managed to onsight lots of lowers 7s including 'Lucky Luca' 7b, 'lucky Strike' 7b, 'Islands in the Sun' 7a+ and 'Fouska' 7a.

Islands in the Sun 7a+


No hands!

Our last day was the best by far, even though we were tired from the previous day we decided to beast ourselves anyway. We had planned to visit the much talked about Secret Garden crag but it was pretty windy and cold so thought the North facing crag might be too cold. We headed to Firewall instead as it would be in the sun. This crag was absolutely heaving and after warming up on a chossy 6c, we decided just to jump on the classic 7b+ 'Firewall'. Neill impressively onsighted it putting the clips in and then I surprisingly managed to flash it straight after! With not much else to try and the temperature rising, we headed down for a coke and drove round to Secret Garden. This crag has lots of good low to mid 7s and so we decided to try and do seven 7s in a day! In the end we managed 8, all onsight/flash (including Firewall) and headed back for a well deserved Schnitzel! The routes we done were...'Crisis' 7a, 'Ricounet' 7a, 'Ikariotikos' 7b, 'Adolflahaut' 7a+, 'Ballos' 7a+, 'Pomponpidoux' 7b and 'Sam Suffit' 7a.

We are already planning to go back to Kalymnos next October, possibly for longer and have also booked a trip to Costa Blanca in January!