Saturday, 1 August 2009
Making the best of the autumnal weather
The weather has been poor in Glencoe for quite a while now, with big, hard rain showers sweeping the entire region several times a day--often interspersed with frustratingly sunny weather! Therefore, mountaineering rock climbs have had to take a back seat and we have been getting out and about far less often.
However, we have made an effort this week despite the poor weather. On Thursday I went for a pleasant wander up the Lost Valley to Bidean and back down over Stob Coire nam Beith, one of my favourite mountain walks. It was the first time I'd been hillwalking without any scrambling or climbing in ages, and it made a refreshing change, given the poor weather. However, it was also highly atmospheric, with mist swirling between the peaks, and cold as well--the temperature on Bidean's summit can't have been higher than five degrees, and for a brief period I observed some sleet falling before it turned back to rain.
Yesterday the forecast for Lochaber was even worse than it had been, although MWIS promised the far North West to avoid the worst of the storm. So we drove up to Reiff, one of our favourite cragging locations, an idyllic cluster of sea-cliffs on a distant peninsula north of Ullapool. Although I am still having trouble climbing bold routes due to the confidence hit I took some time ago, we managed to get eleven routes done from Moderate to VDiff in the few hours before it started raining.
I'm not sure how I am going to be able to get that same level of confidence back I had a few months ago. The symptoms are all familiar to me: fear and alarm while trying to commit to an exposed move, often a step across to the side. Quality of gear makes little difference. The end result is that I waste time and energy faffing, and ultimately either have to power through the move propelled by fear alone, or lower off. The grade of the route seems not to have much relevance (yesterday I had to back off a VDiff).
Although I have no specific desire to be climbing harder routes, it is frustrating that a few months ago I was happy leading Hard Severe 4b, and now I doubt I'd be able to lead a Severe. It is a problem I am going to have to work on before the winter climbing season begins (not too long now!)
Photos from Bidean and the Lost Valley
Photos from our trip to Reiff