Sunday, 29 May 2011

Finally climbing again after an injury (posted by James)

Getting back into the swing of things again

As I mentioned in my last post, a few weeks back I took a fall whilst out running in the hills and badly sprained a wrist. This combined with over 3 weeks of poor weather have equated to a very dull month for me….usually May is one of my favourite times of the year, but all I've managed until last friday this May is 5 easy Munros in the Cairngorms.

In the last week my wrist has been feeling much better, so on Friday I decided to put things to the test and see if I was ready to start climbing again.

I headed towards Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe to see if the strong winds had dried off any of the rock, and I was in luck.

About 2 years ago Alex and I climbed North Buttress, a long, sustained and lovely route which I really enjoyed. Knowing that the route increases in difficulty with height and that you can easily retreat off the lower sections, I decided to put my wrist to the test and try and solo it.

North Buttress from below - you can see the chimney line at the top

As I started up the lower scrambling section, I couldn't believe just how good it felt to be moving on rock again…that constant stretching and gymnastic movement of climbing that we all know and love…I have really missed it for the last few weeks. And I was feeling good, as my wrist wasn't giving me any problems at all.

The first steep bit

North Buttress represents one of Glencoe's finest attributes, in that it is one of many ingenious mountaineering routes which take you through astonishing rock scenery and landscape without pushing into higher grades. So whilst you are still climbing, you don't have the added stresses of higher grade climbing and you're able to concentrate more on enjoying the place itself.

Climbing lovely high quality rock

The top half of North Buttress has got to be one of the best routes of its grade in Scotland. You climb steep chimney after chimney in an almost unbroken straight line for hundreds of feet to the top of the buttress. If taken direct without diversions around any of the chimneys, North Buttress is certainly harder than the Moderate grade it is given….the crux chimney in my opinion being harder and steeper than anything found on Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis.

One of the many steep chimneys on the direct route

I was elated when I topped out from the route onto the summit of Stob Dearg. I find soloing rewards more on so many levels than pitching a route such as this - you are moving constantly throughout and you get an arguably clearer idea of the route's qualities and difficulties than if you are stopping for pitches.

Looking down one of the steep chimneys

Above all, it just felt amazing to be out there again and doing what I enjoy the most. Now I'm just praying for a longer spell of good weather so I can get stuck back into things.


An angry sky over Rannoch Moor

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