Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Wrong day, right place, right route (My first VS 5a)

Friday 20th June 2008: Dunkeld

Bit of an administrative mistake today, so had a free evening to climb. Quick phone call to Dave and Ellis, and climbing for the evening was arranged. Off up to Dunkeld again for a night of Trad.

Picked up Dave and Ellis then straight up the A9 to dunkeld, where Phil was waiting for us. Straight up to the crag and climbing within an hour, phil and I chose a Recess Route, a nice little Vdiff to warm up on. Dave and Ellis started on Holly tree groove, a wandering Vdiff.

With both routes done, we met at the top, and set up an abseil down hairy gully, which gave me a good chance to practice my abseil tuition skills on the obliging guinea pigs Ellis and Dave.
Around this time, the dreaded midges made an appearance, taking the edge of what was shaping upto be a good night.

Phil was in the mood for a bit of a challenge, so suggested a 2pitch VS called 'The End'. What he failed to tell me was that the 2nd pitch was 5a, and that he was going to climb the 'easier' (only according to the guidebook) first pitch at 4c.

As soon as phil left the ground, we were bombarded by cheesy 80's music blasting up the hill from the Dunkeld Hilton Hotel. This made for quite an experience, trying to concentrate on your footwork and gear placements whilst classics including YMCA, and Club tropicanna were blasted out. Despite this, Phil made the hard section look easy, placing just enough gear to keep him comfortable, then disappeared over the edge to the belay.

Working my way through the crux of the first pitch, i was impressed with the relative ease that phil passed through it. Arriving at the belay i could see the next pitch with two imposing overhangs to mount, linked by a seemingly blank slab. Oh boy!

After a quick recce to look for hand holds and gear, i committed up through the first roof, settling in to get a peice of gear, then up the slab for a few metres to a stonking slot, perfect for a rock 5. From the that position of comfort, i eyed up the slab ahead. Not a great deal of hand holds, or foot holds. mmm, ok, think about it, decided where you are going and go for it! Balancing on 1/2inch foot holds, i scrambled up to slot a nut in high above me. Not a great placement but good enough to slow me down...

Moving up and across, i worked up to the right hand of the large crack through the roof and slotted in two bomber nuts, much to my satisfaction. FEW!!! Pushing through the overhang was easy, and i made my way up the remaining easy slabs to the belay with no problem. Bringing Phil up, i was chuffed to bits with my first VS 5a lead, and the opening bars of a whitesnake classic from the disco down the hill brought a large grin to my face.

For us the night was over, but Ellis and Dave had smashed out 'The chute, a single pitch VS 5a, then took on a shorter VS called 'Carpet Beater' in the time me and phil climbed 'the end'. Much to Ellis's surprise, Carpet beater has been upgraded to HVS 5a! Well done that man.

A nice social drink was had in the taybank hotel in Dunkeld before a trawl through perth for a chipper still open at 11.

Many thanks to phil for a good nights climb and well done to dave and ellis for cracking two brilliant routes!


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