Sunday 3rd August 2008.
After a week of unsettled weather, and pissed off climbers, i was looking forward to heading outdoors with Amanda and Mel on Sunday. Despite my optimism at the proposed good weather, the grey clouds and light rain showers that watched our progress to Boltsheugh were ominous at best. A quick stop at Amanda's gaff, then up North we headed, not sure of what the day would have in store.
I really enjoy heading up to Aberdeen to climb with Amanda, as her local knowledge is really opening a whole host of opportunities (some of the missed in the past)
to me (and my other climbing buds). So it was with some excitement that made our way to boltsheugh, an area i hadn't yet had the pleasure to climb on. It's a bit of a strange venue, with trad and sport routes side by side, thanks to the varying quality of rock and possible protection. Despite this, it is a really interesting venue with some challenging routes, and some smaller classics.
We worked our way round the coast to an area known as Boltsheugh Lower South, which has a lovely view out on to the North Sea and is occasionally tidal (check the tides). Amanda had brought two bouldering pads, so we set about trying some interesting problems, but i was immediately feeling the strain of a late night, and too many beers the night before. My arms were pumped after only a few moves, so i thought i wasn't up for much.
Amanda was having none of it, and pointed me in the direction of an overhanging wall of rock, telling me it was called 'Blowout' and was graded E1 5b, and that i should give it a go. I was less than committed, but her enthusiasm encouraged me, and i set about looking at it from the ground, trying to figure out what i was about to let myself in for. From the ground, it doesn't seem that bad, and i could see a few obvious cam placements, so i was just going to have to overcome the moves to and past the protection, which were essentially a sequence of boulder problems.
I worked at the first set of moves, bouldering up and placing a large cam, then climbing down and figuring out the next move and how to link it together with the first. It's only looking back, that i realise i relish these sort of challenges, looking at how i can analyse and overcome the problem. I continued the sequence and got a 2nd cam in high and to my left, moved up and looked at the next move, realised what i had to do, then climbed down and looked at the whole climb again, finalising the sequence in my head. All this time, Mel and Amanda were great, offering welcome encouragement.
Wow, i had done it, an E1, my first E1!!!
I was well chuffed, but felt it wasn't the time to make a spectacle. Mel tied on and came up on second, which i reckon was actually a harder task than leading, as the tension on the ropes made it really hard to remove the cams, and were acting to pull her off and out of the overhang, so she did really well.
I've said it to a few of my friends who have congratulated me, that i know fine well that they could and will lead it no problem. It really is a nice route, and will work well for those who enjoy well protected, but pumpy and powerful climbing.
Ellis, Dave, Iain, Mel, the climb awaits you!