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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Stunning climbing conditions in the Highlands

The warm dry settled weather has meant ideal rock climbing conditions in the cool north facing crags and sweltering condition on some of the more sunny aspects! Many of mountain crags and their approaches are now very dry and pleasant to climb on whereas some of the lower sheltered south facing crags are a bit too hot!
We've spent the past few days climbing in the NW at Diabaig and Sgurr A' Chaorachain. The midges haven't really been a problem during the day and when climbing in the sun - in the evenings on the other hand is a different story...!
Surprisingly on Sunday we more or less had Diabaig to ourselves and climbed Routes 1 and 2. I hadn't climbed any of those routes for over 10 years and was pleased to find the rock friction was still as good as I remembered and not as polished as many other routes I've been back to. Route 1 has now been upgraded to HVS from VS. Fi led the first pitch commenting on the overgrown holly bush on the crux overhang...! The direct start above the belay on the second pitch that I fell off on has thankfully now being upgraded UK 5c rather than the original 4c in my old guide! The abseil tat and mallions are good btw. More details and photos at http://www.marmotte.co.uk/blog/2009/06/diabaig.html
On the Monday we walked in to have a look at Cioch Corner Superdirect on Sgurr A' Chaorachain. We didn't like the look of the wet seeps and vegetation at the start of the lower tier so we decided to climb Cioch Corner on the upper tier. We met a number of teams heading for the Cioch Nose including James G and were pleased that we would have our proposed route to ourselves.
However a route finding error without a decent guidebook description or topo saw us climbing a new direct start to the Cioch Nose through the overhangs right of the Direct Start and meeting up with the others! Great layback climbing through the roof once I'd cleared the vegetation from some gear placements on our new line! We then followed the immaculate upper sections of Cioch Nose to the top before descending the gully back to our packs.

On our descent down the gully we replaced some of the abseil tat and were amazed that folk were abbing off old rusty wires and a rotten peg when just below right in the photo there was a good solid rock flake that wasn't being used! We put some rope round the flake with a couple of the best salvaged krabs and abbed off that - see photo above. More photos can be found at http://www.marmotte.co.uk/blog/2009/06/sgurr-chaorachain-monday-1st-june.html

Unfortunately it looks like winter is returning the hill tops from later on today with a dramatic drop in temperatures!

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