Minor Adventures in June

Minor Adventures in June

June 1st

At the start of the month we found ourselves in the midst of a very wet trip to Scotland. A trip that was supposed to get us out to Pabbay Island but the weather instead turned us towards Skye. We spent a few days dodging down-pours, visiting coastal crags and running in the rain before a surprise dry day finds us motoring into Loch Coruisk. The Misty Isle boat does a round trip out from Elgol visiting a few local scenic spots along the way while the boatman tells a few tall tales. It’s all very entertaining, but we jump out half way at the Coruisk Memorial Hut and make our way up along the loch to Coir’ Uisg Buttress. The impressive Skye wall dominates the scene when you arrive but we head for the much more amenable ‘Paradise Found’ on the left side of the crag. There we spend a few hours glued to Skye’s wonderful gabbro. We go a bit too high on the last pitch and have to do some interesting scambling to get down to the exit, but soon find our way back to our bags. Sat above the valley, eating what’s left of our food we have a fine view of the hike out down the west side of the loch, no sense putting it off.

By the time we are crossing the river Coruisk the sun has set, we have to navigate the coastal path and one of the worlds many ‘bad steps’ by head lamp. It makes for slow going so we stop at a bothy about 1 a.m. to rest and continue the walk to Elgol the following morning in the returned and pouring rain.

Fig 1: Clockwise from top left – Out running at the Quiraing in NE Skye. Walking out from Loch Coruisk. Sile on ‘Hairy Mary’ at Elgol. Dave on ‘Gorbachev’ at Staffin slips. Sile topping out at Diabeg main crag.

June 4th

We have moved further north in the hopes of climbing in the Torridan area. Not a chance, you can’t even see the hills for the inclement weather. Instead we park the van in Diabeg near a coastal crag. Sile knocked off the area classic the day before (‘The Pillar E2 5b’) and we spend that day and the next grabbing a few routes on the Diabeg main crag between showers. It’s a nice crag, gneiss, and as soon as it stops raining you can climb.

June 8th

We are making our way back down to Stranraer to get the ferry home and stop at a small crag in Galloway. The guide book misleads us on the approach so we are late arriving and only climb one route before the evening midges chase us off.

June 12th to 19th

Back at home I spend a few evenings in Dalkey to try keep fitness up, though it’s hard to be motivated for the quarries particular delights after sampling Scottish rock.

June 22nd

Up in Donegal, a group of 10 or so are camped on Cuit Island. Dave Madden has organized a meet to explore some crags he and a couple of others have been developing near Kinncasslagh. Sile and I spend the day exploring the outcrops, they are small but good clean granite and offer up a few gems. That evening we chat to a local climber and make plans to head off early the next morning to climb in Lough Belshade. We walk in and are greeted by the areas fantastic white granite. Unfortunately our planned route is too wet so we have to settle for one of the countries best HVS routes, ‘Classical Revival’. Who needs Scotland!

Fig 2: Clockwise from top left – Beneath on of the crags at Kinncasslagh. The lines of 2 new routes put up at the meet. Hanging out at the campsite on Cuit island. Another view of the campsite. Sile on the first ascent of ‘Ding Dong Danial VS 4c’.

Fig 3: Starting out on the top pitch of Classical revival at Loch Belshade.

June 27th

I’m in the quarry by myself, making my way around a circuit of sorts, a mix of easy routes and boulders. Everything feels easy, my motivation returned.

June 30th

A poor forecast, suddenly improves (in the north at least), so Sile and I made a last minute dash to Fair Head at the weekend. Sunday morning finds us at Farrangandoo crag, Sile has injured her back so I am leading. We tick off ‘Dark Corners’ to warm up, eschewing its grassy start by coming in from Pangur Ban. Above the grass it offers some excellent climbing. Next we go for Crib Pad Crack Direct, I have tried it before and failed but this time it goes smoothly. I’m so elated to get though the crux that I rush up the crack above and almost fall. I calm myself and continue to the top at a less flappable pace.

Not a bad month all in all.

Fig 4: Pulling through the crux on Crib Pad Crack at Fair Head.