Friday, 25 January 2013

Ups and Downs

I've been having a great time recently enjoying the good weather and good climbing conditions. My enthusiasm took a small knock last week when I took a decent sized fall on the SW ridge of Douglas Boulder. A couple of cracked ribs and a bruised lower back was a small price to pay for length of the fall to be honest. I don't like going back to analyse mistakes over and over but looking back on that climb there were a couple of lessons to learn. I had finished the hard part of the first pitch graded in the new guidebooks as  IV 5 and so reckon relaxed a bit. As I approached the easier part I decided to try and keep as directly on the crest as possible, despite a couple of ways round which were easier. As I stepped up over the short wall, my right axe started sliding and I realised what I thought had been a good hook was actually just powder covering loose scree! At the point I realised I needed to downclimb, both axes ripped and I was off. Thankfully my gear held though I did come scarily close to Davie who was belaying me before stopping altogether. New stretchy ropes probably contributed slightly! After a few minutes of recovery I could tell the injuries weren't too serious which was a relief after thoughts of my spinal fracture in 2011 came flooding back. My first thoughts were to bail and head home but I knew heading back out on the next climb would be much harder. After some encouragement from Davie I headed back on the route and finished the pitch. A quick inspection of the sling revealed a bit of wear but more worrying was the gate on the karabiner which was broken and loose. Still, it did its job when it counted...The conditions were ok but a fair amount of powder made for slow going. We swung leads until reaching the abseil point and abbed into the Douglas Gully West just as darkness fell. A downclimb/swim saw as back at the hut. The cold seemed to help keep any swelling at bay and I didn't feel to bad until the next morning when a quick trip to A&E was on the cards to get things checked out.

Photos by Davie Scott
A couple of days rest and I was working for Maximum Adventure with Hannah. We had a great skills day on Aonach Mor and then a trip up the Ben on Sunday. A fantastic effort by the strong group saw us up and down in 7hrs 30min, not a bad time for a summer ascent!

the Red Burn adding some excitement- photo by Ed Bayliss

Ed and David at the Summit- photo by Ed Bayliss

The ribs have been aching away a bit over the last few days but I knew the current conditions werev't meant to last much longer so on Wednesday, myself, Kev, Craig and Joe headed up to the CIC hut cascades for a bit of winter cragging! We took the right most line which was great fun at about grade III-IV.

Photos by Craig MacDonald
With a thaw and lots of snow forecast it will be interesting to see how things are shaping up in a few days!