Monday, 19 February 2007

Queuing for E8s in Scotland (!)

Climbing at Scottish sea-cliffs in mid February might not be the most obvious choice for a productive weekend. Don't expect sunbathing on golden beaches and a bit of deep water soloing to cool off. But the forecast promised good weather and so we headed North East with a couple of knarly Scottish climbers to seek out some of the east coast's hardest routes and another chapter for the new film Committed.

Long Haven, Aberdeenshire
Long Haven is situated 30 miles north of Aberdeen and is home to some hard routes including Tim Rankin's addition from last year 'Comfortably Numb' which he graded E8. Reputedly a excellent line, Tim reacted angrily at the time to the manner of report in the climbing press criticising the style of ascent. All his gear had been preplaced (rather than placed on the lead).

We arrived Saturday afternoon with Dave MacLeod and Kev Shields to find Gorden Lennox already on the route. How often do you get queue's for E8s in Scotland?

Gordon Lennox climbing 'Comfortably Numb'

So MacLeod got his onsighting head into gear and turned his attention to a good looking E7 on the front face. Already brushed and chalked up by the other party the route looked a good option to try and onsight.

Dave MacLeod onsighting 'Gies a Squid' E7 6c. Apparantly his first E7 onsight since 2001

Returning early on Sunday Gordon succeeded on 'Comfortably numb', repeating the route in the same style as Rankin. With all the gear now removed MacLeod was then able to attempt in more conventional style. After a second session of working the moves and testing the gear placements he then climbed it easily on his first attempt.

Dave MacLeod. The third ascent (and first placing gear on lead) of 'Comfortably Numb' E8 6c

Dave MacLeod. Cheesy grin at the top. (well, he was enjoying himself)

Over on the front face Kev Shields was in two minds over whether to attempt an E3 End Game. Without a normal left hand placing gear is difficult and Kev could only find one gear placement on the route. A fall at this point into the sea would be very serious. As it was beggining to get dark Kev decided to go for the lead, holding it together well.

Kev Shields leading 'End Game' E3 5c

So a good weekend for all, and we could begin the long drive south.