Favourite Routes

Summer Crag Routes

Grade Name Location Length Comments
Moderate Original Route South Quarry, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh 8m The first route I ever climbed, solo in August 1993. A fine down-climbing test piece.
Difficult Russet Groove Bowden Doors, Northumberland 10m Climbed with Philip Morant in September 1995 at the end of a cold end-of-season day which had been singularly unsuccessful. We picked a Diff to be sure of success and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be.
Very Difficult Little Chamonix Borrowdale 70m Climbed with Agnès in June 1996. Crowded but varied climbing on perfect, if polished rock.
Severe Main Wall Crag Lough, Northumberland 34m Climbed with Agnès in August 1999. A long pitch with a mountaineering feel and full of pleasant surprises: a delicate buttress move low down, a fine exposed arrete and finally a great thrutching chimney leading to a wide belay ledge from which you can look down and watch your second enjoying every move!
Hard Severe Deception Crack Kyloe Crag, Northumberland 10m Climbed with Steve Jones in May 1995. My first HS lead, this is a striking line, sustained and with excellent protection. Kyloe is the best crag I know.
Very Severe (4a, 4b, -) Sword of Gideon South Face, Sgurr A'Chaorachain, Applecross 104m Climbed with Agnès and `Mike', a hitch-hiking New Zealander in September 1996. Although it was beautifully sunny, we only climbed the top two pitches because there was a howling wind and we only had two harnesses. The bottom pitch looked good but was not vertical enough to lower a harness and fortunately we could scramble round it. The top pitch is only tacked on to the route in order to reach the descent path. But the 35m middle pitch is quite simply the most satisfying climbing I have ever done. Mike was well impressed, despite the fact that he normally climbs at a significantly higher grade.

Climbed in May 1997 with Simon Kelly. We didn't start the first pitch low enough to find the 4a move. You have to go to absolutely the lowest point on the buttress. The first pitch still does not stand comparison with the second.

Hard Very Severe (5b) The Waullie Rosyth Quarry, Fife 10m Climbed on a top-rope with Agnès in June 1996. Apart from the two over-graded HVS routes at Ratho Quarry, this is the only HVS that I have completed. I fell off it twice when I tried it one evening in Summer 95 so it was all the more satisfying to get up this Summer. It is a fine line and pretty sustained.

After bottling out half way in Summer 1998, I finally managed to lead it in Summer 1999. Now all that remains is to eliminate the off-route (edge of the arrete) handhold which I used but didn't really need!

Summer Mountain Routes

Grade Name Location Length Comments
Moderate Dubh slabs Cuillin 900m Climbed alone in May 1994. Endless, joyful easy padding up the roughest of rock in stunning surroundings.
Difficult Tower Ridge Ben Nevis 600m Climbed with Steve Jones and Becky Nisbet in June 1996. Although there is little which is not scrambling, the 'features' and situation make it a great day out.
Very Difficult Cioch Nose The Cioch, Sgurr A'Chaorachain, Applecross 135m Climbed with Philip Morant in June 1995 on a beautiful day after having spent the previous day sheltering from the rain in our tent at the Glen Brittle camp site. Sustained VDiff climbing in a splendid situation.
Severe Central Buttress Coire Mhic Fearchair, Beinn Eighe 276m Climbed with Simon Kelly in May 1997 on a day so sunny and warm that we just had to go skinny-dipping in the lochan after the walk-in. Four good severe pitches (out of 10-11) with the best being the last (including a stunning mantleshelf in one of the upper corners), two completely different types of rock (sandstone and quartzite) and a stunning situation. Quite the most impressive looking object I have climbed. The only drawback is that the lower two thirds of the route is in the shade in the morning (at least). Climbing it on a midsummer's evening could well be heaven (but for the midges...)

Climbed with Agnès in May 1999. Exploited Piggott's route to speed up the ascent of the sandstone tier and the first couple of pitches on the quartzite tier. However, we still did the great quartzite pitches on the upper tower.

Hard Severe Spartan Slab Beinn Trilleachan 190m Climbed with Simon Kelly in May 1996. Supposedly VS and undoubtedly was when climbed in big boots and before the piton scars. We went too far left on the second pitch and end up at the left hand end of the `crevasse'. The move from the belay (part of Pause?) is almost as entertaining as the proper crux move (according to Simon who went back and did the correct route). Unfortunately, to get back on route required a traverse across an open slab along a hairline crack. Fortunately I got a 1/2 nut in which turned a nasty pendulum into just a slide for Simon. Quite what the grade would be for the traverse we have no idea: neither of us has been on anything as remotely hairy either before or since. After this `alternative' pitch three, the rest was a very enjoyable piece of piss.

Climbed with Estelle Saez in August 1998. Got it right this time! Standing under the crevasse move, everything I'd ever read about it came into sharp focus... "A granitic problem of crushing simplicity..." "... climbed with thrashing knees".

Climbed with Agnès in September 1998. A little damp in places but still most enjoyable.

Winter Routes

Grade Name Location Length Comments
I Aladdin's Couloir Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms 180m Climbed with Steve Jones in January 1995. This was my first experience of roped climbing. The previous week we had looked at it and decided that there was too much of an avalanche risk. Although it was a bit of a plod, the rock architecture is quite attractive, particularly at the top.
II Ledge Route Carn Dearg, Lochaber 450m Climbed alone in February 1995 and with Agnès in March? 1996. Takes an improbably easy line to avoid the Carn Dearg buttress, culminating in one of the best views of the Ben Nevis cliffs. Then follows a delightful arete to the summit of Carn Dearg itself. A fine but exposed walk (easy scramble) in Summer.
III Staghorn Gully Creag Meagaidh 400m Climbed with Agnès in March 1996. It is a bit of a plod up to the bottom of the `pipes' but then follows the north pipe which offered 100m of beautifully iced gully climbing in three well-protected pitches. The only regret was that we didn't do the direct start!

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