A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words!

Some more amazing pictures from the Islands trip.

Me mid-crux on “Save Our Souls” E5 
Photo credit – James Dunn

Me Spying the way to go on
“Little Miss Sitting Pretty” E5
Photo credit -Paul Swail

Mid-crux on “Little Miss Sitting Pretty” E5
Photo credit – Paul Swail
Starting the crux section of
“Save Our Souls” E5
Photo credit – James Dunn

Recovering before the crux moves
of “The Raven” E5
Photo credit – Paul Swail

Abandoned on an Island – what more could you ask for?

Loading the Boy James to head to Pabbay

On Wednesday the 8th, Ally Swinton, James Dunn and I lugged our pile of gear and food bags onto the train in Waverley station and headed for Oban. We met up with Liam Ingram at Glasgow, who was one of the other guys heading out to climb on the islands.

Once in Oban we lugged our gear from the train to the ferry terminal and dumped it there for a couple of hours while we headed into town for some last minute supplies. This consisted mostly of chocolate and fishing gear, everything you need in case it rains on a climbing trip!
When we arrived back at the terminal, the pile of gear had tripled in size and we met up with the rest of the guys who were heading on the trip, Adam Russell, Eddie Barbour, Paul Swail, Rob Askew, Jamie Foxen and Andrew Latham.  Once we had all said our hellos and introductions, we made the long gear haul down the gangway and onto the ferry, just in the nick of time!
James on “Pabbarottie”
Photo credit-Greg Boswell
As everyone had had a fairly early and hectic start to the day, we all just chilled out and mostly slept on the ferry, arriving fresh and awake on Barra around 7pm. After getting the gear off the ferry we convoyed it straight onto Donalds boat (The Boy James), which is a converted fishing vessel that he uses to take climbers and tourists to the islands. This was waiting for us in the small harbour in Castlebay. After this was packed to the brim, it was off to Pabbay.
Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived on Pabbay, but it didn’t take us long to set up camp and get the group tent erected. Once this was up, there was some shelter to relax and chat about where we were going to head the next day. By the time we all went to our tents to go to sleep the rain had died off and the sky was starting to clear up. This made everyone mega psyched for the up and coming days climbing that was soon approaching.
Ally sorting ropes with Mingulay in the background
Photo Credit-Greg Boswell

When we all woke the next day, it was the usual wall to wall sunshine that seems to surround the Barra Isles. I had butterflies in my stomach as we lugged the heavy bags up to the gear stash at the high coll. Having been to Pabbay three times before, I knew what kind of amazing climbing was in store for us when we reached our chosen venue for the day.

 We had decided to head to the Poop Deck, which is a single pitch venue on the far side of the Island. It has a number of routes for all levels ranging from HS-E7. We all thought this would be a good place for everyone to head to on the first day so that we could climb together and everyone could get used to the steep island Gneiss. It also helped so that the people who had been before could point out the different venues to the first timers on the way to the crag; Ally and I also took this chance to stash my 100m Edelrid abb rope at the top of the Pink Walls ready for the next day.
Back to camp for team 2011

Ally and I did a bunch of routes on the Poop Deck from E1-E3 throughout the day and I finished off by doing the 4 star E5 “The Raven” which heads up the mega overhanging wall via crack systems and then breaches the large roof before heading onto the vertical headwall above. This was a route I had had my eye on ever since I had first gone to the island five years ago, and it did not disappoint!

After a very heavy and random hail/rain shower, the sun soon reappeared and we all headed back to camp in high spirits and chatted about where to head the next day.

Ally rapping into Pink Walls
Photo Credit-Greg Boswell
Ally starting up “Amber Nectar”
Photo Credit- Greg Boswell

The next morning Ally and I opted for the 90m abseil into Pink/Grey wall area and we headed for the uber immaculate line of “Amber Nectar” the three star E5 on the Grey wall recess. After we had ticked that amazing route, we headed to Hoofers Geo to find Paul Swail halfway up the four star E4 “Sugar Cane Country”. This was a good photo opportunity and once I had got some brilliant shots of Swail on the wall and he had topped the route, the heavens decided to open and our plans to try the harder lines in the area where swiftly washed away. We rapped in anyway and after spying our intended routes that where totally soaking, we did a good E2 called “Fracture Cl

Off To The Islands

Since the weather was so nice over the past few weeks, last week I managed get two good evenings climbing after work at Dunkeld with Ally Swinton. We did a fair few laps on most of the sport routes at upper cave, in preparation for our up-coming Pabbay/Mingulay trip that is swiftly approaching.

Having had a good weeks sport climbing at Kilnsey the week before, and having got some good trad routes ticked at Cambusbarron last Sunday, I am starting to feel pretty psyched and rock fit for the amazing trad routes that the Islands have to offer.

We’re heading off early tomorrow morning and will arrive on Pabbay late afternoon. After setting up camp, there will be lots and lots of crankaggge over the next 10 days! So keep an eye on my blog to see how we all got on.

Pabbay last year 2010
Photo credited. Ally Swinton
I would also like to thank Julbo for sending me a pair of Dirt (zebra) sun glasses for the summers rock season and look forward to using them soon. Fingers crossed that the sun stays out on our trip.