Climbing Again!

It’s been a long time since we managed to get out onto the cliffs but a visit from friends Simon and Caroline gave us an opportunity to visit Meikle Ross, just a few miles away from Craig Cottage.

Simon leading up “Shark’s Tooth”
John on “Twin Cracks” with T-shirt coordinated with the lichen

Crab Slab

Crab Slab is a sea cliff at an area called Meikle Ross, about 5 miles from Craig Cottage. Meikle Ross forms the headland on the west side of Kirkcudbright Bay and features vertically bedded sedimentary rocks from the Silurian period. The access to Crab Slab is via a somewhat precarious scramble down a steep grassy slope which is shown in the photo below:
TThe scramble in to Crab Slab
The first route we climbed was an introductory easy climb up the edge of the slab. The slab is actually a vertical fin of rock that is just a few feet thick so there’s quite an exposed couple of moves across the top of the cliff to get to where it meets the main mass of the hillside.┬áHere’s John sorting out the ropes at the top of the climb, trying not to fall off the sides of the slab.
Top of Crab SlabWe did a couple more climbs out on the face of the slab. The rock is very good for climbing with good friction and some nice features weathered out for hand and foot-holds.

Crab Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

Relaxing at the top of a climb

Gabrielle found a nice spot to relax at the top of one of the climbs. Note the very sturdy block of rock for setting up the belay and abseil anchors.
Scrambling at Meikle Ross
We also had an exploratory scramble round the headland to look at some of the other cliffs in the area.

The Clints of Dromore

There are some wonderful place names in the Galloway area. Last weekend we went climbing at some cliffs known as the ‘Clints of Dromore’. A few other examples of the names of local geographical features are:

  • Rig of the Jarkness
  • Neive of the Spit
  • Curlywee
  • Rig of the Gloon
  • Buckdas of Cairnbaber
  • Loch Twachtan

You can spend an enjoyable evening poring over the local Ordnance Survey maps. The Clints of Dromore are a few miles north of Gatehouse of Fleet and consist of a number of granite outcrops sticking out of a heathery hillside. Not a lot of people climb in this area so the access path to the cliffs consists of linking together a few sheep and goat tracks. The rock is however good solid granite and a pleasure to climb on until you get to the next ledge covered with dense heather. Here’s Gabrielle at the start of the climb.
Central Slabs
We did the climb in two pitches. This is the view up the second pitch – lots of nice clean granite.
Pitch 2
Here’s Gabrielle arriving at the top of the climb.
Last pitch
At the top it was a thrash through the heather to get to a steep gully where we could slither back down to the start of the climb.
John and Heather

Heather

Aladdin’s Couloir

Our latest trip up into the snowy Cairngorms. Our target was a route called Aladdin’s Couloir in Coire an t’Sneachda which is just a short walk round the corner from the main car park at Cairngorm ski area. The short approach and abundance of easy climbs makes it a popular venue and there was a procession of climbing teams on the approach path.

Central Gully, Creag an Dubh Loch

Creag an Dubh Loch

Creag an Dubh Loch

Here are a few pictures from a trip up Central Gully on Creag an Dubh Loch, at the head of Glen Muick in the Cairngorm National Park. We were lured up there by our friend Giancarlo who assured us that it was a ‘classic’ route. After our epic return in the dark from the Black Spout of Lochnagar back in December, we thought that we would save some time and effort by riding bicycles to and from the end of Loch Muick. This worked quite well on the way out, except for a few icy stretches. We then hiked up the valley to the Dubh Loch where we had a few problems getting across the river running into the loch. Giancarlo solved the problem by slipping off a rock then paddling the rest of the way. Gabrielle and I wandered further upstream until we found a place where the water flowed over a wide, smooth sheet of granite so it was very shallow the whole way across. From this point we could see that there wasn’t much snow on the slope leading up into Central Gully but we bashed on up the scree slopes anyway. As we neared the top of the scree slope we noticed that there were a lot of fresh rock scars and chunks of newly broken rock all over the screes. It looks like there had been a large recent rock fall from somewhere high up on the crag. We picked our way quietly up this section trying not to encourage any more deadly projectiles to come down on us. Eventually we reached the snow line and were able to strap on our crampons and make some good progress up the impressive gully. The gully was in excellent condition with firm snow and no nasty surprises. The cornice at the top of the gully yielded to a flanking manoeuvre on the left side and we arrived safely up on the plateau near the summit of the hill. A pleasant hike on the crisp snow along the ridge led us over the summit of Broad Cairn then it was a long downhill slog back down to Loch Muick and our bicycles. The track that had given us a firm surface for riding in the morning had softened during the day and the bike ride back along the loch side was very heavy going. Nevertheless we made it back to the Glen Muick car park intact and in daylight and headed back down the road for a feast provided by Giancarlo’s wife Joanne at their house.