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Going Up In the World

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

With all this sun about, adventuring has been easy this past week. It’s been a scorcher!

I’ve had to wear sun cream most days and even then, have still been a little pink.

What have I been up to? Working mostly, but I’ve had a couple of evenings where climbing was the main event.

The snow has all but gone from the surrounding hills, with only a few small patches left here and there and as I mentioned last week, everywhere is now looking lusciously green.

I’ve been trying to enjoy it as much as I can, but I’m just not built for hot weather! I’m glad my walks to work are before the sun becomes too hot and that I can walk home in the cool of the evening. When I get home the windows are open to help me cool down in the shade of my room. The shower has been turned down several numbers to stop me from overheating and I’m one step away from storing my clothes in the freezer!

All this sun makes the groups happy though, and this last week I had the privilege of facilitating an adventure day out the back of the centre for a visiting primary school.

We started off ascending the small hill out the back before heading down and round for a spot of lunch and some games. After lunch we made our way down to the woods at the edge of Loch Tay.

What a spot for a picnic lunch!

Sitting and just being, absorbing nature.

It was great to have some shade and a break from all the sun. Shoes came off and we went paddling, skimmed stones and someone even fell right in! We moved on to a big rock slab at the water’s edge where the pupils sat; watching, listening, hearing and smelling nature, just taking some time to soak up the beauty of the place they were in. From here, we walked back up the drive and home to the centre for dinner.

I was working on Sunday but after the group had left I had my second (of this year’s) quarterly reviews with Dave. We chatted about all sorts of things and I came out feeling encouraged and motivated to press on with working towards some qualifications. There were three of them to try to target.

  • Canoe Leader – I’ve just done my training for this, and now just need to go paddling in lots of different places. Rather excitingly Adam Conroy (an old colleague from Whithaugh) recently got in touch to ask if I’d like to join him on a canoe expedition of the Great Glen Way. I had a week booked off in June with nothing planned and so we set it in stone. I’m really looking forward to seeing some old friends and spending a few days paddling with them in an area I’ve not really been before.

  • Winter Mountain Leader – This one is irrelevant really, certainly whilst it is summer! I will be pressing into this one next winter though.

  • Rock Climbing Instructor (RCI) – This is the new name for the Single Pitch Award (SPA) with a few little tweaks to the structure of the course. I have a long way to go for this one, as I need to bag some lead climbs. Cue the main adventures of the week…

On Tuesday Dave and I left promptly after work and drove to Creag na h-Eighe (pronounced “Craig Knee”) for a spot of climbing. We ended up busting out five routes, with Dave leading the three Severes and myself leading the two V Diffs.

Needless to say, Dave both climbs and sorts out his gear quicker: I’m still a novice really.

We had fun and Dave encouraged me with a few comments such as: “You made short work of that!” and “Those first few moves were some of the most committing moves I’ve ever seen you make”.

I love going climbing with Dave: he is always keen and is just happy to be out and having fun but is always supportive of my growth and development as a climber and as a person.

We always have great chats about life on the drive to and from the crag, and then get down to climbing business once we’re there.

It was wonderful to don my climbing shoes for the first time this year, clip some gear to my harness and start up a route without really knowing what I was going to encounter, other than what I could see from the ground. My head game seems to have improved too as I felt really at ease whilst climbing and whilst faffing around at the top of the climb trying to sort out a belay!

The second evening of climbing was with the MR Team on Thursday at the crags on Ben A’an. This was where we were for the rigging training a couple of weeks ago.

After placing some gear low down and rating each others placements, we split up into a few small groups and picked a climb to do. I joined Lisa on a route called “The First Thirty”. It looked decidedly vegetated and our suspicions were correct.

What an adventure it was though: I felt like a pioneering climber, putting the first route up on this bit of rock.

Near the top Lisa had taken a diversion from the probable route (we weren’t really sure where it went!) and popped straight up a lovely bit of more vertical rock. I really enjoyed myself, despite having to do a bit of gardening on my way up! Once at the top Lisa started bringing up, on a separate rope, Kim who had been waiting very patiently at the bottom for her turn. Having not done much climbing before, and with a sore knee, Kim wasn’t having as much fun as I was. So, I quickly rigged up a rope to abseil down to her and help find the route up that last rockface.

On the path up to the crags

We left the crag well after sunset, and with an hour or so of driving ahead of us it was going to be a late one. Phil dropped me off just after midnight and I tiptoed upstairs to bed.

As I undressed I checked for ticks, just in case, and to my horror found EIGHT latched on and feasting with two more wandering around on me! With the dirty blighters plucked off, killed and disposed of, I now went to bed very tired and slightly paranoid that I had missed any.

This weekend has been a much needed rest, but I’m so excited for getting out and doing some more stuff! It should be much easier now too as my car is being re-MOTd on Wednesday. If it passes then I will have freedom again after two months of being Ardeonaig-bound whilst I fixed it. I have had a great lesson in patience and really enjoyed most of the mechanical challenges but am so pleased the end is in sight.

Well, I hope you all enjoy this weather whilst it lasts and remember to use sun cream!

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