Monday, 30 September 2013

Salamander

A few years ago I headed up to Creag Ghlas in Strathconon with Jamie B. It was grey, humid and the sweat, cleds and midges made the approach a misery. A broken hold as he led the first pitch of some VS and we were both keen to retreat but the return to the crag has long been on my mind.
Today I persuaded Scott it would be a good idea and we headed north in sunny weather. Its a quick bike ride from the car park to below the crags but the walk in hasn't got any less steep. 250m of sweaty ascent (and a few ticks on Scotts trousers- he went first) and we were at the base of Salamander HVS/VS 4c,4c,5a/5b,4c,4b (SMC Northern Highlands Central Guide pitches).
Although the crag is broken by heather ledges the pitches in between are of mostly immaculate schist (just watch out for the odd loose flake). A long first pitch of well protected climbing leads to a wee ledge before the next pitch takes a wall with a slightly run out upper section. If you take the 5a variation as we did the crux is very short and well protected before pitch 4 which led me by way of blank slab and an undercut flake into a great corner. The finish is out of keeping with the rest of the climb appearing much steeper from below but it turns out to be pretty juggy the whole way out coming in at 4b the easiest pitch on the route.
It was windy but sunny all day and the climbing was great and typical of highland schist with ripples, edges, quartz knobbles and the odd bigger ledge to use. I was glad I'd taken a double set of cams as they were all used along with a few wires. Great climbing and great weather- stunning views to Ben Eighe and Torridon.
After a knee busting descent we were back on the bikes less than half an hour from the base of the crag. Top day!
 Swift ride in
 Spot the ticks
 Starting pitch 1
 Looking down as I start pitch 2
 Above the run out wall
 End of pitch 2
 Scott just through the crux on pitch 3
 looking doon the Glen
 Past the undercut flake and into the corner on pitch 4
 Scott on pitch 4
 That was mint!
 Pitch 5
 A bit steeper
Walking off with views west

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