Fast and Furious

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Scott Muir - 02/08/2003

I have just completed the first of my projects at Newtyle Quarry near Dunkeld. 'Fast and Furious' climbs the abandoned old, wet and manky sport project at the back right hand corner of the cave (otherwise known as 'The Tube'). Starting in April this year, I equipped the main crack that was initially aided by the 'Squirrels' at A3 years ago as a sport specific method of training for the hard continental mixed routes. I felt that tooling around on my 45 board at home was not building enough power endurance and it was also getting a bit boring. I was very conscious of the decision to bolt it, but was adamant that it would never make a route climbable by any other means. I set to work on it making reasonable progress, but powering out quickly. Even bolt to bolting was not working as a warm up as you pull straight off the ground into a Fig 4 onto 60 degree overhanging rock.

I needed a warm-up, so turned my attention to the abandoned project to the right. Getting on it I found that this wasn't a warm up either. It did however provide an excellent opportunity to get some specific power and strength endurance to have a better attempt at my main project that is the old aid crack. After many days of work I finally redpointed the route to the two bolt lower off giving some of the most savage Dry Tooling I have completed anywhere else in the world. Undoubtedly the route is M11, but I have given it D11 ('D' for Dry Tool means that there is no ice and can be climbed at any time of year and in any conditions). Fast and Furious is the first route of its kind in the country except those routes on chalk and is a big technical step forward.

Currently I am working fulltime in the cave on the two remaining projects that are closed to other attempts at the moment. The extension to 'Fast and Furious' is close to completion and once finished will provide 45 metres at 60 degree and more over vertical climbing to the lower off. I reckon 'Too Fast - Too Furious' will be at least D12. Intermittently, I am still on the old aid crack (closed project) that I believe may be even harder still.

Fast and Furious has already seen its second ascent from Dave McLeod and is now open to further efforts. If quickdraws are in place, they should be left. (do not hook the draws or the bolts as they may come out!) Some of the slate is soft! Fast and Furious ends at the two bolt orange rope lower off. It is acceptable to clip the second bolt before attempting the route, as you will land on your head if you blow the first moves.

These developments I believe will have a direct impact on the standard of winter routes in the future. The ability to train all year round on totally savage routes will definitely mean that the traditional ground up, on-sight ethics that currently exist and are fairly unique to Scotland will rise dramatically with the increase in technical ability and Power / Strength endurance.

What it doesn't mean is that all the current crag rock climbs in the country will get trashed, as this is totally unacceptable. Anyone caught doing so should be shamed. I would never contemplate wrecking an established crag route as training and is why I have gone to great lengths to find a venue that has been virtually forgotten about, already drilled and chipped and the routes are otherwise un-climbable by hand. There are many such venues around, but few that are steep enough to get you clear of the rock in a fall. I have already slashed and stabbed myself with my spurs and that's on horizontal ground. Falling with spikes is still not a good idea. At best, common sense says what is acceptable or not for Dry Tooling. Everyone that I know who is bubbling in this scene now, would not go near established routes. The scene is growing fast and the technical standards are rising rapidly, especially with the Edinburgh Unit (these guys have done a great job) where some super hard problems already exist. We are working on a way of grading the routes as well that fits with the technical Scottish Winter Grades and continental mixed grades.

In the next issue of Scottish Mountaineer I will be addressing the issue in great depth so look out for it. I am sure that on this site debate will rage healthily. Just remember - Dry Tooling in this form is black and white - The routes are un-climbable by any other means, they do not follow or touch existing rock climbs and they can be done at any time of the year, thus being neither weather or condition dependant. This is far clearer than the existing winter game at present, where no one can agree what's in or out of condition, or whether it is acceptable to climb a rock route as winter route!


Newtyle Quarry: Existing rock climbs in the guidebook should not be drilled or dry tooled, especially not Spandau Ballet the classic E2 Crack! There is plenty of other rock about. Use your imagination, initiative and put in your own hard work to come up with something new.

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