Scottish Sport Climbing Top Ten June 04

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Dave Redpath - 04/06/2004

Since my first Scottish sport top ten back in 2001 a lot has been happening. Namely my retirement from hard sport climbing has led the Redpath project portfolio to be passed onto Dave MacLeod. During his 2003/2004 clean up the greatest number of hard routes have been established in a very short period of time by one man in Scotland! Well, I told everyone my projects were hard, and I was wrong... They were mostly a grade harder!

Anyways, the rundown goes as follows. First of Dave made a quick ascent of Ian Pitcairn's old Tubes project to give Hurley Burley F8b, followed by a solo ascent!

Dave tried the Bond arete and concave projects of mine during last summer, succeeding on the Bond arete to give Solitaire F8b. During the re-equipping of the Dumbarton sport lines, Dave spied an obvious link-up via a dyno to give Tolerance F8b. Roll on spring 2004 and the concave project had finally gone. Persistence as always pays off, this time Snipe Shadow (hard) F8b. In between trying another hard project Dave took some time off to try a neglected Dumbuck line. Annoyingly things didn't go according to plan, 3 weeks of effort later Dave was finally rewarded with the first ascent of Happiness in Slavery F8b+, now Scotland Hardest Sport line.

On the repeat front 2003 saw repeats of Merchant of Menace by Dave, Gary Vincent and Alan Cassidy, Scotland's most popular hard sport route though I feel the ease of access and relative immunity from the midges had to be a beneficial factor... Oh and Merchant was dry for most of the summer, longer so than anyone can remember. Sadly no one is in agreement with sequences, holds or the original grade of F8b+.

Hurley Burley received lots of attention, but still no repeats as yet? Dave's speculative grade of F8b appears to be sticking.

Still one repeat remains to be done, Steall Appeal... Sooner or later someone must find out just ho strong Mr Smith was when he did this back in 1993! So this article is very much the sound of a one man band, with Dave blowing furiously away on his trumpet. SO calling all strong sport climbers, get looking for the steepness its out there. Dust the cobwebs of those projects. And get the Beta from Dave to repeat the routes on this list.

So Smith, Vincent, Mackenzie, McQuade, Savage buy some midge cream and get out from your cellars, the steepness is calling...

1. Happiness In Slavery 8m 8b+
Dave MacLeod - 2004
Another contender for Scotland's hardest though the FA started to have his doubts over such a heavy claim. Basically a micro project that became a mission. Get on it and decide for yourself how much harder it is than the other routes on this list! Beta: A super steep start on undercuts is slowly dispatched via various drop knees. Now see the good flat hold, keep going once, twice, ..., bugger!

2. Steall Appeal 15m 8b
Malcolm Smith - 1993
Scotland's hardest climbed by our best in just one day. Unrepeated at present and seems to building a reputation of being harder than the grade suggests.

Beta: Big juggy flake at start leads to the 7a crux revolving around a poor pinch. Ramp system leads to another crux from a flat undercut to the glorious finish - see OTE 100 front cover. Nice setting too shame about the zzz...!

3. Snipe Shadow 10m 8b
Dave MacLeod - 2004
An old project from Redpath with jaded beginnings. Its location high on the Glen Ogle hillside doesn't help getting belayers, but does help the midge problem.

Beta: Move up on small finger pockets to a deep two finger pocket. Now stretch upward for a hidden crimp to get small pocket with right hand. Now the crux jump may let you hold the good finger edge, one more dyno left to the top.

4. Merchant of Menace 15m 8b
Stuart Cameron - 1992
Hard man of the time, Stuart Cameron, dusted off his local project before unleashing himself on the rest of the UK. Somewhat neglected as its first 5m is wet most of the year. Recent scandals haven't helped its reputation any. 2003 saw three repeats.

Beta: A couple of big reaches lead to the pod system, slopey presses lead to a crimper (debatable), off which you power to a poor sidepull and then upwards. Hope you like quarries!

5. Tolerance 20m 8b
Dave Macleod - 2003
The re-equipping of adjacent routes led to this obvious gap being filled. Start at Tarrier F7c+, cross Sufferance F8a and finish up Dumb Dumb Boys F7c+ to climb the whole face top to bottom.

Beta: For those who hate the Tarrier crux moves dynamic nature best leave this alone. Start up Tarrier flake, now reach left and gain two small sidepulls, launch for the Sufferance handrail. Hand traverse this over into Dumb Dumb Boys and be happy its only stamina to the top.

6. Solitaire 22m 8b
Dave MacLeod - 2003
Glen Ogle is not noted for its long routes. Bond Buttress is one exception. The striking blunt arete had been eyed, but not tired by many. In stepped Redpath with his bolt gun again for a closer look, but he tried to no avail. The original grade of F8a+ was upped when MacLeods prior ascent ended when the resting finger flake snapped off.

Beta: Belt up the initial arete to obvious pocket. Now step left on small finger holds and make moves on progressively smaller finger holds to exit steepness. Once a standing position is gained at the conceded steepness, make a crux move for a finger sloper in a position a ballet master would be proud off.

7. Voodoo Magic 10m 8b
Andy Gallagher - 1997/Dave MacLeod - 2000
First climbed in 1997 its grade of 8B was perhaps an overshoot but no one was arguing with Andy. Subsequent ascents followed until part of the ledge and mid height jug came off, the first 4m being significantly harder. Come 2000 Dave MacLeod took up the gauntlet and won at a grade of proper 8B.

Beta: Since the ledge went the starts now brick! Get orientated then make some very steep moves off slopes, hooking toes where ever they fit best to reach the glued crimp. Once you leave this move up to the micro edge crux then decide on your finish, move right then up and back left (original way), or move more directly.

8. Hurley Burley 15m 8b
Dave MacLeod - 2003
Give a climbing Geologists a hammer drill and blank piece of slate and he'll make you an piece of climbing art! The Tubes project of Ian Pitcairn sadly sat neglected for many years. Dry tooling nearby prompted action by Mr Macleod to make the FA. But can an F8b have holds as good and big as his? Promptly soloed soon after the FA.

Beta: A caver or a dry tooler make ideal belayer for the Tube. Don't get carried away starting from the back! The route starts on the left half way up the Tube. Run up initial finger jugs to undercut crux. Moving off the next series of undercuts to bomber jugs annoyingly get you pumped. Enough so that the top series off moves will soon deposit you balling into the bowls of the earth.

9. Digital Quartz 15m 8b
Ian Pitcairn - 1993
The first of the 'real' Ogle difficulty. Established by Ian at the tender age of 18! The numbers are there but the half way ledge leaves it dismissed by many.

Beta: Basically an 8a+/b to ledge then a 7b+ on top which is blow-able. Big move to reach quartz shield then the crux holds get really small and very condition dependent. Hopefully you should reach the ledge. Take some tea and scones, because the ledge takes the piss!

10. The Niche 15m 8a+
Stuart Cameron - 1992
Balmashanners other hard route from Stuart, this time with a ball breaking crux that stops many. Has seen quite a few ascents over the past few years.

Beta: Start up the small groove to reach some good flat holds. Now reach miles for the good crimp using unhelpfull borehole sidepull, useful to be tall or incredibly dynamic. Finish through Niche feature which gives the route its name.

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