Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A soloing day on the Reiff sea cliffs

Soloing "Pinnacle Slab Right Edge" (V.Diff*), Reiff
 
Every year I find myself drifting during July and August. I always find it very hard to keep any kind of focus, and I almost feel like a different person to who I am in the winter months. In the summer I can never get anywhere close to that feeling of constant energy, tunnel vision and engagement with climbing that I feel during the cold half of the year. And drifting never feels good.

Yesterday I needed to snap out of it , to press "re-set". Would perspective return by doing something completely different?

The coastlines and mountains of Assynt and Coigach are a near-paradise for someone like me. Yet it's not somewhere I go very often, keeping it as a rare treat to visit this different and unique world that exists North-West of Ullapool. To climb on the sea cliffs at Reiff is to sample some of the best rock-climbing in Britain, in one of the most beautiful places. I needed something like that yesterday.


The stunning coastline at Reiff

 Glorious colours and textures in the sandstone

A Great Skua, a big and pretty intense sea-bird....

Soloing a load of V.Diffs at Reiff is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day I can think of. The rock is immaculate, steep and grippy, and it seems easy to "levitate" up cliffs that I wouldn't dream of soloing on other types of rock. Slabs that look blank reveal themselves to be fun exercises in experimenting with friction, and for every route you do there will be another 10 just as good to either side.

"Jellyfish Slab" (Diff*), really enjoyable.

"Deep Crack" (V.Diff)

"Diagonal Crack" (V.Diff*), much better than it looks!

Short routes rarely inspire me very much at all, seeming almost irrelevant compared to the huge buttresses, cliffs and gullies that I prefer in the mountains. But to me climbing somewhere like Reiff is never actually about the routes themselves, it's about having fun in a seemingly endless natural playground. Sometimes it is so necessary to just enjoy the sensation and gymnastic movement of climbing without the stresses that can be involved with soloing bigger mountain routes.

The odd mix of dereliction and natural beauty that is so characteristic of the NW Highlands

Oystercatchers
 

18 routes soloed and a lot of time spent taking photos and enjoying the wildlife, good medicine indeed.

James