Guy Robertson has been busy adding some new lines to mountain crags across Scotland in the summer heatwave, including the three-pitch Walk on the Wild Side E6 at Carnmore Crag and a 'first class' new E5 line named The Shard on the Shelterstone Crag's main bastion comprising 6-8 pitches, depending on rope length; one 5c, two 6as and one 6b.
Climbing with Iain Small, at the start of the heatwave back in early June, Guy and Iain committed to the long haul into Carnmore and were rewarded with three productive days of climbing whilst others were stuck in thunder storms. Guy explained:
'After a rare dry ascent of Carnmore Corner Direct and Orange Bow Direct on the Saturday (my first roped ascents of the summer!) we set forth onto a new line based on the stunning unclimbed diagonal crack cutting across both walls of the corner. I'd had a look at this with Trev Woods many years previously but on that occasion we were literally melted off. This time, with perfect conditions and Mr Small's titanium fingers on standby, things went somewhat smoother. Iain crushed the first 20m or so of the left wall crack - super-sustained and techy 6b jamming and undercutting to a perfectly positioned finger jug and knee bar rest before the crux. The rock and the climbing were perfect. He looked pretty wasted, which anyone who knows Iain will appreciate is highly unusual!'
After several unsuccessful forays back and forth onto the subsequent crux section, Iain let loose and went for it. Guy continued:
'I could barely believe my eyes on seeing him floating right on shallow crozzles and match stick edges before nestling into a hanging belay in the corner; he nailed it on-sight! This pitch in itself was probably F7cish, and pretty hard going with all the bomber runners. By the time I reached the belay I was utterly spent. I gave the next pitch across the right wall a hearty blast but about halfway along and after several exploding non-existent footholds I knew I was goosed. Enter Smallie and his nuclear-powered endurance and the pitch was duly dispatched. The sight of the clouds parting as he reached the end of the traverse, Ben Lair and A' Mhaighdean emerging from the swirling mists beneath us, will stay with me forever. This was true on-sight wilderness trad climbing at its very, very best.'
Iain compared the route in quality and difficulty to The Kelpie on Ardgour, but with two hard pitches for good measure. The Shard was another that Guy had eyed up for quite a while - a plum line up the left side of the Shelterstone's main bastion. He told UKC:
'Like the route on Carnmore (and with a bit more mileage in the tank) I was keen to see if it would go from the ground and on-sight. Similar to Carnmore, the rock on the Stone is generally impeccable. Protection however, is often less reliable! Callum Johnson and I hopped onto it a couple of weeks ago, and after an easy introductory pitch Callum couldn't commit to a blank slab section 20m or so up the second pitch. I took the reigns and got a couple of metres higher, but again I couldn't summon the courage to move into 6a upwards territory without sight of decent holds. We abandoned ship onto the neighbouring Pin (E2) and had a quick abseil down to check it out. It looked brilliant so we vowed to go back. Near the top, and while we were at the abseil inspecting, I roped down and checked out the awesome-looking splitter crack that formed the upper crux. After trundling a few TV-sized flakes out of the easier upper section it was ready for action. We returned a week later and duly dispatched the whole thing without incident, with my being treated to the steep central section through the big Citadel recess in on-sight mode. Six pitches in total, four of them with outstanding climbing - the mighty Shelterstone now has another first E5!'
Guy told UKC:
'The way things are looking in Scotland at the moment there will be plenty more action to come. Rumours of raiding Englishmen are rife - some of them rather strong. Let's just hope they don't get too excited, and keep their aspirations to ticking Extreme Rock classics...'
Walk on the Wild Side 90m E6 **** Guy Robertson, Iain Small. 3 Jun 2018.
An outstanding voyage along the big diagonal crack crossing Carnmore Corner; brilliant, super-sustained and perfectly protected climbing. Climbed on-sight. Start at the obvious crack between St George and Gob.
1. 30m 5b Climb the crack past a block and over a small overhang to a junction with Gob, then follow this to where a ledge sneaks right towards the corner. Belay just round the edge at the start of the crack, as for Wilderness.
2. 25m 6c Climb the crack with sustained interest all the way to a good hold in the wall above and knee bar rest a few metres short of the corner. Power on along the crack (crux) to gain the corner and hanging belay.
3. 35m 6b Continue rightwards out into space on generally good handholds but poor feet to an in-situ thread, then plough on through much thinner but less steep terrain to join and finish up The Orange Bow.