A team of young Scottish climbers were recently stranded out in Spain, grounded by the Icelandic eruption that scuppered many people's holiday plans. Some people get all the luck!
Ex-Pat Spain residents Alan Cassidy (Scottish) and Tom Bolger (Yorkshireman) were already ticking their way through some very hard routes, with Bolger managing the F9a Open Your Mind Direct, (UKC News) and Cassidy making a stylish ascent of the F8c Rollito Sharma Extension (see video below).
The visiting 'team Scotland' has included Jonny Stocking, Paul Williamson and Ben Litster, who have notched up an impressive ticklist.
Stocking, the seventeen year old strong man from Kilwinning, was particularly on form.
From Alan Cassidy's blog:
"First the Kilwinning prodigy launched an attack on Rollito-Sharma which put up very little resistance in becoming his first F8b+. The next day and with only a few hours sleep he efficiently busted out Non Stop at Terradets for his first F8b (yes, in that order). Neither of these routes seemed to cause him any kind of difficulty..."
Jonny then set to work on the extension to Rollito-Sharma, which is graded F8c, but didn't quite get the tick: "I fell off the last move four times... ahhh!". He climbed loads of other routes, including a quick onsight of Dr. Feelgood, an F8a at Margalef.
Paul Williamson and Ben Lister both ticked Santa Linya, the classic F8b in the Santa Linya cave.
Team Scotland may have gone back to the cold and wet weather, but Alan Cassidy has continued his run of sport form and has committed to the climbing cause fully - he's now quit his job! Cassidy came very close to succeeding on his redpoint project of Open Your Mind, F8c+ (see his blog post), but didn't quite get the tick. Instead he travelled to Rodellar and onsighted Coliseum, F8a and set his sights on Geminis.
Alan describes Geminis on his Blog:
"This former F8c, downgraded for the latest topo, is one of the biggest lines to be found anywhere and I felt nervous leaving the ground with 20 odd clips not knowing what was going to happen. 30 mins later I was on the ground, I knew it was possible, but in how many days? A second attempt would sort out where I needed to iron out the sequences. Setting off "for a go", I went comfortably through the crux, on to the huge pumpy head wall, but didn't get that pumped. I kept climbing through the last hard bit; not that bad; anchors clipped; F8b+ second go. GET IN!"
It's heartening to see young climbers travelling in Europe and doing well on very hard and steep sport routes, a style of climbing that is quite hard to find in Scotland.
Perhaps this recent run of form from the Scottish youth can be attributed to having the world class training venue of Ratho relatively close to hand? It certainly can't hurt.
Also of note is the forward thinking policy of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, who have awarded Jonny Stocking grant money to help fund his rock climbing trips. Last year's funding enabled Jonny to tick the Brandler Hasse route in the Dolomites - see UKC News.
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