Driving Northwards on Monday to try the Longhope route in a day with Ben Bransby. We are going in Convoy with the super youths Alex Mason and George Ullrich who are also going for a 1 day attempt on the Longhope via the Turnbull/Arran route. Gritstone extroardinaire Adam Long is also coming up for part of the trip keen for some sandstone action.
I’m looking forward to trying to climb the full height of St Johns Head with Ben. I’ve been involved with 2 trips with Bransby and Long both of which were very memorable. The first was 11 years ago when we put a free route up the Nose on Eigg in the Hebrides. Ben and Adam along with Robins had attempted it ground up on a previous visit
and got shut down with loose blocks and later a stomach bug. Adam had attempted to aid it and this also proved futile. We resorted to abseil and in the blankest looking bit one of the hexagonal columns came away leaving a jug exactly where it needed to be. I couldnt believe our luck. We had a look at it on a rope and tried it the day after. Ben had cruised up to the last move and was about to reach for the finishing jug when the pump set in and a monster fall onto the RPs in loose columns was tested. Adam Long got a picture about a second before the fall which was on the front cover of an OTE magazine. We both got back on it and led it. It was a fantastic feeling partly because it is a great knew route and partly climbing it with Ben. I wanted to call it Picking the Nose but the others were’nt into
it. It was 7 years later when with the same team we repeated the Vouie Petit on the Grand Capucin in the Alps, this
was one of the highlights of the last decade or so of climbing for me with a congratulatory email off Arnaud Petit who had set the climb being a cream topping to the trip.
Bransby is sounding super keen and watching him walk up an 8b the other
day and shakeout halfway through the slappy crux reminded me of how good Ben is,
as Pete Robins put it he’s quite often the‘best at the crag’. The person who
most obviously could climb 9th grade sport routes but hasn’t got round to it/been boring enough to put
in the days. After winning the youth comps for years Ben came to the Lake Distict in 1999 and blew me away with
how well he was climbing. After pathing many of the E6s and E7s of the Lakes he set off up Impact Day on Pavey
Ark totally onsight! This route was given E9 6c at the time and he got within a whisker of it, with a hand on the scoop right at the top but with nothing left to hang it. An unbelievable effort to have the confidence to set off and he literally stunned everyone not least his belayer Pete Robins. Adam Hocking phoned to tell me what had occurred and I thought he was pulling my leg. Nobody has tried a climb graded E9 in the same manner since that I know of without knowing everything about the climb although the stuff that Honnold and Favresse are doing is probably near the mark! We are talking 14 years ago now so it was well ahead of its time.
out 2 days before so it will be great to get him up on what I believe to be one of the best trad routes in Britain, with pictures of Dave Macleod giving inspiration for a preliminary trip last year with Dan Varian and Adam Bailes. The plan is to drive up hopefully doing some routes like Dalriada and/or Romantic Reality (xtreme rock tick) on the way up. Get the ferries then brush and work the top pitch to make sure we’ve got a chance and on the 1st dry day set off from the sea level to the top. I think we’ll both be keen to lead the top pitch and if we go the same day
as George and Alex it should be a sociable affair. I intend to stash some nice beer on the summit to have something to look forward to and maybe help the energy levels for the crux top pitch as well as taking a good headtorch just in case we're going slow. Dan Vajzovic will be making a flying visit for an ascent of the Old Man of Hoy as a lead up to a potential big wall trip next year on the Naranja de Bulness. If the weather is good and all goes to plan maybe there will be time to try a knew route around Rora Head which is good quality sandstone and full of impressive lines. But if not we may enjoy travel scrabble and cards back at the hut. I’ll go with Dave Macleods philosophy of just going to give it the best effort we can. Climb more, tweet less.