Nine members and three guests attended the meet at the SMC’s Ling Hut below the Eastern end of Liathach, coming from as far afield as North England, Wales and Exeter. As predicted, the rock was bone dry although the strong wind meant the weather was too cold for the high crags and belay jackets were much in evidence on the Saturday, but did result in a midge-free weekend.
On the first day Liathach itself gave a fine ridge walk for Tom Priestley and Amy, and while Steves Woollard and Thorpe froze on Sword of Gideon in Applecross, everyone else headed for the shelter of Diabeg, which has a superb selection of slabs and walls of Lewisian Gneiss, the oldest rock in the country, and in my opinion, the best. Most of the classics were climbed during the weekend including Routes 1, 2 and 3, but the consensus view was the Route 3 (E1 5b) is not worth the three stars in guidebook, but Evasion (VS 4c) definitely is. Best of all is The Pillar (E2 5b) described by an elated Brian Hodgson as “truly awesome!”.
As the sun came out later in the weekend, visits were also made to the Gairloch crags of Stone Valley and Loch Tollaidh, both of which have a broad selection of mid-grade routes, plus harder fare for those that want. Best of the bunch is probably Open Secret at Stone Valley, a great pitch on perfect rock with an improbable finish for a Hard Severe, where the holds seem to appear out of nowhere but only if you have the commitment to go for it. Being an arete, its certainly thought-provoking in a strong wind.
The weekend finished with wall-to-wall sunshine, so once the hut was cleaned folk headed off, some for work after the Bank Holiday, but others to make the most of the dry weather at Carnmore, Skye and Glencoe.