|Photo: Josh Rawson|
Since Nothing Lasts last spring, I've known that I haven't had a "next level" project on the horizon. I survived on the promise that there were a handful of fantastic and moderately hard routes left to do on the Moors and in Northumberland. They were:
- Unami (E6 6c)
- I Am You (E7 7b)
- Boomerang Wall (E7 6c)
- The Aghori (E9 7a)
- The Magic Scoop (E8 7a)
- Leonardo (Still Unclimbed - ~ E8 7a)
- Pippi Direct (Still Unclimbed ~ E8 6c/7a)
- The Holy Grail Wall (Still Unclimbed ~ E8 7b/7c)
It was a strange position to be in, as I had 8 great unclimbed carrots to keep me going, but none of them were going to be "next level" in terms of trad climbing. One of them (The Holy Grail) was going to require a new standard of boulder ability for me and another couple would be interesting as an exercise of introducing a new style of climbing to the NE of England (I am you, The Aghori & The Magic Scoop). I think working up to Christmas, that interest kept my mind off the impending question of "what am I going to be spending my mid/late 20s doing?"
Once the weather crapped out in December, I got more and more time to think about this and whilst I remained very happy in my day-to-day life, my climbing was definitely approaching a big black hole. Only the Holy Grail now provided any kind of experiential journey - that one is a big unknown, with bouldering well into the Font 8s, for a climber who has always shied away from proper bouldering. Apart from that, the numerous NY Moors testpieces still awaiting an ascent, are much the same as what has gone before. It's strange knowing that you are in the best shape of your life, knowing that the right English 7a/b move could be soloed, but not being able to find the right line. I kinda know it's not going to be in the NY Moors or Northumberland now..
So the answer? SCOTLAND. I love Scotland. I've been trying to get up at least a couple of times a year. South Barra Isles, Torridon, Orkney, Caithness, Glen Nevis, The Cairngorm - all on flying visits. There's not an awful lot of information on unclimbed Scottish routes, but the things I have found look out of this world. I'm quite scared to be honest - Anything above 30m is a bit much for my little moorland head, but I suppose I should get used to it. I will of course continue to develop the Sandstone, but I can't see slabby H12 sandstone presenting itself anytime soon.