Arrochar Rucksack Club meet

Ros and Rem have kindly (heroically?!) opened up their home to host The Rucksack Club, and what a glorious spot! Set in acres of woodland, with views down to Loch Long and up to the Arrochar hills, it’s a perfect base for exploring the walking, biking, paddling and of course climbing options in the neighbouring hills. There’s even a splendid sylvan parking spot for the vanOn our way up from Galloway we’d stopped in at Dumbarton Rock for a fly-by route. Freezing cold, in a northerly wind, on a north facing crag, it probably wasn’t the best idea, but it seemed rude to drive within half a mile of this iconic Scottish forcing ground without dropping in.The weather hadn’t deterred a bunch of local hardcore boulderers and a couple of lads were putting us to shame in shorts, but we never really thawed out and made feeble headway on the easiest sports route there – a 6b+ (that felt more like 7a+). Quite cool to be climbing at the foot of Scotland’s hardest route: Rhapsody. It’s a weird setting – post-Industrial wasteland meets iconic geological feature (an ancient volcanic plug) in a new housing estate by the Clyde (you can just about make out a warship mooching past the bottom of the crag in the photo below).Arriving at the meet, it was obvious that we’d underachieved on the day, with tales of multiple Munroes and Marilyns shared over a fabulous BBQ and immense bonfire!Sunday dawned bright but chilly – too cold for climbing on top of The Cobblerbut the low-lying crags of Glen Croe on its lower slopes looked like the perfect venue. Helen, Ros, Mike and I set off to check them out – a series of small (15m – 20m) schist crags running up the hillside.Middle Crag is somewhat dismissed in the Latter guide but actually has some great pockety and clean rock.Here’s Ros on Doris, VS… and Helen… and Ros on the classic layback crack of Student’s Route, Severe.We also did Dear Prudence, HVS, before moving up to the Upper Crag.… where we did Outside Edge up the far left end – out-there exposure on a hanging arete with quite an adventurous feel.… here’s the first bit of gear (picture below)!Back to basecamp for another sumptuous barbie and an even bigger fire! Here’s Rem just making sure it’s properly going…Monday was a bit dreich to start with, and we spent a fair chunk of the morning dithering over forecasts and plans, finally settling on a “holding strategy” of a blast north and overnight at Craigallan with a few routes on the way if we got lucky.The sun made an appearance around 2ish and we stopped on the “bonny, bonny banks” to see if it would hold out long enough for the 20 minutes walk to ArdvorlichSure enough, this hidden west-facing micro-crag turned out to be the ideal spot for a chilly afternoon. You can just about make it out at the left of the photo below (with its back to Loch Lomond)… and a bit more clearly from closer to.Nothing spectacular, but a really handy stop-off crag for a day when the higher crags aren’t an option. Just 8 sports routes of about 15m (not over bolted and it wouldn’t do any harm to have a clip stick handy) on delightful pockety, crimpy schist. We did four of them: Dilemma, 6a+; The Groove, 6a (and top 30 Scottish sports climbs)…… Drifting from Shore, 6b+; and Lake Lomond, 6a. All good and generally stiff for the grade.

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