2012 Review

So here’s a brief round up of the 2012 climbing season which saw less than favourable weather, though this did little to curb the enthusiasm of local and visiting climbers.

It got off to an early start with a new bouldering venue being discovered in Eshaness. The Grey Face Boulders are a collection of beach boulders and sea-washed walls offered up numerous problems with great potential for some hard and enjoyable climbing, in yet another stunning location. Paul Whitworth, Andrew Hunter and Al Whitworth put up a good number of problems up to V7 between the snow flurries in February and March, also starting a number of projects to add to the ever growing list.

Bressay was busy in March with further development on The Veng which was first climbed in October 2011. Pete Sawford, Julie Maguire, Stu and Robina Barton, Johnny Lowes, Andy Long and Jonathan Swale teamed up to add some 20 new routes up to E1 5b. Most of the routes were led by Pete Sawford and Stu Barton, with tales of bold undertakings and one near benightment! This sandstone crag has a complex layout with numerous walls and corners to varying heights and has styles of climbing that appeal to everyone.

A spell of good weather in late March, saw an attempt to climb a potential line on Noss that had been seen during the previous Summer. The Noup rises to 180m and is famous for its bird life and gannet colonies. Permission was granted by SNH and the islands owner for an attempt before the gannets breeding season began. After much anticipation and an epic row through Noss Sound, closer inspection soon revealed the line would not go and as permission was only granted for climbing in that one particular area, the Noss trip was swiftly abandoned.

But no fear, a back up plan was soon hatched and an assault on The Bard, Bressay’s highest cliff, was made with some great success. Two superb lines were climbed by Ross Jones, Paul Whitworth and Andrew Hunter. The first 3 pitch, 95m epic called ‘Bard from Bressay’ went at E2 5c, with some wildly exposed and steep sandstone climbing (Jones, Whitworth).

The second, 90m 3 pitch monster went at E1 5b, with an unfortunate loose 2nd pitch (Jones, Hunter) but still a worth while adventurous route.

April and May were busy months with more good weather which saw Andrew Hunter and Pete Kayll team up to open some more lines at Nibon. ‘Oblique Rays of the Sun’ VS 4c, climbed the corner crack left of ‘Black Eyed Biddy’ (A Hunter, P Kayll). The second route ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ HVS 5a, climbed the corner of ‘Boo Boo’ to the second crack through the small roof above (P Kayll, A Hunter).

Around this time, The South Gill also saw some further development with the large pocketed wall seeing its first attention. Climbers, Al Whitworth, Stu Barton, Andy Long, Andrew Hunter, Aurore Mercier and visiting climber Mhairi Gervais, set about climbing a number of new lines of which the most notable were ‘Pink Pocket’ HVS 4c, which starts right of the pool climbing the pocketed wall directly then moving rightwards round the capping roof. This followed by ‘Suntoucher’ VS 4c, which climbed from a small ledge next to the arete through a small roof and slab above. ‘Reflection’ HVS 5a, climbed the crack to the right of the niche through a roof and wall above. A couple of other short lines were also climbed on the upper tier, making for a productive visit to this already well developed crag.

In June yet more action on Bressay, again by Pete Sawford, Julie Maguire, Stu Barton & Jonathan Swale. This time developing the new sandstone crag of ‘The Stool’ where they opened 10 new short lines up to HVS.

The tragic news of the death of Sid Rayner in July, cast a dark shadow on Shetlands climbing scene. Sid, a prominent member of Shetlands climbing community was sadly killed in a motorbike accident in Kazakhstan. He had been a regular visitor to the islands for a number of years, putting up numerous first ascents, leaving behind a string of unclimbed projects, some of which he planned to attempt on his return to Shetland in September 2012. Sid was highly regarded amongst the climbers of Shetland, for not only his ability as a climber but also his kind and gentle nature. A climber that everyone enjoyed climbing with and a good friend to a number of people. He will be greatly missed.

The Grind of the Navir saw fewer than usual visits this year, mainly due to the predominantly unfavourable wind direction and high swell, however a couple of new lines were climbed. Firstly, Al Whitworth’s long eyed-up line, the vague crack left of ‘Kyrje’ gave ‘Turning Tide’ E2 5c (A Whitworth, A Hunter).

Gary Latter also paid a visit and repeated a number of lines upgrading ‘Ponder’ to E4 6a and ‘Two Tone’ to E3 5c. He also climbed a new line starting left of ‘ Da Droiltin Tree’ called ‘Navir Again’ E4 6a.

A stunning pitch up the west pillar climbing the arete to the undercut ledge and slab above. Another fine line and great effort by Gary.

July saw the discovery of another small bouldering venue in Quarff by local climber Mark Bingham. A dozen problems were climbed up to V5 on the 5 sea washed boulders, making this small but very pleasant venue a worthwhile visit on a summers evening. (M Bingham, P Whitworth, A Hunter and J Whitworth)

Chris and Liz Ford, on a visit to Shetland in August, found and developed a pleasant sandstone sea stack at Jarlshof. They put up a total of 8 lines to VS, noting that though short, the lines were very compelling and the climbing most enjoyable on excellent rock. They produced a small topo which they have kindly made available via SCI.

Climb Shetland, the local climbing club, had a busy year with club trips all over the islands with a few new faces, repeating many routes and no doubt climbing a good few new ones, most notably on Fetlar and Bannamin. For more information on the clubs activity you can visit their website www.climbshetland.co.uk

As with much of the country, the latter part of the year saw some very heavy rainfall and high winds, putting an early end to what had already been a most productive season. It is encouraging to see so much development yet again and a continued growth in climbing activity in Shetland. Long may it continue.

Happy New Year to you all and all the best for 2013.

Written by Paul Whitworth

2 Comments

  1. valerio says:

    2012 was a very strange year for us all with good and bad news.
    In 2013 i want to try to come back, to spend more time climbing, eating, talking and smiling with best friends there in the island!

  2. Paul says:

    That’d be great Valerio, be good to see you.

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