Young comp climbers crush outdoors

This was the first year of the new YCS format and also the first ever Scottish Development Squad. When putting together the Development Squad calendar we knew RealRock had to be a part of it.

Why RealRock?

For many years we have helped transition young indoor climbers to outdoor climbing through our RealRock sessions. The creation of the Scottish Development Squad has allowed us to increase the scope of RealRock by taking some of Scotland’s best youth comp climbers and introducing them to the massive variety of climbing on offer right on their door step.

We chose some new venues this year, primarily to highlight bouldering and sport climbing to the squad, as these are the easiest forms of climbing for the them to go away and get stuck into in their own time. For next year we’re hoping to use a new set of venues and include some trad climbing, perhaps even squeezing in a trip to somewhere further flung.

Squad RR Torridon 127

North RealRock

The RealRock North took place with 10 Scottish Development Squad members on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd April. This was a risky early season choice with the hope that we could enjoy some spring sun before midge season. Did the gamble pay off?

Despite a cloudy start in the car park, the distant blue skies and slight breeze gave us hope that we had got lucky. As it turned out, the Torridon day was a spring scorcher, with just enough of a breeze to give us some prime conditions on the blocs and some not so prime conditions for the midges!

Squad RR Torridon 16

The Torridon Celtic Jumble is probably Scotland’s best bouldering destination, with a grade spread that would suit anyone, from total beginners to seasoned boulder wads. After a warm-up which involved a big game of toilet tig (and yes, Calum and Robert both got a bit competitive playing this), the squad got to work warming up on a few of the easier problems.

A few of the warm-ups were pretty tough. Even the easier problems have a distinct lack of reassuring hand holds and a good deal of faith is needed in the sublime friction of Torridonian sandstone. After a season of competitions and yarding on plastic blobs in the comfort of the climbing wall, we all needed a good few climbs to adjust to the smeary and delicate style.

Squad RR Torridon 1Squad RR Torridon 2Squad RR Torridon 17

Once we all got into the swing of things a bit more there was a good variety of classics dispatched and endless ‘one more goes’ on some of the more addictive problems. A few favourites from the day were Celtic Knot (the worlds hardest F6A?), the ominously named North Face Direct, Scott’s Wall, Squelch, and of course everyone had a play on the world famous ‘Malc’s Arete’.

Squad RR Torridon 12

Despite thrashed skin, exhausted bodies and a dodgy forecast, the psyched youth emerged on Sunday morning, ready for a session at Moy Rock, near Contin.

Squad RR Moy 1

Moy Rock is an expansive conglomerate crag that sits just above the A835. It has a good spread of routes from 4+ to 7b and boasts some of the longest sport pitches in Scotland. If you intend to visit this crag, it's worth checking before hand to see if any nesting birds are present. Ravens often nest very close to some of the routes. You can find out more information here.

Squad RR Moy 3Squad RR Moy 2

The highlights of bouldering at Torridon gave Moy an exceptionally big shadow to emerge from. A few patches of sunshine in between showers gave us the chance to get a few climbs in, however we decided to retreat after a permanent soaking right after lunch.

Squad RR Moy 4Squad RR Moy 5

Despite the abrupt ending we had a fantastic weekend overall. The Torridon day in particular was sure to have enamoured everyone there on the day.

South RealRock

Back down in the south, the RealRock weekend took place on the 26th and 27th of May with eight squad members. Fortunately we were again blessed with some outrageous Scottish spring weather; sun cream and plenty of water was the order on both days.

Squad RR Kirrie 4

The first day was at Costa Del Kirriemuir, perhaps one of Scotland’s best known easy to mid-range sport climbing crags. We mixed up the warm-up by doing a few games in the convenient Peter Pan Play park which is right beside the car park for the crag. As well as a few games of toilet tig we managed to weave some climbing into the warmup by doing a traverse race of the Jolly Roger.

Squad RR Kirrie 5

Despite the heat we managed to squeeze in a good amount of climbing before we were all exhausted. A good few folk managed to get their first outdoor leads in the bag with loads of encouragement from their squad mates.

The searing heat continued into Sunday at Glen Lednock, luckily with just enough breeze to keep the midge away. Glen Lednock sits above the small town of Comrie. Just before the dam there is a great selection of boulders from F3 through to F7C. The style here is very different from indoors, with loads of poor smeary feet, bad hand holds and awkward mantelshelf moves providing butch test pieces to the modern wall-bred climber.

After a safety brief on bouldering we got stuck into a warm-up, with a floor of lava as far as the first set of blocks with an obligatory cave finish! The cave was definitely suited to the younger climbers: a few of the Youth A’s as well as Calum and Robert had a bit of a struggle.

Squad RR Lednock 3Squad RR Lednock 2

The mantle problem on the first set of blocks proved to be an enticing combination of both frustration and fun. We ended up spending a bit more time (and skin!) than anticipated getting thrashed by this old school problem. Mantles are one of those funny moves that are often not recreated with indoor route setting, primarily because you don’t often ‘top-out’ when climbing inside. However, most outdoor boulder problems do involve topping out, invariably by mantling, and often this can be the crux of the problem. It was great to see the squad having a good old-fashioned struggle on these sorts of problem; the struggle makes success taste so much sweeter.

After this, we got stuck into a variety of problems. Everyone enjoyed a team ascent of the classic and aesthetic ‘Temptress’, which is a great faith in friction style of problem

Squad RR Lednock 5Squad RR Lednock 7

Next year…

Thanks to all those who attended the Squad RealRock weekends this year. We felt they were a great success and really made the most of the great weather we’ve had. We’re hoping to run similar Squad RealRocks next year, hopefully with a few more far-flung and exotic locations … to be confirmed!

Find out more about the Scottish Development Squad or book onto our public RealRock sessions over summer.

Also, many thanks to Iain Bain for the kind permission to use his fantastic pictures and the Glasgow Gorillas for allowing us to use their bouldering mats.

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