Gun Fhiamh (Without Fear) E5 6a

Rubha Carrach, Ardnamurchan © Steve Crowe 2002 www.climbonline.co.uk
Rubha Carrach, Ardnamurchan © Steve Crowe 2002 www.climbonline.co.uk

I had a close shave when I was exploring for new routes at the huge and remote Rubha Carrach in Ardnamurchan. We had slept overnight close to the Kingshouse in Glencoe and woke early and keen to climb in the glen. Unzipping the tent door on a glorious still day, we were greeted by a dense cloud of hungry midge. In a instant we had ripped out the tent pegs and bundled the old orange Vango, complete with sleeping bags still inside, into the car and were soon formulating a new plan while waiting for the Corran ferry. We hoped to catch a good breeze out at Ardnamurchan where we could explore the ancient volcanic ring complex crags that Cubby had written about in the climbing magazines.

Steve Crowe solo Ardnamurchan Corner E1 5a © Karin Magog 2002 www.climbonline.co.uk
Steve Crowe solo Ardnamurchan Corner E1 5a © Karin Magog 2002 www.climbonline.co.uk

We found a pleasant café at Ardnamurchan Point and then visited the most western crags on mainland Scotland situated below the lighthouse. The rock there was impeccable and we climbed a dozen lines of every grade. It turns out many had been climbed previously but we enjoyed climbing great lines without any prior guidebook information. The best of the bunch was a pumpy and powerful E5 that we called Tidal Wave and that was a first ascent by Karin and myself that we both led.

Karin on the first ascent of Tidal Wave E5 6a Ardnamurchan Point   © Steve Crowe 2006 www.climbonline.co.uk
Karin on the first ascent of Tidal Wave E5 6a Ardnamurchan Point © Steve Crowe 2006 www.climbonline.co.uk

There is something special about climbing on sea cliffs with the tide lapping about around the base so we decided to explore more coastal crags. Rubha Carrach seemed to fit the bill with a few extremes but a lot of gaps too. We warmed up on the excellent Honeycomb Wall E3 5c.  I thought I spotted a nice looking gap and set off up what became Gun Fhiamh (Without Fear).

The line of GunFhiamh E5 6a at Rubha Carrach
The line of GunFhiamh E5 6a at Rubha Carrach

I got some good gear then about half way up it got tricky but managed to get a small wire in to give me a bit more courage and pushed on. After a long runout the good break I was aiming for near the top was sloping and gritty. There looked to be some potential gear a little further up and left so I quested on leftwards only to be disappointed… No gear and gritty sloping ledges, I was close to the top but pumped stupid so I decided to back off. I looked down to tell Karin I was reversing only to see my last runner was about halfway back towards the ground. I froze momentarily then moved up and threw one on for the top fully expecting to take a massive fall. Somehow I stuck it, then I was greeted by a swarm of midge while I brought Karin up. I gave it E5 because the actual climbing wasn’t to bad but like Ghost Train it’s hard to give it a realistic grade.

Steve Crowe climbing GunFhiamh E5 6a at Rubha Carrach
Steve Crowe climbing GunFhiamh E5 6a at Rubha Carrach

The Day I caught the Ghost Train

Ghost Train E6/7 Steve Crowe
Ghost Train E6/7 Steve Crowe

I’d always wanted to try and onsight Ghost Train but I had never see it in good condition when I felt like I was going well. Then one morning in 2006 we looked down into Stennis Ford to see it was bone dry and covered in chalk however I didn’t feel up to it. Karin was keen for Suspense E4 so we warmed up on that and it felt a bit smeggy. Anyway all I could think about was how great Ghost Train looked and if I didn’t try it today I’d probably never go for it. As soon as we topped out I announced that I wanted to try Ghost Train and quickly got ready before I could change my mind. Ian Denton offered to belay me and after we abseiled in he suggested I borrowed his helmet. I said “No thanks I don’t like wearing them” A few moments later I put it on. To be honest it was well chalked up but I pulled on some very small holds at the start before realising they were ticks for the crucial footholds! The ascent was a bit surreal, I felt like I was watching someone else climbing.

Ghost Train E6/7 Steve Crowe
Ghost Train E6/7 Steve Crowe