As I sit here typing, my skin is tingling as though I am holding a cattle fence surging with electricity, unable to release it. Why? Midges! In the last two days I have been very committed to a particular goal of mine. Driving away from my house at 6:30am only to sit in a layby staring at my goal. With only a few hours before I have to be at a wedding. Rain drops fire through the sky like homing missiles, their target, my project. Saturated and disheartened I retreat.
The next evening, I leave the house with my head spinning from all the jobs and chores I have done at mac 10 to secure this precious time courting my goal. A beautiful evening awaits. The warm pastel hues of sundown contrasting with the cooling air as the sun sinks. So still you could hear the tiny hum of the beating wings of a ladybird. Only it wasn’t a lady bird. It was a sun eclipsing wave of midges. God got it all wrong when he inflicted the Plague of Locusts on Egypt. There need only have been one plague. If he’d sent a swarm of Highland midge to wreak frenzied pain.
So what was this goal? Near Culloden like a giant blob of concrete sits Tom Riach, a huge boulder. On this boulder is the Link. A boulder problem long enough to get a route grade of 7c.
All this over a boulder problem I hear you say. Well hear me out! Not only was it out of my league a month or two ago but being conglomerate the foot holds are shiny, polished, pebbles, hard to see amongst ocean of useless ones. Making “The Link” quite a good intermediate goal requiring strength, good foot work and a great memory for recalling moves under stress.
This was made even more stressful due to that fact that I was getting eaten alive on the ascent. That evening once I realised the midge factor was sky high. I knew I could only cope with one shot. So I warmed up on the move. Visualized the sequences whilst pacing about trying not to be attacked. Then went for it, as soon as I removed my jacket to climb I was struck. I moved as fast as I could. The chase was on and I was losing fast. Sacrificing chalking up to swipe my now black tingling arms. The intensity of pump and gnawing midges was almost as much as I could bare as I latched for the finishing hold.
I promptly packed up ran to my car and drove home scratching.
I love Scotland……