Posted by: robertanthonyyoung | October 22, 2013


Walking along the clifftops that cornish afternoon. In and out of every cove and down. Scrabbling down the mess to these secret floors of mussels and warm views out to sea. Wanting to know, as if since grown up a child, all of these hills and all of these inlets like my own hands so landing in the black night is fine and a thing to be laughed at.



Posted by: robertanthonyyoung | March 13, 2013


Posted by: robertanthonyyoung | November 13, 2010

the big tower

THE way up was excellent and fun and on lovely rock and unremarkable. This is the story of the way down.

We only had a single rope so 30m worth of abseil which immediately ruled out the way we’d come up, but now, on the narrow top of what they call out there “the big tower” with the cloud in the thedarkonitsway, we decided for the other side. No crazed heroics, there was a chain to abseil off on this side too, but the steepness meant you could only see the first 5metres, then yr down thru a roof and out into space my friend.

Ewan wasn’t happy and unsure even of setting himself up, so it was him down first, checking the anchor on his way (solid enough) and to learn to prussic if there was nothing down there. He slid down the rope so slow and jerkingly- his first ever ab and I couldn’t look but a few mins later there was the shout, so I set up to join him down there, and there he was, barely 15metres down, under the big roof on a small ledge, with a big sling around a big flake saying- we can traverse this all the way out left & it’ll take us to the highest point of the gully we wanted in to. Might even be able to make it down there in three!

Everything started feeling much smaller and friendlier then, but as we started pulling the rope thru from above, I suddenly stopped. There was no Great Wisdom here at all, but as I’d stopped pulling, I must’ve decided to start thinking. The end of the rope we were pulling through was only 4 feet above us, still within reach but as I’d pulled a good 30m of the other end down already, I said- why don’t we have a look out along this ledge just to be sure we can get off of it? Ewan said ok, and tied on to the end of the rope, and I belayed him along the getting smaller ledge, around a blunt corner, and out of sight.

He went out there, and came back quiet and white and when I said what’s wrong he said nothing, there’s nothing at all except an old rusty peg which wouldn’t take an ab at least not one that I’d  go first on. Now I didn’t like the sound of this one bit, especially as earlier on he’d been happy to lead out on runners that kindly fell out themselves when just looked at. Then Ewan said he was coming back to me and I said ok and started taking in and looking at our big flake which started looking more and more like a big and hollow flake.

You could see the floor of the gully through the mist now, looking flat though we knew it must be steep scree- a long way down and it sharpened our tired minds. What to do? We both much preferred our abseil chain up top to our flakey flake right here, and if the worst came to the worst we could always prussic back up thru that unclimbable big roof to the top again, and downclimb the whole thing on a single rope.

But we had started down now and better to make a move in the wrong direction than to never move at all, so we retied the knots at the very end of the rope so as not to come off the bottom, and Ewan set off again, on the lookout for anything big enough to put a rope around.

He went down and down for a time, then I heard a shout. I couldn’t see him again, and worried again, was he down and had found a belay, or was it just the end of the rope? But the rope was loose so set I set up and went down. When I got through the next roof I saw the smile and the big chain and felt happy. Two more abseils, and we were even happier, with just the steep scree down to the finish.

Posted by: robertanthonyyoung | October 29, 2010

A Day On The Ben

The day was friday & we left the lecture dreariness behind us. The aim was the The Ben, but with no such thing as a car we headed to Aberdeen where we heard there was one. So George Sq drizzle was swapped for M-whatever east coast megabus drizzle, and us cursing the expense of the trains.

But when we arrived- we found we were wrong. A drivable car waiting to be driven but a boy with a sniffle and protective & downright corrupt mother bribing us all to stay instead with tables heaped with food and unlimited guinnesses and a warm fire. But our nobility held firm and William ushered her into a sideroom with his soothing oldmanofthemontains words & the morning after we were off before dawn thru snowy fields bright with starlight.

But she was right and he was ill and only half way up carn mor dearg with him half a mile behind us, stumbling through the dirty whiteness did we see & by this time he wouldn’t go back anyway despite our jibes and he’d already eaten the bag of crisps and all the dried peaches that was all our food, so we thought we’d might as well wait.

On the top of CMD Meadonach, looking across to the N face of the Ben- there, is that Observatory? Hard to tell when yr looking straight on… no no it’s the long climb line, no a ridge at all… the Orion Direct, imagine! But he still wasn’t here and we couldn’t even hear him coughing yet, so knew we had a wait still. The way looked hard… if that’s the N face over there, the CMD arrete’s this way, and this step here over these ver glassed slabs could have us down to the CIC! I’d better look down said William and I came with him. I tried sidling down but it was hard and ended up sliding down on crampon points hoping I’d meet fresh and friendly snow in those few feet hidden by the mist and did and was relieved. But with my worry the cloud cleared too & behind me directly did the Big Black Ben come out thru the mist. And there we were picking out Minus1 direct from a boulder 2 feet high and 5 feet away from our faces and realising with a shiver we were stood right on the E face of CMD Meadonach. Retreat retreat- and by this time even the sickly mothered boy Richard was up and now he was laughing at me, and I shambled back up the slabs, and rejoined the obvious highway thinking about if the cloud hadn’t cleared.

We trundled across the arrete and swam up to the plateau, to take the standard ecstatic roof-of-Britain photographs. But we’d driven in from Aberdeen so naturally now it was getting dark, so down again, after looking down Gully No.2 that we got avalanched out of last year and being happy with its steepness.

Richard said he was too ill descend gully 4, and Matt was a man and admitted the fear that Richard couldn’t, but seeing as neither of them knew the way down and it was now night proper, William reckoned they could-not-be-trusted to not throw themselves down five fingers, and claimed chaperone as I soloed (steep up top) back down to the car. But as it happened, William didn’t know the way down either and they were lost and late, with Richards’s mutterings turning nasty. But someone knew the cure, and we headed to Fort Fish Suppers.