Recess Route (Severe):
The Cobbler North Peak - 870m
The Cobbler - 884m

Tuesday 1st July 2014

Weather/Conditions: Stunning summer weather - midge conditions though.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 5.2km / 850m / 7h 10m
Accompanying: Spad

This was one of my real first mountain multi pitch experiences. Just previously, I'd finally taken the plunge and bought my first climbing rack and ropes. I'd realised that to progress my climbing at a rate that I wanted to, I couldn't keep just borrowing gear when I happened to be going out with others. So I bought the stuff and vowed to make it happen myself.

Barry and I walked into the Cobbler on a hot summer morning. Though your usual worries on the hills are things like staying warm, I worried this time about getting bitten to shreds by insects should we commit to a route. On arrival at the high bealach between the Centre and North peaks, they were swarming in the still air already. But we would go for a route anyway.

We eventually settled on Recess Route, which goes at Severe. (Punsters was the other option.)

We racked up, and I was pretty keen to take a lead. The route headed slightly indistinctly at first up the opening slab and I took a few moments to determine the way. Then a slightly gearless pillar led to the first belay stance - where I seemed to fail to find any good belay gear! In retrospect, I'm willing to bet there is tonnes, perhaps I wasn't that great at placing gear yet.

I also took the second pitch, and I would consider this pitch one of the early confidence boosters in my climbing in general - it was me making first steps in multipitch climbing, a slightly different experience to the single pitch cragging I'd been used to.

Instead of going straight up the groove (though I clipped all the fixed gear) I went out right, then cut back in, which felt natural. Gear above wasn't so forthcoming, but my decision making and commitment to go upward caught me by surprise. And it felt good, too - clipping protection, then fluidly continuing upward. Making all this work. Of course, I didn't really see retreat as an option, either, with no experience in abseiling off multipitch routes. This created worries; what if rain came? What lay above? - you accepted whatever came your way. It certainly wasn't a natural feeling, but I equally felt in control of the situation and place, thrilled to be doing this.

The second half of pitch two was memorable with a short 'subterranean' section. I was enjoying the rock formations, thrilled to be climbing through it all. I emerged out onto a ledge where I took a belay off some more fixed gear. The midge factor had generally been ok, but at this point they got a bit full on. I remember rubbing them off, enduring a little, waiting for Barry to do his thing.

Barry took pitch three, the traverse around the corner to gain the final chimneys. Then I led off up the (apparently) crux wall, going 15m or so to gain a small belay in the rock wall. Barry came up, and I went out for the final pitch. You have to step out left onto a wall on this pitch. For a moment, I had hesitation - 10m from the top of the route is no time to feel fear! So go for it! Don't hesitate. And I pulled around, having felt my only brush with fear all day, and climbed the final chimney (right, if I remember correctly) to the top.

Soon after, we topped out on the North Peak, and padded down the summit slabs in our rock shoes to retrieve bags and trainers from the bottom of the route. We visited the main summit of the Cobbler, then a had a fantastically quick descent to the car in Glen Croe - basically half an hour or so from the bealach below the North Peak. Superb day, and superb route.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) c. 10.10am Layby, Glen Croe
(1.50) c.12.00pm Started Recess Route
(5.45) 3.55pm Top of Recess Route
(5.50) 4.00pm The Cobbler North Peak
(6.20) 4.30pm The Cobbler
(6.30) 4.40pm The Cobbler (left)
(7.10) 5.20pm Layby, Glen Croe

Written: 2016-06-28