In the first week of the Easter Holidays 5 pupils, 3 Staff and 1 Highlife Highland volunteer embarked on a 3 day climbing trip to Torridon. This is the second ‘Transition to Rock’ trip run by Charleston Academy Climbing Club. The aim of the trip is to introduce climbers to outdoor climbing and teach them self-reliance and management of rope work. This year we visited 3 different crags and pupils were given the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.
We had an early start on the first day, leaving Charleston at 8 am to ensure there was enough time spent climbing. After the drive to Torridon we headed to Inveralligan sea cliffs. These are short sandstone sea cliffs which have a wide range of routes. We arrived at high tide which limited the choice of routes but we managed to find some routes to warm up on. Once the tide had gone out we moved to a different section of the cliffs and attempted a few harder routes.
For the 2 nights of our stay we based ourselves at Torridon campsite where pupils set up camp and cooked meals independently. For some pupils this was the first time they had uses camp stoves and learnt quickly how to cook a meal. That evening we learned a few new knots and techniques that would be useful for the second day.
On the second day we travelled a short distance towards Applecross to climb on a roadside crag at Ardheslaig. The guide book suggested the rock had good friction and could be climbed in the wet. We were about to prove this as it was very wet when we arrived. After sheltering for half an hour while the rain past, we walked to the top of the crag and set up ropes for the days climbing. Pupils were taught how to build and arrange anchor system to secure them at the top of the crag then got on with climbing lots of different routes. The weather cleared and we had an excellent day. At about 6pm we headed back to camp for dinner and a relaxing evening.
The last day of the trip started by packing up camp before heading to a crag up in the Torridon hills called Seana Mheallan west. This is one of many long terraces of rock that are synonymous with the Torridon mountains. Here we set up ropes, developing the skills from the second day and attempted a few easy and a few hard routes. We also introduced the pupils to abseiling and the skills required to be self-reliant and safe when doing it. We were lucky with the weather and managed to avoid the rain for all but the last hour of the day when we were packing up and walking out.
The trip was a huge success and pupils enjoyed the whole experience.
All the pupils were superb and coped really well with difficult conditions and the complexities of climbing outdoors. They really impressed us in everything they did.
A special thanks to Mr Nairn, Miss Massey and Harry Barker (Highlife Highland leadership programme volunteer) for coming on the trip and helping the pupils have such a wonderful time.
Charleston Academy Climbing Club aim to give pupils a wide and varied experience of climbing by organising events that will challenge, develop climbing skills and promote enjoyment. For more information about the climbing club, see Mr Richards.
Mr Jonathan Richards, Principal Teacher Technical