Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Fourth Quarry

I can’t believe it’s taken me 6 months to discover the delights of Cambussbarron Quarry. Situated a 20 minute walk from where I’m living in Stirling, I almost feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been ranting and raving about other places and totally neglected this Central Belt gem! ‘Fourth Quarry’ as it’s known locally, is a large flat quarry with a sunny outlook that boast over 50 routes ranging from Severe to E4. The Quarry was worked until about 20 years ago until it was left redundant before being landscaped by Stirling Council. If you’ve ever been to Fairy Cave Quarry in the West Country, it’s very similar to that, but is stepper and without that awkward access fence guarding the entrance. Because the quarry isn't fenced off, and is easily accessed it consequently contains significantly more graffiti and broken beer bottles that its Bristolian counterpart (shout out to the local NEDs) but that just adds to the character of the place I guess.

Autumnal colours surrounding the quarry
The main areas of climbing are focussed on the broken walls of the Quarry’s northern side, which at its highest is just over 20m. Although some of the rock is very compact, split by cracks ranging from hairline to full body width, a lot of the rock is very loose with giant blocks the size of cars perched precariously on the edge, barely resisting gravity's terminal attraction. Climbing at the crag was first developed in the early 90s, with most of the obvious lines climbed then. These include the Ninety-Five (E1 5b) and Cross in Oz (E1 5b) area, Cha Buttress and the ‘Contracts’ wall. 

Placing some gear just after the crux of Not Easy Contract (E1 5b). Photo Credit - Nicholas Hill

James finishing the top part of the steep jamming crack on Doobie Brothers (E1 5b). 
The climbs I’ve done in there have been really good, definitely on the steeper side, but since they all generally follow vertical cracks they are strenuous, but safe. As with most quarries, a lot of the top outs are a bit loose, with dirt and large blocks guarding a safe exit. From what I can tell most of the really huge blocks have already been trundled as the routes seem to be climbed fairly regularly. For anybody planning a visit, the crag seems to dry pretty quickly, and even in winter picks up the afternoon and early evening sun. 

Starting up the lower technical wall of Pipistrelle (HVS 5a)

The upper head wall section of Pipistrelle (HVS 5a). Thin face climbing lower down opens up into some steep vertical cracks giving some really amazing jamming. Luckily they're all sinkers!

James seconding Pipistrelle (HVS 5a)
After the disappointment of the weekend before on the West Wall of Mitre Ridge, coming to Fourth Quarry has definitely renewed some diminishing psyche. With winter just around the corner I was feeling like my last chance to get out on rock and do what I love doing so much had slipped through my fingers. Thankfully a productive day in Fourth Quarry has worked someway towards subduing those feelings. Perhaps the itch is scratched for now, but for how long?  

Apart from where otherwise stated, all the photos were taken by Emma.

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