Thursday, 9 March 2017

Claire and Ian have found some ice
Dream team

Claire and Ian are back for another instalment of winter.  In previous trips with me they have done the CMD arete, Ledge Route and Curved Ridge.  This time we kicked of with the Aonach Eagach which was in superb condition.  The cloud was in low but as we neared the end, it cleared for spectacular views along the ridge.  Day two we climbed Number 3 Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis which was great with a nice ice pitch at the start.  Our final day, warm and wet, didn't produce any pictures.  Despite the poor weather, we climbed North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor which was essentially a very wet experience but equally very satisfying.  Hopefully I will see them both again soon, especially and Claire has unfinished business on the Cuillin Ridge! ;)

Ian leading the way down on the Aonach Eagach

The sun is coming through!

Glencoe at its best
Claire in N3GB
Deffo wintery
 More pictures Here

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A quick transition

Right after coming back from the North West Highlands I was out working with Steve.  We had planned to climb early season but due to poor conditions we postponed until now.  And we lucked out. 2 days of brilliant weather.
Savage Slit
Good conditions

Day one we did some classics.  Firstly we climbed Savage Slit (V,6), a route that has always called out but I never got round to climbing it.  Usually because it has a queue on it.  So it was great to finally climb it and guide it in one go.  After a quick rap off we went and climbed Overseer Direct (V,6) to finish off a great day.
This is what we avoided coming in from the top

Pole position on The Seam
Our second day was after a wild day which brought plenty of snow so I decided we would abseil into Fiacaill Buttress.  We abseiled into The Seam (IV,5), climbed this, then abseiled into Burning and Looting (V,6) which turned out to be a great climb.  Topping out into the sunshine ws great and we bailed down off Fiacaill Ridge into the coire for a nice gentle walk out.  A great couple of days.
Me leading up the second route of the day

Where next?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

3 weeks in the North West Highlands

70's club
Poacher's Fall, Salmon Leap, The Godfather, Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears, West Buttress, Silver Tear, Mad Hatters, Penguin, Emerald, Resurrection.  Not this year, not even close.  Having just spent 3 week based in Lochcarron working for Moran Mountain I have come away to finally put my feet up.  An interesting 3 weeks for sure!
Week one I was out with Richard (71) and visiting American climber Terry (70).  With a knee strength threshold we managed to pack the week with trips to Skye, Torridon, Applecross and Glen Shiel.

Week two I was out with Julian and Nathan on the Technical Winter climber course.  With one climbing grade 4 and the other climbing E3 it was going to be a tough week of work.  Because the conditions were non existent.  Day one we climbed the Cioch Nose in the wet in big boots which was brilliant by the way.  Day two we had a technical skills day and dry was hosing it down.  Day 3 we drove to the Cairngorms and Nathan Led Jacob Ladder (the only climbable route), day 4 we drove to Ben Nevis for Tower Ridge and Day 5 we climbed East Buttress on Beinn Eighe.  It was a great week and here is a fresh testimonial from Julian.
Julian and Nathan on Cioch Nose
Julian on Tower Ridge
East Buttress

This final week has been very different.  I was out with Abrar from Kuwait.  It was a 'spur of the moment' booking she said and I'm not sure it was what she had expected.  Having never walked up a hill or even do any sport I managed to give her a taste of as much as possible of her visit to Scotland.  I was working as a mountain guide and a tour guide.  We rock climbed, abseiled, bouldered, walked, scrambled, gully climbed and saw the sights.  Her main desire was to see Nessie but I knew we wouldn't get a sighting this year so instead we went to the Applecross in and ate locally caught langoustines.

Day trip to Skye
Climbing on Meall Gorm

Rock climbing and abseiling

Visit to Strome Castle ruin
Between these weeks I have been back in the Cairngorms practicing for my upcoming British Mountain Guides winter test which is approaching very rapidly.

 To be honest, my camera hasn't been out much due to the weather.  Winter is back so things are looking up!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Every cloud has a silver lining

A friend Andy climbing Prore Direct (VII,8)
Unfortunately, due to a hand injury, my client for this week re-scheduled for some summer climbing leaving me with some days free.  With several keen friends to get out, I felt it would be best to make the most of it.
Murdoch battles the crux on Open Heart

So firstly I teamed up with Murdoch and we had a great forecast.  We headed to Number 1 Buttress in Coire an Lochain.  Most teams were on number 4 Buttress and we had Number 1 to ourselves.
We climbed the brilliant Open Heart (VIII,9) which is essentially 2 direct pitches into Ventrilloquist (VII,7) crux pitch giving 4 pitches of interesting and steep climbing. Superb route in great weather.

A brief shake out

4 pitches later, a snow descent
The following day I teamed up with Jack.  The weather had deteriorated somewhat.  Our aim was to scope out some routes and do some practice for our upcoming British Mountain Guides winter test and we ended up on a very snowy Hidden Chimney (III) for a quick ascent.
Jack styling out of Deep Cut CHimney

Day 3 I was back out with Jack and after a short previous day we headed into Hell's Lum to climb Deep Cut Chimney (IV,5), the Cold Climbs classic route and a route both of us had wanted to do for a while.
Jack in the 'white room' heading back from Hells Lum

Day 4 I teamed up with Duncan and Jack for some more guide practice and we headed back into Coire an Lochain and we climbed Iron Butterfly (III) as it was the safest and most suitable route to get to.
Tom styling up some route...

Day 5 I teamed up with Murdoch and Tom, both very experienced and sponsored climbers.  We had a plan to climb a tricky route but as the weather wasn't amazing, we opted for an easy route and a quick day.  We climbed something on Fiacaille Buttress.  We forgot the guidebook so we climbed a route on or around Burning and Looting which was about IV,5.
Murdoch happy in 12 jackets

So a nice week of up and down weather, some very windy and snowy days which has made it feel alot more like winter.  The conditions aren't perfect, lots of snow burying routes and insulating turf and loose rocks so care is needed in choosing the right routes.

Friday, 3 February 2017

North West Magic

Sam and Nick learning what Scottish climbing is all about
Nick and Sam on the LLG route
I have been really looking forward to getting back up to Torridon this winter season to work for Moran Mountain.  With a slightly promising forecast of snow I knew we would get some winter days in.  There was a little more pressure this week as my group had flown in from Singapore to experience Scottish winter climbing.  Gulp. Those that have been up here in Scotland this season will know what means.
A view to Am Bastier

Ross and his two clients
The day before our first day the was nothing more than the odd snow patch.  No gullies to climb...just rock.  Loose, slimey rock.  So we were pleased that we had some fresh.  Day one we headed for the Ling, Lawson and Glover Route on Sail Mor.  Crampons were needed and as I have done it in summer I avoided all the really loose rock.

Robin searching for the way down

Ross and his team questing up
Day 2 was a stunning day on doesnt get much better.  The West ridge of Gillean provided great sport in the windy and snowy conditions.
Dry tooling

Sam and Nick enjoying the views after some dry tooling
Our 3rd day was full of lectures, technical ropework and then some dry tooling so we were rested for our 4th day hit to Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis!  Well worth the drive.
Our final, the team led themselfs up the Forcan Ridge, looking at efficiency and teamwork to make a safe and slick day.
A great week and I think they are sold on Scotland!  Hopefully we will see them back again.
Nick crushing Tower Ridge

Nick doing some kind of pose!?

Friday, 27 January 2017

British Mountain Guides Winter Training

Mountain Guide Paul Warnock and fellow trainee Jack Geldard on Tower Ridge

Just finished a great week of being a client.  It was brilliant to be on the receiving end of some experienced guides and to be taught more.  Part of the process of becoming a British Mountain Guide is a winter training course where we are taught how to look after folk in winter.  Even though I work alot in the winter it was great to learn some new tricks, receive some confirmation that I was doing the right thing and also give me some prep for the assessment which I will be doing in the Alps.  We had pretty good weather for the week with two days ice climbing on Ben Nevis, a day of mountaineering on the Buachaille and 2 more days of snow craft and mountaineering back on Ben Nevis...where most of the snow was.  I enjoyed taking a break from my camera this week so only have a couple of shots.

Todays trainer Paul Warnock.  Smith's Route behind

Descending Number 3 Gully

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Exploring with the three amigos

Sam top of his tricky pitch.  Castle Ridge

Ade finished on the Clach Glas Traverse
The time had came around.  Sam, Katya and Ade were here for another instalment of the winter.  'Mid january would be fine' I said, 'there will be enough snow' I promised.  I was wrong and I'm sure I was not the only one.  Fortunately Sam, Katya and Ade just love being in the mountains so there was no need to cancel or reschedule.  Out of 3, we had two days in summer conditions, our final day gave a wintery ascent of Castle Ridge (III).
Katya belays on the final pitch on Clach Glas Blaven Traverse

Katya leads up the final pitch on CGB Traverse

View from the summit of Blaven, Skye
With a pretty flexible itinerary throughout, one objective was mentioned and that was of Tower Ridge.  In an ideal world I would have liked to do this on the 2nd or 3rd day but due to weather and weekend crowd avoidance, we opted for the friday.  With a Cuillin Ridge Traverse, multiple days in Torridon, a An Teallach traverse and several days in Glencoe and Ben Nevis all under our belts together, it was obvious that Tower Ridge would go with no problems.
Team shot on Castle Ridge

Summit of Blaven

Top of Tower Ridge

Sam and Katya on the start of Tower Ridge

The team on Tower Ridge

Sam belays Katya on CGB Traverse
We had the ridge to ourselves.  Sam and Katya climbed on a rope and Ade and I were on a separate line.  I led the way and they followed safely and carefully for a great day out on the ridge.  We topped out in glorious weather which I shall let the photos do the talking.
Views from Ben Nevis

Katya belays on Tower Ridge
Day two, Saturday, we went to Skye.  An early start, 2 hour drive and a brilliant 8 hour (car to car) day on the Clach Glas Blaven traverse.  Again the weather was fantastic.  We (ahem...I mean me) managed to pick the only mountain in Scotland which was covered in cloud (gulp) but fortunately as we climbed the cloud lifted so our views were never blocked.  We had the ridge to ourselves and as always the scrambling was fantastic.
The only cloud in Scotland on Blaven
Team on the top of Tower Ridge

Team in the gap
Day 3, a 7 hour day, car to car on Castle Ridge.  Our first taste of winter this trip and Katya and Sam, like the previous two days, safe guarded themselves and made the ascent on their own rope.  A great effort by both Sam and Katya who both had a tricky pitch.  Top job.  Ade and I cruised up ahead finding the route and hurling advice (and some banter) as we climbed.  Today was a snow day, unconsolidated snow....but still snow.  Thanks team for a great 3 days.

Ade, Katya and Sam on Castle ridge

Ade on the Crux.  Plenty of runners for Katya to clip on her lead