Saturday, 25 October 2014

Winter preperation

Non walking approach
Not stellar weather but still very good
So I'm currently out in the Alps doing a little bit of winter preparation as conditions are very good out here at the moment.  We arrived yesterday so we opted for a short 'Scottish Style' route on Aguille Du Midi.  Now, given this is a very short approach (A lift then 4 abseils off the lift station) and it was the weekend, we were not the only one's with this idea.  So choice 1 was out of the question but we found space on the brilliant Vent Du Dragon (TD-).  I had done this route in the past but in terrible conditions.  Today was bliss compared to when I last did it.  The ice was great and fat, there wasn't waist deep snow and the mixed sections were very accommodating.  Felt like Scottish 6 which is about right.  It felt like Scottish 7 last time.  We topped out onto the Cosmiques Arete and up to the lift for a leisurely afternoon.  Time to plan next route.

Lots of teams seeking out good conditions
Murdoch remembering how to ice climb
Tony, Murdoch and I on the Cosmiques Arete
Murdoch running up the crux of the CA
Great alpine visions
Wedding bells were ringing at 3800m

Click here to check out options for your winter options

Friday, 24 October 2014

Winter is around the corner

Blizzards still mean fun in Glencoe.
Solitude in the Cuillins, Isle of Skye

Having come back from America's rock climbing road trip, I am feeling the urge to swing ice axes, dig for cracks, shiver on belays and see the mountains come alive with snow.  Infact, I believe there has been a small amounts of snow on the tops already.
Mountaineering the North West Highlands

Blizzards on Beinn Eighe
So I'm hoping for a great winter of lots of walking, mountaineering and climbing.  I'm looking forward to climbing new routes, classic repeats and hard mixed lines.  I love visiting new areas and crag and summits I haven't been on so the next while will be spent looking through guidebooks and scanning some maps and making sure partners are psyched.
Mixed climbing, Murdoch on Great Overhanging Buttress VI,7 on Beinn Bhan

Learning to lead in Glencoe
I believe pre planning helps to have a successful winter, make time to enjoy the mountains as you'll miss out if you don't.  Make tick lists and be open to changeable conditions, try not to be too obsessed with one particular route.  Any day in the winter mountains will be a good one.
Happy team on top of North East Buttress IV,4, Ben Nevis
New routing in Norway

Click here to check out the Winter Page to get the ideas.

Mountaineering on the Forcan Ridge

Perfect weather on An Teallach

Does it get much better than this?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

America - too many photo's to deal with

I am now back from one of the best climbing trips I have ever had.  The trip originally was meant to be based in Yosemite for the month but after a week of moving campsite every morning we decided to go on a road trip instead.  So from Yosemite we headed to Tuolumne, Mammoth, Zion (Amazing place), Moab, Indian Creek and Royal Arches National park.  Here are a few photo's from the trip.  We climbed pretty much every day so feeling pretty broken now.  Not the best prep for winter so I'm scooting off to the Alps on Friday to get back on some snow and ice.
Guy high up in Tuolume...amazing granite

The Valley from Nutcracker

Donald and I on top of Castleton Tower in Utar

Me rapping off Castleton Tower

Warm up crack at Indian Creek.  Perfect hand size crack

Donald high on a tricky number, think we all took air time on this one

Donald on some shady Zion slab

Donald, me and Guy at the top of Made to Be Broken, Zion.  Amazing line.

Guy and Donald in Iron Messiah...a highlight route

A route called headache...3 pitches of brilliant climbing in Zion

Guy Seconding the first pitch of Shuan's Buttress.  Haaard warm up!

Donald shuffling up Castleton Tower

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Spartan Slab

As Alan hadn't been climbing all year he was keen to get back out today.  Linda was happy with yesterday but liked the sound of the Coffin Stone for some sun bathing whilst we climbed Spartan Slab.  Alan was a little nervous about climbing a VS 4c but made it too the top without too many stresses.  It was too easy to have a good day, the weather was perfect, the place was so peaceful (except when Alan belched), the company was great and the climbing is brilliant.  Today was the first time I have been to the slabs this year, I wonder if I can squeeze another trip there before the winter..

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tower Ridge

It's great to be back in Scotland after a little while away and today I was back on Ben Nevis.  Tower Ridge was a long ambition for Linda and finally she put it too sleep.  Alan has been up Tower Ridge before, both summer and winter but is always keen for any mountain route.  A traditional climber...not like these modern climbers who are always climbing indoors.  I like his style.  Linda coped well in the damp conditions with only a couple of French words and a few touch downs with her knees.  Other than that it was a clean ascent.  We even burned off some military folk on the way.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Blast in Wales

I have just been down in Wales for a spot of climbing as I had some work cancelled.  It was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it was fantastic weather.  I met up with Donald for the first two days for a few classics which I have never done before.  First day we went to Tremadog.  I have only really worked here, only on two other occasions have I done any personal climbing.  So we went to Craig Pant Ifan warmed up on the hardest E1 I have ever done...Barbarian!  Brutal!  Then went onto the hardest E2 I have ever done...Pinchusion!  Also brutal!  Donald then led up Falcon (E1 5b) which to be fair was no pushover!  Despite the time we were keen for another route so we climbed Valor (E2 5c).  This turned out to be reasonable for the grade I thought.  I dont know if I was just being weak but all the routes today felt haaard!

Abbing into Rhoscolyn
Day 2, Donald and I went down to Rhoscolyn.  A crag I have not visited and it was brilliant.  A stroll along the top was the closest I had been a few years ago.  We warmed up with Donald leading up The Wild Rover (E1 5b) and then I dispatched the amazing classic The Sun (E3 5c).  Aptly named route as it was beating down on us all day.  After this great line we then climbed The Mask of Red Death (E3 5c) which was a great route with 2 nice cruxy pitches.  Temps were still high so lots of chalk was used but it didn't take anything away from the brilliant climbing.  It was a brilliant day and plenty to come back to.

Me on Centrefold
Day 3 was climbing with Dave.  We were keen for some Gogarth action as I haven't been here much and Dave had a good route in mind.  The route may well have been in the hottest place in Wales.  It was baking on Red Walls, the abseil in was hot work!  Dave dispatched Heart of Gold (E5 6a) as it is a little above my leading grade but was fantastic to second.  Amazing climbing and never desperate (I did have a top rope remember!).  The gear was fiddly (for Dave) so if i had led it I would have got pumped out of my mind and definitely fallen off.  A brilliant day on an amazing crag.
Dave on Jub-Jub bird
Dave on Heart of Gold

Day 4 and everyone was psyched.  Dave, Donald and I all headed back to Rhoscolyn where we all had our routes in mind.  Donald had a sore ankle so didnt want to lead so I started off on a HVS called Fanfare to warm us up.  I then led up the classic line of Centrefold (E3 5c).  What an amazing route.  Well protected and wild situation, well good fun!  Obviously Dave wasn't pumped so he amazingly dispatched The Jub-Jub bird (E6 6b) whilst Donald and I were in awe.  When he topped out Donald and I had a raised eyebrow smile to each other and got psyched.  I was amazed I managed to hold on through the steep ground, power screaming my way through and eventually arriving at the resting ledge...the skin of my teeth.  An amazing day and one of the best I have had in Wales.  Ace company, ace climbing, ace location and such a good laugh.

Dave preparing for the pumpy bit on Jub-Jub bird

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dad's and Lad's do Ben Nevis

Today I was back on Ben Nevis, out with a great team from London.  4 dads and their 6 boys all aged 12.  They were super keen for Ben Nevis.  Fortunately they had wind of the North Face and wanted to go and check it out.  So we explored our way up to the CIC hut when we all went inside for a lunch stop.  The boys were super interested in the history of the hut and some of the great climbers that have been here.  The weather had closed in, very unpleasant in fact but after much Haribo and chocolate we made way for Coire Leis and made our way up the back head wall.  The boys were fantastic at moving around the boulders and the rough terrain, not an easy feat for even experienced walkers.  The summit had its usual mob so after a few photos and some food we made our way down to the Lochain and back to the taxis.  A brilliant day but no views and no shots from my camera.  I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Guiding on the Isle of Skye

Red Cuillin in the background
Pinnacle Ridge
After a fantastic break in the Alps I was back to Skye for my final stint of work.  I managed to smuggle the sunshine through customs and threw it into the sky as I crossed onto the Island.  This week I was with Greg and the aim was to have some good days in the hill’s on some routes and summit’s he hasn't done before.  Quite a tricky task for someone who has done all the Munro’s and significant peaks and most of the classic routes.  We managed to fill 3 good days, 2 on the Cuillin and one out on MacLoed’s tables.  Or final day didn't get going as customs caught up with us and took the sunshine away and our punishment was some very wet weather.  Greg decided enough was enough and with 3 good days under his belt we called it a day.  I was working for Moran Mountain.

View of the Cuillin from the Macloeds talbles

Greg on The Spur

Greg after the Spur