Thursday, 2 July 2015

Glen Nevis midge and rain avoidance

To be honest, it felt like we were fighting a loosing battle today. However persistence and optimism paid off. Andy fancied a day out rock climbing as he has had little mileage since winter. Looking at the forecast, there was a reasonable chance it would work out on the West Coast. We started off on Secretaries (S) and the Super Direct (HVS) before heading back down to Storm. Storm turned out to be too midgie as the wind stopped so we headed up the gorge to find a breeze. Standing below Plague of Blazes it started to rain so we nipped round to All Our Yesterdays to find shelter from the rain...turned out to be sheltered from the wind...super midge! So loosing the battle we headed back down the Glen and to our delight things started to clear and become breezy. I suggested we travel light and we climbed Pinnacle Ridge (S), Andy led Resurrection (VS), I led Damnation (VS) then we finished our day on Storm (HVS) with Andy leading the middle pitch. A brilliant effort, the crux pitch was just a wee bit pumpy for Andy but made it up after a quick rest. A brilliant day, 6 routes, several midge bites, one tick and lots of laughs. A great day at work. Great to see some others out climbing. Andy H and Dave A on Scimitar Ridge and several Outward Bound teams dotted about.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

North Wales and Ardnamurchan

Last week I had a quick hit in North Wales to get some mileage on the rock. This spring/summer has been very wet and I have struggled to get much mileage on my days off. Days in Llanberis Pass, Tremadog, Gogarth, The Orm and Devils Gorge meant a great few days climbing, getting pumped and hanging out with some cool people. Back to work today and I was out with Alan (also a cool person) again who was keen to kick start his rock season, find out what level he is at compared with last year. We went out to Ardnamurchan ring crags and climbed 9 pitches from upto HVS. There was blood, sweat and dehydration but still a great day on a brilliant crag. Big Al and Ruraidh were there too with Nathan so a good sociable day but none of them are as cool as Alan and I...obviously!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A month in pictures, Spring in Scotland

After some really wet days I felt like this little fella
Spring so far has been great in terms of work and great on my time off.  Maybe not as much personal climbing as I have hoped but I have spent some great time with friends and family as well as watching the rain beat off the windows.

Emma brushing up on her navigation skills
Father and Son Mick and Joe on a Cuillin Ridge traverse attempt

Weather not ideal for the traverse...Joe and Mick descending
Nicer weather on Clach Glas with Joe

Joe and I had a day cragging at Neist

Then Joe and I went winter climbing on Tower Ridge

Team winter...30th May

Week away on Mull with Family and friends...that's my mum paddling in...she is the best!

Brothers Mick and Chris settling forgotten childhood battles

Making progress on their traverse...

Good morning, ready to go at 5am

Back to winter climbing on Ben Nevis.  Observatory Ridge with Alan.

Cheers.  Alan on the summit of Ben Nevis. 10th June

Uisdean climbing some dirty route in Glen Nevis 10 E points that afternoon.

Gareth and Jen enjoying perfect traverse conditions....

Day 2 was not so perfect!!
Now with a little time off, I'm heading south to find some nice weather and some dry rock.  Feeling blessed to be supported by Millet who have kept me warm and dry with their excellent clothing, kept my clients safe with their excellent ropes, kept my feet in great condition thanks to the super comfy and durable footwear and gave me the perfect rucksacks to transport it all around.  Thank you also to all the great clients I have worked with, you have all done great, especially in the horrible weather we have had on some days.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Clach Glas - Bla Bheinn Traverse

The ridge looks good...
Then it got wet and cloudy...
I'm pretty glad I have new waterproofs because today was another soaking.  7 hours of rain, wind and persistent cloud were endured by Eugene and myself.  Eugene, from Australia was certainly getting a raw introduction to Scottish mountaineering and some 'unique' Skye weather.  Despite the conditions, Eugene was loving the weather, quite a change from 35+ degrees and kangaroos jumping around everywhere.  Unsurprisingly we had the ridge to ourselves and neither of us wanted to 'savour the moment' and hang around too long.  We made a relatively constant flow along the ridge completing car to car in 7 hours with some close to disaster* river crossings!  This route is probably one of the best of its type in the UK and should be sought out by anyone who enjoys climbing, mountaineering and the delights of Skye.  Even Eugene enjoyed it in horrendous conditions and he barely goes hill walking!
...and never stopped being wet!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Ben Nevis...Still winter!

David, never worn crampons
Spot the ice!
Ready for action
Today I was out with David and he was keen for Ben Nevis via the 'hard way'!  His original was a lovely summer scramble, instead he had his first ever day in crampons and his first ever day of winter mountaineering.  He got a great winter experience today, all the hazards were on show today, we saw several avalanches going off around us, total white out across the plateau, large cornices that we couldn't see, cold winds and no views from the top.  Felt like mid winter.  One other team headed up Number 4 Gully, both hard work and a bit scary with all the sluffs coming down around them.
We had to put crampons on below number 5 gully and barely touched exposed rock all the way up.  The snow is very saturated and quite deep in places so progress was tough going.  Ice still holding in up high, I'd say there could be some winter routes climbed this weekend for sure.  Not me though, I want some sunshine.

No easy day here

Ben Nevis the hard way

Into the cloud

White room...with some rock

To the top

Monday, 18 May 2015

Skye season has started

Munro number 1!
This weekend has seen me back on Skye and it was great to be back.  Unfortunately we have come back with no traverse cigar but instead had 3 great days in the hills.  Claire has had her sights on the ridge traverse fro some while and with 5 kids and limited time off, we were really keen to make an attempt.  Despite the horrendous forecast.
Not clearing up.  This is the vis we had all day.
There was a slight glimmer of hope that it could clear on Friday evening but unfortunately we got to a potential bivi spot 4 hours to early for the clearing.  We were far to wet and cold to sit it out.  Down we went.  From Car - Sgurr nan Eag - An Dorus - to Car was 11 hours and we were glad to get back to warmth.  Only 2 photos that day!
Heading up Pinnacle Ridge
Heading off Pinnacle Ridge
Day two had an unpleasant forecast so we stayed low and climbed the brilliant Spur on Sgurr an Fheadain for a short day.  No photos as left camera in drying room.  To finish off we decided Pinnacle Ridge would be a good shout but half way up we were hit by some snow storms and decided to traverse off of some easier pleasant ground.  A good call we felt.  We traversed off and made our way over to Sgurr Beag for some well needed views.  I hope my next few trips to Skye bring good views and dry rock.



Cloudy....Skye, we just love it!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Rock climbing season has started!

All this sun and we chose the shade (what were we thinking!?)

Really glad to have a day off as the weather was fantastic.  Blue skies, cold and crisp.  I had to be in Skye later this evening so we made a quick dash to Glen Nevis.  Blair and I wandered up to Wave Buttress for a few routes but found the crag to be pretty damp.  Instead we went up to Spreadeagle buttress and found dryish, just climbable, rock in the form of Slip Away (E3 6a) and The Singing Ringing Tree (E5 6a).  Unfortunately this crag was in the shade and was freezing so took a few ups and downs to get warmed up before being able to climb the desperate crux which nearly saw both Blair and I fall off!  Fortunately not though.  Slip away was a much nicer proposition, didn't feel quite as cruxy so was really pleasant for me to follow.  From here we thought we would do Crack Attack (E3 6a) on Wave Buttress but with other climbers on and time running out I nipped up First Wave (E1 5c) which I hadnt done and is a brilliant E1.  Well worth a visit.  Skye is calling and it looks like a wild weekend!
Blair doing his E5 magic

Great climbing

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

North East Buttress

Summer?  Winter?
High up on NE Buttress
The last couple few days of wet and windy weather were perfectly timed as I needed a day of 'admin' and a day down at the Ice Factor to keep some strength up.
Today I was back to work and a great day for it (well it did improve when we summited).  I have been excited to get back onto Ben Nevis after the winter and see what is left over.  Alan and I headed up for a climb, we had a very open plan, we had a rack, a rope, 2 screws, 4 axes and crampons.  On arrival the ridges were looking promising and we opted for North East Buttress.  Alan and I did North East Buttress a couple of years ago in less than optimal conditions so it was great to see it in another light.  We took a slight deviation, we headed left below the man trap and found some nice scrambling to get around it before getting stuck into the 40ft corner which is just about clear of snow.  We had crampons on from just above the first platform all the way to the top.  A top day.  Many other teams out enjoying the spring time conditions.  Andy, Alison and James were out skiing, they skied Number 2,3 and 5.  Jonny Mc and his buddy did Tower Scoop and Tower Cascade's, they said Smiths was fat.  Point 5 looked complete as did Hadrian's and Indicator area.  Number 3 Gully looks like the best climbers descent but would need a wee abseil at the top.  Number 4 has a huge cornice but one could down climb on skiers left.

Alan swinging into good ice
Better conditions than last time!

Andy climbing up number 4 
Lovely day now
Alan loves a 'selfie'