Monday, 30 December 2013

Daddy Longlegs

Me setting off on the superbly sustained first pitch

 It took a bit of effort to leave the car today in the Cairngorms as it was raining at the Ski centre.  We knew it was too get cold so we knew it was going to snow at some point.  We marched in, heads down, almost in silence.  We had an objective and I was over thinking the process as I walked in.  Whilst gearing up Greg Boswell and Will Sim turned up with the intention of trying a route near to us...nothing like a bit of pressure for two exceptional climbers!  I set off on the first pitch and found it to be relatively friendly...nice gear and good hooks.  The hard moves started coming and kept coming all the way to the end of the 35m pitch, A summer HVS 5a pitch.  Murdoch then dispatched the final crux pitch, with a little bit of up and downing to find the best way up.  Super strenuous pitch.  Other teams were on Auricle and two teams bailed off Milky Way after 1 rope length...looked like alot of snow there.

Longlegs helpful
Murdoch Starting the final pitch...harder than it looks

Sunday, 29 December 2013


Fiacaill looking loaded
Great to be back in Scotland after a short break at home for the festive period.  The forecast was great for the East coast so I met up with Murdoch and Blair, who decided to join for a Jolly.  On arrival to Mess of Pottage we noticed that pretty much all the climbers from the car park came here too.  We went for plan F, Wachacha (VI,7).  It was an ok consolation but rightly not worth more than its one star.  I led the first pitch which had one hard move as did the second pitch which Blair led.  The crux of the route was digging out gear as everything had a nice layer of ice over it and the neve was just about weight bearing.  Ice was forming nicely in places on the Mess of Pottage.  Plenty of snow around Fiacaill Buttress, which had no climbers on, understandably, some climbed on fluted buttress and someone skied down the goat track.  On another note, the skiing looked great on the pistes.  More tomorrow! ;)

The rest of my pics here

A pic or two from Murdoch here

Blair heading to the top

Murdoch enjoying his day of seconding

Bit early to finish but we didn't mind

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Final day before Christmas

Today was my last days work before Christmas.  Unfortunately we were pounded with more winds and blizzards.  No summit today.  More skills for the group and some interesting steep ground.  Its been an interesting lead up to Christmas.  This time last year I had done 17 routes, one of which was a speedy Cuillin Ridge Winter Traverse, 2 new routes (here & here), 3 days climbing work (1, 2 & 3), 3 2nd ascents (here & here) and 8 other winter routes on Ben Nevis, Skye and Glencoe as well as a few days of non climbing work.  This year I have done two winter climbs.  One in the Cairngorms and one second ascent on Ben Nevis.  Its the way it goes in Scotland.  Sometimes its amazing and sometimes its just good...last year was amazing.  The main problem with this is that I haven't worked up an appetite for the upcoming Christmas feast that my family and I partake in.  I think this year I will have to take it easy on the pigs in blankets, force down more Brussel Sprouts and stay well clear of the chocolate coins.  Wish me luck!  I hope you all have a brilliant Christmas and get lots of climbing kit and clothing from Santa so you are well prepared for the winter season of 2014.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

We have the power!

Another windy day was on the cards with increasing velocity as the day went on.  We decided that going onto the very tops would be counter productive so a blast into the Coire Cas headwall aloud us to do some skills and rope work in ""relative"" shelter.  Fully how a day with such a challenging forecast can still be really good fun.  One more day with these chaps and it doesn't look like the goggles will be left at home!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Winter skills or winter survival?

Both today! More emphasis on the survival side of things! One of our main jobs was to try and return with the skin on our faces still intact! Definitely have lost some and it looks like more will be lost over the next few days. Plenty of snow fell here around Aviemore early this morning which was great but mixed with some very strong winds we had a good challenge ahead. It was obvious that we needed a low level day and even this exposed us to some very gnarly conditions. We walked from the Sugar Bowl, through the Chalamain Gap, tackled the ferocious winds coming through the Lairig Ghru and then got picked up by Loch Morlich. A brilliant experience for the boys from London. Tomorrow looks like another day of face blasting! Kite is packed! Loads of snow was getting blow around and plenty of large accumulations on the lee slopes. Should be more substantial in the corries.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Vagrant

Kenny leading the first pitch
Kenny on the second
It was one of those day's.  The one where you look for excuses to not go but there just isn't any justifiable ones.  Kenny and I embarked on a journey in to the Northern Corries to brave strong winds, a blasting from wind blown snow but ultimately to feed my rat.  this time last year I had done 17 winter routes, including a single day winter Cuillin Ridge traverse.  Today was my second.  To say I have been a little bored would be an understatement.  Work has been cancelled and the mountains have looked bleak.  But today was brilliant.  Kenny and I climbed The Vagrant (VII 7) in Coire an Lochain.  Conditions were brilliant, the crags from Number 2 buttress to Number 4 buttress were all in good nick as they received a good blasting.  Snow cover on the ground was thin as its all been blown away so the walk in and out was very easy.  Sometimes despite the horrible forecast it is always worth persisting...this time we were rewarded!  The next few days look to be a thaw and freeze cycle...which means the could be some more rat feeding to come!

2nd pitch was well cool!

Kenny on the 3rd pitch...brilliant pitch

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Sorcerer

Number 3 Gully Buttress looking very inviting
So today it begins for me. As I walked in to Ben Nevis this morning, with my head torch illuminating the ground around my feet, I was thinking whether I will be able to climb more routes this winter season than I did the last?  With my first route done today, I only have 84 to go to match last years figures.  As Keith, Kenny and I walked up towards Creag Coire na Ciste our original plan on South Trident Buttress wasn't looking as aesthetically pleasing as routes on Number 3 Gully Buttress and the Ciste.
Kenny cranking up the 1st pitch
 After a scan of the crags pointing out possible options we settled for The Sorcerer (VII,8).  One of the route's we didn't have in our particular guidebook?! Don't ask!  Fortunately, Keith has a photographic memory and remembered the description.  Keith remembered 3 pitches in the description so it would work out perfectly.  Kenny was on for the first, Keith took the crux and I was left with the last (I was happy with that as it was my first route of the season and Keith said it was grade V...easy?!).  Kenny dispatched the first pitch well, despite it being covered in verglass.  Gear was tricky to get but the climbing wasn't too hard.  Tricky to lead, easier to second.  Keith then led the 'Magic Crack' pitch.
Keith loving the climbing
Keith nearing the top of the Magic Crack
 Described as 'Magic Crack (in the Cairngorms) on steroids', this was a route to do.  I've not done Magic Crack (or steroids) so I can't confirm, however it was very good!  Same story for Keith's pitch, hard to lead and place gear, easier to second.  A brilliant pitch.  We thought overall it was VII,7 in these conditions as the cracks were choked in ice and held axes well.  If they had been clear then some funky torquing would have been required and we thought it would be more strenuous.  I took over for the last pitch...grade  A wee bit harder and the same story, hard to lead and place gear.  After some nice climbing, my pitch was barred by compact verglassed rock.  After a good search around for an amenable line, I took a belay on a small sloping ledge.  From here Kenny and Keith agreed that we would join the last pitch of Lost The Place and finish up this.  On the top we met Tony and Ian who had just climbed Avenging Angel and we could see Martin and Pete finishing the difficulties on The Knuckleduster.  A great start to the season and looking forward to the next cold spell.

Kenny getting ready for some serious hot aches!
Martin and Pete on The Knuckleduster.  Pete (top) is starting the second pitch, not having a wee.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Spain 2013

Amazing place to climb.  Chulilla.
Amazing day at Suirana
Beautiful day at Montsant.
Donald loving the Tufas on this 7a
Donald enjoying the climbing at Siurana
Murdoch climbing 7c+ at Chulilla.  I seconded it but fell off before I got to the top.

Murdoch verses 8a!

Donald front and back footing on tufas

A brilliant way to exit the crag.  Hard work after a full days climbing.
Bright lights of Barcelona
Not only did we do a lot of climbing, we also got to know the inside of our wee hire car pretty well.  Donald and I were keen to get to a few different places rather than stay at one place.  Our first port of call was meeting up with Murdoch in Chulilla.  This place is absolutely amazing.  Even to go for a walk through the gorge is pretty breath taking.  Steep techy wall climbing is the style here but we also found some really cool Tufa's to climb.  Next stop was Margalef.  I love this place, it suits my style I think, quite steep but really good pockets.  From here we went to Siurana and finally onto Montsant before heading back to Margalef.  12 days we climbed for with no rest day.  Our final day we couldn't climb any more so went to Barcelona for some Chaos and shopping!  A brilliant holiday.  I'm exhausted but ready for some winter climbing!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Leg stretch

Final day with John today and were were in the Lakes District.  Today was a beasting day!  We were to get lots of milage over the hill before getting back to the Kendal Film Festival to watch the world Premiere of Distilled!  We sett off from Langdale at 9am, over  Great Knott, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Ill Crag, Broad Crag and finished on Scafell Pike.  We returned via Angle tarn.  I had to navigate all the way over the tops as the clag was in heavy and we had a quick march out along the Cumbrian Way but we still made it too the film with time for showers!  A brilliant day and brilliant finale to a great couple of weeks with John.. He's fit and ready for his next challenge.  Aconcagua!

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Final day for John and I on the Grit and we hit Laurencefield Quarry for a handful of routes before we headed north.  Another great wee crag, somewhat improved with the Autumn colours and strong sunlight.  Again we climbed the classics of the crag up to HVS before we called it a day and headed North.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Beautiful day on the grit
Today was John's second day on the grit and an agreement was made that we wouold go to a crag neither of us have been too.  I have always wanted to go to Froggatt and if fitted in perfectly with the weather.  South facing and not too exposed to the cold wind.  We worked from the right of the crag as it was first in the sun, too the left, climbing classics and nice lines along the way.  Green Gut, Sunset Slab and Tody's Wall were all highlights.  Perfect grit stone climbing conditions and nice and socialable day at the crag. 

John cruising up Green Gut

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


John loving the friction climbing
Today was our first day at the Peak and it started with a blue sky morning in Sheffield. When we arrived at Stanage there was a wee bit of cloud but that cleared pretty quickly to leave a clear cold crisp day. We had a great time climbing some of the classics with doing minimal walking. Friction in these conditions is fantastic, John had never climbed on the grit and was picking it up pretty well. We worked our way from right to left and climbed Crack and Corner (HVD 4b), Manchester Buttress (HS 4b), Gargoyle Buttress (VS 4b), Black Hawk Hell Crack (S 4a), Flying Buttress (HVD) and Queersville (HVS 5a). A brilliant day at Stanage, can't with for more tomorrow.

Slapping over the top

Perfect day on the grit

Monday, 11 November 2013

Snowdon via the fun route

Look happy!
Today was always going to be a mountain day but we definitely didn't have any choice. I think it stopped raining for about 5 minutes today! Nonetheless, it was a brilliant day. We parked up at Pen y Pass and traversed into Llanberis Pass, navigated our was over the top of Dinas Mot and up to the base of The Parson's Nose (D) on Clogwyn y Ddysgl. This great scramble was brilliant in the wet, greasy in places and made the tricky bits....well....even trickier! Some power screams echoed around the cwm now and again! We continued up the Arete to join the main ridge which led up onto the summit of Snowdon. This was the first time I have been on this summit and never saw another person...pretty unsurprisingly to be honest! Despite being soaked to the skin and with a 3 hour drive ahead we opted for a little more than walking down the Miners track. We headed SE and then NE down a nice wee scramble at about grade 1 which led u eventually to the Miners track for a brisk walk back to the car. A 7 hour round trip, a quick change then a drive over to the Peak district for 3 days rock climbing!

How this weather really made us feel!

Sunday, 10 November 2013


Today was wall to wall sunshine so John and I opted for somewhere with brilliant climbing and south facing. Tremadog was the obvious choice. John has climbed here in the Past and was keen to get back here for two reasons, the climbing is ace and the walk-in is even better (sub 3 minutes). After a wee shopping trip in Llanberis we rocked up at Tremadog and climbed Christmas Curry (S), then onto One Step in the Clouds (VS) and finished off on Meshach (HVS) just as the sun disappeared. We were then blessed with having a coffee with Eric from the cafe, we chatted away, talking about base jumping and we shared our Eiger North Face good to talk to such a legend who is showing no signs of slowing down! A brilliant day

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Ogwen link up

Top of Tryfan
Cneifon ArĂȘte
Today was our first day in Wales and unfortunately it wasn't wall to wall sunshine. The odd shower made its appearance so we made the most of it and had a link up day of some of Ogwen's finest scrambles. We covered lots of ground as John hasn't been into Ogwen and he really wanted a big day. So our 8 hours saw us cover North West Face Route (Grade 2) onto the Idwal Staircase Continuation (Grade 2), then over and up The Cneifon ArĂȘte (grade 3/Diff) then down the False Gribin Ridge and up to Glyder Fach via The Chasm (Grade 3)...(not for people who drink a lot of beer!)...oh and don't try and do it with your rucksack on, its not easy! From there we descended Bristly Ridge (Grade 1) and then up and over Tryfan. Back to the car just as it got dark. Perfect.

The Chasm

Cantilever stone