Thursday, 22 December 2016

Calm before the storm

Not a bad place to ski
Mont Blanc and Les Drus
As the winter conditions have been few and far between this December I thought it was the perfect opportunity to book a quick hit to the Alps for a nice relaxing skiing holiday before the onslaught of Storm Barbara, Christmas and a very busy winter season.  Lou and I headed to the base of Mont Blanc and skied on both sides of the tunnel.  Some days in Italy, some in France.  This time Italy was holding far more snow and became a good option so we visited a few resorts as well as a wee ski tour to get some fitness.  Like last December when I was out, the hills and slopes were almost deserted, sometimes it felt we had the resorts to ourselves!  With several other friends around it was like a British takeover.  Despite the lack of fresh snow, it was a super fun trip and now I'm ready for getting stuck into Scottish winter.
Lou boot packing on our wee tour from Courmayeur

Lou skinning with Mont Blanc in the background
Lou showing me how it's done
Empty pistes
Becca, Lou and Kev after our tour from the Argentier Glacier
Combat skiing down the glacier

Sunday, 27 November 2016

To Winter or not to Winter

...that is the question.

Not much snow on the mountain
With brother's Grant and Graham both itching for some winter action we headed out armed with axes and crampons and a good supply of sun cream.  Ben Nevis was the choice venue and Ledge Route was our plan of attack.  We donned the crampons at the Base of Number 5 Gully and quested up linking as much of the remaining snow.  In some places that became pretty hard so after a while we bagged up our crampons and pressed onto the top.  The summit was quiet, only two other teams.  One from Ledge Route, one from Tower Ridge.
Graham points out the summit
Not much snow at all
Cold on the CMD arete
We decided, as it was stunning, to make our way down the CMD arete as Grant had never linked this up and we had a treat.  Some stunning views to put the icing on the cake of a stunning day out in the mountains.  Scotland really is the place to be.  Despite the lack of snow and hard climbing, it is still fantastic to be on top of the mountains.  So not full winter conditions but still super fun.

I wonder which way the wind blows? 

More Picture HERE

Friday, 25 November 2016

First days out of winter 2016/17

Morning 'Alpen-glow' on Fiacaill Buttress
Sun rise over the tops

An early morning rise saw Mark and I walking in with head torches to a deserted Cairngorms.  Never have I stood in the Northern Corries to see that no one else was around.  Were the conditions bad or were we just unnecessarily early?
Mark questing up the second pitch
Mint weather

We heard that the snow was going to be hard to walk on, deep snow with a semi-hard crust.  Despite this, we opted to go for a long walk 'over the back' onto Carn Etchachan.  Having never climbed here I was super keen and Mark agreed quite easily.  So with it being my first route of the season, we opted for The Guillotine (V,6).
Mark trying to find the chock stone on the crux

We walked to the top of the route as it climbs the upper tier of Carn Etchachan and descended down the slopes to the right (facing out). We traversed in to the start.  The climbing was excellent.  Lovely Cairngorm granite, good hooks, good gear and plenty of turf.  Not to mention the spacious belay ledges.  A quality day out and back to the car before it was dark.
Here he's Maaarrrrkkk Chadwick!!!!
Mike linking the snow and ice
With the following day free and superb weather I drove down to Ben Nevis and met Mike at a more sociable hour and we walked into the North Face.  Unfortunately the snow had been blown off the rocks leaving them very black and in our eye's, out of condition.  No steep climbing for us today.  So instead we climbed a mountaineering route which I had never done before.  The brilliant Pinnacle Ridge (IV,5) on Trident Buttress.  I had always eyed it up and I feel it might become a bit of a favourite of mine when at work...shhhh....don't tell anyone!

Stella day

Alpine conditions

Doesn't get much better than this!
More pictures HERE

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

America - take two

It was pretty much two years to the day that I was last in America on a rock road trip.  We had unfinished business and opened up new accounts and new areas.  Unfortunately the other Guy didn't make it out but Donald and I had a brilliant trip climbing as a pair.  Viva Las Vegas.  What a place.  The start and the finish of our trip and home to the astounding Red Rock.  This place made me want to move to America!  It was an interesting time talking to locals about the upcoming election, never once chatted to a Trump supporter, not through choice!  The silent majority it turns out.
We don't usually take rest days but this trip we did...are we getting old...are we getting weak...we didn't think so but we felt great after our rest days.
After Red Rocks we went to Moab, we went there last time and had a brilliant time, so we climbed several desert towers and lots of brilliant routes.  From here we took a chance in style and headed for splitter heaven, Indian Creek.  Crack, jam, cam, crack, jam cam...repeat.  Sometime's we fell, moaned about the grade's, slumped.  We watched local's cruise routes far too hard for us but we tried them anyway...and fell.  We camped under a supermoon which was amazing.
After Indian Creek we went back to Red Rock's.  What to say.  Every single route we did was brilliant.  I think I will take a trip back and just stay put there.  

 Many more pictures HERE

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Back to Scotland

It was cooold!!  
Brilliant situations
After what feels like a decade away, I have nipped back to Scotland for a few days.  Around catching up with friends, I squeezed in a couple of days work on the 'home turf'.   First off, yesterday, I was out with Alan, originally we chatted about some esoterica on Ben Nevis, but most of the routes we have left to do are pretty short, will take a lot of walking to get too and will be pretty slimey.  Given that there had been substantial rain recently, we opted for a wander up Tower Ridge, which never disappoints.  Alan is celebrating his 70th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary so we quit while we were ahead and took the easy option down, he didnt want to be limping around the dancefloor.
Glad to be back in Lochaber
The cloud cleared on the top

Today, a somewhat unsavoury day of weather with Helen, Scrambling on Ben Nevis was aborted by strong winds and rain so we settled for some big boot climbing in Glen Nevis.  Which provided us with some great sport.