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!?