Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Jersey Brain Tumor team

I have just finished off 4 days working with Eric, Elsa, William and Gary.  The purpose of this trip was to raise money for the Jersey Brain Tumour Charity.  This is a charity which is especially close to Gary's heart as he had undergone surgery last year to have a tumor removed.  This trip has shown Gary that he is still fit and able, they have raised thousands of pounds and had a great challenge along the way.  The main plan was to summit Ben Nevis.  Day one we headed up the zig-zags on Gearr Aonach then continued onto Stob Coire nan Lochain.  This was a great round and good introduction to scrambling and mountains, especially for the younger two.
Day two we headed up Ledge route on Ben Nevis in less than ideal conditions and reached the summit, not quite a beautiful day but at least the team did what they came to do.  A brilliant effort from them all.
Day three we headed into Glen Nevis for half a day navigation and half a day rock climbing and today we had a mass ascent of Curved Ridge in a combination of sunshine and showers followed by round of drinks in the Clachaig Inn.

Friday, 17 July 2015

The perfect traverse - Cuillin Ridge - Isle of Skye

The Start - The dream team - Me, Austin, Ruairidh, Linda and Alan.  The ridge behind
Our transport leaving as we head up the hill
The scrambling begins
You may have seen from reading my account of this season on Skye, infact in Scotland, has been vastly wet with below average temperatures.  We have been denied any long spells of sunny settled weather, only a couple of days have been worthy of washing on the line.  This has lead to a very wet season of work for me which doesn't only dampen clothing but also dampen spirits a wee bit.  I have always believed that one nice day in the mountains on the Isle of Skye make up for multiple wet, cold and cloudy days, the days where we have hoods up and heads down.

Austin making light work of King's Chimney
I am just back down from 3 fantastic days on Skye, where we finished by completing a brilliant 2 day traverse in 21 hours of mind blowing walking, scrambling and climbing.  With a perfect forecast we opted for the start from the boat shuttle (Aquaxplore) from Elgol, the finest way to start a traverse. We endured the 2 hour ascent upto Gars-bheinn and made our way to the first Munro of Sgurr nan Eag.  Our team was a well organised affair, I was the guide, our head of base camp, transport, nutrition, bag packing and well wishes was Linda, Alan was the brains behind the expedition and was looking to complete the traverse, a dream of his for over 20 years.  We also had Austin (Linda and Alan's son) and Ruairidh (good friend of the whole family) to join the party on the ridge.  Our only blow was Alan was feeling unwell and gallantly removed himself from the equation, we proceeded as a team of three rather than four.

No prizes for those who guess which peak this is!

T is for Traverse, TD, Tipple, Top and TENNENTS!! Thank you!
Our first day we stashed some food, water and over night equipment by Sgurr na Banachdich allowing a comfortable, light opening day on the traverse.  R, A and I had agreed that we would asvend all the Munro's, climb all the tricky climbs and seek out the best bits of scrambling.  So after Sgurr Dubh Mor we made our way through the Thearlaich Dubh (TD) Gap, a good awakening after two of the easier summits.  We had Bill and Colin up ahead who made light work of the Dubh's Ridge and the TD gap, always great not to get held up here.  We pressed on, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Thealaich, King's chimney onto Sgurr MhicChoinnich, up An Stac and onto the Inaccessible Pinnacle.  A patch of mist descended on us as we ascended the In Pinn, I believe R and A were quite pleased of this.  We proceeded onto the bivi site, arriving at 6pm to a great surprise.  As Alan had decided to pull out of the traverse, he and Linda walked up to remove his bivi kit, in its place were some extra sandwiches and 3 cans of Tennent's!  Winner!  A wee treat for completing day 1!  We ate and drank like king's that night, and as we felt so good we decided to build some stone shelters to sleep in.

Porridge and hot chocolate kick started day two at 4am.  We started moving at 5am hitting Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a' Mhadaidh as the sun gave a gentle warming.  The rock was still dry and rough and the temperature was perfect.  Exposure was amplified this early in the morning.  We cruised along the tricky section between the Munro's, the 3 tops of Mhadaidh, Bidein Druim nan Ramh and An Caisteal before making our way onto Bruach na Frithe at midday.  Two Munro's to go.  Both were ascended without any problems in great weather leaving up with fantastic views of the whole ridge, a huge undertaking for Austin and Ruairidh, both have agreed it was physically and mentally the hardest days they have endured in the mountains.  We were greeted by a warm welcome and a cold beer from Linda and Alan at the Sligachan, the best way to finish a Cuillin Ridge traverse.  A brilliant 3 days with great company, good laughs and completing the best two mountains days one can have in the UK.  Thank you Linda, Alan, Austin and Ruridihdihdihdih! ;)

Yawnn...who ordered exposure for breakfast?

A nice day dawning

Half asleep so a the rope goes on

Should we of shouldn't we?  Direct of indirect?
Happy days, traverse complete.  True gentlemen!
One last abseil
Finished!  Well done chaps

Monday, 13 July 2015

Curved Ridge and North East Ridge of Aonach Beag

A sneaky view of the moor
Love this route!
I have just spent two days out with Grahame who has been keen to climb some scrambling routes, to spice up his Munro ticking campaign.  He had already walked both munros on Buachaille Etive Mor but has had a burning desire to climb Curved Ridge so this was our objective for the first day.  A little surprised to see a deserted ridge on a Sunday but the forecast was pretty poor however it turned out pretty nice (not constant rain and some beams of sunlight).
Crux corner
Hero shot
We made steady progress up the ridge, chatting away merrily, rarely stopping other than to take some pictures when the views opened.  We arrived at the top of the ridge and nipped up Crowberry Tower for some excellent views of cloud to the north as well as the south!  With a press onto the summit we finally became exposed to the winds, we locked up our hoods, had a wee break on the summit then headed down into Corie nan Tulach.  A nicer day than expected.  Tomorrow on the North East ridge Aonach Beag will be mint....

Looking at what we have done
Orchids bring light to a gloomy day
Today Grahame and I took the Aonach Mor Gondola up to the top station then plodded up to the summit of Aonach Mor for some fantastic views of the clouds.  Just white and grey.
Descending into An Cul Choire, axe and cramoons!

I suppose I was a little apprehensive as I have never climbed the North East ridge of Aonach Beag but it was on Grahames to do list and the weather was to improve at midday, somewhere near the crux.  Views, sunshine and no rian!  Cant wait.  Well it did clear at about 6pm!  On the whole route we endured constant rain, thick low cloud and incredibly greasy rock.  I would strongly suggest to any folk off to try this route that they save it for a dry day with good views.  I would say it turned into the hardest days work this summer.
Mellow mountaineering
Abseiling off the crux section to bypass it

 We were both very relieved to get past the crux section which involved quite a bit of rope trickery and an assisted hoist.  Grahame did incredible well as every footstep was like soap and most handholds were the same.  We had thought about bailing earlier but we were holding onto the forecast that it would never did.  I suspect it is a great route in the dry in a fantastic setting, I am really keen to get back in more suitable conditions.  In winter, I suspect it will be amazing.
Greahame relieved to be at the top

Me tired and relieved.  

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Scrambling, Sea Kayaking and Cuillin Ridge Traverse

I am just back from a brilliant 4 days with Willie and Barnie. They had 3 days booked out of 4 with the intention of doing a Cuillin Ridge Traverse. With the weather looking a wee bit appealing for the last two days we thought we would save that for a traverse attempt. Day one we hit the Clach Glas - Bla Bheinn Traverse. Probably one of my favourite routes on Skye, a true classic with fantastic situations, views and scrambling. This was 17 year old Barnie's first time on something like this and he did exceptionally well. 

Day two was very wet so we opted for a rest day. Willie and Barnie invited me on a 6 hour sea kayaking expedition which I'm so glad I didn't turn down, it was great to see some of Skye's coastline. Then to finish the trip we successfully traversed the Cuillin Ridge in less the idea conditions over 2 days. Rain, hail, 4 degree's, windy, cloudy and a bit of sun. A cold damp bivi but a great sunny finish on Sgurr nan Gillian. Well done to Willie and Barnie for digging deep and for being brilliant company for the 4 days. This week I was working for Moran Mountain.

More Pictures here

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Trad, indoors and sport

Glen Clova
Over the last 3 days I have been making the most of my days off with some great days climbing with Uisdean.  East was on the agenda as West was our choice last month.  After deliberating over forcasts, we ended up at Glon Clova, a crag I havent been to but super keen to get back.  Every route we did was brilliant and I super keen to get back there with a bit more time.  Unfortunately the weather didn't hold for us so the following day we went to Ratho.  Never a disappointing day at Ratho, get to get a huugggeeee work out and get totally pumped.  Day 3 we headed to the brilliant sport wall of Dunkeld where we got Back onto Hamish Ted's to see if we could remember the route.  Just about managed it on my last red point but no cigar!  Next time.

Special Uisdean

Uisdean crushing

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.