Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Aonach Mor

Today I headed up the gondola to Aonach Mor. Again the weather was fantastic, blue skies, little wind, no need for any waterproof shell layers! There were many groups out climbing (not sure which routes though, a new crag for me - bit busy for my liking), we abseiled down Easy Gully and traversed the very hard snow slopes across to the Ribbed Walls. We were unsure of what we climbed, something between Temperance Union Blues and White Shark (we think). The route was about grade 3 and we completed it in 3 pitches, with Matt taking the first and last and me sending the second. Gillian was more than happy to second up the route. Plenty to go for at the moment.

Monday, 29 December 2008

South Gully, Ben Nevis

Today was perfect! The weather was amazing, not once did I get cold and never too hot. I met Barbara this morning, knowing she had never winter climbed, or even worn crampons outside, we walked up to The Ben. With many parities scattered around Creag Coire na Ciste we headed up towards number 3 gully and then decided to climb South Gully (III). I had never climbed this route, the ice was very good and firm all the way to the top, some of the pitches are quite run out but the belays are good once you find them. Saw outer parties on Thompson's route, Green Gully, Number 3 Gully, Good Friday climb, Central Gully Right-hand, Comb Gully, Glover's Chimney. After we topped out we walked up to the summit (thanks to the guys for the tea, flapjack, chocolate bars and mint cake!) After the summit we walked down to Number 4 gully, down climbed this, looking at crampon work with Big Al and headed back to the MacDonald's Hotel for dinner. Great day out!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Beinn Udlaidh

As we have had some good cold weather over the past few days, Lorenzo and I decided not to go hill walking but to head up into the East Sector of Coire Daimh on Beinn Udlaidh. Conditions were looking good as the track up to the coire was like an ice rink, the ground was totally frozen and there was loads of ice on the ground. As we got to the crag, there was ice leaking out of almost every possible point. We only had a couple of hours, so we left the rack and ropes at home and moved lightweight and fast. I climbed Land of Make Believe (II), then Quartzvein Scoop (IV,4) and finished on Sunshine Gully (III). So 3 routes in 2 hours was great fun. Lorenzo climbed Quartzvine Scoop and Sunshine Gully. We met Kenny, John and AN Other climbing Sunshine Gully and Ice Crew, climbers on Peter Pan Direct and Cut-throat. Gary and Tom from Nevis Sport were also enjoying the good conditions on Quartzvein Scoop and South Gully of the Black Wall. Its a great venue for a couple of hours.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Friday 5th December

Last night I drove out to the Cairngorm's for a days climbing today, however this morning Will and I were unable to get the car up the road to the ski station due to the snow that had fallen over night and into the morning. We returned at 8.30 and the snow gate was now closed with a tail of cars trying to get up. We turned around, picked up Rosie and went for a walk around Loch Morlich then headed into Aviemore for a hot chocolate. Not climbing but a nice walk with good company. Oh and mind the police officers with the speed cameras in Roy Bridge!! Ruined the day a wee bit!

Thursday 4th December

Today Kenny, Mike and I took turns wading up into Stob Coire nan Lochan. The approach was somewhat slowed down with the vast amounts of snow that had fallen over the last few days. However this resulted into an empty crag, obviously no-one else fancied wading up the hill to get a route in. The crag was in good condition, good frozen turf, lots of snow on the ledges, although not rimed up there was good snow cover throughout. We climbed Tilt, which gets VI,7 and is very sustained. Kenny led up the first 40m pitch which had some very good moves throughout, Mike linked the 2nd and 3rd and Kenny finished the last 2 pitches together to get us to the top. There was good interest on every pitch and lots of involving climbing all the way to the top. We descended down Broad Gully and waded back to the car. A great day out.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Powder on Curved Ridge

Today I climbed Curved Ridge with Al and his client. As i have just done my MIA training I was keeping a close eye on how he managed his client throughout the day and trying to admire the views at the same time. Conditions . . . . lots of snow! All in powder form, as there was very little wind as it fell yesterday it hasn't bonded and is very soft. Underneath the snow turf hasn't really frozen either. Felt extremely cold walking off the hill today and its going to be cold tonight however the snow pack will stay pretty much the same, what we need and a thaw and re-freeze to firm it all up. See http://alanhalewood.blogspot.com/ for more pics

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

MIA Training with PYB

The last 9 days I have been down in Wales doing my MIA Training with Plas y Brenin. We covered all aspects of the syllabus from multi-pitch rock climbing, problem solving, short roping, navigation, coasteering and so much more. Most evenings we attended lectures on relevant issues or climbed in the bouldering wall after dinner. The course content was excellent, the instructors were very good and the rest of the group were very friendly.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Ben Cruachan

Today Jamie and I underwent the 2.5 hour walk-in to the crags on Ben Cruachan. On the way in the conditions were not looking tip-top, however we persisted on for a look. As we reached the summit we then went for a closer inspection of Noe Buttress, which had a whole range of good looking routes, very few in condition though. Jamie picked a line which looked the most wintery and up we went. We then traversed into Summit Buttress which looked even more wintery but again most of the line were not in. I picked the most wintery line and we climbed it up to the summit. Not sure what the routes were called as they weren't in the guidebook of the SMC journal 04. Loads of really good short routes here when the conditions are right, if you can manage the walk-in! Cracking weather, looks like the next few days are going to warm up!

Hope its nice in Wales, I have my MIA training next week.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Crampons donned!

Today as the conditions were proving fairly wintery, Phil and I went for a stretch over the Aonach Eagach (II). This route I have done in the summer 3 years ago, this is a great winter mountaineering route. We left one car near Jimmy Savile's house and left at 0845 arriving back down to my car at the Clachaig at 3pm. Conditions on the ridge were good, lots of powder on the route and also as the temperature was rising, the snow line was receding. Some of the lower cols were now only holding wet slush. In the current condition the turf had not taken a solid freezing so we avoided it as much as possible. The rope and rack stayed in the bag for the whole traverse and there was only one other party behind us who were also making good progress. Great sunny day with some patches of cloud and not much serious wind.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Today my sister, Dan and I headed out for a day in the rain (and hail) for a session on the bikes. We headed to Laggan for the day and we were not the only people there! Its a great place to spend a few hours especially when it is amost constant driving rain! The cafe there is also a nice retreat out of the rain for a hot brew before the next run! It was very cold with dusting on the tops. Snow down to around 600-700m ish so looks like winter is on its way.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Back from the Pyrenees

After I heard my friend Will Bayliss was going to walk from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, I decided I fancied 7 weeks off work to do the same, so I did and we ended up walking 800km across the Pyrenees. Described as one of Europe’s most beautiful and challenging walks, we took the highest practical line through the Pyrenees on both French and Spanish sides of the main ridge, the route consisted of 40km of ascent and decent. We completed the route within 41 days of walking and we also had 5 rest days along the way to keep up going. The first section, I found the hardest because I was not used to the dry heat ( I live in Scotland) and also my leg weren't used to the weight of my full rucksack. As it was so hot, for the 1st week walking from Hendaye to Lescun, we set off walking at 5am to arrive at our destination around midday so we were out of the heat. As we got into the second section (Lescun to Garvanie), the temperatures dropped and so did the early starts. In Garvanie we had our first thunder/hail storm which gave all the surrounding mountains a nice white coating. Next section was Garvanie to Saladu which consisted of lots of long days in high mountain terrain and plenty of wild camping. The next section was from Saladu to l'Hospitalet-Près-l'Andorre which briefly took us through Andorra, and had some of the most amazing mountains of the whole walk. The final section was from HPA to Banyuls-sur-mer on the Mediterranean.

The reason I chose to go on the expedition was so I could explore the whole Pyrenees (I had never been here before), gain international trekking experience for my IML award, gain expedition skills for the future and suss out areas that I would like to go back and climb. e.g. Pic du Midi, Vignemale, Pico de Aneto. Also it has improved my hill fitness for the coming winter so hopefully I wont get too tired on the long walk-ins to routes!

The weather was amazing, out of the 41 days of walking we had only 4 days of rain, 1 day of snowfall and blizzard conditions, the rest was nice and sunny, sometimes cloudy and breezy. Cant really complain! I have been back in Scotland for about 6 days now and it hasn't stopped raining yet! Love it!!