Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Back in the Lakes

I've moved over the border and am now living and working in the Lakes. Over the last couple of weeks of being down here, the weather has been pretty grim but I've been doing a bit of biking, indoor climbing and walking as well as a long weekend down on the south coast visiting friends and family.

Yesterday I was out with Jez, Jake and Chris who were up from Sheffield. From Patterdale we headed up Grisedale Pass up to Grisedale Tarn, up onto Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and onto Helvellyn. The plan was to look at Striding edge but Jake and Chris weren't up for it, so Jez took them down via Sticks Pass. I headed down Striding Edge which had a small section of soft wet snow at the top but the rest of the ridge was fine. Very wet all day and the cloud came in later on in the day. Saw quite a few teams walking and a couple on the Ridge. Its going to take some getting used to, all these crowds in the hills!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Winter ML

I have spent the last 5 days on my Winter Mountain Leader Assessment with Plas Y Brenin. We were in Glencoe for two days and Creag Meagaidh for the last 3. It was wet everyday, Meagaidh was on total meltdown whilst I was there, waterfalls running down some of the routes, snowholes dripping and generally pretty grim. I passed the course so I'm happy. Either hanging around in Scotland for some late season ice climbing or heading to the lakes to kick off my rock climbing season....

Thursday, 11 March 2010


Today, I drove down to Bridge of Orchy and walked up to the base of Taxus(III) on Beinn an Dothaidh. I soloed up the route and ended up on the summit in a whiteout. From here I navigated SW and ended up below Creag Coire an Dothaidh below all the route. I then went up to the col and went upto Beinn Dorain (1076). I then went back to the col, back up to Beinn an Dothaidh (1004) and then onto spot height 993 where I litrally bumped into a group of 6. Visibility was down to about 30-40m. From here I dropped down SE and then N into Coire Daingean and back out to the car. Taxus was in good condition, getting a bit thin on the icicle variation but do-able. Shame I couldnt see much more than cloud!

Sgor na h-Ulaidh

Today I was on a solo mission as nobody wanted to come walking with the forcast, no suprises everyone went clinbing. Anyway I got a lift into Glencoe and wandered up Sgor na h-Ulaidh via Stob an Fhuarain. All day there was a large blanket of cloud covering the whole sky. At about 1.30 (when I was on the way out) the cloud blew away and the skies cleared. Typical! Peak of treasure? I didnt find any. In the evening I went up to Cow Hill area and wandered around in the dark doing some night nav!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Minus 1 and 2

Today Kenny and I made a good start by getting up nice and early. We were set on Minus 1 gully (VI,6) so we had to overtake everyone just in case they wanted to do it! We ended up first on the route, one team was ahead of us on Orion Direct. We soloed up the first pitch then Kenny got stuck into the next pitch. It whole route was awesome, ice was brilliant but thin in places. We topped out quite early so we decided to go and do Minus 2 Gully (V,5) as well. A quick 4 abbs off and we found ourselves at the bottom of steep ice, swinging our axes. This route was just as quality with more fatter ice, if a little stepped here and there. Every pitch had some exciting climbing with continued interest until the snow slope to the crest. Again we abbed off and sped back to the van. From what I could see other teams on Tower Ridge and the CIC cascades. Point 5 is looking fat.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Skills day 2

Today Geoff and I got stuck into winter navigation, this was the theme for the day as it was an area Geoff wanted to work on. We went up the East ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochain in Glencoe, from there we headed down onto the col between SCNL and Bidean nam Bian and dropped into the Lost Valley. Plenty of unexpected rain in the morning, saturating the snow pack, cloudy all day with poor visibility. We looked at crampon work, avalanche awareness plus much more. Several teams out walking and climbing, only saw teams heading into SC Gully.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Skills day in Glencoe

Today I was up at Glencoe Ski Centre with Geoff, who is a summer walker, wanting to winterise his skills. We looked at weather, equipment, bag packing and preparation before we headed out. On the hill we covered ice axe arresting, movement with out crampons, use of the walking axe, avalanche awareness and snow pits, emergency shelters and an introduction to basic navigation. Back at base we looked at weather for day two, planned a route, spent time looking at map familiarisation and introduced how to use a compass. Snow was great for skiing today and the weather was great, mild but still great.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Swinging in the rain!

Today Al and I walked into Coire na Poite up in Applecross. We walked in the rain, climbed in the rain and walked out in the rain! Good times. We went on the classic Silver Tear (V,5) which started off really good. I led up the 1st pitch as I didn't want to stand around, axes were going in so easily, unfortunately screws were about as good as a chocolate tea pot, but I did find a hefty in-situ belay! Al climbed up to me, clearly wet and cold, tempted by the abb but decided to lead a pitch so he headed off, after 30m it became thin and hollow and he nipped off to the side to belay. At this point I was very wet and cold so we agreed we would just abb off.... so we did! So obviously quite a thaw going on in the NW, everything saturated, buttresses black, bring on some freezing temps!

Long walk

Today I went up Ben Nevis with Rich and Will. They had raised £1300 for charity so both were very determined to get up as high as possible. We managed to get upto 1100m before they decided they could go on no more, so I agreed and we headed down. It was a pretty nice day, eventually clouding over, wasnt too bad spending 10 hours on the path. Loads of avalanche debris which was really cool, the guys were also interested in learning about avalances after all the media coverage they had seen. We saw a few flattened trees, dead sheep, huge crown walls and hundreds of tons of debris all over the path (good thing they didnt slide on a busy weekend!).

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Today after having car problems I had a late start a went up onto the Ballachulish Horseshoe. I went up the West ridge of Sgorr Bhan which had some nice little steps, probably went at about grade 1. Several other teams on the ridge doing mountaineering courses, after passing these, I didn't see anyone as I walked over to Sgorr Dhearg (1024m) and then onto Sgorr Dhonull (1001m). I headed down into Gleann a Chaolais. Stunning day on the tops. Saw some fresh hoar crystals forming a new layer!!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Ice on Mull

There was a little bit..! Al and I went for a early start to look at some ice that Al had seen from a photo. Turned out it wasnt very fat, so we didnt get a climb in. Heavy bags and deep snow meant we had a good workout and it was a good drive for me. Al slept most on the way! Check out here for a full report.

Yesterday - Day 2 Mountaineering

I was out again shadowing Andy on a 2 day mountaineering course. We spent most of the morning covering navigation as this is what all the group wanted to do. We did this up above Ballachulish. In the afternoon we headed to the Quarry and covered a lot of rope work, securing on steep ground, movement tactics, abseiling and placing protection.