Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Recovery day on Skye

Today was my last day with Rob and Jill and after yesterday's monster day we had a bit of a sleep in and set off walking at 9.30.  Rob and Jill had completed all the South section and the mid section of the Cullin ridge Munro's except the Inn Pinn.  They also haven't done the North section.  We decided that we should attempt the Inn Pinn as it is a bit of a shorter day and we had a later start.  Unfortunately the weather still wasn't playing ball and we didn't really fancy walking all the way to the top to find we couldn't climb it.  We decided to sack it off for another day.  A great 3 days in the mountains, our itinery was some what disturbed by the weather but that is the way it goes in the mountains, being able to come back safely without your chosen climb or summit means that you can recover and attempt at a later date.  Didn't get any photo's of Rob and Jill looking very wet.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

All systems go on Skye

Today was traverse day so Rob, Jill and I headed off with out our light rucksacks after yesterdays stash.  We made rapid progress onto Sgurr nan Eag and the weather was looking great, blue skies as far as we could see and a lovely light wind saw us rapidly getting over to a little bag stash so we could dash over to Sgurr Dubh Mor.  As there were a few Raven's lingering around we piled up the bags and buried them under some rock's.  Unfortunately not quite enough rocks.  Once we returned from SDM, Jill's top zip of her bag had been opened and all her food for the two days had been eaten, everything except one cereal bar!  So we decided that we still had enough food to get us through.  So we pressed on through the TD gap, onto Sgurr Alasdair then onto Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. This is the point the weather came in, it came in hard.  Cloud eloped the peaks and brought rain and wind.  We donned our waterproofs and pressed on.  We arrived at the Inn Pinn but decided not to climb it as it had become very wet and quite windy, a dangerous combination on the most polished and exposed piece of rock on Skye!  Again we pressed on making our way through minimal viability and rain to find ourselves on top of Sgurr nan Banachdaich.  I guess if we had carried our bivi kit we would have bailed off the ridge here but we didn't fancy walking up the same route again the next day so we pressed on to find our kit.  Again we pressed on reaching Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh with the weather showing no signs of improving and we reached our bivi site....relieved!  I brewed up a hot drink for Jill and Rob whilst they ate and packed up the bivi kit ready for our escape from the mountain.  We were all to wet to bivi out for the night so we descended back down An Dorus to Glen Brittle youth hostel.  Near the bottom I ran ahead and jogged along the road to pick up my car from Glen Brittle camp site.  We got in the car at 23.30, a good 15.5 hour day!  Today I was working for Moran Mountain.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Skye Ridge Preperation

Today I was working for Moran Mountain and out with Rob and Jill.  We had a 3 day weather window to have a training/prep day and then two days for a ridge traverse.  Rob and Jill had heard about gear being stashed on the ridge to make life easier on the first day so we planned to make a stash as a prep day.  Stashing kit was a concept that I haven't tried, it had its benefits but also its consequences.  So we headed up into the thick cloud with bivi kit and water and up through An Doris and ascended on to Sgurr a' Mhadaidh, Jill and Rob's first Munro on Skye. Unfortunately the cloud was think so we had no views and very poor visibility.  We then went over to Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh, again in poor visibility.  I got a glimpse of blue Skye so I suggested to Rob and Jill that we hang around on the summit as it my clear.  Fortunately it did leaving us with a perfect cloud inversion with all the peaks creeping through the cloud.  WE stashed our kit and descended back to Glen Brittle for a relaxed evening and planning our means of attack over the next two days.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Incredibly wet on Ben Nevis

Today I was marshalling for a large group of 59 fund raisers walk up Ben Nevis.  The event was organised by Marie Curie and every participant had done their part and raised lots of money.  Today was one of the busiest days I've seen despite the conditions.  It was mild and very wet with visibility very poor.  Cloud base even touched down to the Ben Nevis Inn around mid morning.  There was never a point today where I couldn't see another person, it was a constant train of people both up and down, more miserable looking faces than happy ones.  There were lots of  'panda eye's' wandering around as well as many people who had clearly forgot their waterproofs who wet obviously soaked to the skin.  The John Muir Trust were out doing a summit litter pick, good on them to be out in this weather!  Anyway, back up to Skye tomorrow so hopefully the weather is a little more favourable.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tower Ridge

Today looked like it was going to be a suffer-fest on the hill with heavy rain and strong winds forecast.  Nigel, Diane and Mark knew what they were letting themselves in for and were still keen to get involved.  The weather actually turned out pretty good.  Our ascent went very well and stayed dry most of the way.  After getting the team into the Gap, I climbed down and I was just bridged across the gap and the heavens opened and they opened well!  The raindrops were huge, mixed with a few hail stones for good measure.  We stepped it up a gear and pressed onto the top and then onto the summit of Ben Nevis.  They guys loved that fact that the weather changed, made them feel good for having to wear waterproofs all day!  A quick descent saw us passing many walkers coming up the tourist route, mostly involved with some 3 peaks challenge.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Freak Out

Day off today so Kenny and I headed back into Glencoe and up to the East Face of Aonach Dubh.  I hadn't done any of the harder route's up here except following Kenny up Crocodile (E3 5c) about 6 years ago.  We warmed up on Lady Jane (E2 5c) which is a great single pitch route which Kenny dispatched.  We then abseiled down Sir Chancelot (E2 5b) and as the rope was there we had a quick top rope to get a little more warmed up.  After this we headed over to the base of Freak Out (E4 6a).  Kenny sent the first pitch which ends up at a nice hanging belay.  I then took over for the main pitch and headed up a brilliant crack, through some steep moves to a pumpy finale on some blocks.  Its a route that I have wanted to do for a long time and really chuffed to have got it done in fantastic Scottish weather.  We then darted over to Weeping Wall and Kenny shot up Spider (HVS 5a), we scrambled off and ran back to the car in 15 minutes.  Scotland is clearly the place to be!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Agag's Groove

Today I was back out with Ange and Mick and we headed back into Glencoe as the sun was shining and the weather was sweet.  He headed for the uber classic Agag's Groove (VD) on Buachaille Etive Mor.  We had the route to ourselves, only a couple of teams passing on Curved ridge.  The rock was nice and dry and the climbing is just fantastic.  As Ange and Mick have never summitied a Munro, we continued on up to the summit of Stob Dearg and descended Coire na Tulaich for a great end of two brilliant days of rock climbing.

Monday, 18 June 2012

East face of Aonach Dubh

Today I was out working for Alan Kimber and I took out Mick and Ange for some sun kissed rock climbing!  The weather was fantastic in Glencoe so we wandered up to the East Face of Aonach Dubh.  We started off on Eve's ArĂȘte (VD) which is a great route, I had never done it before and it had a brilliant exposed traverse pitch.  After topping out on this we headed up higher and climbed Archer Ridge (Severe), a route I haven't done for a while and it is still brilliant.  These two routes filled the day for us and we made our way back down to the backs and onto the car.  Talking about our plan for tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Day two with the walking club

Today I was back out with the walking club from yesterday and today we went for more of a journey day.  This gave the group the opportunity to focus on marco-navigation, as this is what we all do most of the time whilst walking in the hills.  We focused specifically on leadership skills and party management on varying terrain both in ascent and descent.  The weather wasn't fantastic which was great for the group to get first hand experience of looking after others in the foul weather.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Leadership Skills for a hill walking club

Today I was working with Rich Bentley from Mountain Motion down in Ardlui.  We had a group of 12 members from 'Our Lady of Lourdes' walking club and the idea was to introduce leadership and group management skills to the participants.  Along the way we covered alot of navigation, mainly micro navigation which the team lapped up very well.  We also spent a little bit of time looking at emergency procedures and what to do if somebody has become immobile, a potential outcome for anyone in the hills.  We didn't cover a huge distance as we wanted to get really hands on with the navigation and get back for some classroom sessions.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Alpine day in Ogwen

Today I took Ben back to Ogwen as it gave us an opportunity to cover lots of technical terrain and link up lots of scrambles.  In fact we hardly did any uphill walking, only scrambling and climbing!  Ben was keen to look at moving efficiently over technical terrain and learn about the transition between rock climbing and scrambling and how to use the rope appropriately.  We started off on North-West Face Route (Grade 2 *) and then moved onto the continuation wall on Idwal Staircase (Grade 2 **).  To move over this terrain we were mainly moving together, sometime pitching short tricky moves but reached Seniors Ridge quite quickly.  From here we moved over to Cneifion ArĂȘte (Grade 3 ***) where I led two pitches to start and then we moved together to the top with Ben leading all the way.  Still with plenty of time left we picked up the False Gribin ridge (Grade 1 *) and then dropped of the side to pick up the bottom of Dolmain Ridge (Grade 3 ***).  I led the whole of the route taking Ben through some interesting terrain and looking at different ways of protecting ourselves whilst keeping movement efficient.  We topped out in good time so we finished off by soloing down Bristly Ridge (Grade 1 ***).  A great day with lots of mileage.  Finished off the day with 3 routes in the slate quarries with Dave Evans before running away from the midges.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Back in Wales

Today I was back in Snowdonia and out with Ben who was keen for some mileage.  The aim of our two days out was to do plenty of multi pitch climbing and scrambling and looking at the transition between the two, useful for Ben's future alpine trip.  We headed on to Idwal Slabs and started off on Ordinary Route (D) where I started off leading then Ben taking over for a bit, looking at belays, rope management and ways of using systems more efficiently.  We then carried on up onto Lazarus (S) and then onto Continuation Crack (HVS 5a) which was brilliant little route.  After all of this we headed back down to the base, climbed up two pitches and looked at multi-pitch abseil descents, how it can be done safely and efficiently.  Finally to finish I guided Ben up Hope (VD) and we decended off the left via the scrambling decent and back to the car for 5.  This evening I met up with John, Caff and Calum for a wee boulder at the Gravestones then onto the Cromlech boulders.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cioch Nose

Today was my last day working up in the North West for Martin Moran.  Another great forecast meant that Simon and I had a brilliant day on the Cioch Nose, a 4 star Severe which has continued interest and a brilliant 500m+ ridge of scrambling and easy climbing to finish up.  It was great for me to do a route I haven't done before and also climb on a rock type I haven't been on either, Torridonian sandstone is absolutely fantastic!  So a great end to a great week of sun, climbing, scrambling, great food and great company!  Off to a wedding this weekend for lots of great food and dancing (at least an attempt anyway!)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Ridge Traverse

Over the last two days I took Brian for his second attempt on the Cullin ridge Traverse. Last years attempt he got as far as An Dorus heading South to North. This time we went from North to South so we could cover the Munro's he hasn't done and if we don't complete it then Brian will have done the ridge in two overlapping halves. We made good progress reaching Sgurr nan Gillean via the South-East ridge, after helping two chaps who were in a spot of bother, crag fast with out a rope. We got down the west ridge before the crowds, looking back from the top of Am Basteir we could see there was now a traffic jam. We were moving well, off Am Bastier, over Bruach na Fraith where we saw a load of rucksacks buried with rocks, I presume to stop the pesky Ravens getting their lunch. Going over An Caisteal and Bidein Druim nan Ramh we passed several teams who were doing the ridge traverse, all looking tired after the distance they have covered. We reached Brians 'high point' from last year, Sgurr a Mhadaidh and passed through An Dorus up to Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh, our final peak for the day. We dropped down to the col below Sgurr Thormaidh and set up for the night. A good 10.5 hour day!

4.30am alarm clock woke Brian and I up and after a brew and some food we were on our way by 5.15. Our first port of call was the Inn Pinn via Sgurr na Banachdich. We were on the summit on the Inn Pinn at 7am, we had the whole place to ourselfs and we had fantastic views of the whole ridge. We next headed over to Sgurr MhicChoinich, then back tracked to Collies Ledge before making our ascent up the highest peak, Sgurr Alasdair. From here we abseiled down in to the TD Gap and climbed out the other side before heading over to Sgurr Dubh Mor. Unfortunately time was getting on and we had been on the go for many hours and Brian was happy to call it a day. He felt to tired to carry on and then walk out. So we headed down to Loch Coir a' Ghrunnda and back out the Glen Brittle for and ice cream and a nice cold drink. We were very luck to have fantastic weather for the two days, we even got a little snow flurry! Overnight it was very cold, frost all over the bivi Bags in the morning! We did 9 Munro's in total and spent 12 hours on the go on the second day cumulating to 22.5 hours on the hill. Great effort Brian!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Cioch West

Today I was out with Simon, David and Brian and some rock climbing was on the cards. Weather was good and dinner last night was even better so we were all full of energy. With a mixed group (experienced climber but done nothing for 20 years, indoor rock climber and another lapsed climber) we didn't want to push ourselves to hard especially as this was day 1 of 5. We went and climbed the classic Cioch west (Severe), first climbed in 1919. What a brilliant route, I had never done this route before but I will be keen to do again. It has some fantastic warm up pitches before the crux, an easy-ish crux (just a little exposed) and some excellent finishing pitches. From the top of the route we climbed Cioch Nose (VD) to the summit of the Cioch. From here we down climbed a wee bit the abseiled down the slabs and traversed back out to the scree's and descended back to the minibus where we met the other team who had just been up the Inn Pinn. Well done to the guys today, they all put in a great effort and I'm happy to announce that their cob webs are well and truly blown away. Ridge traverse tomorrow.....I think so!

Friday, 1 June 2012


I have just been in Northern Ireland for a week rock climbing on the coast. I was here lastyear and because it was so good, I was keen to come back. This year I was teamed up with Tim Neil which meant that I would be going home very tired indeed! After arriving on the ferry we had a long drive up to Fairhead but we went to the crag straight away. I started off on the brilliant two pitch Titanic (E2 5c) which I did in one 60m pitch then Tim led Thunder Road (E3 5c) after a recommendation (sandbag) by a local (the skin on the back of Tims hands never really recovered). The following day we climbed Candy Kisses (E4 6a), Halloween (E4 6a) and The Brasser (E2 5c), all three star routes but very different from one another. The following day we climbed Blade Runner (E3 5c) and Track of the Cat (E4 6a) followed by The Hustler (E3 5c), Salango (E3 5c), Dark Forces (E4 6a), Marconi Arete (E4 5c), Embankment (E2 5c), GBH (E3 5c), Aoife (E1 5b) and Waist Deep in Alligators (E4 6a) the following 4 days. We were in a group of 13 and between us we had made over 150 ascents, cumulating over 300 stars and getting close to 800 E points between us. It obvious to say that the weather was rather good!