Friday, 30 November 2012


Looks pretty good eh?

Guy (not me) doing the little (VI,6) corner

nice little finish

Happy to be at the belay

Abseiling off the route (2 abbs, 1st 60m, 2nd 30m)
Today I was back on Ben Nevis but today the walk in was easy, all I had was a flask and a sandwich.  I stashed all my gear there yesterday.  So Donald, Mike, Guy (another Guy) and I all got geared up and made our plans.  Mike and Donald went and climbed Lost The Place (V,5) and Guy and I went and climbed Sidewinder (VII,8) on Trident Buttress.  It was a fantastic route with some brilliant, absorbing climbing and some fantastic moves on the crux.  Sidewinder joins Strident Edge at the top, which I did the other day so I did a slightly different variation to keep the climbing independent and new, it was a great 55m pitch.  Conditions are still great for hard mixed climbing.  Darth Vader (VII,7) got climbed again and another route also which I'm not going to say as I fancy it tomorrow....

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thompson's Route

Topping out on the first pitch

Getting stuck into pitch 2

Allan abseiling down the route

Spot the climbers behind Allan

Happy Allan Thompson after climbing Thompson's Route
Today I was back out on Ben Nevis, I was working with Allan.  We've had quite a few days out now and this is our second day out this season, first being North East Buttress before I disappeared to Spain.  Today was different for Allan.  He had some new axes!  He has purchased himself some Petzl Quarks and what a difference they made to his climbing.  Going leash-less with lanyards was a major highlight for Allan and he loved how they just stuck onto everything.  We climbed Thompson's Route (IV,4) as a mixed climb (more like IV,5 today) as the 1st pitch has no build up of ice yet.  Allan had this route on his tick list for a while as it is a real Ben Nevis classic but also as his last name is Thompson.  We had planned to climb the bulk of the route and abseil of without going over the top so we could get back before it got dark and have a nice leisurely day and it was a brilliant idea.  It gave us an opportunity to check out other routes for the future and watch some young wads (Boswell and Sim (i think)) try a new route.  Donald and Guy were on Gargoyle Wall, Jamie and Ken were on Lost the Place and a team on Ledge Route.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Strident Edge

So yesterday I got back from two weeks of climbing in the sun in Spain and today I was winter climbing on Ben Nevis.  The body took a while to get used to the transition but we were both quite warm once we started climbing.  Donald and I opted for Strident Edge (VII,7) and it was brilliant.  We ended up doing the route in 4 pitches giving us both 2 fantastic pitches each and some brilliant climbing (some quite bold climbing too).  Great to see the crags in this condition i.e. amazing and it was great to see many teams out.  Kenny and Guy (not me, another Guy) climbed Smooth Operator (VI,7) and reported an ace route, Simon and Neil climbed The Slab Climb (VI,7), a team on Gargoyle Wall, Lost The Place and 4 people on Tower Ridge.  Conditions are great for hard mixed at the moment.  Working tomorrow on some 'easier mixed'....

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Spain 2012

Just back from two weeks sport climbing in Spain to be met by torrential rain here in the UK.  Looks like everone done south have been hit hard.  Hope everyone is drying out nicely.  It was amazing flying back over the UK above the weather systems that were hitting the county, very impressive cloud formations, I was just glad I was above it all.

So we went to Suirana and then onto Margalef. There were loads of folk around, all having a good time... Here are some photo's.

John crusing a 7a at Monsant

Yours truly on a 7b

Will crushing a 60m 7b

Anna finishing off on a 7a arete

Anna on a briulliant 7a+

John on a 7a as the sun was going down

Lee Dog banging out a 7b at Margalef

Phil on some 7c action

Ben working the moves out on a 8a+

John at the top of his 7c project

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tower Ridge

Well we didn't even get out of the car...At the top car park it looked grim and would have involved alot of suffering.  I presented the options and with no hesitation Shaun and Ben jumped at the idea of indoor ice climbing, Latte, dry tooling, Americano, rope work, panini's, bouldering and testing out the routes for the dry tooling comp tomorrow!  So the next thing we knew, we were swinging our axes into steep ice, hanging on logs, placing on holds, leading with ice screws (on a top rope), getting incredibly pumped...and that was only the first 3 hours.  After leaving the Ice Wall and some lunch we went into the bouldering wall and I showed the guys what dry tooling was all about...and they loved it.  Being strong boulderers, they picked it up quickly and were power screaming and taking good lobs onto the mats!  ticked off some of the competition routes too.  After we all got pretty pumped we retreated to doing some rope work, belay building and other useful skills that he chaps have never done before.

On another note, I'm on holiday now, the Talisker is flowing and I will be back in two weeks.  Some sunny sport climbing is on the cards, hopefully more of this here.  I'm hoping its really wintery here whilst I'm gone so it builds a good base for December when I'm back and everyone gets lots of routes done!  Hope everyone gets out loads and makes me really jealous!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ben Nevis walk

Today was not a day for walking up mountains but that is exactly what we did.  Bin, Soo and I set off from the Ben Nevis Inn in driving winds and rain.  I think it was quite clear that we weren't going to get up to the top but I kept my fingers crossed and we pressed on!  Bin travelled over from Malaysia to meet up with his sister Soo and they travelled up for a day to walk up Ben Nevis.  So after several hours getting battered by wind and rain, I uncrossed my fingers and we agreed this wasn't the best day to attempt this.  If we had pressed on  it would have been a very very long and unpleasant day.  The snow had receded alot.  When I walked down on Monday, Alan and I kept our crampons on until we crossed the Red Burn.  Today we only encountered a couple of soft snow patches.

On another note, there is a write up on Simon Richardsons brilliant blog of the new route Deliverance I did on Skye.

Monday, 5 November 2012

North East Buttress

Looks good on the walk in

Great sky

Alan enjoying the wade

must be a placement somewhere under all the snow

Tired and happy

Last pitch

The start to this winter season is just getting better and better.  Today was my first days work on a winter route.  I was out with Alan who I have been doing quite abit of summer climbing this year and some winter climbing last year.  Today was Alan's first day out for the season and was more than happy to go along when I suggested North East Buttress, despite it being described as a big day.  I was super pleased as neither of us had done it in winter before and to guide it was great fun and quite a challenge.  Despite swimming up deep snow most of the way and finding the 40ft corner utterly desperate, we still managed to get from the bottom of the ridge to the top in 5.5 hours.  It really felt about IV,5 today and it was great to see Alan putting in such a great effort.  His performance was clearly down to all the weight saving tips! ;)  So another brilliant day just before some foul weather is hitting us.  On a personal note, I have now done all the great ridges on Ben Nevis in summer and winter.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Deliverance - New Route

Up the corner

Bit of a wade to get there

Short entry pitch.  Belay right of the large pinnacle

Getting stuck into the 1st hard bit


Mike loving it

Top pitch, dont fall here!

At the top of Deliverance (VII,7)

After yesterdays big slog up the Great Stone Shoot on Skye to get to our intended route, we decided to come back today but with less gear.  Yesterday we stashed crampons, axes, rack, helmet and any else we didn't need to dry out so today was an easier walk in...except for the large amounts of snow that fell through the night which made it very hard going.  So we arrived back at the Stone Shoot face of Sgurr Thearlaich and were stood at the bottom of our intended route.  It was very exiting as it has never been climbed in summer or winter and it looked steep.  Despite Mike finding the route, he was happy for me to do all the leading which I was more than happy with.  The first main pitch was the crux with some steep bulges to negotiate with very poor or none existent foot holds.  It was sustained with fantastic moves and some accommodating gear.  The top pitch was a little easier but again going through some steep ground but with some fantastic hooks and gear.  A brilliant route and Skye winter climbing delivered what I had hoped for.  Two brilliant days out.

Deliverance VII,7** Guy Steven & Mike Lates 4/11/2012

The line starts on the left (facing up) 30m below the top of the Great Stone Shoot by a large pinnacle.
1. 30m Climb the steep corner using the accommodating crack line to a small alcove.
2. 20m Pull out of the alcove and over chock stones to easier ground and the summit crest.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

CD Buttress

Today I fulfilled an ambition to climb on Skye in winter.   Throughout the summer I have been spending quite a quantity of time on the Cuillin and was looking forward to doing some winter routes.  I did climb Pinnacle Ridge years ago which was absolutely fantastic and always wanted to do more.  So with this cold snap, I got in touch with Mike who lives on Skye and know the mountains well.  He suggested we head up to Sgurr Thearlaich and more specifically the Stone Shoot Face.  We had a few options, a new route or an established route.  We agreed we would try an established route and come back tomorrow for a new route.  So we climbed the imaginatively named CD Buttress (V,6) which is a great route working its way through a couple of off widths and steep ground.  We climb the route in 3 pitches plus one short entry pitch.  Conditions were brilliant, plenty of snow, good cold temperatures, good turf and fantastic climbing.  Looking forward to tomorrow.