Saturday, 31 August 2013

Stag Do

Getting geared up
Today I was back on the Isle of Skye but doing some slightly different work. Today I was working with Mike and we were were controlling a group of 10 blokes on a stag do. Original plans were to head up the Inn Pinn but unfortunately the winds were high and it was wet so we opted for an ascent of Sgurr an Fheadain instead. The North East ridge provided the group with a good challenge up to the summit, th wind was still strong even though we were off the main ridge. Our decent took us into Coir' a' Mhadaidh and onto the fairy pools where we initially threw the Stag in and then one by one, we all jumped in. You can tell summer is on its last legs, the water was freezing! After briskly walking back to the cars to warm up we headed down to the Old Inn for a well earned beer.

Ready for some steeper ground

On the top

Air time and wet time!

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Camel

Obviously wasn't going to be a high performance day today from me! Even Murdoch was feeling tired. It was a social able day as Tess and Ian were here at The Camel. Ian and Tess were the ones who found and developed SuperCrag. I Started warming up on Paralysis by Analysis (7a+). Bad idea! Too warm too soon, arms ceasing to function. Super high gravity day! As I have done this route before I tried the moves on Giza Break (7b+) which I will work on next time I'm back with fresh arms. I finished off on There's Sand in My Pants (6c+) but wasn't that enjoyable as I was so tired. I finished the day by a sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi! Should be strong next week??
Day 5 – Feeling pathetic and weak!

A great week at new venues and climbed lots of cool routes. We stayed at the Elphin hut which is a fantastic location for climbing in the NW highlands.
Ian on the 8a

Thursday, 29 August 2013


Everything ached today but after we got a few routes climbed I was feeling better. We started the day with a pumpy traverse of Walk across the Rooftops (E3 5c), not an ideal start to the day but was a nice climb, very pumpy. Then we climbed Immaculate Deception (E1 5b) and had another wee solo around. After this we went back into Stone Pig area and climbed Sonique (E4 5c) which was a brilliant route, really worth doing then followed by Miss Moneypenny (E5 6a) which I managed to get up by the skin of my teeth. Wicked routes in this wee area, very pumpy climbing I thought. Day 4 – Completely Broken and needing arm transplants! Too tired to take photos.
Murdoch Walking Across the Rooftops

Mountaineering to find a route

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


This place is the business! Amazing routes, amazing setting. Just like the Islands but smaller. A 40 minute walk in saw us abseiling into the steep cliffs of Creag Rhoda Mor. This crag was only developed over the last few years and was kept a secret until most of the routes were climbed. We warmed up in the Bundished Walls on Mega Flake (E2 5c), huge jugs, good gear, wild position and slightly rattly rock at the top. We then climbed Rusty Buckets (E3 6a) – Do not warm up on this! So pumpy but a brilliant pitch with really cool finger pockets to yard up on. After the main wall dried up (gets a bit smeggy early on from the sea) we jumped on (My Own) Personal Mingulay (E4 6a) which was a fantastic route, really steep and with my wiltering forearms it was tiring. However as the climbing was so good we abseiled back in and Murdoch made a nice lead of Rodha Mor (E5 6a), another brilliant route which I fell off at the top with my elbows touching the sky and having a bone marrow pump! Day 3 – Feeling broken with non-functional arms.
Murdoch blending in on Rodha Mor 

Murdoch in camoflage on Rodha Mor (E5 6a)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Day two of our NW climbing trip and Murdoch and I went to Reiff. I have never been here so we had a wee solo around warming up on some easy routes around the Pinnacle area then tied onto various routes of a 'must do' nature or stuff Murdoch hadn't done. We climbed Westering Home (E1 5b) and Channering Worm (E3 5c). We then went too the Bouldering Cliff and and climbed The Hand Traverse (HVS 5a) and Crack of Desire variation start (E4 6a) which was brilliant but scary at the start! After that we went over to the Stone Pig area and climbed Strongbow (E1 5b) and finished on Clatterbridge (E5 6b)! Absolutely nails route, its like climbing up a finger board and the holds get worse and worse as you move away from the gear. A great performance from Murdoch. Day 2 – very tired with sore arms.
Clatterbridge - Murdoch is a beast!
Cold on Strongbow

Monday, 26 August 2013

Dirc Mor

Murdoch on TMWTCIHE
So day one of 5 days climbing with Murdoch (Me trying hard). So a bit of a miss match in climbing abilities but hey ho, good to get a work out. We walked into the fantastic crag of DircMhor, above Dalwhinnie. The hour walk in lest us standing below the steep and intimidating micro-granite crag. The aim was he trilogy of E5's. We started off on the Fanfare of the Common Man (E5 6a) which we both found hard as our fingers were like Ice cubes. The crag is in a wee gorge and the wind just funnels through. After this we moved onto The Man with the Child in his Eyes (E5 6b). An outrageous route. It took Murdoch a wee while to climb the crux pitch so when it came to me to second it, I couldnt feel anything. I made good progress but unfortunately fell off near the top of the pitch. Finally we climbed The Scent of a Woman (E5 6b), well most of it. Unfortunately after the routes we had already done, we were both a wee bit tired (Murdoch mentally, me physically) so we bailed off onto Positive Earth and up to the abseil. A brilliant crag and worth the walk in, the other routes look good too. Day 1 – Quite tired with stiff arms

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Steall Water Fall

A nice restful day today and nice to be out of the rain. I was out with Michael, a keen outdoor walker from Chicago. I always thought that America had lots to offer in terms of wilderness, natural beauty and wilderness but judging by Michaels reaction to Glen Nevis and the Steall Gorge, it reminded me how unique and wonderful this place is. It reminded me how lucky I am to live in the area. I spent a lot of time in Glen Nevis over the years but not so much this year. The walk today has reminded me how amazing it really is.   Today I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sgurr a' Mhadaidh and Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh

Today I was back out with Anne and Catherine for a nice jolly and maybe another peak. Unfortunately Anne was feeling unwell so headed back for tea and biscuits. We weren't jealous at all... So Catherine and I let hell break loose. With the intention of just doing one summit we cracked on in the rain and summited both SaM and SaG. The weather was abysmal, we were glad to get the Inn Pinn done yesterday. The terrain felt serious today as it was so slippy, we had the rope on throughout which also helped an inexperienced couple decide whether it was for them or not. Without a rope we all thought not. Each to their own, had they been experienced mountaineers then fine but after chatting with them, it was best they saved it for a nice day. Live to tell the tale again.  The last two days I have been working for Skye Guides.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Inaccessible Pinnacle

Another hit on the Inn Pinn today, quite a day to remember. Probably the worst conditions I have done it in but one of the most rewarding Pinn days. I was out with Anne and Catherine, both who put up with the almost constant precipitation and driving winds. With two days in the bank for the summit I wanted to try hard today as tomorrow was looking no better. Fortunately the wind didn't affect us as we climbed the East ridge. The wind seemed to be coming from the west which we were able to tuck out of where it mattered. Wind suits were not needed. Anne and Catherine were delighted to reach the top in such foul weather, I was more delighted once we had our feet back on the ground. Well done to both of them, unfortunately I didn't have a camera today.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Clach Glas - Blabheinn Traverse

At last, I have got round to doing this!  Its been on the to-do list for quite a while!  Caroline was super keen to try it, as was I.  It was a perfect finale to her 4 days of adventurous mountaineering.  We made the full classic loop.  Over Sgurr nan Each, which should not be missed out, some fantastic scrambling there.  Over Clach Glas, just brilliant.  It felt nicely sustained and continuously interesting.  We also took a super-direct line up the final tower which was brilliant.  We made our way onto the Summit of Blabheinn after 2pm before making our way back to the car for a farewell.  Probably one of the best sections of ridge on Skye.  If you haven't done it then you must!  Go and do it!  This week I have been working for Skye Guides.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

South Gully plus more

Today it was more rain.  Slightly less than yesterday so Caroline and I headed for the mountains.  Far too wet for a camera though.  The winds were up so we sought shelter up in Coire na Creiche which is approached via the beautiful Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye.  We had a couple of options but finally settled on South Gully (Severe) on Glaich Moire Face.  This is a huge gully which reminded me very much of Clachaig Gully except this was much wetter! We moved in and out of the gully on the initial stages but had some great sustained climbing on super clean rock before being barred by the crux.  A smooth chimney which needs front and back footing.  Today it was a gushing waterfall so we moved onto the slabs too the left.  We eventually ended on the ridge west of Bidean Druim nan Ramh so we refuelled and headed over the 3 tops.  Fortunately the rain had subsided a little so it didn't feel too bad.  Usually I always avoid this section in the wet but Caroline was climbing incredibly well.  We proceeded onto An Caisteal and eventually onto Bruach na Frithe before making our way down the North-West Ridge and scree running down to the Fairy Pools.  Despite the weather, there were some brave youngsters out enjoying the perfect natural swimming pools!  Another brilliant day on Skye, a new area for me and some very challenging conditions.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Low level Skye day

Initially we spent the day indoors looking at ropework and drinking tea and after lunch Caroline and I headed out to brave the weather. Strong winds and constant rain kept hitting up. We opted for a wee sea cliff which gave us relative shelter to put the skills into practice. Hopefully tomorrow improves.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Pinnacle ridge plus more

A brilliant day. I have wanted to climb Pinnacle Ridge on Skye for quite a while. I did it in winter years ago but never done it in summer. I was out with Caroline who is quite keen to do a ridge traverse later this week. After summiting we climbed up onto Am Bastier as well as the tooth. Then abseiled kings cave chimney before walking up Bruach na Frithe. A brilliant day on skye!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Final day of our Munro Course

Check the map before the mist
Our final day and it was a race against the clock. All hell was due to break loose after mid day. We had an early start on the North section so we could get the tricky peaks done first. Fortunately we were able to do Sgurr nan Gillean via the West ridge and Am Basteir before the rain came in.. When it did come in, so did the rain. From Bruach na Frithe we got blasted by what felt like a pressure washer. All the way to the car at Sligachan. Every stitching on our external clothing was wet, for some, internal stitching also. We walked for about 2 hours in the heavy rain and wind. I have to say it felt very satisfying knowing that we had timed things perfectly. Finishing off in the rain was quite a refreshing finale and definitely didn't put a damper onto the enthusiasm of Martin, Nick and James. Fantastic effort by all 3, we really did battle some very foul weather where I know a lot of folk would have ran away to the pub. Looking forward to seeing you guys on the hills again.  This week I have been working for Moran Mountain.

Sgurr nun Gillean

Am Basteir

Whiskey on Bruach na Frithe!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Munro course day 3

James on the approach to the Inn Pin
Today was the only day with a promising forecast so it was a no brainer to save the Inaccessible Pinnacle. After 2 days of not seeing a soul in the mountains we caught a team up on the In Pinn and another team followed us up. The ravens destroyed somebody's lunch again, its not a myth, they can open zips and Tupperware boxes. Seal everything up and put rocks on your bags. We went on to ascend MhicChoinnich, which again we had all to ourselves. It was amazing to see the place so quiet.   

Sgurr Alasdair

The Inn Pin

Top of the world 

Sgurr MhicChonnich

Monday, 12 August 2013

Munro Course day 2

Making sure we all know where we are before we head into the cloud
James, Martin and Nick on Sgurr a' Mhadaidh
Another wet and windy day was on the cards so I opted for the mid section with James, Nick and Martin. Fortunately the conditions were not as bad as the forecast had suggested. The 40mph winds did not hit us and the rain just came and went in passing showers. For a second day, the chaps have had no views of the Cuillin, just a few valley openings here and there. Enough to get a feeling of the exposure. Also for a second day running we didn't encountered any other mountaineers, understandably, as it was weather for only people who know the intricate detail of the Cuillin. We ascended into a misty An Doras and started the day on Sgurr a' Mhadaidh. The rock was greasy and the winds had picked up. After we reached Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh we tested the ridge proper but felt it was a bit too serious so dropped into the Glen Brittle side for slightly more amenable progress. We arrived on Sgurr na Banachdich as the rain descended onto us and the wind picked up. We decided to drop down to a more sheltered spot for a wee drink and snack before our final descent back to the youth hostel. The ridge of Sgurr nan Gobhar was on the cards but as it was wet and greasy we just headed down Coire an Eich for a hassle free descent. Another brilliant day. Hopefully tomorrow will bring less rain!

Nick, James and Martin on Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh

Sgurr na Banachdich in the foul weather

James put holes in his gloves, Nick put holes in his fingers and my hands went yellow from my yellow gloves!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Munro Course on Skye

Eerie Coire lagan.  Can you see the Cioch?
Into Coire Ghrundha
Today is the 1st day of 4 with James, Nick and Martin who are aiming to complete all the Munro's. Martin is well over 200 and has all the Skye Munro's to do. So with 4 days to complete them we got busy today. Unfortunately the weather was horrendous. High winds and pretty much constant rain. Double set of waterproofs would have been a good idea. I decided we would do the Southern 3 Munro's as this requires limited time exposed on the ridge proper. When we were exposed, it was never too difficult. We were up on Sgurr nan Eag after 3 hours from leaving the car, the rain hadn't hit us yet. However en-route out to Sgurr Dubh Mor, we were hit. Hit hard. Our waterproofs put up a good fight but it was only a matter of time. Boots were soaked, rope doubled its weight and clearly I need to replace my waterproof trousers. Our ascent onto Sgurr Alasdair was slow and steady, the rock was greasy and very wet. On the summit we had no view, which has been the same on every other summit. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Our first summit in pea soup

Seeking shelter in the cave...a little damp!

Down the great stone shoot

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Inaccessible Pinnacle

Today was all about climbing another iconic piece of rock. This time I was out with Al and James and they wanted to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle, followed by some exciting ridge walking. As usual the Inaccessible Pinnacle went with no problems. We had one team ahead of them but gave them plenty of space. We all abseiled off the Pinn and made our way along the fantastic ridge leading to Sgurr na Banadich. From the summit we descended down Sgurr nan Gebhar ridge. I have never done this and it was absolutely fantastic. It looks great from a distance and it really is great to descend. Because it is off the main ridge and isn't as popular as other sections, it is a wee bit green and slimy. Other than that, its brilliant. We headed due west off the final peak which was pretty steady to get down and lead to a great wee scree run. Another brilliant day learning a new part of the Cuillin.  For the last wee while I have been working for Skye Guides.

Friday, 9 August 2013


Today was unfortunately another poor weather day but we had a great day climbing the Cioch. Mick had seen the Cioch on the TV on a program called Coast and became inspired to climb it. He had no climbing experience but was super keen. The Cioch Corner (Diff) was utterly desperate but we both managed to get up without any falls. Everything was just so greasy and very trick some. On the top of the Cioch we found two plastic swords so Mick re-enacted the classic highlander moment as I snapped away with his camera. A great day out in the Cuillin and climbing such an iconic piece of rock. The rain cleared for the walk out and we even saw some sunshine.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Goat Crag

Me on Snowflake Photo credit Nadir Khan
Went to a brilliant new venue today for a spot of sport climbing.  Maybe one of the best sport crags in the country.... I joined Murdoch and we also had Nadir Khan, a talented photographer who was getting some photos for an up coming article in Climb magazine.  The gneiss at Goat Crag gave fantastic varied climbing and felt pretty sustained, even the easy routes!  We started on Hydrotherepy (6c+) to get warmed up then we both did Mactalla.  I got it on my second go and to be honest it is the best 7a+ I have ever climbed. Just amazing fun!  Murdoch went on to climb Fun Prow (8a), amazing effort! The Prow LH Finish (7c), also impressive and I did a  few more 6's to get a bit of mileage and have a bit of a rest.  Unfortunately before I could try anything else, the wind dropped and the midges came out in force.  We had to do a rapid crag evacuation!  Cant wait to get back!
Murdoch ready for his 8a
Murdoch cooling down on Snowflake
Murdoch on the Prow

Monday, 5 August 2013


Back to work today and the choice of venue was the sea cliffs of Elgol.  I took the Younger family, all of whom have never climbed on rock. Sophie, Malcolm, Elizer and Annabel all kept hopes high as we walked in through the rain and climbed Fertility Right (Severe) in the rain.  Fortunately the rain subsided and the rock dried super quickly some everyone climbed Fertility Left (VS 4c) and we finished on one of the classics of the crag Jamie Jampot (VS 4c).  Unsurprisingly we had the crag to ourselves, we had a great view of the Cuillin and turned out to be a brilliant day.  Its hard not to love climbing when you climb at Elgol!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Brin Rock

With the weather being horrendous on the west coast, I headed over to the sunny side of the country to meet up with Murdoch, Gaz and Andy for some sport climbing.  We went to Brin rock, a very exposed crag, where we were getting a blasting from the full force of the wind.  I warmed up on Captains of Crush (6c) which is a great little route and then made a speedy onsight of The One and Only (7a).  It had to be speedy as I only had 3 minutes to climb before a band of rain hit us.  I climbed through the crux quickly but got massively pumped but fortunately there was a good rest to use before the final moves and clipping the chain.  A really good steep route on fingery holds.  I then had a couple of goes on Pink Wall (7b) which is just amazing climbing.  Unfortunately I didn't get it but I think it will go in another trip.  Shame its so far away!  I finished off by climbing The One and Only again but was a bit pumped so had a brief rest on the way up.  Another new crag for me with more fantastic sport climbing! Here's a picture of me on The One and Only from Murdoch's camera.

Friday, 2 August 2013

When the wind took control

A slightly disappointing day today due to uncontrollable circumstances. I was out with Nigel who was keen to summit the Northern 3 Munros on Skye. Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe.  We knew from the off set it was to be windy, grass was pushed horizontal, streams were spraying water onto us as we walked by, my sun glasses were blow off my head and taken to the depths below. On arrival to the base of Sgurr nan Gillean, the wind was strong, accelerated over the col, we pressed on but only to be blown to the ground. We were not going up today. We salvaged the day by summiting Bruach na Frithe and left Am Bastier for a calmer day.  Rain on the ridge is manageable, strong gust on the ridge is playing with fire! I didn't want to get burnt! As disappointing it is to bail out of an objective, it is good to come back in one piece knowing that the mountain will be there for an ascent another time.
Nigel enjoying a bit of shelter
Looks nice but the wind was howling through
Sunny over there but not here