Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Salvage Day

Today was my last day out with John after our ridge traverse attempt.  We opted for a section of the ridge that John hadn't done before so we went up from the fairy pools and up Sgurr an Fheadain and then on up to Bidean Druim nan Ramh.  From here we went over An Caisteal and up onto Bruach na Frithe before coming down its north west ridge.  I didn't take my camera with the given forecast, it actually turned out quite nice.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

You win some, you loose some.

A promising start to the day
More mist
I cant quite decided if we have won or lost over the last two days.  How do you measure success and should we be unhappy with failure?  My client John wanted to do a Cuillin Ridge Traverse,  he has 20 years of Cuillin experience, he knows the Isle of Skye better than I do.  But at the age of 60, he needed a helping hand along the ridge.  The plan was south to north including everything possible.  Munro's and all the rock climbs.  Day one went well, we moved through the cloud all day, climbing the TD gap, third time lucky for John and an big weight taken off his shoulders, up King's Chimney, another big ambition, Sn Stac, In Pinn and on the the bivi at Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh.  Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and persisted through the morning.  We made the decision to head off the mountain as it was going to be very slow progress and pretty unpleasant.  So unfortunately not a complete traverse but John succeeded in two ambitions on the first day.  A success within a failure I guess.

John in the TD Gap

More Mist

Bivi in a cave...sub optimal

Sunday, 27 July 2014

He who dares my son, he who dares!

Brothers Mike and John

Coming up the Pinn

Somewhere on Skye...Could be anywhere

Top of the Pinn

Team summit selfie

Tried to clear out but not quite

John backing up mike on abseil

Persistanced paid off today for John, Mike and I.  Our combined team age of 174 years (I'm 27 by the way) watched as two other guided parties drove away from the car park as it was raining.  I convinced John and Mike that it was to clear up and we pressed on.  3 hours later we were stood at the foot of the Inaccessible Pinnacle deciding whether to climb it or not.  It didnt take long, we were going for it.  The rain had subsided, the timing was perfect.  As we made many pitches up the ridge the rock was so warm and was drying off perfectly.  It was a dream come true for John and Mike.  Unfortunately the cloud didnt lift but this left us with some very atmospheric situations.  We all abseiled off and headed down into Coire na Banachdich just as the rain started.  Persistance paid off.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  We ventured and John and Mike achieved a lifetime ambition.  A great day in sub optimal conditions.  Sweet!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Church Door last!

Iain enjoying the exposure on the top pitch of Temple of Doom
I have wanted to climb here for a long time.  Probably Glencoe's finest crag but one that takes a long time to dry.  Fortunately the weather has been warm and dry and the crag was perfect.  I made the long walk up to the 950m high crag on Bidean nam Bian with Blair and Iain, both who made the walk up earlier in the week to climb a new route on the crag which Iain graded E7.  Fortunately for me, E7 wasn't on the cards today and we chose to climb 3 of the uber classic routes.  We worked from right too left starting on Temple of Doom (E3 6a), a superb route with 2 outstanding pitches feeling like old school E3...which means quite hard.  We had an abseil set up so we made rapid descents back to the ground before setting up on the Lost Ark (E4 6a).  Again another sensational route and worthy of it 3/4 stars.  The exposure and positions on the routes were just incredible.  Finally we finished on Kingpin (E3 6a), a 4 star route, and Extreme Rock tick and just pure brilliance.  The rock on the crag is so rough, very similar to gabbro found on Skye.  It was a great day, we finished our last route at 10pm, back to the car at 11pm and having dinner at midnight.  What a great day! Shame the rain is on its way now.

Iain setting off on The Lost Ark

Iain on the 

Iain heading into nothing on the crux

Dr Fyffe's attentive belaying

Blair on the top pitch of The Lost Ark

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Beinn Eighe

Mountain cragging doesnt get much better than this
After a good few days of enjoying the sunshine on my mountain bike and soloing in Glen Nevis and on Ben Nevis, I teamed up with Murdoch again and headed up to Torridon as he had his eye on an E7.  Not any E7, but one that hasn't had a second ascent and the technical grade is British 6c (F7c). well out of my league but I'm always up for an adventure and there were loads of route's I want to do on that cliff.  So we got a route in each so it was a good day. Murdoch made a great attempt on The Fascist Groove Thang (E7 6c) but unfortunately powered out at the crux.  After a rest and working out the moves he made it up to the belay.  This did not boded well for my attempt.  However I climbed as quickly as I could before getting very sore arms.  I didn't climb the crux clean but fortunately there was a good bit of gear for me to pull on to get to the jug.  The highlight for me was climbing the uber classic Angel Face (E2 5c) which felt quite sporting after trying to climb E7 but got dispatched well. I have climbed a few times on Beinn Eighe, both summer and winter, both hard and easy and it is a magical place, a venue that should be on everyone's list.

Murdoch arranging a high runner before traversing out right

Murdoch climbing the super exposed traverse

Iain and Blair on Sunscreen

Perfect weather

Murdoch working out the crux

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Restful day sea cliff climbing at Elgol

Pete and Will getting to grips with the sea cliffs
After WIll and Pete's successful traverse yesterday they were feeling pretty tired but I managed to persuede them to snatch a day at Elgol.  So after a modest meeting time we found ourselfs abseiling down to the waters edge at Elgol. WE climbed all the easy classics from severe to HVS and the WIll sat at the top for some photo's whilst Pete and I climbed Alter Ego (E1 5b), which was Pete's first time on E1 territory.  He cruised it!  IT was a great day and a great finale to the weekend.  The success was down to their fitness and their motivation and willingness to keep going.  The weather also played a little part on it too!
Will passing the crux

Pete loving the sunny climbing

Too cool for school

Pete on his first ever E1

Will loving the brilliantly sustained Jamie Jampot (VS)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Cuillin Ridge Traverse

Rib into Loch Caruisk
Just back from another successful traverse on the Cuillin Ridge.  I was out with Dr Will and Dr Pete who were both very handy mountaineers.  This allowed for a rapid traverse, including all the hard climbing sections (TD Gap, Kings Chimney, An Stac, In Pinn, BDnR and Naismith's Route.  The weather was perfect, the mountains were surprisingly quiet and Pete even got some leading in along the way.  One highlight was the swim at the end of the day.
TD Gap

Pete leading up the In Pinn

Evening views

The bivi

Pete getting cosy

Early morning light

Nearly there

Summit on Sgurr nan Gillian, another success.

Removing blood, sweat and sun cream.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Guy (not me) on Army Dreamers
After many year's I finally made it down to Pembroke.  Despite living in North Wales for a wee while, I never made the two hour journey down.  So instead I made the 10 hour journey down from Fort William.  Fortunately I was able to break it up with 4 days in the lake district en route.

Guy (not me) on an E2 to the right on the Butcher
The climbing was excellent at Pembroke.  We visited different crag every day - St Govans, Mothers Carey and St Davids.  Our final day we were rained off.  Over our 3 days climbing we climbed around 20 routes, all of which were 2 star, 3 star or Pembroke's top 50 routes.
Donald making shapes in St Govans

When at Mother's Carey's, we were caught out by a bit of rain so we did this awesome HVS which was essentially caving and climbing through a huge cavern and doing some very pecarious front and back footing through a large slot.