Sunday, 30 August 2015

Swiss 4000m peaks

First light on the Zinalrothorn
The Matterhorn

With only 7 days spare on this trip I knew I wouldn't be coming home with record amounts of routes and summits under my belt.  However it was a fantastic few days and most importantly a brilliant laugh with 'The Big Ben'.  Two days were lost to driving out from Perth to Zermatt via the ferry to Zeebrugge.  Our 3rd day was spent walking up to the Rothorn Hutte which is beautifuuly situated high above Zermatt underneath 2 majestic 4000m peaks.  Our objectives.  The Ober GAbelhorn (4063m) and the Zinalrothorn (4221m).  With early starts and speedy ascents we were able to climb to the top to have the summits to ourselves.  The Ober Gabelhorn took us 7 hours hut to hut and the Zinalrothorn took a swift 5 hours hut to hut, leaving us with plenty of time in the hut to rack up a substantial bill (bit of a mistake!)...the cake was sooo good though!

Summit of Ober Gabelhorn
Another Matterhorn shot
Teams climbing the Ober Gabelhorn as we descend
Another Matterhorn
Descending from Zinalrothorn (ben has the summit shots!)
Matterhorn left, Ober Gabelhorn on the right
The Zinalrothorn
Time to leave the hut
 With only one day left before I fly back we decided to have a day cragging in the sunshine, light bags and a route that we could move quickly on.  We found a great route called 'Remiz' in Ben's select guidebook and fitted the bill perfectly.  This 500m 6a+ on the Miroir d'Argentine kept us entertained for a good 5 hours which weaves its routes through a huge piece of rock which starts steep-ish and and turns back to a slab.  A brilliant day out.  Cracks, slabs, overlaps, padding, crimps, jams, name it, the route has it.  Well worth seeking out before you fly home or for a rest day from the mountains.

On the slabby section
The summit ridge
Our route climbs between the two obvious crack and then finished on the left hand peak

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Number 3 Buttress Stob Coire Nam Beith

Some blue on the approach
 The conical mass of Stob Coire nam Beith has always been an attractive objective but I have never climbed on this face in either winter or summer.  I had visited the summit of Stob Coire Nam Beith many years ago whilst walking with some friends.  Today we were eager to climb up the face.  Number 3 Buttress was our passage.  Given that Alan has climbed almost every classic mountaineering route in the area, we are now seeking out the more esoteric options, the lesser travelled, the ones with no queues.  Unfortunately it rained all day yesterday so the route was pretty damp, especially the crux wall/slab at the bottom.  Given that this is protection-less and slimey, we opted for an slightly easier passage to the left to bring us back in on the route, given the conditions this was a much nicer option.  Number 3 Buttress is a steep scramble and nicely sustained from bottom to top with plenty of grade 3 scrambling to keep the interest.  We did find protection a little sparse but our half set of wires, 2 cams and slings seemed to do the job.  Care is required on some areas with loose rock but this will be fantastic area to climb in winter.  I can't wait to come back with axes and crampons and explore all the existing routes here like Deep Cut Chimney, Central Gully, Arch Gully and Summit Gully.
After we topped out of Number 3 Buttress onto Stob Coire nam Beith we were met by a cold wind so we made most of our descent before we stopped, de-kitted and finished our sandwiches.  Another brilliant day and a nice bit of Alpine training for me....back in a week! ;)
Alan climbing in blue..

Alan searching for a hold in blue...

Not much blue here...

Always Blue

Boys in Blue...Alan touching the guns!

Happy days....brilliant route
More pictures HERE

Monday, 17 August 2015

Mountain Biking

A room with a view
A bicycle
I know, double take needed.  We'll you only live once and given that a collection of my best buddies have moved all around Europe, we thought we should all meet up and hit the trails in Morzine and Les Gets in the French Alps.  It was my birthday after all!  John, got the train in from his home in Germany, I flew over from Scotland and Kirby picked us up as he lives in Chamonix.  Now we have all done a bit of MTN biking but we certainly are not experts so we didn't hit any black but had super fun on the blues and reds and had a great laugh, a quick 4 day hit and a great way to spend my birthday!  Cant wait to go back.

Not me

Still not me

My bike getting big air!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Bit of rock and running

Donald cruising up 'The One and Only'
Since I have been back from Lewis and Harris, I have barely been able to get out climbing with work commitments and the weather, the Scottish summer goes on!  I managed to sneak a day (or half day) at Brin Rock with Dan and Donald for some pumpy sport climbing.  We started off with the 7a called The One and Only, a great on-sight by Donald and I followed him up it as I had done it before.  Dan had a go working the moves then smashed it on his second go.  Team send!  We then went onto the brilliant Pink Wall (7b).  After I put the clips in, Donald and Dan had a go working the moves before I had a shot at doing it clean but lobbed off whilst rubbing my nose on the chains, pumped and unable to let go and clip!  Unfortunately my second go was stopped as the rain came in and soaked the crag...we ran as fast as our little legs would carry us as we knew this was settling in.

Still plenty of snow on Ben Nevis
As the poor weather continued, I have been doing a spot of running, something I don't do much of.  Recently I have really enjoyed it so if this weather continues then you might see me running up to the CIC hut or around Cowhill (nothing too ambitious just yet).

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summer Mountain Leader Training

This week I have been working for JSMTC (Joint Services Mountain Training Centre) in Ballachulisch with 6 military personnel going through their Summer Mountain Leader award.  It has been brilliant to be working back on these courses as it gives me an opportunity to spend a prolonged amount of time in the hills whilst sharing local knowledge, teaching leadership skills, delivering current practice and inspiring more folk to do the job that I love.  The military version of the award is slightly different to the civilian award, for starters we only have 5 days instead of 6.  Despite this we covered all aspects of the syllabus in a pretty unsavoury week of weather.  As I said to the group, it was a great opportunity, as the weather couldn't get much worse!  Due to this weather I left my camera at home so found some old pictures.  Day one we made use of the hill side north of Kinlochleven, great for some micro navigation and a lovely place to identify all sorts of wildlife and landscapes.  Day two we went onto Buachaille Etive Mor for 'security on steep ground' day, introduction to mountain leaders rope work and finished the day with a river crossing exercise.  Day 3 we went up Buachaille Etive Beag for the mountain leadership day and our two day expedition went over the Black Mount, from Bridge of Orchy (Victoria Bridge) to Glen Etive.  A stunning set of hills.

Common Butterwort

Devils Matchsticks