La Duchere

John and I spent the 18th July at La Duchere crag near Les Contamines. This excellent venue has routes up to six pitches in length and is super well maintained. The photo shows John finishing the classic, ‘Le Nain Jaune Attends’ (‘The Yellow Dwarf Waits’).

Ratho Quarry

Ivor and I were looking for somewhere quick drying to go climbing today after last night’s rain and opted for Ratho Quarry, as it had the option of heading inside if the rock wasn’t dry.

Ivor seconding the fine arête of Slow Strain.

However, the rock stayed dry and we were able to climb some of the sports routes in the quarry in sunshine with occasional cloud.

The Moorfoots and The Cheviot

Jen and I took the opportunity of going down to my niece’s graduation in Newcastle yesterday to have a couple of days walking in The Borders and Northumberland. On Sunday we had a short walk up the Leithen Water and then via forestry tracks near the Williamslee Burn up on to Middle Hill and Whitehope Law before descending over Windside Hill to Glentress. This gave a pleasant round with some rough going on the higher ground.

Jen and me enjoying the sunshine on Auchope Cairn.

After staying in Wooler on Sunday night we did a circuit from Cocklawfoot south of Town Yetholm, which included Windy Gyle, King’s Seat, Score Head, Cairn Hill, The Cheviot and Auchope Cairn. This was pretty much as per the route described in the excellent SMC book “The Grahams and Donalds” and gave a good high level walk on the Scottish/Northumberland Border.

We had bright sunshine on both days with circa 20 to 30mph winds. Both walks are better done in dry or frosty conditions due to the boggy moorland nature of some sections. However, the sections on the Pennine Way and up The Cheviot are much improved by the slab paved paths, which have reduced erosion and allowed significant regrowth since I first walked in this area. One team was making good use of the dry conditions on Monday to climb on the remote Henhole Crags.


Today John and I climbed the Alphubel (4206m) from the Tasch Hutte. We ascended via the South East Ridge and descended via the Voie Normale.

The approach to the col which gives access to the ridge is incredibly dry for this time of year. Sharp crampons are needed on the very hard glacial ice.

The South East Ridge was good fun. We had to do pitches using ice screws for belays and protection on the Ice Nose.

The Voie Normale crosses several lines where seracs have fallen down.

A 3am breakfast and efficient movement are currently essential to get the mountain in reasonable condition.

The Weisshorn very early this morning.

Lyskamm and Other Summits of the Monte Rosa

John and I have spent the last three days in the Monte Rosa Massif. We approached from Staffal (Gressoney) on Thursday after driving from Saint Gervais les Bains and made the ascent of Pyramide Vincent (4215m) in good conditions.

During Thursday night/Friday morning a serac collapse crossed the track giving access to the summits of the Monte Rosa. John and I took a different line to avoid most of the danger over the next couple of days without any problems (although most teams kept walking on the main track through the debris!). Taking the line John and I took exposure to risk is a couple of minutes in ascent.

On Friday after crossing Il Naso (4272m) we climbed the Cresta Sella to the summit of Lyskamm (4527m) before descending the East Ridge. The Cresta Sella was great fun and in good condition (the section crossing the col between the two peaks may need ice screws for protection soon).

The route on Il Naso from the Rifugio Moantova is completely different this season from how I have ever done it before. It is worth checking on the best way to go with the Guardian as it is different from the guidebooks.

Yesterday we climbed Ludwigshohe (4341m), Parrotspitze (4432m) and Signalkuppe (4554m). A number of teams turned back due to the cold and wind chill factor from the strong breeze. Big jackets and gloves are advised!

More photos on the facebook page.

John exiting the Cresta Sella.

Bangholm and the Tweed Hills

I’ve been doing a second week working for The City of Edinburgh Council delivering Silver DofE Training for a different group from Trinity Academy. On Monday and Tuesday we were based out of Bangholm Outdoor Centre and the last three days we’ve been out in the Tweed Hills for a practice expedition.

The view from Craig Head up Glensax. This makes a great horseshoe walk.

We started from Peebles and finished at Yair Bridge taking in Kirkhope Law, Brown Knowe and The Three Brethren along the way as well as two nights wild camping. This area is probably better known for it’s mountain biking, but offers some delightful walking on rolling moorland hills, through forestry and along river valleys. Some rain over Thursday night, but the hills are still pretty dry.

Arolla and Zermatt

This week I have been out with We were out with fundraisers from the charity This charity supports ‘children and their families who have been diagnosed with a brain or spinal tumour’. Please get involved if you can.

Notes on the peaks we climbed and conditions;

  • La Luette (3548m) Arolla. Good conditions.
  • Pigne d’Arolla (3796m) Arolla. Good conditions on the ascent from Dix. Getting icy on the descent to Vignettes.
  • Breithorn (4164m) Zermatt. Good conditions.
  • Pollux (4092m) Zermatt. Good conditions
  • Castor (4223m). Zermatt. Climbed by other members of our team. Very icy for this time of the year. Sharp crampons and screws needed.

More photos on the facebook page.

Neil Johnson on Pollux.

Bangholm and the Lammermuirs

This week I’ve been working for The City of Edinburgh Council delivering Silver DofE Training for a group from Trinity Academy. On Monday and Tuesday we were based out of Bangholm Outdoor Centre and the last three days we’ve been out in the Lammermuir Hills for a practice expedition.

Wild camping in the Lammermuirs.

The Lammermuirs are beautiful rolling moorland hills south east of Edinburgh and ideal for this sort of expedition.

Les Aravis, Chamonix and the Mont Viso Massif

Tina, Scott, Steve, Paul and I had a great time last week in the Alps. The weather forecast was poor but by moving to find good weather we achieved some great routes. We completed the following;

  • Arete du Doigt and the Cheminee Sallanches on Pointe Percee. This is the highest mountain in Les Aravis.
  • The traverse of the Aiguille des Crochues above Chamonix.
  • The Cresta Perotti on the  Punta Venezia and La Cresta Est on the Punta Udine. These superb ridges are both located in the Mont Viso Massif.
  • Some superb multi pitch rock climbing on the Costa Grande near the Refuge Sella in the Mont Viso Massif.

Climbing the Arete du Doigt on the Pointe Percee

Near the summit of Punta Venezia.

Glen Etive

Yesterday I was out in Glen Etive with a Falkirk Community Trust High Tops Team of Billy, Duncan and John. We headed up the Allt Mheuran to the bealach before traversing Glas Bheinn Mhor and Meall nan Tri Tighearnan before descending by the Allt nam Meirleach. The weather turned out better than forecast with slightly lower winds and less rain, possibly as we benefited from higher hills to the North and North East where the weather was coming from.

Meall nan Tri Tighearnan and Ben Starav from Glas Bheinn Mhor.

The rain was fairly steady for large parts of the day, with the granite in the area looking pretty wet. The lower sections of the approach were fairly boggy, even after the dry spring, so good boots and gaiters or an acceptance of wet feet are worth having if tackling these hills.