North-West Walking and Sea Kayaking

Jen and I are just back from a week in the North of Scotland. After a couple of days with family in Caithness we headed around the North Coast on Saturday and had a very pleasant afternoon walking up Ben Stack from Achfary via Strath Stack and it’s North-West ridge and descending the South-East ridge. This gives a good circuit on an interesting hill, which has great views. The hills in the area are very wet underfoot at the moment and gaiters are useful.

Jen on the summit of Ben Stack with Loch Laxford behind.

We then carried on to Lochinver where, on Sunday, we met up with Jules and Dave of Norwest Sea Kayaking and a team of Dave, Jane, Tim and Tanya. Over the next four days we kayaked from Culkein, near Stoer up the coast to Handa and then back down to Kylesku with camps on Oldany Island, near Scourie and on Calbha Beag. The weather was kind with rain only on the last day. It was a great trip with the highlights probably being kayaking through the Stack of Handa, seeing otter and sea eagles and the good food and company. I’ll put more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

The team kayaking under the cliffs of Handa.

The Final Week of the Season

David and I have just finished a great week together in the Alps. This was my final week in the Alps this season.  We visited both the Monte Viso Massif and the Mont Blanc Massif.

Below is a report on where we went and the conditions we found. The first three days were based from the very welcoming Rifugio Giacoletti. The second three days were based from the excellent www.gitemontjoly.com in Saint Gervais.

  • 13/09/17. Punta Venezia (3096m) via Cresta Perotti. Can be climbed in the same day as the walk in to the hut if you get to the car park early!
  • 14/09/17. Punta Roma (3069m) to Paso Giacoletti via Cresta del Colonnello. Traditional alpine AD ridge. Not a place to be in a storm.
  • 15/09/17. Punta Udine (3019m) via Cresta Est. Classic rock ridge right behind the hut. We wore rock shoes.
  • 16/09/17. Arete a’ Lauernce and Arete des Cosmiques. In excellent condtion following the recent snowfall.
  • 17/09/17. Aiguille Crochues (2840m) traverse and Aiguille du Belvedere (2965m). In wintery condition. Crampons would have been useful on the Belvedere.
  • 18/09/17. Multi pitch climbing at Les Gaillands. Lots of easy routes to do in mixed weather.

The crux move on the Arete des Cosmiques.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

Mamores

Ivor, Nettle and I had a good day in the Mamores yesterday. Starting from Kinlochleven we walked via Loch Eilde Mor and up Sgurr Eilde Mor before dropping down it’s West ridge to head out to and up Binnein Beag. We then climbed the North-East ridge of Binnein Mor taking in some easy scrambling in the upper narrow section before descending over it’s South Top and Sgor Eilde Beag.

Ivor and Nettle on the North-East Ridge of Binnein Mor.

A pleasant route with a lot of ascent and some stiff climbs linked by good stalker’s paths. The weather was pretty much as forecast with rain holding off until late afternoon and a brief sleet shower on Binnein Mor. The hills are currently very wet with streams up.

The Mont Blanc Massif

Barry and I have been based from Saint Gervais les Bains the last three days. On Wednesday we climbed a seven pitch route at the excellent La Duchere near Les Contamines before travelling to the Rifugio Torino to overnight.

The view from the end of the Arete des Cosmiques.

Yesterday, we climbed Les Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m). We also tried to access Le Petit Flambeau traverse and the Aiguille de Toule but both were in terrible condition. Therefore, we dropped down to the Val Ferret and went multi pitch climbing at Mochet.

Today, we climbed the classic Arete des Cosmigues in good conditions.

Mont Blanc from the summit of Les Aiguilles Marbrees.

Bennybeg and Creag na h-Eighe

The last two days I’ve been working for Falkirk Community Trust. Yesterday David, Mike, Anthony and I were at Bennybeg with a school group rock climbing, abseiling and doing bushcraft.

Ken practising leading with a top rope above and Bex lead belaying below on Grant’s Route.

Today Ken, Bex and I had a great day at Creag na h-Eighe looking at leading skills, building belays and climbing some of the classics of the crag. We had a couple of light showers, but nothing that stopped us climbing and the crag dried quickly in the light wind and sunshine.

September in the Alps

September is an excellent month in the Alps. The huts and the mountains are quieter and the air temperature is also normally lower.

This week, Barry and I are climbing together. On Sunday we traversed the Aiguilles Crochues (2840m) and the Aiguille du Belvedere (2965m). There had been significant snowfall in the days proceeding which meant careful footwork was required. We saw two teams on the Crochues and none on the Belvedere.

Above the clouds on the Belvedere.

Yesterday we climbed on the Grande Falaise de Seloge in the Vallee des Glaciers. This is an excellent crag about 8 pitches high. The descent can be by either abseil or walk off.

In the afternoon we walked to the Refuge Robert Blanc to overnight. There was a warm welcome and great food.

Today we climbed Le Mont Tondu (3196m) taking in the summit of the Pain de Sucre on the way. There was nobody around.

Part of the Mont Tondu ridge.

 

Coasteering

Fun day today coasteering near Elie in Fife with Mike, Craig and David from Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors and an enthusiastic school group. Lots of jumps, swims and generally messing around in the swell. A good activity on a rainy day.

Taking the plunge.

Skye and Loch Quoich

I’m just back from two excellent days on Skye with Jonathan and Julia. I was based in the very good and friendly Skye Basecamp Hostel. On the way back today I took the opportunity to nip up Gairich on the south side of Loch Quoich.

Jonathan near the summit of The Inn Pinn.

On Friday Jonathan, Julia and I headed up in to Coire na Banachdich and on up Sgurr Dearg with Jonathan and I taking in The Inaccessible Pinnacle via it’s East Ridge. We then completed a circuit of the coire by scrambling up the South Ridge of Sgurr na Banachdaich via it’s South and Centre tops and descending over Sgurr nan Gobhar. The rock was dry, but we were in cloud most of the day on the ridge and only got views when descending the Sgurr nan Gobhar ridge.

Jonathan and Julia on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich.

On Saturday Jonathan and I went up to Bealach a’Bhasteir and ascended and descended Am Basteir via it’s East Ridge taking in the Bad Step. We then ascended Sgurr nan Gillean via Tooth Groove and Arete and the West Ridge before descending the South-East Ridge. Again the rock was dry and the cloud lifted during the day to give us good views in the afternoon.

Jonathan descending Sgurr nan Gillean.

Today the weather forecast had changed overnight and the heavy rain and strong winds were forecast to arrive later, so I was able to stop off and take in Gairich on the way south with the rain only catching up with me on the descent. I descended the North ridge, which gave a quick way down out of the weather and was able to walk along the Loch Quoich “beach” as the water levels are currently low. The hills in this area are pretty wet underfoot at the moment and gaiters are a good idea if away from well drained paths. I’ll add more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

La Mortenaz

Andy and I had a nice mornings cragging today at La Mortenaz. This crag (which is located near Cluses) has a number of perma-dry routes so worked well during todays weather.

Andy Nelson leading at La Mortenaz.

A Varied Week in the Alps

This week I have been out in the Alps climbing with Ian, Ed and www.frostguiding.co.uk. We began the week last Sunday by traversing the superb Grand Perron  (2647m) above Lac d’Emosson.

Ian and Ed with the Perron Traverse behind.

We then moved to the Evolene and Arolla valley and climbed the Dent Blanche (4357m) via the South Ridge on Tuesday. The route was very dry and crampons were not needed above the second snowfield (although this may change in the current weather). I would not recommend being under other groups in the couloir behind the gendarme at the moment,.

Sunset from the Dent Blanche Hut.

 

 

On Wednesday we climbed two routes on the Contrefort de Droite in Les Aiguilles Rouges above Chamonix; Eperon Sublime and Robin Wood. A small rack is required for Eperon Sublime.

Yesterday the weather was poor so we made our way to the Rifugio Torino before climbing Les Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) today under fresh snow and in Scottish winter style conditions. The glacier was in the worst condition I have seen it in.

There are many more photos on the facebook page.