Ben Nevis and Glen Coe

I’ve just spent an excellent weekend based in Fort William with Rachel and Sabine.

Tower Ridge in early morning light

Tower Ridge in early morning light

On Saturday we had an early start to walk up to Ben Nevis and climb Tower Ridge in time to be off the ridge and summit well before the forecast thunder storms.

Sabine and Rachel just above The Douglas Boulder

Sabine and Rachel just above The Douglas Boulder

The thunder storms never appeared as they tracked further East, but we did have the best of the weather on the day, only encountering cloud on the upper part of the ridge and some light showers on the way down.

In cloud above the through-route on the Great Tower

In cloud above the through-route on the Great Tower

Today we were out in Glen Coe climbing Barn Wall Route on the East Face of Aonach Dubh. After the overnight rain and early low cloud the rock was initially very wet, but dried with height and rising cloud levels. The route gives a good long climb at the grade, but is fairly sparse on protection.

Which way? High on Barn Wall Route

Which way? High on Barn Wall Route

We then headed up to the summit of Aonach Dubh before traversing underneath Stob Coire nan Lochan and descending Gearr Aonach and The Zig-Zags.

Gearr Aonach

Gearr Aonach

Arolla, Evolene and Saas Grund

I have just spent the past week based out of Evolene with Martin Moran Mountaineering (www.moran-mountain.co.uk) climbing with Mountain Guide Graham Frost, Katya, Simon, John and Clinton.

The week began last Sunday with an Ecole de Glace session on the Glacier Ferpecle. This allowed us to cover lots of skills before making the ascent to the Cabane Bertol on Monday. Behind the Cabane is a large pinnacle of good rock which we climbed in the afternoon.

The weather was perfect on Tuesday and a good freeze overnight gave perfect conditions for our approach to the Aiguille de la Tsa (3668m). We climbed this brilliant pinnacle before descending using multi pitch abseil skills and returning to the valley. Two ropes are required for the descent. The rock was dry and warm.

With a perfect forecast for Thursday we made the ascent to the Cabane Vignettes on Wednesday. Following a very early breakfast we completed the traverse of the Pigne d’Arolla (3796m) and Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3870m) to the Cabane Dix. This gives a top class AD traverse which was in excellent condition. We returned to the valley via the Col de Reidmatten as the Pas de Chevre is currently closed.

Today, we travelled to Saas Grund and climbed Panorama on the Jegihorn (3206m). This gave a great 350 metre rock climb on excellent rock.

Clinton enjoying Panorama with the Lagginhorn (4010m) in the background.

Clinton enjoying Panorama with the Lagginhorn (4010m) in the background.

Early morning on the Pigne d'Arolla with Graham Frost in the lead.

Early morning on the Pigne d’Arolla with Graham Frost in the lead.

The approach to the Aiguille de la Tsa in the distance.

The approach to the Aiguille de la Tsa in which can be seen in the distance.

 

 

Mountaineering in Les Ecrins

Duncan, Steve, Tina, Scott, Paul and I have been in Les Ecrins from the 9th to the 12th July. We had intended on going to Arolla but due to very bad weather throughout the Valais and the Mont Blanc Massif we had a quick change of plan.

The gamble paid off and we had a brilliant time based in the huts above La Berarde and La Grave. During the five days we climbed; Tete de la Pilatte (3476m), Mont Gioberney (3352m), Pointe Richardson (3312m) and Pointe des Chamois (3315m). The ridges leading to the summits were in the PD to PD+ range and had a very Scottish feeling in the current heavy snow condtions and rime ice.

We climbed these mountains from the Refuge de la Pilatte and the Refuge de Pave. Both huts were very friendly. The Pave Hut is in an amazing situation and well worth the 5 to 6 hour approach.

Scott and Tina on the approach to the Tete de la Pilatte (3476m).

Scott and Tina on the approach to the Tete de la Pilatte (3476m).

Steve, Scott and Paul outside the Refuge de Pave.

Steve, Scott and Paul outside the Refuge de Pave.

 

Aonach Eagach

Out with Nettle today and a team of Bill, Ian, Robert and Tim from Falkirk Community Trust. We traversed the Aonach Eagach from East to West.

Tim, Ian and Robert relaxing on the ridge

Tim, Ian and Robert relaxing on the ridge

There was some rain as we drove up to Glen Coe and the tops were in cloud as we set off, but the cloud rose above the summits during the day and we had clear weather for the main part of the Aonach Eagach and great views.

Bill, Nettle and Robert descending a chimney

Bill, Nettle and Robert descending a chimney

A good day doing one of Scotland’s classic ridges and good banter with the team who’d impressively done the traverse of the Blackmount the day before in very wet conditions.

The full team on top of Sgurr nam Fiannaidh

The full team on top of Sgurr nam Fiannaidh

EICA Ratho and Ratho Quarry

After a day working at EICA Ratho with a really inspiring group from the Over The Wall Charity (a charity for children with life-limiting illnesses) I met up with Ivor for a quick evening of climbing in Ratho Quarry.

Ivor working Impure Allure

Ivor working Impure Allure

We spent most of our time on a new sport route put up yesterday by Neill Busby called Impure Allure, it’s the line to the left of Shear Fear. It’s another very good addition to the quarry and thanks go again to Neill.

More Skye Photos

John has kindly sent through some very atmospheric photos from Monday’s day out on Skye. They might be just the thing to cool you down on a warm evening.

Me and Harvey on the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Me and Harvey on The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Harvey abseiling from The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Harvey abseiling from The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

John and Harvey on The Skye Ridge. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

John and Harvey on The Skye Ridge. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Glen Coe

John and I were in Glen Coe today with a team of Alec, Bob, Graham and Iona from Falkirk Community Trust.

Iona on Archer Ridge

Iona on Archer Ridge

With a good forecast and dry rock we headed to Weeping Wall on the East Face of Aonoch Dubh where Graeme, Iona and I climbed the excellent Spider, whilst John, Alec and Bob climbed Weeping Wall Route.

Bob and Alec on Archer Ridge

Bob and Alec on Archer Ridge

For those interested Spider Right Hand looked dry.

Graham relaxed on a stance

Graham relaxed on a stance

We all then headed up to the Terrace Face and climbed the classic Archer Ridge. Good climbs, sunshine and enough breeze/sun to keep the midges at bay; Scottish mountain cragging at it’s best.

Iona with Archer Ridge behind

Iona with Archer Ridge behind

Glen Shiel

Today, on the way back down from Skye, I stopped off in Glen Shiel. I parked at The Cluanie Inn and walked up the road for about 1.5km, before heading up an old stalker’s path and on to the ridge of Am Bathach. I used this excellent undulating grassy ridge as an approach to Ciste Dhubh, it involves more ascent than going up the glens to either side, but gives great views and pleasant walking.

The summit of Ciste Dubh

The summit of Ciste Dubh

After ascending Ciste Dhubh I returned to the Bealach a’Choinich and headed up Sgurr an Fhuarail; nipped out to Aonoch Meadhoin and then then descended the South-East ridge Sgurr an Fhuarail back to the Cluanie Inn for a coffee.

Me on the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarail

Me on the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarail

Cloud above the summits of the North Glen Shiel hills during the day and just a few very light showers by early afternoon.

Skye

Yesterday I was out on Skye with father and son team John and Harvey. The forecast of sunshine and showers didn’t really materialise for the Southern end of The Black Cuillin and once above 500m we were in cloud all day with some very heavy showers.

Harvey reaching the easy ground on The Inaccessible Pinnacle's East Ridge

Harvey reaching the easy ground on The Inaccessible Pinnacle’s East Ridge

However, we had a successful day going up through Coire na Banachdich to Sgurr Dearg; climbing The Inaccessible Pinnacle; descending via The South-East Flank to reach Bealach Coire Lagan; ascending and descending Sgurr MhicChoinnich via it’s North ridge and then heading down via the An Stac Screes and Coire Lagan.

Harvey and John on a narrow section of The North Ridge of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

Harvey and John on a narrow section of The North Ridge of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

The day completed the Skye Munros for John and great for him to be able to share that with Harvey, despite the lack of views on the day.

John and Harvey on the summit of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

John and Harvey on the summit of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

Climbing from Refuge Torino

Duncan on the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Duncan on the Aiguilles Marbrees.

TIna, Scott, Duncan, Steve, Paul and I are climbing for a week together in the Alps. Our intention was to begin together on Monday in Arolla and spend a week there doing summits. However, the forecast for that area is very poor for the next six days.

Therefore, as the key to a successful alpine trip is to adapt to the weather and conditions, we opted to climb together on Sunday to use the last of the good weather before the storm arrived late Sunday afternoon. As the team are staying in Chamonix, we travelled through the Tunnel du Mont Blanc and used the Helbronner lift to gain altitude. We then had a great day completing the Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) and the traverse of Le Petit Flambeau (3440m). Both mountains were in good condition.

The weather continues to look bad in Switzerland and the Mont Blanc Massif so we will be travelling to a different area in search of the sun!