Stormy Skye

Euan and I are just back from three days on Skye with a Falkirk Community Trust Scrambling Team of Alec, Gillian, Linda, Sarah and Wilson.

Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.

Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.

Having arrived in Glen Brittle on Thursday night we decided to make the most of the fact that Friday had the best forecast and headed up early from Sligachan to Sgurr a’Bhasteir, which we ascended by it’s North-East Ridge. We then continued along it’s narrow South Ridge to reach Bealach na Lice. After a short break we dropped down in to Lota Coire and climbed the Lota Coire Route to The Bhasteir Tooth. Part way up this the weather arrived in earnest several hours ahead of forecast and the upper part was climbed in continuous driving rain and strong winds.

Gillean and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.

Gillian and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.

We then did the subterranean scramble and abseil to descend King’s Cave Chimney, which got us out of the wind for a while. Given the early arrival of the weather heading down via Coire a’Bhasteir rather than continuing on towards Sgurr nan Gillean seemed sensible. This proved a good decision as the rain was heavy enough that the normal path back to Sligachan required several streams to be forded and the lower steps of the bridge near Sligachan were under water on our return.

After continuous heavy rain overnight and with strong southerly winds forecast we needed a route for Saturday that was relatively low, sheltered from the wind on scrambling sections and had no significant river crossings to access. The North-East Ridge of Beinn Dearg Mhor in the Red Cuillin seemed to fit the bill. With a late start to try and make the most of the weather this worked well giving us some lovely scrambling on rough granite lower down. It was a bit of a battle with circa 50mph+ winds to reach the summit, before descending via it’s North Ridge to Bealach na Sgairde and around to our starting point.

The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.

The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.

The forecast for today was for even stronger winds, but only showers. However, lightening was also forecast, so we opted for a low level objective. After driving around to Glasnakille, near Elgol, we abseiled in to the geo that houses Spar Cave. This cave has an amazing staircase of spar, calcium carbonate, and beautifully featured deposits of the same material on the walls and ceiling. After a quick look at the cave we made a short sea level traverse around to the next recess before heading back up the path from this point. The sea level traverse is only accessible for a short period either side of low tide and care must be taken to avoid getting trapped in the Spar Cave geo by a rising tide.

The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.

The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.

Three really interesting days on Skye in some very stormy weather. Thanks to the team for being up for some of our unusual scrambling suggestions given the conditions. This made for a great trip despite the weather. Euan will put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

The Alps, Fastcastle and the Souter

Last week, Andy, Rob and I had a quick visit to the Alps. Even though the weather was poor over the three days we still managed to climb; Pointe du Pas de Chevres (2991m) and Pointe 2940m (both accessed from the Pas de Chevres in the Arolla area) followed by Pigne de la Le (3396m, Moiry Valley). We then had a days cragging at Le Fayet.

The recent weather in the Alps will make climbing high rock ridges very difficult.

Today I have been out with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Iona, Barbara, Ivor, John and I had a great day at the Fastcastle and Souter sea cliffs. We climbed a number of single and multi pitch routes. The rock was dry and clean. Currently there are no problems with sea birds.

More photos on the facebook page.

Climbing on Pointe 2940m.

Climbing on Pointe 2940m.

Iona near the summit of the Souter.

Iona near the summit of the Souter.

Lochaber High Tops Weekend

On Saturday and Sunday Steve and I were out in Lochaber with a Falkirk Community trust high tops team of Alec, Bear, Isobel, Linda, Lorn and Sandra . On Satuday we drove up to the road end in Glen Nevis and headed up Aonach Beag. Recent rockfall has lead to the closure of the Nevis Gorge path ( more information can be found on the John Muir Trust website here:  https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/assets/000/001/867/JMT_Steall_path_closed_red_v2_original.pdf ). Therefore, we had to change our planned route slightly and climbed up to the bealach north of Meall Cumhann, dropping down to the Allt Coire Guibhsachan, which was easily crossed, and then ascending the South-West ridge of Aonach Beag.

The team in sunshine on top of Aonach Mor.

The team in sunshine on top of Aonach Mor.

We walked on from Aonach Beag to Aonach Mor before retracing our steps a short way and then descending steeply west to the bealach at the head of Coire Guibhsachan. From there we descended the coire and returned over the Bealach Cumhann. The weather was glorious on Saturday with only light winds, sunshine and a little high cloud.

In cloud on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

In cloud on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

After a good night at the very well appointed Glen Nevis Campsite we returned over the Bealach Cumhann again to the head of Coire Guibhsachan, where we were treated to a view of a Golden Eagle. From here we climbed the fine East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg. Unfortunately the cloud rolled in at this point and the views disappeared for most of the rest of the day. We then descended to the Carn Mor Dearg Arête and followed this to Ben Nevis. A descent of the normal route with the rain arriving for the last hour or so brought us down to the Youth Hostel where Steve picked us up.

Two excellent days in Lochaber walking up four of the ten highest Munros by interesting routes.

An Image from Glencoe

Recently Jeremy at www.jrart.me.uk used one of my images to create this poster. Through his work, Jeremy supports mountain rescue teams. To see and buy more of his posters, please visit his website or gallery in Portree.

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Pentland Push

On Saturday Euan and I were working with Cameron. Davy, Fran, Glenn, James, Keith, Lawrie and Nettle. We were providing mountain support and emergency response for Maximillion Events who were managing the Pentland Push event.

The finish line at the Pentland Push.

The finish line at the Pentland Push.

The Pentland Push is a fundraising event for the very good cause of St Columba’s Hospice and consists of three very tough routes through the Pentland Hills aimed at runners and walkers. The event was very well organised by Maximillion and after some very windy weather during the set up on Friday it was good to have some fine weather for the event itself on Saturday. The day ran very smoothly, so a big thanks to all involved and congratulations to all the participants.

Ben Nevis and Kingussie

The last three days I’ve been away with Iona and Linda on what was billed as a Ben Nevis rock climbing trip based at the CIC hut. On Monday we were travelling up and the forecast was for very high winds and rain for Ben Nevis, so we decided on driving up via the A9 and trying to find dry rock further east. It was still drizzling at Newtonmore, so we went a little bit further east and found dry rock at Kingussie Crag. After a good day climbing there we drove across and walked up to the CIC hut in the evening.

Linda and Iona on Tower Ridge, before entering the cloud.

Linda and Iona on Tower Ridge, before entering the cloud.

It was wet and windy early on Tuesday, but with an improving forecast we made a late start and climbed Tower Ridge descending via Coire Leis. The rock was generally wet and we were in cloud from above The Douglas Boulder, but we had an excellent day.

Iona and Linda climbing Central Wall, Kingussie Crag.

Iona and Linda climbing Central Wall, Kingussie Crag.

With more rain overnight and early today we decided on walking out and heading east again to find dry rock. It was still wet as we past Creag Dubh, so we ended up back at Kingussie. The rock was a little damp on the Upper Tier when we arrived, but dried quickly and we had another good day cragging. Over the two days Iona and Linda climbed all but three of the routes on the Upper Tier.

An unusual, but enjoyable three days climbing.

Summits with Chris and Frost Guiding

Chris Rigg and I have been out this week with www.frostguiding.co.uk.

We met on Saturday and after walking to the Orny Hut climbed Bon Accueil on the Aiguille de la Cabane (2999m). This route climbs superb rock and by using a couple of points of aid can be climbed at Very Severe.

After staying at the hut we climbed the North West Arete of the Tete Blanche (including the final tower) and the Petite Fourche (3520m). By climbing the final tower rather than avoiding it by loose ground on the right the route warrants solid PD+.

We descended back into Switzerland via the abseil from the col near Petite Fourche. It is suggested in the guidebooks this can be completed on a 60m rope. This is incorrect. Two ropes are required.

During Mondays bad weather Chris and I travelled to Hotel Flualp. Yesterday, we climbed Rimpfishhorn (4199m) which was in Scottish winter condition following the poor weather the day before. Great preparation for when the snows arrive in Scotland in November (hopefully!).

More photos on the facebook page.

Great rock on the Aiguille de la Cabanne.

Great rock on the Aiguille de la Cabanne.

Great Mountaineering with Andrew, Nigel and Frost Guiding

Andrew, Nigel and I have just had a great weeks mountaineering with www.frostguiding.co.uk. We completed the following routes, days and summits;

  • Traverse of the Aiguille d’Entreves (3600m).
  • Aiguille Marbres (3535m).
  • Traverse of Le Petit Flambeau (3440m).
  • Traverse of Aiguille Crochues (2840m).
  • Rock climbing at Bramois.
  • Traverse of Breithorn East (4139m) and West (4165m) from Col 4022m.
  • Pollux (4092m).

There are many more photos on the facebook page.

The snowy section of the Breithorn traverse.

The snowy section of the Breithorn traverse.

Coire an t-Sneachda

John and I were out in the Cairngorms today with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Iona, Laura, Paul and Wilson. We headed to The Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda to avoid the forecast rain at venues farther West and South and this worked well with only the odd drop of light rain during the day, which didn’t impact on our climbing.

Paul and Laura nearing the easier ground at the top of Crack Pot.

Paul and Laura nearing the easier ground at the top of Crack Pot.

Laura and Paul were on an Introduction to Climbing in the Scottish Mountains day and they climbed Crack Pot with me, which was their first multi-pitch rock climb. The route has some excellent climbing although care is required on easier loose sections at the top of the second pitch and the top of the final pitch. We climbed the route in four pitches with plenty of teaching along the way.

Iona and Wilson were on a Classic Climbs day and they climbed Pot of Gold with John and then John and Iona nipped up Crack Pot in two long pitches as a quick second route.

Wicklow and Galty Mountains

Jen and I are just back from a few days in Ireland. The main reason for the trip was to visit some of Jen’s relatives, but we did spend a couple of days walking in the Wicklow and Galty Mountains.

Jen studying the map high above Glenmalur in the Wicklow Mountains.

Jen studying the map high above Glenmalur in the Wicklow Mountains.

On Wednesday we climbed Lugnaquilla (Log na Coille), the highest hill in the Wicklow Mountains, from Glenmalur via Clohernagh. On Thursday we climbed Galtymore (Cnoc Mor na nGaibhlte) on the Limerick/Tipperary border and the highest hill in the Galty Mountains. The weather was mostly excellent, with the exception of very strong winds and driving rain near the summit of Galtymore.