Dreish Lightening

Sharon, Mac and I decided to take a look at Coire Farchal on Dreish today. As we drove down Glen Clova in the dark there was some unexpected and impressive lightening flashes.

Mac near the top of the first pitch

Mac near the top of the first pitch

We headed up in to Coire Farchal with the snow lying properly from about 500m and climbed a route called Silver Threads Among The Gold. This is a very good IV,5 put up by Henning Wackerhage, Simon Richardson and Tim Chappell in March 2013. We climbed the route in four pitches as opposed to the three described and it’s definitely worth thinking about breaking the long pitches down as rope drag was a problem. The bottom two pitches, as described, gave some excellent climbing with exposed turf well frozen, good ice on the “short impending headwall” and good gear where required.

Mac & Sharon chilling on a belay

Mac & Sharon chilling on a belay

The “steep turf wall” on pitch three was buried under snow and the older snow hadn’t consolidated; this forced a traverse right to reach a break with some frozen turf.

Sunset on the descent

Sunset on the descent

A great day out in good company in a quiet coire.

Cairngorms

I have been out in the Cairngorms today with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We had intended on going to Glencoe but the forecast of torrential rain changed our minds.

We walked into a quiet Coire an t-Sneachda before linking together the very bottom of Central Gully, the middle section of Central Buttress and the icefall finish to Central Left Hand. This gave us a safe option out of the way from any potential cornice collapse and rock fall in the mild conditions.

The snow was soft at all levels. The turf was frozen and the icefall was in good condition. Most buttress routes are black with Fiacaill Buttress the only possible option although I am unsure what the snow will be like. Today we had rain at all levels.

We drove through the Drummochter Pass to get to the Cairngorms. Options still exist for ski touring on the Munros to the west of the A9.

The ice fall on Central left Hand.

The icefall on Central left Hand.

Fiacall Buttress on the 18th December 2014.

Fiacaill Buttress on the 18th December 2014.

Devilla Forest and Carron Valley

The last two days I’ve been working with John on a Lowland Leader Award Assessment for Falkirk Community Trust. Based from Falkirk we used the Devilla Forest area on Saturday and the Carron Valley area on Sunday.

The group with Meikle Bin in the background

The group with Meikle Bin in the background

Well done to all those being assessed for dealing with the weather conditions, particularly today when we had steady rain and strong winds for a large part of the day. Sizable snow patches were visible on the nearby Meikle Bin today, but there was very little snow remaining below 400m.

Lowther Hill Ski-ing

When we were flying back in to Edinburgh yesterday we were able to see that there was a fair bit of snow in Southern Scotland, so Euan and I headed out for a quick ski tour today.

Euan skinning up near the new ski tow

Euan skinning up near the new ski tow

We started from Wanlockhead and were able to skin from the road up to the summit of Lowther Hill mostly on the snow on the access road and tracks. We then had an excellent run back to about 500m. We skinned back up near the line of the Lowther Hills Ski Club ski tow, which is under construction. This area then gave a good run back down although care was required in the limited visibility as there are already some sizable cornices forming.

Euan ski-ing on Lowther Hill

Euan ski-ing on Lowther Hill

Cloud from road height most of the day with a fresh West/North-West wind. Some fresh snow was falling and there was plenty of wind movement. Where snow had drifted there were excellent ski-ing conditions, however the weather was warming up as we left with the snow turning to rain at road level.

Tarragona Spain

Euan, Ivor and I are just back from five days sport climbing in the Tarragona region of Spain. There are thousands of excellent routes in the area on limestone/limestone conglomerate. We climbed at Vilanova de Prades, Margalef and Siurana.

Euan making a clip at Margalef

Euan making a clip at Margalef

The weather was cold and frosty at night, but generally dry and sunny during the days with just one cloudy day. This made for pleasant climbing conditions.

Ivor concentrating on his footwork at Margalef

Ivor concentrating on his footwork at Margalef

Euan will put more photos of the trip on the Facebook page in the next few days.

Euan climbing towards the sun at Siurana

Euan climbing towards the sun at Siurana

Beinn Mheadhonach and Beinn Dearg – Glen Tilt

Nettle and I were out for a bit of a leg stretch today. We parked at Old Bridge of Tilt and headed up the glen before branching off to take in the long ridge of Beinn Mheadhonach.

Nettle enjoying the wintery conditions

Nettle enjoying the wintery conditions

After the summit we continued North along the ridge over Carn a’Chiaraidh before swinging around via Elrig ‘ic Toisich and then West onto the North Ridge of Beinn Dearg. We took in the summit and then headed down to the bothy to get out of the weather before walking back along the tracks via Old Blair. Thanks to the Mountain Bothy Association for maintaining the excellent bothy.

Nettle and me at the summit of Beinn Dearg

Nettle and me at the summit of Beinn Dearg

A good long day out for the time of year, with headtorches being required for the last few kilometres. There was fairly constant snow falling above about 900m on a South-Westerly wind.

Taking a break in the bothy

Taking a break in the bothy

Pentlands Navigation

Yesterday Glenn & I were out in the Pentlands with a group from the Quickdraw Club looking at navigation and orienteering. We made use of the orienteering course at Hillend before taking in Caerketton and Allermuir Hills.

A view of Arthur's Seat from the Pentlands

A view of Arthur’s Seat from the Pentlands

The weather remained fine all day with light Westerly winds and great views. The group were excellent and put in to practice the skills learnt in a classroom session with Glenn on Friday.

WInter Lectures and Blo-Kart/X-Sail Training

On Thursday evening I was working with Davy Virdee delivering lectures on Scottish Winter and Avalanche Awareness and Avoidance. It was a good excuse to relive a few winter adventures and to get your mind back in to a more wintery mode. Thanks to everyone who attended, Davy for organising it and Alan for all his help on the evening.

A wintery Tower Ridge - one of the photos from the lecture

A wintery Tower Ridge – one of the photos from the lecture

Yesterday I was up at St Andrews with the Falkirk Community Trust Team doing some staff training on Blo-Karts and X-Sails with Tom from X-sail. These things aren’t my normal medium, but it was a fun and informative day.

X-sail and Blokart in action on the beach

X-sail and Blokart in action on the beach

Craig demonstrating how not to wear your helmet

Craig demonstrating how not to wear your helmet

Dartmoor

Jen & I were down in Devon for the last couple of days catching up with Chris, Jane, Jen and Patrick. On Saturday we went for a gentle wander around Dartmoor, which took in Hound Tor and Haytor.

Haytor in the distance

Haytor in the distance

This allowed a little big boot bouldering on the delightful rough granite. The rock was a little damp in places, but there were plenty of climbers out enjoying a better than forecast day.

Bouldering at Hound Tor

Me bouldering at Hound Tor

Today we walked around the Otterton area taking in some of the coast and of course the compulsory cream tea.

The team near Black Hill

The team near Black Hill

Traverse of The Cobbler

Yesterday, I was out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We completed the traverse of the South Peak and the Centre Peak which gives some nice moderate rock climbing and one abseil.

The abseil tat at the top of the South Peak had vanished so I replaced it. Hopefully it will remain where it is!

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