Over the last couple of days I have been at Aberdour and Rosyth. Firstly, on Thursday with Lucy and Doug looking at lead climbing skills and yesterday staff training with the Falkirk Team.
Rosyth was mostly dry with some seepage on the odd route. The second pitch of Fish Head Arete at Aberdour is loose at the moment, particularly in the middle section.
For the past week Ivor, Martin and I have been climbing in the States of Utah and Colorado. As well as climbing many great pitches of rock we have also climbed some stunning towers in Colorado’s Monument Valley and Arches National Park near Moab. Here are a few thoughts on how to maximise your time here;
- Begin your trip at Wall Street, Moab. Maybe the best road side crag in the world?
- Buy Ocun crack climbing gloves.
- At wall street do not put any kit down in the vegetation. The burrs are very painful to the touch.
- McStiffs (Moab) does great smoothies which are a real treat after a tough session in the sun.
- Staff at Pagan Mountaineering (Moab) are very helpful and offer good guidance on routes and venue’s.
- The new ‘High on Moab’ guidebook is excellent.
- The Mountain Project website has lots of useful information including a number of desert towers not mentioned in the ‘High on Moab’ or ‘Supertopo’ guidebooks.
- Root Canal on Molar Tower is a good first chimney to try. Much easier than North East Chimney on Off Balanced Rock which receives an easier grade.
- American climbers are very friendly on belay and abseil stations. It is not necessary to adopt a European stance ethic!
- The walk to Independence Monument is one hour not forty minutes.
For more photos please visit the facebook page.
For the last week, Ivor, Martin and I have been staying at Las Vegas in the USA and climbing at the awesome Red Rocks. The weather has been superb at this world class sandstone climbing venue.
Below are a few thoughts on how to have a great trip to this amazing climbing venue. These are in addition to the excellent info present in the Supertopo climbing guidebook..
- Read approaches very carefully and then interpret them!
- The second edition of the full Red Rocks climbing guidebook is very useful.
- A British trad climber will find it useful to carry more wires than mentioned on the topos. Often when camming devices are suggested we were placing bomber wires.
- At weekends choose a venue that has a number of routes at your grade as the most popular routes can get busy.
- Twin Peaks in Las Vegas does great food.
- The Black Corridor crag is an awesome, friendly sports venue in hot weather.
- There is excellent info about red Rocks on the Mountain Project website.
- Near Desert Rock Sports on Charleston Boulevard (on the way out of town towards the Red Rocks loop road) are good local restaurants and a wholefood supermarket if you would like some healthier food options.
- Red Rocks is in the Moave Desert. Think about water, shade and how tight your rock shoes will be in the heat!
- It is worth getting a detailed road map of Las Vegas city centre if you intend to stay there.
On Wednesday I was at Kyloe crag with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Between showers we got lots of great routes done at this lovely little sandstone venue.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.