Blackford, Glencoe and Glen Clova

Last week I was climbing in Blackford Quarry with groups from the Falkirk schools area. This is an excellent beginners venue in the lovely Blackford Glen.

Yesterday, Bob, Gregor and I were out on a Falkirk Community Trust climbing day. We visited Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe before climbing Agag’s Groove on the Rannoch wall. We visited the summit of the Crowberry Tower before visiting the summit of the mountain to give a classic mountain day.

Ivor and I visited Glen Clova today. The crags are in early summer condition with quite a lot of greenery around and slightly damp in places. The route of the day was ‘Wander’ which is highly recommended.

Ivor near the top of 'Wander'.

Ivor near the top of ‘Wander’.

Bob and Gregor climbing 'Agag's Groove'.

Bob and Gregor climbing ‘Agag’s Groove’.

Fannichs and Assynt

Jen and I are back from a few days up North. After staying with friends in Inverness on Thursday we headed to Achnasheen on Friday and walked up Fionn Bheinn, returning via the coire rims of Toll Mor and Toll Beag. There was steady rain for the early part of the day and cloud coming and going.

Old snow on the coire rim of Toll Mor, Fionn Bheinn.

Old snow on the coire rim of Toll Mor, Fionn Bheinn.

We then stayed in the excellent Kylesku Hotel before heading up Quinag on Saturday and taking in Spidean Coinich, Sail Gorm and Sail Gharbh. The weather was unfortunately worse than forecast, with cloud for most of the day. However, we had a good walk on an excellent hill with the occasional glimpse of the stunning views.

Jen enjoying a short scrambling section on Quinag.

Jen enjoying a short scrambling section on Quinag.

On Sunday we took in Cul Mor on the way back South. This time the weather was better than originally forecast with just the odd heavy rain and hail shower, but lots of sunshine. After taking in the summit we wandered around to Creag nan Calman, which gave great views, before descending it’s East ridge and across the coire to regain the outward route on Meallan Diomhain. Three great days in beautiful countryside with excellent hospitality.

Stac Pollaidh and Loch Scionascaig from Creag nan Calman.

Stac Pollaidh and Loch Sionascaig from Creag nan Calman.

Back at Sunny Kirrie

Today Ivor and I have been back climbing at Kirriemuir. We had hoped to go to Glen Clova or Rob’s Reed but with the forecast for black clouds all day we thought it would be the safer option as the crag is very sheltered. We spent the day mostly in bright sunshine enjoying nice dry sandstone routes. A few climbers appeared near the end of our session.

Ivor leading Boarding Party.

Ivor leading Boarding Party.

Lowland Leader Awards

For the past two weekends I have been running Lowland Leader Award assessments for Falkirk Community Trust. The teams and I have visited various areas around the Pentland Hills and also areas bordering the Forth.

Congratulations to all candidates on their efforts.

Threipmuir Reservoir and the Pentland Hills.

Threipmuir Reservoir and the Pentland Hills.

Pentlands Navigation

I was out in the Pentlands this evening with Alan, Lorn and Paul looking at hill navigation. We started from the Ranger Centre near the Flotterstone and headed around the Castle Law and Fala Knowe area with a fair bit of time off the paths looking at bearings and pacing.

Turnhouse Hill at dusk this evening.

Carnethy and Turnhouse Hills at dusk this evening.

It was a beautiful evening with a cool breeze. The Pentland Hills are pretty dry at the moment, but there are still some boggy spots off the paths.

Dunira

Ivor and I had a pleasant day sport climbing at Dunira near Comrie today. It was a new crag to both of us, but well worth a visit. There aren’t a huge number of routes at the crag and it has a longish walk in for a sports climbing venue, but the routes are steep and good quality and the setting is idyllic. It’s probably worth going in spring, early summer or even on a warm winters day as the approach when the bracken is high wouldn’t be too pleasant.

Me topping out on Twenty Shilling Woodworm.

Me topping out on Twenty Shilling Woodworm. Photo Credit: Ivor McCourt.

Ivor dropped me at Nettle’s on the way back and he and I went for a training run around a few West Lothian hills before I caught the train back to Edinburgh. A great way to spend a very warm and sunny May day.

First day of the Rock Climbing Season

It was the first day of my rock climbing season today. Martin, Ivor and I visited Kirriemuir. It was dry, sunny and warm and all routes were dry.

Martin climbing at Kirriemuir.

Martin climbing at Kirriemuir.

Pentlands

Euan and I were running in the Pentland Hills today recceing a route for an event later in the year. The paths and ground generally are pretty wet at the moment after the recent rain. Sunshine and showers through the afternoon with a cool south-westerly wind. Some great views when the weather cleared.

Typiclal Pentlands view, though not from today and not Euan as I forgot to take photos.

Typiclal Pentlands view, though not from today and not Euan as I forgot to take photos.

Cairnpapple and Cockleroy

Jen and I were out for a quick walk in West Lothian today taking in Cairnpapple and Cockleroy hills. Cairnpapple includes the highest point in the old West Lothian boundary and, although not particularly big, gives great views. There was a fair bit of cloud about today, but the view North showed the Ochils still holding some snow in sheltered locations.

Jen leaning in to the wind on the summit of Cockleroy.

Jen leaning in to the wind on the summit of Cockleroy.

Ben Nevis

I was back out on Ben Nevis again today with John and Chris. Chris hadn’t worn crampons before and there was a good bit fresh snow, so we headed up in to the back of Coire Leis where we used easy angled old snow to get used to crampons and axe. We then put the rope on and made our way up to the North end of the horizontal section of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete linking scoured snow and rocky sections. After traversing the CMD Arete we made our way up to the summit before descending the Zig Zags and then back to the Allt a’Mhuillinn.

Chris and John approaching the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

Chris and John approaching the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow over the last couple of days and the more recent snow was forming soft wind slab in sheltered locations on lots of aspects above 650m; some of this is sitting on a graupel layer from earlier in the week, which is on top of old neve. If you’re out and about in the snow over the weekend choose your route and approach wisely. It’s worth noting the Scottish Avalanche Information Service is providing forecasts for Lochaber and the Northern Cairngorms for this weekend.