Today a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors climbing team of Bob, Gregor and I headed for Glen Clova to try and get away from the rain. This worked well. We had light showers and some dark clouds as well as sunshine early on, so we climbed the four pitch Twenty Minute Route on the Lower North-West Crag.
After some lunch the rock was still pretty dry and there was only the odd very light shower, so we headed across to the South-East Crag and climbed Parapet Route Direct Start and the excellent Flake Route.
On Saturday and Sunday John and I were in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Community Trust Climbing Team of Andrea, Christine and Marco and Craig was out with a High Tops Team of Alec, Davie and Norrie.
After dropping the walkers off the climbers cycled up Gleann an t-Slugain before putting up tents below Clach a’Cleirich. We had a heavy shower as we arrived at the campsite and when this eased we headed up to Gharbh Coire with thoughts of possibly climbing Squareface that afternoon. However, lots of snow in descent gullies and more rain showers meant we just stashed some gear for the better forecast day on Sunday.
An early start on Sunday saw us climbing the classic Cumming-Crofton Route on Mitre Ridge with Bell’s Variation once the ridge itself was reached. This gave interest all the way, particularly in the bottom three pitches, which were wet and required care.
We then returned to the campsite and the cycled out. A good effort from the team particularly as they’re from a sports climbing background with very limited trad and multi-pitch experience.
The walkers had an excellent two days taking in Beinn Bhreac, Beinn a’Chaorainn, Beinn a’Bhuird and Ben Avon. See Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors facebook page for a report and photos from Craig.
Tina, Scott and I have had a busy week climbing and mountaineering finding good conditions and having the odd frustrating moment due to rockfall!
On Sunday we went to the Refuge Robert Blanc in the Beaufortain. The Guardian at this hut is excellent and we had a very enjoyable meal with him before an early start the next day when we climbed the Petite Aiguille des Glaciers (3468m). There had been fresh avalanches the day before. This may be an issue for the next few weeks in the Alps. The glacier was in excellent condition.
We decided to go to Les Ecrins for the next four days as the weather forecast was excellent for this area and there is a little less snow. Therefore we drove on Tuesday towards La Berarde but unfortunately could not get up the final section of the road due to a large scale rockfall the day before making the road unpassable. After a quick discussion we headed to Ailefroide for some rock climbing before overnighting in the valley.
After breakfast on Wednesday morning we climbed in the valley before making the approach to the Refuge du Sele where we got a very warm welcome. The next morning we climbed the South Ridge route to the summit of L’Ailefroide Orientale (3847m) before descending the South West Flank Route.
The South Ridge route on the L’Ailefroide is hard to find in the middle section when snow covered (as it is just now). The glacier section of the South West Flank is threatened by a serac for a good section of it (which is not mentioned in the British climbing guide) and this should be thought about carefully if deciding to do this route.
Yesterday we climbed one of the large granite routes in the valley, Spit on Cup. This newly bolted route can be found in the latest edition of the climbing guide.
There are more photos on the facebook page.
Stephen and I had a very good day on Ben Nevis yesterday. We climbed Tower Ridge and pretty much had the whole route to ourselves. We then went over the summit and around via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and over Carn Mor Dearg and Car Dearg Meadhonach before descending.
The rock was mostly dry, the forecast showers held off and the cloud was above the summit all day. Tower Ridge had been on Stephen’s to do list for a while and it was great to climb it with him in such good conditions.
Ivor, Butch and I had a quick hit up to Glen Carron today. After a very generous lift along the track from a friendly stalker we headed up to the Bealach Bhearnais and ascended Sgurr Choinnich and Sgurr a’Chaorachain. We then descended the North Ridge of Sgurr a’Chaorachain before dropping back north-east in to the coire to return to the track to Craig.
From part way up the path to the bealach we had fairly steady rain, circa 30mph winds and were in cloud. This eased once we were back on the track, but unfortunately no great views today.
On Wednesday Danny and I walked into the Refuge Albert Premier. There is unusually large amounts of snow for this time of year and an ice axe is essential.
Thursdays weather forecast was for sunny spells from 7am onwards following 30 centimetres of snow the night before. Therefore despite the poor visibility and snowfall we left the hut at 7am and climbed to the Col Sup. du Tour (3289m). We had hoped to continue to the Aiguille du Tour but on reaching Switzerland the weather worsened with high winds as well as snowfall and poor visibility. Therefore we returned from to the hut having had an adventure but not pushing things too far!. The weather did eventually improve at 12.30pm.
Today we left Saint Gervais early and drove through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and after using the lift system climbed the Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) before the weather once more closed in.
There are more photos on the facebook page.
A Falkirk Community Trust Team of John, Nigel, Steve and me were in Kirkton Gorge near Balquhidder today for some gorge walking Staff Training.
Ivor, Cameron and I spent the last two days in Kintail and Affric. On Tuesday we started from Glen Croe and after walking up the good stalkers path to Bealach an Sgairne climbed A’Ghlas-bheinn and Beinn Fhada (Ben Attow) before descending it’s long East ridge over Sgurr a’Dubh Coire and then out to the excellent, cosy and remote Glen Affric Youth Hostel at Alltbeithe.
After spending the night at the Hostel we headed north and up to An Socach. We returned along the ridge over Stob Coire nan Dearcag and then dropped steeply north to traverse the coire and gain the ridge out to Mullach na Dheiragain. The ridge to this very remote Munro gave excellent walking both out and back before a stiff climb up to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and an airy section out to it’s West top. From there we dropped down to gain the path back over Bealach an Sgairne to return to our starting point of the previous day.
The reclusive hills in this area are steep sided with long ridges and give superb walking and views. On Tuesday we had clear weather for much of the day and the Skye Cuillin and Torridon hills were prominent in the distance. Wednesday it rained for most of the morning and we were in cloud for large parts of the day, however the ground was still relatively dry underfoot for walking.
Danny and I are currently in the Alps climbing together. The weather is very changeable at the moment and lots of studying of weather forecasts is required.
On Monday we travelled to Les Ecrins before walking to the Refuge de la Pilatte. The weather on Tuesday morning was not perfect but we persevered towards Mont Gioberney. We were rewarded with clearing skies on reaching the Col du Gioberney and amazing views from the summit (3352m).
Today we visited the Mer de Glace above Chamonix and spent time ice climbing and practising crevasse rescue skills.
Currently there is large volumes of snow remaining from the winter in the Alps making routes more time consuming.
John and I were out today in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Andrea, Gregor, Helen and Marco. There were rain showers as we drove across Rannoch Mor and cloud down to about 400m , so we opted for an ascent of North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor.
The rock was drier than expected and we only had very minor rain showers; this made for a pleasant day although unfortunately no real views. We climbed to the summit of Stob Dearg and descended via Coire na Tulaich.