Salisbury Crags Bouldering

Euan, Ivor and I had a few hours bouldering at Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh today. Temperatures were cool, but the rock was dry.

Euan on The Black Wall Traverse, Salisbury Crags.

Navigation Courses

Over the weekend I was running two single day navigation courses for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. We used the area near the ski-centre in the Pentlands. The courses were well attended and the groups were keen to learn and improve their navigation skills, which made for good enjoyable days.

Edinburgh from the Pentlands.

The weather was dry on both days, windy on Saturday and cold and sunny on Sunday, which was drying out the ground and paths in the Pentlands.

Ben Nevis, Gulvain and Braigh nan Uamhachan

The last couple of days I’ve been based in Fort William. Graham was up for a flying visit with the aim of climbing Ben Nevis on Wednesday. The forecast was less than ideal with 50mph+ south-westerly winds and fairly constant heavy rain. We decided on heading up from the North Face car park and via Coire Leis in order to be sheltered from the worst of the winds until popping out on to the end of the Carn Mor Dearg arête. This worked well and although it made for a longer day meant we didn’t have to battle the wind and rain/hail until high on the mountain. We descended via the zig-zags to the half way lochan before cutting back to the Allt a’Mhuillin.

Graham and me on top of Ben Nevis with the summit shelter just visible behind.

Graham was catching the early train today, so I took the opportunity to head up Gulvain via Gleann Fionnlighe. After summiting I returned to the low point before the south top and then descended steeply to head over to Braigh nan Uamhachan, which I traversed before returning to the glen. This made for a good horseshoe, but the descents from Gulvain and back in to the glen are steep and rough and not really to be recommended in the current very wet conditions. The hills in the area are saturated at the moment and it rained fairly constantly both days. Stream crossings that are normally ok are currently problematic and this needs to be considered when making route choices.

Arbroath Sea Cliffs

Nettle, Ivor, Simon, Martin and I visited the Arbroath sea cliffs today. It was one of the few crags that we thought would be dry.

The conditions were not perfect. The conditions are only good on crags with South facing aspects. If planning a visit here it is worth finding these buttresses as described in the sports climbing guidebook.

It was however very hot in the Autumn sunshine.

Nettle enjoying the Autumn sun.

Kirrie Hill

Euan, Ivor and I are trying to keep training/climbing going as much as possible during the autumn to get us strong for the winter season. Yesterday the weather dictated training inside at Alien Rock, however today we headed outside to Kirrie Hill at Kirriemuir. The crag was dry and we had a good few hours climbing routes that were nearly all new lines for us.

Euan onsighting the very good “Ginger’s Jewels”.

Mountain Skills Course

The past two days I’ve been running a Mountain Training Mountain Skills Course for Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors. Gina, Lesley, Paula and Andy were looking to consolidate, improve or learn new skills for walking in mountainous terrain. The course had some classroom elements, but was largely delivered outside in appropriate terrain.

The team in the wind on the summit of Meall Tairneachan.

The weather over the weekend meant some careful planning was required to avoid being hindered by high winds and rain. On Saturday we drove to the head of Glen Ogle and from there walked up on to the slopes of Meall Buidhe and Beinn Leabhainn. These two hills have lots of interesting small features and are great for working on your navigation in rough trackless terrain. On Sunday with higher winds forecast again we went to the Corbett of Meall Tairneachan north of Weem. This allowed quick access to the hill on a good track and shelter from the southerly winds for large parts of the day. It’s worth noting the access track is very much a working track for the mine and probably best avoided during the week. Two good days running a very rewarding course, thanks to the team for their interest and enthusiasm, which made for a good course. We were even rewarded with some excellent views towards the end of Sunday.

Dovehole Boulders

Ivor, Martin and I were bouldering today in Northumberland. We visited Dovehole Boulders. It is at least fifteen years since I have been here. It was nice to return to this beautiful venue.

The venue is much greener than when I was there last. There is however still plenty to do. it is worth taking a toothbrush for the holds if you visit.

Dovehole is made up of free standing boulders.

3 Days with the Falkirk Staff Team

Over the last three days with the Falkirk Outdoors staff team I have been to; Benny Beg, Blackford Quarry and Beinn a’Chrulaiste via the Pink Rib. We spent time looking at the SPA, ML and MIA syllabuses. It is essential that once qualified instructors remain current hence days out like these.

Steve leading a trad route at Blackford.

Benny Beg

Benny Beg today with Catriona, Calum and Malcolm. This was a Falkirk High Tops Team day out. We looked at bottom roping, abseiling, movement skills and lead climbing skills. The crag was lovely and warm in the October sun.

Practising movement skills.

Impressive Performance at Kirriemuir

Today Martin, Ivor and I climbed at Kirriemuir. The condtions were excellent being dry and cold with autumn sunshine making the sandstone perfect to climb on. We climbed a number of routes including; ‘Slim Pickins’, ‘Flyboy’ and ‘By Hook or by Crook’. However, the stand out event of the day was Ivor climbing ‘A Touch too Much’ (F7A).

At the age of 70 Ivor climbed his first F7A at Rob’s Reed.. Last season as a team of four (Graham, Martin, Ivor and I), we concentrated on continental ice and mixed routes. We climbed sensational routes such as La Catterdale (WI5/WI5+) on Ivor’s 71st birthday. The autumn was spent in the USA climbing desert towers.

Ivor below La Cattedrale.

This year Martin, Ivor and I have been back in the gym lots as well as climbing on crags when the weather allows. Ivor, now 72 has climbed F7A again today at Kirriemuir. Very inspirational and all down to very hard work and determination.

Ivor showing great technique today at Kirriemuir.