Culter Hills

Nettle and I needed a short leg stretch today, so headed for the Culter Hills taking in Chapelgill Hill, Birnie’s Bowrock, Cardon Hill, Culter Fell and Congrie Hill from Glenkirk. Some steep ascent, but generally a pleasant rolling circuit on short grass and heather.

Nettle on the Culter Fell trig point smiling in the rain and wind.

It started out dry, but there were heavy showers blending together later on a fresh south-easterly wind. These hills give great views particularly towards Tinto and The Pentlands.

Kvaloya and Val d’Isere

Last week I was in Kvaloya. This Norwegian island is located in the Artic Circle. It provided skiing from summit to sea and many beautiful summits to visit.

This week I am in Val d’Isère and Tignes off piste skiing and ski touring. This is one of my favourite European areas with quiet summits to visit and large areas of off piste.

Beinn Sgritheall and Slioch

The last two days Ivor and I have been ticking off a couple of outliers of his few remaining Munros. On Monday in stunning weather we visited Beinn Sgritheall via it’s west ridge with me taking in the NW top as well.

Ivor on the west ridge of Beinn Sgitheall.

Yesterday we ascended Slioch and descended via Sgurr an Thuill Bhain enjoying the airy connecting ridge and great views. The ground was dry underfoot and the crags in the area are looking very dry for the time of year. Cloud built on Tuesday and we had a few drops of rain, but nothing significant.

The Stob (Meall na Frean)

Jen and I chose a dander up The Stob (Meall na Frean), a quiet hill above the Monachyle Glen, today as it was a bank holiday. The recent dry weather made this pleasant going, but the ridge south from the summit would be very boggy in wet conditions.

Jen with Stob Binnein and Ben More behind.

We descended via Stob Caol and the Braes of Balquhidder, which gave me a chance to quickly check out the crags there. It’s worth noting there was a raptor around the higher crags, so we gave them a wide berth in case it was nesting. The routes on the lower crags seemed fairly bold; quite gear specific and were also a little lichen covered, so I’d tend to climb with a few grades in hand or perhaps pre-inspect/clean if climbing here.

Craighoar

Ivor, Nettle and I had a good day climbing at Craighoar today. This small crag is situated in a quiet spot not far from Beattock on the M74.

Nettle leading Scobie-Doo with Ivor belaying.

There was a little bit of seapage on the crag, which didn’t really effect the routes we climbed (Hoar Cleft, Scobie-Doo, Hoar Crack and Crooked Brae). The crag doesn’t see much traffic, so there’s some lichen to deal with and it may be worth quickly cleaning harder lines. However, the climbing was good on generally solid sandstone and in a beautiful location. It’s lambing time at the moment, so if visiting the area please take care not to disturb the sheep.

Benny Beg and the Elie Chain Walk

The last two days we’ve had frosty starts then excellent sunny days with cool easterly or south-easterly breezes in the Central Belt of Scotland; great conditions for the Falkirk Outdoors Kids Easter Programme.

Great conditions for the Elie Chain Walk.

On Wednesday we were out climbing at Benny Beg and today we did the Elie Chain Walk in Fife.

Bramcrag Quarry

On Tuesday, Ivor, Martin and I visited Bramcrag Quarry in the Lake District. This venue has been developed over the last few years and provides plenty of routes for the mid grade sports climber.

Loudoun Hill

Euan, Ivor and I had a pleasant day cragging at Loudoun Hill in Lanarkshire today. It was cloudy with the lichenous rock feeling a little greasy when we arrived, but sunshine through the day and a cool easterly wind dried out the routes on the upper tier well.

Euan leading Cave Crack. Photo credit: I. McCourt.

Final Week of the Season

A nice final week of the season at Ballachulish; Curved Ridge, Dorsal Arête, West Gully Beinn an Dothaidh and snow anchors at the ski centre.

Glen Orchy

A late change of plan meant I was out on my own today. I decided on a couple of hills I’d not visited before and the opportunity to check out a small crag shown on the map I hadn’t heard anything about. Starting from the Eas Urcaidh car park I went up Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh traversing around after the forestry to cross it’s east ridge in order to take in the north-east coire, Garbh Choirean. To my surprise I found enough old snow and thin ice in the coire to climb a short, but good, gully just to the right of the coire’s central rib.

Looking down the gully climbed on hard neve, thin ice on rocks and well frozen turf.

After heading up to the summit I went on to the south-east top before retracing my steps a little and dropping down to the watershed before nipping up Beinn Donachain. I descended via Cruach nan Nighean and pt. 563m to reach the forestry track at Lochan Coire Thoraidh. A pleasant descent on tracks, part of which was through some delightful old forest, brought me back to the start. A dry morning was followed by an afternoon of heavy showers on strong easterly winds. These fell as snow above about 500m, but was only settling above 700m. The turf was firm above 700m and some ice was forming above 700m. Older snow in significant collection features was good neve. Higher hills in the area had good snow cover above 750m although crags looked fairly black. See the ClimbNow Facebook page for more hill/crag photos.