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.

West and East

I’ve spent the last four days with Alex and Doug trying to work with the weather rather than against it. We met at the Corran Ferry on Thursday and headed out to Ardnamurchan hoping this would stay under the forecast weather. We climbed the West Flanks of Creag an Airgid and Meall Sanna, both giving good scrambling/easy climbing on rough gabbro buttresses and slabs. We avoided the rain, there was some wet rock but plenty of friction even when wet.

The summit of Creag an Airgid.

The forecast for Friday morning was very wet and windy, so we had a deliberate late start and walked in to the CIC Hut in the afternoon before climbing and descending a soggy East Gully of the Douglas Gap as things started to cool down late afternoon. Friday night saw temperatures drop and some fresh snow. We had a great day on Saturday climbing North Gully, Creag Coire na Ciste, heading over the summit of Ben Nevis and down and along the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.  Bigger gully features that had held snow had firmed up well. Ice was starting to reform above 700m, fresh wind slab was forming on westerly winds.

Doug and Alex on North Gully.

Today we needed a short day and headed east to the Cairngorms to get away from the worst of the weather. We scrambled a couple of the winter lines in Creag na h-Iolaire in summer conditions; I would not recommend this as there is a lot of very loose rock. There were snow/hail showers down to around 600m on a strong westerly, but these were only settling above about 850m.

Navigation Course

Yesterday I was delivering a Low Level Walking Navigation Course for the City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. We started from the Midlothian Snow Sports Centre and used the area around Swanston and Dreghorn to stay down below the worst of the cool wind and to maximise the available shelter.

The group planning their next leg in a shelter near the Howden Burn.

The main paths in the Pentlands were still relatively dry, but the recent rain meant there were some boggy areas.

Pentlands Navigation

I was out in the Pentland Hills today delivering a Hill Walking Navigation course for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. Thanks to all the group for their enthusiasm, which made the course work well.

The group with Arthur’s Seat in the distance.

It was dry throughout the day with sunshine and a strong, cold, south-westerly wind, which decreased through the day. Despite yesterday’s rain the ground was very dry underfoot for this time of year and the paths were dry.

The Cobbler

John and I were out today in Arrochar with a Falkirk Outdoors climbing team of Doug, John, Nigel and Ross. We’d hoped to do a couple of harder variations on the classic Cobbler Traverse, but the cloud was making the rock and more importantly the lichen very slippy so we did the South-East Ridge of the South Peak; abseiled off the South Peak; up the jamming crack of the South-East Arete of the Central Peak and avoided the upper delicate slab; up and down Doorway Route to the Central Peak and then walked up to the North Peak. A good wee adventure in the cloud.

Summit photo of John, Ross and me.

We were in cloud all day, so didn’t see the other hills in the area but we saw no snow on The Cobbler. There was a fresh south-east wind, but no rain, however the moisture in the cloud was making the rock wet.

Buachaille Etive Mor

John and I had a great day today with a Falkirk Outdoors Mountaineering team of John, Kim, May, Neil and Wilson. We visited Buachaille Etive Mor climbing Lagangarbh Buttress on dry rock and taking in the two good Moderate wall options near the top.

Wilson and Kim near the top of the climbing.

It was dry and sunny all day with light winds and haze building in the afternoon. There were very few remaining snow patches on the hill and only a small section of snow to cross to return in to Coire na Tulaich. There was more snow cover visible on the east facing sides of Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

Coigach, Assynt and Sutherland

I got back late yesterday from four days based at Elphin in North-West Scotland with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors walking and mountaineering team of John, Craig, Gillian, Gillian, Linda, Neil, Olesya and Ruby. It was billed as a winter trip, but there are currently only small amounts of snow in the area mostly on north and east facing aspects above 800m in significant collection features and around coire rims.

Linda and Ruby on the traverse of Stac Pollaidh with Cul Beag behind.

We had generally dry conditions with moderate to strong warm south-east to south-west winds. This meant dry rock away from major seepage lines and we made the most of the distinctly summer conditions.

The climbing team, minus John, at the end of a good day at Reiff. Photo credit: Gillian Millar.

On Thursday a combined group did the classic east to west scramble traverse of Stac Pollaidh to the true west top after driving up from Falkirk. On Friday the mountaineers climbed Lurgainn Edge on Cul Beag including the avoidable Difficult crux at the top, whilst the walkers traversed Cul Beag and Cul Mor covering some rough and remote country and a lot of ascent. On a windy Saturday we headed further north with the mountaineers climbing Dionard Rib on Cranstackie, which gave a very good ascent on excellent rough gneiss, and the walkers visiting Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh (the most northerly Corbett). On Sunday a team had a half day at the Reiff sea cliffs climbing routes on The Pinnacle and Pinnacle Walls area and Craig and Ruby completed an excellent round of Beinn an Eoin. All in all a great trip in good company to an incredibly beautiful area.