Kirrie Hill

Euan, Ivor, Nettle and I climbed at Kirrie Hill, Kirriemuir, today. The crag was a little wet in places and the atmosphere was very humid, which didn’t make for the best climbing conditions. However, we were able to climb a number of routes and work on some projects.

Nettle working “Touch Too Much” on a top rope.

Trainer and Assessor Skills Workshop

The last two days I’ve been attending a Mountain Training Scotland Trainer and Assessor Skills Workshop run by Al and Sandy. It was hosted by Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors and based at their Muiravonside centre.

Some of the course discussing navigation training techniques.

The workshop is aimed at those working on or thinking about working on Mountain Training Awards. It gave a good insight in to the roles of trainers and assessors, looked at a variety of models and strategies and was a great forum for discussing these interesting and sometimes difficult roles. Big thanks to Al and Sandy and the other attendees for their enthusiasm, which made it a very useful two days.

North-West Walking and Sea Kayaking

Jen and I are just back from a week in the North of Scotland. After a couple of days with family in Caithness we headed around the North Coast on Saturday and had a very pleasant afternoon walking up Ben Stack from Achfary via Strath Stack and it’s North-West ridge and descending the South-East ridge. This gives a good circuit on an interesting hill, which has great views. The hills in the area are very wet underfoot at the moment and gaiters are useful.

Jen on the summit of Ben Stack with Loch Laxford behind.

We then carried on to Lochinver where, on Sunday, we met up with Jules and Dave of Norwest Sea Kayaking and a team of Dave, Jane, Tim and Tanya. Over the next four days we kayaked from Culkein, near Stoer up the coast to Handa and then back down to Kylesku with camps on Oldany Island, near Scourie and on Calbha Beag. The weather was kind with rain only on the last day. It was a great trip with the highlights probably being kayaking through the Stack of Handa, seeing otter and sea eagles and the good food and company. I’ll put more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

The team kayaking under the cliffs of Handa.

Mamores

Ivor, Nettle and I had a good day in the Mamores yesterday. Starting from Kinlochleven we walked via Loch Eilde Mor and up Sgurr Eilde Mor before dropping down it’s West ridge to head out to and up Binnein Beag. We then climbed the North-East ridge of Binnein Mor taking in some easy scrambling in the upper narrow section before descending over it’s South Top and Sgor Eilde Beag.

Ivor and Nettle on the North-East Ridge of Binnein Mor.

A pleasant route with a lot of ascent and some stiff climbs linked by good stalker’s paths. The weather was pretty much as forecast with rain holding off until late afternoon and a brief sleet shower on Binnein Mor. The hills are currently very wet with streams up.

Coasteering

Fun day today coasteering near Elie in Fife with Mike, Craig and David from Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors and an enthusiastic school group. Lots of jumps, swims and generally messing around in the swell. A good activity on a rainy day.

Taking the plunge.

Skye and Loch Quoich

I’m just back from two excellent days on Skye with Jonathan and Julia. I was based in the very good and friendly Skye Basecamp Hostel. On the way back today I took the opportunity to nip up Gairich on the south side of Loch Quoich.

Jonathan near the summit of The Inn Pinn.

On Friday Jonathan, Julia and I headed up in to Coire na Banachdich and on up Sgurr Dearg with Jonathan and I taking in The Inaccessible Pinnacle via it’s East Ridge. We then completed a circuit of the coire by scrambling up the South Ridge of Sgurr na Banachdaich via it’s South and Centre tops and descending over Sgurr nan Gobhar. The rock was dry, but we were in cloud most of the day on the ridge and only got views when descending the Sgurr nan Gobhar ridge.

Jonathan and Julia on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich.

On Saturday Jonathan and I went up to Bealach a’Bhasteir and ascended and descended Am Basteir via it’s East Ridge taking in the Bad Step. We then ascended Sgurr nan Gillean via Tooth Groove and Arete and the West Ridge before descending the South-East Ridge. Again the rock was dry and the cloud lifted during the day to give us good views in the afternoon.

Jonathan descending Sgurr nan Gillean.

Today the weather forecast had changed overnight and the heavy rain and strong winds were forecast to arrive later, so I was able to stop off and take in Gairich on the way south with the rain only catching up with me on the descent. I descended the North ridge, which gave a quick way down out of the weather and was able to walk along the Loch Quoich “beach” as the water levels are currently low. The hills in this area are pretty wet underfoot at the moment and gaiters are a good idea if away from well drained paths. I’ll add more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Kirrie Hill

Jen and I visited Katie, Izzy, Kofi and Eva in the Angus Glens today and had a delightful few hours taking the kids climbing at Kirrie Hill, Kirriemuir.

Izzy at the top of the first route with Eva, Kofi and myself down on the ground.

The crag was dry and there were quite a few teams climbing, but there was plenty of space for everyone and a very friendly atmosphere. I’ll put more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Clova

John and I visited Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Gillian, Kate and Ken. We opted for this as it was likely to be quick drying after the rain, gave us options if we did get showers and was less likely to be busy. We were lucky in that we had no significant rain whilst we were there and the crag dried quickly. We also had the crags to ourselves all day.

Ken on one of the harder options on pitch 3 of Twenty Minute Route.

We started on Twenty Minute Route, taking in some of the harder variations, whilst the crag dried. After lunch we moved across to the South-East Crag and climbed Parapet Route Direct Start with Kate, Ken and I then climbing Flake Route and John and Gillian climbing Central Crack, both excellent long pitches. A long abseil from the top of the crag then finished off a good day.

Kirrie Hill

Euan, Ivor and I had a good day sport climbing at Kirriemuir today. The crag was dry when we arrived, but there were showers from early afternoon. However, the nature of the crag meant that many of the routes stayed dry and we were able to climb for a further two hours.

Euan onsighting “Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass”.

Assynt and Coigach

The last three days I’ve been in the North-West Highlands with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors High Tops team of Billy, Linda, Rebekah and Wilson. We were based at the Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel and after travelling up on Monday we walked from the hostel to ascend Conival and Ben More Assynt returning over Conival.

Rebekah, Billy and Wilson on Conival with Foinavon in the far background.

On Tuesday we traversed Cul Mor and Cul Beag starting and finishing from near Knockan Crag. We ascended the East Ridge of Cul Mor over Meall Diomhain and descended the East Ridge of Cul Beag over Meall Dearg. This isn’t a huge day in terms of distance, but covers a lot of pathless rough ground between Cul Mor and Cul Beag, requires accurate navigation and has a couple of river crossings that might be difficult if the rivers were in spate. As a reference point if you’re thinking about this route we took 9 hours 40 minutes road to road at a good steady walking pace in wet conditions.

On Wednesday we drove around through Achiltibuie and climbed Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Ben More Coigach. With a forecast of relatively high winds and heavy showers we chose to do head up and down between the Allt a’Choire Reidh and the Allt nan Coisiche rather than ascend over the West Top of Ben More Coigach. This worked well on the day and the cloud even lifted on our descent to give views to Loch Broom and out to The Summer Isles.

The team in cloud on the summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir.

Monday was dry, but there were heavy and sometimes prolonged showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. The ground and crags in the area are currently wet and any crags that suffer from seepage will take a few days to dry.

A good trip to a beautiful area, in great company taking in two Munros on Monday, two Corbetts on Tuesday and two Grahams on Wednesday, which has a pleasing sort of symmetry. I’ll put more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.