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.

Glen Coe

B, Lance and I were out in Glen Coe today enjoying the sunshine. Only major north and east facing features are holding snow, but what snow is there was very firm neve today unless it was in direct sunlight all day. There’d been a frost from the valley up and turf was hard and ice was forming in places.

B and Lance at a stance on Dorsal Arete.

We climbed Dorsal Arete on hard neve and dry rock and then took in the summits of Stob Coire nan Lochan, Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach before descending via the Lost Valley. A great day to be out.

Lance and B on the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

Ben Nevis and Kinlochleven

I got back last night from the Falkirk Community Trust CIC Hut trip with John, Andrew, Gary, Linda and Steven. We headed up to Ben Nevis on Wednesday and in the afternoon climbed a soggy upper North Trident Buttress section of Moonlight Gully. The lower section was broken, so we avoided it by a rising traverse line from the left. We then climbed the upper section in two long pitches to the ridge above Number 5 Gully and descended back down by abseil and down climb before traversing out to Coire na Ciste along the ramp.

The team below the upper section of Moonlight Gully.

On Thursday we climbed Tower Ridge, with the difficulties mostly on rock, but with sugary snow on the easier angled sections and firmer snow above Tower Gap. We didn’t put crampons on, but an axe was required. The snow will firm up again with colder temperatures over the weekend. On Friday with a windier wetter forecast we decided to head down and had a good couple of hours climbing in The Ice Factor at Kinlochleven.

Linda enjoying The Ice Factor.

West Coast

This week I have been working out of Ballachulish. We completed; Curved Ridge, Dorsal Arête, Broad Gully, Douglas Gap Traverse and Pink Rib.

Many easy gully lines are still complete but in the current conditions great care should be taken due to issues of rock fall.

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.