Kirrie Hill

Ivor and I had a very pleasant morning sport climbing in the sun at Kirrie Hill, Kirriemuir today. It’s a very sheltered crag and a real sun trap.

Me leading Hard Labour. Photo credit: Ivor McCourt.

The nature of the crag meant we were able to climb a good number of routes in a relatively short visit.

Traprain Law

John and I were out at Traprain Law today with a Falkirk Outdoors climbing team of Amanda, Annie, Donald, Lynsey and Sarah. Amanda, Donald and I spent the day looking at leading on trad gear. It was a beautiful sunny day and the routes there are all currently dry.

Amanda belaying in the sun at Traprain Law.

The Cairngorms

Chris and I had planned a couple of days climbing classic rock climbs in the Cairngorms. However, the weather forecast precipitated a change in our plans. On Monday we climbed the good mountaineering line of The Stuic with snow underfoot and well frozen turf before taking in Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor.

The Stuic

There were a few snow and graupel showers during the day. It was quite sunny later on and the snow line rose to the base of The Stuic.

Chris topping out on Anvil Gully.

With more snow in the northern Cairngorms, today we visited Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully via it’s left hand start to avoid softer insulated turf in the bottom section and then the lower corners of Frozen Planet before traversing in to Recovery Gully as the upper rocky section was looking pretty black. There was snow down to the Ciste carpark this morning with the snow line rising to about 850m during the day. There were deep accumulations of fresh unconsolidated snow in sheltered locations. Snow and graupel showers fell throughout the day. The turf was frozen where exposed, but variable where insulated. Not what I was expecting to be doing in early May, but good fun.

Blackford Quarry Rescues

I had a really good day today with Ed, Ryan, Scott and Stephen looking at emergency scenarios and rescue techniques for rock climbers in Blackford Quarry. These are really useful skills for both sport and trad climbers to know on single or multi-pitch crags.

The team practicing escaping the system with anchors out of reach.

We were able to cover a good range of scenarios by concentrating on a few simple building blocks and then applying them in different situations. The guys seemed to learn a lot and were enthusiastic throughout the day, which made for a great course.

Scott doing an unassisted hoist of Stephen,

Glen Croe

Euan, Ivor and I visited Glen Croe in Arrochar today for some rock climbing. There’d been some rain last night and so some of the easier to protect lines such as Student’s Route and Lady Madonna were suffering from seepage. We also got a few unforecast hail and light rain showers, so not ideal for climbing on mica schist. However, we had a good day leading Good Day Sunshine; Dear Prudence (a good lead of this bold line by Euan in a hail shower); Student’s Route; me backing off a wet Lady Madonna and working Pockets of Excellence.

Euan setting off on Dear Prudence in a hail shower.

It doesn’t look like the crag is seeing large amounts of traffic, so lichen is an issue on some lines and cracks may require cleaning to place protection. Still good to be out climbing on rock.

Ivor topping out on Dear Prudence.

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.


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.