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.

Three Days on Skye

For the past three days I have been on Skye with Andy and Rob. We have had a successful trip climbing the following peaks; Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier, Bhastier Tooth, Sgurr a’Mhadaidh, Sgurr a Ghreadaidh and Sgurr an Fheadain. The weather was mixed but Skye always provides memorable days out.

Rob and Andy down climbing Sgurr nan Gillean.

Rob and Andy down climbing Sgurr nan Gillean.

Stormy Skye

Euan and I are just back from three days on Skye with a Falkirk Community Trust Scrambling Team of Alec, Gillian, Linda, Sarah and Wilson.

Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.

Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.

Having arrived in Glen Brittle on Thursday night we decided to make the most of the fact that Friday had the best forecast and headed up early from Sligachan to Sgurr a’Bhasteir, which we ascended by it’s North-East Ridge. We then continued along it’s narrow South Ridge to reach Bealach na Lice. After a short break we dropped down in to Lota Coire and climbed the Lota Coire Route to The Bhasteir Tooth. Part way up this the weather arrived in earnest several hours ahead of forecast and the upper part was climbed in continuous driving rain and strong winds.

Gillean and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.

Gillian and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.

We then did the subterranean scramble and abseil to descend King’s Cave Chimney, which got us out of the wind for a while. Given the early arrival of the weather heading down via Coire a’Bhasteir rather than continuing on towards Sgurr nan Gillean seemed sensible. This proved a good decision as the rain was heavy enough that the normal path back to Sligachan required several streams to be forded and the lower steps of the bridge near Sligachan were under water on our return.

After continuous heavy rain overnight and with strong southerly winds forecast we needed a route for Saturday that was relatively low, sheltered from the wind on scrambling sections and had no significant river crossings to access. The North-East Ridge of Beinn Dearg Mhor in the Red Cuillin seemed to fit the bill. With a late start to try and make the most of the weather this worked well giving us some lovely scrambling on rough granite lower down. It was a bit of a battle with circa 50mph+ winds to reach the summit, before descending via it’s North Ridge to Bealach na Sgairde and around to our starting point.

The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.

The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.

The forecast for today was for even stronger winds, but only showers. However, lightening was also forecast, so we opted for a low level objective. After driving around to Glasnakille, near Elgol, we abseiled in to the geo that houses Spar Cave. This cave has an amazing staircase of spar, calcium carbonate, and beautifully featured deposits of the same material on the walls and ceiling. After a quick look at the cave we made a short sea level traverse around to the next recess before heading back up the path from this point. The sea level traverse is only accessible for a short period either side of low tide and care must be taken to avoid getting trapped in the Spar Cave geo by a rising tide.

The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.

The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.

Three really interesting days on Skye in some very stormy weather. Thanks to the team for being up for some of our unusual scrambling suggestions given the conditions. This made for a great trip despite the weather. Euan will put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Skye Scrambling

I’m just back from Skye with Euan, John and a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Team of Isobel, Linda, Lorn, Lynne, Mary, Norrie, Siobhan and Wilson.

After driving up on Thursday Linda, Wilson and I traversed Sgurr Thuilm in fairly horrible weather including driving sleet and hail. The rest of the team went up to An Dorus and climbed Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a’Mhadaidh.

Mary and Siobhan looking relaxed on Am Basteir.

Mary and Siobhan looking relaxed on Am Basteir.

On Friday John, Linda, Lorn and Wilson went in to Coire Lagan and after heading up the Sgumain Stone Shoot traversed Sgurr Sgumain, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Thearlaich, Sgurr Mhiccoinnich and descended the An Stac screes. The rest of the team headed to the other end of the ridge and after walking up to the Bealach a’Bhasteir scrambled up Am Basteir via the East Ridge Direct. After returning to the bealach we then climbed Sgurr nan Gillean West Ridge via Tooth Groove and Arete and descended via the South-East Ridge. This was the best day of the trip for weather and views particularly at the north end of the ridge.

The team on the summit of Am Basteir

The team on the summit of Am Basteir

On Saturday Euan, Linda and Wilson scrambled up the Sron nan Gobhar Ridge to Sgurr na Banachdaich whilst the rest of us headed around to Coire a’Ghrunnda. We then scrambled up Sgurr nan Eag via the Right Hand Flank of the North Ridge and then descended to the Castle via the North Ridge. After nipping behind the Castle we climbed Sgurr Dubh na da Bheinn via it’s South Ridge and then headed down the East Ridge and up to Sgurr Dubh Mor. We then returned over Sgurr Dubh na da Bheinn and descended it’s North-West Ridge to regain Coire a’Ghrunnda. This day completed the Skye Munros for Norrie and he seemed suitably pleased despite having been in cloud for most of the day.

Norrie in the cloud happy to be completing his Skye Munros.

Norrie in the cloud happy to be completing his Skye Munros.

Yesterday Norrie and Isobel decided on a well earned rest day whilst Lynne, Lorn and I walked up Sgurr na Bannachdaich via Coire an Eich with a detour to An Diallaid in descent. Euan, John, Linda, Mary, Siobhan and Wilson avoided the worts of the wind by scrambling up The Spur on to the excellent peak of Sgurr an Fheadain.

Lynne and Lorn on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich.

Lynne and Lorn on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich.

A great few days with seven new Munros for some of the team and some excellent scrambling despite fairly unfavourable weather at times.

Four Days and Four Seasons on Skye

I’m just back from spending Monday to Thursday on Skye with Marian and Hazel. We visited all eleven Munros on the Skye Ridge over the four days and experienced some very varied weather.

Hazel and Marian with Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich behind on June 2!

Hazel and Marian with Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich behind on 2nd of June!

On Monday with wet snow down to around 750m and sleet falling from early afternoon we had an early start and went up Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a’Mhadaidh from An Dorus.

Marian and Hazel just above the chimney on The South-West Ridge of Sgurr Alasdair

Marian and Hazel just above the chimney on The South-West Ridge of Sgurr Alasdair

The forecast had worsened for Tuesday, but we decided to attempt Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr an Dubh Mor via Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn and Sgurr Alasdair via it’s South-West Ridge and descend The Great Stone Shoot. Fresh snow and fairly constant sleet/rain made for a long day. However, the occasional break in the clouds gave amazing views and successfully completing the planned route made it very rewarding.

Hazel and Marian on top of Am Basteir with Sgurr nan Gillean behind

Hazel and Marian on top of Am Basteir with Sgurr nan Gillean behind

The best weather of the week on Wednesday saw us traversing Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe in sunshine or broken cloud for most of the day.

Marian and Hazel in cloud on the top slab of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Marian and Hazel in cloud on the top slab of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Thursday didn’t live up to it’s better forecast and we spent most of the day in cloud and later steady drizzle as we visited Sgurr na Banachdich, The Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.

Hazel lowering off the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Hazel lowering off the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Skye, as usual, didn’t disappoint and Marian and Hazel coped brilliantly with all the weather had to throw at us. An excellent few days in very good company.

The sun on Wednesday and drizzle on Thursday had cleared most of the fresh snow by the time we left. However, the odd patch was still making some slabby sections quite treacherous and care was definitely required. I’ll put some more photos up on the Facebook page.

Another Great Trip to Skye

I am just back from another very successful trip to Skye with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

On Thursday we visited the beautiful Spar Cave. As the tide was in we abseiled into the inlet which gives access to the cave. Following our visit to the cave we jumared back out.

We made use of an improving forecast for Saturday by climbing the North West ridge of Sgurr a Mhadaidh on Friday before making a water and food drop in preparation for Saturdays activities.

On Saturday we left the Sligachan at 4am for Sgurr nan Gillean. We then spent the next 20 hours completing a one day traverse of the Cuillin Ridge.

Following a long lie this morning we had a full Scottish breakfast in Broadford before returning to Falkirk.

There are many more photos on the climbnow facebook page.

Near the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean.

Near the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean.

North Wales and the Isle of Skye

I have just had a great seven days on the mountains and rock faces of the North Wales and Scotland.

Following the Lowland Leader Award Course last Sunday I drove to North Wales to meet Andrew. We had a good three days climbing on Tremadog, in the Ogwen Valley and on Gogarth.

The majority of the time the weather was excellent allowing us to complete the following routes; Christmas Curry (Micah Eliminate), Yogi, Shadrach, Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs, Cneifon Arete, single pitch routes on Holyhead Mountain and Lighthouse Arete.

After our final route I drove North to meet the Falkirk High Tops Team. We drove to the Isle of Skye before having three good days in the Cuillin.

Emmanuelle, Gayle, Andy, John and I completed; Pinnacle Ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier, the Bhastier Tooth, Sgurr Sgumain, Sgurr Alasdair, the Cioch and the traverse of Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh.

Nigel, Alec and Norrie completed; Blaven, Bruach na Frithe and Sgurr na Banachdich.

Once more Skye provided great adventures and great memories.

Andrew enjoying Lighthouse Arete.

Andrew enjoying Lighthouse Arete.

Great scrambling on Skye.

Great scrambling on Skye.

 

Rhum

Jen and I have been on the Island of Rhum for the last few days. After arriving and settling in to the hostel in Kinloch Castle we went for an afternoon wander up Mullach Mor, which proved to be very rough pathless terrain with lots of tussocks, but gave great views of the island and across to Skye.

The accomodation - Kinloch Castle

The accomodation – Kinloch Castle

A late start the next day allowed us to traverse the Rhum Cuillin over two days with a bivvy high on Trallval. The bivvy was planned to let us hear the 1000s of Manx Shearwaters returning to their burrows after dark. This was an amazing experience with the bulk of the bird’s noisy activity seeming to be around midnight. The ridge gave an excellent walk with easy scrambling or more difficult options if desired, the final descent down from Sgurr nan Gillean is steep and a cup of tea in the well mainatined Dibidil bothy was most welcome.

Jen on Ainshval with Askival and Hallival behind

Jen on Ainshval with Askival and Hallival behind

On Tuesday we headed west via good tracks and stalker’s paths and walked up the granite hills of Orval and Ard Nev, which give great views of the Rhum Cuillin. A representative of the Lochaber Geo Park gave a very good, free and well attended talk on the geology of Rhum in the evening.

View from the bivvy site on Tallval with the Skye Cuillin in the distance

View from the bivvy site on Tallval with the Skye Cuillin in the distance

Our final day saw us out to the beautiful beaches of Kilmory and Samhnan Insir for some attempted swimming and excellent bouldering/short solos on the Torridonian sandstone in an idyllic setting with great views to Skye. A quick walk back to Kinloch allowed time for one last tasty cake in the Community Hall tea shop before catching the ferry back to Mallaig.

Bouldering at Samhnan Insir

Bouldering at Samhnan Insir

The Cuillin of Skye

For the past three days I have been on Skye with the Falkirk High Tops Team.  We have been climbing together on the Island for about six years so now tend to search out more unusal scrambles and tops.

On Friday we climbed the WSW Flank of Sgurr nan Eag.  This grade 2/3 scramble is mostly on good rock.  However, belays are hard to find. We continued the day by traversing Sgurr Alasdair and descending the Great Stone Shoot.

Yesterday, we climbed the NE Ridge of Sgurr a Bhasteir before continuing the day by climbing the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean to the summit and descending the East Ridge to return to Sligachan.

Today we visited the the Red Cuillin and climbed the North Buttress of Sgurr nan Each.  This grade 2/3 scramble was first climed by Harold Raeburn and gives a good route on mostly good rock.

Gayle, Linda, Tam and Norrie from the Falkirk High Tops Team in the Cuillin.