22nd to 27th July 2012 The Arolla area and two ascents of the Matterhorn

Photo 1. Sunrise from the Pigne d’Arolla.

Photo 2. Some of the gendarmes on the Couronne de Breona.

Photo 3. The Matterhorn from Mont Blanc de Cheilon.

Photo 4. A summit photo from my first of two ascents of the Matterhorn this week.

I have just had a big week in the Arolla and Zermatt areas. On Sunday I traversed the Couronne de Breona (3159m) and Clocher de la Couronne (3101m) from La Forclaz. This gives a big day of 1400m of ascent and lots of scrambling.

The weather forecast was good for Monday and Tuesday so we continued our acclimitisation by staying at the Cabanne des Vignettes and traversing the Pigne d’Arolla (3769m) and Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3869m). This superb high level traverse continues to the Dix Hut before returning to Arolla via the Pas de Chevre.

With a settled forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we headed round to Zermatt. We stayed on Wednesday night at the Hornli Hut before climbing the Matterhorn (4477.5m) on Thursday. On the Matterhorn we are only legally allowed to climb in pairs. Therefore, on Friday I reclimbed the mountain with another member of the team. We returned to the cars at arond 4.30pm on Friday and the weather broke at 4.45pm providing a good excuse for a rest day!

25th July 2012 Chain Walk Fife

Out on the Elie Chain Walk (Scotland’s via ferrata) with a group from the Edinburgh Council Summer Programme today. Good crag drying weather and an excellent group made for a very pleasant day by the sea. It’s always worth checking the tides if you go to do the chain walk as it’s definitely easier at low tide and there’s also potential to get trapped if you time it wrong.

23rd July 2012 Moorfoots

Gorge walking in the Moorfoots today with a group from the Edinburgh Council Summer Programme. After a dry weekend in rained continuously today and water levels were high, fortunately the nature of the gorge is such that it’s usable in these conditions and sections can be by-passed easily if required. The group had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous nature of the day.

20th July 2012 Pentlands

In the Pentlands today Geocaching with a group from the Edinburgh Council Summer Programme. The group enjoyed hunting for the caches and got to grips with the GPS units really quickly. Fair weather today with some sunshine and a light breeze drying the hills out a little.

14th to 19th July 2012, La Duchere, The Bernina and Disgrazia Groups

Photo 1. The Ponti Hut, Monte Disgrazia (3678m) and the Italian flag.

Photo 2. Piz Bernina (4049m).

Photo 3. Climbers descending Piz Palu (3905m)

Photo 4. Climbers ascending the Biancograt.

Photo 5. On the summit of Piz Bernina with Piz Palu behind.

Photo 6. Climbers on one of the fine knife edge ridges of Piz Palu.

On the 14th July Rosie, Nicola, Graham, Damien and I had a good days climbing at La Duchere. This crag is located near Les Contamines and gives excellent climbing on gneiss up to seven pitches in length.

I departed for the Disgrazia and the Bernina groups on the 15th with Mountain Guide Bruce Goodlad and climbers Liz and Brian. We stayed at the Ponti Hut and on the 16th made the ascent of Monte Disgrazia (3678m) via the North West Ridge which is currently climbing at AD due to the large amounts of snow and ice still present on the crest. It is the 150th anniversary of the first ascent this year.

For the past three days we have been in the Bernina. This trip began on the 17th with a pleasent walk to the Tschierva Hut before our traverse of the Piz Bernina (4049m) via the Biancograt and Spallagrat to the Marco e Rosa Hut on the 18th. Again, there is a lot of snow on the upper rock section which is making the route a little more time consuming.

Today, we traversed Piz Palu (3905m) to the Diavolexxa lift station. This is a brilliant route with excellent rock scrambling, knife edge snow aretes and fantastic views of the Piz Bernina traverse.


19th July 2012 Moorfoots

Gorge walking in the Moorfoots today with a group from the Edinburgh Council Summer Programme. A great group, suprisingly amenable conditions in the gorge given yesterday’s rain and the appearance of the sun made for a very pleasant day.

17th July 2012 Rosyth Quarry

In Rosyth Quarry with a group from the Edinburgh Council Summer Programme on Tuesday. The quarry was busy with groups making the most of the quick drying nature of the routes here. It’s also worth noting the approach is currently muddier than usual. The climbs on the main area were dry, but I’m posting this on Wednesday evening and it’s rained pretty much continuously here for the last 24 hrs, so that won’t be the case just now.

12th July Ben Lui and Beinn a’Chleibh

Out today with Billy, Gayle, Marian, Norrie, Samantha and Vic from the Falkirk Community Trust High Tops Team. We climbed Ben Lui and Beinn a’Chleibh from the Glen Lochy side. Wellies were the approach shoe of choice and they proved ideal for the river crossing near the start and for the boggy path through the forestry.

The team prepared for the river crossing

The best path through the trees seems to follow the Eas Daimh for about half a kilometre before switching to the the main stream draining the Fionn Chorein; this isn’t shown on the map, which shows the path following the Eas Daimh further up. Once out of the forestry we switched to boots to head up to the north ridge of Ben Lui, before descending south-west and up to Beinn a’Chleibh. We returned to the col and then dropped back to our stashed wellies for the return through the forestry.

Ben Lui summit

No rain through the day with the cloud rising to above the summits and only a light breeze. These hills were much drier than you might expect and the river crossing was fine in wellies, although the stepping stones are submerged.

Beinn a’Chleibh summit with Ben Cruachan in the background

11th and 12th July 2012 Saas Fee

I have been back in the Saas Fee area for the last two days. Yesterday, we ascended to the Michabel Hutte. This is an excellent, friendly hut and highly recommended. Today, we climbed the Ulrichshorn (3925m) which gave a grand day out.

Photo 1. The Allalinhorn and the Rimpfischhorn bathed in the morning light.

Photo 2. Climbers descending from the Ulrichshorn.


11th July Loch Lubnaig

Eilidh, David and I were out on Loch Lubnaig kayaking today with a group from the Falkirk Community Trust kids summer programme. The group were definitely up for getting wet and a good time was had by all.

Loch Lubnaig

Light showers on and off through the day with conditions improving towards the end of the day and the cloud lifting to above the summit of Ben Ledi by mid-afternoon.