April Update

Well since I last posted in March there have been significant changes in legislation and guidance around Covid-19 restrictions. The month started with still staying local, keeping skills and fitness up to date and limited outdoor work opportunities. We’re finishing the month with the ability to travel further and increased work opportunities. The photos and comments below should give a feel for how the month progressed.

Local hill running in the Pentlands was a good way to keep fitness up. Evening/night runs were a good way to avoid busier times.
Local crags and one to one sessions allowed some limited outdoor work.
Climbing at local crags to keep skills up even when the weather wasn’t perfect, Pamela and I climbed between the snow showers at Craigpark Quarry.
Taking an opportunity for some impromptu bouldering in a lesser visited part of the Pentlands, whilst out on a walk. Photo credit: Pamela Millar.
The ability to travel a little further. Staff training in Arrochar. Photo credit: Craig McClaren.
Paul getting back on rock in North Wales.
Opportunistic new routing with Nettle in Dumfries and Galloway.
Exploring the unusual feature of “The Brain”. Photo credit: Jonathan Foden.
Euan leading on a cool, but sunny day at Traprain Law.
Great to stretch our wings and be back out for a wintery adventure with Sharon and Mac in the Cairngorms.
Brilliant to be able to travel further and explore a crag that was new to us. Euan leading “Perfect Weather to Fly” at Coudy Crag in Appleby.


Given the circumstances I’m having to train in order to keep climbing specific fitness for when the current lockdown is eased. My motivation is normally more towards doing and less towards training, so it’s been really helpful that Euan has been sending Ivor and I a training programme six days a week. This has brought structure, accountability and a team element, which has definitely assisted me on the harder days.

Improvised weighted pull ups.

I don’t have the home gym equipment that Euan and Ivor have, so the exercises have been tailored to my improvised kit. It’s a pull up and dead hang heavy programme, so Euan is careful to include exercises for core and antagonist muscle groups.

Raised feet press ups.

For the cardio element I’ve been running. Although I live on the edge of a city I’ve found off tarmac paths pretty quiet provided I go early or late. A real bonus has been seeing things such as a sparrowhawk hunting, goosanders catching fish, curlew, skylarks and hare all within a few kilometres of home.

Cammo Tower on one of my running routes.

I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Coe, Aonach Mor and Glen Feshie

This week I’ve been working on a Winter Mountaineering Foundation course based out of Ballachulish. We visited Stob Mhic Mhartuin on Monday with soft snow on the hill, which we used for movement and arrest teaching. There were graupel showers during the day. On Tuesday we headed to the Nevis Range ski area and looked at crampon work on harder snow and ice and an intro to transceiver searches. Windslab was forming throughout the day.

The team in the white room at the summit of Carn Ban Mor.

On Wednesday we made an ascent of Stob Coire Raineach to use some of the skills we’d learnt and continued the ongoing theme of avalanche awareness and avoidance. It was snowing on strong south-westerlies in the morning with rain above the summits later on. On Thursday we headed over to Glen Feshie and dug snow holes before heading up Carn Ban Mor in driving snow on a south-westerly and poor visibility followed by some night navigation. It was raining heavily as I headed south today. An enthusiastic group who were keen to learn made for a very enjoyable week despite some fairly challenging conditions.

Monolith Grooves

Monolith Grooves today on Beinn an Lochain. The route was in good condition today with the exclusion of pitch 4 which was not frozen.

Costa Blanca and Dinnertime Buttress

Following last weeks first aid course and climbing in the Costa Blanca, yesterday I climbed a blustery Dinnertime Buttress in Glencoe with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

Nearly all the snow has gone from Glencoe.

Limestone and Granite in the Alps

David and I have had a great week in the Alps together. We completed the following;

Day 1. Rock climbing at Le Fayet and the walk into Refuge Col de la Vanoise.

Day 2. The Traverse of the Aiguille de la Vanoise.

Day 3. The Traverse of the Grand Perron.

Day 4. Via Corda Alpina near Chamonix.

Day 5. The Traverse of Pointe des Verts in Les Aravis.

Day 6. The descent from the Refuge Gramusset and rock climbing at Col de la Colombiere.

June and July in the Alps

This summer so far I have spent two weeks in the Alps. Last month with Paul we climbed the following; La Rechasse in the Vanoise, Aiguille du Goleon in Les Ecrins and Pigne de la Le in the Moiry valley.

This week with Tina, Scott, Steve and Paul I have climbed the following; Pointe de la Gliere (Matterhorn of the Vanoise), Grand Perron Traverse, Voie Princess and the Pyramide Calcaires in the Val Veny.

British Mountain Guides Winter Test

This week I have been helping with the Guides winter test. Full winter conditions have returned to the Cairngorms with lots of snow, ice building and frozen turf.

Congratulations to both the candidates on their efforts in, at times, tough conditions.

The Souter

Colin and l had a nice day today climbing the brilliant Souter sea stack and other rock climbs in the area. The friction is fine at the moment but many other routes are green.

Winter Climbing Leader

This week I have been delivering a Winter Climbing Leader course for the Joint Services.

After visiting the Ice Factor on Monday we traversed the Douglas Boulder Gap on Tuesday. We then spent Wednesday climbing The Slant in Coire an t-Sneachda and on Thursday we went ice climbing very near to the Twin Burns in Coire an Lochain.

The conditions on the Douglas Boulder Traverse were fine. It should be noted that in other areas of Coire an Lochain from where we were that large amounts of ice were falling down.