Saturday, 19 May 2007

Cragging and a wild day on the Aonach Eagach

Whilst working at Crieff Hydro Jamie and I spent an evening at Benny Beg for a little low grade Scottish sport climing we managed to rack up 3 routes each before the showers drove us back to our luxury accommodation! The next night we went to Glen Lednock a slightly obscure trad venue. We were seeking a 2 star severe called Carcass Wall. After unearthing it from the undergrowth I only climbed 10 m before realising there were nesting birds above us. I quickly lowered off and we transferred our attentions to a clean looking steep VS to its right. The first 10m were steep, clean and solid but then there was another 10m of steep, loose vegetated choss to get off - a real game of 2 halves.
Yesterday Kenny and I had a party of 5 northern lads to take out on the Aonach Eagach. Despite a foul weather forecast we headed up Am Bodach confident that we had a few options to bail off of the ridge if things were as grim as forecast. The early moring torrential rain cleared to an hour of sunshine before the first of a number of hail and sleet showers. Then the visibility cleared and we had good views all afternoon. The 70mph gales were as forecast but dried off the rock a little and the guys did well scuttling along the ridge keeping low to avoid being blown over!

Scrambles and Ropes Courses

Spring is a great time to hit the rock in Scotland whether for some early season cragging or on a big moutain scramble. I was out with a great father and daughter team the other weekend. On the Saturday they followed me up Pinnacle Ridge, Right Wall - Styx Butress and The Gutter at Polldubh for their first days rock climbing. On the Sunday we went to Buachaille Etive Mor and climbed Curved ridge with sunshine and hail showers swirling around us.

I received a request to do some staff training on a high ropes course at Crieff Hydro and Jamie B and I spent 2 days there last week. The friendly staff team there were great fun and picked up belaying skills and an understanding of the different elements very quickly. We did some work on their cimbing tower, leap of faith from the pamper pole, jacobs ladder and balance beams. In the evenings Jamie and I managed a little cragging (see next post).

Summer ML at Gelnmore Lodge

I spent 4 days observing Pete and Iain running a Summer Mountain Leader course at Glenmore Lodge. A few days watching other professionals like this is a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from guys at the top of the Mountaineering Instruction profession. We had a gorgeous few days of blazing sunshine working around the Northern Coires and Chalamain Gap looking at navigation, emerency procedures, Summer ML ropework and river crossings.

Ardnamurchan and Applecross

Jane and I went out to explore some crags on Ardnamurchan that I noticed in a pcture in the 1936 SMC Western Highlands guide. We found 3 different crags of gabbro and basalt from 12-40m high and climbed 7 routes from V Diff to VS. The gabbro was a little more friable than other Ardnamurchan crags and the basalt a little loose and vegetated. The views from the approach and the crags themselves add to the climbing however.
The very next day we were up in Applecross and climbed the Cioch Nose - possibly the most exposed severe in the UK. We approached from the top of Bealach na Ba and descended the path from near the telephone mast into the coire. The route starts from a narrow ledge several hundred feet above the glen floor. The exposure increases as you climb the 4 pitches of superb sandstone. You finish atop a tower at the end of a ridge and can descend by scrambling and abseiling a slightly loose gully. We chose to carry on up with another long pitch of severe and a 'mini Aonach Eagach' to return to the car. A long, hot, sunny spring day.