Friday 6 May 2011


Spring in Scotland….

What’s not to like? Since cragging in Reiff I’ve had a day looking after Sandy; I took him gorgewalking in the stream above my house. This was followed by a stunning day out at the Ring Crags on Ardnamurchan with Davy and Alan. After warming up with Beth’s Route in 4 pitches we climbed Volcane, Pyroclast, Greta Gabbro and An Deiridh to give them some 4b/4c mileage.
Since then I’ve been in seclusion (no internet or phone signal- sorry for those who were trying to reach me) in Applecross. I say seclusion but with 7 other couples and 4 more children it was a great chance to unwind, recover and catch up with friends…. And eat seafood, mountainbike and climb!
I had a day taking Jill up the Cioch Nose whilst Dave soloed it alongside us. This has to be one of the best mountain Severes (no… it’s not VDiff) in Britain. Starting from a ledge 500ft above the valley floor you have a first pitch with a couple of moves to stop you and make you think, an awkward chimney on the second pitch and a fantastic level of exposure on the third. A couple more pitches maroon you on the Cioch itself; a knobbly perch high above the coires. It’s not over yet though as a 150m of scrambling takes you to another sandstone tier and another pitch of Severe and some more easier climbing. Now you are faced with a rollercoaster of more mountaineering…. A mini Aonach Eagach with a couple of tricky downward steps. This deposits you at the mast where you dropped into the coire to start and a few hundred metres from the car park atop the Bealach na Ba at over 700m. This was the 5th time I’ve done this route and it’s always great value. Meanwhile Sandy and Jane were climbing at Camusteel Crags.
Another day was spent with a morning climbing on Sgurr a Chaorachainn. We had both done Sword of Gideon and after an abortive look at one of the E1s nearby we decided to take it easy with Anduril (VS 5a). Hmmm lichenous poorly protected 5a at that with some very loose rock in the top groove- so much for taking it easy (should have gone for clean 5b with gear!). In the afternoon I biked out to the coral beach where the families had been sea kayaking (Sandy can cope with carbon fibre paddles- he's not even 3), bouldering and exploring. The wee man was keen to show me his bouldering exploits and leap over and crawl through various tunnels.
I had a great 30k ride on the Bike up the glen from Applecross bay and left at the fork in the paths. A steep climb then takes you up onto a rolling plateau-like col with numerous lochans and some fantastic single track before the view opened up to Torridon labouring under the fires. Then about face and back up to the col and return to Applecross for one of the best rides I have done. I got back in time to join Jane and Sandy in a trip to the popular Sands Beach before we drove home stopping only to look at the helicopters waterbombing the Glen Shiel fires at the end of the 5 Sisters Ridge.
Back home and wednesday was spent doing some staff training for The Ice Factor looking at elements of the SPA syllabus and today was another sunny day in Glen Nevis working for UHI West Highland College. I was assessing some students on their rock climbing and we climbed Tiptoe Direct into the upper section of Pinnacle Ridge, 3 Pines, Flying Dutchman with its Direct finish, Damnation and SW Diagonal to give 8 good pitches.
Looks like the weather is due to change and I’m off to the Lakes for a week working, climbing and biking…it's all go!

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