Monday 29 August 2016

Sun, rock, breeze: perfect!

Today I went to Polldubh with Martin and Diane to help them in their quest towards confident rock climbing independence. We climbed 8 pitches of rock up to Severe with them leading 3 pitches.
It was sunny, it was breezy, as we abseiled off the last route the rain began and the midges arrived- perfect timing!!

Saturday 27 August 2016

Aonach Eagach with Oliver age 12

Today I was working for Gary and Tarmachan Mountaineering and he had sent me Mike and his 12 year old son Oliver to do the Aonach Eagach. 12 could be quite young for a big hill day like that but not in Oli's case- he cruised it! I also had Alex along to do the work for part of the day as final prep for his imminent MIA Assessment- easy life for me!
 1st Munro in the bag
 Atmospheric conditions
 Up rocky steps
 Down rocky steps
 Mike thinking thin thoughts
 Alex on the pinnacles
 Easy for this team
 Everyone enjoying themselves
 Brightening up
 Taking the rope for a walk
 The last bit
 Coming down
 Rope off- lunchtime!
2 Munros in the bag and energy to spare (well Oli did- not so sure about Mike!)

Sunday 21 August 2016

Curved Ridge

Sara and Giles have been slowly expanding their scrambling experience whilst bagging their first 50 Munros. Today I was working for Kirkhope Mountaineering helping them push onto something a little more technical in the form of Curved Ridge. The mist came and went until the cairn atop the Ridge when it got a bit grey and mizzley but that didn't stop us taking in the top of Crowberry Tower from the crest of Crowberry Ridge but the Smidge was definitely in use lower down today and we were glad of the breeze on the summit! Good craic with this pair of scientists as we discussed everything from indoor climbing grades to quantum physics!

Friday 19 August 2016

Blustery on Tower Ridge

Charlie walked up Ben Nevis earlier this year and spotted me taking two folk up Tower Ridge. When we came round to the summit he wanted to know if he could do that? 20 seconds of questioning and the answer was 'Sure you can'. So he enlisted Dave and today was the day. We set a healthy walk in pace on the windy walk in and were soon heading up onto the Ridge. We had some visibility and dry weather until near the Great Tower where we entered some dense damp cloud and the rock got a bit greasier. That made the Gap just that bit more interesting and there was a bit if 'having a word with themselves' going on! we were on the plateau less than 5 hours from the car and it after a short visit to the top we plunged down the Pony Track and then off into the mist to the top of Ledge Route in very blustery weather. We made a brisk descent passing 2 large groups from OB LochEil on their way up and just as the rope came off the rain got a little more serious speeding us on our way back past the CIC Hut and on to the car park. Having had a well timed day is was all the more ironic that it took over 40 minutes from Torlundy to the Mallaig roundabout!
Nice to have Andy out observing me today and well done Charlie and Dave- enjoy the beers!
 Best view of the day
 Still dry and Ledge Route visible on the horizon
 Getting higher
 Still dry
 The Little Tower
 Soaking it up
 Here comes the mist
 Up the side of the Great Tower
 A big step across Tower Gap for Dave
 It was everything Charlie expected and more!
Summit heroes... now lets not be boring and take the Pony Track down lads...

Thursday 18 August 2016

Getting High in Glen Nevis

The excellent SMC Highland Outcrops South came out again as Rich and I had a rare day off that coincided with each other and some dry weather. Fancying a change we made the hour long schlep (look it up, its Yiddish and means 'a tedious or difficult journey') up from Sheep Fank Buttress out above the trees and bracken (and insects too) in sweltering weather to reach Saddle Crag where rather than walk up the side we mad a quick big boot ascent of Albatross- a pleasant Diff (although I led us up the finish of the neighbouring VDiff, Seal as it looked much more interesting). This brought us out below Rounded Crag where Rich led us up Blue Lace which we both found tough for VS4c and I led Omegalegs (it gets Severe but although the climbing feels VDiff there is very little protection worth the name. Then we drifted right past Gully Crag and Boulder Buttress to Twin Buttress where the line of Middlelast a 3 pitch HS had fought our eye. The first pitch (Scrappy in the guidebook- try filthy) led to a steep pull over onto another blank slab. Rich brought me up to the belay and we look up and across pitch 2... a 15m traverse on a fearless slab. No thanks. Escape was made easily up Cigol a Severe with gear but sharing the first pitch of Middlelast (although that pitch would give a Severe leader nightmares for life!). Impressively these routes are all Klaus Schwartz 1970s specials climbed in poor rock shoes with little gear or just soloed. They built them tougher then!
It was fun exploring somewhere new close to home but sad to come down to news that 2 members of Scotland mountaineering and instructional community are no longer with us. Rest in peace James and Paul, you'll both me missed not least by your families who have my sincerest condolences. Maybe you're sharing a rope at a big crag in the sky...?