Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Drummochter Water Ice

I was in the Drummochter Pass today doing some staff training with folks from EICA:Ratho. We looked at some intro skills to climbing as we made our way up one the frozen streams. This had good steps that started at grade 1/2 and progressed to II/III. It was a great way to really concentrate on working everyones feet on a variety of feature. A couple of use took our skis and and battled the powder covered heather on the way down.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Belly

I went to Woodhouse Scar today to do a bit of bouldering and work off some off some of the christmas food. Despite the damp, I did a good range of problems from V0 to V5. When I move after the winter down to Yorkshire, I'll definately get stronger with all the quality boulderimg on my doorstep.

Monday, 21 December 2009

More Snow

There has been another dump of snow in the Cairngorms last night and today. Those that waited for the gates to open and trudged through the new snow were rewarded with good climbing. Greg and Sarah climbed the Haston Line today, while James and Peter did Hidden Chimney via the Direct start. There is a lot of snow on ledges, so the easier the angle the more digging/swimming there is.

For pics check out Greg's Blog.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lots of Snow

There has been a lot of snow fall over night, and it has continued through the day. Greg and I headed for the Fiacaill Buttress today. We were going to have a look at Men in Black. I started up the crux pitch, but soon realised I was not going to be able to clear the ice out of the crack, could not use the ice or protect the route. Not feeling overly brave, I climbed the appropriately named Escapologist. Due to all the ice that is around the climbing was pretty straight forward, but there was very little protection. We came back down and then climbed a rarely in ice route called Straight to Jail. We had no ice screws again as they where still in edinburgh, but Greg climbed the pitch well without them.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Greg and I went in to Sneachda to climb today. We picked a seldom climbed VII,7 called Paramedic to take advantage of the ice that was around the lower parts of Aladdin's Buttress. After a technical flip for the pitches, I got the thin ice pitches which I linked together to make a very bold, but awesome 55m VI,5 pitch. Greg did a stirling job on the hard pitch. He had a lot of digging to to find gear, but made pretty reasonable time. The pitch was a dream to second once it had been cleaned, but I could appreciate how hard it would have been to dig up. Another route that does not get climbed that often is the Prodigal Principal V,5. This looked in great nick. There was alot of snow moved around today on a strong NW. the goat track is solid at the moment and needs to be given respect, a slip would be very bad at the moment. There are some big pockets of slab around in some of the gullys, Aladdin's looked pretty loaded at the top so we opted for the goat track.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Fluted Buttress Direct

Greg, James and Peter climbed Broken Gully Left hand, which they said was banked out and climbing easy. They then climbed Fluted Buttress Direct. Greg said that this was straight forward with ice on the lower sections and the 2 mixed steps were good fun. He commented that the Goat track was very icy and needed care. He also said that snow had fallen most of the day and it was due to snow a lot over night. Use your judgement carefully if you are heading out tomorrow as the great slab will also need a bit of care. We experienced some isolated pockets of slab yesterday under No 1 Buttress with little sluffs coming down the Vent.

Take care

Day of Failure

Yesterday Greg and I went into Lochain to try to push ourselves a bit more. I got on Big Daddy. This is a VII 8 that was down graded from VIII 8, so I was expecting a bit of a hard time. It is fair to say that I was not the daddy as the route gave me a kicking. I would like to say that it was all down to hard conditions, but this is not really true. Conditions are quite heavy for hard mixed routes. Tough to move rime, the corner/groove needed a lot of cleaning to find gear all added to challange.
After my extended failure, Greg decided to give The Crack another go. This was thick with rime and useful ice, and had good cracks for gear once cleaned. He had a good go, but the heavy rime though the crux section took its toll as it took 45 mins to clear. We finished up Astroturfer which is in great condition (virtually and ice route), so at least we got a route done.

On reflextion it is good to fail. I could easily go out and climb route I know I will succeed on, but would not learn half as much. I am looking forward to many more battles and failures this season, hopefully I will win a few.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Wet and Miserable

Greg, Euan and James where in Sneachda today, climbing a very soggy Belhaven. This has kept its rime, but become very wet. They said that the buttresses are know mostly black, with the gully lines keeping their snow. With another poor forecast for tomorrow, things should pick up again toward the end of the week. Check out Greg's blog for Pics.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

MLTS Providers Seminar

I attended the providers seminar at Glenmore Lodge today. With amazing weather outside it would have been hard to take had I not just had 2 amazing days. A couple of folk told me they had climbed Smith's route on the Ben on Friday and I heard that Jet Steam Direct Finish had been done on Aonach Mor. If folks are heading out, the conditions are perfect under foot. All snow is rock hard and crampons need to be put on sooner rather than later if heading up hill. I saw a couple of folks having an epic around the goat track as they thought they would get some hight before kitting up (unlucky).

Friday, 11 December 2009

Mixed Action

I have finally shaken of the flu and other bugs that have plagued me so far this winter, to actually go climbing. Yesterday Greg and I headed up into Lochan and climbed War and Peace. It was an exciting choice as a first route of the season, but worked out well. Conditions(extremely icy cracks), both helped and made climbing very bold at times. The route took in some impressive and strenuous ground. There were other times on Sidewinder, Milky Way and a time making swift work of Ventricle (turns out Ian Parnell and Rich Cross).

Today we went into Sneachda and climbed Watchacha on Mess of potage Again conditions made the climbing extremely bold at times. This route had everything, bold slabby climbing to steep strenuous moves through the crack in the headwall. Over all a great 2 days.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cairngorm Update

Over the last couple of days Greg and James have been out in the corries. Yesterday they climbed the Message and Opening Break, saying that the conditions where good but hard going. Today they climbed Central Crack Route and attempted to finish up the Crack. However, conditions got the upper hand and they had to retreat. There are more Pics on Greg's blog.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Matt and John climbed Bulgy today in Corie an Lochain. He said that everything is buried and the climbing was hard going, with a lot of digging. More snow has fallen today, making easier angled routes very hard work with the amount of clearing that would be needed. My bad luck continues with a bad stomach bug. Yet another lost day, but a least I have stopped throwing up.

MLTS Providers Induction for CWLA

Yesterday I attended the induction for the new Climbing Wall Leader Award. This award should be online in January, and will be a good addition to anyone that currently holds the CWA or SPA awards. The day covered all aspects of the award from training stratagies and the assessment process, though to the paper work. A worthwhile training day.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Yesterday Matt and John climbed Fallout Corner. Matt commented that there was a lot of ice in the crack on the second pitch. This made for good climbing, but hard to get good protection.

Today he and John battled there way into Sneachda, only to turn around as the wind and heavy snow conditions put them off. I have heard rumours that there is a lot of snow on the Ben at the moment. Folks that have walked in are turning back or dropping the grade as the routes are quite buried high up.

Corrie's Update

Yesterday Greg and James climbed the start of Sidewinder into Western route to make a pleasent link up. Greg said that conditions were as good as the day before, with the turf now frozen lower down. I would expect that there might still be some turf insulated under deeper parts of snow on easy angled terrain.

Today Greg and James said that there has been more snow overnight and the corries look amazing, but the wind is 80 mph at the carpark and forecast to pick up even more today. Having had 2 days already they have decided on coffee in Aviemore. Thinks are due to change a little in the weather later in the week, fingers crossed it will help things continue to improve.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Cairngorm Conditions

Greg ang Euan where in Corrie an Lochain today and climbed Deep Throat. Greg said that conditions are perfect, with white buttresses and frozen turf. Greg is out tomorrow, so hopefully there will be more updates from him. I'll be out later in the week, fingers crossed the condition holed out.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Winter is Finally Here

Yesterday John climbed Fingers Ridge. The route had a nice covering and the ground had firmed up. With more snow forecast and the temp coming down even further, next week should be good. I will hopefully venture out next week when my man flu leaves me.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Winter Courses

Winter is on its way so now is the time to start thinking about what you are going to do with yours.

We don't do set dates for courses so we can work around you. So check out the website or get in touch to talk about how we can help you acheive you goals this winter.

We offer:

Guided Winter Climbing
Instruction in Winter Climbing
Winter Mountaineering
Guided Winter Walks
Winter Skills

All courses are designed around what your aims and objectives are.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

When will winter come?

The weather has not been very kind over the last few weeks. I have kept myself busy in the wall with the usual groups, route setting and leading courses. On the occasions that the weather has been ok for a morning or so I have stolen the odd cheaky solo at the local haunts in an attempt to stay sane. I have many been training in the wall or gym to stay fit and get strong for the winter when it makes an appearence. Hopefully soon.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Learning to Lead

David at the top of Fishhead arete
I've been working with David and Sandra over the past 2 days, and have been learning to lead. Yeasterday we started at the wall, looking at building belays and organising stances etc. Before moving outside to Rosyth Quarry. There we spent time placing runners, before they both took to the sharp end and led a couple of wet routes each.
Today the weather was much better. We went to the Hawkcraig to build on the skills learnt yesyerday and get a few more leads under their belt. They both did excellent. David led his first Severe and Sandra her first VDiff. A good couple of days despite the weather on the first day.

Monday, 26 October 2009


Today I returned from a very wet overnight exped with the Moray House crew. We had a very wet and windy experience on A' Chailleach in the Monadh Liath, and an even wetter and windier night's camp. Today we walked back to Kingussie in dry and sunny conditions which was a pleasent change from the previous day. A good exped despite the weather.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

River Crossing

After looking at the weather forecast we opted for a low level day. In the morning the group split into pairs and made a short nav circuit around the low hills behind Kingussie. They then swapped circuits and went to find the points in a set time limit, putting the skills leant over the 5 previous days. In the afternoon we had a look at river crossing. This is still an important skill and judgement process to learn if you take to the hills in Scotland. After a short video we headed down to the Calder in Newtonmore to put some of the skills to the test. Folks did really well, managing themselves across some strong shoots of water. A good producive day.

Friday, 23 October 2009


I have been walking along side Simon Beams from Moray House Uni. on there summer hillwalking course. Yesterday we had an early start from Edinburgh and walked up Meall a Bhuachaille. The course has a strong environmental theme, so this has also played an important role over the last few days. Time has been spent identifying and discussing various plants etc. as well as human impact. This was looked at in detail today as we headed up Cairngorm from the Ciste carpark. So far we have been lucky with the weather, but things are due to get worse.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

CWA Training

Over the weekend I have been working with Nic on a Climbing Wall Award Training. We had a large group of 12, which threw up a lot of interesting disscusions. As well as the EICA, we also risited the wall at Meadow Bank for a bit of retro action. Over all the weekend was excellent, with the candidates commenting that they had loads to take away.

Friday, 9 October 2009

DIY is Rubbish

After spending part of yesterday putting the first coat of paint on the kitchen walls I was hoping the weather forecast was wrong. I am still trying to shake the cold I last week, but a super psyched for trad at the moment. Simon bailed this morning so I thought I'd finish the kitchen, but the weather was staying dry. I decided to go a try out my new bouldering mat at Rosyth Quarry. I did my usual circuit, soloing all the routes up to E1 along with a few laps of Philistine. I had never done If pigs could fly or The Stinking Swordsman before, so had a look. I got to the top of If Pigs and realised that the top out was a little over grown and the mat was in the wrong place. A bit gripped and with both hands on the top a reversed thrusters and down climbed the route which was a bit pumpy. The Swordsman was nails. This has to be one of those classic scottish headpointed routes that has a grade that does not feel right. I think I have been going well over the last few weeks, but can safely say I was shut down today. I'll try again, but at the grade can't justify top roping it and leading it might be even harder. I just need to man up I think and learn how to pull harder.

All in a good couple of hours, 30 routes and back to more painting.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Chilled Trad

Me finishing the crux of Chisel

Me high on Chisel

Andy starting Slot Shot

I went to the Cambusbarron out quarry today with Greg and Andy to have chilled out day. We did a few of the E1's to warm up, then Greg fancied trying Chisel. This E4 finger crack has a short crux off the deck, but it packs a punch. This is style of climbing that Greg is trying to improve in, so he was not too disappointed after falling with 1 hard move left. I fancied an eliminate that I had not done before called Kansas City Shuffle. The climbing was quiet good, but that was because it was mostly on routes that have stars already. This route only had 4 independant moves, but was alright. Andrew then climbed Chime in good style, a stiff little E2. The first runner was still in Chisel so I climbed that as I had not done it for a while. This spurred Greg on to get back on it. He made short work of it this time. Andrrew then led his first E3, Slot Shot, which was a good finish to the day.

Andy finishing Slot Shot

Greg on Chisel

Greg half way

Monday, 5 October 2009

Rat Race

Me on RatRace

Today I went to Upper Cave with Greg, Mhairi and Andy. I wanted to try Silk Purse, but soon realised as I put in the clips that I was not over my touch of man flu. I opted to do a little trad instead so I might feel a bit better later in the week. Rat Race is a classic of the crag, so seemed like a good option today. I had failed a few years ago, but it felt a whole lot easier today. I even found a cheaky no hands rest. Marjory Razorblade brought me back down to earth as I fell off the last hard move. Note to self, lazy jams don't work as well.

Just After the crux

Monday, 28 September 2009


I went to Armscliff with the wife today. It was very windy, with damp air which made the friction pretty poor. We climbed Fluted Columns first, which was a battle in the wind. Em was not enjoying the wind so we found a little shelter on Black Wall Eliminate. This had some excellent pumpy climbing, but was a little low in the technical grade. I finished of with a short bouldery route called Kitson Did It First. This went second go, but was very hard in the conditions today.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Grit Expectations

Over the last 3 days I have been down to the peak district with Neil and Ross. We headed down on Tuesday, stopping at Back Bowden Doors (not quite grit, but good all the same) to break up the journey and max the climbing time. We started off with some cheecky solos of a few short routes on the far right of the crag. This gave Ross the chance to find his feet a little, making short work of Hazelrigg Wall and Pinup. After that Neil faced his slab phobia by on sighting On the Verge (just). I then did the only version of the Tube I had not done, wjich was the direct. Ross warmed up his leading skills on the Arches, before flashing his first E4 (Lost Cause) afetr me and Neil, which was a sterling effort. I finished my day off by climbing Uncouth Youth and Neil did Right to Reply. A top day to start the mini trip.

Wednesday saw us waking up in the deluxe accomodation of the Froggatt national trust carpark. After a bacon butty in Calver we walked in to the crag and stranely seemed to be staring at Strapadictomy. It was Ross's lead and we needed to warm up so he led Strapiombante. After traversing a little and a feeble stretching, Neil decided to strap it on. He put in a fine display before coming off before the pocket. I went next and had a similar fate, as did Ross. Neil got it after a couple of shots, and Ross second go. The boy is a machine. I had what I can only say is a valient attempt, failing 2 moves from the top, but it will go next time. We then turned are attention to some of the classic slabs. Three pebble slab, Long John's Slab and Great slab, all excellent routes. The extra energy kept on coming as we did Brown's Eliminate, the direct and the Neil did Oedipus tell your Mother.

On Thursday Tony came over to join us at Burbage South. After walking along the crag saying how hard everything looked we where by Life Assurance and the Knock. Whilst everyone was trying to get psyched I manned up a got on Life Assurance. After going up and down trying to commit to do the last 2 moves i finally bottled it. After stripping the route , Tony and Neil were trying the Knock. They said they had not committed to the move across, so I thought I would have a go. Before I knew it I was pulling over the top, a quality route. Neil and Tony made short work of it after me. Ross then led ? Crack in fine style. Tony wanted to have a look at Pebble Mill so we all went to check it out. He made an awesome on sight solo which was great veiwing. This spurred me on to have a go, but with a rope. I found a reasonable cam after the crux which made me happy to bash on. the top section was straight forward, but a little bold. A great day to finish.

An amazing few days and we can't wait to get back.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


I was at upper cave today with Andrew and Mhairi to have a second crack at Silk Teddies. Having had a week or so in the wall, I was hoping it would go quickly today. Putting the draws in felt desperate, and my hopes had taken a hit. After a good rest I got on the redpoint and before I knew I was through the bit I was finding hard to clip. The thought that it was in the bag can in to my head, I relaxed too much on the next hard move and was off. School boy error. As the others took their turns on their routes I had a good break and went again. This time I was fully focased and was soon clipping the chain, result. A good day which saw Andrew make good procress on hamish and Mhairi looks like she will get silk teddies next time.